Poker, especially No Limit Texas Hold 'em, has become somewhat of a staple of the 21st century -- and with good reason. It's got throwback allure, contemporary cool and a high stakes rush that beats drugs any night of the week. More importantly perhaps, it's the kinda pastime where one truly has gotta be a player. In this town any player worth his or her weight congregates wherever Miami Poker Society has a game goin' on. And with seven games goin' on every week, that's a whole lotta congregating. The man behind all that is one Lou Stadler, founder of the fastest action this side of Sin City.
Can you tell us a bit about Miami Poker Society? I started MPS in July 2008. I had wanted to do a No Limit Texas Hold 'Em Tournament poker-themed night for some time and it fell into place at a small venue called Abraxas Lounge on the Beach. Our MPS players include EVERYBODY from attorneys, clerks, firefighters and models.
Word is the winners get staked to go to Vegas. How does that work? Each venue has its own in-house league. Top finishers in each tournament earn points which accumulate. Once a player reaches 1,000 points, the Top 16 point finishers qualify for that venue's Grand Prize Final Table Tournament; the winner gets a shot at a WSOP bracelet.
Right now you've got seven nights all around town. Can you give us the details please? On Sunday nights we are at Blue Martini in Mary Brickell Village. Mondays we are at four different venues: Brickell Irish Pub in Brickell; Corbett's Sports Bar & Grill in Pinecrest; Crazy Pianos in the Grove; and Kill Your Idol on SoBe. Tuesdays is our original night, which is at Waxy O'Connor's on the Beach, and Wednesdays we are at Vinyl & Kai on South Beach.
How do you decide on a venue anyway? That takes a lot of analyzing. Our nights need consistency on a weekly basis for our players to know we are reliable. The venue has to realize that the night takes a while to build up, but once it is up and running, it inevitably transforms an off night for the venue into a marquee night. Having tables and chairs is a huge plus.
I understand MPS gives back to the community. What charities are you supporting and why? The goal of MPS is and always will be to provide an almost typical anti-Miami approach to socialization and fun. With that, we try to host as many charity functions as possible. We have worked with the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce, Ronald McDonald Charities, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, and various others. I started a holiday toy drive five years ago -- last year MPS was essential in helping to donate over 3,500 brand new toys to the migrant farmers of St. Ann's Mission in Naranja, FL.
With seven games going on, that makes for a lotta legwork. How do you handle all that action? I have been graced in finding three absolutely amazing hosts in James Payne, Michael Bruno, and Javier Lombillo. Between the four of us, we run the nights and take care of all of the weekly administration duties. Could not do it without them!
What do you think it is about poker that gets folks all giddy? Poker is chess on steroids. You are playing your pieces (cards) on a board against seven or more other players at the same time; one card comes up and all of sudden your hand goes from "two pawns" to "two queens." MPS players don't care about some celeb or DJ being at the night; they care about whether or not the person that donked them out the week before will be there so they can get their revenge!
Did you grow up playing poker yourself? I learned the game when I was 8 years old from two of my uncles. I only play No Limit Texas Hold 'Em tournaments -- it truly is the Cadillac of card games. I've taken down a few tourneys here and there, but have yet to turn pro. I would consider myself an ultra conservative player -- I can't stand when someone plays a 7-2.
When you're not handling MPS action, where in town do you most like to hang out? Being 33 and single in Miami, the options are kind of limited, and there are a lot of bluffers out there. I love Grand Central, and really just enjoy going to the MPS venues; they each really do have their own character. You can always find me having breakfast at Latin Cafe!
What's coming up for Lou Stadler? I work as a financial advisor during the day, and I'm launching my own non-for-profit in Divine Intervention Charities as well as creating a concert-booking agency for Central America. Plan is to keep putting smiles on people's faces and expand MPS fun into more of Miami!