UNL Poker Club President Alec Rome develops plan to keep members safe during meetings

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 11:00am

by Kaitlynn Johnson

While the university has made changes to keep the campus community safe during classes this fall, clubs and other student organizations have created their own policies to allow safe socializing for students. One student club, the UNL Poker Club, has been developing and making plans in order to meet their club’s goals while also keeping its members safe. 

Broadcasting production major Alec Rome started the club with some friends in 2019, and eventually established it as an RSO. The club serves as an opportunity for students to connect, burn off stress, play poker and raise money for charity. 

After the university shut down in March, the club realized the importance of playing poker and meeting in person. Delays in Zoom made reading emotions difficult, and participants could no longer play with chips or fidget their hands with the cards.

“That was the big thing for us: that sort of community and being able to play in person with cards," Rome said. "There’s just something about it, something tactile about being able to do that, that everyone found they were missing, while playing online. It is definitely a different dynamic even though it's the exact same game.” 

When planning how to play in-person this semester, the club looked to casinos.

“We felt that was the standard we should probably try to reach,” Rome said. In addition to requiring masks, changes the group has planned to implement include constantly sanitizing the cards and chips, having participants use hand sanitizer when leaving and entering the room, and using a hand sanitizer bottle in place of a dealer button. Additionally, club members would have their temperature checked upon arrival. 

A second project the Poker Club has had in the works is to create a custom RFID poker table. This table would be able to show the cards each person holds, and overlay them on the screen of participants playing. Rome hopes this will create a poker game that could be broadcasted and of high quality for people to watch. 
        
For Rome, the UNL Poker club has given him an opportunity to develop the skills he’s learned while being a student in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He’s been able to use his skills in broadcasting, photography, event planning/promotion, and managing social media. 

“We’re trying to take the knowledge of things we’ve learned from the journalism school to do big things, because that’s what I think the journalism school is about. It’s about doing big things,” Rome said. 

Despite the rising numbers on campus and delay in the club’s first meeting date, Rome remains hopeful.

“We’re prepared, and we’re going to try and find any way we can to do this.” 
Graphic by UNL Poker Club
Graphic by UNL Poker Club