Community spirit in spades at Belly Up | AspenTimes.com

Community spirit in spades at Belly Up

Abigail Eagye

Robyn Gray deals cards Thursday for the annual Aspen Poker Championship fundraiser for Grassroots TV at Belly Up. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Poker players turned out Thursday night for some serious fun as GrassRoots TV hosted its Aspen Poker Championship at Belly Up. The fundraiser brings in needed revenue for the nonprofit community television station, which initiated the event last year.”Poker was big on TV, and it seemed like a fun thing to do,” said John Masters, executive director at GrassRoots. “We did it again because everyone had a great time. It’s a lot of risky fun lovers.”The $250 buy-in gave poker players the chance to, well, play poker. State law prohibits the station from mixing risk with reward, Masters said, so there were no prizes for winners – only the opportunity to be crowned Aspen’s poker king or queen.No prize money didn’t mean there were no prizes, though. Entrants had the chance to take home a variety of door prizes, including a one-year lease on an Audi A4 from Elk Mountain Motors.The TV station plans to mix it up a little next year, doing away with the entry fee and accepting donations from anyone who wishes to contribute, Masters said.”Tonight, we removed the reward,” he said. “Next year, we’re going to eliminate the risk.”Basalt resident Greg Stasinos turned out to compete, but he didn’t have high hopes for taking home the title.”I just wanted to play poker,” he said. “Texas Hold ’em is such a big game now I thought it would be fun to be in the tournament – and to win the car.”He also liked the idea of supporting GrassRoots TV.”I do think it’s important that it’s there,” he said. “They show some of the radical things going on in the valley, and they help you keep up on current events.”And, of course, there are the snow reports, of vital importance these days, he said.GrassRoots TV doesn’t receive any funding from outside the valley, relying solely on donations, local grants and fundraisers like the poker tournament to stay on the air. That’s part of the philosophy of totally local television, Masters said.”The idea of community television is that it’s entirely funded and entirely programmed by the community, and it’s entirely about the community,” he said. “We completely depend upon the goodwill of this community to survive.”Part-time Aspen resident Robert Lund proclaimed himself terrible at poker, but he joined the game “to support the charity and have a good time,” he said. “The best part is you get the fun part of gambling, but when you lose, you don’t feel bad because you know the money’s going to a good place.”For more information about GrassRoots, including TV schedules, or to make a donation, call 925-8000, or go online to http://www.grassrootstv.org.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen Colo.