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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

While we’re all about the lazy days of summer, who says you can’t throw a little bit of a cerebral flare into the mix? Apparently, the stellar blowout between Joan Rivers and Patti Duke on the Celebrity Apprentice (you’re a po-ka playa) didn’t discourage everyone from learning the tricks of the trade. Citizen Bar’s Poker School 101 started out as a ladies only event, but due to the high demand,  men are now invited to participate in  a little healthy competition. NBC-poker

Citizen Bar owner Jimmy D, professional poker player and Millionaire Matchmaker star, along with additional professional poker players will provide students with a comprehensive guide of poker tips and strategies. Starting tonight, Poker 101 will be held every other Tuesday (rain or shine) from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Lessons are free and winners will have their picture displayed on Citizen Bar’s “Wall of Fame.” Students can take advantage of special food and drink specials like half price bottles of wine and $6 salads (think swimsuit season), while soaking up the summer sun on the roof-top deck.

Space is limited, reservations are recommended. Please RSVP to ieva@citizenbar.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

If you’re looking for something different to do this holiday season and want a break from Chicago’s hustle and bustle, then you might want to travel to Northwest Indiana.  I recently visited Horseshoe Casino, in Hammond Indiana, and was pleasantly surprised to see a first class venue.  I dined at their steak and seafood restaurant, Jack Binions, which offers select cuts of prime rib, steaks, veal and seafood.  My Kobe beef steak was tantalizing along with a few appetizers and a couple of desserts.  The restaurant overlooks Lake Michigan and attracts a lot of casino goers from Indiana and Chicago.  The casino also has a few other dining options, including the Village Square Buffet, housing Italian, Mexican, American, Asian and Seafood cuisine.uha_steak_house_2_300x22511

Horseshoe Casino has 350,000 square-feet of gaming space and 97 tables with games such as Black Jack, Poker, Craps, Roulette, Mini-Baccarat and many more.  The casino features approximately 3200 slot machines including the High-Limit Slot Room.  There are a few exclusive private lounges for special guests and high rollers.  The Horseshoe’s gaming room rivals any casino on the Las Vegas strip.

The Venue, the casino’s 90,000 square foot entertainment facility, hosts events and concerts.  Famous musicians and comedians are showcased weekly.  Past performers have included Seal, Liza Minelli, and Bette Midler.   Upcoming events will feature Gladys Knight, Jeff Foxworthy and Cedric the Entertainer.  The Venue also hosted the World Series of Poker this past October.

The Hammond Horseshoe Casino is about 30-minutes from downtown Chicago via I-90/94 and the Chicago Skyway.  For more information log onto www.hammondhorseshoe.com or call 866-711-SHOE (7463).

To check out the newest and hottest restaurants in Chicago watch Fete Select TV on www.efete.net.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank

If you’ve watched ESPN at all in recent years, you’ve certainly noticed the proliferation of poker programming. Poker’s popularity is tremendous and on Thu night, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Sun-Times columnist/film critic Richard Roeper and former Chicago Bear Chris Zorich came together to host “Aces UP!” celebrity poker tournament to support Urban Prep Academy, the only all-boys public charter high school in the state. Players came to Fulton’s on the River on Sept 18th to take on the stars of Chicago’s media, entertainment, civic and sports scene in Texas Hold ‘em; for a prize pool of more that $15,000. In addition to the three hosts, celebrity participants included former Chicago Bear Jerry Azumah, “Dodgeball” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Actor Chris Willliams, Chicago Tribune sports columnist Teddy Greenstein and NBC5’s own Natalie Martinez. The event was organized by Urban Prep founder Tim King. “Ninety percent of the students come from low-income families and while it is a tuition- free school, the programs we have at the school necessitate raising funds to support our projects,” King said. The proceeds raised by this event (more than $100,000) will help provide a college preparatory education for the school’s students. “We’ve got some real problems here in Illinois in the way we fund our education, so for someone to come out and start their own charter school and do such a phenomenal job with it is something I’m really excited to be a part of,” said treasurer Giannoulias, who King introduced to the room as “the next Governor of Illinois.”

When the six-hour and 200+ player tournament was over, the final three champions: Matthew Golden, Spilios Venetsanopoulus, and Dan Rosenbloom decided to split the $15,000 pie. “We want people to come here and have a great time, great food, great drink, but also play some pretty serious poker and we had some real good competition last year,” Richard Roeper told me during an exclusive chat before the tournament. Although the stakes will be somewhat high, the competition here was nowhere near as cutthroat as what’s on ESPN2. “When you’re playing a charity event, as opposed to what’s on television, the idea is just to have a lot of fun,” said former Notre Dame star Chris Zorich.

For more Chicago Sports analysis and discussion click here.

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