Local casino's deaf poker tournament gives players feelings of community – Toledo Blade

When Andrew Lisac called Achille Buzzelli’s raise in the first betting round of a Texas hold’em hand Saturday afternoon at Hollywood Casino Toledo, the two men then smiled at each other and bumped fists.

And when the showdown revealed that the ace of diamonds dealt on the last card had given Mr. Buzzelli a higher-ranking flush than Mr. Lisac, who up until then had held the better hand — a pair of tens to Mr. Buzzelli’s ace-jack — they bumped fists again while the dealer pushed the betting pot toward Mr. Buzzelli.

That sort of friendliness, players and casino staff alike said, sets the Ohio Deaf Poker Championship apart from the regular, open-to-anyone poker tournaments at the local casino.

“I like to go to any deaf events, because I meet new people, make new friends, and see old friends,” James Carr of Indianapolis, one of many who drove for hours to compete in the tournament, signed through an interpreter. “The socialization is phenomenal, and it doesn’t happen often.”

“There are so many who travel. They feel isolated if they’re alone with a hearing group,” signed Mr. Buzzelli of Toledo, whose inquiry prompted the casino to begin offering occasional events restricted to people with hearing impairments with a tournament March 11. He is also a “host” there this weekend, when two deaf-poker tournaments are running.

Deaf poker player Achille Buzzelli signs during the Hollywood Casino’s “Ohio Deaf Poker Championship” tournament on Saturday.

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Mr. Buzzelli would end up winning the tournament and its $1,605 top prize when he made a pair of queens against a pair of tens held by Gabe O’Hicks of Richmond, Ky., on what proved to be the final hand just under nine hours after the

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