Upping the ante
A second poker club has made a stake in Medford, betting the city is big enough for two gaming facilities and maybe more.
"We're proud to be the biggest poker club this side of Portland," said Arthur Flangas, owner of Medford Social Club Poker Room.
Flangas has owned a gaming room in Ashland for three years but has been waiting for the laws to change in Medford before opening a larger, 3,400-square-foot facility with six gaming tables at 322 E. Main St., near Riverside Avenue.
It's the second club to open in Medford this year. On June 4, the Medford Poker Club opened at 3502 Excel Drive, Suite 103, and was the only poker business in town for a few months.
Shortly after, city officials did an about-face and asked the gaming facility to shut its doors after an anonymous person complained the business was operating illegally.
The City Council allowed the Medford Poker Club to continue to operate and in July the city changed its law in July to align with Oregon law.
Social gaming is allowed under Oregon law, but a city has to take another step to approve a local social gaming ordinance — something Medford officials previously hadn’t done.
Sam Barnum, director of the Medford Building Department, said only two poker clubs had taken out permits. He doesn't have any other applications for poker rooms so far, he said.
Since Medford has the largest population in the area, Flangas said, he thinks the city should be able to support two or more gaming rooms.
"Obviously this is such a bigger market," he said.
The Gold Hill Poker Card Room announced recently it was combining its operation with the Medford Social Club. As a result, there are now four gaming rooms, with one in Grants Pass and one Ashland along with the two in Medford, Flangas said.
His club offers various types of Texas Hold 'Em with bets ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars.
Tournaments are held at the club, including a recent Rogue Valley Poker Classic and the Fossilman Poker Training, planned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 9 and featuring professional poker player Greg "Fossilman" Raymer.
Flangas said he'd been waiting for Medford to change its local laws, and when it did, he applied for a business license and invested $50,000 into the facility. On opening day, Sept. 10, he said the business opened its doors at noon and didn't close until 5 a.m. the next day.
"We had people waiting in line to play," he said.
The club is open from 5:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and from 1 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The club has a no-fee membership.
Flangas said his club makes its money from donations from players. He said the donation amount is up to each player.
The club has free refreshments and snacks. It also features a pool table, shuffleboard and other games. Players can bring their own beer or wine.