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First poker room in Grants Pass opens Saturday

The Grants Pass Social Club, the city's first social-gaming card room, has set its grand opening for Saturday.

"Predominately, we're going to be having No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em and also what's called Limit Texas Hold 'Em, which is much smaller," owner Glenn Richardson said, referring to the popular poker game. "We're probably going to have a lot of Omaha games, as well."

The new business, located downtown at 120 S.W. J St., opens in the wake of Grants Pass City Council's approval of social gaming in May. Social gambling is allowed under Oregon law, but only when a city approves a local ordinance.

"The City Council voted to approve social gaming in Grants Pass, and then they set parameters and locations that you can be in," Richardson explained. "That started the search for an appropriate location that the city would approve."

For Richardson and his girlfriend, paralegal Denise Meyer, the approval of the social-gaming ordinance started the search for a building that was located in an area that met the city's criteria.

Because adult-use businesses can't be located within 200 feet of a residential zone or 1,000 feet of a school, park, library or other location where children commonly play, that left few options available for a card room. Most of the areas that meet the criteria are along the Grants Pass Parkway and in areas south of the Rogue River. A limited number of downtown properties qualify.

"That was a lot of walking the streets, a lot of looking at maps, property ownerships," Richardson said. "We found a very friendly landlord who owns this building, and this was the right location for us and the right deal to strike with the landlord."

The process of acquiring permits, hiring contractors, drawing up designs for the building and securing approval from the city took up the next several months. A renovation of the building's interior was just completed recently.

"You should have seen this place before we came in," Meyer said. "It's been a complete transformation. It's like night and day."

Richardson and Meyer, who so far are the only employees, will serve food to players to go along with beer and wine. They plan to have five beers on tap, all from local breweries, as well as a couple of wine choices.

During Saturday's opening, Richardson and Meyer plan to have a dinner catered by Cartwright's, to be served at 6 p.m. It will kick off a part of the service they plan to provide to the card room's customers that will have take-out from other restaurants delivered to the card room or picked up by card-room employees.

Already, Richardson and Meyer are getting interest from the community in their card room, and have a waiting list for one of their tables Saturday.

"This is an interesting journey," Richardson said. "But we're finally at the end of it."

For more information, call Glenn Richardson at 541-295-9532 or see GrantsPassPoker.com.

— Reach reporter Madeline Shannon at 541-474-3813 or mshannon@thedailycourier.com

Glenn Richardson holds pocket aces outside of the Grants Pass Social Club on J Street between Sixth and Fifth streets in Grants Pass. TIMOTHY BULLARD / Daily Courier