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Poker proves best bet to survive Christmas

    For diaspora Jews, Christmas can often be a lonely or just plain dull experience.

    Andrew Rothbart, a Jewish entrepreneur from Las Vegas, believes poker is the answer to the yuletide blues his co-religionists often feel around Christmas Day.

    This year, on December 24 and 25, he organised a Jewish poker championship at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. “There were between 150 and 200 people from across the country as well as from the UK, Israel, Mexico and Montenegro,” he said.

    The buy-in for the competition that followed Texas Hold’em rules is $1080, a sum chosen to evoke the symbolic number 18, also known as Chai in Jewish tradition. A rabbi delivered a blessing at the opening dinner and players competed for cash prizes and giveaways — including at least one tallit.

    Mr Rothbart, 36, said the idea first came to him in 2011 after he returned disappointed from a Jewish singles night on Christmas Eve and vowed to create more alternative ways to spend the holiday.

    He thinks poker, with its growing worldwide popularity, is the perfect choice for a people known for their love of card games.

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