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ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap present the Houston Online Poker Charity Classic, 4th edition

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Looking to get in on some action while doing good for charity? On Saturday, May 2, at 2 p.m., ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap are putting on the Houston Online Poker Charity Classic using Pokerstars.net. This will be our fourth and possibly, final tournament. The first, second and third were a major success.

The tournament will be $50, with an optional $10 donation, which will go to two charities, one in the Houston area and one in Beaumont.


How to play

PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER!

You will need a Pokerstars.net account. (Also .bet). It is the free site. Do not sign up for Pokerstars.com; it is not legal in the U.S. You will need a laptop or desk top; the site does not support mobile for home games.

Once you are set up on poker stars, go to home games (lower right hand corner on your laptop), and join group ESPN97.5/SportsMap with club ID Club #3411044. You will need 20,000 free chips to sign up for the tournament. You get 35,000 when you open your account. If needed you can collect 15k in free chips every four hours, or buy a million for $2.99.

The password/invitation code is 975pokerwin

Once signed up, send your $60 through PayPal to promotion@gowmedia.com, but SELECT "SENDING TO A FRIEND" not "goods and services." OR use "Cash App" and send your $60 to $ESPN975. Please add your screen name and do NOT use "poker" in any comments/subject field. Once your payment has been received, your ID will be approved. (we approve by groups once a day). Once approved you will need to register for the specific tournament by selecting "schedule" at the top and then "register" at the bottom right by buying in with your 20,000 chips. If you do not pay, your account all not be verified in the group. Registration will close at noon on Saturday, so you must sign up before then. Your account will be pending until you pay the entry fee.

Money will be paid out to the top 15 percent finishers. The donations go to two great causes.

Kids' Meals Houston

Kid's Meals delivers food to pre-school aged children in Houston. Many families are suffering more than ever, and Kids' Meals is helping impoverished families feed their children.

Southeast Texas Food Bank

We don't want to forget our friends and listeners in Beaumont and the Golden Triangle. Southeast Texas Food Bank provides services all over the Golden Triangle area. They are partnered with over 130 non-profit agencies and schools in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Polk, Sabine, and Tyler Counties.

The bottom line

The tournaments have been a great success, but since the state is reopening, this will likely be the last one.If you want to continue to play in our free poker club, you can read about that here.

Any questions, please email promotion@gowmedia.com

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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