By Becky Roozen Published Oct 08, 2004 at 5:18 AM

{image1}The first 10-week series of the Badger Poker tournaments comes to a close Saturday, Oct. 9 as the final tournament is held at Bar Milwaukee, 1044 N. Old World 3rd St. But poker aficionados need not worry, round two of the Milwaukee Poker League Series starts just two days later.

Back in early August owners Jason Growel and Wes Pals and business development manager Mary Jane Sanchez held the first No Limit Texas Hold'em Poker tournament at Lava Bar & Grill. Every Monday through Thursday after that, until now, Lava, Rock Bottom Brewery, Game Time and Club Paragon have been the hot spots for crazed poker players.

Players pre-registered online, and once 6 p.m. rolled around, rolled in to take part in these non-gambling, non-licensed gaming events.

Professional poker tables were set up, and casino clay chips and cards were divvied up as at least 100 Milwaukeeans, and those from surrounding areas, showed up to practice their skills and play for the donated T-shirts and a spot at the final tourney.

By about 11:15 p.m. 20 finalists made their mark and the sponsoring bar made a little extra cash. Even though there was no drink minimum or entry fee, at least 100 hungry and thirsty guys (and some ladies) certainly make it worth the venue's while.

"We've got a list of bars that have been calling to be part of the next series," says Sanchez. "There has already been a wonderful response and with that comes quite a following."

Badger Poker tournaments are also held in the Madison area, but Sanchez says the "metropolitan area in Milwaukee is much better."

The first couple weeks, people didn't really know each other, she says. But by the end of the series there was such great "camaraderie and competitiveness." Even to the point where regulars made up taunting names for one another, all in good fun.

And although disagreements were rare, Sanchez says Growel, the spokesman of the two owners would, "always try to solve any disputes, he's basically a peacemaker," rather than kick people out or disqualify them.

The second Milwaukee series begins Monday, Oct. 11 at Bay View Bowl and Brew City. Tuesday poker nights will be held at Have a Nice Day Café; Wednesdays at Bavarian Inn in Glendale and Sharkey's in Waukesha; and Thursdays at Bar Milwaukee.

For more information call (262) 650-0535 or check out the Web site,