When 'looking scary' is your winning strategy for poker
CLAD in bikie leather and sporting beards, the Northern Rivers 'Outcasts' may look scary, but this is just their "winning strategy”.
The men are the reigning Deaf Poker Australia State of Origin IV champions, having "stole the show” last year, and are looking to reclaim their second consecutive title.
Speaking through an interpreter, Outcasts team captain Michael Lockery said to win the championship the first time they competed, especially with a "fairly inexperienced” team was shocking.
"Simon (Mahony) and I started talking about getting a team together to complete last year in February,” Mr Lockery said.
"We started playing a few games, rotating between houses to practice for the championship.”
The Outcasts went into their first competition with an inexperienced team, and were thrilled to be able to defeat the then-reigning Victorian team.
"I only started playing January last year, so everyone else had a lot more skills than I did, but our team is a really good mix of learners and more experienced players,” Mr Lockery said.
Defending their title for the 2018 competition, Mr Lockery said the Outcasts have a "lot more experience and skills” than last year, so they are hopeful they can take home the trophy again.
The team chose the name Outcasts as they are a regional team and have usually been isolated in terms of the opportunities that are available to deaf poker players in the cities.
Mr Lockery said the team made the decision to "dress like bikies” to suit the Outcasts name, as they "wanted something a bit different and unique from other teams.
"We grew beards last year, and scared everyone into folding,” Mr Lockery said.
"It was a great strategy.”
Mr Lockery said that following their shock win last year, they started hiring the local deaf community venue to practice for this year's event.
"Since winning last year, there has been a lot more enthusiasm from the deaf community,” team member Simon Mahony said.
There has been so much interest they group have officially launched a regular deaf poker group that plays each month in Lismore, and is open to all skill levels.
Mr Mahony said that the regular meeting offers deaf people a "fantastic opportunity” for regular social inclusion, as well as practice for this year's Australian championships.
"This is really important for the deaf community. It gives us the chance to get together and have some fun in our language,” Mr Mahony said.
"The group isn't about winning, it's about friendship and fun.”