Deaf Poker Tour raises the stakes for hearing impaired players in Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) — “Poker is kind of like an international language where you don’t necessarily need to hear to be able to play the game,” said Rita Scarcella, interpreting sign language by Matt Erickson.

Erickson, a lifelong poker player, became co-owner of the Deaf Poker Tour in 2017. The traveling tournament was founded in 2006. Seeing how it affected so many lives, Erickson felt compelled to keep it going when the opportunity presented itself.

“Some places don’t have areas where they can go and play poker,” Scarcella said on behalf of Erickson. “So this is an opportunity for those who love the game to come together.”

Deaf Poker Tour previously partnered with Live! Casino and Hotel Maryland. The success of the partnership has allowed the tournament to expand to the Philadelphia branch, where it returns this weekend.

“I think it’s important to bring the deaf community into the casino. It’s something we’re very proud of,” said Anne Tran, director of poker operations at Live! Philadelphia Cream. “Our team members practiced and learned basic sign language to communicate during the events.”

Three days of seven poker events will invite deaf and hard of hearing players to compete. Some events are open to the general public, creating an inclusive environment where players of all skill levels can mingle.

It also brings visibility to a group of people with invisible disabilities.

“It’s great to show people that the community is there and it can be united and strong,” said Stephen DiGiovanna of Slatington, Pennsylvania.

To learn more about the Deaf Poker Tour and upcoming events, visit their website.

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