The first annual Old Blanco County Courthouse True Grit Texas Hold ’Em Tournament held on October 23, 2010, was a rousing success. A total of forty of Blanco’s most card-savvy players, as well as a few “outsiders,” vied in a heated four-hour, no-limit elimination tournament for a chance to be crowned the 2010 Blanco True Grit champion. The Texas Hold ’Em tournament was only one of four separate events sponsored by the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society and held on Saturday, October 23 to raise money to support the ongoing restoration, preservation and enhancement of Blanco’s Old County Courthouse.
The action was held in the upstairs courtroom of the Old Blanco County Courthouse, scene of the filming of the movie “True Grit” staring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen with Stephen Spielberg. The movie is scheduled for release on Christmas Day. Matt Damon is a well-known Texas Hold ‘Em player and is often a player in celebrity tournaments as well as the World Series of Poker. Blanco’s True Grit Tournament featured official Las Vegas style Hold ’Em tables, chips and cards with experienced dealers and a tournament “pit boss” courtesy of Casino Fun, Inc., based in San Antonio, who conducts many charity casino events, including the event for the San Antonio Rodeo.
Nine players graduated to the tournament’s final table, each receiving a key chain featuring a bronze emblem of the Old Blanco County Courthouse engraved with “Final Table—2010, True Grit Hold ’Em Tournament, Blanco, TX”. When the dust settled, the final three top finishers were determined by process of elimination. The first place Blanco True Grit champion was Greg Harkinson of Houston, TX. When asked about how he felt about coming into Blanco and being crowned the 2010 True Grit champion, Mr. Harkinson said “Blanco has some tough and serious players and I was lucky and gratified to win.” Second place went to Randall Gafford of Blanco and Kary Phipps of Blanco secured third place.
Courtesy of the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the first place winner received an all expense paid trip for two for two nights in a luxury suite at the Golden Nugget including an airfare credit, $200 food and beverage credit at the Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse, free limo to and from the airport, and $350 in other credits. The second place finisher received a free Caribbean cruise for two and the third place winner received a free suite for two for two nights, meals and discounts courtesy of the Isle of Capri in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The event raised approximately $4,400 in gross proceeds to support the Old Blanco County Courthouse building and grounds. Most players indicated they would be back next year and both Randall and Kary vowed that in 2011 the title would be restored to Blanco.