A Friday night game of Texas Hold 'Em poker is a familiar scene for the college set.
But Chad Flood and his friends aren't only playing for fun...they're practicing to win tournaments.
Flood says, "I think I'm one of the better players..."
Chad isn't bluffing.
He's so good...last year he won 41-thousand dollars in an online tournament!
And it wasn't cash for just anything...it was CASH FOR CLASS!
The poker tournament winner says, "I was just kind of shocked. It took a while for it to actually set in."
Chad cashed-in playing the College Poker Championship...one of several scholarship tournaments run by gambling websites.
Students don't wager real money....but the winnings ARE real.
With 200-thousand dollars on the line this year...Chad and his buddies are at it again...
"You have to win the regional to get to the final..." Flood continues.
College poker championship winner Lou Krieger says, "This year, so far, there have been over 33,000 students who have enrolled and have played."
Lou Krieger has written several books on poker and now hosts College Poker Championship.
He says poker is a virtual craze...and the tournaments are a way for gaming sites to give back.
Krieger continues, "It's poker on training wheels. There's no risk at all. They can have a lot of fun. They can win some money."
Since students aren't asked to pony up cash... Krieger says it's more like a game show than gaming.
But Keith Whyte with the 'National Council on Problem Gambling' couldn't disagree more.
Keith Whyte, executive director for the National Association on Problem Gambling says, "These tournaments are certainly gambling. Even if it doesn't meet the legal technical definition, you're playing a gambling activity. And that can lead to preoccupation, can lead to loss of control..."