Investment club ups the ante

The Grand Maple Ballroom was eerily quiet this Saturday afternoon as more than 50 players sat behind their hand of cards, reorganizing their piles of chips and analyzing each other’s expressions.Junior Vasilis Varsakopoulos and senior Erik Giard-Chase of the investment club put the event together. The top 10 players recieved cash prizes, with the overall winner receiving $400. The investment club is one of UVM’s newest clubs, started in 2000 but not recognized by the SGA until this semester.They meet weekly for “stock talk,” Giard-Chase said.The club has about 30 members that Giard-Chase predicts are about 90 percent business students.”It’s relatively small and we are just starting to get our name out there,” Giard-Chase said. He hopes that the popularity of this event will spark an interest in the investment club.Varsakopoulos called the event “epic” and is hopeful that with a little bit more organization next time there could be a bigger turnout and “smooth sailing.”Giard-Chase said that the club goes to New York City for a networking event each year. There they meet with major investment firms like Morgan Stanley, The New York Mercantile Exchange and Bloomberg. Senior Chris Vernon, an exchange student from Australia and dealer at the tournament, was eager to get involved with the Investment Club even before he came to UVM. “I heard about the New York City trip on the net,” Vernon said.Sophomore member Daniela Sasson said she learns a lot at the weekly meetings. “In general, the club is a continuation of classes – discussing what you learn in class, everybody is sharing what they know and do not know.”The club also does things like creating,”mock stock portfolios, watch what is currently happening in the market, decide what we should be holding and talking about different investment strategies based on the economic market,” Giard-Chase said.Giard-Chase said that professor Thomas of the business school also helped with the event planning and serves as a sort of adviser for the club.The gambling had to be approved by the school, but Giard-Chase said that was not a problem because the main goal of the event is fundraising.Player Anton Schmelz has been playing for four years but mostly plays for fun. He also plays online poker.On Saturday he seemed to be only breaking even. But his best poker story was when he entered a $1 tournament and ended up winning second place and $160. “I was playing from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. – it was sick,” Schmelz said.Vernon expressed his admiration, saying, “I think it is impressive that Vasilis and Erik were able to run this the way they did because all they really get is personal gain – and that warm fuzzy feeling.”