"Some of these guys who play are just horribly, horribly competitive," admitted Wende Pruden of the Sikeston Optimist Club. "These guys take their game pretty seriously. It's kind of fun to watch, but kind of scary."
Anyone looking to give repeat players a run for their money should consider playing in the 23rd annual Monopoly Game Tournament set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Clinton Building at the Sikeston Sports Complex.
"Things get pretty intense. There's quite a bit of competiveness -- it's all in good fun," noted repeat player Jeff Nagle.
Bart Grant has played in the annual tournament off and on for the past seven years, and he admits he's always liked to play the real estate game.
"I love to play Monopoly," said Grant, who says he has played the game since he was a child. "I have an older brother so I played with him some, and my mom played with me a lot."
Depending on the number of entries, six or seven tables are set up with players who play a 90-minute round. The winner of each table then moves onto the final 90-minute round, where one person is declared winner.
"It's a 90-minute round, but you'd be surprised at how fast it really goes and how many people really go bankrupt or accumulate assets. It's amazing how intense those last minutes of play are," Pruden noted.
Prizes are awarded to winners as well as to those players with the most sponsors and sponsorship money. All players with $25 or more receive a special participation award. Additional prizes are awarded to those with $150 in contributions and those players with the most contributions and the most number of sponsors.
Grant said he's made it to the final round once.
"I've won the semi-final round twice, went to finals twice . . . but we'll just leave it at that," Nagle laughed.
Winning the game is a combination of luck and skill, Nagle said.
Pay attention to what properties you own, Grant advised for newcomers to the game.
"If you're not paying attention, then they skip over you and the next player rolls the dice," Grant said.
Another tip Grant offered is to buy the properties middle-priced like the reds and yellows.
"If you buy the expensive properties, the odds of landing on those aren't good as landing on the ones in middle of the board," Grant explained. "And of course it's the luck of the roll of the dice."
Sponsored by the Sikeston Optimist Club, proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Optimist Club's Youth Projects, including the annual Shoe Project that gives away between 250 and 350 pairs of shoes a year to area school children.
And it's helping the Optimist Club that has kept Nagle playing for the past five years.
"I would say one reason for participating is the fact that it's a good organization and it's going to a good cause," Nagle said. "And second of all, it's a fun opportunity to get to play with others and have a nice, enjoyable evening."
The tournament isn't just for grown ups either. Two or three tables of youth play every year, Pruden said. Although there is no age limit, children who play need to understand the concept of the Monopoly Game, she added.
"The main thing, though is to have fun," Grant said. "And remember what you're playing for."
Anyone interested in pitting their real estate trading skills against top players while helping Sikeston area youth should contact Pruden at 472-2761 or 472-5452 to obtain a Player's Kit.