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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Where Players Know When to Hold 'em: World Series of Poker

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(MUSIC)

HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music from Amerie …

A question from a listener about jury trials in the United States …

And a report about a popular card game called poker.

(MUSIC)

World Series of Poker

Jennifer Harman, a player in the World Series of Poker, looks at her cards as dealer Kevin Ferguson deals to other players on the first day of the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in Las Vegas.
Jennifer Harman, a player in the World Series of Poker, looks at her cards as dealer Kevin Ferguson deals to other players on the first day of the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in Las Vegas.

HOST: The World Series of Poker is taking place in the gambling capital of America: Las Vegas, Nevada. Pat Bodner tells us more about this popular card game.

PAT BODNER: Experts say poker was first played in the United States almost two hundred years ago. Gamblers on riverboats that sailed on the Mississippi River played the game. They bet money on who had the best cards.

Today, poker is the most popular card game in the United States. People play poker with friends in their homes. They watch professional poker players and famous people play the game on television.

One popular show is called "Celebrity Poker Showdown." Famous actors, athletes and musicians try to win money that they give to non-profit organizations. Thousands of people around the world play poker on the Internet.

There are several kinds of poker. The most popular one today is called Texas hold 'em. If you guessed that this game was first played by cowboys in the state of Texas, you would be right. Here is how you play: Each player gets two cards face down. Then the dealer places five cards face up in the middle of the table.

Each player tries to make the best five-card hand by combining his or her two cards with the five cards on the table. The players bet money four times during the game. The player who has the best hand of cards -- or who makes the other players THINK he or she has the best cards -- wins all the money. Sometimes a player acts like he or she has the best cards but really does not and wins anyway. This is called "bluffing."

This year's World Series of Poker began June second. Last week, actress Jennifer Tilly won the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold 'em event. She beat six hundred players, including some of the top female professional card players in the world. She won more than one hundred fifty thousand dollars.

In the past, other women, non-professional card players and players from other countries have won major events.

The main event of the World Series of Poker is the No-Limit Texas Hold 'em World Championship. It is being held July seventh to the fifteenth. More than six thousand players are competing. They had to pay ten thousand dollars to enter the competition. They are playing for more than sixty million dollars in prize money.

Trial by Jury

Jury box in a U.S. countroom
Jury box in a U.S. countroom

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Bauchi State, Nigeria. Adamu Shaibu Onakpa asks what juries, judges and lawyers do in an American court.

A jury is a group of six to twelve people who listen to evidence in a trial. The right to have a jury hear evidence in court is guaranteed in the United States Constitution. The purpose of a jury is to decide the answer to the question, "What really happened?" But an accused person may not want a jury to make that decision. Such people are said to waive a jury trial. A judge makes the decision instead.

Any American citizen can be called for jury duty. The court gets names of local citizens from lists of voters, drivers and taxpayers. Court officials write to the people on the list telling them to come to the courthouse to serve on a jury.

At the courthouse, the lawyers representing each side ask proposed jurors what they think or how they feel about the case to be tried. The judge also can ask questions. The government or defense lawyer can dismiss a proposed juror if he or she believes that the person cannot decide the case fairly. For example, if a proposed juror says he read all about the crime in the newspaper and believes the accused is guilty, he cannot be a member of the jury.

After the jury is chosen, the lawyers present evidence to support their positions. The government lawyer tries to show that the person accused of a crime is guilty. The defense lawyer tries to show that the accused person may not have done what he is charged with. The judge at a jury trial decides what evidence is legal and can be presented to the jury.

Under American law, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. The defense does not have to prove that the accused person is innocent. Instead, the government must show that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

When both sides are finished presenting their case, the judge explains to the jury the laws they must follow in deciding the case. The jury members privately discuss the evidence and make a decision. Usually, all the jury members must agree before a person can be found guilty or not guilty. In some American courts, the jury also decides the punishment if it finds the defendant guilty. In other states, the judge decides the sentence.

Amerie

HOST: The singer known as Amerie is twenty-five years old. She has just released her second album. Gwen Outen tells us about her.

GWEN OUTEN: Amerie Rogers traveled a lot when she was a child. Her father served in the United States military. The family lived at several military bases in Germany, South Korea, the state of Alaska and Washington, D.C.

Amerie's mother is Korean. Her father is African-American. Amerie developed a love for classical arts through her mother. She learned about rhythm and blues music from her father. She studied dance and performed in talent competitions throughout her childhood.

Amerie attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and began to develop a career in singing. In two thousand two, she recorded her first album, "All I Have." Here she sings "Why Don't We Fall in Love."

(MUSIC)

Recently, Amerie recorded a second album. It is called "Touch." In this next song, she uses the influences of Go-Go music. Go-Go is a kind of music that is strong in percussive instruments, especially drums. The song is called "One Thing".

(MUSIC)

Amerie wrote the songs and helped produce her album "Touch." She also helped design the picture on the CD. We leave you with another song by Amerie from the album "Touch." Here is "Falling."

(MUSIC)

HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Lawan Davis, Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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