As the first week of classes drew to a close, students gathered in the University Center Down Under on Thursday for some card play during Welcome Week's Casino Night.
Around 50 students sat at card tables dispersed throughout the underground pool hall, some raking in the chips, and others watching them slip away.
"There's Blackjack and Texas Hold 'em," Holly Harris, senior in architecture, said. "Participants are given $5,000 (worth of) chips in the beginning, and then they can play at either table. It's kind of free play."
Card sharks of all playing levels mingled at the tables, and dealers often took the time to explain the rules and keep all players involved.
"I'm not a beginner, but I'm not an expert," Dewayne Smith, freshman in animal sciences, said.
Casino Night was a free event, as many students who lost big left thankful for.
"I got up to 8,000, then I lost it ... all at once," Smith said.
Even those students with the worst luck were able to enjoy the night thanks to the makeshift casino's lenient buy-in policy.
"When they're out, they can get more if they want to," Harris said. "It's kind of like, if you want to keep playing you can just go get more chips at the entrance table."
For those players who were skilled enough to beat the house, there were plenty of rewards to be had. When students finished their games, they could cash in their chips for small, instant prizes such as frisbees and tanning lotion samples.
Alternatively, students had the option to save up their chips for a bigger reward.
"They can enter to win a prize in the drawings at 9:30 p.m.," Harris said prior to the giveaways. "We have a baseball t-shirt, a UT dog leash and just Tennessee paraphernalia."
For every $5,000 in chips a player cashed in, they were entered into the drawings for prizes sponsored by businesses such as Oscar's Restaurant, Sunspot, the UT Federal Credit Union and the Golden Roast, among others.
Attendees appeared to be enjoying themselves at the low-key event, and students like Jennifer Price, a freshman in chemistry, were glad for the break from the rest of Welcome Week's events.
"It seemed different than all the other nights," she said. "All the other activities it was like 'dance party, dance party, dance party,' and I was like, 'Oh, Casino Night. That's kind of different.'"