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University Of Houston Hosts Air Hockey World Tournament

You might think of air hockey as a fun arcade game. But this weekend, dozens of professional players are at the University of Houston for the World Air Hockey Tournament.

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Two men stand at a table playing air hockey before the tournament begins.
Competitors get in some practice before the tournament begins.

Jeorgia Rodriguez started playing air hockey three years ago, shooting around for fun at the tables in the mall. Today, she's ranked the number two female player in the world.

"You're kind of like almost air hockey royalty because you're a girl playing air hockey," Rodriguez says. "When you tell people, they're like, ‘You do what? That's so cool!'"

Trophies for the air hockey tournament are lined up on a shelf.
The tournament winners will take home these trophies.

Rodriguez likes that the game puts her on par with the top professional players, regardless of gender. She's been practicing for this tournament for months, and it's a far cry your average arcade game. The players wear protective gloves, whirl their mallets around strategically and shoot the puck at lightning speed.

Organizer Phil Arnold is founder of the U.S. Air Hockey Association. He compares the game to a high-speed chess match.

"Air hockey played the way we do is played fast but it's analytical because in air hockey, you have four rails, so you can ricochet the puck off the rails, so you can set up shots," Arnold says.

He says about 150 players are expected to compete, but anyone is welcome to join. A world champion will be crowned by the time the tournament ends this Sunday.

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