Norman Boulus, poker champion and arcade owner, dies at 77

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A poker champion, Augusta businessman and role model to many teenagers during his time died Sunday, but his family and friends said he can still be seen in the lives he touched during his 77 years of life.

Norman A. Boulus, who succumbed to pneumonia, won the seven-card stud split event at the 1990 World Series of Poker and owned and operated a video game hall called Norman’s Electric Galaxy during the golden age of arcades. His wife, Sissy Boulus, and his nephew, Paul Boulus, said it was through the Electric Galaxy that Norman made a difference in the lives of area teens.

The game room on Washington Road closed in 1991, when at-home consoles became more popular, but while it was open, it kept countless teens out of trouble, they said.

An article in a 1985 issue of The Augusta Chronicle called the teen hangout a different world, with no rowdiness allowed. Boulus’s establishment, it said, was even more free of violence, drugs and alcohol than local schools.

“It was a clean place,” said Don Prelesnik, a friend Paul Boulus who knew Norman for 35 years. “The cops were never there because they knew it was drug-free.”

Paul Boulus said Norman watched over the kids like a hawk, but was well-liked, both by the arcade’s patrons and their parents, who knew their children were out of trouble.

Norman was also a poker champion just as the game made a rise to national prominence, and Prelesnik said he beat legendary players including Huck Seed and Mike Sexton, as well as a fair share of celebrities, including Bill Cosby.

Sissy Boulus, his wife of 18 years, said Norman would live on through the lives of the men he helped shape during their teenage years.


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