Sunday, October 25, 2009

Playing Poker for Charity

If you’re into the cult phenomena known as Texas Hold‘em, chances are you’ve already played in a charity tournament. Local newspapers are loaded with advertisements for weekend tournaments to raise money for charities. And there are many advantages to participating in these events.

The biggest advantage is helping a worthy charity raise money and the possibility of winning a large payout yourself. Inexperienced players can get in on the action to learn the game in a relatively friendly atmosphere. The buy-in for charity tournaments range from $25 to $50. These events will often offer door prizes, 50/50 drawings, and raffles. For a little extra, you can also buy-in to the bad beat or high hand jackpots. In addition, side games are set up for players who have been knocked out of the main tournament with yet another chance to win money. Being the first player knocked out also has its advantages. This is generally in the form of a consolation prize.

If you sign-up on the mailing list, you’ll receive notices of future tournaments and events. Other players are also good resources to find more tournaments. They provide feedback on the location, dates, times, organization, payouts, and other pertinent information for the event. You will see many of the same faces every weekend at charity tournaments. These regulars set the tone of the game, which is usually fun and laid back.

The charity will usually take a 30-40% rake of the buy-in, the remainder is used for payout. Depending on the number of entrants, thousands of dollars can be raised in a single night. Some charities will also take a rake from the side tables to increase the funds raised.

Of course, there are also disadvantages to the players at these types of tournaments. The payout amounts and number of places paid are generally low. But perhaps the biggest problem is that the majority of charity tournaments are poorly organized. At times, the players have more knowledge of the game than the persons in charge. Resolving conflicts can be a challenge. Typed rules can be found at some games, but these are usually general and will not cover issues such as misdeals, dead button versus moving button or verbal discrepancies with chip stacks.

As a rule, dedicated dealers are not used, so the players pass the deal. This allows more opportunity for misdeals. Long, rectangular folding tables provide yet another obstacle to overcome when dealing. This type of playing surface also makes it difficult for players to protect their hands due to the cramped set-up.

Cheap cards that are usually donated will get bent and marked easily. The light-weight plastic chips have a tendency to scatter easily. Trying to remember the denomination of the chips is sometimes a chore because of the inconsistency or lack of attention to detail. Blinds are not always raised in a timely manner or tables balanced properly. Also, time limits may be imposed to end the game with a chip count deciding the winner. The caliber of your opponents may also be an obstacle to overcome.

Overall, the advantages to charity tournaments outweigh the disadvantages. If you’re passionate about Texas Hold ‘Em, buy in to a local charity tournament. You’ll raise money for a worthwhile cause doing something you love – it’s a win-win situation.


I have attended several of these charity tournaments and I feel it's a great way to enjoy yourself and also do a good deed for a good cause. Sure, it can be a little bit messy but over all I've had a great experience and no one basically plays for the money so you see some really fun stuff at the tables. Great entertainment and very nice atmosphere!



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