Few games have endured modern history with as unfaltering popularity as poker. The classic game is simply unique in how it combines skill and luck for engaging and unpredictable play. Universally loved, poker has become a game appropriate for casual settings amongst friends, online or in government regulated casinos.
Poker is an effective means of fundraising for numerous reasons.
First, it’s highly social in nature. For many, getting to know your opponents is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Providing you don’t end up taking yourself or the game too seriously, you’re almost guaranteed to have fun.
Second, the objective of the game is to win a financial or symbolic prize. In the case of a charity poker game, the prize represents money that will go toward the charity in question. In other words, you’re playing on behalf of the charity to win them as high a prize as possible.
At a regular casino, a small sum of the money you invest in a poker game is taken by the house. This is a kind of commission fee called a ‘rake’. The rest of the money would then go toward the pot, which any player is able to win. In a charity game, all money you spend on chips, and any subsequent winnings, goes toward the charity.
Poker and charity
Many famous poker players have a history of supporting charities. Professionals such as David Einhorn and Jennifer Harman have been praised for their generous donations to charity, whilst sports stars such as Neymar Jr host their own ‘home poker games’ for charitable foundations. Tennis player Rafael Nadal even won won $50,000 for charity when playing in 2013 when playing at PokerStars Live Tournament. Yet another PokerStars charity event saw over $300,000 raised for education-based charity ‘Right to Play’.
Hosting your own charity poker night is a straight-forward and fun way to raise money for a charity or cause you care about!
There are just a few factors to consider:
How to host your own Poker Tournament:
1. Decide upon the areas of revenue:
- Decide upon the monetary value of chips and give guests the opportunity to buy more of them throughout the event. Once a player’s chips are gone, he or she must decide upon whether they want to continue playing (in which case he or she will need to purchase more chips) or leave the game.
- Though all proceeds will be regarded as a donation to charity, put aside a personal prize or two for the winner of each table or final game. Such a prize will symbolise the winner’s contribution to charity and achievement within the game. You can even ask guests to donate items and gifts for a ‘prize pool’ – but ensure there is a set ‘price cap’ for such items, and make it clear that these items will be given to the winner rather than charity.
- If your charity poker night is likely to be popular but with a limited capacity for guests, charge people for tickets to the event. Having people donate a specific amount to attend the event ensures some money is raised for charity before the poker game has even begun. To formalize the donation of each attending guest, you can make paper wristbands or tickets.
- No social gathering is complete without a selection of snacks and drinks. Make sure food and drinks are readily available throughout the event. You can choose to include food in the initial ticket cost, or else price the food separately for extra fundraising revenue.
Try asking your local bakery, grocery store or take-away for donations. You can also throw together your own buffet at a low cost, then price things at a profit that goes toward the charity. If your poker night is likely to attract a lot of people, consider partnering with a food truck company. They can donate a percentage of their profit to the charity whilst gaining exposure for their business.
2. Get people involved:
- Hang up posters, hand out invites, create a Facebook Page, or simply create a Facebook Event. (Click ‘Events’ in the left menu of your News Feed.). Anything to spread the word! People will only attend your charity poker event if they feel there is a good reason to do so – whether it be because the event itself seems fun, or because they resonate with the charity or cause for which you’re raising money.
- Aside from asking family and friends and your usual volunteers, advertise the volunteering position online or at local poker clubs and casinos. Once you’ve got a crafty team behind you, you can start to designate tasks which will help make the whole planning process run smoother. For example, one volunteer can be in charge of arranging food whilst another could be the official point of contact for people calling in with questions or booking requests. It’s always good to have someone creative helping out, as they can use their graphic design skills to make great posters and invites.
3. Make sure everyone’s having fun!
- Though poker games such as Texas Hold’Em have many levels of complexity, learning the rules takes just a few minutes, which means you can invite anyone to play. If you’re good at poker – you’ve got a real chance at winning. If you’re not good at poker – you’ve still got a real chance at winning. This makes the game uniquely inclusive, and should encourage those who are less experienced in poker to take part.
- Most important is that you make sure everyone is well-informed about the rules at the beginning of the event. For a larger crowd, put together a quick but informative presentation which combines information about both the poker game and the charity or cause in question. Post a list of the main poker terms for people to look over throughout the event.
- Last but not least, set the atmosphere with a theme and some good music. For decoration, focus on a theme relating to the charity or cause for which you’ll be fundraising. If the charity seeks to improve the environment or animal welfare, you could for example use recycled playing cards. Always hang up some posters featuring the charity’s logo. Raise spirits even further with thematically coloured ribbons, balloons and poker sets.
4. More tips to make your Poker Tournament a success:
- Contact your local casino to see whether they can lend you equipment or even host your event. You’d be surprised at how many casinos are happy to offer both their time and resources in the name of charity.
- Make sure everything’s done according to the rules. When real money is involved in any gambling activity, it must be classified as legal under your governing law. If you are unsure about the proper conduct for private poker games, get in touch with your state’s Department of Revenue for clarification.
- Invite some high-profile figures. Do you know of any local sport stars or politicians? Having famous names at your charity night will benefit you in several ways – their influence could help increase attendance and total revenue – as well as attract some media attention!
- Even without the help of high-profile figures, get a mention in your local newspaper. Compose a formal and engaging letter to the newspaper’s editor.
- Don’t forget to have fun! Your charity poker event should be as rewarding as it is enjoyable. Whether you’re playing for yourself, for charity, amongst friends, in the casino or online – poker is best played sensibly and in a safe, pleasant environment.