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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Sep. 3, 2015 5 years ago

Winter Garden Rotary goes all-in with poker tourney

by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

WINTER GARDEN — The Winter Garden Rotary Club will hold its seventh annual charity poker tournament, Friday, Sept. 18, at American Legion Post 63 on West Plant Street.

Registration costs $50 in advance or $60 at the door, which covers the initial buy-in for the tournament and refreshments, such as Winter Garden Pizza, salad and beverages from Moon Cricket Grille.

But in this charity Texas Hold’em tournament, the initial buy-in stakes are not as high as, say, the World Series of Poker.

“They have the ability to do add-ons and re-buys throughout the tournament,” said John Kirby, a club member and one of the organizers. “The $50 gets you a certain amount of chips. The first add-on that we have at the beginning is $10 to get extra chips. That is to pay the dealers; that way the dealers get paid as a decent gesture. We’ve had almost 100% participation in that.”

Although the stakes are lower, the stacks stay high thanks to Big Stacks Poker League, Kirby said.

“They bring the tabletops and the dealers and the chips and run the tournament,” Kirby said. “We collect the monies and hold it at the reception hall and have the refreshments and what we take care of.”

That includes responsibility for various prizes, such as golf foursomes; a raffle for a three-day, two-night stay at a Westgate resort; and gift cards for ACE Hardware and restaurants, Kirby said. The winner will receive a $1,000 VISA gift card; the runner-up will get a $500 VISA gift card; and the third-place finisher will have a $250 VISA gift card, he said.

Beyond the tournament, this event has included blackjack and Poker 101.

“Starting at 6, they’ll have a little thing set up for everyone who wants lessons on poker,” Kirby said. “The tournament starts at 7; registration starts at 6.”

The event has grown every year, with about 70 who preregistered last year to contribute to the total, about $9,200, Kirby said. This year, the goal is to get to $10,000 and at least 80 advanced registrants, he said.

“We think we’re going to make it, but we of course can always use more people — the more, the merrier,” Kirby said. “The response has been phenomenal. The county’s doing well and people are being more generous now. This really helps a lot.”

This tournament has benefited many charities in the past, foremost of which is the West Orange Scholarship Fund, Kirby said. Other charities receiving past funds have included the West Orange Boys & Girls Club, Reading Reindeer, Matthew’s Hope, Oakland Nature Preserve, the Central Florida Down Syndrome Association, Rotary Medical Bank and the American Cancer Society, he said.

All of this emanates from a night of merriment.

“We really have a great time,” Kirby said. “Everyone enjoys themselves, and it’s a joy to do it. I love every minute.”


Rotary Club of Winter Garden Poker Tournament

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18. Registration and Poker 101 training begins at 6 p.m. Tournament begins at 7 p.m.

WHERE: American Legion Post 63, 271 W. Plant St., Winter Garden

BENEFICIARIES: West Orange Scholarship Fund and other West Orange charities

PRE-REGISTRATION: [email protected] or (321) 388-8213

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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