So, you’ve decided to run a charity poker event. Congratulations! We here at Cardplayer Lifestyle hope your event is successful and that it raises lots of money for your chosen charitable cause!
There are two types of charity poker events you can run: a tournament or a cash game session. You can either make it an invitation-only event or open it up to the public (to maximize attendance and donations); depending on how many poker tables your venue has room for.
Charity Poker Tournaments
There’s a good amount of logistics that goes into proper planning and running of a charity poker tournament. Generally speaking, the more effort you put into the event beforehand, the smoother it will run and the better the experience for all involved. From this poker blogger’s experience, it pays to make event pre-registration a must.
After all players are seated, but before tournament play begins, it’s an optimal time for you (or a representative of the non-profit organization) to speak briefly about the night’s charity beneficiary and the work they do.
- Designate a registration area to collect player entry fees and distribute table seating assignments.
- Enlist the help of 1 volunteer per poker table to assist with setup, cleanup, and general event management.
- Set up and double-check chip stacks before players are seated.
- Prepare a blind structure and prize structure in advance using a free program like this one, and use a projector to display all relevant poker tournament information.
- Have 2 decks of cards at each table. Assign a dealer and have the other players at the table shuffle the other deck. You get more hands played per blind level this way.
Charity Poker Cash Games
The mechanism behind charity poker cash games is rather simple. Each hand is raked at a pre-defined percentage of the pot (usually 5–10% with a hard cap). These monies then get pooled at the end of the event and donated to charity. Each table you set up can operate independently, choosing the stakes and games being spread.
The main advantage of a charity poker cash game session is that there’s far less micromanagement necessary over the course of the evening. There’s no need to break up and combine tables or assign seats, and players won’t get locked out of the event in case they don’t show up on time.
- Have 2 decks of cards at each table. Get a volunteer to deal and the other players at the table to shuffle. This helps increase the number of hands played (and the charity rake!) over the course of the night.
- Assign someone trustworthy to handle all the money at each table.
- Set rules for minimum and maximum buy-ins, as well as moving from table to table.
- Optional: Have all players contribute a small sum towards a jackpot, given to the first player who hits a designated hand (e.g., 4 Jacks). If nobody hits the jackpot by the end of the night, the jackpot money is also donated to the charity.
Charity Poker Event Checklist
No charity poker event is complete without the right equipment and refreshments. Here’s a basic list of the things you should have prepared in advance:
- Hall/venue with enough tables, chairs, and tablecloths
- Per table: 300 poker chips, 2 decks of cards, 1 cash box
- Refreshments station with hot and cold drinks, snacks, plastic cutlery
- For tournaments: laminated seating cards, list of players, laptop, projector screen, envelopes for cash prizes
- Optional: cut cards, chip racks, camera, opening remarks
If you’d like to donate the proceeds of your event to a Cardplayer Lifestyle charity poker partner, check out our Charity Poker Donations page.
Running a charity poker event may or may not be legal in your jurisdiction. If you intend to hold your event in a public venue, you are strongly encouraged and advised to check with the appropriate local authorities that doing so is legal before proceeding with your plans. If you hold a charity poker event in a private residence, inviting only people you know personally, you will usually not run afoul of any local laws, but it never hurts to check twice, just to be sure.