If you’ve been following the PokerStars blog, or the appropriate Twitter channels, you know that the PokerStars Pro Tour is barnstorming through California to create grassroots support for legislation that would bring regulated online poker to the state. We’re in the central valley (aka “America’s Vegetable Garden”) this coming weekend, but there’s a special twist to our two stops: we’re not just raising awareness; we’re also raising money for good causes. And when it comes to good causes, it’s tough to think of anything that’s better than those which support kids. In this case, we’re two for two.
On Saturday, August 1st, we’re at the 500 Club Casino in Clovis, California, and they’re donating 100% of the tournament proceeds – buy-ins, re-buys, and add-ons – to the Valley Children’s Hospital. But have no fear – there are plenty of prizes to be won, thanks to donations from local businesses. PokerStars has also donated a customized and autographed poker table for the event.
Poker and Twitch superstar (and PokerStars Team Pro) Jason Somerville will be in attendance to amp up the level of excitement and buzz in the room, as only he can do. Honestly, it’s worth showing up there to meet Jason and get a photo taken with him.
But obviously the important thing is that the 500 Club and all the people who turn out will be supporting the work that Valley Children’s Hospital does. Maybe I’m particularly sensitive about this because I’ve spent the last few days hanging out with my seven-month-old granddaughter. It gives one perspective – if she were sick, I’d want the very best people with the very best resources looking after her. So if our buy-ins mean that somebody’s granddaughter or grandson gets the very best possible treatment, man, that’s good.
From Clovis, we head north up CA-99 and a little east on I-80 to Citrus Height and Stones Gambling Hall (don’t you love that name)? While we’re at Stones on Sunday, August 2nd, PokerStars will be presenting a $10,000 check from the PokerStars Pro Tour to Make-A-Wish®. As many of you know, they fund wishes for children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Again, if you have kids anywhere in your life, you hope daily that they never need the services of places such as Valley Children’s Hospital or Make-A-Wish®. But we all understand that lots of kids do need those services; this is one way the poker community can support those vital resources.
Finally, I need to look in the rear-view mirror of the Pro Tour and say thank you to Brian and Von at Napa Valley Casino. They took the $35 entry fee at their tournament last Saturday and gave half to Boys and Girls Clubs to fund a new club in American Canyon, and half to the Wounded Warrior Project. You can read all about that in this article from the Napa Valley Register.
So yeah, we’re crisscrossing California to get people to support regulated online poker in their state. We think that’s a great objective and something that the citizens of California want and deserve. But we know that there are more important things in the world, and we’re proud to support some of those things via the Pro Tour.
Finally, here’s a nota bene for the elected representatives in Sacramento: I have seen first-hand how generous the online poker community is with charitable giving. I have seen PokerStars’ players donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for relief efforts in Indonesia, Haiti, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As you’re contemplating regulating online poker in your state, Mr. Senator, Madam Assemblywoman, please consider this: I would happily bet a Whole Lot of Money that should regulated online poker come to California, its players will be just as generous. You will see them reach deep into their bankrolls to donate when the circumstances call for it; you’ll be delighted and gratified by their generosity.
Just one more reason to Let California Play.
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Lee Jones is the Director of Poker Communications at PokerStars and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones.