Poker tourney to help the Issaquah Valley Trolley
July 21, 2009
By David Hayes
Poker pro Barry Greenstein is known as the Robin Hood of poker, because he donates all of his tournament winnings to charity.
Now’s your chance to be the Robin Hood of Issaquah. The Issaquah Trolley Committee is hosting a Braggin’ Rights Trolley Texas Hold ’Em Poker Tournament July 25 at the depot museum. The beneficiaries are the two trolleys acquired by the city.
Since the Issaquah Depot Museum’s restoration in 1994, city leaders have long sought to also restore the trolley line, linking historic downtown to Gilman Boulevard.In 2000, the Issaquah Historical Society set up a trolley committee to bring trolley service to Issaquah to attract tourists. A trolley was leased from the city of Yakima to demonstrate the potential of trolley service here. It was linked into Issaquah’s tracks April 14, 2001, and operated weekends through the fall and again in spring 2002, transporting more than 5,000 passengers.
In 2003, the city acquired Lisbon Trolley Car No. 519 from the city of Aspen, Colo., and a circa-1930 Italian streetcar from the city and county of San Francisco. Unfortunately, the project hit a snag before it could get up and running. The two cars both had narrow-gauge wheel frames, which can’t run on the city’s standard-gauge rail line.
Barbara Justice, grants coordinator for the Trolley Committee, said between $175,000 and $200,000 is needed to pay for the conversion of just one car. While they’ve been raising funds, they’ve also been waiting for the proper environmental impact paperwork to clear. Justice said the committee is optimistic about the timeline for getting a trolley up and running.
“We’re hopeful the paperwork will all be done by the end of the year,” said Justice, a certified motorman/operator for the trolley. “Then, it should take two or three months to work on the car. We’re hoping to have a run in the spring of 2010.”
To help raise more funds for the conversion project, Trolley Committee member Michael Johnson had an idea. Rather than host another auction, he’d volunteer to organize a poker tournament. With the resurgence of the sport in recent years, Johnson figured he’d have no problem getting 70 card sharks, regardless of ability level, to donate $50 each and bring in an easy $3,500 for the trolley project.
Since he began recruiting players, he’s been able to sweeten the pot. No longer does the winner just get bragging rights and a trophy. The Gilman Merchants Association has pledged $200 to the winner.
Additionally, the winner will also get a gift basket of poker-related stuff. There will be soda and snacks provided, pizza available for purchase and two additional gift baskets to be raffled off for $1 per ticket.
Johnson said there are plenty of seats left, and tickets will most likely still be available at the door. He also put out the invitation to anyone 18 and over to participate, regardless of playing ability.
“First-timers usually are the ones who win these things anyway,” he said.
If you go
Braggin’ Rights Trolley Tournament
3-7 p.m. July 25
Issaquah Train Depot
Tickets are $50
Call 246-6239 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.