Elks’ lodge poker league rolls out the felt

August 16, 2011

By David Hayes

Players of all skill levels invited to series of charity tournaments

ESPN’s live coverage of the 2011 World Series of Poker main event has the side effect of getting people’s blood pumping to join in on the action.

Participants of the Elks Lodge poker league get ready to shuffle up and deal at a recent tournament’s final table. By Tina Eggers

Whether you’re in search of some poker action outside the home game or somewhere closer than a card room or casino, then look no further than Issaquah’s Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843.

The 2011 fall Texas Hold ’Em Poker League starts Aug. 27 and organizers are looking for more players to fill out the roster.

The league, now in its sixth year, has attracted players of varying skill levels. Sharyn Solum, 65, recently retired, was looking for a hobby to fill her free time when a former city co-worker and Elks member introduced her to the action.

“Tina Eggers brought me in to try it out,” Solum said regarding Issaquah’s city clerk. “I’d been playing for a couple of years but learned a lot more from the more experienced players.”

The league follows the same format as any other tournament, with only a few differences. Played each month the first and third Saturday (the league kicks off early Aug. 27 because of the holiday weekend Sept. 3), players buy in for $35 and may re-buy as many times as they want when they go broke for the first three rounds of action.

The top four or five places will be paid each time, depending upon the number of entries and re-buys, with 15 percent set aside for the final championship pool at the end of the season.

The element that makes this a league, rather than a one-off — or sit-and-go — tournament is that players earn points the more they show each week and the better they place. A win any given week automatically qualifies a player for the championship tournament Dec. 17. Otherwise, the top 18 players in points earned will fill out the final two tables.

If you go

2011 Texas Hold ’Em Poker League

  • 4 p.m., first and third Saturday of the month, Aug. 27 through Dec. 17
  • Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843
  • 765 Rainier Blvd. N.
  • Get added to the email notification list by sending a request to jeffbwood@comcast.net or dhayes@isspress.com.

It’s these regular get-togethers that kept Todd Blair, once introduced to the action, coming back for more.

“I’ve had a lot of fun. There’s a lot of camaraderie, and it has that feel of small town Americana,” said Blair, himself originally from a small ranch in South Dakota. “It’s laid back and there’s good food.”

Speaking of which, in addition to cash prizes, there’s also the meat. Fisher Meats donates a pound of slab bacon as the “first out” prize given to the player who busts out broke from the tournament first. Also, a 10-pound, hickory smoked Kirkland Signature ham, also known as the “bubble ham,” is given to the player who just misses out on a cash prize. So odds are better than most tournaments you’ll leave with some sort of prize.

As if that wasn’t enough incentive to participate, there’s also the charity tie-in. Each week, donations are solicited for Issaquah’s Compassion House, transition housing for needy families down on their luck. The Elks’ poker league averages $3,000 in donations per season with a standing challenge to top the previous total.

But as you play poker, don’t be surprised if you start sticking around for other Elks functions and eventually become a member yourself. Both Blair and Solum became members not long after joining the poker action.

“I just liked what the Elks does for community service,” Solum said. “They help seniors and others, and give members plenty of opportunity to help out in many projects,” she said.

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