By Anna Skinner
Over the years, the Westfield Lions Club has become known for charitable contributions and fundraisers. What one might not know is the biannual Westfield Lions Club Poker Tournament for Sight, occurring once in the spring and once in the fall, is the club’s largest fundraiser and the largest Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament in the central part of the nation.
“The poker tournament is our main fundraiser for the Westfield Lions Club. We have two poker tournaments each year – one in April and one in November,” said Brian Abraham, chairman of the club’s poker committee. “The proceeds of the tournament go to all of our different charitable organizations in the community. One hundred percent of the money we make from tournament is in Westfield and the community.”
Tickets began selling 10 weeks before the event, which begins at 10 a.m. April 29 at the Hamilton Co. 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville. Ticket sales began at $100 and increased by $5 each week. The week of the event and walk-ins will cost $135.
“We can handle up to 135 people in 15 tables per session. The tournament is divided into three qualifier sessions and one main event,” Abraham said. “In the qualifier sessions when players sit down, the top 15 percent of the players in those three rounds are allowed to go into the final session.”
The winner of the final session receives $10,000. Abraham said the club gives out $25,000 in prize money each year. Amateur and professional players attend the event, and Abraham said both have won in the past.
And although the club puts on the fundraiser and other Lions Club members attend, members of the Westfield Lions Club don’t play in the tournament.
“Lions from our club don’t play. We sign up to run the tournaments and register people and we get really good participation from our club to do all activities we need to do to manage that tournament,” Abraham said. “We do have a number of other Lion groups that do participate; they’ll come and participate in the tournament. Some actually win.”
Out of the charities benefitted since the tournament include Open Doors Food Pantry, Heart and Soul Clinic, Washington Woods Elementary School’s “Leader in Me” program, Indy Honor Flight, the Hamilton Co. Sheriff’s Dept., the Westfield Police Dept., Westfield students in need of eye exams and glasses, Westfield High School senior scholarships, dictionaries for Westfield third graders, lead dog for the blind training and others.
“Every year, we’ve been able to get more money. Really, the more we get, the more we can impact, and it’s a win-win,” Abraham said. “The people that enter the tournament know if they don’t win. They know their money went to a good cause.”
The morning qualifier sessions – one on the mornings of April 29 and April 30– go 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The evening qualifier session is 6 p.m. to midnight the same day. The final event takes place 6 p.m. to midnight April 30.
Abraham said, on average, the biannual tournaments have approximately 300 participants.
To register, visit http://lionspoker.org/.
In 2014, the Westfield Lions Club clubhouse flooded, leaving poker tables standing in two inches of water.
“All the tables got soaked. We dried and fixed them for the April tournament (in 2014), but the result is the materials are not as good when we orchestrated this as they are today,” Abraham said. “They have to be fixed every year so they can be used for the tournament.”
Although the 15 tables have been repaired this year, the club has just begun to purchase new tables. The tables will be replaced in three or four sessions.