UNL Poker Club to Raise Money for Flood Victims with Charity Stream
Table Of Contents
- Poker for a Cause
- UNL Poker Club Beginnings
- Interview with UNL Poker Club President and VP
- Follow UNL Poker Club
Poker games have been breaking out on college campuses since the beginning of, well, college. It’s a great time to learn the game, and as is the case for the organizers of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Poker Club, a great time to forge new relationships and make an impact.
While many college kids who dabble in poker are content to throw together games when the mood strikes, the founders of the UNL Poker Club decided to get organized, and also to play for a cause that’s near and dear to their hearts.
Poker for a Cause
As their first semester as an organization nears its finale, the UNL Poker Club is capping off a successful inaugural season with the UNL Grand Championship, and they’ve decided to use their capstone tournament as an opportunity to raise money for those in their community who have been hit by disaster in the form of historic flooding in the eastern part of the state.
The unprecedented flooding in Nebraska and across the Midwest has ruined thousands of homes, has caused billions in damages and has displaced countless Nebraska citizens. Relief efforts continue as more flooding is expected, and a group of poker-playing college kids are coming together to do their part.
On Saturday, April 27, the UNL Poker Club will host their inaugural Grand Championship where the top nine players of the semester will battle for the Grand Champion title. The event will serve as a fundraiser to help with flood relief in their state and will be livestreamed starting at 4 p.m. CST via PokerNews‘ social media channels and the PokerNews Twitch channel. The club’s founders recently came on the PokerNews Podcast to talk about the upcoming event, which you can check out here.
UNL Poker Club Beginnings
The seeds of the UNL Poker Club were planted years ago as poker became an interest and a passion for club founders Alec Rome (president) and Geoff Exstrom (vice president) early on. Rome’s first poker games involved playing with his stuffed animals when he was five. For Exstrom, it was through his parents who got into poker during the Moneymaker poker boom in the mid-2000s, and shows like "Celebrity Poker" and "Poker After Dark" were regulars in the household.
Upon starting college, both young men found some like-minded people who enjoyed the game, and the two joined forces to create a poker club. “Through a lot of technical red tape and hard work,” the UNL Poker Club became a reality.
PokerNews spoke with the two founders to learn more about the club as well as the upcoming streamed championship event April 27.
Interview with UNL Poker Club President and VP
What are the goals or the mission of the club? Are there any bylaws, etc. you could share?
Our biggest rule is NO GAMBLING. It’s clear so that we don’t get in trouble, but also we are trying to eliminate the stigma around the game and teach others that just like any other academic sport, poker requires knowledge, math and GTO play in order to succeed, along with guts and bravado (sometimes). We also try to teach new players how to get better and create a community that people enjoy being a part of, and we believe we have done just that.
How is the club set up and how do people qualify for the Grand Championship?
We meet once a week during the evening. We decided to steal a page out of the Overwatch League’s book and formatted the semester into four-week stages: three weeks of regular play, then a stage tournament where points are doubled. The top nine players (in points) over the entire semester advance to the Grand Championship. In the future, we hope to have some theme nights, including tag team tournaments, heads-up, short deck and much more.
How does membership work and how many members/participants are in the group?
People can join for free and we have a recommended dues system because when people invest in our club, they get a lot more back. Dues go towards buying supplies and things like trophies and such. We have had 25 or so come into the club but normally we have a solid 15 that consistently show up each week.
What is the format of the Grand Championship? What are they playing for?
Our Grand Championship is a one-off game to see who is the best player at Club. The winner gets not only pride but a beautifully engraved trophy that we’re excited to show to people. Each player will start at 100K stacks, with blinds at 500/1K. There are no second chances, and when you lose, you’re done. We’re also introducing some gameplay add-ons that will spice things up.
First, each player gets two hand reveal chips which allow someone to see what a person had after the hand, whether they won or not. It helps people learn and provides some information to keep things interesting. Also, we’re doing a brand new "run it twice" chip as a lifeline in case someone goes all in and faces a potential knockout. They have only one, and at any point before the river card is dealt, they can use the chip to run two boards from that point forward. If they want to run two full boards or just two rivers, that’s fine, and if they win one, the pot is split. We’re doing this to lower variance a little and prevent totally bad beats.
Finally, during heads up, we’ll be playing 6+ short deck, with a flush ranking higher than a full house. This is to encourage action and eliminate junky hands. We are super excited for it and hope to display both great play, interesting personalities and drama.
How are you going about livestreaming? What can people tuning in expect from the stream?
We’re hoping to combine both livestreaming gear that a Twitch streamer would utilize along with industry professional cameras at the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications. We’re blessed to have the support of Dean Amy Struthers along with other broadcasting professors and staff at the college to try and make this event a success. For now, we plan to have cards down until heads up, as an RFID table is just out of our price range.
We are experimenting with hole cams to display our players’ holdings, but in terms of graphics, we may be limited due to time and resources. However, with some knowledgeable announcers and talented students from the college, we still believe we will put on a solid show that meets a standard that fans (and we) will be proud of. Again, expect some interesting players and personalities and plenty of fun along the way.
How and when did the group decide to dedicate the GC to raising money for flooding victims in the state?
After seeing what happened in rural parts of the state, we really thought there was a way to help people and still celebrate our semester ending. We are blessed to play the game we love, and we know there are people close and far away from campus that need our help.
Considering the large audience we could be in front of, we thought it would be foolish not to use that platform to both raise awareness and raise money to get Nebraskans back on their feet. The flooding in the Midwest needs MORE coverage and attention, and aligning with the journalism college’s goals to raise awareness and give back was a no-brainer.
What does this cause and this event mean for your organization personally?
Rome: For Poker Club, this could be an awesome chance to get ourselves in front of a large audience both locally and across the world, and we really hope this could bring in new members and sponsors for us to upgrade equipment. This is a proud moment to show off what we have built. We recently went to a meeting where we looked to get some funding for raffle prizes for our live audience and one of the student senators said, "This is a club that potentially could fail… and we don’t see how this helps UNL residents." That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and we have a chip on our shoulder to send some positivity and success out into the world to prove we’re a club that will make an impact for years to come.
Exstrom: As far as the club goes, it is a wonderful opportunity not only to represent UNL and our club, but to represent all college poker clubs around the country and prove there aren’t so bad college poker players out there. More importantly, this is an extremely important opportunity to bring light and support to something that is in the dark right now around the world. Little national or international attention has been brought upon the flooding in Nebraska which has harmed thousands of people here in our home state. Personally, my aunt and uncle’s town of Fremont was completely surrounded by water restricting anyone or anything from leaving or entering. If we were able to just bring any sort of attention and support to Nebraskans, we have completed our goal of the stream to help Nebraska get back on its feet.
What is your fund raising goal and how are you going about raising the maximum you can for the cause?
Our fundraising goal is $1,000 because we know that is reachable and could do a great service for people affected by this disaster. We have a GoFundMe that anyone can donate to that will go directly to the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster, and our live audience will participate in prize raffles that they will purchase tickets for. We expect some funds to come from that and we hope people across the world can donate any amount to help people in our great state.
Are there any plans for future charity events or other future plans for the club you’d like to share?
We hope this stream will turn into future streams for our events, collaborations with other college poker clubs and charity tournaments where the public can come to play and interact with local celebrities. Trust us, this is only the beginning.
Anything to add?
Don’t call a four-bet with A5o, 5-3 hits flops and finally, we hope people enjoy the event and follow us on social media.
Follow UNL Poker Club
Be sure to check out the Grand Championship stream this Saturday kicking off at 4 p.m. CST. The stream will be hosted on PokerNews‘ Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch pages.
For more updates, follow the club on Twitter @UNLPoker.
If you want to contribute to the efforts to raise money for flood victims, you can do so at their GoFundMe page here to benefit the United Way of Lincoln. RunGoodGear has also joined the cause: Use promo code UNLPOKERCLUB through for free shipping and all proceeds from orders made through April 29 will go to the United Way of Lincoln.
The official club trailer can be viewed below:
— UNL Poker Club (@UNLPoker)
Lead image includes club leaders Alec Rome, Geoff Exstrom, Mitch Francis (left to right).
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