I’ve been wanting to produce a charity poker tournament ever since I made it a goal of mine at Momentum Education — to raise funds for animal shelters and pet rescues (starting with my sister’s, Mayte’s Rescue). The opportunity for a practice run came when Urban Justice Center gave me the green light to organize a satellite event for their charity poker tournament, Justice Is Blinds.
A “satellite”, aka “satty“, is basically a cheaper tournament played to win a seat into a more expensive buy-in tournament. As mentioned above, that tournament is Justice is Blinds happening on September 27th. Hosted by Vanessa Selbst, the #1 female poker player of all time, and Daniel Negreanu, Global Poker Index’s #1 ranked poker player of 2013, all of the proceeds from it are going to Urban Justice Center, a non-profit organization with 11 umbrella advocacy projects that serve New York City’s most vulnerable through various services since 1981. First prize for the winner of the whole thing is a $11,000 package to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January 2017.
The satellite is a beautiful thing because all of the monies go to a seat which, in turn, goes to UJC, and provides poker players that can’t afford the $1,000 buy-in a shot at potentially playing with pros they admire. And to get it done, I called up my girl, Michelle “Bronx Bomber” Pedrosa. I like to think of her as the Puerto Rican Victor “The Cleaner” from La Femme Nikita , except she’s not wasting people and making them disappear in acid baths (NOTE: not the American version but Luc Besson’s version, one of the best movies ever). She gets things done, if you know what I’m sayin’. Within 48 hours of our meeting of the minds — fleshing out logistics, tournament structure (thanks Matt Savage!), decor, and dealers — we had ourselves a satellite.
The Day Before.
This was the hardest part — our trek to Brooklyn schlepping poker tables. Here’s a vlog showing the hilarity of that schlep in action:
It takes a village, people, but in our case we really should call ourselves Two Puerto Rican Girls Productions.
The Day Of.
We arrive at Brooklyn Colony and find out we can’t use the area we’d booked. But the last minute glitch is a blessing in disguise. Michelle and I hustle to prep the room with my wife Myra arriving to help right before I bust a serious sweat.
Doors open and we get 3 full tables! This is our kick -off video:
On break we still had 2 tables and a vlog for that…
At final table seat drawing I was excited to see females represented there:
At 4 players we were on the bubble with 2 men & 2 women…
Three people won seats! Congrats again to aspiring WSOP dealer Alex Caviano, mother/daughter duo Susan and Jamie Wolfe, aka “The Wolfe Pack”, we’ll see you on September 27th!
Big thanks to UJC and Vanessa Selbst for their support in allowing us to put on this satellite; our dealers — Mario Jr, Freddy Mora, and Joseph Bracero; Uptown Balloons for their decorations donation; Marc Sciequan for all the tournament hardware and assistance; my wife Myra Santiago for her support and help with social media; Monica Verruso for being the gate keeper and tournament floor back-up; Kitty for giving us Brooklyn Colony at a great price; and last but not least, Michelle Pedrosa for collaborative talents overseeing the tournament, her dope table, and passion.
If you missed the satellite, fear not, you can still register directly into Justice is Blinds. Just added to the roster of celebrities and poker pros playing: Billy Crudup, Andy Frankenberger, and Melanie Weisner! Check out the whole fantastic line up and register here.