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Charity’s winning hand

Fundraiser: Poker, coupled with cupcakes, draws players and bakers to benefit United Way

Posted: September 19, 2010 10:33 p.m.
Updated: September 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Dealer Kevin Lee, left, tosses cards to a group of Santa Clarita residents at the Shuffle Up and Deal! charity Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament presented by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the city of Santa Clarita at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on Saturday night.

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The United Way came up with a winning hand Saturday night, combining poker with fresh-baked cupcakes.

There were no real losers at the 2nd annual event that brought about 50 local card-playing poker enthusiasts together in a bid to raise money for the charity.

While five tables of 10 poker players squared off in an all-night elimination tournament, wives, sisters, daughters and friends of the players were in an adjacent room at the Santa Clarita Activities Center baking cupcakes.

“It’s absolutely perfect,” said baking instructor Theresa Fredrickson. “What we’re doing here is baking and decorating cupcakes for the friends and spouses of the poker players.”

For the players, the charity event was not just a win-win fundraiser.

It was sweet if they won and sweet if they lost.

The cupcake-poker tournament is officially called Shuffle Up and Deal!

The entrance fee was $100 at the door, or $85 with pre-registration.

The cupcake baking and decorating — dubbed the Cupcake Creation Class — was $20 at the door.

The city of Santa Clarita teamed up last year with the United Way to hold the first ever cupcake-poker tourney.

“Last year, it was much smaller,” said Denise Lellan, an administrative analyst for the city of Santa Clarita.

“This year, we have a lot of major sponsors,” she said, adding she and others on the Santa Clarita United Way planning committee wanted to stage something flashier than a bake sale to raise money.

So, the committee settled for the best of both worlds — a return of the highly popular poker tournament and a long-standing bake sale favorite.

In the end, both the charity and the city succeeded in having its cupcake and poker winnings too.

“Poker is so popular at the moment with online poker and poker tournaments on TV,” said United Way spokesman David Menchaca. “We thought it would be great and interesting for people here.

“We’ve got people from all over the area,” he said.

“The United Way is like the ‘house.’ We take in the money, but it’s all for charity,” he said.

“What the United Way is looking to do here tonight is to crown a local Texas Hold ’em champion.”

The winner’s crowning title would have to be, of course, Texas Hold ’em Cupcake Champion.


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