This is the World Series of giving back.
On the slate this summer at the World Series of Poker is a special, recurring event entitled the “Salute to Warriors” on June 25th. A portion of every entry will be donated to the United Service Organizations and other veteran organizations.
Thanks to poker players Angela Jordison and Jacki Burkhart, along with countless supporters, it will be even more special than usual. They’re teaming up to send 15 veterans to Vegas to play in the event. From what started as a brutal beat to game-changing generosity, the story of how it happened is heartwarming.
“I was at a tournament in Iowa,” shared Jordison, “I was on a table with a kid talking about his experience in the military. “He was a really nice guy. He ended up getting set over set, and I felt bad for him.”
Set over set is one of the most brutal coolers in the game. Still, how he handled the bad beat touched Jordison to the point of action.
“He took it so graciously, and he said he was just super happy to be here,” said Jordison. “I told him, ‘I’m going to buy you into the Salute to Warriors…take care of your airfare and hotel. I had a big year, I wanted to give back. And, it was in the back of my head because Jacki [Burkhart] had done this in 2019 with a couple.”
Serendipity still had more plans, because the very same Burkhart happened to be walking by at that time.
“I just happened to be walking by,” said Burkhart. “[Angela] said, ‘Jacki I’m putting this guy into the Salute to Warriors!’ And I said, ‘Okay, I want in!”
From one to fifteen
That generous act would have rippling effects that Jordison and Burkhart couldn’t have imagined.
“We started talking that with the spotlight on me, it would be a good time to use that in a good way to raise money…and put other warriors in,” said Jordison. “We had a goal of five, and were trying to get sponsors, and we set our goal way too low because we are at 15 with all their expenses paid.”
Jordison and Burkhart were overwhelmed with the response from the community wanting to share in the spirit of what they were trying to do.
“Tons of people stepped up,” the two shared a long list. “Rungood, PokerGO, Floptimal, Range Trainer Pro, Jaka Coaching, Rec Poker; there was a bunch of training that was comped for free. America’s Cardroom gave each of them three $109 tournament tickets, that’s worth almost the value of the seat. Also, WSOP is giving them a bunch of gear as well. The number kept going up and they kept saying yes.”
The support was still ongoing, to the point that the two had to set a cap.
“We probably could have done a lot more,” said Jordison. “It became so overwhelming, and all coming together in such a short time. We wanted to give the ones we had already chosen a really great experience. We capped it at 15 this year.”
How to possibly choose
Once they put the offer out into the world, plenty of veterans spoke up to have a shot at joining the field in Vegas.
“We had over 100 entries,” said Jordison. “The hardest part is the people you leave behind. To pick those last few was so difficult.”
Entrants had to respond via social media in order to be considered. Instructions were to share what the WSOP meant to them and why they should be chosen. Additionally, they had to share their rank, years of service, and the branch in which they served.
“We wanted to include all the branches,” they said. “We wanted to have a diverse group of people, ages, every branch, across the states. We wanted the group to represent everybody.”
“We had to make a committee because we couldn’t decide,” they laughed. But, eventually, with a committee’s help, they narrowed it down to 15.
“I eventually said I’m never doing this again because it’s too sad to not pick everybody,” said Jordison. “But I’m already making plans for next year.”
The Salute to Warriors Event takes place on June 25th at 10 am local time. The $500 event has one starting flight and is planned as a three-day tournament. Players will have a starting chip stack of 50,000 with 40-minute levels.
The event is open to all players, and $40 from each entry will go to the USO and other veteran organizations.
“I hope at least one of them makes the final table,” said Burkhart. “That would be the best.”
Regardless of how their tournament run turns out, everyone involved in this story is a winner. We’ll be here all summer, but especially on June 25th as the chosen 15 entrants land in Vegas to take their seats.