“Oh No, Not Another Poker Tour”

I know, I’m expecting a few people to either say this, or think it. I’m not worried by that reaction, but figure I want to explain a bit more about how and why PIFT came to be, and why I am choosing to embark on this journey that I call something similar to a “passion project.”

First, let’s start a little closer to the beginning of my story.

I’ve been a professional poker player since the summer of 2003 at the age of 19 years old, through and including now as I write this a 33 year old in 2017. That is, throughout the entire formative years of my career and professional existence, I have played cards for a living. On one hand, I feel extremely blessed that I’ve gotten to carve out my life going down this road – I’ve met many truly awesome and unique people, I’ve gotten to live my life by my rules, and answer to almost nobody. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel just a little bit empty about where I’ve been and what I’ve done with my time all these years. Because let’s face it: poker is a zero sum game. For every winner in this game, there is at least one loser. Society on the whole gains zero out of how I spend my time folding, calling, betting and raising.

In my 20’s, I was fairly accepting of that fact. Now, as I continue to mature and gain more life experiences that alter and shape my perspectives on it all, I yearn to have a legacy that extends beyond just simply being “Mike Schneider the poker player.”

So enter PIFT.

I’ve known for a few years now that I’ve wanted to start a poker tour that has charity as one of its central components. And as often as I’ve wanted to run from it and scream “there’s more to my identity than poker,” the truth is that poker is what I know best, and the thing in life that I am closest to being able to say I am an “expert” at. Therefore, the last few years as I’ve wrestled with this idea, it gradually became apparent (especially with my wife’s encouragement and support) that I wouldn’t feel satisfied with myself if I didn’t at least try to combine what I know best, with how I want to lead my life and benefit society just a little bit.

And then to the second half of this story: I just simply don’t have as much fun playing poker as I used to. That isn’t to say I never have fun playing because I quite often do – but when I think back on my fondest memories playing the game, the couple of common denominators I come up with are I most had fun playing the game either when it was with friends in the basement of our houses, or else, when playing new games and getting the enjoyment out of trying to piece together proper strategies for games. So with this realization in hand, I knew that if I tried to create a poker tour of my own, I needed to try to make the game feel a bit more like playing at a kitchen table and be a bit more fresh and exciting. Let me just throw out there that I’ve long been one of those people who say “the poker tournament market is over saturated, if anything there needs to be less tournaments and less tours.” Yet here I am typing this, preparing for my upcoming inaugural events.

One of the reasons I feel comfortable jumping into the ring in this market is because I truly believe this tour is offering a slightly different product than anything else that already exists, so I really hope that the rule twists and charity components are able to help me carve out my own little niche. And if not, I get to know I at least gave it a try instead of sitting on my couch wondering if it ever would’ve been successful.

When I explain this idea and vision to people, it’s almost unanimously met with positivity and enthusiasm, along with the disclaimer, “but it’s real hard to make much money running a poker tour [especially at the price points I’d like a good chunk of my events to be].” I’ve heard the warnings, and I am okay with that. Yes, I would like to make money for my time I put into this, but I have no allusions of turning PIFT into my own personal gravy train. I am simply motivated by the desire to make the world a tiny bit better place, and also hope that if players can buy into the vision I have for PIFT, that PIFT will in some small shape and form help change the culture in poker ever so slightly towards one that is both more fun, and increases acceptance of poker playing among the general public. I am indebted to the game of poker, so if I can accomplish that, I’ll feel like this passion project of mine was a massive success.

That is why I’m here today, hoping you’ll give the Poker Is Fun Tour a chance.

Charity Spotlight: Second Harvest Heartland

Did you know that one in 10 of our neighbors live with hunger daily (Hunger in America Study, 2014), and one in six Minnesota children are at risk of hunger? It’s true, so that’s why PIFT has partnered with Second Harvest Heartland to try to do our part to help the thousands of people in our community in need.

Second Harvest Heartland’s mission is to end hunger through community partnership, and is one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and most effective food banks. Second Harvest Heartland serves 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin — and in 2015 they sourced and distributed more than 77 million meals to nearly 1,000 food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers and other agency programs in the Twin Cities Metro, central and southwestern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Those agency partner programs, in turn, ensure this food goes directly to our hungry neighbors.

Second Harvest Heartland serves more than half a million people each year, and a $1 donation can provide $7 worth of food and grocery products. Nearly 94% of every dollar donated supports their hunger-relief programs.

We’re proud to have PIFT players contribute 1% of their prize pool towards helping Second Harvest Heartland feed even more of our neighbors.

For more information about Second Harvest, check out their website.

For more information about the upcoming PIFT poker tournaments that will be benefiting Second Harvest Heartland, click here.