Money Delivered to Second Harvest Heartland

This afternoon, Second Harvest Heartland received all proceeds from our “Winners Shown” events at Canterbury Park on September 9 & 10.
















A reminder of how we raised $2,472.30:

PIFT Players: $463
Good Day Cafe ( $463 (100% match up to $1000)
Belgarde Property Services, Inc. ( $500
Fay & Associates: ( $500
Garelick Steel ( $400
Daily Fantasy Sports Rankings ( $46.30 (10% up to $100)
The Iverson Family: $100

Awesome work everyone — a huge thanks once again to our players, and the generous businesses and individuals who helped us reach such a large number!

Roughly $7 worth of food and groceries can get distributed for every dollar Second Harvest Heartland receives, which when looked at that way, means we did over $17,000 worth of good. Second Harvest Heartland can provide 3 meals for every dollar received, so we’re on the hook for helping to provide 7,416 meals to people who are in need.  Tremendous!

Retrospective: The PIFT Inaugural Weekend – Part 3: I Want Some Feedback and Just Share a Few General Thoughts

Hi ladies and gents, I thought I’d share with you all some insights into my mind, now that I have had time to let everything from our inaugural weekend marinate just a bit.  I truly do believe that a ton went super well in our first ever events, while also recognizing some things I dropped the ball on and can definitely improve before we go back at it.  I entered the creation-of-PIFT-journey knowing “these first events I will learn what I know, and quickly realize what I didn’t know I didn’t know about operating a poker tour,” and can say by the end of Sunday night, it definitely rang true.

Part 1: The Good
Part 2: What Can Be Worked On

I Want Some Feedback and Just Share a Few General Thoughts

One thing on my mind, is I am toying with whether we should bump the charity take up to either 2% or 3% of the prize pool… My goal since day 1 has been to raise money from charity, while doing so in a way where a player doesn’t start adding up the admin fee, staff appreciation fee, and charity fee, see those add up to some huge percent of their total buy in, and decide “this tournament doesn’t have enough money left to play for” and skip it for that reason.

But then, I also feel like, “maybe the fact this tour offers forms of poker that are different than the norm, maybe a player is willing to let charity take a slightly bigger slice as payment for getting to try out a new novelty, and nobody will feel angry about this fact after all?”  Please do let me know what you think; keep it at 1% or bump it to 2% or 3%?

Additionally, I’m debating whether to continue to limit the total number of entries at 3, or allow unlimited.  I had multiple players tell me “this tournament benefits charity, don’t limit how many times we can enter it!”  My initial reasoning for limiting the re-entries was so that a recreational player doesn’t feel like they have to go through a Mike Schneider caliber player 6 times in one event, and feel like they’re drawing super slim against the bigger name pros with huge bankrolls…

But maybe the fact charity is also winning in all PIFT events means it’s alright to remove the maximum number of entries?  I also need to make sure in all future events, all displayed signage makes light of the fact a charity is benefiting via X% of prize pool being withheld for it.

Since this write up is getting long enough, a few other bullet points in my head:

  • I’d love for future PIFT events to have multiple satellites leading up to events, with the satellites awarding a certificate specifically for the upcoming PIFT event. I think it’d be fantastic if 5 days before an event, I am able to put out on social media, “we’ve ran 4 satellites already with one more still to go, and have had 25 players already win seats for this weekend’s $450!”
  • A challenge for future events is that several of the “tweaks” that sound really fun to play, are not the easiest to convey succinctly on a sign or brochure. For example one idea that another player had for me that I think sounds AWESOME, but how do you succinctly educate people what it is?: Receive 2 tokens, and at ANY point in a hand, you can give one to an opponent, and they in turn have to show you one of their hole cards.  At the end of 8 levels, you trade in whatever tokens you have left for extra chips.  Bust a player get their tokens.  Or this could even be played where after 8 levels, you trade in your tokens (for chips) back down to 1 token in front of you, and the tourney goes on in this style with excess tokens being traded in for extra chips at every break.  Or maybe allow a person to block the card show by paying 3 tokens back to the person who paid them one?  Sounds awesome, but, how do you advertise what this event is in a short, concise way that works on a sign or in a few words?
  • Price points: would it be better to run two separate $285’s or whatever price in that ballpark, that are each a different twist — compared to how our inaugural weekend we had the same twist at two different price points? Or if keeping two different price points, are $185 and $450 the best price levels, or do those need to be adjusted a bit in either direction?

So, that’s that.  I want you to feel like PIFT is your tour.  That’s why I’m so thoroughly telling you what’s in my head, and because I want any and all feedback and thoughts so PIFT will continue to give you a poker event that you want to keep coming back to.  PLEASE let me know what you think – I love hearing compliments, but I double-plus LOVE hearing constructive criticism.


Retrospective: The PIFT Inaugural Weekend – Part 2: What Can Be Worked On

Hi ladies and gents, I thought I’d share with you all some insights into my mind, now that I have had time to let everything from our inaugural weekend marinate just a bit.  I truly do believe that a ton went super well in our first ever events, while also recognizing some things I dropped the ball on and can definitely improve before we go back at it.  I entered the creation-of-PIFT-journey knowing “these first events I will learn what I know, and quickly realize what I didn’t know I didn’t know about operating a poker tour,” and can say by the end of Sunday night, it definitely rang true.  To read “Part 1: The Good,” click here.

What Can Be Worked On:

The structure of the tournament was ultimately met with mixed reviews.  There was a noticeable correlation in that generally, the people who busted early or became a short stack early on thought the structure moved way too quickly, compared to players who lasted deeper in the tournament generally felt happy with how much play the structure allotted them. I’d acknowledge that I myself, while covering the event, felt like things moved just a little too quickly – especially in the $450 buy in.  For that one, I had envisioned cracking the money about 6-7 hours in, final table by hour 8 or 9, and tourney completed in 10-12 hours.  What we got was the money being reached 5 hours in, final table 6 hours in, and the tourney completed by the end of hour 8.  With the way this event ran, about 1/3rd of the run time was accounted for during the final table – which while a cool thing in some regards, was also ultimately more time than I’d have envisioned being my optimal final table percent-run-time when trying to chart out the tournament run-time beforehand.

This structure that was used for the PIFT events was completely on me.  I showed Canterbury some ideas, and they suggested some tweaks that might better serve the goals of my tour as a one day “doesn’t take 15 hours” type of event – but ultimately, I had the final say on all aspects of what was used.  Seeing everything in action, I will strongly consider any combination of: 30 minute levels the entire way through, and/or some additional starting chips (compared to 10,000 which was started with in both).

I will also add though that I had many people tell me the one-dayness of PIFT and the fact the tournament seemed like it wasn’t going to take all day, was in fact a drawing point that made them want to play.  In specific, one guy who drove from Wisconsin, 2-3 hours away, told me that he loved he could play the Sunday event and know that even if he won it, he’d have more than enough time to drive back home and make it to bed at a somewhat reasonable time.  So for me, it will definitely be a balancing act and trying to decide who I am most trying to cater towards, being that a majority of the gripes I heard about the structure came from people I know to be serious players, and/or professional players.  More of the players who I presume identify as recreational or casual players, seemed to love the fact they could play a cool, fun tournament, that might produce a large prize pool, and still be home in time to catch an evening movie.

Another way that I feel like I failed was I didn’t do a good enough job spreading the word about my new tour when in person at Canterbury.  I was trying to be real cognizant of the fact I didn’t want to come off as spammy, or make anyone who knew me feel guilt if they couldn’t or didn’t want to play the event, so I generally just didn’t speak about the tour unless asked about it.  I think I failed in this way, and should’ve been a lot more vocal than I was.  This became especially apparent on the day of, when I had several people tell me, “Oh wow, I didn’t even realize this PIFT thing was all you, I’d have totally cleared my schedule to play it if I knew it was your thing” (INCLUDING a player I regularly play the $40/80 mix game with at Canterbury).  I dropped the ball there, and this likely had an effect on what the final turn out numbers were compared to what they could’ve been.

82 players for a 1030am Saturday $450, and 90 players for a 1pm Sunday $185 is nothing to sneeze at — and I AM proud of those numbers, as a guy who entered this having no clue how to throw a poker tour, how to market it, how to run a business, etc. — but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope we’d crack 100 players in each of the events.  I think the weather being 75 and sunny (in a state that could be 3-4 weeks away from frost!), as well as it being opening weekend of the NFL and kids freshly being back in school with their first weekend off, were things we were fighting against from the beginning and likely reduced what type of turn out PIFT got in round 1, but I think I should shoulder some of the blame as well for failing to reach 100 players in either event.  I’m definitely going to do more reaching out to the community and trying to spread the word and excitement in many different ways before it’s time to jump back into the ring – I feel like twitter was the only area I excelled at promoting what PIFT is about.

I also think I need to continue to tweak the payouts chart.  I have to admit I was slightly embarrassed when I saw the min-cash payouts for the $185 displaying $195, and going forward I would like all min-cashes to be closer to at least 1.5x the buy in amount.  I had tested my chart pretty fully for all possible scenarios for the $450 payouts, but didn’t do so with the $185.  For me, the solution of this is to produce a new payout chart that has a smaller range of player numbers in the gap before the next payout level.  For example, in the current chart, one payout level is for 70-89 players, and the next is 90-109 players (and with the $185 getting exactly 90 players, that’s how we ended up with a $195 min cash).  With a goal of always paying out at least 15% of the players, I might need to simply create separate payouts for if there’s 70-79 players, 80-89, 90-99, etc.  That way, we’re constantly ensuring the percent of people getting paid out doesn’t balloon substantially above 15%, thus ensuring that a mincash offers a profit of larger than an extra value meal.

These are some of the most pressing things I’m going to take a close look at before our next PIFT events happen.

Continue onto Part 3 of this 3 part retrospective, where I’m looking for your feedback on a few things and just in general talk about some PIFT stuff going forward.

Retrospective: The PIFT Inaugural Weekend – Part 1: The Good

Hi ladies and gents, I thought I’d share with you all some insights into my mind, now that I have had time to let everything from our inaugural weekend marinate just a bit.  I truly do believe that a ton went super well in our first ever events, while also recognizing some things I dropped the ball on and can definitely improve before we go back at it.  I entered the creation-of-PIFT-journey knowing “these first events I will learn what I know, and quickly realize what I didn’t know I didn’t know about operating a poker tour,” and can say by the end of Sunday night, it definitely rang true.

The Good:

I was unsure of what to expect with the “Winners Shown” format.  In my opinion, it went off virtually flawlessly.  The feedback I received was almost unanimously positive, players truly seemed more engaged in the hands that were being played when they weren’t also in the pots (seeing as the payoff of gained information was guaranteed every single hand), and by all indications both from my own observation as well as player feedback, technology use was substantially lower than the typical tournament.  This was exactly the kind of atmosphere and friendly, inviting player environment that I’m hoping becomes a trademark of PIFT events, and it went better than my wildest expectations.

Moreover, I was worried there might be issues with a player or players repeatedly forgetting to show their cards, and likewise the dealers forgetting to make them show if they did muck their cards.  Fortunately, this issue was a non-concern, and players almost always remembered, and the rare times someone forgot to, usually another player at the table was able to gently remind them – and also, Canterbury’s dealers are top notch excellent and they did a great job of remembering to expose the cards in the few instances a player forgot.  I get that accidents happen, habits are hard to break, and nobody is perfect – and given that, “Winners Shown” operated almost perfectly.

Some of the feedback I received was also real cool.  For example, when one of the top 5 finishers in one of the events (who traveled over 2 hours to come play PIFT) was asked what feedback he could give me to improve on in future PIFT events, or any other general feedback, he replied “absolutely nothing.  I love everything about this and would definitely come back to play more PIFT events.”  We then continued talking and he asked me when the next Poker Is Fun Tour event will be, and I told him something like, “I’m not sure yet, I don’t have anything on the calendar.  My wife and I are having a baby in November, so I’m probably just going to take it easy for a few months as I learn what challenges await us with our first baby.”  He then replied to me jokingly, “That would be my criticism then.  You need to have PIFT events all the time!” It felt super awesome to get some validation that this vision I’ve had in my head for a long time, became a reality in a way that it connected with some of my customers to the same level of enthusiasm I have for it.

Also, nobody who reached the final table had anything bad to say about the final table clock roll-back feature of PIFT.  In the $450, we rolled the clock back from 26 minutes left in level 13 (1000/2000, 300 ante) to the beginning of level 12 (800/1600, 200 ante), which ended up being a full 56 minute roll back.  The average chip stack at this point, with 10 players left, was 82,000, meaning we had over 50 big blinds as the average chip stack at the start of the final table.  One of my aims of the tour was to offer a lot of play when the most money is on the line – and in that respect, I think I succeeded in flying colors. A 50 big blind average chip stack at a final table of these price points, or even most $1,000’s out there, is relatively unheard of.

Plus, just to throw it in, I’m pleased with us raising just about $2,500 for Second Harvest Heartland.  When I created PIFT, I had no clue what type of support I might be able to acquire from local businesses, and I’m thrilled at what the final charitable output was from PIFT’s opening weekend.  My original expectations were in the $1000-$2000 range, so clearing that makes me ecstatic.

Finally, overall I feel like as a one man crew, I did a great job keeping up with “live updates” while the tourneys were running.  From the start of Saturday morning, to the end of Sunday, I really evolved in efficiency as I quickly discovered lots of tricks and short cuts in note taking and updating that helped me continually get new posts up.  That isn’t to say I did a perfect job, but given that I was doing them all myself, in addition to photographs, in addition to being present to interact with people as they had questions, comments, or just simply wanted to talk for a few minutes, I think I did a real good job.  It was fun getting to dust off my journalism degree I got over 10 years ago, and put it to use for a few days – albeit with some rustiness.

Granted though, there is still plenty I can improve on… I credit a lot of my poker playing success on my ability to be self-critical and honest, and quickly recognize weaknesses (in myself, or opponents) and try to adapt on the fly,  so click here to read “Part 2: What Can Be Worked On.”

Top 5 Reasons to Play “Winners Shown” PIFT Events This Weekend

5) Even hands you aren’t in will be exciting to follow!  It’s hard to like a movie without knowing its ending – this weekend, every hand is its own movie and every hand has an ending.

4) The players who will benefit the most will be the players who are paying attention.  Yes, you will have to “show,” however, the other players at the table also have to show.  Now anyone deeply engrossed in an iPad movie loses out on all that info!

3) Who doesn’t like playing for a good cause?  Second Harvest Heartland stands to make several thousand dollars this weekend!  With a few small donations, we can collectively make large gains for our community…

2) Learn while you play!  It might be surprising how frequently or infrequently a bad hand or a bluff takes down the pot.  Moreover, as habitual bluffers or nut-peddlers get exposed, watch the game evolve into a high stakes version of rock-paper-scissors — while you guess if your predictable opponent keeps firing rock, or changes it up with some new moves.

1) What’s better than bluffing a friend, enemy, or anywhere in between – and then being able to show them? Without showing them being seen as needling? Nothing.


Don’t miss out, our inaugural weekend is going to be big!  Check out the event page by clicking here.

Announcing our first ever “Charity Pledge Partner”

PIFT is excited to announce that our charity reach for our first ever tournaments will be stretched even further than just 1% of the prize pool!  Good Day Cafe has graciously offered to do a 100% charity match, up to $1000 for our “Winners Shown” events at Canterbury Park on September 9th and September 10th.  Additionally, they have also offered up three $100 gift cards that we will be giving away:  two bubble players in our $450 Saturday tournament, and one to our Sunday $180 bubble player.

It’s our goal to find a few other amazing local businesses to join our “Charity Pledge Partner” program — we are looking for businesses of any size to agree to pledge a 10% charity match up to $100, 50% match up to $500, or 100% match up to $1000.  So if you own or happen to be real close to anyone who might have a business that would be a good fit to join our pledge program, please drop us a line by emailing schneids at or using our Contact Us page.

All businesses that agree to pledge a charity match of any level will be given some free exposure on our website and social media accounts, as well as will receive the original copy of the charity receipt so they are the ones benefiting from the charity write-off.  Any and all pledge of any size is a good pledge, so please, if you’re a business owner who enjoys poker, please consider joining us in our mission of bridging together the local community with our fun game of poker in a way that benefits those who need it the most.

“Winners Shown” Events at Canterbury Park — Benefiting Second Harvest Heartland

Just as it sounds – if you are the last remaining person in the pot, you must show your cards in order to be given the pot. AKA the “sleep well at night” tournament. All your bluffs will be known! All your nut peddling will be seen. Now you never need to ask, “If I fold, will you show?” This rule will drastically change the dynamic of the game and certainly create more action and battle of wits as you anticipate and predict if your opponent has it in him or her to try bluffing a third straight time!

Tip: Don’t be shy about holding onto your cards until you are certain everyone else has folded! You don’t want to accidentally expose your hand when there’s still another player in the pot.  Likewise, if you know you are going to fold in a key pot and you’re desperately curious to ensure your opponent doesn’t forget to show, don’t be scared to give him or her a reminder before you muck your cards.

Event 1: Saturday, September 9, 10:30am start, $450 buy in.
Event 2: Sunday, September 10, 1pm start, $180+$5 buy in.

Satellite Qualifier:  Friday, September 8, 5pm start, $110 buy in (top 20% win $400 in tournament lammers and $50 cash to be used on Event #1 on Saturday).


Tournament Structures
Payout Chart
Qualifier Structure
Hotel Accommodations

Other tidbits:

  • 15%+ of the field gets paid.
  • Both events are one day tournaments.
  • Once the final table is reached, we bump the clock back to the beginning of the previous blind level (this means moving back a level in the blinds!).  Get MORE play when the money is most on the line.
  • 1 entry and up to 2 re-entries in each event.
  • Re-entries and late entries can occur up through the end of the 2nd break (roughly 3 hours after the tournament begins).
  • 1% of prize pool withheld for donation to Second Harvest Heartland.  See Poker For Good to read why we believe in 1% going to charity.
  • Deals are allowed to be made if all remaining players agree.

“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.