Instead of an in-person poker tournament, Kedma organized games through Half of the money went to the three winners and the other half will go to the charity of the winner’s choice. Photo by James Hartner

By James Hartner
For Mitzpeh

On Sat. Dec. 12, Kedma hosted a virtual Texas Hold’em poker tournament to help raise money for charity. 

This tournament consisted of 14 participants, each with a $15 buy-in. With the stockpile of money, 50% of the money was distributed to the top three participants and 50% went to a charity of the winner’s choice. 

The top three participants were: Jonah Riffkin, a junior government and political science major, in first place; Jordan Cohen, a junior computer science major, in second; and Jacob Nelson, a senior finance and information systems major, in third.

The games began with two tables, with seven participants at each table playing concurrently. At the end of those games, the top three of each table moved on to the final round. 

This poker tournament was different. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the tournament was held completely online on, but that didn’t change the tempo of the game.

“There was one hand where I kept doubling down and the pot got very large very fast. Intense stuff,” Nelson said.

One of the first games went back and forth, with some participants at first holding a large lead. Unfortunately, some of those leads didn’t last too long.

“There were many times where Jordan, for sure, took really high leads, then dropped really low,” Ariela Bengio, a sophomore psychology major and Social Chair of Kedma, said. “It definitely went back and forth.”

Even with the COVID-19 restrictions, many found the online aspect fun. Some even preferred it, as many of the players only had casual prior experience in poker. Also, many of the players kept the games interesting, with no certainty of the top three of each table until about an hour in.

“(I) must’ve gone all in at least four or five times and stayed alive,” Cohen said. “It was a game of swings. Everyone had comfortable leads and everyone was down by a lot throughout both games I played in.”

By placing first, Riffkin received $60, Cohen received $30 and Nelson received $15. Riffkin also decided to donate the remaining funds to Orayta, which is a yeshiva located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Orayta sponsors young Jewish men learning Torah in Israel.

It was a night to remember for many of the participants. Bengio felt that if this event could have been in-person, it would have drawn a larger crowd. However, it was still a way to bring the community together and wind down, especially with the rising anxiety of finals week approaching.


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