Spike Anderson discovered Texas Hold ‘Em in college while playing baseball at Wichita State University in the mid ’90s. He was instantly hooked.
Following college he got involved with a poker tournament that raised scholarship funds for graduates of his alma mater, Valley Center High School. A seed was planted. Anderson began dreaming about a large-scale tournament to support a national cause.
In 2011, Anderson, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, decided it was finally time to parlay a fun night with the guys into something more. Cards for the Cure was born.
In its first two years, the Kansas Poker Championship tournament, which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure foundation for breast cancer, generated $105,000. Anderson plans to match that this year alone through sponsorships and by expanding the tournament to 1,000 players. A $100 suggested donation buys participants a seat and a chance for one of 50 cash prizes, including the $10,000 champion’s purse.
Although Anderson jokes that the tournament initially started as an excuse to have a poker tournament, he says his involvement with the Komen foundation has personalized the cause he supports.
“We had a kick off party in October and had a breast cancer survivor come and speak,” he says of the emotional evening. “It really put a face to our work. It’s not just a fun poker tournament. It impacts people’s lives.”
In addition to the tournament Jan. 26 at the Hyatt Regency downtown, a VIP event will be held Friday, Jan. 25, at the Hampton Inn at Kansas Star Casino. Celebrity guests include Derek Norris of the Oakland Athletics, Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets and Lynn Dickey of the Green Bay Packers.
Spike also has garnered the support of the women behind the men who coach the state’s great basketball programs: Cindy Self, Megan Weber and Lynn Marshall.