In 1984, Illinois lawmakers allowed poker to be played at charity events. Jim Kasputis was there at the beginning, starting Rockford Charitable Games. After 30 years of listening to players, they still enjoy playing in a legal environment while helping Illinois charities.
In the ’80s, poker was well-suited to back rooms and basements. Kasputis changed that by booking events in upscale banquet halls, giving players a more pleasant experience.
“I found out about Rockford Charitable Games on a business trip in the mid ’90s,” World Series of Poker media director Nolan Dalla said. “I was astounded by how friendly the players were.”
Today, you’ll find the same friendly atmosphere. As a family-run business, the family’s passion for poker has helped RCG be the state’s largest and oldest poker business.
Kasputis’ daughter, Regina, got involved early on, running charity events with her dad, and now runs Island Casino in Longview, Wash. Jim Jr. runs events with his father.
Long before casinos started running tournaments, RCG ran them regularly, and now they run more tournaments in a week than all of the Illinois poker rooms combined. One of the early tournament winners was WSOP main-event champ Greg Raymer.
RCG was one of the first to run WSOP satellites outside of Nevada, and it still runs satellites for some of the major events around the country.
With RCG’s long history, tournament players from everywhere can be found with RCG roots, including a recent WSOPC event at Horseshoe Hammond, where eight players who frequently play at RCG made a final table.
Before Illinois had a smoking ban, Kasputis noticed some of the venues had poor ventilation. He had players vote on a smoking ban, and that’s when RCG events became non-smoking.
WCPC: Since its event in January, Windy City Poker Championship’s weekly charity events have been extremely successful. Players have multiple opportunities to advance to WCPC’s televised final table or TV cash game set for May 24-25.
Four players have qualified. Low-limit tournaments are scheduled weekly at noon and the $60 buy-in has been popular with its deep structure.
Since the poker boom, leagues have become popular in Chicagoland. The WCPC will be running every weekend in the south suburbs and launch its league March 8 at the Tinley Park VFW. This monthly league will have a $50 buy-in. For more details, go to windycitypokerchampionship.com or look for Chicago Poker League on Facebook.
HORSESHOE HAMMOND: The Chicago Poker Classic is scheduled for April 29-May 12. In other news, Frank Tighe, who started playing cash games when the Horseshoe opened, recently started playing tournaments seriously and won the first End of the Month $100K guarantee he entered, pocketing $28K.
Runner-up Alexander Horodysky also recently started playing tournaments seriously. Robert Edelstein, who made the final table, has a pair of WSOPC rings.
— Email “Chicago” Joe at email@example.com.