Fifteen casino-style game tables were packed and active with serious poker playing during the fourth annual Pretend City Children’s Museum’s Poker Fundraising Night recently held at Big Canyon Country Club.

125 of Orange County’s notable philanthropists and top business leaders attended the Viva Las Vegas-themed event that featured certified poker Dealer Dolls who brought the true spirit of the game to life.  As an added bonus, guests had the opportunity to enjoy the great sounds of Matt Mauser from Tijuana Dogs at the VIP pre-reception and participate in demonstrations to learn valuable poker tips that helped “up” their game.

The five-hour poker tournament came to a close when Hirad Emadi presented the winning-hand of the night followed by Don Ressler in second, Todd Tripp in third and David Rosenberg in fourth place.  The Poker Fundraising Night raised over $195,000 to benefit the museum’s educational mission for Orange County’s children and families.

“We’re so proud of how successful our poker tournament has grown to be over the last four years,” says Joe Elkind, Chairman of the Board for Pretend City Children’s Museum. “It gives generous people an interesting and competitive way to raise funds for a museum that we’re so passionate about because of exceptional fun and educational experience that they provide for our children.

Among the supporters for the evening’s event were board members Bill Lyon, Hirad Emadi, Chad Horning, Mark Fitzpatrick, Chris Winn and Jill Bertea; as well as Ivo Tjan, Ryan Steelberg, Darrin Ginsberg and Don Ressler.  The Poker Fundraising Night was made possible by generous key sponsors: Commerce West Bank, William Lyon Homes, the Ressler Family, Fitzpatrick + Prince, Sales and Service, Inc., Fidelity National Title, Cushman and Wakefield, Black, Starr & Frost, Northwestern Mutual, Windes and McClaughry, The Guppy Tank, DPS, The Koll Company, BKCG Law Firm, First American Title Company, and Ryan Steelberg.

Pretend City Children’s Museum features a small, interconnected city designed to “build better brains” through purposeful play, hands-on learning experiences, role playing, and educational programming.  As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization serving all children, it depends on community-based funding and guest support.  Through 17 interactive exhibits and activities guided by a highly trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills, while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, organization, teamwork, self-confidence, and socialization.  The museum is a unique community resource offering developmental screenings and tools for families, educators and community agencies working to ensure that each child gains the experiences needed to discover their potential and build toward a productive and fulfilling future.

Since opening, Pretend City has seen over 500,000 guests, distributed more than 16,000 developmental screenings, hosted monthly specialized family events for children on the autism spectrum and facilitated more than 10,000 scholarship field trips to the young, underserved Orange County community.

Pretend City Children’s Museum received the Parenting OC 2016 Reader’s Choice Award.