Over the past five years, poker players have stepped to the forefront for a variety of charitable causes. Online tournaments have raised funds to assist the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other deserving organizations. The Heartland Poker Tour makes contributions to the Disabled American Veterans. There is even an organization – founded by Poker News Daily guest columnist Mike Sexton, tournament directors Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher and philanthropist Lisa Tenner – called Poker Gives, that focuses on using poker to assist in fundraising for charities. Now the World Series of Poker will step up and take poker philanthropy to the next level.
For the first time in its forty year history, the WSOP will offer players who cash during each event on this summer’s schedule the opportunity to donate part of their winnings to an organization that the WSOP has aligned itself with. All that a winning player has to do is to ask the payout clerk to leave one percent of their winnings to the Nevada Cancer Institute and the WSOP will arrange to transfer the funds to the Institute. As with many charitable donations, they are tax-deductible and contributors will receive a letter from NVCI for accounting purposes.
During the run of the tournament schedule, a special VIP lounge will be set up for players who pay a membership fee to be able to use the room. The “Aces Club” will be donating a large portion of each membership taken for access to the room to the Nevada Cancer Institute. As of press time, there are still memberships available and anyone who wishes to access the “Aces Club” should visit the area during the first few days of the WSOP.
One of the most popular fundraisers during the last few years at the World Series has been the “Queens of Heart” that play during the Ladies’ Championship Event. Featuring such players as former WSOP Ladies’ Champion Jennifer Tilly, poker professional Kristy Gazes and actresses Mimi Rogers and Cheryl Hines, the team has raised large amounts of money for women’s causes over the past few years. This year, the WSOP has created a special line of poker clothing for women, available at the Rio and on their website, WSOP Shop. The proceeds from sales of the “Queens of Heart” merchandise will go to the Nevada Cancer Institute, continuing the tradition the team has driven while playing on the felt.
There will be two special charitable tournaments during the run of the WSOP. “Ante Up For Africa” – the cause promoted by actor Don Cheadle and poker professional Annie Duke – will be back for their third annual event. The $5,000 buy in No Limit Hold’em tournament is open to anyone 21 years or older and this year, for the first time, will be a part of the ESPN broadcasts of the WSOP. For the Media Charity Event this year, the players who reach the final table will have donations made in their name to the Nevada Cancer Institute.
Finally, the Championship Event of the World Series will also have a way for players to make their mark in a charitable way. Poker pro Phil Gordon’s charitable cause “Bad Beat On Cancer” and the Nevada Cancer Institute will both benefit from players who donate, much like earlier in the tournament schedule, one percent of their winnings to charity. All contributions are tax deductible and will benefit research into the cure for one of mankind’s worst diseases.
With the WSOP adding in this charitable aspect to their poker schedule, the poker world is once again proving that, while there may be no charity at the poker table, there is a charitable heart inside all who play the game. (Credit: Poker News Daily)
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