CHARITIES BENEFIT FROM ONLINE POKER TOURNEYS
Kudos to Todd Brunson and Jennifer Harman….and be on the lookout for Playboy's initiative soon
Internationally famous poker players Todd Brunson and Jennifer Harman have each done their bit for charity this year by hosting competitions that raised funds for causes as widely diverse as care for children suffering from cancer and the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Brunson raised $20 000 for the Leo Brien Foundation, which operates Camp Okizu, a retreat for children who have cancer. Both professional poker players and online sites came out in force to support his March 13 initiative in San Francisco, including World Poker Tour champions Roy "The Oracle" Winston and Hoyt Corkins, Kathy Liebert, Layne Flack and Allen Kessler.
Online poker rooms such as Doyle's Room, Full Tilt and Ultimate Bet provided gift bags for the participants, who participated enthusiastically in the poker tournament and a silent auction.
Amateur player Doug Fowler took the main prize of an expenses paid Las Vegas weekend with the Brunsons, with Kathy Liebert in second place receiving a WSOP Academy package and a 1 500-piece Full Tilt Poker chip set.
Three days later, Jennifer Harman's charity in aid of the prevention of cruelty to animals pulled in a slew of top players and raised some $30 000 for the Nevada chapter of the SPCA. Her 'Jennifer Harman Animal Lovers Poker Tournament' was an online event sponsored by Full Tilt Poker for the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The $10 tournament, with half of the entry fee going to the charity, was expected to draw a 1 500 players, but the eventual entry field was over twice that at 3 009, generating a $15 000 donation which Full Tilt Poker generously doubled.
Professionals such as Harman, her husband Marco Traniello, Erik Seidel, Clonie Gowen, Andy Bloch and many other professionals on the Full Tilt roster were at the tables and they were joined by several stars from the extreme sports world, including two-time X Games champion Ross Powers and wakeboarder Parks Bonifay.
Online player "Jzeeee" emerged as the tournament champ of an event that was so successful that Harman plans on hosting another poker tournament to benefit the same charity on April 18. Last year, Harman rised $130 000 for the Nevada SPCA, and she hopes to overtake this total in 2008.
Coming up on May 18 is anoher charity fundraiser, this one hosted by the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles – the 3rd Celebrity Poker Tournament and Casino Night. General admission for the evening, which will feature many celebrity and poker stars has been set at $500 and that includes food and beverages.
Events include a silent auction, and for those with a spare $1 500 a seat in a celebrity poker tournament. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Urban Health Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation "founded to provide direct care, medicine and medical equipment in response to natural and man-made disasters."
First prize for the tournament is a $10 000 seat in the World Series of Poker 2008 Main Event, and the second place reward is none too shabby either – a Bermuda vacation for two with travel and four-star hotel accommodation.
Last year actress and 2007 National Heads-Up Poker Championship semifinalist Shannon Elizabeth took home the title. Confirmed to attend so far are Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson, Pam Brunson, and Hoyt Corkins. If the past two years are any indication, the list of confirmations will blossom as the event grows nearer.
The cause is a good one – UHI's past activities have included administering medical relief to victims of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, tending to New Orleans residents evacuated from their homes to the Astrodome in Houston, participating in local health fairs and sponsoring youth sports programs, and providing medical exams, medications, and supplies to communities in Nigeria and Belize.