The World Series of Poker was abuzz today as 81 celebrities and poker professionals sat down together at the tables for an event not designed to award wealth or glory, but rather to support an excellent cause.
This was the fourth annual Ante up for Africa tournament to be held since the charity was founded by Don Cheadle, Annie Duke and Norman Epstein a small number of years ago. Each year the tournament is hosted at the slot online indonesia by actor Cheadle and poker pro Duke in an effort to raise both money and awareness for Africans in need. Thus far the charity has managed to raise over $3,000,000 and it is hoped that at the end of this year’s tournament the official figure will be a very impressive $4,000,000.
The $5,000 non-bracelet event attracts a wide variety of famous faces, from both inside and outside the poker world. Excited railbirds and fans could see Ben Affleck, Ron Artest, Matt Damon, Brad Garret, Montel Williams and of course Don Cheadle competing against well-known poker pros such as Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson, Phil Gordon, Phil Ivey and Erik Seidel. While winners aren’t required to donate their prize money to charity, it is strongly expected that those lucky few who make it into the money will donate at least some percentage of their winnings to the charity.
The tournament is designed to be a short one, spanning only a few hours with rapidly advancing levels which shift the focus to a fun and generous atmosphere rather than making the event into an arduous poker marathon. The non-pros were not to be taken lightly, with Jerome Bettis and Matt Damon both putting in strong showings throughout the day. Damon is almost iconic in the poker community for his portrayal of the proficient grinder Mike McDermott in the 1998 film Rounders. However as Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson were both moved to his table, his luck ran out and he was eliminated from the tournament in 26th place, just one place before charity founder and fellow actor Don Cheadle.
While it may have been Lederer and Ferguson that brought Matt Damon’s day to an end, it was a different member of Team Full Tilt who went on to take down the event. Phil Gordon, professional poker player, writer and commentator, made it to the final table of the Ante up for Africa event last year before busting in 6th place. This year he bested that personal record and went the whole nine yards to win the tournament after battling through the final table. Having eliminated Alex Filatov in third place, Gordon went on to face Shannon Elizabeth in heads-up play. While Elizabeth didn’t win the event, the exposure that a second place finish gets in such a high profile event will certainly be welcomed by the poker pro who, as FlopTurnRiver reported earlier this week, was recently signed by CarbonPoker to be the face of the Merge Network.
Some time into heads up play Elizabeth found herself with KT offsuit and knew it was time to make her move. Things looked good for her as her preflop shove was called by Gordon’s Q3, but as the board ran out Q68A5 she was eliminated in second place and Phil Gordon took down the tournament and collected the $130,641. Following in the footsteps of previous winners and his own actions from the 2009 event, Phil Gordon has very generously chosen to donate the entirety of his winnings to the Ante up for Africa charity.
A great cause and great poker coming together like this should certainly be celebrated, and while we can’t all be a part of the fun on the tables, please do go to AnteUpForAfrica.org to make a donation and express your support for this awesome organization.