The Poker Player’s Alliance yesterday held the first of it’s two charity poker tournaments organized to coincide with the national political conventions of Americas two primary parties. In partnership with the Democratic National Convention in Denver the PPA hoped to raise funds for the Paralyzed Veterans of America charity by inviting attendees to compete in a $500 buy-in charity event.
The Convention itself has attracted a flock of politically minded celebrities, and poker provided a similar draw to many of the glitterati. Well known names seen at the event included: Sarah Silverman, Richard Dreyfuss and Montel Williams. However, undoubtedly the biggest star to have made his way to the felt was Oscar winner Ben Affleck. And it was he who triumphed over his compatriots, finishing at the head of the approximately 100 player field. Ben, who’s movie career is undergoing something of a resurgence, also managed to outlast world class pros Andy Bloch and Barry Greenstein. The latter in particular is well known for donating large swathes of his prize money to charity, so it was no surprise to see him popping up in this event.
Picking up the tab was the PPA themselves, who not only shelled out for the hall, dealers and bar, but paid the $500 buy-in for every player. The Democrats and the PPA are developing a close political association thanks to their shared vision for the future of online poker. PPA Executive Director John Pappas summed up their mutual desires for online poker saying: “We want a licensed, regulated, safe industry that Americans can enjoy.”
The tournament itself appears to have been a great success for both charity and poker. Around $60,000 was raised for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as the very welcome positive publicity for poker that only a big-name celebrity can bring.
Plans for a similar event at the Republican National Convention were recently confirmed, with an increased $1,000 buy-in the order of the day. Although most players will be required to foot the bill themselves this time around the PPA will still be paying for Republican Congressmen and staff to enter the tournament. The two organizations have regularly butted heads over the future of online poker, most recently when the party platform had it’s condemnation of online gambling removed and then re-instated overnight. However the two seem to be coming together amicably in the interests of charity – and the unspoken poker playing desires of many a Republican Congressman.
This unlikely cooperation may well be due to the work of PPA Chairman, and former senator, Alfonse D’Amato. Bizarrely, despite being the head of an organization who definitively oppose a central plank in the Republican manifesto, he has recently come out in support of John McCain. Whatever the politics it seems that issues are being put to one side in the favor of the joys of poker and the aid of a good cause.