The stars will be out tonight as celebrities descend on the Rio to take part in the 3rd annual Ante Up for Africa tournament. The impending main event is sure to draw in some well known faces among the unknown hordes, but many of them will be lost in the crowds. Tonight, on the other hand, is all about high profile names exhibiting their poker expertise for a good cause.
Ante Up for Africa is a non-profit organization founded by Annie Duke, Don Cheadle, and Norman Epstein. They have raised nearly $2 million for humanitarian causes by hosting star studded poker tournaments at the World Series. This year’s event will benefit the needy in Darfur and Sudan, with the charity Refugees International channeling much of the cash.
“We’ve got a huge, wonderful list of celebrities,” said Duke. The confirmed list of guests certainly seems to vindicate her confidence. Along with Duke and Cheadle, confirmed to attend are: Matt Damon, Ben and Casey Affleck, Mekhi Phifer, Jason Alexander, Charles Barkley, Hank Azaria, Brad Garrett, Herschel Walker, Marlon Wayans, Kenny Smith, Montel Williams, Reggie Miller, and Sarah Silverman.
Annie’s recent appearance on the Celebrity Apprentice drummed up a very welcome $700,000 for Refugees International, and she hopes to raise a similar amount tonight. “I am thrilled that this event has become such a success and that it will generate support for efforts by Refugees International, the Enough Project and others to end the crisis in Darfur.”
Poker fans will be just as interested in the high-class pros lining up along side the A-listers. Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel, and Phil Hellmuth will be there, along with Annie’s brother Howard Lederer. The event has a $5,000 buy-in and a super-fast structure designed to finish the event within 4 hours. The star-spotters and the paparazzi are sure to be out in force, and will likely follow the trail of goldust to the after-tournament VIP party.
Ante Up for Africa has already become a welcome institution at the WSOP, a fact that Refugee International President Ken Bacon couldn’t be happier about. “An event like this makes it possible for Refugees International to continue to demand action from the world’s leaders to provide basic assistance and protection to refugees in Sudan and around the world.”
The event starts as 2pm WSOP time and will be aired on ESPN on August 11th.