Ante Up for Africa, a joint venture of actor Don Cheadle and poker pro Annie Duke, was held for the 4th time at this year’s World Series of Poker. The duo has teamed up to raise millions of dollars over the past few years to benefit victims of the Darfur conflict.
Notably, though held at the World Series of Poker, this $5,000 no-limit Hold’em event is not played for a bracelet. Truthfully, the overwhelming majority of participants don’t even enter the event for the chance at winning money either. This special charity event has been regularly attended by TV and movie stars, professional athletes, poker pros, and regular people with $5,000 who feel like donating to a worthy cause and hobnobbing with some celebs.
This year’s celebrity contingent included Cheadle himself, Matt Damon, funnyman Brad Garrett, NFL legend Jerome Bettis, former talk show host Montel Williams, and Shannon Elizabeth, a Hollywood actress and poker aficionado.
While under Nevada gaming regulations, proceeds of poker tournaments cannot directly be funneled to charities, almost all players who cash in the Ante Up for Africa event donate at least some percentage of their winnings to the cause.
The winner of this year’s competition could not have been more fitting: Phil Gordon. Among the most beloved personalities in the poker world, Gordon has also developed a fine reputation away from the felt for his promotion of charitable causes, notably the “Bad Beat on Cancer” foundation.
True to his reputation, Gordon donated the entire $129,086 first place prize to the charitable cause. Along with the pledges of the other players who cashed in the event, this year’s Ante Up for Africa poker tournament raised over $275,000.