Wil Wheaton scores $10,000 for charity
Team PokerStars' Wil Wheaton has long been a man who defied definition. He's an actor, writer, blogger, poker player, and several things that defy definition themselves. However, a week ago, he embraced the label of "celebrity" for a few days and it paid off in a very big way.
Wheaton played in the Los Angeles Poker Classic WPT Celebrity Invitational. There he sat among some of the best poker players and biggest celebrities in LA. When Day One ended, he was still alive but his stack needed some help. Wheaton's fans sat and waited, hoping for the best. By the time night fell on Day Two, Wheaton had battled his way through the field and discovered he was one of just three remaining celebs.
Therein was the significance. Only 40 total players remained. Only six players would walk away with any cash. But there was another prize and Wil had his eye on it. The WPT had promised to send $10,000 to the charity of the last celebrity standing's choice.
When Jason Alexander off Seinfield fame busted, he stood up and said "Well, it's all up to Wil Wheaton, now!"
One other celeb was left. Wil picks up the story from here:
"In a made for TV move, Danny [Masterson, That 70s Show] was put immediately to my left after Jason busted and they consolidated tables. I stole from him every chance I got, because I could feel that he wanted to outlast me as much as I wanted to outlast him.
"On the hand he finally busted, I wasn't involved. I was the small blind, Danny was the big blind, and Jessie Jones was the button. It was folded to Jessie, who made a standard raise. I looked at A4o and thought about a re-steal, but I knew that I had Danny left to act, and his M was so low, if he had anything reasonable, it was likely that he'd push. I didn't want to double him up, so I let it go. As it turns out, he did push, and Jessie called. Danny had a medium suited queen, and Jessie had an unsuited KQ. There was an ace on the flop (damn!) but neither of them improved, and Jessie won with A-K-Q.
"Danny shook my hand, and Steve Lipscomb, who was at the other end of the table, said, 'Wil, you just won the celebrity last-longer!'"
A few minutes later, an announcement cam across the speakers that Wil had earned the honor of being the best celebrity poker player and that $10,000 would be donated to Wil's choice of charity, City of Hope.
As the announcement echoed in the room, the cards folded around to Wil. With A9 suited in hearts (and a relatively short stack of chips), Wil let the applause die down, waved to the crowd, and said, "Thank you, everybody. I'm all-in."
It was folded around to Barry Greenstein in the small blind, who looked at his cards and said, "I'm in a tough spot here, Wil, I don't want to be the guy who busted the guy who just gave 10,000 to City of Hope."
Greenstein thought for a second and folded. Tuan Le, in the big blind, looked at his cards and said, "Nope, not this time."
Wil said, "As I raked the pot, Jesse Jones looked at me, with tears in the corners of his eyes, and said, 'Thank you for giving to City of Hope. I'm an 18 year cancer survivor.' Of course, Jesse went on to make the final TV table."
Yesterday, the World Poker Tour and the Commerce Casino sent a check for $10,000 to the City of Hope Cancer Hospital,. Wil chose the charity because City of Hope saved his friend Kris' life two years ago.
Wil finally fell victim to the fast structure. With three tables remaining, Wil picked up pocket tens on the button and pushed in. The small blind woke up with aces and Wil walked away, no richer himself, but knowing he was able to do something good for charity.
"It was a fantastic tournament, and I was very happy with the way I played. I only made one mistake over two days and I know for a fact that I wouldn't have played as well as I did, or as confidently as I did if I didn't play MTTs on PokerStars several times a week."'