PokerStars players support AIDS research

Tournament qualifiers hit Vienna's Lifeball in style

Life itself is a celebration for some people.

For three decades, the world has struggled to cope with the worldwide AIDS epidemic. At one time, even a mention of the disease would result in little more than quiet whispers. Today, most people have recognized that the fight against AIDS is not one to be faced with individual shame, but rather in concert with the world.

There have been many efforts to raise money for AIDS research, but none are as lavish and colorful as the Lifeball in Vienna, Austria.

This year, PokerStars sponsored the gala event by donating $100,000 and hosting a series of charity tournaments for its players. The winners of some of those tournaments got free tickets to the biggest AIDS charity ball in the world.

Complete with a extraordinary fashion show, concert, and a celebrity poker tournament, the 2007 Lifeball was more than a sight to behold. It was a visceral experience for the PokerStars winners.

"We had never seen a spectacle such as this before--fantastic colorful costumes, kind and fun people. It was astounding!" said charity tournament qualifier Andrea Wirth.

The multi-colored crowd at the 2007 Lifeball

Poker game at 2007 Lifeball

Justin Green, a 31-year-old one-time accountant, also won his trip in one of the charity tournaments. While carousing around the Lifeball, he met a number of celebrities, including Jenna Jameson, Lance Bass, and Marcel Luske.

Justin Green in a surreal celebrity moment

Celebrity aside, Green was able to look past it all to recognize the importance of the event.

Green said, "At first, I felt that PokerStars involvement with the LifeBall was somewhat of an odd-couple mixture, but the fact that poker has exploded in popularity around the world allows PokerStars to take advantage of that popularity by donating to a very noble cause in the fight for a cure for a disease that can affect virtually anyone, anywhere."

Concert at Lifeball 2007

Supernova Tom Richter, a 23-year-old poker pro took his wife Sophie with him. He said, "The event was amazing, and we have never seen anything like it. We enjoyed the show and partied till 4 am. The PokerStars lounge had a great atmosphere and was super stylish.

"I think that the Life Ball with its tenure of 15 years has found acceptance with all areas of the community and internationally. This was recognizable in the strong presence of international people during the event. Taking this into consideration, PokerStars has found a strong charity partner to work with."

Tom Richter in Vienna

Tournament winner Dieter Schroder, a 36-year-old network planner for Versatel, agreed. He said, "Since the subject of AIDS has been pushed back in the recent past it is great that PokerStars have committed themselves to this project."

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in