Remembering Chad Brown: When we lose the badges
If you work in a competitive industry, it's often a little weird hanging out with employees of the competitor. You have to put a tight filter on what you say to be sure you don't reveal corporate secrets, air dirty laundry, etc. So sometimes such gatherings can be a bit awkward.
But that wasn't true Thursday night at the Chad Brown Memorial Poker Tournament at Planet Hollywood. I lost count of the poker luminaries in attendance, along with many people who wanted to honor Chad's memory. And there were folks who didn't know Chad but wanted to make their contribution to cancer research.
Led by a charmingly aggressive Maria Ho ("I have a tray of drinks here to give to the next people who rebuy..."), players found every possible excuse to get the chips in bad and hopefully bust, so they could rebuy and thus contribute more money to the T.J. Martell Foundation, specifically for sarcoma research.
But there have been plenty of articles and videos talking about that. What meant the most to me was that people with so many competing financial interests put those interests aside for an evening. We came together as a community to celebrate Chad's life, collect some money for a great cause, and enjoy each other's company.
Yes, PokerStars supplied some sponsorship, but so did the WSOP, WPT, 888, PPC, and more poker enterprises than I could name. And man, it felt good to just drop the badges and spend an evening playing poker for a great cause.
There are far too many people to thank, but I do need to mention Jennifer Winter and Maria Ho, who did a ridiculous amount of work. And Planet Hollywood for being gracious and generous hosts. Speaking of Planet Hollywood, they're part of the Caesar's group, with whom PokerStars has had sometimes prickly relations in the past.
But Wednesday night, we were just a bunch of poker players getting together for an evening of cards, stories about a friend we've lost, laughs, and doing our part to bring about the day when memorial events remembering cancer victims will be a thing of the past. It felt really good.
Epilogue: The event raised almost $80,000 for the T.J. Martell Foundation. In an epic turn of cosmic karma, Maria Ho won first prize, and a $10k WSOP main event seat. She then filled her karma bank to "Overflow" by donating the cash portion of her prize back. Kevin O'Donnell came in second and received a $10k PCA 2016 seat donated by PokerStars.
Lee Jones is the Director of Poker Communications at PokerStars and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones.