WSOP: Winning to give back

wsop2009_thn.gifFor more than five weeks, everyone in the Amazon Room has been focused on one thing: winning as much money as possible and putting it in a pocket.

Now, the players are going to spend their day winning money to give away.

Today marks the third annual Ante Up For Africa charity tournament. It's an event that draws the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Don Cheadle and has all the glitter of a Hollywood opening night.

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Nelly and Dennis Phillips--The Lou representing


The $5,000 turbo no-limit hold'em event draws some of the biggest poker and Hollywood names to the Rio. None of the money is being pulled directly from the prize pool, but the players are being encouraged to donate at least 50% of what they win to the Ante Up For Africa efforts. You can be sure, most of the players in the field will donate everything they earn to the struggle to end genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

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Frank LeBoeuf and Isabelle Mercier


As always, this red carpet affair is packed with PokerStars players and PokerStars-loving celebs. Among the people flying the PokerStars flag today: Brad Garrett, Montel Williams, Sarah Silverman, Jason Alexander, Nelly, Barry Greenstein, Peter Eastgate, Isabelle Mercier, Jason Mercier, Victor Ramdin, Chad Brown, Joe Hachem, Dennis Phillips, Luca Pagano, Humberto Brenes, J.C. Alvarado, Ylon Schartz, Alex Kravchenko, and Gavin Griffin.

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Joe Hachem, Ben Affleck, and Barry Greenstein


The crisis in Darfur has been going on for six years and killed more than 400,000 people. Hundreds of thousands live without healthy food or decent medical care. Humanitarian groups are being kicked out. It is an international crisis of epic proportion.

In the past few years, Ante Up For Africa has raised more than $2 million to aid the suffering in Darfur. PokerStars players have been giving to cause from the very beginning.

In a poker world that is often depicted as beset with greed, it's nice to have a reminder that many of the players are more charitable than you'd ever realize.

To learn more about the crisis in Darfur, visit the Enough project website.

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Since this is a celebrity and charity event, it lends itself to few mote photos than usual. Here's a selection of shots from our crack photographer Joe Giron/IMPDI Worldwide.

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Brad Garrett on the red carpet


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Norman Chad interviews PokerStars player (and rapper) Nelly


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Friend of PokerStars Jason Alexander


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Luca Pagano and Ylon Schwartz at the feature table


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No stranger to charity, Barry Greenstein