Walk around Monte Carlo and the chances are you’ll rub shoulders with someone rich or famous. Business tycoons, actors, Formula One racing drivers, and Royalty – all live and prosper in the small principality of Monaco. Had you by chance been in the tournament area of the Monte Carlo Bay Resort hotel just now you would have met them all at once.
Stars of screen, music and sport, arrived for one purpose – to play poker in PokerStars’ Ante Up for Africa tournament, the first time this charity, which raises funds to help humanitarian efforts in war-torn Darfur, has run in Europe. Look in one direction, and you’d see U.S. rap star Nelly warming up for the tournament by playing table soccer with Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer. Turn around and you’d see screen stars James Kyson Lee from Heroes and Jason Lewis from Sex in the City.
Also here is F1 racing driver Nico Rosberg, straight off the plane from yesterday’s Grand Prix in Bahrain, Liverpool FC and Spain’s goalkeeper Pepe Reina. And, although this may not mean a great deal to our American readers, two rugby greats have renewed old rivalries, this time across the felt, in the huge – make that hulking – shape of France’s Sebastian Chabal and England’s Mike Tindall.
Chabal has a fearsome reputation on the field, but off it he is as charming and, dare I say soft, as anyone you’re likely to meet. To prove the point, before play started he revealed he was nervous about playing poker with the Pros – but that if any of these poker players wandered on to his rugby field they’d not just be nervous, they’d be terrified.
Mike Tindall’s partner just happens to be Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne, which makes her the Queen of England’s granddaughter. That’s right – we have Royalty here to watch a tournament that will raise a pretty sum as well great awareness for the relief efforts in Darfur.
Everyone playing has stumped up 4,000 euros to be part of a charity event which has been such a great success when held in Las Vegas. Everyone is playing for the cause – with all prize money going straight to the charity. PokerStars has waived all normal tournament fees.
The players have finished their media duties and are now taking their seats around the tables. We’ll be back with what is sure to be some intriguing seat draws shortly.
While they do, have look at what our video team have put together for the start of play…