The game of poker has traditionally been linked to charitable efforts from local fundraisers to World Series of Poker events such as The Big One for One Drop that this year helped raise nearly $5 million to provide clean water to those in need.
While big organizations such as the WSOP are guided by corporate giving campaigns, poker players themselves have begun taking the reins on recent altruism efforts in poker.
In November of last year, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker players donated more than $280,000 to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines—a donation that was matched by Rational Group.
PokerStars players are also taking advantage of favorable Frequent Player Point (FPP) exchange rates to help out causes such as Cancer Research UK and CARE International by purchasing $20 donation packages through the site.
Now more than ever, poker players (both live and online) are finding ways to actively participate in causes that help others and increase awareness on ways that their colleagues can join in.
Let’s take a look at some of the more recent examples.
Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS Research
One recent example of how poker players are contributing to charitable causes is the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research.
So far this month, dozens of high profile poker players, including 13-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and 2012 Big One for One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari, have taken the “Ice Bucket Challenge” and allowed it to be filmed.
The challenge, which involves pouring at least one bucket of ice-cold water over one’s head, has become a viral means to promote awareness and research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease—a condition that afflicts as many as 30,000 people in the United States at any given time.
Charity Series of Poker
The list of goodwill foundations that poker players can become active in or help out is virtually limitless.
This past July, the Charity Series of Poker (CSOP), organized by professional poker player Matt Stout, held its inaugural event at the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas in conjunction with the WSOP.
More than $14,600 was raised during the event, which correlates into 43,815 meals thanks to additional donations that were pledged for each rebuy and add-on in the special event, according to the CSOP and Three Square.
Andrew Brown won the kick-off CSOP tournament for $4,514 while former WSOP Main Event champions Ryan Riess and Carlos Mortensen finished second and third, respectively.
A second event was held at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open earlier this week, and the next CSOP event takes place on Saturday, September 13, as part of the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City. Half of the $300 buy-in event will be earmarked for donations to Habitat for Humanity and the Food Bank of South Jersey.
Raising for Effective Giving (REG)
High stakes German stars Igor Kurganov and Phillip Gruissem has received quite a bit of attention this year due to their activity in Raising for Effective Giving (REG).
The unique concept encourages successful poker players to donate two percent of their quarterly winnings to a number of selected charities—making it both practical and efficient to contribute to causes that players believe in.
REG members include Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree and Nick Maimone, who has taken time out of his busy grinding schedule this year to participate in grass-roots goodwill efforts in Honduras.
Making the choice to allocate a small percentage of one’s poker earnings toward a charity can be a great way for players to become involved in the greater good while also extending poker’s mainstream appeal.