I first found out about the tournament when Marco Traniello (Jennifer's husband) called me and told me about the event. I was honored when he invited me to play and since I was going to be in Vegas for the Bellagio Five Star World Poker Classic $25,000 WPT Championship event, it worked out perfect. The buy-in was $300 + $30 with $200 rebuys and add on.
Looking at the Evite list for the tournament was like looking at a who's who in poker. Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, Annie Duke, Clonie Gowen, Barry Greenstein, Scotty Nguyen, Jamie Gold, Phil Hellmuth, David Williams, Erik Seidel, Shannon Elizabeth, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson and many, many more.
In addition to the tournament, Caesars held an unveiling party for 33 professional poker player portraits that now adorn the walls of their poker room. Every player represented through a photo is the proud owner of a WSOP bracelet and now a member of the "World Series Wall of Fame."
Tournament director extraordinaire Matt Savage was the emcee of the event and the tournament was kicked off after the unveiling of the photos.
Phil Ivey had a late night Thursday playing in the big game and couldn't make it to the tournament. To make up for his absence, he sent a $5000 check. Rene Angelil unknowingly copied Ivey's amazing gesture and the two absentees donated $10,000 total.
The tournament was a rebuy event and several pros made use of that option including Chris Ferguson, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu and Sean Sheikhan who re-bought 3 times, got busted again and when he was about to leave the table, they heckled him until he re-bought for the fourth time! Hey Sean, at least it's going to charity!
The SPCA was so thrilled with Jennifer's efforts and support they presented her with flowers, a shirt, a plaque with photos and much appreciation.
Two pros made it to the final table and one of them took first place and a seat to the WSOP Main Event. Daniel Negreanu, got far, but Kirk Morrison ended up winning the event. He also promised to pledge 5% of any winnings at the World Series.
All in all everyone had a blast and it was an amazing event for the no-kill animal shelter in Las Vegas.
*Photo Courtesy of Rob Gracie/IMPDI