Arguably one of the most talented and recognizable poker players in the world Phil Ivey and the Annual World Series of Barbeque joined forces to throw one big event that included a huge party and poker tournament all to benefit charity to the tune of $260,000.
The Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas hosted the event. The festivities kicked off outside at the Tank, Golden Nugget's famous pool with an actual shark tank in the middle of it. There was high-class food, numerous open bars, a musical performance by country music star Andy Griggs, fireworks, and games with prizes like Curtis and Company watches worth thousands of dollars that was enjoyed by the party that included poker’s biggest names. David Benyamine, Erica Schoenberg, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Haralobos Voulgaris, and David Williams were just a few of the hundreds of supporters.
“This is unbelievable. I never expected so many people come in support,” said Ivey. "I’ve never done anything like this before.” Ivey has given a considerable amount of money to numerous charitable causes, but most of the time, it has been completely under the radar. This time around, the cause at hand was so close to his heart that he couldn’t help but headline the event. The charity benefiting the most from this event is the Budding Ivey Foundation, an organization initiated by Ivey’s mother, Pamela Simmons-Ivey, in the name of his grandfather Leonard “Bud” Simmons.
“The main purpose is to provide scholarships for underprivileged kids and give them an educational opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise receive,” said Ivey. “My grandfather passed away about a year ago, and he was the most influential man in my life. My mother decided to keep his memory alive.”
Showing their support, more than 80 players competed in the $1,000 buy-in tournament, and from the very first shuffle, the $500 rebuys were being passed out like candy. The most rambunctious table, perhaps, was Ivey’s own. At one point during the rebuy period, Ivey’s table included Daniel Negreanu, David Oppenheim, John Phan, Beth Shak, Mike Matusow, and Irv Gotti.
After a number of drinks and blind all-ins, Shak was the player who benefited the most from the loose table. She went into the final table with a big stack that she never really relinquished. After beating recent WSOP bracelet winner Nenad Medic heads up, Shak was named the champion. She received a spa package at the Golden Nugget, a Curtis & Company watch, and an official Budding Ivey trophy.
"I don't even care what the prize is, I'm just so happy I won and had so much fun doing it because it's such a great cause," said Shak.
Much of the money raised will be allocated to re-opening the doors of Empowered 2 Excel, a local academy that focuses on improving the quality of life for young people by concentrating on academic success, social-growth, character education, and health. In addition to the Budding Ivey Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club and the Springs Preserve are also receiving a portion of the proceeds.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this, make my mother happy, and feel like I’m actually doing something worthwhile. You know, I spend most of my time gambling, so to be able to give back to the community is a really good feeling.”
Card Player TV was there covering the event, and the video can be found on CardPlayerTV.com.
Photo Credit: Greasie Wheels