UPDATE: The eBay auction can be found by clicking here.
Dennis Phillips has a true date with destiny in a few weeks when he heads back to the Rio All-Suite Resort and Casino as the World Series of Poker main event’s chip leader, a role that’s allowed Phillips to put more weight behind charitable causes that he’s always supported.
His spot at the final table, which will be broadcast “semi-live” Nov. 11, is giving him a unique opportunity to raise more money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a charity he has supported for years.
Phillips is auctioning off a spot on his shirt through eBay. The highest bidder will get to place a patch on Philips’ shirt while he plays the final table, which will be seen by millions on ESPN. The auction begins tomorrow (Oct. 16) and ends Oct. 26. The starting bid is $3,000, and all proceeds go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“It’s a foundation that I’ve supported for a long time, and I hope this is a good way to raise awareness and maybe raise some money for it,” Phillips said.
Phillips, a fleet truck salesman (who says he will keep his job even if he wins next month), has been involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for years because his brother, Don, suffers from the disease. He was raised by parents who believed in giving when you can, and has donated time and money to the March of Dimes, served on the board of directors for United Way, and donated time and money to the Salvation Army.
His poker fame and newfound wealth also allow him to work with the Albert Pujols Family Foundation. (An avid Cardinals fan, the Missouri native recently was invited to throw out the first pitch at a game. He says he’s been a fan since 1964.)
Phillips recently was invited to join a number of professional players at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to visit wounded soldiers, and long before he even came close to the money, he pledged to take part in the Bad Beat on Cancer charity, which prompts players to pledge 1 percent of their winnings for cancer research.
On his trip to Walter Reed, Phillips said, “That was a hard trip, to be truthful. I’m really glad I did it, but I was so impressed out there.”
Phillips called his decision to pledge to the Bad Beat on Cancer program a no-brainer.
“It’s found money,” he said. “It’s helping a good cause; how could you not? It’s automatic.”
Phillips is part of a growing number of players who commit a portion of their winnings to charitable causes. Current WSOP champion Jerry Yang has donated more than $1 million to a variety of organizations, Victor Ramdin, who joined Phillips at Walter Reed, donates a large portion of his winnings to causes in his homeland of Guyana, and the list goes on. Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Phil Gordon, Rafe Furst, Gavin Griffin, and Andy Bloch, are but a few of the other poker pros who make charitable contributions.
“I didn’t expect to make a million dollars or whatever in poker this year, so why wouldn’t I help people out?” Phillips said.
Thrust into the spotlight, Phillips believes he has a small window of time in which to use his name to do good things, but there’s a chance the window will open much wider if he can use his chip lead to take down the main event. If that happens, Phillips will start his own foundation, modeled after Pujols’, and will continue throwing his weight and money at charitable causes.
“I had two great parents,” he said. “Basically, they said if you can help people out, you do it. This is something I will be active with for the rest of my life, I hope.”