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Poker Pro Dan Smith Announces Charity Drive In Response To COVID-19 Outbreak

Stephen Chidwick, Daniel Cates, and An Anonymous Donor Helped Raise $250,000 In Matching Funds


Dan Smith has accumulated more than $36.8 million in lifetime earnings, enough to put him in fifth place on poker’s all-time money list. The 31-year-old has not only made a name for himself as a poker player, though, but also as a charity organizer. Seven years ago Smith started putting together charity matching drives with the help of fellow poker pros as well as daily fantasy sports players, and has helped raise millions for charities over that time period. The efforts of Smith and his collaborators came to be known as Double Up Drive starting in 2018. On Monday, April 6, Smith announced the latest Double Up Drive: an emergency drive in response to the coronavirus outbreak that is currently gripping much of the world.

“This COVID-19 pandemic is really unprecedented and horrific. There’s really nothing we can do other than sit and wait while everyone’s in crisis,” Smith told CardPlayer after announcing the drive. “I tend to be someone who really likes to be proactive about doing things. So, having to sit and wait is really not good for my mental health. I kind of felt like I was waking up without a purpose. There’s only so much of [The] Sopranos I could watch each day. I decided to reach out to some people and it kind of got snowballing pretty quickly until now we have $250,000 ready to go to a bunch of families who are really in need in these dark times.”

Double Up Drive has pledged $250,000 in matching funds, thanks to donations from the likes of reigning Card Player Player of the Year Stephen Chidwick, high-stakes cash game legend Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates, and an anonymous donor. Up to $500 of every donation made will be matched from those funds until the $250,000 fund is exhausted.

Double Up Drive is partnering with GiveDirectly for this effort. GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organization that makes direct cash transfers to those in need.

“Studies have shown that people in crisis really just need money rather than other things that you could give,” said Smith. “GiveDirectly, as an organization is one of the highest-rated charities in the world by all of the metrics [used to assess charitable orginizations]. And they do a great job of making sure money goes directly into the hands of people that need it the most. For every dollar you donate, they’re expecting that over 90 cents will go into somebody’s hands.”

“[GiveDirectly] were operating in New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Now they’re able to launch in Las Vegas, which I’m really proud of and I think is great. Some people have criticized me in the past for my drives not doing enough for U.S.-focused causes. I think Las Vegas is going to be hit really hard, and I think it’s great that this drive is going to hopefully be able to do some good for the city.”

Those interested in participating in this event can find more information on the Double Up Drive website. To find out more about how Smith got started doing these charity drives, check out Card Player’s interview with him from late 2018.