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Poker Tournament Trail -- Phil Gordon

Gordon Discusses the Efforts of Bad Beat on Cancer


Phil GordonPhil Gordon (pictured right) and Rafe Furst decided to pledge one percent of their winnings in the 2003 World Series of Poker main event to help fund cancer prevention. They asked many poker players to join them in that cause, and the result is the Bad Beat on Cancer charity campaign that aids the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The cause has raised millions since 2003 and looks to raise much more in the future. There will be a number of Bad Beat on Cancer online charity poker tournaments that will be hosted by the Twitter Poker Tour in the future. The latest $10 buy-in no-limit hold’em charity event that took place on Nov. 15 drew 314 players and raised $1,570.

Card Player caught up with Gordon in Las Vegas and he talked about the efforts of Bad Beat on Cancer.

Ryan Lucchesi: Can you tell me about how the Twitter Poker Tour came to be involved with Bad Beat on Cancer?

Phil Gordon: Basically, there are a lot of people around that are trying to help put a bad beat on cancer. We formed a Bad Beat Advisory Council, and we have about 15 people around the country who are good at different things and are helping out in different ways. One of the people on the advisory council suggested that we join the Twitter Poker Tour, and that sounded like a good idea to me, so we have a couple of online events coming up.

RL: Most charity events in poker happen during the summer. Do you think it is important that charitable causes are focused on year round at poker tournaments?

PG: We have about 100 lifetime pledges who have donated one percent of what they win both online and live, and I think that number could increase significantly with the kind of exposure that we are getting. We have a great partnership with the World Series of Poker. Things continue to go along; we have raised $3 million in the last couple of years. And with the grassroots effort and a lot of people helping — instead of me and Rafe trying to coordinate things — it is really going to take off.

RL: Do you feel that grassroots support will really be able to increase your fund-raising efforts for cancer prevention?

PG: I think what Rafe has identified is that the power of the network is strong, and there are a lot of people who have been affected by cancer one way or the other. It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been touched from within their own family or friends by cancer. It’s a great organization; they’re extremely fiscally responsible. We have been involved with poker now for seven years, and people know that they can trust that the money they’re donating is going to a great organization that is doing worthwhile things with it. And I think that is why people continue to participate; I think that is why it is going to grow substantially over the course of the next couple of years.

RL: What is the main focus of Bad Beat on Cancer?

PG: We are focused on prevention more than research. As one of the smaller organizations, we feel like if you can prevent cancer in the first place, then you don’t need the research to cure it. Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of cancers are easily preventable with very simple lifestyle changes. We’re making great progress in prevention … [They have just come out] with a cervical cancer vaccine. There is some research that I read recently about breast cancer that looks very promising. I think things are happening that are very good for the cancer community, and we’re trying to do our best to fund measures that are really going to make a significant impact.

There are a lot of great organizations. I’m very proud of what we are doing to prevent cancer. I think we are on the right track. That’s not to say that other people aren’t on the right track, too, but I think raising awareness about what causes cancer and what you can do in your lifestyle choices to prevent it in the first place could save us an enormous amount of health-care dollars, and as everyone knows, that is the hot topic right now.

Prevention, prevention, prevention. Stop smoking, practice safe sex, and don’t drink alcohol in excess; these are the types of things that are proven.



12 years ago

Phil may have a lot of haters in the poker community but one thing is for sure - nobody has married poker and philanthropy more successfully than he and Rafe have, and I would guess none have raised more money then they have for any cause from the poker community.

This is a purely selfless act and I'm sure a ton of work on his part. Anyone who's been touched by cancer should recognize and appreciate this effort.