Television celebrity Joan Rivers recently claimed after a clash with poker pro Annie Duke on The Apprentice show that poker players were "white trash", but there can be little doubt that they are nevertheless generous to a fault in the many charity tournaments held throughout each year.
One of the biggest of these – Ante-up for Africa – is the brainchild of Duke and movie actor Don Cheadle, both of whom were on hand in Monte Carlo this week for the first European outing of the usually American-located tourney.
The event was won by pro player Isabelle Mercier, and generated Euro 260 000 for the Dafur crisis, Euro 100 000 of it direct from PokerStars.
PokerStars.net hosted the event, which featured 40 players and celebrities such as Christina Milian, The Dream, James Kyson Lee, Jason Lewis and Joel Madden. British Royalty, sports stars and ace poker players rubbed shoulders with top entertainers at the event, with the daughter of the British Princess Royal, Zara Phillips (27) cheering on boyfriend and international rugby player Mike Tindall, TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, ex-footballer Teddy Sheringham and rappers Nelly from the USA and Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes of France.
Joining them were F1 racing driver Nico Rosberg, football ace Pepe Reina and top international poker names like Victor Ramdin, Joe Hachem, Peter Eastgate, Vanessa Rousso and Greg Raymer.
Each player put up Euro 4 000 to play in the fundraiser.
The final table showcased some heavy-hitting poker names like Dario Minieri, Daniel Negreanu, Luca Pagano and John Futhie, playing to win against Mercier, Sheringham, Patrick Chene, Sebastien Chabal and TonyG. Negreanu held a substantial chip lead going into final table play, but on this occasion was unable to turn it into a win and managed only a fifth place finish.
Team PokerStars Pro member Isabelle Mercier finally prevailed as the charity champion, after a creditable heads up against ex-Manchester United football star Teddy Sheringham, who plays a very competent game and is often seen at European celebrity poker events.
Mercier said of the match, "It was great fun to play, but overall I am very proud to have helped raise so much money."
The tournament, which has raised over $2 million in previous States-side tourneys in the past, was a great start for the PokerStars European Poker Tour Grand Final being played this week in Europe's most prestigious and elegant gambling city.
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