Charity Poker Un-Riata’d in Texas?

by , Sep 26, 2008 | 10:32 am

Say what you will about Phil Hellmuth, but he has helped raise more than $1 million for Texas charities, despite gov-connected haters who, for a brief while, tried to squelch his fundraising efforts.

Brian the commenter down below inquired about whether or not you could have charity tourneys with money prizes in Texas, and whether or not you could advertise and promote them. The answer, of course, is … hard to say.

But I definitely have noticed a change back to the older, better ways. Back in the day, tourneys like La Riata used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by throwing a terrible-blind-structure event with lots of overpriced rebuys as wealthy Dallasites (and a few Batfaces) competed for a prize that generally consisted of a seat to the WSOP main event. But then the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) started threatening event hosts with liquor license gankage if they gave away a prize with any money value to the tournament winner — only a raffle was allowed, they said … and this of course was coming at the same time TABC was arresting drunk people in bars.

Anyhow, all this — which really, was fueled by some shady business practices of non-underground tournament operators, not any clear interpretation of the law — led to the bigger events to remove any competition for a prize … Dale Hansen canceled his huge fundraiser at Lone Star Park, Phil Hellmuth had to cancel an event in Houston that stood to raise at least a quarter-mil for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, and big charity events that carried on, like La Riata, basically had to take away every incentive for rebuys, which crippled fundraising efforts.

But after laying low for a couple years, charity events and the lawyers counseling their organizers seemed to re-reinterpreting Texas charity laws, hosting (and promoting) their poker-for-good-causes nonetheless — with real prizes! The Boys & Girls Clubs, Bea’s Kids … they all went off without a hitch. And earlier this summer, probably the biggest such event took place in San Antonio, with Tony and Eva Parker hosting a star-studded red-carpet charity tourney (emceed by Phil Hellmuth, of course) — resetting a standard that suggests it is indeed OK to give away a $10k+ prize package to raise hundreds of k.

More than 1,200 people showed up for the sold-out, $300 buy-in event … wild rebuys were flying around … and though I don’t have exact fundraising numbers, in the end it looks like they reached their goal — or at least came very close to it — of $300k for Eva’s Heroes.

Citizen report here. []
San Antonio Express-News here.
And here (with red-carpet pics).

Keep scrolling below for the scraps of a post I started but never quite got finished. The point of this post was drop a lot of celebrity names for SEO purposes going to be about how this event was presented by (not even dot-net!) … and pointing out the uber-legitimate businesses willing to partner with UB for it. AeroMexico, Citibank, HEB, the San Antonio Spurs, and more than a dozen others. Wow — awesome.

I still think that component is interesting. But I suppose the more immediately pressing question the Tony Parker event raises is whether or not it’s a sign of better charity poker to come (back) in Texas.

Charity Poker Back in Texas
Tony and Eva Parker’s Celebrity Casino Night in San Antonio

(as of 8.5)

(as of 8.5)

Angel Staffing
APT Trucking
James Beere
Campos Family Dental
Sam Cangelosi
Clinica del Norte Pediatrics
Creative Civilization
Lone Star Car Care
Michael De La Cruz
Yvonne De La Rosa
Norma Denham
G.W. Mitchell & Sons
Niki Guenther
Hill Country Wealth
Luhn-McCain Insurance Agency
One for Autism, Inc.
St. Matthew’s Church
Valley Wood Products

GRAND PRIZE – a seat in the 2009 World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas

(as of 8.5; subject to change)

Eva Longoria Parker (Desperate Housewives)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)
Ricardo Antonio Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Katie Chonacas (Righteous Kill, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans)
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
Sean Elliott (San Antonio Spurs)
Phil Hellmuth (11-Time World Series of Poker Winner)
Jennifer Morrison (House)
Adam Rodriguez (CSI:Miami)
Leeann Tweeden (Host of Poker After Dark)
David Zayas (Dexter)
and more…

GRAND PRIZE – a seat in the 2009 World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas

One seat at the Aruba Poker Classic 2008 (September 27 – October 4),
includes a head-to-head poker game and lesson with Phil Hellmuth in his personal suite in Aruba

(as of 8.5)

AnArte Gallery
Barrett Jaguar
Boudro’s Riverwalk
Brake Check
Café Paladar
Carver Community Cultural Center
Casino Fun, Inc.
Cheesecake Factory
Claudia Lobáo Jewelry
Club at Sonterra
Creative Civilization
Emily Morgan Hotel
Eva Longoria Parker
Fair Oaks Dental
Frank Walsh
Gisela Girard Photography
The Grille at Leon Springs
HoneyBaked Ham
Island Liquors & Gifts
Javelina Harley Davidson in Boerne
JL Eclectic Collections
Josh Beckett
Lighthouse Café
Massage Heights
Medina Bed & Breakfast
Mercedes-Benz of Boerne
Morton’s The Steakhouse
Nueva Street Gallery
Pampered Chef
Perico’s Mexican Cuisine
Rio Mambo
Robin Jackson Photography
Roxy and Kai Photography
Salon De Frisk
Salvatore Ferragamo
San Antonio Magazine
San Antonio Opera
San Antonio Spurs
Spectrum Athletic Clubs
Stadia/Dr. Jaime Garza
Starley Murray Cosmetics
The Tailgate Crew
Terra Spa
Texas Shine
Valencia Hotel
The Vineyard Restaurant
Woodrose Winery
Yardley’s Salon & Spa

For information on how to donate, call 210.694.9090.


Brenner Printing & Mailing
Four Seasons Embroidery Inc.
HoneyBaked Ham
JAB Productions


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GRAND PRIZE – a seat in the 2009 World Series of Poker Tournament in Las Vegas.

7 Comments to “Charity Poker Un-Riata’d in Texas?”

  1. brev

    How shit is this website now? The wsop europe is going on and no mention??wtf??

  2. DanM

    brev, thanks for your feedback. All I can say is I hear ya, sistah!

    As kinda the boss around here, I totally suck at all things pokery, so naturally you can only expect that to trickle down.

    Have you read posts by California Jen, KevMath, Karridy, et al? They are TERRIBLE. I do suppose I am blessed to work with such incompetent people, as they make me look better by suck comparison … but still, a lot of what sucks around here is their fault.

    But don’t even get me started on our readers … they are the suckiest suck-sucks of all things sucky, because you know, that’s how we roll. So in the end, everything falls on you/them.

    Seriously, we are the worst. Thanks for noticing!

    If you want something better, I recommend

  3. Sommer

    I have to agree with both of you. Poker is the new horse racing.

  4. Johnny Hughes

    Charity favors the weaker players. Lets ’em feel all warm and fuzzy about blowing their dough. Usually they feel about as dumb as Sarah Palin, and have that Sarah Palin look in their eyes which are as easy to read as a funny book.

    Now I know how to tilt ol Dan.
    If I squat with chips across from the man.
    Knock Pokerati a little bit.
    Ol Dan will really lose his shit.

  5. DanM

    JH, we need to play heads-up some time. I think we could have a psych battle unique to two blowhard Texans.

    So does anyone know how the Vlad tourney turned out?

  6. Jim Arnold

    As a director of non profit charities in the Houston area, I would like to if such charitable poker affairs are continuing since this one in 2008?

    Thanks for your insights,


  7. DanM

    they definitely are, jim. they continue to be great fundraisers. send me an email [danm at pokerati dot com] if you’d like to talk more.