Posts Tagged ‘mekhi-phifer’

Las Vegas Poker Charity Efforts Thriving Despite Economy?

by , Dec 20, 2009 | 5:16 pm

The All In for Cerebral Palsy charity tourney ran last weekend at the Hard Rock … and as any event-planning fundraiser can tell you, it’s been a little unnerving in 2009 wondering if people will actually show up to support your cause.

This was a $500 buy-in event (with $200 rebuys, an auction, and silent auction to boot) … and in the end turned out to be an arguably successful second-annual event — raising more than $58k for the One Step Closer Foundation while bettering its inaugural bar of $44k. Some 91 players competed for an $18,500 prize pool — including yours truly, who was in on a freeroll, but couldn’t resist making a tax-deductible, charitable donation to keep playing at a fun table with a PPA friend, Dennis Phillips, a CP-suffering beneficiary, and Ken Davitian (the fat naked guy from Borat) … especially with Davitian and another actor (whom I recognized but couldn’t name) being the weakest players yet having the biggest stacks as the rebuy period was coming to a close.

Alas, QQ sometimes is < AK just minutes before the break. I shook off the tilt by wandering around with a (shaky) camera to give you a glimpse of All In for CP and the Las Vegas rounders who seem to continuously show up and spur donations via fun-times feelgood poker when called upon:


WSOP-Themed Lie to Me* on Fox Tonight Next Week

by , Nov 9, 2009 | 5:00 pm

The Fox series “Lie to Me*”, featuring favorite of Jennifer Newell Mekhi Phifer, prominently features the WSOP Main Event in the episode Nov. 16(?) at 9pm ET/8pm CT.

The episode, entitled “Fold Equity” has the following synopsis:

Lightman, Foster (Kelli Williams) and Reynolds (Mekhi Phifer) go to Las Vegas to help locate a missing finalist in the World Series of Poker. Lightman uses his skills to reach beyond the other finalists’ poker faces to figure out which one knows about the disappearance. Meanwhile, Loker (Brendan Hines) and Torres (Monica Raymund) analyze Loker’s new relationship and as a result get closer to each other.

For those who miss the episode, you can catch it on Fox’s site or over at on Tuesday.

CORRECTION: The WSOP episode airs next Monday, not tonight.

2009 WSOP Player Picks Progress (or Lack Thereof) in Preliminaries

by , Jul 8, 2009 | 12:32 am

Well, this just didn’t go as planned. The idea was to make some solid picks mixed with some off-the-wall choices for 2009 World Series performances, with the results proving me to be somewhat of a genius. Whoops.

Some of my players have done well and could very well tear up the Main Event, but I could have possibly done better than, for example, picking my dentist’s nephew. Here’s a little rundown of my eight players through the end of the preliminary events:

Daniel Negreanu – Clearly the best of the picks, Daniel had an excellent series, though possibly not by his own high standards. With eight cashes, two of which were in world championship events and two of which were final tables, he cashed for more than $330K in the series.

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – One of the favorites in many player pools this year, ElkY cashed twice during the series but could not quite pull a final table. He did make the cover of Bluff Magazine, though, with the article written by fellow Frenchman Benjo.

Terrence Chan – He came into the WSOP with a hot online poker streak that simply didn’t translate into WSOP bracelets, only walking away with one cash in the preliminary events.

Kara Scott – Besides being a talented and professional EPT hostess, the woman can play some poker as well. She played one preliminary event – a $1,500 NLHE – prior to the Main Event and cashed in 58th place.

Luca Pagano – My favorite Italian player did not cash. Viva Italia next year and all that.

Jonathan Dull – My dentist’s nephew had one cash in a $1,500 NLHE event, but, well, I won’t have much to report to my dentist in July.

Dwyte Pilgrim – After 13 cashes in WSOP Circuit events over the past year, Dwyte ran cold at the WSOP in Vegas and wasn’t able to cash in the prelims. But his record over the past year doesn’t lie, so it’s just a matter of time, guy I’ve never met buddy.

Whit Blanton – Pokerati player Whit made a run at one event and didn’t find his way to the money. But he still loves Pokerati, and isn’t that what matters?

Bonus pick Mekhi Phifer – Ummm, where was he?

The Main Event is just kicking into gear, so at least one of my picks still has a chance to go deep. (Go Kara!)

Cali Jen’s Official 2009 WSOP Player Picks

by , May 28, 2009 | 1:55 pm

That’s right. I’ve got picks. I didn’t participate in any official draft or betting pool, just chose players to watch this year and listed them here. That makes them official, Pokerati-style.

The purpose of picking a team of players at the 2009 WSOP is that it gives me a variety of players to stalk follow and track results. Some of them are well-known on the poker tournament circuit, while others are just beginning to make their marks and may not garner much publicity from the major media outlets. Here? They’re all stars because I dub them so. I’ll be trying as best I can to keep up with them.

Daniel Negreanu
– While some argue that he is not particularly focused this year due to the health of his mother and other factors, I contend that the grind will lock him into place at the WSOP and that he will be looking to score big to bring some extra smiles to his mom’s face.

Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – He is a given. He has been on fire for several years and will undoubtedly be a force at the Series as he looks to add a WSOP bracelet to his list of serious poker accomplishments.

Terrence Chan – Not only is he a friend of friends of mine, but he caught my eye when he won two PokerStars SCOOP tournaments on the same night a few months ago. It was impressive, and with his motivation to do well this summer, his momentum/skill combo might be enough to get him there.

Kara Scott – She recently placed second in the 2009 Irish Open main event, and her list of tournament successes is growing consistently. Add to that a relationship with a certain poker pro, with whom intimate discussions of flops and raises can only help. And after a deep run in the 2008 WSOP main event, I look for her to do well in numerous events this year.

Luca Pagano – My favorite Italian player has also had some significant finishes, though 2008 was a better year for him than 2009. Even so, his game has been improving, and he appears due for a big finish this summer.

Jonathan Dull – His record shows that he has accumulated nearly $455K in his career. The young player has potential, but how did he make my coveted list? He is my dentist’s nephew, and my dentist is awesome.

Dwyte Pilgrim – The guy is on fire. Over the past year, he came onto the poker scene and began tearing up WSOP Circuit events, posting 13 cashes overall over the past season, many of which were final tables and one – Harrah’s Rincon – championship victory. Seems he does well in any tournament with WSOP in the name.

Whitney Blanton – Not only is he a faithful Pokerati reader and patch-wearing “preferred player”, but also he’s my Facebook friend and has been having a good poker year. He hopes to bring a WSOP bracelet back to Texas this year, and providing he gets out to Vegas soon to play some events, he has a good chance.

For good measure, in addition to my top eight players, I will add Mekhi Phifer as a bonus pick. What fun is stalking without the man who feared my very presence at the 2008 WSOP? (Just kidding; security was never actually called.)

Random Notes from WPT Invitational Cocktail Party

by , Mar 1, 2009 | 7:48 pm

With a cold coming on, I juiced up on cold medicine and headed down to Commerce Casino last night for the pre-tournament WPT Invitational cocktail party. In more of a stuffy-headed fog now, I give you a few observations from the festivities:

William Hung was the first “celebrity” I noticed, as he arrived as soon as the red carpet was ready for action. And the poor guy was the only one from the red carpet featured by Perez Hilton today, and not featured in a particularly good way.

Food was excellent as usual, with a random assortment of Asian and Greek set-ups, along with the yum-yum appetizers floating around the room on waiters’ trays.

No DJ in the outdoor area like last year’s event, but it actually made for a more conversation-friendly atmosphere on the patio.

Wicked Chops scored seats in the tournament. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how that happened.

Reports of the demise of the Phil Laak/Jennifer Tilly relationship were evidently untrue, as the two looked typically couple-y as usual – Jennifer in a beautiful outfit, Phil in saggy jeans and a hoodie.

Some celebrities on the “confirmed” list were no-shows, such as Camryn Manheim, Montel Williams, and Nelly. (Yes, I was more than disappointed about one of those absences!)

CORRECTION: Manheim was there, and Jen was still disappointed. -DM

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough are still a couple and just as adorable as ever, with Shannon checking on Derek and his amateur poker experiences throughout the evening.

Contrary to all reports from the tournament, Antonio Esfandiari was not the first person eliminated from the tournament, as Mike “SirWatts” Watson (former WPT champion) was out of the tournament and standing with us at the bar when that announcement was made. Ouch.

New to my social radar were Mike Watson and Shane Schleger, both of whom were introduced to me by Gavin Griffin and Kristin Roberts and very nice to chat with.

Also met Jamie Gold for the first time, who was extremely friendly and psyched about his Aced Poker affiliation, though my question about his possible ownership in the company was met with the standard “details of the contract cannot be disclosed” line. Good brief chat anyway. (His calling card gives him the title “Poker Philanthropist.”)

Mekhi Phifer
took the reigns during the rebuy period, grabbing the mic and encouraging players to rebuy (or even just donate) to his charity, The Vine Group, to help educational efforts in Africa. He was a great spokesperson for the organization and raised $78,270 for it, while managing to maintain his usual humble but outrageously sexy demeanor.

Mekhi Phifer in final 25 of WPT Invitational

by , | 5:22 pm

Jennifer Newell’s favorite person to stalk celebrity, Mekhi Phifer is still in the hunt to make the final table of the WPT Invitational at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. To see how well he does, along with the people you’ve never heard of and celebrities, check out the WPT updates for more info.

6:50pm Update: Mekhi is nursing a shortstack with 16 players left, only the final table of 6 gets paid in this tournament.

Cerebral Palsy Charity Tournament – August 3rd

Location: Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles

by , Jul 31, 2008 | 12:43 pm

There should be a big turnout for this one. The “All In for CP” tournament will be held on at noon Sunday, August 3rd (this weekend for the calendar-challenged) at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles. The event has been organized by Jacob Zalewski, pictured at right, who spent countless hours at the Rio during the WSOP gathering support for this tournament and his organization, the One Step Closer Foundation. The non-profit is his brainchild, and as a person who has dealt with cerebral palsy throughout his life, he hopes to raise funds to help others, as well as the researchers and scientists who are working toward a cure.

The $500 buy-in tournament (with $100 rebuys for the first 90 minutes) looks to have some famous names in the field, like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Mekhi Phifer, Montel Williams, Jennifer Tilly, and Norm MacDonald. It is open to the public. The only poker pro officially on board is Jamie Gold, but it is likely that others will attend, as they often do when charity events are held in the L.A. area.

A silent auction will accompany the festivities, where memorabilia will be up for bid, as well as prize packages donated by Ray Romano and Brad Garrett.

I have family (with two kids) in town this weekend, so I will not be able to attend, but my hope is that others in L.A. will go enjoy a day with the celebs for a good cause. (And if you see Mekhi there, take photos please.) For more info, visit the official website.

RE: PokerStars Party at the Palms

by , Jul 9, 2008 | 11:15 pm

Thanks to PokerStars PR guru Chris, we have some photos of Monday night’s party at the Palms.

The obligatory credit for all photos reads: The Burlesque Party to Celebrate The World Series of Poker at Rain Nightclub inside The Palms Hotel Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada – 07.07.08
Photos by Image Masters

Joe Hachem, Dita Von Teese, Daniel Negreanu

Joe Hachem, Dita Von Teese, Daniel Negreanu
Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese
Corey Feldman, Nick Cannon, Brandi Williams, Other Hollywood-Looking People

Corey Feldman, Nick Cannon, Brandi Williams, Other Hollywood-Looking People
Chuck Lidell

Chuck Lidell
Mekhi Phifer - The One Unseen and Unstalked by Cali Jen at the Palms on Monday

Mekhi Phifer – The One Unseen and Unstalked by Cali Jen at the Palms on Monday

Un-Stalking Mekhi Phifer

by , Jul 3, 2008 | 9:17 pm

I’m seriously trying to stop it. In truth, I wouldn’t call it stalking… But every time I see the hot talented actor/producer/director in a field of poker players at a tournament, I just can’t help myself. But it is true that I haven’t exactly covered Ray Romano or Jason Alexander the same way… I suppose I might have a bias toward Mekhi.

When I saw Mr. Phifer at the Ante Up for Africa tournament yesterday and proceeded to take his picture, he had a certain look about him, one that said, Seriously? You again? or A call to Security might be in order here. So, when I was told that he was in the field today, I got control of myself and decided that I should leave him alone for the day. I already know he will be at a party I’m attending on Monday night, so I shouldn’t overdo it.

But lo and behold, he is sitting close to media row. Argh! Self-control is hard! But when I was made aware that he was doing quite well, I looked from afar and asked Dan to take a picture of his chip stack.

Take a look at that stack – it’s huge! Seriously, though, he had 55K going into the dinner break and seems to be playing a good game today while trying to stay under the radar. If it wasn’t for my well-intentioned and un-scary inability to stop following him around the poker tables his PokerStars patch, he might just go unnoticed.

UPDATE: Phifer has been eliminated from the tournament with less than an hour left in Day 1A.

(Way) Outside the WSOP – (Main Event Day 1a Evening Update)

by , | 8:32 pm

Play started about 12:20 this afternoon for day 1a of the $10,000 NL Holdem Main Event, with the UNLV Marching Band and Wayne Newton kicking things off. I’m sure those who’ve chosen days 1b-1d are thankful that they didn’t have to experience that for their start as it will probably be a bit more low-key for them when play starts. It appears that the day 1a numbers will be around 1,297, which is very slightly above the day 1a figure from last year. The mysterious figure so far appears to be in the 4500-4900 range for now, as there are 468 spots currently showing for the prize pool (of course no $ figures as of yet) if you take a look at the picture on Pauly’s site.

Among those that won’t have to worry about making the November Nine: Raymond Rahme, Tuan Lam, Roy Winston, Tom “Durrr” Dwan, Vanessa Selbst, Eli Elezra, Katja Thater, Phil Galfond, Bob and Maureen Feduniak, Chad Brown, Lyle Berman, Dan Harrington, Jason Alexander, and plenty of other names (known and unknown). The current chip leader going into the dinner break is David “Chino” Rheem, who is currently at 103,000 in chips. Other recognizable names: Blair Hinkle, Svetlana Gromenkova, Kido Pham, Noah Boeken, Anna Wroblewski, Mekhi Phifer, Maya Antonius and plenty of others. Follow the updates during the evening at the site here. Play starts again shortly, as they play two more 2-hour levels, then the survivors get to return on July 8 for day 2a.

More updates during the rest of the evening…

Celebs & Pros Ante Up for Africa

Non-ESPN Media Shut Out, No Reports to Come

by , Jul 2, 2008 | 6:50 pm

Let me start out by saying that the Ante Up for Africa tournament is a stellar effort to raise money for Darfur refugees and awareness of the mass atrocities taking place in Africa and around the world. The ENOUGH and Not On Our Watch projects are doing wonderful things, and I hope this tournament raises a great deal of money for the causes.

The tournament was held in the Brasilia room here at the Rio. That’s all I know. How many players? Didn’t have time to count because the media was given 15 minutes for photos before we were kicked out. Names of all the celebrities and poker pros? Again, not enough time to write them down. Hopefully, a press release will be issued with all of the information at some point.

Good news? Mekhi Phifer was playing in the tournament.

Bad news? I’m not sure where to begin.

Blanket statement: The media aspect of this day was handled poorly. Very poorly.


The Dan & Batfaces Show

by , Jun 12, 2008 | 4:28 pm

Wait, Dan has friends?

I kid. Evidently, he knows the Batfaces, and a group of them are in Vegas to drink heavily play in the World Series. I daydreamed about Mekhi Phifer listened intently as Dan told me about his friends and how their tournaments are going.

Here’s what I caught: Tim, Troy, and Randy are out. Eric (one of them, not sure which) and Todd are still in.

Dan is at the Rio today and walking the tournament floor to text CSR updates about the guys. Go Batfaces!

Mekhi Phifer is Here; All is Well

by , Jun 1, 2008 | 1:05 pm

My World Series of Poker is complete.

Mekhi Phifer – actor, director, producer, hottie poker player – has entered the $1500 no-limit hold’em tournament. He does enjoy any opportunity to play poker, but he might have just used this as an excuse to be in the same room with me. Just a hunch.

And he flashed the peace sign when I snapped the picture. It’s a secret code; trust me.

Other things are happening here at the WSOP. People are playing cards, moving chips around, etc. I will try to take note of some of those things in between Mekhi stalkings sightings.

UPDATE: I just saw Mekhi leaving the building. No doubt being seated for some time next to Phil Hellmuth in full NASCAR gear hurt his game. Now he’s been eliminated from the donkament, and there is a certain sadness all around. Well, okay, just with me. I’m sure I’ll see him at the main event though, if not at another $1500.

WPT Invitational Enters Day 2 Without Mekhi

by , Mar 2, 2008 | 12:24 pm

Mekhi Phifer - Courtesy of

Mekhi Phifer – Courtesy of

The WPT Invitational got underway yesterday with a 5pm reception. Open bars, free buffet, dj spinning some tunes, celebs excited to meet poker pros, poker pros excited to meet celebs, media enjoying the food and drink…

It was quite fun and not the normal introduction to a poker tournament. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere and the company. And when players took their seats at 7pm for the freeroll tourney, the fun continued. While most people wouldn’t mind doing well and taking home their share of the $200k prize pool, it was predominantly a room full of drunks not-too-serious poker playing.

Within the first few hours, my personal fav Mekhi Phifer was eliminated AND didn’t say goodbye to me, so the night was pretty much over. Some other stuff probably happened, but you’ll have to check WPT Live Updates, PokerPages, or PokerListings for actual results.

Day 2 begins today at 2pm with only 112 remaining players out of the original 400-420-somewhere in that range.

Hollywood Juice

by , Dec 23, 2007 | 11:49 am

While much of Hollywood continues to be shut down due to the ongoing writers’ strike, people like Brittany and Jamie Lynn Spears keep us entertained with their dysfunctional lives. It’s the trainwreck that you can’t look away from… But let’s move on to stars playing poker.

Mekhi PhiferIt seems that Mekhi Phifer, currently starring on E.R., likes poker more than the occasional celebrity tournament. He recently held a family Christmas party at his home for 80 people, and a poker game was the big attraction. He even put up the grand prize – two tickets to the Bahamas. For those not invited (like me, can you believe it?), Phifer can be seen in the recently released film, This Christmas, in which he starred and produced.

Early 2008 is the scheduled air time for a BET special called Black Poker Superstars that was recently filmed at Planet Hollywood in Vegas. Stars like Nelly, Anthony Anderson, Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin, and Mekhi Phifer played in the poker tournament, and Matt Savage served as the tournament director. Poker pro David Williams also attended and provided commentary for the show. Top finishers donated their prize monies to various charities.

Actor Kevin Hart noted, “I have grown a passion for the game. I would love to get to the point where I can rub elbow with David Williams and Mike ‘The Grinder’ in tournaments, and they can say, ‘Hey, this guy is a good player.’”

Recently, Justin Timberlake was bringing sexy back to Australia and wanted to play some real poker during the trip. His management called Crown Casino and requested a game with Joe Hachem, who obliged. In return, Timberlake gave Hachem’s daughters front row tickets to his concert.

Finally, the long-discussed movie about Amarillo Slim is finally in pre-production. Writer Christopher Wilkinson, who also penned Nixon and Ali has secured Nicholas Cage as the lead actor to play Slim. The film is an adaptation of Slim’s book, “Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People: The Memoirs of the Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived” and will be titled, strangely enough, Amarillo Slim.