A cast of celebrities return to the poker felt via PokerStars on Saturday to raise money for charity. The event includes players playing from home and was the brainchild of actor Hank Azaria and journalist, author, and screenwriter Andy Bellin.
The event, dubbed Stars Call for Action, will raise funds for global COVID-19 relief efforts. The online poker tournament will be hosted at PokerStars and broadcast live on Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube.
How does the PokerStars charity effort work?
Players taking part in the tournament will be using the free money option on the online poker site. PokerStars is putting up $1 million for the cause.
Viewers can also contribute to the cause via a donation button on their PokerStars platform of choice.
Top-finishing celebrities will direct their portions of the $1 million to a charity of their choice. Grants to charities will be administered by the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Fifty percent of the $1 million will go to Care International UK as well as proceeds donated during live stream.
Care International is a humanitarian charity that’s been PokerStars’ official emergency relief partner since 2014. The group works in more than 100 countries around the world to save lives, defeat poverty, and achieve social justice.
“This event is a great way to combine genuine giving where it’s needed with a way to stay home and yet still connect with people from around the world,” Azaria said in a news release.
“A friendly game of poker reminds us how life used to be, which hopefully we get back to soon. It’s a way for people to interact for a good cause and enjoy themselves at the same time.”
Who’s all playing and what can viewers expect?
Along with Azaria and Bellin, poker fans will recognize a long list of Hollywood stars. That includes many who are regulars at the poker table.
Those already registered include Edward Norton, Brian Koppelman, Amy Schumer, Bryan Cranston, Don Cheadle, Michael Cera, Jon Hamm, Jeff Garlin, David Schwimmer, Eric Bogosian, Jason Alexander, Brad Garrett, Michael Ian Black, Kevin Pollak, Tony Yazbeck, and Max Kruse.
Registration remained open and more were expected to sign up. Viewers can expect some fun with hosts James Hartigan and Lex Veldhuis dropping in on players via their at-home cameras.
“This event began as a simple conversation between our team, Hank, Andy, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, as a way to create positive entertainment and raise support for critical causes during these challenging times,” PokerStars associate director of public relations Rebecca McAdam Willetts said.
“We were thrilled that they came to us and have been blown away by the momentum it’s gained. With people increasingly using our products to connect, compete and stay social while safe at home, we are delighted to show how the game we love can be used to bring people together and do good – with the added bonus of surprising some poker fans along the way.”
Poker fans can get in the game
To add some extra competition, PokerStars is giving players and fans the opportunity to play against the stars.
PokerStars ambassadors, streamers, and celebrities have been holding competitions for seats in the action.
Separate fields of celebrities and players will play down to respective final tables and then combine for the ultimate showdown. Celebrities eliminated early will be added into a side event with the winner directing 10% of the total to charity.
The action gets underway at 2 p.m. (ET) and should offer plenty of laughs along the way.
The latest charity efforts in the poker world
The poker world is certainly no stranger to lending a helping hand. In April, numerous celebrities joined in an effort on an offshore poker site despite being unregulated in the US market.
The event featured major celebrities as well including Tom Brady, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Adam Sandler. The event, dubbed All in for America, raised about $2 million for the Feeding America charity.
Poker Central, the RunGood Poker Series, and Global Poker have also teamed up for the Keep The Lights On initiative. The fundraising effort involves poker personalities Jamie Kerstetter, Jeff Platt, and Brian “TheGoldenBlazer” Frenzel.
The three will play poker tournaments to raise money to support freelance poker media members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations are collected through the Keep the Lines On support site.
As of Friday morning, more than $30,000 had been donated to the cause. Frenzel also ran his own 24-hour online poker stream fundraising effort in April. He helped raise $2,300 for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.
No matter who comes out on top of the Stars Call for Action, many people in need will be helped in the process.