Washington, D.C. – Today the World Series of Poker announced that more than a dozen Hollywood celebrities and sports legends will join poker’s greatest players to raise public awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur in a special “Ante Up For Africa” tournament at the 2007 World Series of Poker.
The tournament is the brainchild of Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle and poker professional Annie Duke. It is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on July 5 in the WSOP tournament area in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
“Four years ago, the specter of genocide reared its ugly head in an area of the Sudan called Darfur,” said Cheadle, whose role as a hotel manager in the true-life film “Hotel Rwanda” earned him an Academy Award nomination. For more than two years, Cheadle has worked to raise public awareness of the Darfur genocide. He recently testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee about his visits to Darfur and refugee camps in neighboring Chad. Not On Our Watch – a book he co-authored with human rights activist John Prendergast – was released into bookstores nationwide this month.
Donations will go to ENOUGH, a project of the Center for American Progress and the International Crisis Group, and the International Rescue Committee.
“While a donation is not required to enter, we are respectfully asking players who win prize money to donate a portion of their winnings to the ENOUGH Project and the International Rescue Committee – organizations whose goals include raising public awareness and providing aid to the survivors of Darfur,” Duke said.
“In Darfur millions of people roll the dice in their daily struggle to survive,” said Gayle Smith, co-founder of ENOUGH, the project to abolish genocide and mass atrocities. “Ante Up for Africa illustrates the tremendous commitment by Don Cheadle, Annie Duke, the World Series of Poker, and all participants to help bring an end to the current suffering and create conditions for peace in Darfur.”
Among those who’ve expressed their intent to play, subject to availability, are Hollywood stars Cheadle, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Jason Alexander, Jennifer Tilly, Hank Azaria, George Clooney, Matt Damon, George Lopez, Danny Masterson, Mekhi Phifer, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, and James Woods.
Basketball great Charles Barkley and poker notables Duke, Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Gordon, Joe Hachem, Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, Robert Williamson III, Phil Laak, Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest, Mike Matasow, and Clonie Gowan have also expressed plans to compete.
“ENOUGH focuses on Darfur, Northern Uganda, and Eastern Congo, sites of some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, but we also aim to build the structures to prevent future horrors,” ENOUGH Director Anita Sharma said. “Through Ante Up for Africa, ENOUGH will raise awareness and work with this new movement to enable long-term change. We are grateful for this opportunity.”
To learn more about the event – how to register or support the tournament – visit www.worldseriesofpoker.com/anteup.
The 2007 World Series of Poker Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light will begin June 1 at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. More information on the tournament is available at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.
ENOUGH, a joint initiative of the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress, aims to end crimes against humanity in Darfur, northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to prevent future mass atrocities wherever they occur. Working with a broad range of groups and experts with extensive experience in the field and in government, ENOUGH employs a “3P” strategy focused on promoting durable peace efforts; providing protection for the innocent victims of mass atrocities and genocide; and punishing the perpetrators to break the cycle of impunity and will utilize field analysis and policy advocacy to empower a growing activist movement for change.