PokerStars’ charity invitational raised more than $1m as more than 90 celebrities united to generate relief funds during the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Stars from music, film, sports and TV joined for Stars Call for Action, powered by PokerStars, which saw 50 per cent of the total donation going directly to Care International on behalf of those playing, and the remaining $500,000 going to the winners’ charities of choice.
Billions and Suits star David Costabile ($100,000) earned the lion’s share after a battle with Brazilian footballer Douglas Costa ($75,000), gaining a donation to World Central Kitchen on his behalf.
Further main table finishes saw PokerStars ambassador Jennifer Shahade take $40,000 for a third placed finish, actor and director Casey Affleck’s fourth sport earn a $30,000 donation, fellow PokerStars ambassador Chris Moneymaker take $20,000 and fifth and ex-England Rugby Union international Mike Tindall’s sixth spot result in $15,000.
Hank Azaria, who conceived and brought together the event alongside journalist, author and screenwriter Andy Bellin, explained, “What an amazing day it was. I was genuinely moved to connect with so many people that I like and admire for such a wonderful cause and I remain blown away by how much PokerStars stepped up.
“They put up $10K towards COVID relief for every celebrity that participated and then, even though we didn’t quite reach 100 celebrities, they went ahead and gave a full million dollars anyway which was really incredible. And I got to play some poker!”
It was almost a double success for the cast of Suits when Gabriel Macht went head-to-head with retired English footballer and ex-England international Wayne Bridge for a $50,000 donation in the second chance, winner-takes-all celebrity side event. In the end the latter came out on top and will send the prize to The Little Roo Neonatal Fund.
Other celebrities who were successful in earning donations for their chosen charities include Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Michael Ian Black, Don Cheadle, Tony Yazbeck, Macauley Culkin, Nelson Figueroa, Tohi and Thomas Lennon. Further participants included Neymar Jr, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Ricardinho and Liam Payne.
Laurie Lee, CEO of Care International UK, the official emergency relief partner of PokerStars since 2014, added: “This partnership over the past six years means the world to us. With PokerStars’ support we can respond quickly when emergencies strike, saving lives and delivering much-needed aid to vulnerable communities around the world.”