Articles

01 February 2009

Poker community lending a hand

 It’s been a few weeks that I’ll never forget as my family and I watched in disbelief over the recent weeks to what has been happening on our doorstep.

Just days after the devastating bushfires that swept through areas to the north-east of Melbourne, I had the opportunity to visit the Whittlesea relief centre at Walker Reserve to meet victims of Victoria's deadly bushfires.

It was truly moving for the group of us who made the journey – The Footy Show hosts Garry Lyon, footballers Shane Crawford, Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Shane Warne and myself.

I wasn’t directly involved with the fires – thankfully – but it feels so close to home. I was standing on that football oval at Whittlesea where the kids were playing, as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. It felt so surreal, and was really hard to describe. One thing about Australians is we pull together in a crisis, and I’ll be doing whatever I can to help.

We wanted to do something to help, and I knew the Australian poker community felt the same way. With the help of PokerStars I was able to set up a tournament where $10 of the $20 entry fee was donated to the bushfire appeal. PokerStars doubled the contribution. Thanks to the hundreds of players who signed on for the tournament to help bring some hope to the bushfire victims.

If you’ve been around PokerStars for very long, you know the company and the players step up when it’s time to help others. The PokerStars community has raised millions for the people affected by the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in China, and several other major causes. I’m proud to say we have now lent a hand to the people of my hometown.

In addition, Variety, the children’s charity and The Shane Warne Foundation (TSWF) have teamed up to raise funds for the children affected by the Victorian bushfires. The Shane Warne Foundation kicked off the fund with a $100,000 donation.

As both organisations are focused on improving the lives of children, the large numbers who have been affected by this devastation will welcome the funds. It is essential that children who have been affected by the fires are able to re-establish their routines as quickly as possible.

Over the coming months, Variety and TSWF will be looking at other ways that they are able to lift the spirits of the many children affected by this devastation and make a direct difference.

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The Aussie Millions seems such a distant memory, but I must congratulate the team at Crown for another memorable edition of our most prestigious poker tournament.

I issued the challenge to all the Aussies that this was the year we had to claim the trophy, and Stewart Scott was the man who duly delivered the first Aussie Millions titles for Australia. Congratulations Stewart.

For me, it was again a case of what might have been. I bowed out midway through day three of the Main Event; then fell just short of the money in the $10k H.O.R.S.E. One day, it will come together for me at the Aussie Millions.

We’ve been trying for so many years to get an Australian New Zealand poker tour up and running and PokerStars came to the rescue. It was great to attend the opening event of the new ANZPT. Appropriately, it was held in Adelaide, the city that hosted the first Australasian Championships more than 20 years ago.

Keep an eye on www.anzpt.com for details of more upcoming events, and I’ll see you at Crown for the second Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series from March 7-22.

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