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Ante Up for Africa

I'm in Vegas and played in the Ante Up for Africa tournament yesterday. This is a $5k buy-in to benefit the victims of the genocide in Darfur. It features celebrities and poker pros. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Mike Tyson, Nelly, Jason Alexander, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow and several others joined hosts Annie Duke and Don Cheadle for a turbo tournament.

Before the tournament we are paraded before approximately 200 global media. It's a neat experience to share the spotlight with legitimate celebrities. You can see a bit of my red carpet walk here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RhtImnaaZU

At the tournament, I'm seated with Superman Dean Cain to my left and Professor, Banker and Suicide King author Michael Craig to my right. Also at the table is Isaac Haxton, who came in second in the $40k WSOP event and won $1.1 million.

There is media everywhere and tournament officials are trying to clear the floor so we can start. Hundreds of fans are in attendance to see their favorite celebrity or player. It's quite the scene. Phil Hellmuth has assumed the role of emcee and is calling out the action. The ESPN cameras are in place and WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack kicks things off.

My table is full of action junkies (surprise!) and every time we are all in, play stops as we wait for Phil and the cameras to arrive. As a result, we are seeing fewer hands than other tables. After two hours, half the field has been eliminated as the blinds rise quickly (every 20 minutes v every 120 minutes at the Main Event). I'm holding A/K and facing a raise from late position by a guy who won the world cup a couple of years ago. I shove and he insta-calls with AA. I sit and wait for Phil to arrive and comment on me losing yet again with A/K (the same hand I busted off the Best Damn Poker Show with).

Next is the after-party at Pure, the club at Caesar's Palace, which features Charles Barkley doing an ill-advised Michael Jackson tribute. Jeffrey Pollack is in attendance and I get a chance to chat with last year's 3rd place finisher, Elon Schwartz – who is a soft spoken young man. We meet a couple of poker playing hotties from Chicago and … well, let's just leave it at that.

Take time to Tilt,

John

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