In an interview with PokerListings.com yesterday at the Victor Ramdin filled us in on all the work he has been doing since his breakthrough as a poker player. Vice-President of Guyana Watch, a group which provides medical assistance to the poor people in Ramdin's native country of Guyana, Ramdin has organized a yearly outreach program in which a group of poker pros travel to Guyana to donate both their time and their money to the organization.
Taking a hands-on approach to charity, Victor is more concerned with getting people involved and passionate about a cause, "Forget about the money, the money will come. Just go and help and see and understand what it is to be poor and what it is to share your time and give back. It's a great feeling."
Rafe Furst, Gordon started the Bad Beat on Cancer Organization to try to harness at least part of the vast sums of money being won at large poker events. Created in 2003, Bad Beat on Cancer invites players to donate just one percent of their tournament winnings to help fund cancer research and prevention. The group has already enjoyed great success and promises to keep growing with the explosion of poker tournaments.
Liz Lieu has also found a way to harness her popularity to help drive charitable donations. Liz has started selling a line of posters featuring herself and donating all the proceeds to worthy organizations. She has had to shell out the money for the production of these posters and all the associated costs all in the name of charity. I would recommend purchasing one of these posters since it's a rare opportunity to help give back by buying a poster of a beautiful woman.
Charity poker tournaments are also a popular way to use the power of poker to do good. The World Series of Poker has a Media/Celebrity Event each year and in 2006 I had the pleasure of playing. With no buy-in and all the winnings going to charity it guarantees a no-pressure, fun time. The best thing is that no matter who wins, it's the people who need it the most who will benefit. Note: I was busted out of this event by the beautiful Cindy Margolis, but PokerListings.com reporter Lisa Devita managed to make it to the final table and finished sixth, enabling her to make a donation to the charity of her choice.
It might seem like a contradiction to many to see gamblers so interested in giving away their money but the truth is that poker players are generally generous people. It could be that most of them know what it is to be broke all too well and are therefore more sympathetic to the plight of others in that situation. Also, the ups and downs of professional poker reinforces how transient money can be and the importance of using it to do something good while you still have it.
Whatever the reason, more and more players have taken the initiative to give something back. As Victor Ramdin said in our interview yesterday, when it comes to making the world a better place, "The more the merrier."