Harman charity event goes to the dogs

Jennifer Harman

Charity poker tournaments aren't an uncommon phenomenon today, thanks to the undeniable popularity of the game and the generosity of its players.

But few tournaments feature the star power that was on display April 18 when the Venetian in Las Vegas opened its doors for the second annual T.J. Cloutier, Hoyt Corkins, Eli Elezra, Kristy Gazes, Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, Joe Hachem, John Hennigan, Phil Ivey, Lacey Jones, Howard Lederer, Jeff Madsen, Michael and Lilly Mizrachi, Daniel Negreanu, Young Phan, Erik Seidel, Dan Shak, David Singer, Gavin Smith, Mike Sexton, David Williams and Robert Williamson III.

The tournament also attracted star power from outside the poker world. Professional football player Shaun King, pro snowboarders Jeff Brushie, Kier Dillon, Dave Driscoll and Ross Powers, and motocross star Jimmy Button were all in attendance.

Tournament director Matt Savage started the poker action at 3 p.m., following a red carpet walk featuring poker pros and some of the SPCA shelter's animals. Rebuys were available for $200, and Noah Schwartz took full advantage during the rebuy period by laying out $4,600 for extra chips.

Unique and valuable bounties were placed on several pros by Mark and Cheryl Scott of Sahara Coins and Extraordinary Collectibles. The player who knocked out host Harman won a 1924 Saint Double Eagle coin, while the player who got the best of Howard Lederer won a 1923 Binion's Hoard Silver Dollar. The player who eliminated Scott from the tournament, meanwhile, won an 1892 mint-state Double Eagle gold coin worth $2,500.

Robert Williamson III
Going once, going twice ... Williamson lent his auctioneer skills to the charity event.

While the poker tournament continued, a full lineup of donated sports memorabilia and other prize packages were being auctioned off by Robert Williamson III.

Among the items up for bid were an autographed Doyle Brunson cowboy hat; a collection of historical Binion's memorabilia; a framed 1973 Belmont Stakes photo of Secretariat autographed by jockey Ron Turcotte; autographed Full Tilt jerseys from Erick Lindgren, Clonie Gowan and Harman; a four-hour training session with Harman; a framed and autographed poster from professional skateboarder Tony Hawk; and a 1986 Hulk Hogan WWF Championship belt. By the end of the night, the auction had raised over $150,000.

By 10 p.m., the final-table lineup was set. Less than an hour later, the JHCPT had crowned its second champion, Seth Dupre of Las Vegas. He took home a $2,000 Curtis & Co. watch, a seven-pound crystal trophy designed by Harman, and a $10,000 seat in the 2008 WSOP Main Event.

"At first I was overwhelmed," Dupre said after the tournament. "I play online poker recreationally, but to witness all of those big names that you usually only see on television was incredible."

Dupre has some pretty big shoes to fill as the JHCPT champ. Last year's champion, Kirk Morrison, turned the $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat he won at Harman's tourney into $154,194 when he finished 56th in the world's most prestigious poker tournament.

The final standings were:

Place
Name
Hometown
1st
Seth Dupre
Las Vegas
2nd
John McCrink
Las Vegas
3rd
John Roveto
Duluth, Ga.
4th
Michael Statkiewicz
Las Vegas
5th
Jay Mercer
Bakersfield, Calif.
6th
Steve Lindner
Madison, Wis.
7th
Vince Badassano
Chatham, N.J.
8th
Tiffany Michelle
Beverly Hills, Calif.
9th
John Barnocky
Oviedo, Fla.

In addition to the final tablists and the Nevada SPCA, there were a few other big winners at Venetian. Several lucky animals found themselves new adopted homes, thanks to Matt and Maryann Savage, Rob Gracie and Lisa Wheeler, and Shane and Renee Olney.

The Second Annual JHCPT may be in the books, but you can always donate to the Nevada SPCA no-kill animal sanctuary via the shelter's Web site.

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For those who prefer a little poker with their charity, there's still another chance as well. On Sunday, May 4, at 6 p.m. EDT, Full Tilt Poker will host another $5+$5 "Animal Lovers" online charity poker tournament featuring Jennifer Harman, several Full Tilt pros and this year's JHCPT champion, Seth Dupre.

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