Mekhi Phifer's charity to benefit from WPT

Mekhi Phifer

What could possibly draw some of the hottest celebrities in Hollywood and the biggest professional poker players all to the Commerce Casino Feb. 28? The World Poker Tour Invitational can.

This is the seventh annual WPT Invitational, which in past years has seen big names such as Mekhi Phifer, Vince Vaughn, Paris Hilton, Jason Alexander, Ben Affleck, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Ray Romano and Brad Garrett take on legendary poker pros such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson and more.

This year at the very least Mekhi Phifer, of ER fame, will take to the felt again to help raise money for his charity, The Vine Group.

The WPT has put  a new twist on the seventh annual Invitational, adding rebuys for the first two hours of play. According to the WPT, 100% of those rebuys will benefit The Vine Group USA.

"The Invitational is always one of the most exciting and entertaining events on our schedule - it's where celebrities gawk at poker players who gawk at celebrities," said Steve Lipscomb, WPT founder, president and CEO.

"The rebuy factor will certainly add a whole new flavor to the WPT Invitational experience, and we couldn't be happier that it also supports a great organization like The Vine Group."

The Vine Group is a nonprofit organization set up to provide educational assistance in the form of scholarships, textbooks and technological equipment to academic institutions in various English-speaking countries in Africa.

"The Vine Group USA is very pleased to partner with the World Poker Tour and Commerce Casino for the Invitational - this is an event that everyone loves to be a part of," said Phifer, who is the TVG Board of Trustees chairman.

"Attendees will be able to have fun at the tables while learning about our organization and the important cause it supports."

The WPT Invitational kicks off on Feb. 28 with red carpet arrivals and cocktail hour at 6 p.m. Attendees will also be able to brush up on their poker skills with WPT Boot Camp instructors Jules and Crispin Leyser.

Players who survive after that first day of play will then return March 1 to play down to the final six, who will get their time in the spotlight at the televised final table.

The six players at the final table will compete for a piece of a $200,000 prize pool, which also includes a $25,000 seat in the WPT World Championship that will take place in April at the Bellagio.

"Everyone looks forward to the Invitational," said John Griffo, Commerce Casino director of poker operations.

"We are thrilled that this event has become a 'must-attend' for top names in the entertainment and poker worlds. You would be surprised by some of the celebrities that do really well, especially after never holding a poker chip before. This year, by adding the rebuy, the real winner will be The Vine Group."


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