Poker pros visit soldiers at Walter Reed

Phil Gordon
Phil Gordon was one of several pros who visited with injured soldiers at Walter Reed on Monday.

The USO of Metropolitan Washington and the Poker Players Alliance joined forces on Monday to create a day-long celebration for injured troops and their families at the Mologne House at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Several professional poker players were in attendance to visit with the soldiers and families as well as to play in the tournament organized for the day. Victor Ramdin, Rhett Butler and NBC Poker After Dark's hostess Leeann Tweeden were all on hand.

Dennis Phillips, who will be the chip leader going into the 2008 World Series of Poker final table in November, also got in some practice at the event.

"We're thrilled that these top poker pros would come out and spend a day with our soldiers and their families," said Elaine Robers, USO-Metro president.

"Poker is a very popular activity among the soldiers spending time at Walter reed recovering from their injuries, and this was a great opportunity for them to mingle with and learn from the best poker players in the country."

The event was designed to give the U.S. soldiers a fun afternoon of fellowship and poker. It attracted more than 100 participants.

"Members of the PPA are happy to do anything we can to express the poker community's support and appreciation for our troops and their families who have made so many sacrifices to protect our individual rights and freedoms," said John Pappas, PPA executive director. "We were honored to be with these brave men and women and get to know them better."

Many of the poker pros in attendance echoed Pappas' sentiments as well. Griffin, who was the first player to win a European Poker Tour title, a WSOP bracelet and a World Poker Tour title, said it was an honor to be involved with the USO and to boost the morale of soldiers.

He said the soldiers were so grateful to see the poker pros, but "in reality we were the ones who were truly grateful for the time we got to spend with them."

Lederer, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner, called the experience one of the most rewarding of his life, and Bloch noted that spending time with the soldiers, "with their spirit and joy," showed what is really important in life.

"I was completely overwhelmed by the soldiers and their passion for poker, their passion for their country and their passion for life," Gordon said.

Phillips noted that he had never been so proud or so humbled before in his life.

"You just want to stand up and shout to the world about what an honor it is to be allowed to play cards with these heroes who sacrificed so much to protect our liberties," Phillips said.

Other companies that helped make the event possible include Goodrich Corporation, Textron, Oshkosh Corporation and Sierra Nevada Corporation.

The PPA is a grassroots organization that has brought more than 1 million poker players together from all across the nation to protect the game of poker and poker players' rights in the United States.

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