Simon racks up chips, donates win at CP tourney

Sam Simon

Although Sam Simon took down top spot at the inaugural All In for CP celebrity poker tournament on Aug. 3 at the Hollywood Park Casino, it was his good friend Jacob Zalewski's One Step Closer Foundation that ended up with the biggest win.

Simon defeated a field that included pros such as Barry Greenstein and Jamie Gold, as well as celebrities such as Montel Williams and Shannon Elizabeth. Immediately afterward Simon donated the entire purse to the One Step Closer Foundation.

That purse, along with the proceeds of a silent auction, amounted to nearly $45,000 for the foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds and awareness to ease, as much as possible, the lives of those who suffer from cerebral palsy.

"It was an amazing event," said One Step Closer Foundation founder and CEO Zalewski, who himself suffers from CP. "I still can't believe that this day came after a year in the making. I am very humbled by the turnout - it was more than I thought it would be and I hope that each year it gets bigger and better."

Turns out Simon wasn't kidding when he told last week that he was ready to amp up his poker play.

"I am taking [poker] a lot more seriously," Simon said. "I would say that I am a recreation player. I guess I have had some success winning local tournaments and cashes in the WSOP. But I really just play for fun. I haven't read the books and I haven't checked out the Web sites but I am in the middle of doing that. It would be a lot more fun if I could start making final tables."

Chalk it up as another notch in the belt of a guy who's already had one of the most diverse careers imaginable. Simon has worked on hit television shows such as Taxi and The Tracey Ullman Show and is one of the original writers of The Simpsons.

He's also a noted boxing trainer who works with former WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster. Simon was named the World Boxing Manager of the Year in 2004, the same year the Brewster knocked out current heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko.

As if all that wasn't enough, Simon was married to uber poker babe Jennifer Tilly for seven years. He says Tilly and he are still friends and that she's helped him quite a bit with his poker game.

"Jennifer is, I think, the best female tourney player," said Simon. "She's really good and she is always working on her game. She's always improving. I am sure that you can't say that about a lot of people.

"She's helped me with my game. I play in the WPT Invitational. She was the one who got me into that. I am so grateful I thought maybe I should give her a piece of anything I make and then I realized she already gets a piece of everything I make!"

Simon says that the All In for CP event is going to run every year now that it's been launched and he expects interest will surely grow among the poker community.

"The best thing has already happened that that is that we are going to do it. This is just the first step. We're going to do this every year. It's just gonna get better. Hopefully next year we can have it at my house."

Perfect. Because at least then those who play can snack on his cocktail weenies before he takes all their money at the tables.

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