The 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event kicked off this weekend but there was another renowned tournament that attracted poker pros and celebs from around the globe.
That would be the annual Charity Series of Poker in Las Vegas that’s now in its fifth year of operation.
The tournament was started by poker pro Matt Stout and has quickly ascended to become one of the most beloved and effective charity tournaments on the poker circuit.
This year marked the first time the CSOP has been held at the MGM Grand with celebs James Woods, Richard Seymour, Ken Daneyko, Richard Roeper and plenty others getting in on the action.
In the end former WSOP Main Event runner-up Paul “Kwickfish” Wasicka outlasted a potentially record-setting field (numbers are still being calculated) to take home over $10k.
The biggest winner, however, was Nevada’s Three Square food bank, which received roughly $28,000 thanks to the tournament.
Stout: “It’s Unlike Any Other Poker Tournament”
The CSOP continues to be one of the most popular tournaments held outside the Rio and founder Matt Stout has a good idea why.
“This is completely separate from any tournament,” he said.
“People don’t come in with that competitive edge or toughness.
"People come in looking to have a good time. Have a few drinks and gamble.
“This is the kind of event where we get to blow off some steam and remember why we love this game so much. We always have a good time.”
New WPT full-time commentator Tony Dunst played in this year’s event and agreed that it’s a special tournament.
“I thought it was cool to see someone in poker taking some initiative and do something that helps people off the felt,” said Dunst.
“It’s pretty easy to get consumed in this game.”
Rebuys Come Fast and Furious
It helps that the CSOP in Las Vegas has always had a re-buy structure with $225 but rebuys available for $100.
“I think when you invite poker players they just love getting into it,” said WPT anchor Lynn Gilmartin, who also played this year’s tournament.
“They are just willing to continue donating money.
"Even going into the game they are like, ‘Oh this is for fun, I’m not going to spend too much money’ but once they start playing they go for it. They are flagging out the $100 bills.”
Dunst, who was a pro for years before getting his WPT gig, agreed with Gilmartin.
“We don’t care about money basically, he said. “This is an opportunity to show off our money.”
“Add a little alcohol and everyone gets VERY generous,” added Gilmartin.
The CSOP took place at the MGM Grand for the first time ever thanks to the venue’s association with Three Square food bank and by all accounts it was a considerable upgrade.
“I really wanted to get the event into an MGM property so that we could capitalize on that synergy and I think that’s a good thing,” said Stout.
Everyone Welcome at Charity Series of Poker
One underrated aspect of the CSOP is that it’s completely open to the public.
That means for just $225 players were able to rub shoulders with the likes of James Woods and Richard Seymour not to mention numerous TV poker pros.
“Anybody who is willing to buy into the tournament can come and play and we encourage them to come out,” said CSOP board member Lexy Gavin.
“It’s not only for the poker professionals.”
The CSOP has expanded considerably since it launched five years and now hosts events all over the US but the Las Vegas event remains its flagship tournament.
“This is our biggest event,” explained Gavin.
“Everyone is in town for the WSOP. We have a really good group of people. So many awesome pros and celebrities that are willing to come out and support the cause.”
Stout is hopeful the CSOP continues to expand in the future.
“I think the poker world has needed something like this for a long time,” he said.
“I would love to be raising six figures each event. I want this to be an annual event that goes on for as long as poker stays popular.”
To learn more about CSOP or make a donation to one of their affiliated charities just head over to the www.charityseriesofpoker.org.
With files from Matthew Showell