Poker News

As they prepare to open their 2012 season on the high banks of the Daytona International Speedway, stock car racing’s biggest names, as well as one of poker’s biggest stars, will come together for a charity poker event later this month.

On February 22 (four days before the 2012 Daytona 500), a charity poker tournament dubbed “High Speed Hold’em on the Halifax” will take place from 7-10PM at the MG on the Halifax, a luxury waterfront community near the Daytona International Speedway. The invitation only event is looking to draw more than 200 players who will put up $500 to take part in the event.

Hosted by the NASCAR Foundation, the tournament is raising money for Speediatrics, the pediatric unit at the Halifax Health Medical Center. NASCAR Foundation chairwoman Betty Jane France is looking forward to drawing together NASCAR’s best drivers, celebrities, poker pros and stock car fans for a thrilling evening of entertainment.

“What a great night this is going to be,” France stated during the announcement of the charity tournament. “(It will be) a lot of fun and all for some worthy causes. The NASCAR Foundation, Speediatrics and poker are things that I love dearly. People who know me can attest to that. This evening is going to be memorable and meaningful. I can’t wait.”

Joining France in hosting the tournament will be legendary driver and NASCAR Foundation board member Rusty Wallace, who admits that he isn’t a great poker player. In an interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Wallace compared playing in the charity tournament to his own career as a Winston Cup championship winning driver, saying, “You’ve got to be a bit nervy and willing to take your chances. You can play it safe the first 450 miles of the race, but the last 50 you’d better have all your stuff right and be able to stick it out there and go for it…sometimes you drive over your head and get to crash and sometimes you don’t. There’s a correlation with poker.”

Also in attendance for the tournament will be poker professional Annie Duke, the commissioner of the Epic Poker League, who will serve as the honorary tournament director for the event. “I am so pleased to play my part in this inaugural tournament to support the NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Program,” Annie added during the announcement of the event. “I’m looking forward to throttling up the action with Betty Jane and Rusty as we raise funds for this great cause.”

For the tournament, each of the 22 tables will have at least one celebrity, driver or poker player seated among the combatants. Notable names that have been confirmed for the tournament are former NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett and former NBA great Brad Daugherty, who is now a stock car analyst with ESPN and a NASCAR team owner. For the winner of the event, a seat at a $1500 Epic Poker League Pro/Am tournament will be the prize.

One player will be able to get into the tournament for free through a special drawing being held by the MG on the Halifax. By going online and registering at, one person and a guest will attend the tournament and the winner of the drawing will be able to play in the event. There will also be a charity auction and entertainment for those in attendance.

If the tournament reaches its maximum number of players, it would raise over $100,000 in just the buy ins alone and potentially even more through the auction. The funds would be well used at Speediatrics, which France founded in 1999 as a NASCAR-themed pediatrics unit. It is the only one of its kind in Central Florida that cares for more than 2,000 children each year, including about 300 of those receiving care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

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