Celebrities and poker pros alike will square off at the poker tables this weekend when the World Poker Tour’s (WPT) Celebrity Invitational kicks off at the famed Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. Running February 20th and February 21st, the eighth edition of the invitation only charity event will send its proceeds to Chrysalis, a non-profit organization whose goal is to help economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals right themselves through employment opportunities.
Over 100 participants have been invited to compete. As of this weekend, the list of confirmed attendees includes actors Donnie Wahlberg, Marlon Wayans, Eric Dane, Hank Azaria, Teri Hatcher, Jesse Metcalfe, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Chris Kattan, Michael Vartan, Balthazar Getty, Camryn Manheim, Kevin McKidd, Ron Livingston, Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson, Chris Masterson, Jordy Masterson, Matthew Lillard, Billy Burke, Zachary Quinto, Jerry Ferrara, Eddie Cibrian, Willie Garson, Alessandra Torresani, Ethan Embry, Rick Yune, Melinda Clarke, and Ian Gomez. E! Online film blogger Ben Lyons, record producer and musician Benji Madden, TV host Ricki Lake, actress Shannon Elizabeth, and Pink Taco restaurant President and CEO Harry Morton will also appear.
Several of the actors have played roles in poker and Las Vegas-related films and television shows. Eddie Cibrian played Eddie Town in ESPN’s short-lived series “Tilt,” Ethan Embry was Rusty Griswold (a.k.a. Nick Pappagiorgio) in “Vegas Vacation,” “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Eric Dane appeared in two episodes of “Las Vegas,” avid poker player Hank Azaria portrayed Mike “The Bike” Heslov in “The Grand,” and Shannon Elizabeth was in both “The Grand” (as Toni) and “Deal” (as Michelle).
Also confirmed are poker pros Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko, Mark Seif, J.C. Tran, Poker News Daily Guest Columnist Linda Johnson, actress and poker pro Jennifer Tilly, and Full Tilt Poker pros Howard Lederer, Erik Seidel, David “The Dragon” Pham, Bill Edler, Andy Bloch, and Allen Cunningham.
The festivities will begin with red carpet arrivals and a VIP cocktail party at 7:00pm on Saturday, February 20th. The tournament will begin at 8:00pm with $200 rebuys available through the first two 40-minute levels. All rebuys will directly benefit Chrysalis. Those players remaining after the first day will return on Sunday at 1:00pm and play down to the final six. The final table will be played on March 3rd at 4:00pm and taped for television broadcast.
The WPT has guaranteed a $200,000 prize pool for the event as well as a $25,000 seat in the WPT Championship in April.
Chrysalis was founded in 1984 by John Dillon and in the past quarter-century has helped over 30,000 people lift themselves out of poverty and homelessness by getting them on the path towards self-sufficiency. Ninety percent of every dollar donated to Chrysalis goes directly to help its clients.