Charity Poker Tournament Hits Tampa During Super Bowl

In the week leading up to the National Football League’s biggest event, poker will take center stage. The Joyner-Walker Foundation has announced that the Tampa Bay Downs‘ Silks Poker Room will host its celebrity poker tournament. The event will be followed by a charity golf tournament at the TPC Tampa Bay. The tournament is set to dole out three seats to the “Super Bowl of Poker,” the World Series of Poker.

Patrick Murphy, Director of Poker Operations for Tampa Bay Downs, stated in a press release found on Marketwatch and other websites, “After meeting with the co-founders of the Par and Poker Celebrity Challenge for Charity, I understand the great commitment of the Joyner-Walker Foundation to our community and the tournament in particular. We are thrilled to be hosting a poker event that gives back so much in a fun and entertaining way.” No Limit Hold’em will be the name of the game at Tampa Bay Downs.

The event, which is collectively named “Par and Poker,” is free and open to the general public. A bevy of high-profile celebrities have participated in the past, including Major League Baseball stars Ozzie Smith, Phil Nevin (who was the 2008 golf champion), Chili Davis, Tim Raines, Paul Sorrento, and Joe Carter. Former Philadelphia Eagles (National Football League) star Seth Joyner serves as its celebrity host. As such, Joyner’s presence has attracted a host of NFL stars, including Marcus Allen, Lawrence Taylor, Eric Dickerson, Keith Byars, Roy Green, Jim McMahon, and Dave Krieg.

According to the event’s website, the Joyner-Walker Foundation is “a non-profit organization dedicated to providing life skill programs to assist high school and college students in a way to prosper and be self-sufficient.” The Foundation emphasizes financial literacy, “dress for success,” presentation skills, mentoring, time management, and job hunting skills to its participants.

Registration is $1,500 per person for golf and $500 for poker. Sponsorships are available for interested companies and range from $1,000 to $125,000. Available sponsorships include signage on the driving range, VIP tent, beer garden, tournament greens, as well as the rights to be the presenting sponsor.

The event will be just one of a slew of parties and fundraisers leading up to the Super Bowl on February 1st, 2009. The game will pit the top team from the National Football Conference (NFC) against best squad in the American Football Conference (AFC). It’s one of the world’s premier sporting events and was held in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play their home games in Raymond James Stadium, the site of the 2009 Super Bowl.

Celebrities are still being lined up for the 2009 Par and Poker tournament series. 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Greg Raymer, now a member of Team PokerStars Pro, has competed in the tournament in years past. It remains to be seen what cast of poker pros will be in attendance in Tampa.

Poker players have contributed to a bevy of noteworthy causes, including a tournament held during the 2008 WSOP benefitting “Ante Up for Africa,” a tournament that raises money for the crisis in Darfur. Annie Duke and “Oceans 11” actor Don Cheadle led the charge at the Rio in Las Vegas. The pair was also behind an effort on online poker room Ultimate Bet to raise money for the charity.

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