Dan Smith, fifth on the all-time poker tournament money list, announced on Monday that he has launched an initiative through his Double Up Drive organization to raise money for households in the Las Vegas area that are most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, he has teamed up with Phil Galfond, whose Run It Once online poker room will host a heads-up tournament on Saturday, April 11th to add even more funds to the effort.
Matching donations dollar-for-dollar
Smith launched Double Up Drive in 2018 to bring charitable drives into the public light. While any giving is fantastic, he believes that “public giving influences greater generosity and more impactful donations.”
Double Up Drive selects charities to which to contribute and then receives high-dollar pledges up-front from which to draw funds. For every dollar donated by the public, Double Up Drive matches it until the pledged funds run dry.
In 2019, it gathered $1.65 million in pledges and ended up receiving nearly that amount in donations for a dozen charities.
For the current drive, Double Up Drive has received $250,000 in pledges from Stephen Chidwick, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, and an anonymous donor. It will match up to $500 of every donation to GiveDirectly, the charity that is handling the funds. GiveDirectly is working with Propel to identify households in Las Vegas that are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis and will give them each $1,000 cash.
Double Up Drive’s donation matching will continue until the $250,000 in pledges run out.
Run It Once adding to the pot
At the same time, Run It Once poker is hosting a 32-player heads-up No-Limit Hold’em tournament on Saturday to contribute to the relief effort. Half of the field is already set, with the likes of Smith and Galfond competing. Galfond has said that he will not play in the Galfond Challenge against VeniVidi1993 on Saturday so that he can focus on playing in and hosting the event.
The tournament is free, so how Run It Once is raising money for the drive is by encouraging donations. The eight largest donors to GiveDirectly by 23:59 UTC on Thursday will receive entries into the tournament. Then, eight people who gave any amount of money by that same time will be randomly selected to fill the eight remaining seats.
The winner of the tournament will win a poker training package, provided mostly by Run It Once.
And all of us in the United States and other jurisdictions that are blocked from Run It Once actually have a chance to play in the tournament. Galfond’s site is hosting it on one of its testing environments and since, I guess, that eliminates the possibility of real money poker, pretty much anyone of legal gambling age can play. It will take some luck to be one of the people chosen (or a massive donation), but hey, there’s a chance.
Run It Once will also donate €10 for every player who plays a hand on Run It Once on Saturday.