Poker News Daily had a front row view for the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Ante Up for Africa red carpet. Featuring a veritable “who’s who” of Hollywood’s elite, the $5,000 buy-in charity poker tournament raised well over $300,000 for refugees of the crisis in Darfur. Here’s what Hollywood had to say.
NBA Legend Kenny Smith
On Charles Barkley’s poker game: “It’s just like his golf game. Last year, he was the third or fourth person to get eliminated right off the bat in this event, so he was terrible. I think he’s a little restless and aggressive, which leads to early exits or big wins.”
On whether he has a last longer bet with Charles Barkley: “I’ve got to get that going. He’s too reckless. A two and a three and he’s all-in. I’m not going to be that silly. I think I’ll beat him.”
On his poker background: “I don’t play a lot, but I have fun with it more than anything else. When I come to Las Vegas, I’ll play blackjack before I play poker, but my parents used to play poker growing up. They’d have little poker parties, so I got to play at the adult table.”
“Best Week Ever” Host Doug Benson
On whether he’s having the best week ever: “I am. It hasn’t been a great week for celebrities in general, but getting to come to this event is exciting.”
On other celebrities in attendance: “I’ve only seen people here on the red carpet, so I don’t know who else is inside, but my friend Sarah Silverman is here as is my new friend Mike Tyson… I didn’t say a word to him. I’m too terrified. There are also a lot of great poker players. I’ve seen Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth so far. I’d love to knock either of them out. It’d be hilarious.”
Former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson
On his prospects: “I don’t know if I’m going to do well, but I’m here for a good cause. I’m here to help raise a lot of money and awareness.”
Comedian Sarah Silverman
On participating in the Ante Up for Africa charity tournament: “It’s really important to raise money and awareness. People need to be aware and understand that this is a genocide. People hear about the Holocaust in school and say that it could never happen. We’re letting it happen now. Someone has to do something and, to be honest, I have no idea what, but it has to end. There are people living in the scariest nightmare you could ever imagine. We have the power to be the best country and help. If this were happening in England or France, it would be taken care of.
“Rounders” Actor Matt Damon
On being recognized from “Rounders”: “It depends on what city I’m in. If I’m here in Las Vegas, it’s mostly ‘Rounders.’ If someone says, ‘I loved you in’ and it’s a guy between the ages of 18 and 40, I can guarantee you he’ll say ‘Rounders.'”
On raising money for Ante Up for Africa: “They’ve raised over $2 million so far and we know where the money is going. The ENOUGH Project is fantastic. There’s a lot of transparency there, so we know where the money goes. It’s a terrific cause to give to and hopefully it’s making a difference.”
On facing professional poker players: “I don’t want to think too hard. If I get in a hand with a pro or a bracelet winner, I’m not going to think about it. If I think about it, I’m going to make the wrong move, so I’m just going to play. Their mind control at this game is far more superior to mine.”
Matt Damon and Mike Tyson…it’d be bizarre to sit between them at a poker table.