In what may be a first for a contestant in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, a New York poker player has pledged to donate 100% of his winnings to charity.
Michael Karnjanaprakorn, an entrepreneur from New York City, is the poker player who came up with this challenging proposition. While attending the 2009 WSOP, Karnjanaprakorn got involved in a discussion with professional poker player Rafe Furst about how poker could continue to help charitable causes. The discussion led to a deal between Furst and Karnjanaprakorn regarding the 2010 Main Event.
With the catchy name “World Series of Good,” Karnjanaprakorn’s initiative is to raise his $10,000 buy-in from contributions and donate his entire winnings from the Main Event to charitable causes. The fund raising effort just recently went live at KickStarter, a well known website for fundraising causes, and has raised $675 of the $10,000 goal as of press time. Furst continues to be involved with Karnjanaprakorn’s efforts and has offered invaluable assistance in the endeavor.
If Karnjanaprakorn is able to raise the $10,000 buy-in, he will get some of the best poker training available. Other than Rafe Furst, reigning National Heads-Up Poker Champion and Poker News Daily guest columnist Annie Duke has stepped up to offer her prodigious skills to train Karnjanaprakorn for the WSOP Main Event and “Poker After Dark” host Ali Nejad will also be a part of the training team.
Karnjanaprakorn has chosen two charities to be the main recipients of any WSOP winnings. First is the Langston Hughes Academy, an elementary and middle school charter program located in New Orleans. The school, founded in 2007 after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and named after the famous American poet from Harlem, suffered another setback in mid-January when the Chief Financial Officer for the institution was arrested in connection with embezzlement.
According to a Times-Picayune article in January, former CFO Kelly Thompson was arrested in November 2009 and charged with stealing almost $675,000 from the charter school. According to the article, Thompson allegedly made over 150 withdrawals from school funds over a 15-month period, supposedly to cover gambling debts she had incurred. While the school has an insurance policy against such actions, it is capped at $300,000.
Karnjanaprakorn’s second charitable cause is familiar to many in the poker industry, Bad Beat on Cancer. Founded by Furst and Phil Gordon in 2003 as a part of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the charity has raised over $2 million from players who donate a minimum of 1% of their winnings from tournament events, including the WSOP, to aid in the Foundation’s continuing goal of the prevention and early detection of cancer through research, education, and community outreach. Poker players who have dedicated 1% of their winnings for life include Phil Hellmuth, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Duke.
The continuing premise for the “World Series of Good” is to encourage poker players to contribute to charitable causes of their choosing. Through the “World Series of Good” website, players can sign up to pledge a part of their WSOP winnings to whichever charitable organization they wish to support.