The name Trash Talk Championship may lead you to believe that poker at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was down and dirt Saturday afternoon, but in reality it was all smiles, fun, and money for a good cause as celebrities and poker pros alike took part in the charity poker event. The $1,000 + $70 event drew more than 60 participants and helped to raise money for the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The tournament’s field included a host of celebrities like “Curb our Enthusiasm’s” Cheryl Hines, artist Michael Godard, “The Simpsons” voice Nancy Cartwright, Shaun Sipos of “Melrose Place”, Nicholas Gonzalez, director Joe Reitman, and Dennis Haskins, better known to most as Mr. Belding on “Saved By the Bell.”
Big poker names turned up as well, including Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho, Kathy Liebert, and the stable of Victory Poker sponsored pros. The latter group includes Antonio Esfandiari, Andrew “good2cu” Robl, Alec “traheho” Torelli, Lee Markholt, Paul Wasicka, Brian “tsarrast” Rast, and Dan “Blitz” Bilzerian, just to name a few. Victory served as one of the sponsors for the event, which included a red carpet walk, silent auction, cash games, and an after-party officially launching the site.
Half of the prize pool was set aside for Osbourne’s foundation and, although Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne were not in attendance, they sent a message to the field expressing their gratitude that people were spending time and money supporting the cause. All told, more than $11,000 was raised to benefit the foundation.
As the tournament got underway, most of the participants had as much fun as possible, ordering drinks, making prop bets, and filming numerous segments for the forthcoming online television network, Victory.tv. To sweeten the prize pool, bounties ranging from a bottle of Ketel One Vodka to a free pair of shoes were placed on players’ heads.
The theme of the day appeared to be girl power, as a large number of women took part in the event. By the time the final table was set, the field was split between guys and girls, including reality television star and Absolute Poker sponsored pro Trishelle Cannatella, Playboy Playmate of the Year and Victory Poker Team Pro Sara Underwood, and Markholt. Valerie Torelli, mother of Torelli, also made the final table and seemed to be the crowd favorite with nine to go. Railbirds kept cheering on “Mama Torelli,” but she couldn’t overcome her short stack and made an early exit from final table play.
The fun and games continued even after the final table was set as a crowd gathered to take in the action. Some of the pros took to playing “Johnny Lodden Thinks,” but, oddly enough, the game’s co-founder, Esfandiari, was not one of the people taking part. In between Lodden Thinks bets, Markholt was doing his best to get wagers going on who was going to win it all. Despite being the most experienced poker player at the final table, Markholt put his money on the fact that one of the remaining ladies in the field would take the tournament down.
Markholt’s prediction was correct and it was a woman who ended up being the last player standing. Cannatella jumped out to a huge chip lead during four-handed play when her A-K held up against Underwood’s K-J to eliminate Underwood in fourth place. Cannatella inherited Underwood’s sizeable chip stack and began putting the advantage to use by moving in on her remaining two opponents. After eliminating Markholt in third place, it only took 15 minutes before the tournament was over and Cannatella was crowned the champion.
Cannatella almost didn’t make it to the final table, though. Thinking she would just make a brief appearance at the tournament, she booked her flight back to Los Angeles for 8:00pm and found herself facing a tough decision with two tables remaining: stay and play or make her flight. “I was playing really well, but I kind of donked off half my stack because I thought I was going to be leaving,” Cannatella told Poker News Daily. She was able to grind her way back into contention though and it paid off with a high-profile victory for a good cause. In addition to the prize money, Cannatella also received a seat in the upcoming World Poker Tour (WPT) Celebrity Invitational at the Commerce Casino and a 20-pound custom crystal trophy.