Phil Hellmuth, Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Johnny Chan, and several of poker’s biggest names joined a host of celebrities and NFL players for a charity poker tournament at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas over the weekend. The tournament was set up to raise money for the Starkey Hearing Foundation and Pros for Africa, a non-profit relief organization providing basic needs to the children of Africa.

The NFL had other ideas, however. Showbiz411 was on-hand for the event and reported that the league got word of the tournament and ordered that its players not participate. Around 30 NFL stars turned up to play, including Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton, and Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams. They were all forced to sit back and watch.

Recognized as one of the biggest antagonists of online gambling, the NFL took a stand against poker years ago. When Congressmen Barney Frank first planned legislation to regulate online gambling, NFL lobbyists were among the first in line to fight it.

The battle between the NFL and online poker began in 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed. While online poker was made more difficult to access in the U.S., the NFL fought to ensure that fantasy football was exempt from the bill. Once it won that scuffle, the league did everything possible to keep its billion-dollar brand name away from anything related to gambling.

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Some sources reported that the NFL had opened its arms to poker after the markup of Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2267) in July of last year. The bill aimed to regulate internet gambling and, at the same time, outlawed online sports betting, which supposedly relieved the NFL of any concerns about poker in the States.

However, based on Saturday’s grim report, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Saturday’s charity event was still deemed a success, as more than 350 people participated at a buy-in of $2,000 with $500 rebuys. Celebrities in attendance included comedian Steve Martin, actors Don Cheadle and Kevin Sorbo, singer Jordin Sparks, and “The Incredible Hulk’s” Lou Ferrigno.

Phil Hellmuth

Hellmuth (pictured wearing sunglasses sold by, who hosted the event, made several updates about the tournament from his Twitter account. As usual, he made sure to do some name-dropping when he could: “Someone asked Steve Martin (@stevemartintogo) why he was here at Golden Nugget for Charity poker Tourney. He said, ‘I’m here because of Phil.’ Made my day!”

Taking the event’s top prize, a 2011 CSM #2 Shelby Mustang, was Debbie Gostowski from the Family Care Hearing Center in Illinois, a strong supporter of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Other final table prizes included iPads and all-expense-paid trips to Africa, South America, and Mexico as part of Starkey Hearing Foundation missions.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation, founded in 1984, strives to change the social consciousness of hearing and hearing loss prevention. Through its missions, the Foundation delivers more than 100,000 hearing aids throughout the world.

Source: Poker News Daily

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4 Responses to “NFL Orders 30 Pro Football Players Not To Play Charity Poker Event In Las Vegas”

  1. Admin says:

    Maybe we should not support the NFL? What do you think?

  2. Admin says:

    Maybe someone should inform the NFL that this was a LIVE poker game and NOT ONLINE

  3. ScottMatusow says:

    Maybe the NFL should be more concerned with the growing number of Baby Mamas associated with their league over this? Just sayin!

  4. FullTiltRigged says:

    NFL, you are NOT the government. Stop dictating what players do in their off time. Im sure its OK for them to bang whores and go to strip clubs but not play in a charity event. Nice morals you are showing us.

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