Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
One of the nicest trends happening in the poker world recently is the desire to give back. Of course, there have always been charitable players, but for the most part they were individuals who donated a portion of their earnings to causes they believed in. Phil Hellmuth, to name just one, has been involved with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Peace Thru Sports Foundation of Shimon Peres and several other charities.
With the poker boom came poker organizations, like PokerStars and their players, making substantive contributions every year to various worthy causes, from tsunami relief in 2004 to helping the victims of the devastating earthquake that ripped apart Haiti in 2010.
One Drop, a charity dedicated to providing access to safe drinking water around the world, received tremendous attention in the poker world and beyond, especially in 2012 during the Big One for One Drop heads-up match between Antonio Esfandiari and Sam Trickett. $111,111 from each entry went to One Drop, totaling $5.3 million, the single biggest donation any poker event had ever produced. In fact, over the last five years over $10 million has been raised by the annual One Drop tournaments at the WSOP.
Since 2014, however, there has been an increase in charitable donations across the poker world. One of the primary reasons for that is REG, or Raising for Effective Giving. Three poker superstars, Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, and Philipp Gruissem, already involved with effective altruism, pitched the idea of spreading the word to the poker community and soon REG was born, with Adriano Mannino named REG Chairman.
REG takes donations and distributes them to groups that are the most effective in reducing suffering around the world. Briefly, REG use scientific facts and rational decision-making, collaborations with researchers, think tanks, and analysts, to find the most effective charitable opportunities, those that help the most people possible for the amount of money raised. By doing so, donations become more cost effective by increasing the number of people helped per unit of money donated. In other words, they know how to get the most bang for their bucks.
Every day, more poker players are pledging to participate in REG, and it is quickly becoming a preferred way for them to donate to charitable organizations around the world.
REG has always had the goal to establish a “culture of giving” in the poker community, one that extends beyond the occasional charity-specific poker tournament. Nevertheless, spokesperson Boeree, noting the incredible success of One Drop, says that in 2017; “ I really think one of the most biggest, and also the most fun ways I can think of doing is having a couple of these big charity tournaments. You’ve seen the fantastic success of One Drop, some of the events PokerStars have. We have the contacts to do that, we have the locations. That’s what we want to knuckle down and do – one or two really fun, prestigious—probably more high roller-oriented charity tournaments.”
Whether it’s a few major charity tournaments or a new way of life for players, charities around the world are benefiting from the generous nature of the poker community.