By Dianne R. Davis
Photos by Dianne R. Davis or Burt Davis
Jennifer Harman Charity Poker Raises $85,000 for Nevada SPCA Tournament Hosted by The Venetian Poker Room
Chau Giang was this year’s Winner
More than 140 poker legends, celebrities, professional athletes, fans, and poker players got together on April 13 for the Jennifer Harman Charity Poker Tournament hosted by the Venetian Poker Room. The event, which raised $85,000 for the Nevada SPCA not only will provide needed funds for abused and abandoned animals rescued by the city’s only no-kill animal shelter, but also helped to help raise awareness.
A unique feature of this poker tournament was a red carpet which included six dogs, four cats, a rabbit and a hamster, all rescued or abandoned animals which were available for adoption. Chef Barry Dakake of N9NE Steakhouse ensured four-legged companions received the VIP treatment, personally preparing and delivering gourmet animal appetizers
The event also included a silent auction. Matt Savage emceed the competition and Triumph Sports hosted the silent auction. The Aviator Casino and ABA Energy’s Al Adler sponsored private transportation for several Hollywood celebrities.
CEO Marvin Epstein and producer Dylan Marer of the Karma Foundation presented a $17,020 check to Nevada SPCA President Jennifer Palombi and event hostess Jennifer Harman. The funds were raised during the Kandy Masquerade that took place at the Playboy Mansion in March.
Upholding a long tradition, “The Voice of Bart Simpson” Nancy Cartwright announced “shuffle up and steal - I mean, deal!” with the cards going into the air shortly after 5PM. However, competition soon extended beyond the felt when David “The Maven” Chicotsky and Cartwright began battling over two Himalayan kittens that won hearts earlier on the red carpet. It ended in a tie, with each adopting one of the kittens.
During the break, English Gardens Florist presented elaborate bouquets to event hosts, followed by Savage announcing the live auction. Bid items included an exclusive dinner for eight, hosted by Chef Dakake and N9NE Steakhouse, an authentic mint condition DC Comic Superman book signed by the late Christopher Reeve and donated by co-star Marc McClure, and a private jet transportation package donated by Aviator Casino and ABA Energy.
By 8PM, Tom McEvoy was eliminated. Sandy Van of Las Vegas went out in ninth place, followed by Kip Jones of Baton Rouge, Paul Johnson, Jr. of Chicago, and Jim Penn of Augusta. The final five competitors included Ben Yerushalaim who went out in fifth place, followed by Rashelle Mahan, Emily Jillette, and Michelle Lawson, wife of poker pro Ted Lawson. All five are Las Vegas residents.
High stakes poker player Chau Giang was crowned this year’s JHCPT champion, winning a $10,000 World Series of Poker® main event seat, an entry to Harman’s 2010 Throw Down competition taking place on May 8th in Reno to benefit the National Kidney Foundation, a certificate to Reno’s 2009 Master’s Forum hosted by Mark Gregorich, a Curtis & Co sports watch, a Legacy Alliance custom designed crystal trophy, Life’s A Bluff commemorative art, a signed copy of Sam Chauhan’s “Mind’s Power Unleashed,” a Quad Queen All-In-One cushion backpack, FullTilt swag, and a gift certificate courtesy English Garden Florists. Giang openly pledged to donate one percent of his WSOP winnings back to the Nevada SPCA.
In it’s fourth year, the JHCPT has raised more than $700,000 for the no-kill animal shelter, with funds allocated towards facility expansions and the construction of a new “Jennifer Harman” canine wing, building upgrades, a city-wide spay and neutering project, rescue missions, twice-monthly medical care for animal residents, companion animal education and other programs.
Participants and red carpet celebrities included Giang, McEvoy, Chicotsky, Jillette, Lawson, Dakake, Doyle Brunson, Howard and Suzie Lederer, Andy Bloch, Annie LePage, Erik Seidel, Eli Elezra, Steve Zolotow, Pam and Anjela Brunson, Theo Tran, Cyndy Violette, David Chesnoff, Karina Jett, Holly Madison, Tiffany Michelle, Mason Aguirre (X-Games and Olympic snowboarder), Trishelle Cannetella (MTV’s Real World), Josh Strickland (American Idol), Shaun Sipos (Melrose Place), Robert Iler (The Sopranos), Kristen Hertzenberg (Phantom), Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons), “Carrot Top,” Sam “The Mind Guru” Chauhan, UFC fighters Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Tyson Griffen, Iron Chef Akira Back, hypnotist Marc Savard, modern artist Michael Goddard, author Todd Wilbur, Olympic medalist Marlon Shirley, Marc McClure (Apollo 13), Jennifer Elise Cox (The Brady Bunch), World Champion snowboarder Jeff Brushie, Nike 6.0 executive David Driscoll, radio host Allen Stock, Alicia Jacobs (NBC Entertainment), “WithLeather.com” Josh Zerkle, and returning JHCPT Nevada SPCA champions Seth Dupree (2008) and David “HEYIMDRO” Rowan (2009).
It takes a great deal of time, effort, and cooperation to put together a charity event. We at Las Vegas Round The Clock applaud the charitable efforts of our community and want to share those who go above and beyond to make our community a better place. So we want you to know that The NSPCA has asked us to tell you that they sent out special thanks to The Venetian Poker Room, staff, and PR, Langdon + Flynn Communications of Las Vegas, The Hard Rock Poker Lounge for last-minute celebrity suite accommodations during NAB, ABA Energy, Curtis & Co Watches, The National Kidney Foundation, English Garden Florists, Legacy Alliance, Quad Queens, Horizons Vacation Packages, Cartwright Entertainment, The Peppermill Reno, FullTilt, Life’s A Bluff, TheMavenVT.com, MindsetVT.com, Venetian Poker Room manager Kathy Raymond, tournament director Tim Mix, staff, and dealers (several of whom donated their earnings back to the charity), WithLeather.com, Savage Tournaments, attending animal companions, and Nevada SPCA volunteers. The Jennifer Harman CPT is a GreasieWheels production.