By Jacqueline Monahan
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Poker Jingle Benefit and Celebrity Poker Tournament at the Hard Rock Poker Lounge

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino hosted their first annual Poker Jingle at the Hard Rock Poker Lounge on 12 December in Las Vegas.  However, celebrity poker player Tom McEvoy was the real host of the occasion.  The veteran card master won the 1983 World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the 2006 Professional Poker Tour (competing in a pros-only field).  McEvoy has authored or coauthored over a dozen books on poker. He is a columnist for CardPlayer Magazine and a representative of; His total live tournament winnings exceed $2,700,000.

The tournament buy-in was $200 + $30 (split by donation/hotel fee) and the first prize was a seat at the WSOP’s Main Event, compliments of poker champ Erik Lindgren, (1 WSOP Bracelet, 2 WPT Championships, 2004 WPT Player of the Year, over $7.3 Million in Career Tournament Earnings). 2nd prize was a full scholarship to the WSOP Academy.  A gold and emerald ring was awarded to whoever knocked McEvoy out of the running, and a set of diamond earrings went to the “Last Woman Standing” among a host of other prizes.

Proceeds were donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Southern Nevada in memory of Mindy Trinidad.  The vivacious and attractive former model was a rising star of women's poker and had only discovered the sport two years ago, already winning 7th place at the 2007 WSOP ladies event, 4th place at the Summer Pot of Gold Ladies Event Tournament and 14th place at the Summer Pot of Gold Tournament Event 14  just two days later.  The wife and mother of two was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away due to complications this past October.

Poker Jingle proved that there is definitely a lot of heart in poker, and not just on the playing cards.  The event was well attended by the close-knit family of poker stars, showing their generous nature by participating.



Professional and celebrity poker players Phil Hellmuth, Erick Lindgren, Beth Shak, Tiffany Michelle, Jennifer Harman, Todd Brunson, Brad Booth, Andy Bloch, Barry Greenstein, Jamie Gold, J.J. Liu, Antonio Esfandiari, Lee Watkinson, Layne Flack, Brandon Cantu, Jeff Madsen, Lee Watkinson, Roy Winston, Lee Markholt, James Van Alstyne, Marco Traniello, Maria Ho, Chad Brown, and Mark Newhouse took their places at the table beside amateurs and aficionados.


Phil Hellmuth


A unique feature of this poker tournament was that anyone could “Sponsor a Pro” to play in their place.  Try that with a Tiger Woods or an A-Rod.  Unthinkable?  Not in poker, which is what makes the sport unique.  Its stars invite you to play with them, not just watch them.

Fans and spectators were welcome and the professional players, always the most accessible sportsmen (and women), were available to sign autographs and pose for pictures.  Members of the media were invited to take a complimentary seat and try their hand, but your humble correspondent declined; it just wasn’t in the cards.  Hey, I took a gamble with this joke, and the response kept me far away from any wayward wagering.

Activities included hors d'oeuvres and EFFEN vodka cocktails served by Hard Rock Santa's helpers, and a silent auction which took place in an adjoining room.  Generous sponsors and supporters of the event included Jack Weinstein’s Tower of Jewels, Hogs & Heifers Saloon, EFFEN Vodka, Curtis & Co. Watches, GreasieWheels, LIPS, Apivita, , Who's Your Daddy Energy Drink, 2 Step Images, Xocai Chocolate, Nettie Scrub, The Real Deal, Mary Kay, Red Rock Harley-Davidson, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.  Auction participants bid on such items as gift baskets of wine glasses, gaming paraphernalia, luxury cosmetics and original artwork.



Cake Designs Las Vegas displayed a fanciful Christmas-themed creation that resembled a stack of jeweled presents but was totally edible, right down to the scrolled letter to Santa that lay atop it.  Hogs & Heifers Saloon barmaids made the rounds in red, white, & blue leather halters and cowboy hats.  The patriotic goodwill ambassadors enthusiastically revealed H&H Saloon’s continual involvement in charity events year-round.



Pictures, paintings, and posters of Mindy Trinidad graced tables around the room, putting a face on the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Southern Nevada.  A video tribute, emotionally introduced by Mindy’s friend Kelli Griggs was followed up with a presentation by poker champ Phil Hellmuth to her 17 year-old son, Trevor of a full scholarship to the WSOP Academy (a poker camp taught by professionals).  Of course, he’ll have to wait four years to take advantage of it, but his grin showed the room how much he’s looking forward to honor his mom’s legacy.

The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  These are blood cancers which move swiftly through the body causing an overall devastation which LLS seeks to combat through fundraising, research, and education.  They are in their 60th year of helping patients live better and longer lives.

Located in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the new Poker Lounge is an elegant space with its own bar and video games. Its dark wood and suede-like playing table tops with plush matching chairs make the room an inviting place to ponder the hand you’ve been dealt while peering over your Ray-Bans.  The lounge gives off a miraculous feeling of being spacious and intimate at the same time.  Rock music plays continually in the background, toned down for the sake of concentration, but you’ll always remember where you’re at.

Aside from an innovative nightlife and music scene, the hotel’s tower is comprised of 647 guest rooms.  The premises also house a 30,000 square foot casino.  You’ll also encounter The Beach Club with swimming pool; Rehab, the trendsetting Sunday afternoon pool party; Body English nightclub; The Joint concert hall; rock lounge Wasted Space; restaurants including AGO, Nobu, Pink Taco, AJ's Steakhouse; three cocktail lounges; several retail stores; and Rock Spa, salon and fitness center.

This uniquely Las Vegas event illustrated the glitz and excitement of gambling mixed with rock and glamour.  But the cocktail also contained kindness, generosity, and an appropriately “full house” for Mindy Trinidad.  Can you think of a better way to honor a poker player?  I’m betting you can’t.

For further information:
(800)  473-7625

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society/Southern Nevada
(702)   436-4220