Monday, May 17, 2010 7:45:50 PM PT

STAR-STUDDED ANTE UP FOR AFRICA CELEBRITY CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT RETURNS JULY 3, 2010

Part of 2010 World Series of Poker at Rio in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV (May 17, 2010) – Many would love the opportunity to play poker with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and the most skilled poker professionals.  Now you can.

The 2010 Ante Up For Africa Celebrity-Charity Poker Tournament on Saturday, July 3 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas offers a special opportunity as the only event of its kind where the general public can participate.

Created by Oscar nominee Don Cheadle and Celebrity Apprentice star and WSOP bracelet winner Annie Duke, the Ante Up for Africa tournament will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 3rd at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, home of the 41st Annual World Series of Poker® (WSOP). 

This No-Limit Hold’em poker tournament has an entry fee of $5,000, and places players side-by-side with Hollywood hotshots, superstar athletes and poker professionals, battling it out in a unique charity tournament where you can walk away with a six-figure payday and contribute to a great cause too.

Celebrities and athletes all over are gearing up to return and will join poker’s most notable players to raise public awareness and funds make a tangible impact on the ground in Africa. Through humanitarian assistance and policy work the organization seeks lasting solutions to Africa’s worst conflicts like the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan.  In 2009, the WSOP attracted 60,875 entrants from 115 different countries and awarded over $174 million in prize money. 

“It is an honor to be working with the WSOP and the Rio for the 4th year of Ante Up For Africa,” said Annie Duke. “We created this event to make a positive impact on the lives of those in Darfur and throughout Africa. I am delighted the event continues to grow every year boasting more celebrities, more players and more poker pros.”

Among those confirmed to participate, subject to availability, are: Cheadle, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Tracy McGrady, Brad Garrett, Hank Azaria, Ray Romano, Kenny Smith, and Sara Rue with many more in the process of being confirmed and expressing their interest to play. 

Also playing, subject to availability, will be poker professionals Howard Lederer, Erik Seidel, Phil Gordon, Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson and Phil Hellmuth with many more to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The tournament will feature a fast-paced structure designed to complete the competition within five hours. Seating for the tournament is open to anyone age 21 or older.  Players can register in person at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, or online up to two weeks prior to the event at www.wsop.com/registration/.

“We are so thankful to everyone who has participated in Ante Up For Africa throughout the years and are thrilled to have raised nearly $3 million to date to assist those in need,” said Don Cheadle. “We are making tremendous strides in raising awareness and hope this year’s tournament is a huge charitable success.”

This event, as is every World Series of Poker tournament, is open to the public for viewing and admission is free.  The event will take place in the Pavilion Ballroom in the Rio Convention Center, with the WSOP Main Event, beginning just two days later on Monday, July 5th.

“This is a great cause and a great event,” said WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart.  “Annie and Don have established quite a tradition with this event and we are honored to host it as part of the World Series of Poker.”

Cheadle, an accomplished poker player, and Duke, who has more than $4 million in tournament winnings, are committed to raising both public awareness about the tragedy in Darfur and funds to aid its victims. 

Last week, Ante Up For Africa awarded two grants of $50,000 each to support the Eastern Congo Initiative founded by Ben Affleck and Water.org founded by Matt Damon - organizations focused on supporting local, community-based solutions to some of Africa’s greatest challenges.

Nevada Gaming laws prohibit money being given directly from the prize pool to the charity.  Accordingly, in the previous events, many of the in the money finishers volunteered to donate half of their winnings to the charity and Ante Up for Africa encourages participants to do the same this year.

More information about the tournament is available at www.wsop.com.  If you would like more information regarding the organization, please log onto www.anteupforafrica.org and on Twitter @anteupforafrica.  For press coverage and to schedule an interview, please contact Celena Haas Director of Public Relations at 702.400.3687 chaas@harrahs.com.

ABOUT THE WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world, having awarded more than a billion dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport’s top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker’s longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970.  In 2009, the event attracted 60,875 entrants from 115 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded over $174 million in prize money.  The WSOP in December, 2008 was named the 7th most admired sports brand in North America by the Turnkey Sports Survey, trailing only the older and more established NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and PGA Tour among sports properties.  In addition, the WSOP has experienced groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit our website at www.wsop.com.

ABOUT ANTE UP FOR AFRICA
Ante Up For Africa is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Don Cheadle, Annie Duke and Norman Epstein. We are dedicated to raising money and awareness for Africans in need.  To date, Ante Up For Africa has raised close to $3 million for the cause and has donated to organizations such as Not On Our Watch, ENOUGH and The International Rescue Committee.  For more information, please log onto www.anteupforafrica.org