How often do you get to rub elbows – literally – with some of the biggest names in Hollywood and in sports and do it in front of a national television audience on ESPN?

The 2009 Ante Up For Africa Celebrity-Charity Poker Tournament on Thursday, July 2 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas gives you this special opportunity as the only event of its kind where the general public can participate.

This No-Limit Hold’em poker tournament has an entry fee of $5,000, and puts you 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 to support the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan, at the 3rd annual Ante Up For Africa (AUFA) tournament during the 2009 World Series of Poker®.

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 July 2nd at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino, home of the 40th Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP).  To date, Ante Up For Africa has raised close to $2 million for the cause.

This year Ante Up For Africa will host an exclusive party for the players and stars at PURE, one of Vegas’ hottest night clubs.  The 3rd Annual Ante Up for Africa Tournament will be televised on ESPN on Tuesday, August 11 from 8-10 PM ET

“It is an honor and very exciting to have ESPN turn the cameras on for our event,” said Annie Duke.   “This will make great strides in raising awareness about this ongoing crisis.”

Among those confirmed to participate, subject to availability, are: Cheadle, Matt Damon, Jason Alexander, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Montel Williams, Herschel Walker, Hank Azaria, Brad Garrett, Reggie Miller, Marlon Wayans, Sarah Silverman and Casey Affleck, 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, Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel 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.worldseriesofpoker.com under the registration tab.

“I am very pleased that we have raised almost 2 million to date and appreciative of everyone who has participated and donated to help us on our mission of bringing the plight of the refugees of Darfur to the forefront of people’s minds”, said Cheadle.

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 famed Amazon Ballroom in the Rio Convention Center, just one day prior to the start of the WSOP Main Event, the game’s most prestigious event.

“We are eagerly anticipating the 3rd annual Ante Up For Africa Celebrity-Charity poker tournament,” said World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.  “We commend the work Don and Annie are doing on behalf of this charity and are excited to partner with them again for what is the most fun-filled day at 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.  As the world’s richest sporting event, the WSOP awarded more than $180 million in 2008 and attracted participants from a record 124 nations.

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.worldseriesofpoker.com.  If you would like more information regarding the organization, please log onto www.anteupforafrica.org and on twitter at www.twitter.com/anteupforafrica.  For press coverage and to schedule an interview, please contact Danika Berry at 323.544.1482 or via email at danika@dbagencypr.com

ABOUT THE WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of 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 2008, the event attracted 58,720 entrants from 124 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded over $180 million in prize money.  The creation of the new delayed Main Event final table more than doubled ratings on ESPN year over year.   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 EuropeSM. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit our website at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.

ABOUT ANTE UP FOR AFRICA
Ante Up For Africa (AUFA) 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 $2 million for the cause and has donated to organizations such as Not On Our Watch (NOOW), ENOUGH and The International Rescue Committee.  For more information, please log onto www.AnteUpForAfrica.org.