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NFL Players who participate in Poker Charity Tournaments

July 11th, 2012
Poker is a game enjoyed by millions around the world. Whether it is the thrill of running a huge bluff, the rush from competition, or winning massive piles of chips, there is something about the games of both live and online such as Pokerblog that appeals to just about everyone. Many NFL players also enjoy the game, and while the NFL does not condone gambling some have been able to give back to their communities and to those less fortunate through charity poker tournaments.

Charity poker tournaments are setup and run like a regular poker tournament, but with a few exceptions. First, the tournament typically does not pay out a cash prize to its participants. The money that is collected from the buy-in is usually donated to the charity represented. Typically, the events award some type of prize for the top finishers ranging from TV's to ipads and even vacations. Also, many of these events can be held in non-typical locations such as bars or convention centers since they are not considered illegal gambling due to not awarding a cash prize.

The NFL Alumni Association has held charity events in the past for Bolder Options, an organization focused on healthy youth development. Former NFL players Darrell Thompson, Marion Barber and Stu Voigt joined Bernard Berrian and Fred Evans of the Vikings in raising money for the charity. Last year, Tanner Purdem, Marquice Cole, and Drew Colement of the New York Jets helped to raise over $20,000 for Mt. Sinai Children's Hospital and Ride 2 Recovery by participating in the 3rd Annual NYC Celebrity Poker Tournament.

Another event that is sure to do well for charity is coming up on March 25th of this year. The 2nd Annual "Tyler's Team" event draws players from around the county to support the Tyler McLellan Foundation, an organization that helps to raise money for youth sports in South Floriday. Last year, Jim Jensen and John Bock of the Miami Dolphins joined Errict Rhett and James Lee of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Emanuel Cook of the NJ Jets to raise money for the event. Jensen, Bock, and Rhett will play in this year's event as well.

However, the NFL has not always been as accommodating with the use of their players. Last February, the NFL decided at the last minute to ban players from playing in a "Raise Your Hand for Africa" charity event. Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis, Roy Williams, Mark Clayton, and Curtis Lofton were among the players that were scheduled to play.

The Commissioner's office sent a memo just prior to the start of the event at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas telling players that they could not play in the event. However, the players did attend the event as spectators to still show their support of the event and reportedly still donated the equivalent of their buy-in to the charity but as a cash donation.

Fortunately, it appears that the NFL has moved past their concerns over charity poker tournaments and are allowing players to participate, and rightly so. Poker is a skill game enjoyed by many that exhibit responsible gaming around the world. By allowing their players to participate in charity events, they avoid any real association with gambling while helping to improve the lives of those less fortunate.

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