Ballplayers, celebs headed to Maricopa for poker tourney - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Ballplayers, celebs headed to Maricopa for poker tourney

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2007 8:53 am | Updated: 7:05 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Football may very well be the main attraction in Arizona during the first weekend in February, but a host of big-league baseball players and professional poker players might steal a little bit of the spotlight the day before the big game.

Hosted by former Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Royce Clayton and Southeast Valley resident and professional poker personality Robert Williamson III, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino is penciled in as the home of the 2008 Poker Celebrity Bowl, a No-Limit Texas Hold’em-style charity tournament kicking off Super Bowl weekend on Feb. 1.

The tournament’s overall winner earns a $10,000 seat at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, with second-place winning a seat at the 2008 Heartland Poker Tour Main Event at the Majestic Star Casino in Indiana.

“I hope this event can start into something we can all be proud of,” said Clayton, a Scottsdale resident whose charity, the Royce Clayton Family Foundation, will see all proceeds from the event. “We know at least 50 percent of what we get will go to the

foundation.”

But while the tournament may be called Poker Celebrity Showdown, non-celebrities and average Joes can enter as well, with individual entries running $1,000 and re-buys available.

Entries to the event may be won as well, with seats up for grabs during events at Harrah’s Ak-Chin throughout January. Weekly tournaments are held in the casino’s Poker Room are held Mondays at 7 p.m. with buy-ins running $60. Weekly satellite events are also available starting at $135.

More than a dozen celebrities have already confirmed interest in attending, including pro ballplayers Luis Gonzalez, the former Diamondback, and Jimmy Rollins, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, winner of five World Series of Poker bracelets, and Annie Duke, considered among the best female poker players ever, join Williamson – himself a WSOP bracelet winner and television commentator – in the field.

Celebrities tentatively scheduled to attend include talk-show host Montel Williams and actor Willie Garson, well-known for his role as Stanford Blatch on the HBO series “Sex in the City.”

“This is really great that poker has taken such hold in people that we can raise money for great things,” Garson said.

Clayton’s foundation has often contributed its efforts to numerous Valley organizations in the past, including helping fight sickle cell disease as well as giving support to battered women.

“The foundation is kind of representative of my career – i’ve been around quite a bit,” said Clayton, who has played for 11 different teams in his career. “We’ve done work here, we’ve done work in Texas, we’ve done work in different parts of the country.

“But most of our work, dollar-wise has been here in the Phoenix area,” Clayton added. “The root of our foundation is to give opportunities to young kids... and all the celebrities, Willie, Robert, everybody supporting the foundation, we’re deeply appreciative.”

To enter, or for more information on weekly tournaments and satellites available, contact the Harrah’s Ak-Chin poker room at (480) 802-5183.

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