Poker and charity: the largest foundations and projects

Poker and charity: the largest foundations and projects

We will tell you how quickly we managed to raise such an amount, and recall other charitable projects with the participation of top poker pro.

How Dan Smith organized one of the largest fundraising campaigns for Afghan refugees

Top 5 All Time Money List Dan Smith has been doing charity work since 2014. Over 7 years, more than $ 18 million has been raised with his help.

In 2014 Dan Smith founded the Double Up Drive Foundation. The fund works like this: fundraising is opened, the amount is set as the goal. Upon reaching the goal, the fund doubles the collected money and transfers to those in need.

On August 17, Dan Smith tweeted that Double Up Drive will donate $ 100K from his fund to help the international charity IRAP. IRAP is now helping tens of thousands of people escape repression in Kabul.

I decided to take one more step.  Double Up Drive will double the donation amount to IRAP (up to $ 5,000 per person)

In just two days, we managed to collect $ 60K from the set goal of $ 100K. Dan Smith thanked the poker community:

Grateful for the endless support of the community. It’s a pleasure to be a part of it for many years.

And then Smith revealed that one person donated $ 50K. So the target was increased to $ 150K and doubled through the Double Up Drive fund.

And last year Dan Smith, along with other poker players, raised and donated $ 250K to fight COVID-19.

Double Up Drive partnered with GiveDirectly, a charity dedicated to giving money directly to those in need. GiveDirectly conducted research and concluded that cash helps those in need better than any given item.

Why players do charity work

Many poker players are involved in charity work. With the help of donations, players manage to contribute to the development of society and feel their benefit.

This position is adhered to by Scott Wellenbach – an amateur player from Canada, businessman, Buddhist. In 2019, he finished fourth in the main event of the Caribbean Poker Party and earned $ 650K, of which $ 600K was donated to charity. Here’s how he commented on his decision:

Hope this is a wise decision. This money will go for good purposes to people or other intelligent beings, which will facilitate their existence. There is a dark side to poker that can cause people to run into financial problems. Sometimes it seems that you are making money from the weaknesses of people. Some of them are addicted to alcohol, some are not smart enough or have strong masochistic tendencies. I felt very controversial, but I must say that I myself am somewhat addicted to the game. Therefore, I came to the conclusion: if I win, I donate to a good cause. This is my way of resolving this moral dilemma.

Scott Wellenbach

In 2017, Scott won $ 72K in one of the events and spent the entire amount on charity. Its beneficiaries included Buddhist monks in Nepal and Tibet, as well as Médecins Sans Frontières.

REG, Dan Cates Foundation, CSOP and other poker-related charities

Double Up Drive isn’t the only player-run charity.


One of the most popular charities among REG poker players is “Raise for Effective Giving”. Players with red REG patches donate 2% of their income to charity. REG’s co-founders are Liv Boeree, Phil Gruissem and Igor Kurganov. Here are just a few of the REG members: Martin Jacobson, Erik Seidel, Justin Bonomo, Jeff Gross.

Martin Jacobson with REG stripe

Dan Cates Foundation

In 2020, poker pro Dan “Jungleman” Cates founded a charitable foundation to:

Help build a world where everyone’s basic needs are met.

The foundation deals with the problems of Africa: it builds houses and schools, provides people with clean drinking water. You can read about the activities of the Dan Cates Foundation on the Instagram page and on the website.

Charity Series of Poker

In 2014 Matt Stout founded the Charity Series of Poker (CSOP), which is still successful today. CSOP runs charity tournaments in which players can donate any amount to charity. Also, some of the buy-ins received are listed as donations. The next CSOP will take place online on August 28th at Faded Spade. The proceeds from the tournament will be transferred to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Matt Stout

But more often than not, players are involved in charity work without creating funds.

888poker streamer hosts a 24-hour poker stream with a charity fundraiser

For example, Fedor Holz told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that he supports an orphanage in Chile and an organization that distributes mosquito nets in Africa. Phil Hellmuth is supporting the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Jennifer Harman is working with the National Kidney Foundation and the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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