Hearing of celebrities playing poker is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Several celebrities are currently acknowledged as being formidable poker players, such as Tobey Maguire, the first Spider-Man and a major winner at underground Hollywood poker games, and Jennifer Tilly, an Academy Award nominee who has acquired various tournament winnings under her belt.
However, what tends to distinguish how celebrities play poker in comparison to regular folk is that they often play for charity. Various celebrity charity poker games have taken place over the years, and their goal has been to give celebrities the opportunity to raise money for the charity of their choice.
For instance, the main winners of Neymar Jr’s Charity Home Poker Game that took place last week were the children’s charity, Right To Play and Neymar Jr’s own charity, The Neymar Jr Institute. The casual tournament that took place at Casino Barcelona, consisted of 15 players, some of whom were also celebrities and friends of Neymar Jr.
The winner of the tournament, Andre Akkari, received a trophy and a portion of the €52,300 collected for charity. Right To Play, a charity that was formed by Olympian Norwegian speed skater, Johann Olav, aims to empower and educate children through sports and play programs. The Neymar Jr Institute, meanwhile, was opened in 2014 by Neymar Jr himself, and focuses on providing children living in poverty with free classes.
The similarity between regular home poker games and celebrity poker games is that the same techniques are used to win. One of these is the ‘poker face’, described as a neutral expression used to mask your emotions whilst playing the game. At Neymar Jr’s Charity Home Poker Game, several of the star celebrities including Olympic hockey gold medallist, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Brazilian actor, Rafael Zulu, pro surfer, Pedro Scooby and many others, often had their ‘poker face’ on during their matches.
However, studies have shown that a friendlier expression is often more effective because it tricks your opponents into trusting you. Considering the careers of some of these celebrities, putting on a misleading expression might not be that great of a feat, but for us regular pokies, it’s a work in progress.
Another distinguishing feature of celebrity charity poker games is that they tend to be advertised and broadcasted. In Neymar Jr’s case, he posted a video of the event on his Facebook page, giving fans the opportunity to witness the action. Several other celebrity poker events have similarly given audiences the opportunity to view the event either in-person or online. Just last month, a celebrity charity poker night took place in Houston, Texas, in which various sports celebrities were invited to win $25,000 for the charity of their choice, and tickets to watch the event live were sold online.
As someone who plays poker semi-regularly online, it’s refreshing to see how the game can be used for a good cause, and hopefully, this trend lasts.