Poker tournaments might be a great way to win money for yourself, but they’ve proven to be an even better one for funding charities. This is especially true when you add big names to the list of players! The positive impact of celebrity poker tournaments is undeniable and this article will help you learn more about it.

What Are Celebrity Poker Tournaments for Charity?

Charity poker tournaments are the same as regular tournaments, with the main difference being that buy-ins and other donations go towards a specific cause rather than to pay out the players. To get more chips, a lot of tournaments allow players to buy add-ons and rebuys. 

Celebrity poker tournaments work the same way, but they are usually televised instead of being held in a small event venue.

How These Tournaments Work

The structure of celebrity poker tournaments is the same, with the main difference being that odds change and limits increase during the game. For example, blinds can increase to force more action and make for bigger bets. Another interesting point is that players can compete until they completely drain their chip stacks. 

The Benefits of Charity Poker

There are many benefits to celebrity poker tournaments, the main one being that they attract a lot of attention and raise more money.

Social Responsibility

The first and most important benefit of these tournaments is that they support good causes. They are usually organised by nonprofits and have been held to raise money for AIDS and Cancer charities, among others.

And because celebrities are playing them, the tournaments can end up raising millions. That strengthens social responsibility and reminds us all that an empathetic society is the answer to a better tomorrow.

Quality Entertainment

Seeing your favourite celebrities in a whole new context can be really fun and exciting! Poker is a social game, so the interactions they have are a crucial part of the experience. Things can get even more entertaining if you follow closely to see their reactions to others folding or raising bets. Can you spot each player’s tell?

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Plus, it’s always a surprise to see who’s actually good at poker! And we love seeing just how good the actors really are. 

Raising Awareness

Aside from raising funds to deal with an issue more directly, celebrity poker tournaments are valuable because they raise awareness towards certain problems. As they generate a lot of attention from both viewers and media outlets, nonprofit organisations also have a chance to show the world what they’re all about.

One event could turn into a steady stream of funding or it can at least get more people to donate for a short while. 

Playing with Celebrities

While some big celebrity charity tournaments are invite-only, a lot of them are open to the public. This means that amateur and pro poker players can sit at the same table as some of the most well-known names today!

If you’re a poker enthusiast, you should definitely check out when the next online celebrity tournament takes place and join. It can be an invaluable experience that helps you hone your skills, do something good, and meet your favourite stars. Check out Master of Casinos to find the best casinos for practice!

Famous Celebrity Charity Tournaments

Now that we know how charity tournaments work and what their benefits are, let’s take a look at the most famous ones.

PokerStars “Stars Call for Action”

PokerStars is a well-known poker site that holds regular tournaments for players of all levels. In 2020, they decided to host a “Stars Call for Action” with celebrities like David Costabile, Macaulay Culkin, Jack Black, Liam Payne, and Lisa Kudrow making headlines, among others. 

They were playing online during a pandemic, in an effort to raise funds for COVID relief. Poker Stars donated $1 million to the prize pool. Half of the pool went to Care International, while the other half went to various other charities. 

David Costabile ended up winning the tournament, while Douglas Costa finished in second place. The final table also featured Jen Shahade, Casey Affleck, Chris Moneymaker, and TheLordLord.

“Playing for Good” Celebrity Poker Tournament

In 2023, Hollywood actors like Ted Danson, Cherryl Hines, and Clark Gregg all showed up to play a charity tournament in Santa Monica. The buy-in was $1,200, with $500 rebuys also being an option. Four other celebrities hosted this event – Jerry Greenberg, Bruce Stern, Eliott Kessas, and Jacob Zalewski – and made it really fun and entertaining.

This time, the tournament was played for the One Step Closer Foundation and Geffen Playhouse. The first one is a nonprofit that helps improve the lives of people with cerebral palsy (and other disabilities), while the second is a theatre from Los Angeles.

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The winner of this tournament got a spot in the 2024 World Series of Poker Tournament!

“Lights! Camera! Ante Up!”

2023 featured another amazing celebrity tournament, hosted by Bryan Cranston (the star of Breaking Bad). This time, the tournament was held to help TV and film workers affected by the Writers Guild of America strike.

Andy Garcia, Bob Odenkirk, Kevin Pollack, Krysten Ritter, and Tony Denison were just some of the names that helped raise $100,000 for the Entertainment Community Fund. What’s interesting is that Bryan Cranston wasn’t just a host— his brand, Dos Hombres, also sponsored the event.

21st Annual Celebrity Poker Tournament

Jason Alexander, the star of one of the most popular sitcoms of all time (Seinfeld), hosted the 2023 21st Annual Celebrity Poker Tournament. WeSpark, a cancer support centre, was the chosen charity this time. This nonprofit works on changing the lives of those who suffer from cancer, helping them deal with both the emotional and physical effects.

Stars like Don Most, Erin Murphy, Mimi Rogers, JK Simmons, and Mark L. Wallberg were some of the attendees who raised $140,000 for cancer support!

It may surprise you to learn that the host, Jason Alexander, is actually an avid poker player. His name appears at these types of events often, and he’s even appeared in World Series of Poker Main Events. In 2009, he also became an ambassador for PokerStars.

Celebrity Poker Showdown

We saved the best for last! Celebrity Poker Showdown is the most famous celebrity tournament played for charity. This limited series ran for five seasons (2003 to 2006) and consisted of 25 celebrities entering the tournament and the winner donating the money to their favourite charity.

Many famous people from the early 2000s participated, including Matthew Perry, Seth Meyers, Brad Garrett, and Mekhi Phifer. You may find it interesting to know that Jason Alexander participated as well! He actually won the eighth (and final) tournament of the series.

This was the most iconic comeback in the show since Alexander was down $11,000 in chips before he won. In the end, he ended up receiving $500,000 for his charity!


Celebrity poker tournaments for charity are a brilliant way to give back to the world and help those who need it. Aside from that, they’re a lot of fun and can be the perfect chance to show off your skills, hang out with stars, and further improve your strategy. We hope to see even more of them in the near future!