Annie Duke and Don Cheadle are ready to launch the second annual Ante Up for Africa tournament at this year’s WSOP, hoping again to raise funds and awareness for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Poker pros, sports stars and media celebrities are joining the tournament and pledging half of their winnings for the cause.

The Oscar nominated actor and the poker superstar joined efforts last year to create Ante up for Africa, which raised over $700,000 on its inaugural run. Cheadle is not basking in the success of the tourney, but rather setting higher fundraising targets: "I was elated that we raised over $700,000 last year. I am so grateful for everyone's participation and generosity in helping us continue to bring the plight of the refugees of Darfur to the forefront of people's minds.I hope we can raise even more this year."

Annie Duke is especially pleased about the crossover between film and TV stars and poker pros: "After the success of last year's tournament, we are looking forward to another exciting year while raising awareness for an ongoing crisis," said Duke."It is exciting to bring the world of poker and entertainment together and we are once again asking players who win prize money to donate half of their winnings to our charities." This year’s confirmed participants include actors Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler and Ray Romano; comedians Kevin Pollack, Cheryl Hines and George Lopez; and sports celebrities Charles Barkley and Jason Kidd. On the poker front, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Erik Seidel, Phil Gordon, Barry Greenstein, Phil Laak and Phil Hellmuth Jr. will be playing for Africa and willing to donate at least half of their prizes. 

The tourney’s official site features a passionate declaration of purpose, explaining why this cause is so worthy of public attention and funding:

The situation in Darfur, although improved in some ways since our tournament last year, continues to be perilous. Government forces in Sudan embarked upon a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has to date resulted in 400,000 dead and almost 4 million people displaced, living in squalor in refugee camps on the Chad/Sudan border. Deployment of peacekeeping troops has been authorized but helicopters and other supplies are needed to make this a reality. A new U.S. envoy has begun high level talks with the Sudanese government and the International Criminal Court has indicted two top Sudanese officials with more indictments expected to come so pressure is definitely mounting. (…)

Our hope is that through efforts like Ante Up For Africa, we can continue to keep the issue in the spotlight while providing real funds to support the efforts of peacekeepers and aid workers on the ground.

The 2nd annual Ante Up For Africa tournament will have a $5,000 buy-in and will begin at 2 p.m. July 2nd at the Rio, with a fast-paced structure designed to finish the tourney within five hours.Seating is limited, and pre-registering is encouraged.

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