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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Online Poker Sites Rally for Haiti Earthquake Victims, by Dan Cypra - 14th January 2010

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the tiny nation of Haiti left the country in shambles and perhaps as many as 50,000 people may have perished. In response, the online poker world has come together to raise money for the natural disaster’s victims.

Full Tilt Poker has launched “Aid for Haiti” tournaments in which the site will match the rake paid and then donate it to several charities on the ground in the island nation. For Full Tilt Poker members who don’t want to hit the virtual felts in order to donate, the world’s second largest online poker site has set up “Aid for Haiti No Play” tournaments. Ten of these events are scheduled for Sunday, January 17th and Full Tilt is matching the buy-ins. No poker will actually be had in “No-Play” tournaments.

The site has also created a special user account dubbed “Aid for Haiti.” In a similar fashion as transferring funds from one player to another, those who wish to help can send money directly to the account in $5 increments or larger. Full Tilt will then match the funds raised.

PokerStars has taken a streamlined approach to fundraising. The site has selected the Red Cross as its beneficiary and, like Full Tilt Poker and others involved, is matching donations dollar for dollar. The opportunity to donate will be open through January 31st and all players need to do is open up the PokerStars client, go to “Tourney” and “Special,” and enter one of the Haiti Earthquake Relief events. None of these tournaments will actually play out. Instead, the $1 to $1,000 buy-in allows players to donate directly to the Red Cross. PokerStars members can also ship money to “Haiti Fund,” a player account set up specifically to accept donations. Go to “Requests” and “Transfer Funds” in the top menu to take advantage of this method.

Meanwhile, the Calvin Ayre Foundation, named for the founder of Bodog, has pledged £10,000 to the U.K.-based foundation Oxfam to support the cause. The internet mogul added, “I also want to challenge the rest of this industry to also contribute to Oxfam to help out in Haiti and my private foundation will match any proven payment to Oxfam by an online gaming person up to $1,000,000.” Bodog, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker all accept players and donations from the United States. The latter two are the largest and second largest sites in the world, respectively.

Also accepting U.S. action and promoting relief to the residents of Haiti is Cake Poker. The room has set up three special “holding tanks” totaling $5, $25, and $100. Players can register for each of them and the site, which features Lee Jones as its Card Room Manager, will match all funds raised. No cards will be dealt in these tournaments; instead, they are purely for donation purposes. The trio of “holding tanks” will be available until Midnight ET on January 31st.

Facebook poker application Zynga is donating $1 to Fonkoze, “an organization that supports families in Haiti,” for every chip package sold. Other added benefits, including a “Hearts for Haiti” gift, will be thrown into the mix.

On, top-ranked online poker player David “Doc Sands” Sands announced that he was donating 10% of his Sunday profits up to $10,000 to a “disaster relief fund.” Sands called on other all-star players to do the same, with Ryan “gutshtallin” Welch, who sits at #39 in the world, agreeing to similar terms. Sunday features some of the largest online poker tournaments in the industry, including the Sunday Million on PokerStars and $750,000 Guaranteed on Full Tilt Poker.

The United States pledged $100 million in aid for Haiti. Hopefully, the online poker community can band together for this worthwhile cause.

Maria del Mar Gomez contributed to this article. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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