At least 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty on less than $2 a day.
More and more poker players realize this and decide to give back by donating to charitable causes.
Especially when there is a specific need, like a natural disaster, and the poker community is asked to stand up and help, they do.
Some online poker sites like PokerStars are making it easy by offering simple ways to contribute right there in the software and charity pledges become a way of even making donating a habit.
The best known poker charity organisation run by players is REG-Charity, founded by Liv Boeree, Igor Kurganov, Phil Gruissem and Stefan Huber. Many poker players signed up and pledged to donate a minimum of 2% of their winnings. Over $6M dollars have already been raised this way.
Now, a new charity movement has arisen out of the young Asian poker community.
Viet Poker Charity
The Viet Poker Charity initiative is led by poker pro and coach Jul Tran and in a recent Facebook post, he explained why this is important.
“What does a professional poker player contribute to society?” is a common question for poker pros. Compared to other “honored”, “life-saving” jobs like lawyer, firefighter, teacher, doctor, it may seem that poker is not a worthy occupation. Personally though, I think that there are no noble or lowly jobs, only noble or lowly people. The value of a human being lies in what he does, how he behaves in everyday situations, in every minutes, every seconds, not in how he earns his living – as long as it’s legal and does harm to no one. Just like a soccer player, a model, a real estate investor… who may not seem to create any tangible value. Actually, if you look closely, poker is one of the most honest profession in Vietnamese society today. There is no insider information, no manipulation of the market, no bribery… Long-term success in poker only depends on your own intelligence and hard work. Early next week, I will participate in the Asia poker league at PRO POKER CLUB, Saigon. Starting from this tournament, I will deduct 5% of total winnings to the Viet Poker Charity funds. The mission is to give a small gift every months to an individual, an organization, a group of people to help make life better. One author wrote “Charity is just another form of consumption, where we use money to buy a clean conscience”. In a sense, this is true. Real poker players though will always think in term of “optimal ways” and “long term benefits”. Therefore, the Viet Poker Charity fund will focus on activities that can bring sustainable change, long term, specific benefits to the society, not just to express compassion. Instead of donating money to the disabled, we will support job creation centers for people with disabilities, orphans. Instead of helping people in disaster areas, we will support disaster prevension organizations… The full details of our activities (how much money was donated, what was it used for…) is fully public and updated online”.
Poker in Vietnam is young, but the community is growing quickly. Following Tran’s statement, many players decided to join the initiative.
With the Asia Poker League currently running in Ho Chi Minh City – the initiative has already started to collect donations with the first cashes of Viet Poker Charity members.
Humanity and philanthropy do exist in poker and as we can see, and now also in the maturing Asian poker community.