Fresh off her runner up finish to poker’s newest enemy Joan Rivers on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, Annie Duke hosted “Sucking Out on the Rivers” at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to benefit her charity of choice, International Refugees.
While the real Joan Riverswas not invited, impersonators, poker pros and fans of Duke showed up to show their support for International Refugees, by playing in the $200 No Limit Hold ‘em with rebuys event. Poker pros Andy Bloch and Brandon Cantu showed up to show their support for Duke and her cause.
Steve Daly, a comedy female impersonator and hypnotist, showed up because he loves Annie Duke, loves Refugees International, and although he may have been in the minority, admitted he was also a Joan Rivers fan. “I’ve worked with her a few times, but I was a little disappointed with the way she handled herself on the show.”
Players and fans alike can agree that Rivers has an outdated notion of what it means to be a poker player. “Poker players are normal people: accountants, doctors, Phd’s. Our President has been known to play poker,” said Duke.
For Duke, the main reason for the charity tournament and her appearance on Celebrity Apprentice was not to win or to outdo Rivers. While on the show Duke raised $70,000 for Refugees International, over half the total amount of what was raised on the show. Duke says her only regret was that she didn’t get the $250,000 for her charity. Since the show ended fans have donated $10,000 to Refugees International, sometimes in increments as small as $10.
Rivers may have bad mouthed poker but Duke feels that she unwittingly had a positive effect on those who do not know much about poker and the poker community. “People that didn’t know anything about poker realized it was great and cool,” said Duke.
That was easy to see during the tournament. One impersonator of Rivers said he showed up to play because Rivers went on television and “basically said ‘poker sucks.’” They were there to show her otherwise.
Las Vegas based comedian and magician Dave Johnson, showed up dressed as Rivers riding a horse, complete in a shirt that read “Save a horse. Ride Joan Rivers.” He came to play, because no matter what, the tournament was for a good cause. Perhaps that shows that even bad press can be good press. Johnson added that he thought it would be fantastic if Rivers had a rebuttal to the event.
Las Vegas resident Wilma Herschberg felt it would do Rivers some good to show up to a poker charity tournament. “I think it would do her some good,” she said. Herschberg added that she had no idea what Rivers’ rebuttal would be to a group of people raising money in a form she so openly bashed while dressed up as her.
The overall concensus of the night was that regardless of what The Donald may have decided, Duke was the real winner of the show. But as far as Duke is concerned, all she cares about is the charity. “People shouldn’t feel bad for me for not winning,” she said.
Duke would like all the people who feel she should have beat Rivers to instead educate themselves about the 40 million people in the world who are displaced due to war and turnmoil in their countries.
“When people are educated they can put pressure on their representatives to make a change,” she said.
For more information of Duke’s charity visit http://www.refugeesinternational.org/