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Poker pro Annie Duke (left) actor Don Cheadle (right) congratulate co-winners Dan Shak (second left) and Brandon Moran after they donated a combined $385,000 in the Ante up for Africa Tournament. (Imagemasters Photography)
Celebrities 'Ante up for Africa'
By Bob Harkins, MSNBC.com
Posted July 6, 5:30 a.m. ET
The stars came out to "Ante up for Africa" in a charity poker tournament on Thursday night, and it ended up raising more than $500,000 for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Co-hosted by actor Don Cheadle, who starred in "Hotel Rwanda", and poker pro Annie Duke, the tournament attracted a mix of celebrities, poker pros and amateurs interested in the cause.
International experts estimate 200,000 people have died, and another 2.5 million displaced due to the fighting in the region of Sudan.
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Duke said that each of the 18 players who finished in the money donated at least half of their winnings to the cause.
Phil Hellmuth, who emceed the event, saw his wife Kathy place fifth, and donate all of her $40,000 prize.
In addition to Cheadle, basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley and actors Adam Sandler, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and Brad Garrett were among the celebrities in attendance.
But it was Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame who outlasted them all, finishing 10th overall.
"I'm always amazed at how this game has become feasible for doing things like this," Alexander said. "I mean if anyone had told you 20 years ago that poker is going to be the charity event. So it really is exciting. The cause is spectacular. ... And it was really fun. The room was always fun."
So much fun, in fact, that he said he didn't mind being referred to as George Costanza throughout the evening by Hellmuth.
"Nah. I'm going to be haunted by that the rest of my life. And if you have to be haunted by anything that's pretty good."
Brandon Moran, a stock trader from Chicago, and pro Dan Shak, ended up tying for the victory. Moran held a huge chip lead in heads-up play, but after Shak doubled up four consecutive hands to take the lead, both players agreed to end the night by donating their entire winnings, a total of $385,000.
For more on Darfur, click here.
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