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On Saturday, the Poker Central Charity Shootout was held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. Action was streamed live on Twitch but the program will be broadcast on TV later this month.

Ali Nejad and Maria Ho called the action for this broadcast and like most Poker Central programming, the production was world-class. Personally, I was only able to watch the final heads-up confrontation but what I did watch was some of the most enjoyable poker programming that I’ve seen in a while.

In the end, charity was the big winner with $85,000 going to worthy causes.

Celebrities Battle it Out For a Shot to Play Against the Pros

The Poker Central Charity Shootout consisted of two phases. The first was a six-handed Sit & Go between the celebrities and the Zynga qualifier. Those finishing in the top three split a $45,000 prize pool.

The top three players then advance to a heads-up match between the pros players. Each winner receives $10,000 for their charity.

The celebrities in this event were as follows:

  • Chuck Liddell – Former UFC Heavyweight Champion
  • Tony Hawk – Professional Skateboarder With Over 70 Career Victories
  • Jennie Garth – Actress Best Known as Kelly on 90210
  • Tyler Posey – Actor Best Known as Scott McCall on Teen Wolf
  • Jackie Cruz – Actress Best Known as Flaca on Orange is the New Black

The poker pros in the field were Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Maria Ho. The last member of the shootout was Zynga Poker qualifier Jennifer Maddox. She’s from Vancouver, WA and works as a sales coordinator for Napa Auto Parts.

Teen Wolf Changes into a Poker Champion in Round One

The first round of play proved to be a spirited on that was surprisingly male dominated. With an even 50-50 split of men and women, one would have expected a mix heading to round two. Unfortunately, none of the female competitors were able to build any momentum.

Jackie Cruz was the first player eliminated, followed by Jennie Garth. This left Jennifer Maddox as the lone woman left standing. Unfortunately, her hours on Zynga Poker didn’t prove enough to move her on to the second round and she finished in 4th place.

Chuck Liddell was the first player to make some money for charity. He finished in 3rd place, earning $10,000 for the St. Jude Foundation. This left Tony Hawk and Tyler Posey battling for the $20k top prize.

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Hawk ultimately fell in second but still earned $15,000 for the Tony Hawk foundation. Posey’s first place win not only gave him $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society but it also allowed him first choice for Round 2.

Posey decided to play 14-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth in the heads-up round. Liddell was paired with Daniel Negreanu while Tony Hawk battled Maria Ho.

Posey Upsets Hellmuth as Long Celebrity Victor in Round 2

The celebrities dominated in the second round of play and nearly made a clean sweep. Daniel Negreanu dispensed of Chuck Liddell and earned $10k for the St. Jude Foundation. Maria Ho sent Tony Hawk out on his skateboard and collected $10,000 for the Malala Fund.

Early on in the battle between Phil Hellmuth and Tyler Posey, it seemed that Hellmuth would make it 3 for 3 for the pros. He took a massive chip lead and it seemed that Posey was simply happy to provide hero worship for the man he called a legend of poker.

However, a combination of some coaching from Hellmuth along with a couple of lucky hands at key times allowed Posey to mount a comeback and take a massive chip lead. Hellmuth was down to just one big blind before mounting his own charge to take a slight chip lead.

Hellmuth and Posey played such a passive style that it allowed Posey to stay in it and then he went on a bit of a rush to take a solid chip lead. In the final hand, Posey flopped trip tens and Hellmuth a pair of fours. Hellmuth was all-in and drawing ultra thin to win, needing running fours. He blanked the turn and Posey pulled off the upset.

Posey took the lion’s share of the prize money on Saturday, earning $40k for his charity. He told Maria Ho afterwards that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was important to him because both his mother and aunt had passed away from breast cancer.

Here’s a quick rundown at the money that was raised for charity on Saturday.

  • Tyler Posey – $40k to Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Tony Hawk – $15k to Benefit the Tony Hawk Foundation
  • Chuck Liddell – $10k to Benefit the St. Jude Foundation
  • Daniel Negreanu – $10k to Benefit the St. Jude Foundation
  • Maria Ho – $10k to Benefit The Malala Fund

 Phil Hellmuth Shows a Different Side Heads-Up Against Tyler Posey

Anyone that watched the live stream of the final heads-up match between Tyler Posey and Phil Hellmuth probably expected to see the Phil Hellmuth that was made famous by poker programs during the Poker Boom.

What we were treated to instead was a side of Hellmuth that we don’t often see on TV. Hellmuth is known as a great guy away from the tables and I can attest to this from personal experiences with him in the past.

Hellmuth and Posey were having a great time at the table and Posey’s positivity and good nature helped to make for some entertaining poker. No, it wasn’t exactly great poker from a strategy aspect, but it was entertaining.

However, after a while we saw Hellmuth actually take it upon himself to start offering advice and coaching while they were playing. As Maria Ho pointed out, there are celebrities that have paid good money in the past for what Posey got for free. Posey did try to improve his game somewhat, but most anyone that watched the show knows that he was very lucky to win his heads-up match against Hellmuth.

Even still, while you could see a small bit of frustration on Hellmuth’s face towards the end, he still did his model best to be positive and encourage his opponent. It was a side of Hellmuth we have rarely seen at the table and one that may actually do more good for charity long-term than had he won the match.

The reason I say this is that Posey has virtually committed himself to playing more charity events in the future because he had such a great time, and this was BEFORE he had won the event. He also stated that he would like to learn how to legitimately play the game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if other celebrity players see the footage from this match and decide that they would also like to take part in future celebrity events, especially if they involve Hellmuth. While Hellmuth was unable to win any money for his charity on Saturday, the positive light that charity poker was given tonight may lead to more money going to charity in the future than he could have won against Posey.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.