Tiger Woods, one of golf’s all-time greats, is sitting down with poker’s all-time greats to raise money for the Tiger Woods Foundation, an organization that helps children disrupt the cycle of poverty through education.
The 2015 Tiger Jam, a two-day event, kicks off tomorrow at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with Tiger’s Poker Night.
Presented by the World Poker Tour (WPT), cameras will be on site to tape the action for an upcoming WPT episode, with the annual charity poker game once again being emceed by 13-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth.
Joining Woods and Hellmuth at the tables are poker legends Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Mike Sexton, and other poker fans willing to pony up the $10,000 buy-in, which of course is a donation.
Although Sports Illustrated named Tiger to its 2014 list of “The Most Disliked People in Sports” and Forbes ranked him as the second “Most Disliked Athlete in America” a year earlier, you have to give credit to Woods for being such a charitable figure.
Since its inception in 1998, Tiger Jam has raised more than $17 million to support low-income students living in impoverished areas, assisting them through Tiger Woods Learning Centers across the country. The Earl Woods Scholarship Program, a grant in his father’s namesake, then provides recipients with full four-year college tuition.
Over the past 17 years, Tiger Jam has morphed into a colossal happening in Las Vegas. Following a golf exhibition by Tiger on Friday and poker that evening, a golf outing will be held the next morning, with singer Ed Sheeran scheduled to perform a private concert for attendees Saturday night.
“Tiger Jam is bringing so much more to the event model this year, allowing my guests to personalize their experiences,” Woods said. “My foundation is always a great host to our guests and supporters, and with moments like the private concert with Ed Sheeran and golf at Shadow Creek, it will be a weekend to remember.”
Poker is the most charitable format in the gambling industry. Events like the WSOP’s 2014 Big One for One Drop that raised $4.6 million, PokerStars’ recent program to aid those in Nepal, and last fall’s “All In” For Kids Poker Tournament that raised $910,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Although he’s not poker’s most popular personality to ever sit at the felt, it’s hard to find someone more actively involved in philanthropy from the gaming world than Phil Hellmuth. The 1989 WSOP Main Event champ has largely rededicated his life to focus on giving back.
Once known as the “Poker Brat,” Hellmuth is now more commonly referred to as “Humble Hellmuth.”
In a PokerStars video last May, the man historically notorious for his outbursts said, “Have I mellowed? I think I feel very privileged and I think I understand it more now, whereas in the past it was always just a grind and I always feel slighted.”
“I haven’t really always been as happy as I should be in the poker arena. Afterwards, my life is like, amazing.”
Which is precisely what the Tiger Woods Foundation is attempting to achieve: creating “amazing” lives for the underprivileged.