On Sunday, March 11, 2012, World Poker Tour (WPT) invited guests to the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills to celebrate the launch of WPT Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to utilizing World Poker Tour’s unmatched platform to influence positive change on a global scale.

Hundreds of guests turned out in support of the new philanthropic venture for an exclusive night of entertainment. Evidenced by the tremendous social media buzz and impressive sold-out attendance, the kick-off event titled WPT Playing for a Better World was a resounding success.

World-renowned chef José Andrés, who recently won the coveted James Beard Outstanding Chef Award for 2011, provided a completely custom menu for the momentous occasion. “This was an astonishing night,” said Andrés. “Amazing people came together with their passion for poker but also their passion to change the world.”

Celebrities such as Maria Bello and Pau Gasol joined famous poker players for an evening that featured a round-robin style poker event, bountiful raffle and silent auction. Among the one-of-a-kind items awarded throughout the night were private poker lessons from legendary players in attendance including Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, Liv Boeree, Maria Ho, Freddy Deeb, Liz Lieu, and WPT TV personalities Mike Sexton and Tony Dunst; a 6-night stay in a lush bungalow at the soon-to-be-opened SLS Hotel South Beach; once-in-a-lifetime private dining experiences by José Andrés; a series of exceptional items from WPT and its partners; and much more.

“We are so thrilled to be a part of this evening, partnering with such incredible charities,” said CEO of SBE Sam Nazarian, who was also in attendance. “It has been an honor to host this amazing event.”

Celebrity host committee members for WPT Playing for a Better World included Maria Bello, Gerard Butler, Don Cheadle, Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Eva Longoria, Joel Madden and Nicole Richie, Jeremy Piven, Andrea Savage, Rob Riggle, Sophie Winkleman, Frederick Windsor, and Robin Wright.

WPT Playing for a Better World is an ongoing series of philanthropic poker events and serves as the core of WPT Foundation’s fundraising efforts. WPT Foundation will initially support nonprofit programs in the areas of environment, human rights, hunger, and poverty through its charitable partners Conservation International, ENOUGH Project, We Advance and World Central Kitchen. Beyond contributing extensive cast, brand, media and corporate resources, World Poker Tour has committed an additional $100,000 cash donation to WPT Foundation.

“As the premier name in internationally televised gaming and entertainment, World Poker Tour is dedicated to using our extensive reach to affect positive change,” said Steve Heller, WPT CEO. “The launch of WPT Foundation at the beautiful SLS Hotel was a night to remember thanks to support of attending celebrities, the poker community and our fantastic charity partners and we look forward to many further fundraising events in the near future.”

For more information on WPT Foundation, please visit www.WPTFoundation.org.

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