Hedging their bets and bluffing past their weakest hands, more than 300 amateur Texas hold ’em players — a number of them local VIPs — posted around green table tops at Washington’s Sphinx Club on Saturday.
Ostensibly, they had their eyes on the grand prize: a coveted $10,000 seat at the 2015 World Series of Poker contest in Las Vegas. Though, win or lose, the 10th annual Chance for Life charity poker tournament had more to do with raising money for pediatric spinal-cord cancer research and poster teen Kennedy Snyder, 14, who has battled spinal-cord cancer for a decade.
Dreamt up as “a celebration of life” by Snyder’s godfather and president of Alexandria-based RedPeg Marketing, Brad Nierenberg, the all-day bonanza — which included a Scotch and wine tasting paired with hor d’oeuvres crafted by restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn, a raffle and an after-party — attracted local bold-facers like ABC7 political reporter Scott Thuman, News4 weatherman Doug Kammerer, ABC’s “The Bachelorette” contestant Brian Jarosinski and 2014 Miss District of Columbia Teresa Davis.
The poker bash, which three-time attendee Kammerer says “gets bigger every single year,” brought Vegas glitz to the District and lured newcomers such as former Redskins player and Comcast SportsNet host Brian Mitchell. Although more of a blackjack guy, Mitchell says, “It’s my first year. Won’t be my last.”
Thuman — who admitted he’s a “terrible poker player” and will “stick to politics” — marveled at a bunch of sports coat-wearing guys’ willingness to forgo thinking about whether they’ll have a flush or straight when Nierenberg and the Snyder family took the stage.
In 10 years of attending charity events, he says, “It’s such a rare thing that an entire group of people in Washington will be completely quiet and hang on every word. This is one of the very rare occasions I’ve seen that happen.”
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