World Poker Tour Foundation Celebrity Launch

Maria Bello, Pau Gasol and Poker Greats “Playing for a Better World” at the World Poker Tour Foundation Celebrity Launch


Maria Bello, of “Prime Suspect,” Laker Pau Gasol and Shannon Elizabeth of “American Pie” were among celebrities joining legendary poker players and other guests for the World Poker Tour’s “Playing for a Better World.”

The Mar. 11 tournament at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles celebrated the World Poker Tour’s new WPT Foundation, dedicated to environmental protection, human rights and the alleviation of world hunger and poverty. The night’s proceeds were split among four organizations: Conservation International, the Enough Project, We Advance and World Central Kitchen.

As a poker game with a purpose, the event also drew WPT television personalities Mike Sexton and Tony Dunst, along with poker greats Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, Liv Boeree, Maria Ho, Freddy Deeb and Liz Lieu.

More VIP guests were Amaury Nolasco of “Prison Break,” Jesse Metcalfe of “Desperate Housewives,” Dawn Olivieri of “House of Lies,” Shanna Moakler of “Pacific Blue,” director Adam McKay; Arash Azarbarzin, president of the SBE Hotel Group; and Sam Nazarian, founder and chief executive of SBE.

The $500 per person evening featured round-robin style poker, a raffle and an auction offering private poker lessons; 6 days at the soon-to-open SLS Hotel in South Beach, Florida; a wine tasting party from the Casa Dragones tequila company; a World Poker Tour cruise, helicopter tour of Los Angeles by ROTOR F/X LLC, and more. The World Poker Tour, which presents and televises poker tournaments, also donated $100,000 to the night’s beneficiaries.

Certainly no one at the Mar. 11 event went hungry, thanks to the gourmet refreshments provided by José Andrés of Bazaar, the restaurant adjoining the hotel.  Andrés won the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award in 2011 and no wonder, given the night’s delicious and exotic fare, such as spun sugar fois gras on a stick, and a dessert bar complete with chocolate lace lollipops and homemade marshmallows.  


Top photo: Maria Bello of “Prime Suspect,” a member of the host committee for the World Poker Tour Foundation celebrity launch (photo: Getty Images for the World Poker Tour Foundation)

Bottom photo: WPT TV personality Mike Sexton with Laker Pau Gasol at the World Poker Tour Foundation celebrity launch at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles (photo: Getty Images for the World Poker Tour Foundation)



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World Poker Tour Foundation Celebrity Launch

Published Mar. 13, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA