A benefit poker tournament called Operation Helping Hand was held at the WSOP main event in Las Vegas. This benefit got off to a rousing start when an eight year old boy pledged all of his allowance, about a $1000 for one year, to a non-profit organization that provides assistance to severely injured soldiers. He was motivated to do this when he saw a vet who hand lost both legs during a rocket grenade attack in Iraq.
This started a raising bonanza in the room filled with poker players. When the tournament was over the benefit had raised $170,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. This organization provides prosthetics and other meaningful care to to veterans that have been injured. The money started flowing with a passing of the hat to auctions to those present pouring out their hearts to the vets. Kenna James said the after party was very emotional
This event shows the universal appeal of poker. Overseas the Screaming Eagle Poker in Iraq meets every Sunday to play a Texas Holdem tournament Their donation of an Iraq flag brought in $5000 during the auction.
The game grew in Iraq from just a few players to games at many of the of the bases. James was invited to go over and meet the players, but that trip did not come to pass. Instead James has been organizing events to benefit this group of special soldiers. The games in Iraq are special in that instead of giving bracelets like they do at the WSOP, they give bracelets made from military utility cord webbing. Winning one of these tournaments is all about the pride of winning. These bracelets mean something to the winners and they take pride in them when they win.
Of course James who is now a professional player wants to win the real WSOP bracelet from one of the 42 tournaments being held this year at the WSOP.
James was a dealer at Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles before becoming a professional player. His winnings are almost $3 million from his playing and he is dedicating one percent of his future earnings to Wounded Warrior Project. This amounts to $10,000 so far this year. This project, Operation Helping Hand, is partially sponsored by SunPoker.com.
His wife, he says, wanted to marry a cowboy. He is from Chicago and so she dresses him in his attire. His early poker playing was in the kitchen with his father and mother.