They get paid every day to push their Chevy's, Fords, and Dodges to speed as fast as possible. They often times are sporting more logos than any online World Series of Poker qualifier. Some might say that their profession is to gamble with their own lives, and often times that is exactly what it is. However, this week in Las Vegas, Nextel Cup drivers from both today and yesterday gambled their money in a two-day poker tournament for charity.
The Michael Waltrip Celebrity Poker Tournament invitational was held at the Palms Casino Resort, right across from this year's World Series of Poker site (the Rio) on Monday and Tuesday. The tournament was hosted by none other than the great Matt Savage. The lineup included Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Kyle Petty, Casey Mears and Benny Parsons. The drivers were in the Vegas area for some off-season work at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Prior to the beginning of the two night event on Monday, drivers were given a crash course in No Limit Holdem by Robert Williamson III and teacher-to-the-stars Phil Gordon. Tony Stewart's charity ended up taking the top prize, after he defeated fellow Hoosier Jeff Gordon on the final hand Monday. The final table came down to Stewart and another young native of Indiana, Ryan Newman. Stewart went on to take all of Newman's chips on Tuesday evening, all without a punch flying from what I understand. I guess that decides who the best professional NASCAR driver 'slash' poker player from Indiana is. Despite that success, Stewart claims his favorite casino game remains roulette. I think it has to do with something going really fast in circles.
The winner received $50,000, donated in his name to his charity of choice. Michael Waltrip's charity received the same amount.
The Speed Channel was there to film this event, yet another channel in the ongoing TV Poker Take-over. The event should air sometime between April and June.
Congratulations Mr. Stewart and congratulations to Michael Waltrip and the Speed Channel for sponsoring the worthwhile event.
Good luck and good odds!