The recently concluded Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles was hotly contested, but poker players still found time before the conclusion of the $10,000 World Poker Tour Championship Event to demonstrate their heart and give to a gentleman and his family who will be greatly missed by everyone in the poker community.
Five weeks ago, WPT cameraman Paul Hannum suddenly passed away at the age of 45, leaving his fiancée Sarah Percy and their as-yet unborn child who became affectionately called "Baby Hannum". Action was quick to pull the poker world together to attempt to ensure the welfare of Percy and "Baby Hannum" and a charity poker tournament, spearheaded by the defending WPT Player of the Year Gavin Smith, the Bicycle Club and the WPT, was organized. On August 29th (the night before the final table of the Legends of Poker), the charity tournament came together and not only was a rousing success but also was a precursor to what would happen the next night.
115 of the best players in the poker world, friends of Paul Hannum and the WPT and others ponied up $1,000 to play in the tournament. Such poker professionals as Barry Greenstein, Joe Sebok, current POY leader Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, 2006 WSOP Main Event final tablist Allen Cunningham, Vince Van Patten and his father, Dick, Mark Seif, Vanessa Rousso, actor Lou Diamond Phillips and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson were spotted at the tables. Even former members of the WPT family came home for the occasion as former hostess Courtney Friel, poker player Alex "The Insider" Outhred (who once tracked hands for usage in the show and was part of the production team) and Kristin Cranford (another former production team member who served as tournament director) gave their time and money in memory of Paul Hannum.
The tournament action itself was highly spirited with a WPT champion capturing the first place prize of a seat at the 2007 WPT Championship. Jennifer Tilly once again showed that she has the chops to play this game by winning the tournament and then stunned the crowd in attendance when she turned down the seat and chose to donate the $25,000 entry fee directly to Sarah and "Baby Hannum". Gavin Smith took the second place prize of a $10,000 seat at a WPT event and commented that he will donate half of his winnings from that event to them as well.
While the events that unfolded on the 29th were full of goodwill for "Baby Hannum", the following night's final table of the Legends of Poker took that goodwill another step further. The ever-amiable Scotty Nguyen (who will become a father himself soon) convinced some of the other final table players of the WPT event (Scotty was playing at the final table himself) to donate part of their winnings towards the cause as well. Nguyen put up a nice chunk of change to get the ball rolling and Hoyt Corkins, Kevin O'Donnell, Randy Holland and eventual champion Joe Pelton all followed in his footsteps. Pelton was especially generous as he doubled what the other gentlemen had contributed out of his $1.5 million winner's check.
"I wanted this to be a starting point," Gavin Smith stated after everything had finished. "I'd like to encourage the final table players for the rest of Season Five to make a contribution. We also intend to make this a yearly event so that, as a poker community, we can provide a family for Paul's family."
"I still cannot believe the outpouring of support from the poker world," a gracious Sarah Percy said. "Our little baby will now always know what a great dad she had from the show of support from his wonderful friends in poker." Donations are still being accepted at this time by visiting the website babyhannum.com, so there are still ways to show the poker family's love for the family of Paul Hannum.