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Derby Poker Championship Returns to Kick-off 2013 Derby Weekend

Phil Hellmuth

On Thursday, May 2, 2013 the Derby Poker Championship Celebrity Gala will return to Louisville, Kentucky, for a fourth consecutive year. The event, which benefits the Louisville affiliate of Susan G. Komen and Blessings in a Backpack, will be hosted by Hall of Fame basketball coach Denny Crum and poker pros Phil Hellmuth and Robert Williamson III.

"We support Blessings in a Backpack and Susan G. Komen Foundation and they are excellent Charities that do great work,” Hellmuth told PokerNews. “In fact, I will get out personally and stuff backpacks w food snacks for kids that need food in a local school in Louisville on Thursday morning."

In the past, the event, which serves as the Official Welcome Party for the Unbridled Eve Celebrity Gala, has attracted an array of high-profile Derby guests including comedian Ron White; the Real Housewives of Orange County’s Vicki Gunvalson; best-selling author Nora Roberts; The Offices’ Oscar Nunez; former NFL quarterback Warren Moon; pro golfer Corey Pavin; Indy car driver Troy Hanson; and The Bachelor’s Bob Guiney, just to name a few.

In addition, poker pros such as Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Josh Arieh, Tiffany Michelle, Dan Shak and Layne Flack have all participated in past events.

“This event has become a staple in the community to kick-off the Derby weekend.” said G. Douglas Dreisbach, Event Producer and General Manager of Southern Gaming. “Guests can enjoy a great party or play poker with the pros and celebrities who are in town for the Kentucky Derby, all to benefit two great charities.”

Here is some more information on the charities according to the Derby Poker Championship Celebrity Gala website:

  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure—Susan G. Komen fought breast cancer with her heart, body and soul. Throughout her diagnosis, treatments, and endless days in the hospital, she spent her time thinking of ways to make life better for other women battling breast cancer instead of worrying about her own situation. Moved by Susan’s compassion for others and commitment to making a difference, Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Though Susan lost her battle with the disease, her legacy lives on through the work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the organization Nancy started in her honor. Komen for the Cure is the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1.9 billion since its inception in 1982.
  • Blessings in a Backpack—The 2013 Derby Poker event will benefit Blessings in a Backpack, a program dedicated to feeding underprivileged children on the weekends throughout the school year. The nationwide organization currently provides food to almost 51,000 children at 360 U.S. public schools in 36 states who qualify for the free or reduced meal program and who may not have enough food on the weekends. Following a donation, a school is chosen and a local grocer partners with the program to provide food for the backpacks. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with staples that require little to no preparation and they return their backpacks on Monday ready to learn.

Robert Williamson at a past event.
Robert Williamson at a past event.

“We are excited to continue to build on this event and make it better every year.” Dreisbach continued. “This year, local artist, Ben Reynolds, will paint an impressionistic expression of the evening utilizing poker features and traditional accents of Derby. He will paint it throughout the evening and we will auction it to the highest bidder with proceeds going to the charities. It should bring some big dollars.”

If ordered by Monday, April 29, tickets to the event are $100. After that, the cost will be $200. The celebrity poker tournament is open to the public with a buy-in of $550, which includes your ticket to the event. In addition to poker, guests will enjoy multiple food stations, a premium bar, music, a cigar lounge and other entertainment to keep the evening lively.

“This is really a great value. It is one thing to say you got a picture or an autograph with a celebrity. It means a lot more when you can sit and play cards with them for a couple of hours!” Dreisbach concluded. “Plus, the payout is pretty nice too. It is an evening you will remember forever!”

For more information on the event, visit or call 1-800-872-4366 Ext. 103.

*Photos courtesy of

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