To most people it'd seem Vanessa Selbst has it all. She sits atop the Women's All-Time Money list with $10,623,193 in winnings, has a lucrative sponsorship deal with PokerStars, and sports a résumé littered with impressive results, including three World Series of Poker bracelets.
Selbst will be looking for her fourth piece of gold this summer, but she'll also be preparing for an event near and dear to hear heart – "Blinds & Justice."
The charity event, organized by Selbst, will take place on September 29 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Current in Chelsea and will benefit the work of the Urban Justice Center, which has served New York City’s most vulnerable residents through a combination of direct legal service, systemic advocacy, community education and political organizing for more than 30 years.
"I've attended a lot of charity poker events and have always had so much fun, so I'm excited to finally organize and host one of my own," Selbst said. "The Urban Justice Center is comprised of innovative people who do fantastic and absolutely necessary work, so I can't think of a better beneficiary for the first major poker tournament for social justice. With top pros in attendance, food and drink aplenty, and a PCA package up for grabs, this is going to be one you won't want to miss."
As Selbst, a UJC board member, mentioned, the top prize will be a trip to the annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. That package includes airfare, a nine-night stay at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and a buy-in to the $10,000 main event.
In addition to a poker tournament, the event will feature food, live entertainment, and an open bar, which are all included in the buy-in package. Final table finishers will win a number of prize packages, including exclusive travel and poker promotions. A brief poker lesson from the poker professionals will be available before the start of the event.
One of those professionals is her fellow Team PokerStars Pro and the GPI's "Player of the Decade" Daniel Negreanu.
"Poker has become the most popular way to raise money for charity events globally," said Negreanu. "I'm honored and happy to support Vanessa Selbst in her efforts to raise money and awareness for the Urban Justice Center. It's great to see so many poker players finding ways to contribute to society in a meaningful way."
A single player buy-in for the event costs $1,000, while non-poker guests can enjoy the evening for just $500. Furthermore, anyone is welcome to purchase a full table of nine players for $8,000. All proceeds will benefit the charity, and registration is open now. Rebuys will be available in the poker tournament.
“Poker and social justice: now that's a winning pair," said Doug Lasdon, Executive Director and Founder of the Urban Justice Center. "We are thrilled to work with these extraordinary poker players to host such an exciting event — all in support critical, free legal services for our City's most vulnerable populations."
PokerNews had the chance to catch up with Selbst during the 2015 WSOP to ask her a few more questions about "Blinds & Justice."
PokerNews: How were you able to get Daniel Negreanu to take part in the event?
Selbst: Daniel is an avid supporter of charity events and social justice causes, so I knew it would be a great fit. We scheduled it right after the WCOOP main to make it as easy as possible for him to come, and he jumped at the opportunity to come on board.
Any other pros planning to attend?
I'm sure other pros will come, but none are 100% confirmed at the moment so I don't want to share any names. Stay tuned, of course!
You're clearly very passionate about the Urban Justice Center. Can you tell us a little why it means so much to you?
The Urban Justice Center is a great organization because the lawyers and staff are the cream of the crop, and the director and everyone else are so innovative with their work. Doug Lasdon, the executive director, believes in one agenda: "Doing good work." They have projects that support a wide variety of causes and have created so much good in New York City. I just joined the board last year and there's no end to the good things I can say about the UJC.
Do you feel it's important for poker players to have such passions outside of the game?
Everyone has things that they're passionate about outside of poker, and for me, social justice is a big one of them. It's great to have an outlet from the stresses of the game. It also helps keep me grounded to what really matters in life when I work with or in support of people who have been systemically disadvantaged.
For more information visit urbanjustice.org or email email@example.com.