The ninth annual Ed Asner and Friends Celebrity Poker Night, an event raising money to benefit children with special needs, takes place at 5 pm PT on Saturday, June 12 on the new, charitably oriented Poker 501 online platform.
Poker players who sign up will have the opportunity to play cards with celebrities including actor and WSOP regular Lou Diamond Phillips, actress Anna Paquin, singer Aimee Mann, and others, all while helping to raise money for a worthwhile cause close to Asner’s heart; he has a son and grandchildren who themselves are on the Autism spectrum, and he’s a longtime advocate for the developmentally disabled.
Asner, a 91-year-old actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, has enjoyed a professional career spanning more than 70 years, including his iconic role as newsroom editor Lou Grant on the iconic Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Lou Grant, in the 1970s and ’80s. Asner has been a poker enthusiast for nearly as long, having started playing with fellow actors on Sunday night in the 1950s when the Broadway shows they performed in were dark.
The upcoming charity poker tournament is open to all poker players. A livestream of the event will air on YouTube, and players can chat with the celebs during play via webcam. Those who are unable to attend can catch the action for free.
Running out of room
Space is limited and, as of June 9, only 63 seats are still available. The buy-in for the tournament is $250, although you can purchase a buy-in plus a heavily discounted re-buy right off the bat for $300. You can register for the event on the Ed Asner Family Center charity website. Extra donations can also be made for those wishing to further contribute to the charity.
The list of celebrities who will be in attendance for the event include comedic actor Jack Black, CNN host Jake Tapper, actress Rosie O’Donnell, actors Tom Arnold and Brad Garrett, and comedian Michael Ian Black, among others. Many of the celebrities who will compete in the charity tournament are regulars in Hollywood poker home games.
Maria Ho and former poker pro Phil Gordon, host of the Celebrity Poker Showdown on Bravo, will co-host the event. Gordon’s co-host on the old celebrity poker show, Dave Foley, will also take part in Saturday’s charity poker tournament.
Playing for a good cause
Last year’s Ed Asner and Friends Celebrity Poker Night, whose main goal is to raise money for the Ed Asner Family Center, a non-profit dedicated to helping neurodivergent individuals and their families, also took place online due to COVID-19. The event will again be played online because of the pandemic.
While the tournament may be all fun and games, Asner’s foundation is dedicated to the hard work of helping individuals with special needs – and their families – by providing a variety of services, including arts and career advancement programs, as well as counseling and mindfulness classes.