During the offseason we occasionally like to feature interesting stories about players and their lives off the field, this is one about Steelers QB Charlie Batch and other NFL players that participate in poker games for charity.
Anyone that seriously follows football knows that the NFL forbids their players from taking part in gambling activities while under contract for an NFL franchise. A lot of this is out of fear of their players getting influenced by bookmakers, thus potentially impacting games. However, as Pokerlistings.com and others have reported on, the NFL has in the recent year relaxed this ban and has allowed their players to play in charity poker events.
While many consider the game of poker to be one of gambling, charity poker events are usually held in a tournament format and players are usually not playing for a prize. The prize pool is donated to charity with the top finishers receiving some type of alternate non-cash prize.
Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch runs an annual event that has a poker element. His “In the Pocket” event benefits his Best of the Best Foundation and is a mix of poker, ping-pong, and pool. Participants pay a fee to either attend or play in games with Batch and other celebrities and all money goes to Batch’s foundation that provides literacy programs for youth and adults.
Another event that has NFL participants is the Tyler’s Team Charity Poker Classic. Just finishing it’s second event, James Lee and Errict Rhett of the Tampa Bay Bucs join various other players to help raise money for the Tyler McLellan Foundation, an organization that supports youth sports in southern Florida.
Joining them at the event this year were Miami Dolphin players Jim Jensen, John Brock, and Roy Foster as well as Emanuel Cook and Lional Dalton of the Baltimore Ravens. This event is open to anyone with $50 to buy-in and has $20 rebuys. A very inexpensive way to hang with some NFL players as well as help out a great foundation.
As any site that gives reviews about poker rooms will tell you, poker is not a form of gambling like blackjack and roulette. Players play against each other and not the house. However, publicly the game is still considered gambling and the NFL is among those that share that opinion. Fortunately, charity events are a great way for NFL players to still play the game without any true risk to either themselves or the NFL’s image. The money all goes to charity, making everyone a winner in the end.