Winston Puts a Bad Beat on HungerYou could say Roy Winston winning the Put a Bad Beat on Hunger tournament was a cheesy ending to a cliched Hollywood script, but organizers wouldn't want it any other way.
Winston, one of two notable professional poker players in the field, beat amateur Marc Eckert of Robbinsville, NJ to win the top prize which included an entry into the Borgata Poker Open Main Event.
"Having Roy win is the best thing that could've happened for us," said Roberta MacDonald of Cabot Creamery Cooperative, which sponsored the tournament. "He's a recognizable player and when he plays in the main event, he'll continue to bring attention to our cause."
Cabot, best known for it's line of cheese, partnered with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to help support the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Southern Branch. "We're looking forward to a very long relationship with Cabot," said Margie Barham, Executive Director of the Southern Branch, who was estatic with this unique first time event.
In addition to receiving a $20,000 donation from Cabot, the food bank collected donations from the players, including half the prize money won by Winston. "I played really well," he said. "I'm glad to help."
Winston has also pledged a portion of any money he wins during Borgata's September Main Event. "I'm stunned by the generosity of the players who continue to make donations to the food bank from their winnings," said MacDonald, Cabot's Senior Vice President of Marketing."
The field featured Steve Dannenmann, the 2005 WSOP runner-up and first year pro James Boyle. Borgata regulars Jason Warriner and Ahmad Wardak also played and everyone was excited to have a chance at the top prize.
"I'll take the seat, that's what I really want," said Warriner while sampling some Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cabot cheese during a break. "A chance to play for a $2 million prize pool at a televised final table. You can't go wrong there."
"It's really good cheese, I think I've had 12 helpings," joked Evelyn Ankers who made a last minute decision to make the trip to Atlantic City from suburban Philadelphia. "I just got moved to Dannenmann's table. I'm thrilled I get to play with a pro. That's worth the price of admission right there."
Ankers thrill was even more intense when she played against Winston at the final table. She was one of three woman at the table on her way to finishing 5th.
Eckert also made a late decision to play in the tournament after he initially started playing at one of Borgata's cash tables. "I signed up today," he said, and with his second place winnings will consider playing in the main event. "The opportunity is there, I have some time to decide."
All of the top seven finishers made a donation to the food bank which serves thousands of impoverished families in Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland and Burlington Counties. "You can make an immediate impact in someone's life," said Barham. "You give them food and make a difference right then and there. Times are tough and people need our services."
Winston isn't only impressed with what the food bank does, but also how the Cabot Cooperation works. "The more you hear about the co-op the more you like it," he said. "It sounds like a great system with 1,300 farms owning Cabot. The more I've learned, the more pleased I am to be a part of this."
And the organizers are glad he's part of it as well. "I'll be cheering for him," said Barham as everyone looks ahead to the Main Event.
And who knows, the sequel might even be bigger and better. Winston won the Borgata Poker Open Main Event in 2007 and would love another title, another donation and more awareness for the food bank.