Theatre fans and Broadway’s biggest behind-the-scenes players went “all in” on Monday, May 16, 2016, at the second annual edition of Broadway Bets, Broadway’s official poker tournament, raising a spectacular $247,800 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
This year’s impressive total far surpassed the inaugural edition’s final tally of $137,200.
The fundraising total was revealed after a spirited evening of Texas Hold ‘em poker at Sardi’s restaurant in the heart of New York City’s theatre district. Broadway Bets (#BroadwayBets) gives the theatre community and other loyal Broadway Cares supporters an opportunity to play in a friendly tournament while raising money to help friends and colleagues in “the business” through BC/EFA’s support of The Actors Fund while reaching out to the social service agencies serving hundreds of thousands more across the country.
The exuberant evening welcomed players from all corners of the industry, from theatre owners and advertising agencies to production companies, producers and performers. Among the Broadway luminaries participating in the evening’s fun were Paige Davis, Josh Grisetti, Steve Martin, Joe Mantello, Patrick Page, Scott Rudin, Aaron Tveit, Tony Yazbeck, the cast of the Tony Award-nominated Best Play The Humans, as well as world poker champion Eric Seidel.
This year’s Broadway Bets started with 22 Texas Hold ‘em poker tables and more than 200 card players filling the two floors of the iconic restaurant before 10 final players outlasted their competitors to reach the championship table.
The ultimate head-to-head battle found Jamesin Seidel facing off against Bryan LaPlant. Surrounded by colleagues, friends and busted-out players, the final pair skillfully played each other, until Seidel, a guest of Tony Award nominee Yazbeck, bested LaPlant to become this year’s Broadway Bets champion. As winner, she received a World Poker Tournament VIP experience at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
The final table also featured, in order of finish, Carl Pasbjerg of Alchemy Production Group, Joel Szulc from Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, actress Lorinda Lisitza, Tejal Patel with Jujamcyn Theaters, David Broser of Harbor Entertainment, Stephen Santore with SpotCo, Jeff Loeb from Nederlander’s Hollywood Pantages Theatre and John Sabat of Cubist Systematic Strategies.
Broadway’s The Humans, which was nominated earlier this month for six Tony Awards including Best Play and plays nightly next door to Sardi’s at the Helen Hayes Theatre, was the evening’s “Royal Flush” Bar Sponsor.
The collection of “Full House” Sponsors, who purchased a table for eight players, included AKA, Ambassador Theatre Group, The Araca Group, Foresight Theatrical, John Gore/Broadway.com, Independent Presenters Network, Jujamcyn Theaters, The Nederlander Organization, The Road Company, Road Concierge/ALTOUR, Serino/Coyne, The Shubert Organization, Situation Interactive and SpotCo.
“Two Pair” Sponsors, purchasing half-tables with spots for four players, included Disney Theatrical Productions, Entertainment Benefits Group, Production Resource Group, theatre producer David Stone, Sweet Hospitality Group and Ticketmaster.
Those not ready to take a seat at the poker tables purchased Broadway Bets guest passes and enjoyed the spirit of the evening while playing blackjack and roulette for prizes.
This year’s Broadway Bets was co-chaired by Lauren Reid, CEO of the theater division at Key Brand Entertainment, and Al Nocciolino, president & CEO of NAC Entertainment Ltd. Paul Libin, executive vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters and BC/EFA Board of Trustees president, and Robert E. Wankel, president and co-CEO of The Shubert Organization and BC/EFA executive vice president, returned das founding co-chairs. Micah Hollingworth of Jujamcyn Theaters, Mark Shacket of Foresight Theatrical and Brett Sirota of The Road Company served as tournament directors.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry‐based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant‐making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $285 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.
Broadway Cares is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, and awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states.
For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/BCEFA, on Twitter at twitter.com/BCEFA, on YouTube at youtube.com/BCEFA and on Instagram at instagram.com/BCEFA.