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Poker Fans Raise $115K+ for Aussie Bushfire Relief

Aussie Flag Map

While there has been plenty of terrible news reported recently, perhaps one of the biggest echoing around the world is the impact of the Australian bushfires. The fires have been raging for several months now and have destroyed much of the country’s landscape whilst claiming the lives of millions of native animals too.

Fundraisers have been started around the world to assist with emergency services, the affected people and their livelihoods, and the treatment of injured animals. Australia’s poker community too has rallied together to do its part to raise funds to combat the destruction of the deadly bushfires.

Poker Players Raise Funds for Aussie Bushfires

The Fires Continue Raging but the Community Comes Together

Crowd of People

While it may seem quite unbelievable, the bushfires in Australia remain at large although recent reports from New South Wales, perhaps the hardest-hit of the Australian states, indicate that these conflagrations are all now under control. The emergency services have spent their time combating the blazes, but the consequences for the landscape and the country’s unique wildlife have been extremely devastating.

Countless residents of the areas affected have lost their homes and possessions while at least 34 people have perished in the fires. The bushfires have also affected the population of koalas in Australia, with one-third of them dying in the harsh flames.

While it’s true that legendary cricket player Shane Warne has raised over AUD$1 million (around US$672,000) in a bid to support the country, he’s not the only one to have done so. The Australian poker community has also taken on the task of doing its bit towards supporting the emergency services and the rescue teams there.

Crown Resorts, for example, which hosts the Aussie Millions poker festival in Melbourne on a yearly basis (and which has seen Intertops Poker offer players a chance to win a trip to participate before), has pledged to donate AU$5 million (around $3.4 million) to the Support Australian Bushfire Relief fund. Yet, it’s not only poker brands and operators that have chosen to support the country. Individual players have also taken it upon themselves to try and help their homeland.

Lynn Gilmartin Supports Australia’s Cause

Man With Megaphone

A number of individuals in the world of poker come from the Land Down Under, and they have decided to figure out ways of providing assistance to their country. Lynn Gilmartin, who is best known as the anchor of the World Poker Tour that airs on the Fox Sports Network, is just one of the well-known names from the poker world to lend her support. Speaking of her intent to assist with treatment of injured animals, she said:

I have supported the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors for many years and I am an ambassador for them. They recently treated their 90,000th patient in the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital since Steve and Terri Irwin opened its doors in 2002.

Gilmartin has already been successful with previous fundraisers for world disasters that have taken place. In 2017, she was the host of a fundraiser on social media for the earthquakes that took place in Mexico City. At the time, she was supported by several poker players, including Angel Guillen and JC Alvarado. Unlike many other fundraisers, Gilmartin proceeded with sharing photos of what the collected money was being used for, so it seemed altogether logical for her to do something similar for Australia, which has been her homeland since she relocated there from Ireland in 1986 at the age of two.

Lynn GilmartinLynn Gilmartin, World Poker Tour Host

Creating her own online fundraiser via Facebook on Jan. 6, 2020 entitled “Poker Players for Australian Wildlife,” Gilmartin knew that the poker community can be generous when it comes to such disasters. Upon setting the fundraiser up, she put the goal of AU$10,000 (about $6,720) as a target that she’d like to achieve. It only took one hour for the fundraiser to amass a total of AU$1,000 ($672), and the initial goal from Gilmartin was reached within half a day.

Gilmartin’s Fundraiser Smashes Its Goal Several Times Over

Once the goal of AU$10,000 had been reached, Gilmartin took the decision to increase the goal to five times that amount. By the end of the fifth day, that goal had also been met, leaving Gilmartin to express her gratitude to everyone via a post on her Twitter feed.

Lynn Gilmartin Tweet

In the Twitter post, she mentioned that all of the funds raised would go to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors. She then increased the goal once more, this time to AUD$100,000 (approximately $67,200). That goal has been reached as well, with 677 people donating funds within a period of little more than a month. The final total raised was approximately AU$115,000 (around $77,300).

Speaking of the funds that were raised, Gilmartin said:

I think when you have an audience that pays attention to you in any way through entertainment or sports, it’s a responsibility to share what is important to you and give back in any way you can. We are influenced by those around us and when you see someone is doing that, you think I can do that, too.

Her words obviously rang true with several other poker players who ended up donating in large numbers. Fellow Australian player, Kahle Burns, was vocal about supporting the fundraiser. He even went as far as to offer coaching to other players who donated at least AUD$500 to the campaign.

Kahle Burns Donation Tweet

A selection of poker players responded to the tweet sent out by Burns, including Rob Young who offered to donate a total of $10,000 to the fundraiser. However, he went on to jokingly state that the coaching from Burns should be given to Phil Hellmuth rather than him.

Meanwhile, Kitty Kuo said that she would donate 5% of her Aussie Millions Main Event cash to the fundraiser, but she busted out of the tournament before making any money. She did then decide to take up Kahle Burns on his offer, donating AU$1,000 to secure two hours of coaching.

Alexandru Papazian proceeded to offer a share of his Sunday session regardless of whether he won or not. He duly handed over $4,185 to help with bushfire recovery efforts.

Gilmartin Grateful for Funds Raised

While it’s true that Gilmartin was ecstatic to see that the fundraiser she had set up smashed its second AUD$50,000 goal, she believed things would calm down after that. However, it continued to grow with donations pouring in toward the Wildlife Warriors. And it’s not just Australian poker players who have contributed either. The United Kingdom’s Benny Glaser also provided a donation to Gilmartin’s Facebook fundraiser. Speaking of his donation, he said:

It is obviously a very good cause and poker can be a quite selfish and self-serving thing, it is a good thing for the community to try and help out others in need, to try and give back in a way and encourage others.

Not only that, but Turkey’s Orpen Kisacikoglu pledged to donate the first AUD$50,000 of his cashes from the Aussie Millions to Australia’s bushfire campaigns. He easily reached this threshold on Jan. 17 with a third place finish in the 50K Challenge event, good for a payday of AU$477,240 (around US$321,000).

Plus, the United Kingdom’s Patrick Leonard commented on Twitter that he had reached day 3 of the PartyPoker Millions $10K. He promised to give away $500 to the fundraiser as well as 5% of the profit that he made from his Jan. 12 Sunday session and every session he played during the next week. He eventually extended this time period to include a second Sunday.

Australia's Leaders Not Fans of Poker

Document Pages

Though kindhearted poker players from Australia and around the world have exerted themselves to help the country recover from devastating fires, the government of Australia doesn't have a favourable view of the online version of the game. Indeed, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, which passed into law in 2017, prohibits online gaming sites from offering their services to Aussies. The authorities have been ramping up their enforcement actions lately as evidenced by the fact that on Jan. 13, the ACMA announced that it will begin to block nine more internet gaming providers by commanding ISPs to restrict users' access to these websites.

Still, there are a few organisations that have opted to ignore the heavy-handed interference of bureaucrats, and they continue to faithfully serve the Australian market. And as a player, you aren't putting yourself in any legal jeopardy because the relevant statutes only target those who own and manage the sites, not private individuals playing inside their own homes.

For more information about these virtual poker halls and the games they spread, take a look at our guide to Australian online poker.