Price, Lafleur to ante up in charity poker tourney

We all have seen how calm, cool and collected the Montreal Canadiens Carey Price can be between the pipes, but how well does he handle the pressure at the poker table?

You could find out for yourself this September as Price and host of other hockey celebrities team up with pro players, and maybe even you, to raise money for breast cancer research. Plus you might even get a share of the $105,000 prize pool.

Playground Poker Club's NLH Faceoff runs September 11 to 13, with proceeds benefiting the Jodi Taiger Lazarus Fund for Hereditary Breast Cancer Research.

"2011 is the inaugural year for the No Limit Hold’em Charity Faceoff event," Playground Poker spokeman Justin Kelly told EOTP. "Montreal is the biggest hockey city in the world and Montreal poker players are also huge hockey fans, so naturally this event is a perfect environment for Playground’s new and existing members."

Ten teams will consist of a current or former NHL player (captain) and a poker pro (assistant captain). The remainder of the teams will be filed by the top 20 poker club points earners for the month and public buy ins, though limited, are also available with the tables are filling up fast.

"We want to be sure that we can accommodate as many players as possible and because the event has already garnered so much attention, we’ve had to add an additional Day 1 to the schedule," Kelly said. " This means that 150 players per day will have the opportunity to buy-in directly to the event."

Fifteen percent of all  buy-ins ($250), add-ons and re-buys ($125 each) will go towards the charity. The prize pool will be broken down once all spots are filled. There is also a team portion, where the top team will get to play head-on in a private $5000 freeroll at a later date.

There will also be a bounty bonus for knocking out a team captain in the no-limit hold-em event. Each captain will have a jersey of his current former NHL team. Knock him out of the tournament and you get not just the jersey, but the captain will also sign it.

Captains are being announced through the rest of the month. So far, in addition to Price, HOFers Mike Bossy and Guy Lafleur and former NHLer Bobby Dollas have been named. The Team990's Conor McKenna will be MCing the event.

But while participants have a chance for some cash, and maybe an autographed jersey or two, the big winner is the charity itself.

"The Jodi Taiger Lazarus Fund for Hereditary Breast Cancer was chosen for a few different reasons, but the biggest one being that men and women of all ages are affected by breast cancer every day," Kelly said. "This fund was established by Jodi and Morden Lazarus to foster, support and promote research into hereditary breast cancer at McGill University.

"Jodi wants to make sure all women who might carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, or indeed any other hereditary breast cancer gene, get an opportunity to learn of their genetic status.  Moreover, she wants to support research at McGill University that will further knowledge of hereditary forms of breast cancer that will benefit those who are diagnosed with these conditions.  Since the majority of poker players are male, we have seen mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, family and friends affected by this condition and would like to offer our support to Jodi’s fund."

When the NHL locked out it's players in 2004, sports networks looked to other programming alternatives to fill the created voids. "At the time, ESPN was airing the WSOP and quickly the broadcasters here in Canada started filling their programming slots with No Limit Hold’em poker, resulting in tremendous exposure for the game," Kelly noted. "The higher than anticipated ratings on poker programming came as a big surprise to the networks and poker to this day is still a staple of their late night schedules."

This holds true and seems to have come back full circle with the NHLPA hosting their own annual tournament in Vegas every June and now this benefit event in Montreal.

Registration and further updates and information for the NLH Faceoff can be found at the Playground Poker Club website.

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