Broadway Bets, a poker tournament at Sardi’s theatrical restaurant designed to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, earned $247,800 for the charity in its second annual edition May 16.
The total was 80 percent higher than the $137,200 raised at the inaugural event in 2015.
The event was open to the public—first-time players were welcome—with proceeds going to the fight against AIDS.
Among Broadway celebrities who took part 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 final head-to-head battle found Jamesin Seidel facing off against Bryan LaPlant. Surrounded by colleagues, friends and busted-out players, the final pair 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.
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 has come up with a lot of innovative and unusual ways to raise money in the last half century, from Broadway Bears (an auction of teddy bears dressed up like Broadway stars) to Broadway Bares (a burlesque revue with fit Broadway dancers). Broadway Bets is the group's latest fundraiser.
(Updated May 17, 2016)