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Alyssa Milano on PokerStars? Haiti Relief

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In response to the devastating Haiti earthquake, PokerStars set up their Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Using your funds on PokerStars, you can make a donation to help Haitians that have been effected by this tragedy.

Every dollar that PokerStars players donate will be matched by PokerStars. You can donate by transferring funds to the account 'Haiti Fund' or you can sign up for a dummy tournament. And now you can even make a donation using your FPPs.

In the PokerStars Lobby, under the Tournament section, filter for Special tournaments and you'll see a list of tourneys labeled Haiti Earthquake Relief, with a different buy-in. You don't actually play in the event but I guess it's a way to publicly show your support. There are tournaments for as little as $2 and up to $1,000.

They are promoting this heavily in table chat, as you probably noticed. Heck, that's how I first heard of the Haiti earthquake in the first place as I haven't been watching the news these past few days. They've also put some work into creating the donation tournaments.

Recently they added a Charity category in the VIP Store which allows you to make a donation using your FPPs.

I was curious to see how much money they have raised so far which led me to the Twitter homepage. It seems that as of 1/15/10 at 6:28AM PokerStars Players have donated over $170,000.  On PokerStars' Twitter page I saw some comments from someone named Alyssa_Milano, which as it turns out, is the real Alyssa Milano. I'll get into the exchanges later but there was something she said that rubbed me the wrong way, which is why I decided to write this entry. I'll get to that later, but lets see what the patrons of PokerStars have given so far.

Looking at the tournament lobby, here's the breakdown on the Haiti Earthquake Relief Tournaments as of the time of this writing:

A number of PokerStars Pros have joined these tournaments as well as thousands of regular players. If you haven't done so already please consider it. As you can see, small donations add up, and PokerStars will match your gift. Not much of an appeal considering this site is only 2 weeks old and has had less than 50 visitors, but you never know :)

Not a bad start and donations will still be accepted through the end of the month. With the tournament donations and PokerStars' match we're almost at a half million dollars, not including donations made through the Haiti Relief account, which I can't track. Update: I received an email which indicated over $115k has already been raised by transfers in addition to the tournament donations.

Alyssa Milano also has her Tweet Challenge where she commented that she donated $50,000 to UNICEF for Haiti Relief and wanting to do more, she challenged any corporation to match her donation to UNICEF. Being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, it makes sense that this is where she would donate her money and want donations for her challenge to go.

I'm not a big fan of Twitter (I can't even sneeze in less than 140 characters) and this is one of the rare instances I read anyone's tweets but this just reminds me why I don't. Somewhere along the way, Alyssa's Challenge was brought to the attention of the PokerStars Tweeters and PokerStars agreed that if Alyssa joined PokerStars and transfered $50k to Haiti Relief they would match it.

@DreamTeamPoker @Alyssa_Milano If Alyssa makes a donation through PokerStars client we will match every $. We hope she will do this.
1:16 PM Jan 14th from web in reply to DreamTeamPoker
Apparently they didn't understand her challenge. She's not looking to put up another $50k to get matches, she wants companies to match her original $50k donation. That's fine, I'm sure she'll get a lot of companies pitching in and it would be unrealistic for her to match all of them.

To PokerStars' credit, they are still going to contribute an additional $50k because of her challenge. They indicated so in the following two tweets.

@Alyssa_Milano PokerStars will match your $50,000 donation. We'll add $50,000 to the money we're raising for Haiti through our site.1:17 AM Jan 15th from web in reply to Alyssa_Milano
@Alyssa_Milano PokerStars will add $50K to the appeal you can read about here: Glad to help with your challenge.4:23 AM Jan 15th from web
PokerStars is giving all the money they raise to the Red Cross and maybe that isn't good enough for Alyssa as she tweeted the following. This is the comment that got under my skin.

♥ I appreciate @PokerStars_com appeal so much, but til donation is received by @unicefusa, I can't get too excited!3:06 PM Jan 15th from Twittelator
Trying to be polite, but that seems very rude to say the least. She tweeted and posted a blog entry and now the people of Haiti will have an extra $50k going to them from PokerStars, in addition to the almost 1/4 million they are already going to be matching so far, with likely more to come. Not bad for a bunch of degens huh Alyssa? Maybe celebrities have much higher expectations. If I posted a blog that resulted in a $5 donation to anything I'd be excited.

I understand she's a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, she probably does a lot of good in that role and obviously she wants to see money going through UNICEF, but at the end of the day, $50k is going towards the distressed people of Haiti because of her and if that's not enough to get excited over, it should be at least enough to keep her from publishing snide tweets.

PokerStars is a good company and I don't see them backing down on their offer. PokerStars and it's players have been very charitable in the past.

It might be better than Alyssa Milano depositing money on Pokerstars. She seems prone to tilt and might have donked it all off at the cash tables.

Update: PokerStars will be sending $50k to UNICEF for Alyssa's Tweet Challenge. Even though $50k is practically pocket change for both of them, it may be too large a sum to transact over 140 char messages. That doesn't make me dislike Alyssa Milano's comment any less. One of PokerStars best attributes is their customer service. It's why people, like myself, develop a strong sense loyalty towards them and why I found that comment so offensive. Hundreds of thousands of people trust them with millions (probably billions) of dollars. She may not be very familiar with PokerStars but that's no reason to publicly impune their integrity in this circumstance. We all make stupid comments, but this one really bothered me.

Update 1/20/2010: UNICEF received PokerStars' $50k donation and Alyssa is officially excited :)
Just woke up to the amazing news that @PokerStars_com matched my Tweet Challenge for #Haiti! Wooooohoooooo! Thank you!
about 2 hours ago from Twittelator

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