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“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” Jawaharlal Nehru

There was a lot of free will at last week’s 7th Annual Bad Beat on Cancer. In the mix this year were 12 guys from Virginia, dressed in black polo shirts with the Foundation and Bad Beat logo specially made for the tournament. They had won their seats at a satellite tournament, benefiting the Foundation, organized by Chad Anderson of Fairfax Station. Tournament attendees referred to them all night as the “black shirts.”

Chad contacted me several months ago saying he wanted to hold a satellite tournament in memory of player Chris Leach’s wife, who lost her 7 year battle with breast cancer in December.  “Chris had attended your tournament last year and has an absolute blast,” Chad told me, “so we decided to send him back this year and maybe a couple of others”.

A few weeks later Chad said response to his tournament was so good, he asked if he could have 7, maybe 9 seats.  A week later the tournament was held and I received an email that read; “So we had a VERY successful event last night – 52 people.  Looks like we will need more seats than I originally anticipated…twelve.”

These guys are serious players. Six went heads up at their tables, and three of them made it to the final table – Chad Anderson, T.J. Byrd and Danny Trudgett.  Oh yeah,  also at the final table was Congressman Bobbie Scott (D-VA).  No pressure there.

Poker Pros Lee Childs, Annie Duke and Phil Gordon with the "black shirts" team.

Chad’s excitement was short lived as he went out first. Danny followed in 8th place.  Eventually it came down to T.J. and George Iacovacci, a Bad Beat on Cancer Advisory Council member from Atlanta. On what was the last hand T.J. put his head in his hands sure he’d lost until realizing his team was cheering.  Looking up dumbfounded he asked; “Did I win?”   Forget Disney World, T.J. you’re going to Vegas!

It was another great event, raising money to support the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s community outreach programs across the nation that provide free cancer prevention screening and education.

My heartfelt thanks to our tournament committee, poker pros Phil Gordon, Annie Duke and Lee Childs, – love you guys! – our wonderful sponsors like the Pokers Player Alliance, 1-800-Contacts, and Caesar’s Entertainment,  our volunteers and Linda Chastain for keeping everything running smoothly.