Dan Smith Launches COVID-19 Charity Drive, Partners With Run It Once for Benefit Poker Tourney

  • Phil Galfond’s Run It Once is hosting a 32-player tournament to raise donations
  • All funds will go to GiveDirectly to provide $1,000 cash to vulnerable Vegas households 
  • Smith's Double Up Drive organization has pledged $250,000 in matching funds 
  • Poker room will also contribute €10 for every person who plays a hand on April 11
Doctor in mask and gloves makes "heart" gesture with hands
Dan Smith’s Double Up Drive and Run It Once are partnering to raise money for Las Vegas households that are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Cash to go to the most vulnerable households

Poker pro Dan Smith has announced a COVID-19 emergency charity drive through his organization, Double Up Drive. Along with the relief initiative, Phil Galfond’s Run It Once online poker room is hosting a 32-player Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em tournament on April 11 to contribute further to the cause.

All funds will go to GiveDirectly, which will provide $1,000 cash to vulnerable households in Las Vegas during the current coronavirus pandemic. Working with Propel, GiveDirectly will initially identify households on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), households that tend to be headed by single mothers.

organization will use those funds to match up to $500 of each donation to GiveDirectly

Double Up Drive, founded by Smith, has pledged $250,000 thanks to contributions from poker pros Dan “Jungleman” Cates and Stephen Chidwick, along with an anonymous donor. The organization will use those funds to match up to $500 of each donation to GiveDirectly.

Run It Once tournament open to all

The tournament on Run It Once is a heads-up contest capped at 32 participants. 16 of the players have already been determined. They include Phil Galfond (who will be taking a break from the Galfond Challenge that day), Dan Smith, 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Jon Cynn, and David Tuchman. Tuchman, Joe Stapleton, and Henry Kilbane will provide commentary during a Twitch live stream.

Eight of the remaining 16 open slots will be given to those who make the eight largest donations to GiveDirectly by 23:59 UTC Thursday. The other eight spots in the tournament will be randomly awarded to eight people who donate any amount by that same time.

The winner of the tournament, which has no buy-in, will receive a poker training prize package. It will also be hosted on Run It Once’s testing environment, which means that people in countries such as the United States that are normally barred from the poker room can actually participate.

Run It Once has pledged to donate €10 ($10.86) for every player who plays a hand on the site on April 11.

Double Up Drive has raised millions for charity

Dan Smith has been organizing charitable drives for the better part of a decade, but it was in 2018 that Double Up Drive was officially founded. In addition to Smith, the team is made up of poker and daily fantasy sports pros.

public giving influences greater generosity and more impactful donations”

On its website, the organization says that it was “born of the belief that public giving influences greater generosity and more impactful donations,” hence the matching drives. Double Up Drive collects high-dollar upfront pledges to use as the matching funds. The drives end when the funds are depleted.

In 2019 alone, the organization pledged up to $1.65 million to twelve charities, split into three drives. Nearly all of the funds were matched, with just $82,398 left over. In, addition, the first two funds to hit their max received an additional $50,000. Charities included the Malaria Consortium, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and Helen Keller International.

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