Wisconsin fundraiser to award heads-up match with Phil Hellmuth as grand prize

Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: September 09, 2020 09:47 PDT

Poker tournament to raise funds for online poker advocate running for Wisconsin State Senate

Wisconsin State Senate candidate Adam Murphy wants to bring legal online poker to Wisconsin. Murphy's latest fundraising effort offers an online poker tournament with a heads-up match against Phil Hellmuth as the top prize.

The "Murphy for Wisconsin Online Poker Fundraiser" commences Saturday, Sept. 12, and will play out on the PokerStars Home Games platform. The event is designed to play as a 4-6 hour event with a deepstack format.

Entry comes with a $100 donation to the Murphy campaign, with a $50 rebuy and add-on also available. The winner of the fundraising tournament gets the honor of playing poker legend Phil Hellmuth in a heads-up poker match.

A native of Madison, WI, Hellmuth stands as one of the most recognizable figures of all time in the poker industry. Hellmuth's resume includes 15 World Series of Poker bracelet wins and more than $23.5 million in career tournament earnings.

Hellmuth's "Poker Brat" persona is legendary, and he's put that image on display as a ubiquitous presence on poker television and in poker tournaments throughout his 30-plus year career. The winner of the Murphy for Wisconsin Online Poker Fundraiser tournament gets to sit face-to-face with one of poker's most notable figures. The tournament winner also gets to chat with Hellmuth on Zoom.

Murphy championing for legal online poker in Wisconsin

The Democratic candidate Murphy wants to bring legal online poker to Wisconsin. Four U.S. states currently offer state-regulated online poker, including Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Michigan and West Virginia have both legalized online poker, with the launch of regulated products in those states TBA.

Murphy's pro stance on legal online poker includes the creation of the #legalizeonlinepokerinWI hashtag on Twitter. That hashtag includes Murphy's take on Hellmuth's late-August trip to Mexico to play in the 2020 GGPoker WSOP Online Bracelet Events series.

Hellmuth posted an account of his trip to the U.S.' southern neighbor to play in the GGPoker WSOP $25,000 NLH Poker Players Championship. With the 2020 World Series of Poker postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WSOP and GGPoker teamed up to offer 85 bracelet events online throughout the summer.

GGPoker hosted 54 of those events, but the international online poker platform is unavailable to US players. Hellmuth's participation in the $25,000 NLH Poker Players Championship, therefore, required a flight to Mexico.

Murphy chimes in on required travel outside of the US to play online poker events

Hellmuth's flight to Cabo San Lucas prompted the following commentary from Murphy:

"What does it say about infringing on individual freedoms when @phil_hellmuth has to go to Mexico to play online poker? Is it safe? He’s putting in $25,000 of his own money. Time to legalize online poker in WI. Is it a big deal? No. It’s just easy," Murphy wrote in a Twitter response.

Murphy's tweet launched a spirited thread of back-and-forth responses, on both sides of the online poker legalization issue in the U.S. One user commented "Personal freedoms.... he isn't going to Iraq," to which Murphy wrote back:

"True. But why should he have to leave the country for his job? I thought we were trying to keep jobs and money in the US," tweeted Murphy.

Another Twitter user asked why the Wisconsin State Senate candidate Murphy was only advocating for online poker legalization in Wisconsin, and not elsewhere.

"Well, I’m running for the 28th District State Senate in Wisconsin, so I can only affect so much. But yes, absolutely would like to see it legalized in the US, but each state controls their gambling laws. @phil_hellmuth is a Wisconsin native and has been very generous."

Regulated online poker landscape in the U.S.

The day known as "Black Friday" in the poker industry forced PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet out of the US market on April 15, 2011. Other big-name operators, like partypoker, voluntarily left the U.S. market as it became apparent that a federal crackdown on online poker was looming.

By the end of 2013, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware all went live with state-regulated online poker products. All three states still offer regulated online poker.

WSOP Nevada, WSOP New Jersey, 888poker NJ, and an 888-operated network of sites in Delaware form the All American Poker Network (AAPN). The AAPN functions as the only regulated interstate online poker network in the U.S., as all of the skins on the AAPN use the same player pool.

The AAPN allows online players in Nevada and New Jersey to compete for WSOP bracelets, with Delaware left out of the equations when it comes to official WSOP events.

All other regulated U.S. online poker sites function as in-state platforms. The AAPN came together in the aftermath of a 2011 opinion issued by the US Department of Justice regarding the Federal Wire Act. The DOJ reversed course on that option in 2019, however, and the ramifications of that reversal essentially restricts regulated online poker sites to only offer games to an in-state player pool.

Pennsylvania became the fourth state to launch regulated online poker in November 2019, with PokerStars PA going live. PokerStars and partypoker also offer in-state only online platforms in New Jersey.

Hellmuth supports Murphy's pro-online poker stance and advocates for nationwide legalization of the online form of the game.

"Let's legalize poker in ALL US States #LegalizeOnlinePokerUSA," tweeted Hellmuth Wednesday.

Featured image source: Twitter