A thread from a problem to a streamathon

October 12, 2016

Let’s start with the core issue and work from there:

According to this report from the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC):

African American children [aged] 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

We could delve more deeply into this, but this is supposed to be a 600-word piece, not 6,000. So let’s re-read that last sobering statistic:

This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

And follow the thread…

Coming home from his world-crushing performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, swimming giga-star Michael Phelps created a foundation to help kids lead positive, hope-filled lives. A key component of the foundation’s mission was swimming and water safety. As Phelps himself puts it:

[I]t’s not just about swimming. It’s about being safe in the water, overcoming fears, and having a healthy life.

So far, so good; Michael Phelps is using his star power, personal interest and expertise to save kids’ lives and put them on a great path into adulthood. That’s a beautiful thing, but what’s the poker connection? Well, as I learned just a few hours ago, the aforementioned legend Mr. Phelps was a roommate of professional poker player Jeff Gross for six years. It’s likely where Phelps got his well-known penchant for the game of poker. In return, Jeff Gross got the philanthropy bug and made the Michael Phelps Foundation a pet project of his. Furthermore, he shares a “stream house” in Montreal with Twitch favorite and PokerStars Team Pro Online Jaime “PokerStaples” Staples.

And so it comes together. The Stream-Team of Jeff Gross, Jaime Staples, Jaime’s brother Matt Staples, and their friend Kevin Martin (yes, the one of PokerStars Team Pro Online fame) decided to have a 24/7 streamathon to raise money for the Michael Phelps foundation. It runs from October 9-16 (yes, you’re right in the middle of it) and 100 per cent of the donations to the streams go to the Michael Phelps Foundation.

jeff_gross_screenshot.jpgJeff Gross in action

I’ve already dropped in on it and it’s the usual hi-jinx that you expect from poker streamers, but with the extra bonus of every donation bringing a smile to your face, knowing it’s headed to a good, important cause.

All four streamers are “hosting” each other’s streams, so you can go to any of them and always see the 24/7 action around the clock. The schedule is as follows:

• Jaime Staples https://www.twitch.tv/pokerstaples 6am to 12pm ET
• Jeff Gross https://www.twitch.tv/jeffgrosspoker 12pm to 6pm ET
• Kevin Martin https://www.twitch.tv/kevinmartin987 6pm to 12am ET
• Matt Staples https://www.twitch.tv/pokerstaplespa 12am to 6am ET

So don’t say the time isn’t convenient for you – make a few minutes sometime in the next five days and see the guys in the Stream House (two of them Team Poker Stars Online Pros) playing poker and raising money for an awesome cause.

jaime_staples_screenshot_12oct16.jpgJaime Staples at work

And having some fun too:

So we started with a social problem, and ended up with a bunch of poker player/streamers giving up sleep and down-time to raise money for a foundation that addresses the problem.

Following that thread… feels good, man. And if you leave a donation of a few dollars there… feels better, man.

Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones


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