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Poker & DEF CON: Bet Your Rights at EFF’s Benefit Poker Tournament on August 9 in Vegas

Cory Doctorow will be playing emcee, and writer and security expert Tarah Wheeler will be offering last minute down-and-dirty tips on how to play the game. Have fun; maybe win a little money; maybe lose some. It’s for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a good cause that benefits us all.

Dogs playing poker.
That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight. I’m losing all my money. SOURCE: EFF

For a bunch of people who spend their time yelling at governments and evil corporations for doing things that step on people’s rights, the guys and gals at the Electronic Frontier Foundation seem to know how to have fun. Of course, I should’ve known. Cory Doctorow has been associated with the organization for about 20 years now, and he makes reading about the enshitification of nearly everything seem like a trip to Disneyland.

This year at Def Con, the hackers’ convention held every year in Las Vegas, EFF will for the third time be holding the EFF Benefit Poker Tournament to raise money for… well, itself. The event is being hosted by Tarah Wheeler, the well-known writer and security expert, who authored Women in Tech and is currently CEO at Red Queen Dynamics. Cory Doctorow will also be in attendance, as the emcee.

The tournament’s going to take place at high noon on Friday, August 9 at the Horseshoe Poker Room, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd Overpass in Las Vegas.

If you’re wondering how much it’ll cost… well, you’ll pretty much be playing in the major leagues by the way I count money. The buy-in is $100, with a $250 donation to EFF. For those not familiar with poker tournaments, that means you’ll be required to purchase $100 in chips, and make a donation to EFF to get in the game. The donation, of course, goes to EFF to help pay for their crusading for our rights, and the chips will end up with whomever is the last-player-standing.

Unlimited rebuys will be available up to level 6 but will require another $100 donation to EFF. This means that if you’re losing and in danger of running out of chips and you want to stay in the game, you can buy more as long as you throw a $100 tip EFF’s way.

As you might be guessing by now, this tournament looks to be the real deal for folks who really understand how to play the game. For those of us who aren’t so proficient, Wheeler will be holding a Pre-Tournament Clinic at 11 am for suckers “those who could use a refresher on rules, strategy, table behavior, and general Vegas slang at the poker table.” Might be a good idea if you have my level of expertise, because it would probably be a good “tell” that you’re a greenhorn and ripe for the taking if you get your poker jargon mixed up while doing some table-talking.

Oh, and speaking of tells, which are those little things you do that can alert experienced players on stuff like whether you’re bluffing, Wheeler will reveal the three biggest tells to those at the clinic who donate at least $50 to EFF, which will also get you a lesson on chip riffling, and how to stare blankly and intimidatingly through someone’s soul while they’re trying to decide whether you’re bluffing.

Wheeler probably knows what she’s talking about. She’s competed in the World Series of Poker twice, taking home $4,722 in lifetime earnings.

Added Incentives to Participate

EFF tournament poker treasure chest and card deck.
Source: EFF

If the chance to win or lose some money while helping a cause isn’t enough for you, there are some added incentives.

For starters, all who preregister and play will receive a custom deck of EFF playing cards (be warned that if you don’t show up to the tournament by 30 minutes after it starts your deck might be given away). In addition, the tournament winner will receive a “treasure chest” of items curated from Wheeler’s own collection. EFF says the chest will be filled with real gems, including emeralds, black pearls, amethysts, diamonds, and others. The winner will also receive the tournament’s Jellybean Trophy.

There will also be “Celebrity Bounties.” Anybody who wins the hand that knocks either “MalwareJake” Williams, Deviant Ollam, or Runa Sandvik (all well known security hacker types) out of the tournament wins some cool EFF swag. As an additional bit of cuteness, Wheeler will donate $250 to EFF in the name of whomever knocks her father Mike out of the game.

Wanna Play? Here’s How

If this sounds like fun to you (and especially if you like to play poker in casinos anyway), this looks like a great way to help fund EFF — which will use the money to help protect our digital rights in the courts and elsewhere. I’m not going to play because I know that I absolutely would loose all of my buy-in money in the first couple of hands. But if you think this is for you, you can find out more, as well as register, here.

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