2017 Charity Drive

Happy Holidays everyone. Up until very recently, Martin and Tom Crowley (DFS Superstars) and I were all having losing years gambling and it was not looking like we were able to put a drive together. But we caught some end of year run-good, and here we are! Here is a link to last year’s drive.

We will be matching up to $1,000,000 to the following 10 charities. What that means is, if you donate email a copy of the receipt to receiptsforcharity@gmail.com , we will donate the same amount. * Note: I will have someone managing the email account this year, if you need to reach me please include : Attention Dan: in the subject line.*

You can also donate directly through 2017charitydrive.com

If you are an American using paypal or a credit card, please donate to the charity directly email us the receipt to ensure you can write off the deduction.

Charities

Givewell’s Recommendations:

  1. Against Malaria Foundation: Mosquito nets are very cheap ($2), and very effective at reducing the spread of Malaria. 500,000 people per year die, and 400 million fall ill. Very cost effective way to make a difference. More information:  https://www.againstmalaria.com/
  2. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative:  Around 2 billion people in the world are infected with parasites and intestinal worms; around half of them children. This illness doesn’t exist in the first world because it is so cheap to fix;  for around $1.19, a child can be dewormed. More information: https://www.givewell.org/charities/Schistosomiasis-Control-Initiative
  3. Give Directly: My personal favorite charity. They give money to the extremely poor, and allow them to decide what to do with it. For 65 cents per day, you can support someone in Kenya. This has the added benefit of giving us some data to study on the effects of a Universal Basic Income. They also helped out Houston after the devastating hurricanes this year. Their website: https://www.givedirectly.org/ Donate: https://www.givedirectly.org/give-now
  4. Hellen Keller International’s Vitamin A Supplementation Program:

    For 75 cents, they can deliver a Vitamin A supplement which reduces likelihood of blindness and death. More information: https://www.givewell.org/charities/helen-keller-international

Artificial Intelligence Charities:

  1. Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI): Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking have all spoke out about the risks of artificial intelligence.  Waitbutwhy piece did a great, but super long piece explaining how this could become an issue: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html

Their site: https://intelligence.org/research/

Donate: https://intelligence.org/donate/

Animal Charities:

  1. The Good Food Institute: In their own words “We work with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to make groundbreaking good food a reality. We focus on clean meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products- foods that are more delicious, safer to eat, and better for the planet than their animal counterparts. Their website: http://www.gfi.org/ Donate: https://www.gfi.org/donate
  2. The Animal Welfare Fund: This fund will support organizations that work on improving the wellbeing of nonhuman animals, especially farmed animals. Their website. They are supported by the Open Philanthropy Project (which arose out of Givewell).

Bail Funds:

The basic idea is that there are a lot of people held on bail in misdemeanor cases where if they were out they could fight the case, but to get out of jail they take pleas and get criminal records. This can have all sort of collateral consequences on jobs, school, housing, etc and thus contributes to the widening socioeconomic gap in the U.S.

A fund that posts these people’s bail would have very slow attrition. According to The Bronx Freedom Fund, 97% of clients attend all scheduled court dates.  This would save lot of people from criminal records and jail time. The Massachusetts Bail Fund only posts bail that is $500 or less.  No one should have to sit in jail because they don’t have $200.

There was a great blog post by Slate Star Codex discussing the merits of Bail Funds including some cost effectiveness estimates.

  1. Massachusetts Bail Fund: Their site: https://www.massbailfund.org/ Donate: https://www.massbailfund.org/donate.html

  2. Brooklyn Bail Fund: https://brooklynbailfund.org/

  3. Just City (based out of Memphis): https://justcity.org/

Why Donate?

Aside from whether you believe humans are morally obligated to help others, even if you are concerned about your own self interests, there are strong reasons to donate. Studies show that donating to charity can increase happiness. On a personal level, I view the 2016 drive as hands down my greatest accomplishment.

Of course there is also the tax benefit. If you donate $100 and are in a 27% tax bracket, it only costs you effectively $73. $73 out of pocket leading to $200 in the hands of a great charity is a pretty hot deal if you ask me!

Crypto

Yes, we can sort out accepting crypto for donations, please email us to address specifics. I know a lot of people with incredibly large percentages of their networth in various cryptocurrencies. The logic is generally “Well even if this were to go to zero, I still have a pretty sweet life.” I think along the same lines, you can make the argument that you are a prime candidate to consider donating some money to charity.

Disclaimer:

Everything we do will be in good faith for charity, and we are allowing ourselves some mild creative liberties (ie balancing out money between various bail funds if one gets much more than others).

Please do not email us other causes as this only creates extra work for us. There are lots of great options out there, and unfortunately we do not have time to go through them  all.

The drive will go through December 31st, ending at 12:00 Pacific Time.

Thanks for reading and your consideration,

-Dan Smith

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2017 Charity Drive

Tokyo recs

Hi, I have been getting asked a lot for recommendations on where to go in Tokyo so decided to write a quick post.

 

Sushi:
1) Sushi Yoshitake was hands down the best meal of my life. It is pricey (~200 per head before drinks) but I cannot say enough good things about it. Was a long, 3 hour meal., and everything was perfect. My comparison  for most of the pieces was “is this the best tuna/uni/etc” I have ever had? You need a reservation at least a month in advance and probably longer (Thanks Steph, XOXO)

2) Sushi Kuwano: 2 michellin stars, everything was great. I really liked how unusual some of the pieces were. If I’m eating sushi in Tokyo I want to eat some stuff I’ve never seen before and they were the most different.

Other bomb spots off the top of my head  in no order: Kube, kanasecka, sushi shin, taku, Umi

 

Tsukiji fish market is totally worth seeing too. If you are prepared to get up and wait at 3am for Sushi Dai, it’s supposed to be some truly elite sushi for a much more affordable price ( maybe ~$30/head? ).  If you are not prepared to wait , just stumbling into any random spot I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ramen

1) Kagari was clear number one. They had three kinds of ramen, and they were the 1-3 kinds of ramen I have ever had. The chicken was actually my favorite.

kagari

Otherwise there are a bunch of great spots. Ramen Street at Tokyo train station is convenient especially if you are on the go.

Interesting option: at Kikanbo you get to choose your spice level and Szechuan spice level. This was pretty entertaining when my friend decided to go double maximum spicy.

 

I really wanted to try saikoro because I love mackeral, but never made the hike since it was 30 minutes out of the way. I hear it’s incredible.

 

https://www.yelp.com/biz/%E3%81%95%E3%81%84%E3%81%93%E3%82%8D-%E4%B8%AD%E9%87%8E%E5%8C%BA

Other Food:

Butagami was hands down the best tonkatsu I have ever had. And just trying to eat as much Japanese beef as possible  is probably a good idea, it’s like 10% of the price as it is in the US. Even the stuff  in supermarkets for $10/package looked insane.

Onsen:
A 1-2 day  trip to Hakone for a stay at the Onsen is very much recommended. I believe these three are probably all expensive, but I never had to research prices since O’Dwyer won that EPT ( heyyyyyyo) , but Kinnotake, Hakone Ginyu (best facility),or Gorakadan (best food and service)

Also in Hakone you can do the very cool Open Air Museum, and get to see Mt. Fuji. The Open Air Museum had an amount of Picasso.

 

mount fuji.

ulululu

 

 

Where to stay?

I just look at Chase Sapphire points and they have always had a hotel on mega sale. Book early so the concierge can start making reservations for you. I think if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve on travel/hotels/etc you get an extra 50%. I have gotten some v good deals here on 4-5 star hotels without very much effort.

 

Random
https://doctorstretch.com/en/ was an insanely good 1 hour stretch. Trust me on this.

Shopping:  Harajuku street is really famous and cool. Isetan was a surprisingly wonderful department store. They have a high end grocery store in the basement. Pillow shopping here was insane, they measure your neck, you choose what it is made out of (I got charcoal which is supposed to be good for allergies), firmness, etc etc. Also my sources tell me you can get a really hot deal on cashmere sweaters here.

 

Tokyo recs

You Call Your Representatives, I Donate Money

Edit: Closed this on Feb 11th, only got a total of 10 emails. Ended up donating $500 to Planned Parenthood.

 

Recently, I wrote about the merits of donating at the end of the tax year. Now I am contradicting myself by donating $25,000 to the ACLU one month into the year. If I fail to have a profitable year gambling,  (not that unlikely as someone who plays poker tournaments for a living)I will be unable to write it off. Here’s why I am donating anyway:

I am pretty shocked at what is happening right now. I didn’t expect Trump to get his shit together so quickly. I didn’t expect him to face so little resistance. I didn’t expect him to be so blatantly xenophobic. I was shocked to see Giuliani publicly say Trump asked him how to make the Muslim ban legal.

The future scares me. Facebook, Google, Amazon, know a lot about their customers. If down the road the government were to subpoena them, some scary Science Fiction-esque possibilities come to mind… I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I keep having thoughts in the back of my mind that those who are publicly anti-Trump in the future could end up on some shit-list where they have even less rights than everyone else. If that’s even a thought I am having one week into his presidency… this is a scary time.

I want to do something. There are already a lot of matching drives out there.

Here are some of them:

  1. Andrew Barber on twitter matching donations up to $25,000 for the ACLU.
  2. Boztank on twitter did a $25,000 drive that filled up in about 1 hour. He  tweeted that he will be posting more drives shortly.

If you’re aware of other matching drives, please tweet me @ DanSmithHolla and I will add them to this post.

I don’t want to take away from them, they are doing great work, but I am going to try a different approach. This is a very expensive and arduous fight, and coming at it from many angles will be effective.

I read on twitter and LifeHacker that one of the most effective things someone can do is call their representatives in Congress. I want to combine this proactive approach with a charity drive to encourage people to make those calls.

I am donating $25,000 to be released up to $5 at a time. Rather than matching charitable donations, I am matching calls to your representatives. You make 5 phone calls to your senators and/or congressperson where you express your thoughts about what is currently happening with immigration or other major issues. Email a screenshot of your phone logs and the state you are calling for to ACLUcharitydrive2017 at gmail dot com and I will donate $5 to the ACLU. I will be matching $1 per call, up to $5 per person.

Here are my logs for the morning. If you didn’t feel like being extra chatty, I think each call would take about 1 minute. o0bfxx

Based on the honor system, if you are someone who already calls your representatives, I would appreciate if you would make an extra 5 phone calls.

5calls makes this very easy. You enter your zip code, click from the list of issues you want to discuss, they give you the number and a sample script as to what to say. This is another blog post hyping 5calls.

Here is one sample script.

Hi, my name is [Name] and I’m a constituent from [City, State, Zip].

I’m calling to tell [Senator/Rep’s Name] that our community does not support Trump’s Muslim ban, and we expect [him/her] to take an immediate stand against this unjust executive order.

[Optional: add anything else you’d like here]

Thank you for your time.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your entire home address to ensure your call is tallied]

__

I believe that doing *anything* will make you feel better about the situation. I’ve received a lot of thanks for the most recent drive. And while it is very much appreciated, I would appreciate participating in these 5 calls even more.

This drive will be go on until February 28, limit $5 per person.

Thanks your for consideration,

Dan

Edited to add: I am giving myself the right to make modifications to this as I see fit, everything will be in good faith.

You Call Your Representatives, I Donate Money

Drive Complete, Final Tally over $1.7 Million!!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!

The drive is officially over, and the response was overwhelming, with 134 different people donating. The results were already great, and I was even more blown away when Martin’s brother Tom (known as ChipotleAddict in the DFS world) decided to unleash a huge surprise by donating $500,000 himself once we hit a million. Tom also made a very large donation last year, and shared these thoughts.

The limited details I know of their story are amazing: two guys who plan on making a huge difference in the world by doing the thing they are the best at: fantasy sports. I can’t say enough great things about these two guys who really epitomize the effective altruism movement.

 

Here are the results of the drive.

350.org $8,556
Against Malaria Fund $287,535
Give Directly $115,173
Just City $9,750
Liberation Prison Yoga $12,868
Lineage Project $4,000
MAPS $31,100
Zendo 0
Massachusetts Bail Fund $10,325
SCI $13,131
GiveWell Unspecified $7,670
Subtotal $500,408
Dan’s  Match $175,000
Martin’s Match + Extra $525,000
Tom’s Donation $500,000
 Total  $1,700,818

I would like to point out some of the changes that will be possible thanks to these gifts.

  1. SCI: Around 2 billion people in the world are infected with parasites and intestinal worms; around half of them children. This illness doesn’t exist in the first world because it is so cheap to fix;  for around $1.19, a child can be dewormed. Tens of thousands children will be dewormed thanks to this initiative.
  2.  Against Malaria – Malaria is also very cheap to prevent. Malaria is primarily transmitted via mosquito bites. Mosquito nets are remarkably effective at preventing mosquito bites and cost only $2.50 each. 500,000 people per year die each year due to malaria and it is almost entirely preventable. There are conflicting stats on the cost to literally save a life, but $3400 on the end means thousands of lives will be saved. This doesn’t consider the serious burden on the economy that is caused by illness. According to this Harvard study, every $1m spent on Malaria treatment is $12m in economic relief.

3. Give Directly: In Kenya, there are people who are living off of 65 cents per day. Give Directly wants to experiment with the idea of a universal basic income and see how it works out.

 

The idea of a universal basic income really interests me. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but I fear it will actually go on to even further widen the gap between the rich and poor. An off-the-cuff example is that the most common job in America is truck driver. Self driving cars could put those people out of jobs in the nearish future. Without getting too much into politics, I believe a universal basic income could be effective here, and getting more data would be huge. For $1 per day we are supporting someone in Kenya and this  ground breaking study!

My friend shared a story with me that I wanted to post here.

“The ‘headboy’ at the school I was teaching at was this really nice kid. One day he collapsed and had what looked like a seizure. The other kids and teachers stood around him waving books to try and cool him down. One of the teachers contacted his mom and said he needed to go to the hospital, but his mom refused because she was scared they would charge her money. We later learned that he’d collapsed due to starvation…his family could only afford a little food, so he let his mom and little brother eat while he went hungry.”

People are living off of of less than what I generally tip a waitress for bringing me a water. I can’t even fathom that.

4. Just City: In the last  6 months, Just City has bailed out more than 35 people. In their own words, here are some of their plans.

“All of our work is focused on making our criminal justice system smaller, fairer, and more humane. Every dollar we’ve raised so far allows us to pursue not only much-needed reforms to the money bail system, but also reforming Tennessee’s expungement laws, driver license, and sentencing policies, improving humane conditions in our jails, and working on many, many other criminal justice issues that destroy families and communities.”

5. Massachussets Bail Fund:

In the three year since they’ve been open, 396/401 clients have shown up for court. Half of these cases have been closed, and half of those have been entirely dismissed. They could have been held in jail indefinitely and likely would have needed to plead guilty to get out of jail. Some of these bails cost as little as $25!!!

This summer, they had to shut down for three months due to a lack of funding. I am very confident this money is going a long way.

6. MAPS: I plan on having a phone call with someone at MAPS this week to discuss where the funding will be going, but I plan on following their lead. I am expecting it to go to a combination of research with regards to MDMA treatment for PTSD and for Zendo funding.

MAPS hopes to have MDMA become an FDA approved prescription medicine by 2021. I think when  used intelligently, this kind of experience can have a great impact.

7. Liberation Prison Yoga: “This donation and matching funds will affect the lives of 300 incarcerated men, women and youth through 10 two month Liberation Prison Yoga programs with group discussion, opening meditation, physical yoga, guided relaxation and mindfulness tools taught in a kind, non-invasive manner.  Students often tell us their life has changed after just one class. Two months of yoga provides a complete path to physical and mental health, and tools to create inner peace amid chaos inside prison and in the world.”

Many people involved in these programs have drug problems or issues with mental health I couldn’t imagine how difficult dealing with that must be from the inside of a prison cell.

Quick plug: if your New Year’s Resolution was to start meditating and you don’t know where to start, download HeadSpace right now where there is a week long free trial! Meditation can literally change your brain in 8 weeks

8. 350.org:I can’t believe this is something I even have to write, but 350.org is fighting hard to try to keep climate deniers out of Trump’s Cabinet. Obviously this is a huge and very expensive battle. I am stealing this blurb about who Donald Trump has picked from an email I received this morning.

 

  • ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson, a top funder of climate denial and attacks on climate action, for Secretary of State.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA head, even though he spent most of his time in office filing (and losing) lawsuits against the EPA. He even let an oil company write some of his official correspondence.
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Department of Energy. Perry is on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, and said he wanted to eliminate the agency altogether.
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior. Zinke has been fighting to dig up as much coal, oil and gas from public lands as possible.

None of these men are qualified. They are all implicated in Big Oil’s web of corruption. Their denial of climate change makes them a direct threat to the health and safety of people across the country and planet.

 

There is a social stigma about donating publicly, but I don’t really understand why. I think people tend to romanticize the idea of sacrifice, when it makes more sense to focus on results. If you convince someone else to donate to a cause you believe in, that can make a very real difference. That seems much more relevant to me.

Logically, it seems clear to me that being public about donating encourages others to donate. I haven’t found any data that backs me up, but this article suggests the same point.

If anyone would be copying this format, I would be happy to give you advice via receiptsforcharity@gmail.com . Each year I hired someone to go through all the emails and update all the spreadsheets which saved me a huge amount of time for a negligible cost. If someone were interested but didn’t want to commit the time to running a drive, I would consider running it for the right project.

Some final thoughts on Charity Projects 

  1. Don’t use GoFundMe. They take out 8%, and even worse they are not eligible to a tax write-off.  If you are donating $500 to go fund me, $463 goes to a cause. If you get a 27% tax write off, you can donate $635 and have the same effect. This is almost a 40% difference. I am not very informed on the topic and am not vouching for the site, but I believe YouCaring is strictly better. Fees are much lower, and some youcaring organizations are tax deductible (but make sure to always talk to a tax professional).
  2. If you are running a charity’s website and are 501c3, please make that very visible on the site! Similarly, if you have any sort of matching challenging running on your website, I think it should be made very clear on each part of the website.

 

Thanks for all the support guys ❤

Dan

Drive Complete, Final Tally over $1.7 Million!!!!

$600k reached! New Goal: $1 MILLION!

First, I would really like to thank everyone for their support. The donations have been pouring in the last few days. I’ve gotten some  emails from people starting their own matching drives which makes me unbelievably happy. It a very cost and time efficient way to make a huge difference 🙂 I’m always available to answer any questions or give advice if anyone would like to use this format.

DFS superstar Martin Crowley has jumped on board.  He loved the idea of the matching challenge, and decided to match and additional $200,000, raising the overall drive to $1,000,000!!!. He enjoyed the idea of giving people choices, but wanted to focus on Givewell’s Top Charities

Pending a discussion between Martin and the anonymous donor, the $600k is officially filled. The additional $250,000 is planned to go to AMF.

Here is a breakdown of the 90 donations that came in to my fill the original $175,000

 

350.org 8,482
Against Malaria Foundation 42,780
Give Directly 64,115
Just City 8,250
Liberation Prison Yoga 12,048
MAPS 30,600
Zendo 0
Massachussets Bail Fund 8,725
Total 175,000

His 3 Charities will be

  1. Give Directly
  2. Against Malaria Foundation
  3. Schistosomiasis-Control-initiative (SCI) –

The first two charities have been apart of the drive since the beginning. The third is new, but is currently the number 2 charity according to GiveWell.  “For those seeking our recommended allocation, we recommend giving 75% to the Against Malaria Foundation and 25% to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, which we believe to have the most valuable unfilled funding gaps.”

What does SCI do?

These paragraphs are mostly stolen from SCI’s Website where you can find some really eye opening and shocking statistics

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/schistosomiasis-control-initiative/our-work/what-we-do/neglected-tropical-diseases/

In poor countries, parasitic and bacterial infections run rampant. They are referred to  as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD’s), because these diseases only exist in the poorest countries. Due to first world amenities such as health care and clean water,  these no longer are concerns in wealthy nations. But over ONE BILLION people suffer from an NTD with a majority suffering from multiple. The costs of treatment for these diseases is cheap, under $1.20 per person.

NTDs cause human misery due to the stigma, deformities, chronic and debilitating pain they cause. NTDs permanently curtail human potential, cause an enormous economic burden for endemic countries. In children they impair growth and cognitive development and significantly reduce the economic productivity of the adult population thereby anchoring millions of people in poverty.

NTDs are often neglected due to a low mortality rate compared to HIV/Aids, but the suffering is very severe.

How to Participate
Just like before, you donate  to one of the selected charities  (Against Malaria Foundation,  Give Directly, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative), and email a copy of your receipt to ReceiptsForCharity@gmail.com. We will match it.

I know there are a lot of great causes out there, but unfortunately We cannot match donations to any other causes due to limited time and resources. I am very sorry.

Feel free to email any questions or ideas you might have. If you have issues donating via conventional ways, feel free to email me and I will try to sort it out.
Thanks all for your support and Happy Holidays!!!

I Believe it is a Particularly Efficient Time for Americans to Donate to Charity

Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional and don’t actually know what I’m talking about. I did call two tax experts who said that this might actually get passed in 2017.

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/tax-plan

1) If tax rates were to drop, it would mean you get less of a write off in future years.

2)Trump might cap itemized deductions at $100,000 per year.

In addition, the Trump Plan will cap itemized deductions at $200,000 for Married-Joint filers or $100,000 for Single filers.

This is a hard cap on the amount you can donate and write off.  This could be relevant in a lot of cases, most obviously to me if you live in a state with state taxes, are an amateur gambler writing off gambling losses, or are paying off your mortgage.

Martin also sent me this great link, debunking many myths about charity.

Dan

$600k reached! New Goal: $1 MILLION!

Big Update!!!

Hello,

We are 1/3 of the way through the charity drive, and here is where we stand as of last night.

350.org 5910
Against Malaria Fund 5370
Give Directly 8400
Just City 1050
Liberation Prison Yoga 20
MAPS 100
Zendo 0
Mass Bail Fund 100
TOTAL 20950

Note that the  Open Philanthropy project is not currently seeking donations, and that I have removed them from the list.

Last night I had a very interesting phone call. A philanthropist not involved in the poker world happened to come across my charity drive. He said that if my $175,000 got filled, he would be willing to match an additional $125,000 to 350.org, Against Malaria, Give Directly.

Right now, I am unsure if this is a reasonable goal, but I would like to try.

 

Ways You Can Help Me!

  1. A lot of people have expressed interest in donating but have not gotten around to it yet. I know it is tempting to wait and see how the rest of the year goes, but it would be helpful to me to have a better sense of how far we along we really are. I am also hopeful that if we were making good progress perhaps other people would get involved on the matching side.
  2. Help get the word out, especially in groups that may not have gotten exposed to this. It is peak time for DFS, I would really appreciate any podcasts/websites advertising this for me. I won’t be at the DK Live Final in NYC next month but would love if it were mentioned!
  3. Please stop asking me to fund other projects. I would like to but it’s just not feasible at this time 😦 And on that note I would also appreciate if people would stop trying to scam me!

I Believe it is a Particularly Efficient Time for Americans to Donate to Charity

Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional and don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

Let’s go out on a limb and say Trump follows through on some of the things he has said.

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/tax-plan

1) If tax rates were to drop, it would mean you get less of a write off in future years.

2)Trump might itemized deductions at $100,000 per year.

In addition, the Trump Plan will cap itemized deductions at $200,000 for Married-Joint filers or $100,000 for Single filers.

This is a hard cap on the amount you can donate, and write off.  This could be relevant in a lot of cases, most obviously to me if you live in a state with state taxes, are an amateur gambler writing off gambling losses, or are paying off your mortgage.

 

 

Big Update!!!

Motivation

By far, the most common question I’ve been asked is “What is your motivation for doing this charity project?”

Let’s go back a few months, to the Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas. For those who weren’t following; I was in a commanding position with two tables left in the tournament. I was the chip-leader for hours…and with eight players left we merged down to two tables. By then I was second in chips, with the top seven payouts guaranteed $600,000 and first place getting the massive payout of $5,000,000. Eighth place got zero.

Unfortunately, I ended up on the wrong side of a disastrous set over set situation. That left me with a few big blinds, and I busted soon after, short of the money. Rainer Kempe, the player who got my chips, went onto win the tournament. I’ll paraphrase for those unfamiliar with poker lingo: it was an unlucky but unavoidable situation. It was deeply disappointing to go from expecting the biggest result of my career, to getting nothing.

I woke up the next day in a funk. Was it an adrenaline crash? Did I need more caffeine? I wasn’t sure what to do. I forced myself to attend a yin yoga class, and I meditated on it.

While contemplating the result, I asked myself: What is it that actually happened? I played a poker tournament, sold some action to my friends, and invested 2.5% of my bankroll in myself in the tournament. And for a fleeting moment, I was the favorite to win.

So let’s pretend I did win; what exactly would be different?  Well, I’d have more money—about 40% more—and then I’d pay taxes on it, so let’s say 25% more. But for now, there’s nothing I badly want that necessitates having more money. What would I even do with my hypothetical winnings? Mostly I’d just use it to gamble bigger. Day to day, nothing would actually change. And that’s a comforting thought; winning the biggest tournament of the year wouldn’t have changed my life. Things were good already.

I’ve had some big results since then, but my conclusion persists. I realized there wasn’t much utility for keeping this money. And for tax reasons, I have to scale back substantially on January 1st anyway. Others have a much higher utility for this money, so contributing to charity felt like the right thing to do.

I’ve had some sleepless nights wondering whether humans should feel required to help others. Assuming those that can help without much sacrifice are obligated—and knowing that poker is a zero sum game—I felt that I should be contributing my time to other activities. I find it encouraging that I can make real, tangible differences with these donations. I’ve heard some cynics argue that donating to charity is like throwing money at a bottomless pit. And while there are some charities that are obviously inefficient, I truly believe that the ones I’ve selected are doing good, important work.

REG charity has stated that $3400 can save a life. That feels like a bargain to me.

I’ve gone through stretches where I’ve lacked the drive to keep grinding out poker; projects like this help keep me motivated.

Motivation