Each of the last five years, Dan Smith has organized a charity drive that pledges to match a portion of what is donated. This year, Smith, along with a group of poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS) pros, pledged to match up to $1.29 million. The drive is officially called the Double Up Drive and benefits 10 different charities, with eight focused on near-term causes and two focused on the long-term.
“Poker is an inherently selfish game,” Smith said about using his platform in poker to raise awareness and give back. “For me to win, that means somebody else directly has to lose. After a lot of years of it, I thought there was more to life than just playing cards, and I think it’s cool that I was able to use my favorite thing to make a difference in the world.”
Every year, the drive receives a large amount of support from the gambling world, with both the poker and DFS communities heavily participating. Smith works with Tom and Martin Crowley on the drive, and this year Tom pledged half of his winnings from the DraftKings World Championship Final to the Double Up Drive. Known as ‘ChipotleAddict’ in the DFS world, Tom incredibly went on to win the event for a haul of $2 million and between that event and the FanDuel $2M WFFC Finals, Tom pulled in $2.254 million. That means $1.127 million is being donated to the Double Up Fund.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Smith said of Crowley winning after pledging 50 percent. “When you’re playing super high roller (poker tournaments), sometimes you just go completely numb to the value of a dollar. Like, we’re playing a $300K tournament, that’s thousands of lives that are going to be literally saved. It’s really hard to comprehend. It’s a very cool thing, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s been so successful.”
One of the biggest elements leading to the success of Smith’s drive has been the involvement of the poker and DFS communities, and Smith spoke to how much that’s meant to the drive.
“Motivating people to do good I think is an unbelievable achievement,” Smith said. “Fedor (Holz) last year, Stephen Chidwick this year made very large donations to the drive. It’s just really wonderful to get support. The charity drive is one of the big parts of my life now, and having people whom I respect – I’m great friends with Stevie – getting supported like that means a lot.”
The seven-figure charity drive is, as he admits, a big part of Smith’s life, and with lots of moving parts, people involved, and tons of donations to be handled, both big and small, Smith said he and the group started putting everything together in October, but overall it might not take as much time as one might believe.
“It takes a lot less time than you might think,” Smith said. “We started brainstorming some charities in October, discussing numbers. We did a handful of one-hour calls. The most challenging thing, I suppose, was getting people to agree on which charities to include, but it makes sense if you’re divvying up what started as $1.3 million. It should take some time. There were a fair bit of logistics, but fortunately, the people at REG Charity were very helpful. They created the website, they’re entering the emails this year. As far as a multi-million dollar fundraiser would go, it takes a lot less time than you might think.”
Whereas Tom Crowley won more than $2 million from DFS and will be donating more than $1 million of it to the Double Up Drive, Smith hopes he can also make a large contribution from winning an event. Smith is currently in Las Vegas competing in the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl. With nearly 40 entries in the field, the prize pool is well north of $10 million. First place is more than $3.6 million. Smith is playing in the event with five percent of his winnings pledged, and he’s not the only one.
“Myself and Nick Petrangelo are playing five percent for charity,” Smith said. “So that’s $15,000, plus hopefully some skill edge, and I am hopeful that it spreads awareness and if people see it on the stream or television then they are encouraged to do good. Even though we talk a lot about the big numbers, I want to clarify that any amount makes a difference. People in Uganda are living off 65 cents a day, an amount we don’t even consider at all.”
If you’re interested in donating to the Double Up Drive, or simply would like to learn more, you can do so at DoubleUpDrive.com.