Broadway’s biggest names, legendary theatre insiders and devoted fans donned their best poker faces to help those in need on May 13, 2019, at this year’s spirited and record-breaking edition of Broadway Bets. The lively evening of Texas Hold ’em raised an astounding $315,200 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The full house buzzed with luminaries from across the industry, including theatre owners, producers, general managers, actors, theatrical advertising agency executives and professional poker players.
The fifth annual edition of Broadway Bets started with 28 Texas Hold ’em poker tables and 280 card players filling two floors of the iconic Sardi’s restaurant in NYC’s theatre district. It culminated with 12 players perfecting their poker faces to reach the championship table.
The ultimate face-off featured Elliot Greene, executive vice president of The Shubert Organization, and To Kill a Mockingbird actor Ted Koch. Surrounded by an energetic crowd, both players went “all in” after rounds of intense play. Ultimately, Greene was crowned Broadway Bets champion when he bested Koch with a pair of queens. As winner, Greene received four days and three nights for two at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, including airfare, hotel and show tickets.
The final table also featured, in order of finish: Lisa Guzman, associate general manager of Foresight Theatrical; actor Aaron Jackson; Rob Hinderliter, producer and co-founder of R&D Theatricals; Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck; poker pro Andy Frankenberger; actor Audrey Federici; Rich Jaffe, co-CEO, Theatre Division & CMO of Broadway Across America; David Lazar, executive vice president of Trafalgar Entertainment, Kelly Shoemaker, account executive at The Shubert Organization; and two-time Tony nominee and Oscar winner Steve Martin.
Among the stars of stage and screen upping the ante as players were six-time Emmy Award winner Hank Azaria, Eric Bogosian, Emmy nominee Josh Charles, Robert Creighton, Tony winner Billy Crudup, Tony nominee Richard Kind, “The Gist” podcast host Mike Pesca, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver and Nick Wyman. They also were joined by poker pros Maria Konnikova and Erik Seidel.
Other stars also enjoying the Broadway Bets fun were To Kill a Mockingbird 2019 Tony nominees Jeff Daniels, Gideon Glick and Celia Keenan-Bolger, cast mates Gbenga Akinnagbe and Dakin Matthews and the play’s Oscar- and Emmy-winning writer, Aaron Sorkin; Tony nominee Brandon Uranowitz and Emmy-winning actor and comedian Mike Myers.
The event’s previous record of $295,100 was sent in 2018. The five editions of Broadway Bets have raised a total of $1,264,050 for Broadway Cares.
The “Royal Flush” bar sponsor for this year’s event was Broadway hit To Kill a Mockingbird, which was just nominated for nine Tony Awards.
“Full House” table sponsors were AKA, The Araca Group, Entertainment Benefits Group, Foresight Theatrical, The John Gore Organization (Broadway.com, Broadway Across America), Jujamcyn Theaters, The Nederlander Organization, Network, The Pekoe Group, The Prom, The Road Company, Serino Coyne, The Shubert Organization, Situation Interactive, SpotCo, Sweet Hospitality Group, Ticketmaster, What the Constitution Means to Me and Willkie, Farr & Gallagher. “Two Pair” half-table sponsors included Ambassador Theatre Group, BROADWai, Disney Theatrical Productions, Independent Presenters Network and Satisfi Labs.
Broadway Bets‘ founding co-chairs are Paul Libin, president emeritus of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Board of Trustees and executive vice president emeritus of Jujamcyn Theaters, and Robert E. Wankel, president and co-CEO of The Shubert Organization and president of the Broadway Cares Board of Trustees. Micah Hollingworth of BROADWai, Mark Shacket of Foresight Theatrical and Brett Sirota of The Road Company returned as tournament directors.
Photos by Daniel T. Gramkee