All-in for cancer prevention at the 8th Bad Beat on Cancer Poker Tournament

Hayley Cooke | Published on December 6, 2018

More than 200 players and spectators cashed in their chips for cancer prevention at the Bad Beat on Cancer Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament. This was the 8th tournament hosted for the Prevent Cancer Foundation® by Drew and Michele Figdor of New York, NY, who started the tournament in 2003.

This year’s event raised a record $241,000 for the Foundation, which will fund a melanoma research grant in memory of Drew’s father, Sanford Figdor, who recently passed away from the disease.

I was one of the lucky Foundation staff members who volunteered at the event. I’ll confess: I know very little about the poker world, and at first I was intimated to be rubbing elbows with some serious players. Our Tournament Director was none other than Phil Gordon, a World Poker Tour Champion and former host of Bravo TV’s Celebrity Poker Showdown!

My nerves quickly faded when Phil kicked off the friendly competition with positivity and bit of light-hearted heckling—encouraging players to rebuy rather than be the first player out and have to join his “loser’s corner.” His sense of humor helped set the mood for the entire evening.

While watching the tournament was fun, meeting the participants and dealers was a real highlight for me. Many of the dealers told me they had been at the tournament in previous years and were grateful to be back working an event for such a great cause.

Meeting Michele and Drew Figdor at the end of the night truly inspired me. It was incredible to see firsthand how they turned the painful experience of losing someone to cancer into an amazing event to raise funds for critical cancer research. As the event wrapped up, I was reminded why working at the Prevent Cancer Foundation® is so special to me.

It was moving to see everyone coming together to enjoy the fun of the game, but also to support an important cause: saving lives across all populations through cancer prevention and early detection. At one of the tables I was overseeing, one player even donated a little extra cash he had to the Foundation during one of his rebuys—just because he wanted to support our work. The warmth and generosity of the participants was felt by everyone in the room, and I’m grateful to have played a small hand in the 8th annual Bad Beat on Cancer.

To learn about hosting your own fundraiser, big or small, visit

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