As Hurricane Harvey's incessant rainfall lessened over the weekend in Texas, we see operations being conducted both by government personnel and its citizens, and it's great to see that some of them are from the poker community.
Ray Henson, a poker pro with four WSOP circuit rings, almost $2.5 million in tournament wins, and resident of Houston, was one of the citizen rescuers who, by boat, traversed the flooded streets in order to help out people affected by Hurricane Harvey. On August 30, he posted on his Facebook account a short video on his rescue efforts. Not shown on the video, he said he ‘spent the day lifting people out of the floodwaters and transporting supplies.' In some instances, his efforts to convince residents to leave their homes behind were futile.
Ray Henson, resident of Spring, Texas, about 25 miles away north of Houston, was one of the many professional poker players who tried to help out hurricane-struck victims by giving their time, money and resources. Henson posted on his social media account for friends and strangers to view, "Go clean out your closet, any extra blankets, food anything to help these people that literally have nothing. Anything helps guys. You can find somewhere near you to donate and if you can't get out lmk (let me know) and if I can get to you I will. There are people in shelters with nothing but the wet shirt on their backs. Let's get these people dry and fed."
Gavin Smith, a Canadian poker pro who also currently lives in Texas, offered his garage in the Woodlands as a donation drop-off area. He then gathered up volunteers and assigned a team to distribute the items they collected to shelters.
Such efforts to help out people during and after Hurricane Harvey have caught the attention of the poker community, even inspiring other poker players outside Houston to do what they can to help out in their own way.
Chance Kornuth, a WSOP bracelet winner in 2010, on Sunday September 3 publicly pledged 5% of his World Championship of Online Poker cashes and from the whole series to go towards relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
David "Doc" Sands, who retired from poker to work for a hedge fund, along with his wife, tweeted, "Erika and I would like to donate our Vegas condo - 2 br & small room with crib - & round trip flights to a family displaced by Harvey." Even though it is unclear for now as to how he will select and contact a family in need, the sincerity and thoughtfulness of his offer has inspired many other poker players on Twitter to pledge some of their winnings in upcoming tournaments.
Kevin Hart, comedian-actor and new poker ambassador, has been calling out to his 34 million Twitter fans and 54 million Instagram followers to help raise relief funds, as he himself pitched in to the Red Cross a $25,000 donation (which he later changed and raised to $50,000). He then challenged his celeb friends by name (tagged them as well) to match.
RunGood, a poker clothing company, pledged that those who buy their shirts and merchandise online up until tomorrow (September 5) using the bonus code ‘Houston', they will donate 100% of the sales to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Ray Henson said on one of his updates in Houston, "Today was a day I'll never forget. Being out with other volunteers and seeing people risking their lives and trying to save people they have never met before was heart melting. Nobody cared what race, religion, who you voted for or who your fave football team is, everyone just came together and loved one another."