London’s First-Ever Lifestyle Poker Tournament Kicks Off With Glamorous Opening Party

The World Poker Exchange London Open and Player Race for a Guaranteed $2 Million Jackpot Begins With Electric Opening Party Featuring London Socialites and International Celebrities, Entertainment and Poker Pros

LONDON, Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ — World Poker Exchange ( last night hosted a glamorous Opening Night Party for more than 1,000 people gathered to kick-off The London Open, the first-ever lifestyle poker tournament. The evening blended high octane Las Vegas-style glamour, a cool London party atmosphere and rare performances by some of the world’s most acclaimed musical talent.

Party goers included London society notables and Hollywood’s Mimi Rogers, Jennifer Tilly, Nicholas Gonzalez and Willie Garson. Rounding up the VIP guest list were Briton’s racing pundit John McCririck, Capital FM presenter Chris Brooks and comedian Dave Gorman. All were treated to sets by “Queen of the Nightclub” Grace Jones, funk act Dirty Vegas and uber club DJ’s Guy Preston and Jason Moore.

The Open was launched with a Charity Tournament in which celebrities and industry leaders alike battled it out to secure $44,000 for the London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund. Phil Laak was crowned the winner after putting on his best poker face to beat “Sex & The City’s” Willie Garson in the final round. Paul Cheung of Inside Edge took third place, followed by Nicolas Gonzalez of “The O.C.”

“I really enjoyed playing for a cause so close to the hearts of Londoners. The atmosphere was electric — and the London Open poker tournament has only begun!” said Garson.

Today, the official lifestyle event begins in earnest as professional poker players and celebrities from around the world hold’em and fold’em for a guaranteed minimum $2 million (US) prize pool. Away from the tables, guests will enjoy exclusive wrap-around activities for participants and 24/7 concierge services provided by Quintessentially.

About the Celebrities

Television horse racing pundit John McCririck has most recently appeared in the 2005 series of Celebrity Big Brother UK. A keen poker player with an insatiable appetite for bluffing, McCririck is also a racing journalist and Grandstand writer.

A documentary-comedian and humorist, Dave Gorman’s shows include Are you Dare Gorman? and Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure. This summer, Gorman will be taking part in Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku Live and will be recording episodes of the Radio 4′s Genius. Formally a stand-up comedian, Gorman is an avid poker player.

Chris Brooks is kicking up a storm on 95.8 Capital FM as presenter for the weekend breakfast shows. He started at the station in July 2002 and is already Foxy and Johnny Vaughn’s main cover for “The Big Drive Home” and the “Capital Breakfast Show”.

New winner of the World Series Of Poker Ladies Event Jennifer Tilly, will also be competing at the London Open. Tilly is known for her various roles in films, television and stage. She was nominated for a Best Actress in a supporting role in 1995 for Bullets Over Broadway and is also a familiar face in the horror genre as Tiffany on Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky.

Among the other notable celebrities who previously announced their intention to play the World Poker Exchange London Open include actress Mimi Rogers who has recently appeared in films such as Stone Cold, Dancing in Twilight and The Door in the Floor. She is also credited with starring roles in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and “The X Files.” Her appearance on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” brought down the house with her coy card-playing for The Dream Foundation.

Willie Garson, who has appeared in approximately 40 television series, is best known for his role as “Stanford Blatch” in HBO’s long-running series, “Sex and the City.” His acting credits include performances in Fever Pitch with Drew Barrymore, “CSI Miami,” and “Monk.” A regular at the tables, Garson has made numerous appearances on “Celebrity Blackjack” as well as “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” where he plays for his charity, La Casa de las Madres. Nicholas Gonzalez represents young Hollywood to a tee. America has seen him play Mischa Barton’s love interest on “The O.C.” Gonzalez has also appeared on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “That ’70s Show,” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.” This year he played in “Celebrity Poker Showdown” for Friends of El Faro.

About the Entertainers

The GRAMMY-winning band Dirty Vegas (Best Dance Single, 2003) has toured with Moby, Tears for Fears and Groove Armanda, packing in fans at gigs from Singapore to Serbia, and Moscow to Milwaukee. The South London-based Dance/Trance/Funky Pop trio continues to build worldwide popularity with their single Walk Into The Sun simultaneously reaching number-one status on the Billboard US Club Chart and number-two on the Billboard Dance Chart. The song held its top position for seven weeks — a rare feat.

Grace Jones, singer, movie star, fashion model, provocateur and “Queen of the Nightclub” has released two albums, Portfolio featuring hit single I Need a Man, and Slave to the Rhythm with singles Pull Up to the Bumper and My Jamaican Guy. Her acting credits include performances in Conan the Destroyer with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Boomerang with Eddie Murphy and a turn as a Bond Girl in A View to a Kill.

Sought-after celebrity DJ and creative mix master Guy Preston has played VIP club dates at China White (voted Conde Nast’s Best Club in the World/2003), Panagae (Best Club of 2004), and Bungalow 8 in New York City. A favorite among the trendiest of celebrities, Preston has served as the centre attraction at private parties hosted by Jennifer Lopez, Dennis Rodman, and Dallas Austin. Fans around the world follow Preston for his party rock mixes of hip hop, R&B and “good grove.” His only demo is the one much-in-demand CD he made for Tom Ford, formerly of Gucci.

Old skool West London DJ, Departure Lounge producer, Journeys by DJ ambassador, Jason Moore is the man behind many of Heaven’s most impressive billings in recent years and now guv’nor of the hotly-tipped label Urbantorque ( With a list of collaborations that reads like a Who’s Who of quality House DJs from throughout the past 10 years, Jason has amassed the kind of respect that is needed to break out onto the world stage. Moore has a bag of killer tunes ready for summer 2005, including his new mix CD, “International Grooves Volume One” (Intergroove — 8 April).

About World Poker Exchange

The World Poker Exchange ( is a licensed and regulated multi-player internet poker room that has served the online community since the outset of online poker play. Based in Antigua and established in spring 2001, World Poker Exchange is one of the world’s fastest growing online poker sites.

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