EFF members come from all over the world to DEF CON to experience the world’s largest computer hacking conference and enjoy what Las Vegas has to offer. This year some of EFF’s supporters combined their love for internet freedom and a good time by competing in the first EFF Benefit Poker Tournament hosted by security expert and EFF advisory board member Tarah Wheeler.

Thirty-five EFF supporters and their friends played in the charity tournament on Friday, August 12 at Bally’s Poker Room. The tournament was kicked off by emcee Jen Easterly and EFF Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Kurt Opsahl.

Tournament hosts and specials guests

Kurt Opsahl, Mike Wheeler, Jen Easterly, and Tarah Wheeler.

Before the tournament, Tarah and her father, professional poker player Mike Wheeler, hosted a poker clinic to teach Poker 101 to those new to the game. In a video promoting the event, Tarah describes how her father taught her the game as a child by using jelly beans as the currency of choice. The jelly bean-filled championship trophy pays homage to the spirit of teaching and the humble beginnings of a great player.

People listening to someone around a poker table.

Tarah drops some knowledge at the pre-event clinic. Marcus Hutchins (twitter.com/MalwareTechBlog) got his first poker lesson with Russ Handorf (twitter.com/dntlookbehindu) at the table. Photo courtesy of Deviant Ollam (twitter.com/deviantollam).

After the clinic, Tarah added some fun by announcing a proposition bet: she would make an extra donation to EFF if someone knocked her father out of the tournament.

Person pays a friendly bet.

Tarah pays up after Michael Devegas (twitter.com/mdev3_) knocks out poker pro and awesome dad Mike Wheeler.

After three hours of fun and competitive play, Carolina Terrazas (D0rkph0enix), Josh Hawkins (BinaryFaultline), and Kris Bailey remained, with Bailey as the chip lead. After fifteen minutes, Bailey went all in and saw his two pair bested by Terrazas’s straight. Twenty more minutes of blind trading and intense heads-up play saw Hawkins and his overpair walk away with the top prize and the inscribed jellybean trophy made and etched personally by Tarah.

Tournament champions with Tarah Wheeler.

Tarah Wheeler stands proudly behind BinaryFaultline and D0rkph0enix.

It was an exciting afternoon of competition raising exactly $12,500 to support civil liberties and human rights online. If we play our cards right, perhaps we’ll see you at DEF CON for another EFF benefit tournament next year.

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