Inside Last Night's Massive Poker Tournament With Hedge Funders, Poker Pros, And Legendary NYC Athletes

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn gives us a wave.

Hundreds of hedge fund professionals filled Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan last night for the 4th annual “Take ‘Em To School” charity poker tournament. 

This year’s event raised funds for Education Reform Now, an advocacy organisation that’s committed to making sure all kids can access high-quality public education.  

The event was co-chaired by Michael Sabat, who works in equity derivatives sales and trading at Sanford Bernstein, and Whitney Tilson, who runs Kase Capital. Tilson is a leader in the education reform space.

Those in attendance included David Einhorn, who runs Greenlight Capital, and pro-poker players Olivier Busquet, Andy Frankenberger and Erik Seidel.  Former NBA shooting guard John Starks played poker, and former baseball pitcher Dwight Gooden played casino games and signed autographs.

It cost $1,000 for a poker seat and $250 for a cocktails/casino games ticket. 

Prizes for the tournament winners included a seat at the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, vacations, golf outings, and power lunches with Einhorn, Seth Klarman, Leon Cooperman and Bill Ackman.

The tournament began around 7:15 p.m. ET and lasted until around 1 a.m. ET. 

In case you missed it, we’ve included photo highlights in the slides that follow. 

* Steven Perlberg contributed to this report.

There were 250 poker players participating in the tournament.

Gotham Hall is always such a gorgeous venue.

Here's a shot of all the action. Now let's see who was there...

Here's Whitney Tilson's table. Tilson (centre), who runs Kase Capital, was one of the event chairs. He's a leader in the education reform space.

Gary Vura, vice president at ICAP and former UPenn quarterback, was at Tilson's table.

Professional poker player Olivier Busquet and John Netto, president of M3 Capital. There was a bounty on the three pro poker players in attendance given to the player who knocked them out of the tournament.

Keith Rosenbloom, managing member of Cruiser Capital (left), and professional poker player Andy Frankenberger. Frankenberger, who worked on Wall Street for 14 years before playing poker for a living, told us he was at the 'sickest table' in the room.

We also noticed his World Series of Poker bracelets. Pretty cool, right?

There's pro poker player Erik Seidel He has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets.

Paul Britton, CEO of Capstone Investment Advisors (far left).

Quantitative portfolio manager from SAC Capital John Sabat. He made it all the way to the final table and finished 8th in the tournament.

Andrea Bermudez was crushing it at her table.

Quantitative analyst Jeff Leong from SAC Capital had just knocked out three people at his table.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn gives us a wave.

We checked in with Einhorn again and he was running low on chips.

He ended up winning more chips, though. By the way, that's not a lucky shirt he's wearing. (We asked him).

'Easy come, easy go,' he said. Einhorn made it to the final four tables and ended up getting knocked out.

Retired New York Knicks shooting guard John Starks at Einhorn and Frankenberger's table.

Masseuses went around the tables to give massages.

There were casino games in the periphery. Those started to get crowded once folks started getting knocked out of the tournament.

We spotted former Major League Baseball pitcher Dwight 'Doc' Gooden playing craps. He was also signing autographs for the guests.

There was also an auction going on.

Brothers John and Michael Sabat. Michael is one of the event chairs.

Gerard Miller, a research analyst from SAC Capital, and Bryan Jaeger, an equity derivatives broker at De Paola Trading. Both of them played hockey.

Whitney Tilson with Gary Vura.

Vura ended up winning the putting contest.

It was between Vura and Kiran Kannancheri.

Then the tournament proceeded upstairs the mezzanine for the final five tables.

Shortly after, Frankenberger was knocked out by Jonathan Cohen from HSBC. 'He limped,' Frankenberger said, adding that he went all in.

Event chair Michael Sabat and his wife Amber. She was absolutely crushing it at the poker table. She played the first three hours sitting next to Einhorn. Her table also had pro player Andy Frankenberger and last year's winner David Rogers.

Toward midnight only a handful of players remained at the final table — Normal Lai (Omega Advisors), John Sabat (SAC), Ray Waterhouse (Magnitude Capital), Jeff Klein, David Marquart (First Nwe York Securities), Raza Mujaba (Tricadia Capital), Oleg Nodelman, (EcoR1 Capital), Amber Sabat (Michael Sabat's wife) and Paul Britton (Capstone Investment Advisors).

Oleg Nodelman, managing director of EcoR1 Capital, and New York State Senator Jeff Klein at the final table. Nodelman finished third and Klein came in sixth.

Amber Sabat finished second in the tournament. She started playing poker about 10 years ago when she graduated from Michigan State. By the way, she played hockey there and won a national championship as a starting left wing.

Capstone's Paul Britton ended up winning. Britton said that he only plays poker once a year and it's at this event.

Jed Weinstein of WCMG Events seen here with Michael Sabat was the producer of this poker tournament.

Now let's meet some other competitive people on the Street...

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