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News : Health Oct 5, 2012 - 3:58:12 PM

Play poker with the pros for free

By National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter

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For the ninth consecutive year, more than a hundred poker enthusiasts will convene to battle it out for a seat at the World Series of Poker all while making a difference in the fight against multiple sclerosis.

For the first time ever, tournament organizer Jason D’Aloia is offering a special opportunity for those with multiple sclerosis. The first five people who live with MS and sign up for the tournament will play for free.

“The event is going to break $200,000 in funds raised this year so I wanted to do something special for people with MS,” said Stratford resident D’Aloia. “I want to let them share in the experience, play with the pros and witness all the love and support this event gives to MS.”

The ninth annual MS Turek Charity Classic will be held Sunday, Nov. 4, at the Holiday Inn in Mount Kisco, N.Y. Last year’s tournament raised more than $18,000 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter and the thousands of Connecticut residents battling multiple sclerosis. To date, the annual Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament has raised more than $183,000.

D’Aloia established the tournament in 2004 in honor of his mother-in-law, Janice Turek, of Enfield, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

“This all began as a Christmas gift,” said D’Aloia. “I gave my mother-in-law a letter one Christmas informing her that a charity poker tournament was going to be held in her honor to help find a cure for MS. After witnessing her strength in fighting the disease, I knew a fun poker tournament would be a wonderful way to show our support as a family. The tournament has grown steadily ever since.”

More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Turek, live with the unpredictable and baffling effects of multiple sclerosis. The cause is unknown, and, as a result, there currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.

The Turek Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament is an example of Do It Yourself fundraising. Funds raised through Do It Yourself fundraising events, such as the Turek Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament, ensure ongoing scientific research to find a cure and provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.

The tournament has received national recognition and worldwide sponsorship, including, Full Tilt, World Series of Poker Academy, Foxwoods, Sam Adams, La-Z-Boy, New York Knicks, David Wright Foundation, New York Giants, New York Jets, ESPN and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

“The event promises to be both lively and very competitive,” said D’Aloia. “The winner will receive a World Series of Poker (WSOP) seat worth $10,000 where he or she will have an incredible opportunity to win millions.”

D’Aloia reflected on what it meant to him to be able to host the tournament year after year.

“I am committed to making this event bigger and better every year,” said D’Aloia, who is hoping for more than 120 players this year. “The tournament is going to cross the $200,000 mark for money raised this year and that’s pretty special to me, but by no means is it the end. We’re going to continue to grow.”

Professional poker player and 2012 World Series of Poker bracelet winner Andy Bloch has contributed to the event for the past six years. His involvement and that of many other poker professionals, like 2004 WSOP Champ Greg Raymer, Antonio Esfandiari, Victor Ramdin and Matt Matros, have helped to bring recognition to the tournament. This year’s celebrity attendees include professional poker players Bloch and three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, Matt Matros; radio host Goumba Johnny, Howie Schwab of ESPN, 2006 Superbowl Champion Barrett Brooks from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The event begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, with registration and the cards fly officially at 10:30 a.m. Participants can re-buy or add-on until the event stops for a lunch break at 1 p.m. with food provided by The Holiday Inn. The tournament resumes at 2 p.m., continuing until there is a winner.

There is a $200 fee to register to play and free for spectators. The Holiday Inn is located at 1 Holiday Inn Drive, Mount Kisco, N.Y. For more information on the 2012 Turek Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament, contact Jason D'Aloia at 203-570-0723 or visit

To learn more about multiple sclerosis and Do It Yourself fundraising, please visit

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