Hulin gives back in a big way, donates winnings

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There are times when poker players can show the rest of the world just how generous they can be by playing in charity events to help a great cause. But my friend Brent Hulin took it to the next level.

Hulin, who works in global aircraft sales and acquisitions, recently played in the Milestone Aviation Group’s second annual poker tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Most charity events have players entering with the knowledge that if they cash they get to keep the money and a portion of the buy-in is earmarked for a specific charity. But this event allowed individuals to choose their own charities if they cashed. Hulin, 29, chose the Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and for good reason: He beat leukemia as a 15-year-old, thanks large in part to St. Jude, and Make-A-Wish sent him to the Super Bowl where the Bucs beat the Raiders.

Hulin bested nearly 100 players in the charity event and finished second, donating all $15K of his winnings, splitting the money between the two charities. I thought this was a remarkably generous act and incredible feat so I chatted with him about it and his poker career.

How long have you been playing poker? I started playing poker about 10 years ago. Texas Hold’em was very popular at the time. I joined some co-workers after work at a bar called Pete’s. They taught me about the game and I won a few bucks that night. I was hooked. I started playing in some online games and started playing house games and hosting cash games. There were some nights I’d play till 6 a.m. at friends’ houses, winning a few hundred bucks. I cashed fifth in 2009 in the United Way poker tournament for $1K. The buy-ins were split into charity/cash payouts. (Because of) my busy work and life schedule, I hadn’t played poker in about 18 months. I just got back into the game in February.

What was the coolest thing you have won? My good friend Kevin Eyster (of Lafayette) and I played poker together for many years when I was in college. I signed a deck of cards for him once when I beat him up in a cash game. After he moved away and started playing in some big-name tournaments, he stopped in town one night by my apartment to visit. He had the munchies and ate a box of Cheez-Its Hot & Spicy. I told him when he wins a big tournament he better send me a signed box of Cheez-Its and it better be the Hot & Spicy. A few months ago I received my signed box after he won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown and cashed a cool $660K. I won’t be eating those any time soon!

COUSHATTA: The Coushatta Casino poker room hosts its $550 Summer Blowout on July 19 at 10 a.m. with one re-entry allowed until the first break. With 30-minute levels and the top 20 paid in a field capped at 150 entrants, this is a great chance to win easy money. Seats will go fast so sign up now.

Also, don’t forget Coushatta is having a drawing on July 26 for an Ante Up Poker Cruise. Call for details.

— Email Matt at matt.anteup@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @acadianapkrplyr and visit facebook.com/acadianapokerplay ers.