David Einhorn is making one of his most daring bets yet.
The hedge fund manager has staked $1 million on a charity tournament at the World Series of Poker, which will award $18.3 million to the winner. Mr. Einhorn, who runs Greenlight Capital, is currently in 16th place, in a field of 36 professional and amateur players.
The no-limit Texas hold ‘em tournament, which began on Sunday in Las Vegas and lasts through Tuesday, signals a return to the felt tables for Mr. Einhorn, an avid card player who has graced the World Series of Poker twice before. He is playing with his own money, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
“You could tell, once the cards went in the air, that he was there to focus on the poker decisions,” said Seth Palansky, a spokesman for the World Series of Poker. “He’s not the flashiest guy you’ll find,” Mr. Palansky continued. “But I believe that’s the way he likes it. He’s not an attention seeker at all.”
Mr. Einhorn, known for his bet against Lehman Brothers before the collapse of the investment bank in 2008, plans to donate any proceeds from the tournament to City Year, a Boston-based organization that works with public schools to prevent student dropouts. A supporter of the charity for several years, Mr. Einhorn came to the group with his offer, according to Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for City Year.
“This is something that he did on his own initiative,” said Mr. Adamec, who has been following Mr. Einhorn’s progress on hisTwitter feed. “It’s certainly a unique way to support City Year, and we’ve never had it before, but it’s great.”
The tournament itself has raised $5.5 million for One Drop, a charity based in Montreal that supports access to clean drinking water. The event, which required a $1 million buy-in, stems from a conversation between the founder of One Drop, Guy Laliberté, and Mitch Garber, the chief executive of Caesars Interactive Entertainment. Mr. Laliberté, who also founded Cirque de Soleil, is playing in the tournament.
Other entrants from the investment world include Daniel Shak of the hedge fund SHK Asset Management and the venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.
Last year, Mr. Einhorn went bust during Day 2 of the World Series of Poker. In 2006, he finished in 18th place, winning more than $600,000, which he gave to charity.
Mr. Einhorn wore a baseball cap and a red jacket with the City Year logo as he sat at the card table on Sunday. The jacket, which is embroidered with Mr. Einhorn’s name, is considered the charity’s highest honor for a member outside its corps group of workers. Previous recipients of a City Year jacket include Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton and John McCain.
Mr. Einhorn received his during a private ceremony last week at his New York office, according to Mr. Adamec, the City Year spokesman.
“David believes that to solve the education crisis, public schools have to succeed through creative and proven initiatives,” said Jonathan Doorley, a spokesman for Mr. Einhorn. “City Year is at the forefront of making needed improvements within the education system.”
Though Mr. Einhorn is an amateur player, he has had success going up against the pros. He updated his Twitter as the tournament resumed on Monday.
- By William Alden