Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are hunting for some goodwill at the card table.
The Oscar-owning pals turned up in Las Vegas Thursday for a charity poker tournament to raise awareness and money to aid the victims of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
The event, dubbed Ante Up for Africa, was held at the Rio Hotel and benefited the Enough Project and the International Rescue Committee, which are providing relief for the 2 million refugees displaced in the conflict-ridden region of Sudan. An estimated 500,000 lives have been lost to the bloodshed.
Aside from Damon and Affleck, those celebs showing off their poker pusses were Adam Sandler, Ray Romano, Martin Sheen, Kevin James, Hank Azaria, Shannon Elizabeth and Damon's Ocean's Thirteen costar Don Cheadle, who organized Ante Up with professional poker player Annie Duke and has played a large role in bringing attention to African issues ever since starring in Hotel Rwanda.
According to Casino City Times, Damon went head to head with a pro in the first five minutes of the 170-player contest and was in the lead before losing on the river—the final card. But Damon, who helped popularize the poker craze in Rounders, didn't lament his quick exit.
"I'm here to try and raise money and awareness for the tragedies taking place," the 36-year-old thesp was quoted as saying. "I really hope it becomes an annual event. I hope it does and I hope it doesn't. I hope we can solve this issue and refocus the efforts on something else in Africa."
Cheadle seconded the sentiment.
"Hopefully we won't be here in five years for Darfur," he told reporters at a press conference. "This isn't going to be solved one nation at a time. We need to bring this to the world. We're actually doing a great job in this country."
Affleck, a former poker tournament champ, lasted little longer than his fellow celebs, getting knocked out about halfway through the game. The Smokin' Aces actor told People his game has become a little rusty as his priorities these days, like caring for his two-year-old daughter, Violet, with wife Jennifer Garner.
"I've got a kid and I'm directing movies. I have hardly any time now," Affleck said. "Poker takes a lot of time if you want to stay good. I don't want to suck. I was good. I'm still good. Family is better though."
Before the Boston buddies headed to Sin City, the New York Daily News reported that Affleck and Damon took time out over the Fourth of July for a joint family vacation in Hawaii with their respective wives and children. Aside from surfing, the star duo began collaborating on their first script since taking home a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award in 1998 for Good Will Hunting.
No word yet what the story's about, but Damon's publicist confirmed the pair are back behind the keyboard.
"That's their plan," she told the Daily News. "Whether or not they are doing it right now, I don't know."