Roman Romanovsky, who first got in touch with REG at an EPT stop a couple of years ago, had already initiated a charity marathon in 2015, when he grinded for more than four months and ultimately donated $18,500 to highly effective charities such as the Against Malaria Foundation, GiveWell’s top recommended charity, and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, as well as an additional $23,000 to different charities in his homeland Ukraine.
This year, it’s much bigger: Starting with a bankroll of $66,666, Roman plans to donate two thirds of his $600,000 profit goal.
He announced his campaign here on twoplustwo and on Gipsyteam (in Russian) where he was able to convince more than 20 fellow poker players to join him. Their goal is to raise at least $500,000 for charity. Up until now, it is not decided when and how the funds will be allocated in order to make sure they have the largest possible impact: “It’s a charity pool, which will be distributed in the way that i’m still figuring out and will be figuring out for quite a while.”
One of his favorite candidate charities so far is the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR), a REG recommended charity training people in the use of rationality and clear, analytical thinking. If these skills and values spread, it could lead to a more reasonable and therefore better world. “The reason why the world is so messed up is because humans have huge innate irrationality and countless biases in their brain and they driven by their emotions all the time” Roman said in a Skype conversation. And he adds: “Thanks to evolution for that.” (see also our previous blog posts on rationality)
Roman’s motivation to start his campaign and to keep going was “how bad things are in the world and the responsibility I have being aware of all of that”. By combining his heart and his head, Roman incorporates many of the values held up in the Effective Altruism movement: Moved by the dire state of the world, he takes a long and hard look at how to best leverage his resources to accomplish the most good that he can.
One particularly effective way to do this is to inspire others to get involved: The charity marathon is open-ended and it is still possible to participate: “If you are a poker player you can join the initiative and give some percent of your winnings to the charities. If you are not you can just root for the guys that are in or donate some money to charities by yourself.”