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Sports Poker Event Trying To Buck Recession

Poker
AP
Poker

For years, fans have met their favorite sports stars by paying hundreds of dollars for a couple seconds of in-person contact and a signature at a memorabilia show. Others have dished thousands to meet their heroes at fantasy camps.

Bruce Bibbero thinks his latest offering tops it all.

It's called the Sports Legends Challengeand the headline event is a poker tournament against the world's greatest sports stars perhaps ever to sit down in one room at one time.

"The thing is, unlike a tennis or golf pro-am, you can really be a legitimate competitor against these guys in poker," Bibbero says. "And you pay money, but you can win money too."

Full disclosure: I was intrigued when the ad appeared on my blog. I clicked on it and couldn't believe the names and the prizes.

Aikman. Emmitt. Broadway Joe. Ditka. Sayers. Herschel. Jim Brown. Abdul-Jabbar. Dr. J. Jerry west. Reggie. Brooks. Sugar Ray and Bobby Hull.

Then millions of dollars in prizes from challenges (paid out in annuities), mostly consisting of poker tournaments, but slots, blackjack and golf included too.

Could this be real?

I dialed the number and found Bibbero, who says it's all legit.

To be honest, I was surprised there wasn't the slightest bit of nerves in Bibbero's voice.

Despite a $10,000 fee - which includes entry in all the events and five nights at the Atlantis in the Bahamas in mid-September - Bibbero says he has signed up hundreds of people for the Challenge.

Although the Challengeneeds a full roster of 2,100 participants to realize the full prize values, Bibbero says he's confident the Sports Legends Challengewill be sold out by the end of July.

"I think we've done so well because people want to escape to some sort of fantasy," Bibbero said.

Bibbero says that the project - backed by a wealthy foreign investor - will then pick steam, as he plans to take the idea around the world to feature top athletes in each continent. Eventually, he hopes this will lead to a "global unifying event, with all the legends in the room at one time."

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com