It's all for charity, of course, as the Oscar winner settles in for a week of parties and forums

By Vickie Bane
Updated August 24, 2008 11:30 AM
Credit: INF

Ben Affleck is upping his stake in politics – with poker.

The Oscar winner, 36, will be in Denver this week for the Democratic National Convention, where he’ll be celebrating at more than one political party. Among his official duties: performing at a roundtable event for SeaChange Ideas Forum, packing food for the needy and playing poker to benefit paralyzed veterans.

Colorado first lady Jeannie Ritter, who joins Affleck and Barack Obama’s wife Michelle on Wednesday to box produce for the charity America’s Second Harvest, tells PEOPLE that Affleck’s celebrity, “right or wrong, gives us our traction.” But, while she and her teenage children look forward to meeting the onetime Sexiest Man Alive, Ritter says it “pales in comparison” to being with Michelle Obama.

Affleck won’t be second choice on Tuesday night when he sits down with pros Andy Bloch and Barry Greenstein to play Poker at the Ballpark, with the proceeds going toward the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Other celebs such as Paul Rudd, Sarah Silverman and Seth Meyers are also expected to ante-up at the VIP tournament sponsored by the Poker Players Alliance.

Then Affleck takes center stage at an ideas forum billed as the “History of Progressive America” on Wednesday afternoon. Along with Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington and musician Lupe Fiasco, Affleck will do live performances of scenes from producer Chris Moore’s film, The People Speak.

Other celebrities expected to attend the week’s festivities: Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, Annette Bening, Jessica Alba and Oprah Winfrey.