Allied Domecq Spirits, North America (NYSE:AED), a marketing-led brands business, and Canadian Club whisky are putting all their cards on the table, to the tune of $2.5 million. In May, Canadian Club will unveil its biggest marketing promotion to date -- a national poker program giving ten lucky winners the chance to compete alongside World Series of Poker Champion Chris Moneymaker in Las Vegas for the multi-million dollar purse.

Appropriately coined, Dealing up a Smother Night, the program features thousands of on-and off-premise promotions developed to help Canadian Clubs consumers stay smooth as they aim to duplicate Moneymakers feat as an amateur back in 2003, he parlayed a $40 bet into a $2.5 million cash prize.

From May through August, 2005, five regional poker tournaments featuring more than 350 on-premise poker-themed events will take place at sports bars in five key Canadian Club markets. The five winners will qualify to go to Las Vegas to compete in the final tournament hosted by Moneymaker. An additional four players will be chosen from regional sweepstakes, and a tenth player will be selected based on a national website contest (via that will be heavily promoted through off-premise merchandising and in 10 additional markets where CC will conduct more than 400 on-premise poker nights.

The game isnt over after the tourney and sweepstakes end, as CC stays at the table and deals up more than 2,500 events in 17 markets throughout the summer. Canadian Club is also raising the ante with a special edition poker bottle, available in the retail trade between May and July, 2005.

CCs association with poker which began at the grassroots level in 2001 capitalizes on the tremendous phenomenon that poker has now become, from the cities to suburbia, said Susan Kilgore, Canadian Club Marketing Director at Allied Domecq Spirits, North America. Kilgore added that the timing of Allied Domecqs major investment in the national program coincides with Canadian Clubs return to sales growth. After years of flat or declining sales, the Canadian category is now increasing its share of the U.S. spirits industry, with Canadian Club leading the way, thanks to consumers increasing interest in premium spirits. According to AC Nielsen, CC consumption increased by roughly 8 percent for the 4-week period ending March 5, 2005.

Canadian Club is widely regarded as the benchmark for premium Canadian whiskies, and is known for its light, smooth and mellow taste. CC is the perfect ingredient for a winning poker match, and we are thrilled to offer our band of brothers a smooth taste and attitude when theyre throwing down their chips, said Dan Tullio, the brands Master Distiller.

Canadian Club signature Smooth cocktails will be featured throughout all on-premise poker events, and Canadian Club-branded poker tables, chips, cards and consumer giveaways will be part of the CC tournaments. Canadian Club Smooth ambassadors, direct mail, email newsletters and off-premise point-of-sale materials also will promote the Canadian Club poker program. Participation in tournament events will be limited to adults of legal drinking age.

In addition to hosting the final weekend of the Canadian Club poker tournament, Chris Moneymaker will make several guest appearances at on- and off-premise events, and will attend promotions with distributors in leading Canadian Club markets. Moneymaker was an amateur player who came out of nowhere to win the 2003 World Series of Poker, proving to newcomers and poker pros alike that anything is possible with a chip and a chair.

Chris Moneymaker is the ideal spokesperson for our poker program he is a proven, smooth winner, just like Canadian Club, Tullio said.