Poker is the epitome of cool and has long been depicted in films as glamorous, risky, and exciting. As such, it’s no surprise that beyond the average poker player. A few celebs are all in for playing a round or more of poker on a casual or even professional tournament basis.
While avid players will know that poker requires more than celeb money, good looks, and expensive clothes to strategize poker hands and stay focused on the game. Those attributes can, in some cases, help to intimidate and throw off other players.
Plus, despite people assuming celebs are pampered individuals who are better suited to the world of television talk shows and music studios. Stars arguably have a range of transferable skills which would do well in poker.
For example, acting skills! Which are ideal when players need to shut out all of their emotions and display a poker face during an intense game. Moreover, experience staying cool, calm, and collected in front of masses of flashing and pushy paparazzi also has its way of toughening up celebs’ mental capacity to remain calm in stressful situations.
So for a rundown of the celebs that may be worth following and looking up to in the poker world. Here are a few stars who, like any ordinary person, practiced and perfected their game to work their way up in the poker realm.
- Jennifer Tilly
Tilly may have played an airhead girlfriend or wife on the big screen, but she’s a smart cookie and one not to underestimate at the poker table.
Initially, Jen admitted she went along with Phil Laak to the casinos because she had an ulterior motive to play poker. But because it was such a male-dominated scene, she didn’t want to go alone.
What’s clear from the offset is that the actress didn’t need the money the way other players might. Tilly admitted there was something about poker games she was drawn to, and so she continued to frequent casinos and perfect her skills.
Jennifer’s hard work and dedication to poker paid off in 2005 when she won a WSOP bracelet and $158,625 in the Ladies Championship, where she outlasted 600 players.
From here, Tilly became a regular on the poker scene. Then, around 2015, she almost entirely eclipsed her acting career in favour of national and international poker tournaments.
To date, the Hollywood actress has made $992,501 from tournaments.
- Tobey Maguire
Molly’s Game, originally a memoir and later a film, revealed how “Molly” organized poker games for the rich and famous. You might be wondering what this has to do with Toby? Well, he was the brains behind the entire operation.
In a nutshell, Toby operated exclusive illegal poker games for the rich and famous in a quest to win millions from rich subpar poker players.
He ran the operation with his accomplice TV producer Houston Curtis, and they invited Hollywood stars and millionaires to play.
Here are a few celebrities and well-known businesspeople who attended what was once a private poker event:
- Matt Damon
- Ben Affleck
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Dan Bilzerian
- Guy Laliberte
Alongside his experience puppeteering illegal poker games, he also has played a series of online and live poker games, such as the National championship of poker and the WPT Legends of Poker event.
So far, his live tournament winnings are around the $250,000 mark.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
With an actor and actress already in the mix. Here’s a famous professional footballer who has shown on numerous occasions he has a passion for poker.
Ronaldo is first and foremost recognized as one of the greatest footballers of all time. But he also has another skill up his sleeve, he enjoys poker, and he’s pretty good at it too.
For instance, in 2016, Ronaldo played Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul to win a cash prize for charity. Ronaldo claimed the winning title and won a lump sum of money.
Much like the other celebs in this post, money is not the ultimate driving factor for these players. With Cristiano admitting he gets the same rush playing poker as he does on the pitch. Divulging further, it’s the competitiveness and pressure in poker which he enjoys the most.
- Jason Alexander
He’s better known for playing a role as George Constanza in the TV sitcom Seinfeld. Still, Jason also has another skill alongside acting, playing poker!
Jason Alexander frequents online poker rooms under the screen name J. Alexander and has competed in several tournaments.
One of Jason’s notable achievements includes winning a huge poker hand, earning him a $500,000 grand prize at Bravos Celebrity Poker Showdown. Jason donated his winnings to The United Way of America, which was used to support the survivors of the New Orleans disaster.
- Gabe Kaplan
Gabe seemed to disappear after the Welcome Back Kotter presented their closing episode. However, reports later emerged that Gabe had been investing his time in perfecting his poker game.
For instance, he attended the Super Bowl of Poker, which is highly regarded in poker, much like the WSOP events.
After getting to the final table in a few prestigious poker events and winning a 1980 tournament, Gabon earned almost $2 million from poker games by 2019.
The great thing about poker is that everyone, regardless of status or wealth, starts on an equal footing in a poker tournament.
As such, if players are ever wanting to rub virtual shoulders with celebs and even challenge their skills and intelligence, venturing online to play a round or more of poker is the way forward.