Who doesn’t like a good game of poker? Many of us gather round the table at home with friends, family or both, and some of us even get a little success playing the casinos. One of the most fascinating facts in the poker world is that, sometimes, the celebrities make their way into the casino pit to throw in their money with that of the ordinary folk. Film stars, athletes, directors, comedians and writers – you’ll be surprised just how many do it. Here are the best of the celebrity poker players:
1. Tobey Maguire
The former Spiderman actor is known as a bit of a shark at the poker table. There are stories of him being an unpleasant character to have around the table, but there is no debate that he is a real winner when it comes to playing poker. At one point, he and several others were sued for winnings they took from a Ponzi-schemer named Brad Ruderman – Maguire was taken for $300,000, which shows how high the stakes are when you have this Hollywood star at your table.
2. Ben Affleck
As well as an acclaimed actor and director, Ben Affleck has a reputation for being a quality card player. He once waived a $1 million appearance fee to attend a tournament, only to find that he wasn’t able to be helicoptered out to the cruise ship. He has a reputation as a good person to play with – there are few stories of him being the same kind of nightmare that Tobey Maguire is known as. Still, he likes the stakes to be high, and his private cash games typically have a minimum buy-in of between $50,000 and $100,000.
3. Jennifer Tilly
Though not the biggest celebrity known to play poker, Jennifer Tilly is someone known as much for her poker reputation as her on-screen career. Not many people can boast a WSOP bracelet, an Oscar nomination and a recurring role on Family Guy. Clearly, Tilly is quite the expert in balancing success in her career and her hobbies.
4. Nick Cassavetes
This actor had a Palme D’Or nomination for his part in causing us all to shed a collective tear while watching The Notebook. What you may not know, however, is that he has won reasonable amounts of cash in WSOP and WPT events, and also around half a dozen episodes of High Stakes Poker to his name. A solid player on the world poker scene as well as the acting one.
5. Elizabeth Shannon
You’ll know her from American Pie, but Elizabeth Shannon has forged a greater reputation for her card-playing skill. She finished third in the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, which appeared to be the first step in a glittering poker career, but so far that is her only big success.
6. Rafael Nadal
The tennis ace signed a deal with PokerStars which many assumed was to have them sponsor a dealer for his home game. With such notoriety on the tennis courts, his poker debut attracted a lot of interest as he very publicly went up against Negreanu. As it turned out, his tournament performance was somewhat lacking – to date, his total poker earnings round out at 0.
7. Martin Amis
Though his public poker appearances are restricted to a celebrity episode of Late Night Poker on Channel 4, where he played with Coren, Fry and Ricky Gervais, Amis has spoken of his teenage love of the game. He has eloquently described the ‘cool ostentation of poker’, and he played for an Australian magazine at the 2006 WSOP championship event. Amis is one of several writers who have played the game, including Ian Fleming, Anthony Holden, Al Alvarez and David Mamet.
8. Vicky Coren Mitchell
This British writer somewhat blurs the line between being a celebrity poker player and a poker-playing celebrity. She is, technically, a professional player, but she is also known for being a writer, the host of Only Connect and a regular on the UK panel show circuit. Interpret her role as you will, but she makes the list for her celebrity status and her poker skill level.
This is far from an exhaustive list of the world’s celebrity poker players, but what’s always fascinating about celebrity players is the fact that they have big money to stake, so their games come with various highs and lows. Whether they like to play privately or have made a mark on the professional circuit, it’s clear that poker is a popular pastime for the rich and famous. If you like to put yourself to the test, either regularly or from time to time, perhaps it will interest you to know which celebrities share your hobby.
Test Out Your Poker Skills
Whether you’re a celebrity or not, you can test your poker skills right here at Gaming Club. With options including popular video poker and live online poker played with real dealers in real time, we have options to suit all styles of play.