10 of the Best Celebrity Poker Players
Poker is a game that anyone can play with ‘a chip and a chair’. With poker tournament series like the World Series of Poker attracting thousands of people who play for the chance at poker immortality, the game attracts everyone, including actors, sports stars and entertainers.
Armed with huge bankrolls, these celebrity poker players challenge themselves to learn the game and it’s fair to say a few of them have become very proficient at Texas Hold’em Poker. The players listed below all love the game, but don’t let their celebrity status fool you, they are poker players with sharp skills and they’re looking to ruthlessly take your stack, even if they are kind enough to sign an autograph for you as they do it.
Everything Shannon has done in her life has been successful. Before becoming a global sensation thanks to her performance as ‘Nadia’ in the American Pie trilogy, she was so good at tennis she considered turning professional. In 2006 Shannon admitted her love of poker, describing the game as “her second career”. She regularly visited Las Vegas to mix it with the best poker players and was a semi-finalist in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2007. This result and other tournament poker cashes proved her credentials as a top poker player.
Fans of Everybody Loves Raymond came to love stand-up comedian Brad Garrett, with his hard to miss 6” 9’ frame. Garrett has been very active since the early 1990’s in both movies and television with a Hollywood CV including hit movies such as “A Bugs Life”, “Garfield” and “Finding Nemo” with his deep voice particularly suited to animated movies, where he is in high demand. Garrett describes himself as a part-time professional poker player and he appeared on Poker Night in America where he had a memorable spat with “Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth, scolding him for his constant trash talking.
Sam Simon is the creator of “The Simpsons” so you can rest assured he is adequately bankrolled for most poker games. Because money is, shall we say, not really an issue for him, Sam enjoys regularly playing in his local cash games. Sam has a number of WSOP cashes to his name and has been playing live poker since the mid-1990’s, long before the 2003 poker boom skyrocketed poker’s popularity. You could almost call him old-school. Sam plays all poker games including Omaha 8 or Better, which accounts for one of his WSOP cashes.
The star of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, Romano became the highest-paid television actor in the world when the show generated $3.9 billion in 2004. Romano is a regular at the World Series of Poker, regularly taking his seat in the Main Event and aiming to better his performance from the previous year. He is known for his approachability and friendly engagement with his fans. Romano revealed in an interview he plays in a monthly home game with his friends in a turbo structure, so finds the slower structure of the WSOP Main Event very challenging.
One of the most successful actors in the world, starring in films like Spider Man, Seabiscuit and Pawn Sacrifice, Maguire demands more than $25 million per movie. He has a long-standing interest in poker, playing both live poker and online poker. Maguire is known to have participated in controversial nosebleed stakes cash games with fellow acting stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck with huge sums of money changing hands. These mid-2000s cash games were later immortalised into a ‘based on true events’ movie Molly’s Game.
Forever in the good graces of poker fans thanks to appearing in the movie ‘Rounders’, which is widely accepted as one of the best gambling movies of all time, Matt Damon combined his time starring in Hollywood blockbusters with regular appearances at The World Series of Poker. A cash game participant of the infamous “Molly’s Game”, Matt plays most of his poker behind-the-scenes, away from the public gaze. His character’s story in Rounders inspired many players around the world to try to become professional poker players.
Jean Robert Bellande
Charismatic and fearless, “Action Bob” has branded himself as a player likely to go bust at any moment. He appeared as a contestant on “Survivor, China” being eliminated early but remained part of the show’s jury panel. He won his first WSOP bracelet in 2018 and regularly plays in nosebleed stakes games in Macau. He is active on social media on Twitter and Instagram with thousands of followers. JRB’s social media reveals a high-rolling baller not afraid of the swings of poker, a key element of a poker professional. Jean Robert has over $2.9 million in tournament cashes and by his own admission he has won and lost millions more in high-stakes cash games.
Hollywood superstar Ben Affleck is one of the few super celebrities who has a top poker win on his poker resume, thanks to his 2004 California State Poker Championships win. Another participant of the infamous ‘Molly’s Game’, Affleck has taken tuition from top poker players such as Daniel Negreanu and the late Amir Vahedi. Affleck is a keen gambler who was once accused of card counting at the Hard Rock Casino and was subsequently banned. The casinos noted Affleck was rather successful at Blackjack with the NY Post reporting that Affleck achieved wins in excess of $1 million on more than one occasion.
Best known for playing George Costanza on Seinfeld, Jason loves poker, playing whenever he can both live and online. Alexander is a regular on poker television shows and won Celebrity Poker Showdown in its 8th season, winning $500,000 for his chosen charity. Alexander is so legitimised as a poker player that he has managed to generate interest from top online poker sites for sponsorship opportunities.
A hugely successful Hollywood actress, Jennifer was originally given a popular video poker game by her father, ‘World Series of Poker’, which ignited an interest in poker she retains to this day. Jennifer has over $1 million in live poker cashes and has 1 WSOP bracelet to her name, achieved when she won the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold’em event in 2005. Jennifer is coached by her professional poker playing boyfriend Phil Laak, who she has been in a relationship with since 2004. Jennifer was previously married to another poker player between 1984 and 1991, The Simpsons creator Sam Simon.
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