Television and cinema have had an undeniable influence in the shaping of today’s world. It seems as though Hollywood has worked its way into more venues now then ever before.
Amazingly enough, celebrities and the media have even tapped into the world of poker, bridging a gap between two vastly different cultures. Whether for the love of the game or the longing for another minute behind the cameras, these celebrities are creating a stir in the poker world that may be long overdue.
It is a surprise every time the World Series of Poker is on television because stars like Tobey Maguire, Ray Ramano, Ben Affleck, Michael Phelps, or Adam Sandler are always involved in the play. It seems like every other table holds a famous athlete or actor just waiting to play a hand. Few of them actually make it into the paying portion of the tournaments, but it doesn’t matter. Most of these celebrities just play for fun, as the entry fee is only a fraction of their Hollywood worth.
Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, and Antonio Esfandiari
There are, however, some celebrities who take the love of poker to a whole new level. Oscar and Academy Award nominated actress Jennifer Tilly (famous for her roles in Bride of Chucky and Liar Liar) has made a substantial impact on the poker world, winning the World Series’ Ladies Event in 2005. She’s involved in tournaments just as often as some of today’s top poker professionals, and she’s even been featured on Poker after Dark.
It doesn’t hurt that she’s dating Phil Laak either, as he is a well-known player in the poker world. Tilly is one of only a few celebrities to take the leap into the professional player scene, but the poker world seems to be a little bit better because of it.
Kevin Pollak 2012 WSOP
As a whole, celebrities play for the experience and the joy of the game, reasons that a lot of today’s amateurs seem to forget. Everyone gets caught up in the rivalry and thirst for money, but they forget what poker really came from.
Poker is a game of skill and strategy, sure; but when it comes down to it, it’s still a game. Celebrities in poker help keep it just that. They bring back the laughter, the jokes (although that polar bear joke by comedian and actor Kevin Pollak at this year’s WSOP was just painful), and the table talk that make poker as great as it is, teaching everyone a much-needed lesson in fun. Plus, if you happen to find yourself at a table with one of them, you don’t have to feel bad for taking their money. There’s certainly more where that came from.