Celebrities… they’re just like us.
They like to hang out with friends, just like us. They like to go to Las Vegas, just like us. They like to play Poker, just like us. They like to gamble, just like us. They might even hit up a site like Topmobilecasino.co.uk, indulge for a bit, just like us.
Putting all that aside, today we will be taking a look at the best celebrity poker players, who even without their celebrity status would be noteworthy in the poker community. Although, some probably wouldn’t have the bankroll to be a force in the biggest cash games and highest buy-in events around, but that’s besides the point. Celebrities help to legitimize the poker industry to casual outsiders of the game. Here are some of the best at doing this task:
10. Tobey Maguire
Former Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire is a regular winner in high-stakes poker games. It’s been reported that he refuses to play poker without his Shuffle Master, a $17,000 device that is supposed to deliver a fair, random shuffle every time and increase the speed of each game. It’s also been reported that Maquire is one of the worst tippers alive. And also he has been refereed to as Tobey “Hannibal Lecter” Maguire because of his uncanny ability to talk someone off of a good hand.
9. Ben Affleck
It’s been reported that Ben Affleck might just have an addiction to this game, but he’s denied it on several occasions. Though, on a somewhat unrelated note, here’s an interesting story: Several years ago, Affleck was neatly arranging his $50,000 stack of poker chips during a big game at the Beverly Hills Hotel when a fellow player cleared his throat across the table. “Hey, yo, did that Jennifer Lopez’s ass have cellulite on it, or was it nice?” Affleck, ever the gentleman, clarified that it was “nice,” then pushed some chips into an ample pot. Nice indeed.
8. Matt Damon
Because there is nothing Ben Affleck can do that he can’t do better, you can also find Matt Damon at a poker table near you. He, of course, starred in Rounders, one of the greatest poker movies of all time. His character in that film was basically the catalyst for many now-professionals to take the game seriously. Sure, he isn’t the greatest player in the world. In the long list of gamblers, he will probably not be remembered as a poker player much past a mere mention in his extensive actor bio. But dammit, he still deserves a shout-out.
7. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps, who retired after the 2012 summer games in London at the age of 27, is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time with 22 glorious medals. Since Phelps’ retirement he has been seen playing cards in London and Las Vegas, where it was reported that he earned $100,000 in a high-stakes cash game. He later denied the report. Phelps has had some cashes on the tournament circuit, however, making a final table at the 2008 Caesars Palace Classic.
6. Nick Cassavetes
A participant on PokerStars’ The Big Game and GSN’s High Stakes Poker, the director of the quintessential chick flick, 2004’s The Notebook, has proved to be anything but gooey with emotion at the poker table. In addition to holding his own against the top cash game players in the world, Cassavetes has cashed for quite a bit of lifetime in tournaments. He was close to a WSOP main event final table in 2005, finishing in 93rd place for $77,000.
5. Kevin Pollak
Actor Kevin Pollak has played in the World Series of Poker since 2012. During his first effort, he made a surprising Day 5 run and put up a 134th-place finish to make him the highest-finishing celebrity in post-boom main event history. He returned last year and exited before the money, disappointed with his result. Pollak loves poker, plays in a home game and loves the main-event experience, but like anyone else, putting up the $10,000 isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Yes, he’s an actor with a keen eye on his budget.
4. Jason Alexander
Jason Alexander, perhaps better known as George Costanza, has been on the Hollywood poker scene for decades. When the celebrity poker craze started to happen back in the ’90s he was one of the first called. He’s played in poker games with the likes of Teri Hatcher and Kevin Pollak, but has stories about legendary games that range from old-school bouts between Steve Martin and Neil Simon to current ones with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.
3. Jennifer Tilly
In 2005 Jennifer Tilly may have seemed out of her element when she took home the gold bracelet in the World Series of Poker Ladies No-Limit Hold’em event, but she would prove that she was no one-hit-wonder many times over throughout the following decade. She recently took some time off, but now she’s back and seemingly more confident than ever that she’ll win a second gold bracelet. Also, it must distracting for the other players, the fact that Jen looks like a ridiculously gorgeous live roulette girl. Who could stay focused with such a beauty around?
2. James Woods
During a stellar career on the silver screen that has spanned four decades and counting, James Woods has played every role under the sun. From President Nixon’s Chief of Staff in the infamous Oliver Stone biopic, to Peter Griffin’s chief tormentor on the animated series Family Guy, Woods has breathed life into many memorable characters over his career. Today, any introduction of Woods typically begins with the tagline “actor and poker enthusiast,” as he has transformed his old hobby into a new way of life, traveling the circuit alongside full-time pros and grinders while testing his mettle against the game’s toughest competition.
1. Gabe Kaplan
It’s hard to think of any celebrity in poker more skilled than Gabe Kaplan. The 70-year-old New York native, arguably best known for his role in the ‘70s sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter, transitioned himself into quite the card shark, eventually landing a gig as the host of GSN’s High Stakes Poker in 2006. In addition to the cash game notoriety, Kaplan has cashed for more than $1.1 million in tournaments, $131,000 of which came at the final table of the 2007 World Series of Poker $50K H.O.R.S.E. Kaplan is the Phil Ivey of celebrity poker players.