It seems every year the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is attracting more and more payers to the felt. The majority aren’t considered ‘pros‘, but they are at least serious enough to pay the 4+ figure buy-ins for these events. Many of them are actually celebrity poker players, but few would designate themselves professionals.
Gambling is actually a popular hobby among today’s celebs. Ben Affleck is so fascinated with blackjack that he actually got himself banned from several major casinos for conspicuous card counting. That alone tells us he’s not worthy of a ‘pro’ label, but he likes the poker felt, too.
Affleck actually won the WPT California State Poker Championship in 2004, scooping $356k for his efforts. Oddly enough, he bested another famous Hollywood actor, Tobey Maguire, in the final heads-up showdown. Ben has no other recorded winnings in the tournament poker circuit.
One of the top A-list celebs we’ve seen around the poker felt a lot in recent years in Jason Alexander, (aka ‘George Costanza‘ from Seinfeld). He’s appeared in several televised poker series, including NBC’s Poker After Dark (2007-2011).
It’s not unusual to see his face around the World Series of Poker, either, although his only WSOP cash came in the 2007 WSOP’s $5k Ante Up for Africa charity event. In 2012, he was spotted at the series ‘in disguise’, sporting a mustache and some additional strands of hair up top (for a movie role, of course).
And who could forget R&B artist Biz Markie‘s phenomenal performance at the 2006 Hip-Hop Hold;em tournament. Again, not a professional by any means, but Biz stands for entertainment, and that’s exactly what the viewers got.
A more serious celebrity poker player would be Frenchman Patrick Bruel. In fact, he’s probably more famous for his card play than any of his other talents, which include acting and singing. Although he’s performed in over 40 television and film production, and recorded five albums, none of those harvested awards like his professional poker career. Bruel is the proud owner of a WSOP bracelet, which he earned in 1998 at a $5k Limit Holdem tournament.
Another famous musician who enjoys a run at the casino is Scott Ian, the lyrical genius and guitarist for heavy metal band Anthrax. He’s said many times that he only plays poker for fun, but he proudly admits that many of the professionals on the World Series circuit treat him like one of the pros.
Today’s top celebrity poker players aren’t just men, either. Jennifer Tilly is one of the most well known poker pros in the world with celebrity status. She’s raked in nearly $1 million in live poker tournaments and has numerous awards to show for it.
This celebrity poker pro’s titles include a WSOP bracelet win in the 2005 WSOP Ladies Event, a WPT Ladies Night Championship, a win at the 2010 WPT Bellagio Cup and being named CardPlayer’s Best Celebrity Player of the Year.
Tilly has been a regular on the poker felt for more than a decade, and while her 12x award winning abilities on film surely gave her an incredible bankroll to work with, she’s proven time and again that she can compete with the top poker pros in the world.