celebrity poker enthusiasts that you might spot around the table at a tournament in the near future.Poker attracts all kinds of players, from all over the world. With international tournaments like the World Series of Poker seeking out some of the most glamorous and luxurious locations for their games, is it any wonder that the tables become a great place to celeb spot? Big names from sports, television and the movies could be easily overlooked mixing with the poker professionals and stars of the game. For some, it’s a sponsorship opportunity; a chance to make some money by playing a few hands and taking photos with the fans. But for others, it’s a serious competition. There are a growing number of celebrities who are becoming as well known for their presence around the poker table as they are for their day job. Let’s take a look at some
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
Possibly the most well-known names on the list, both have played – and in Affleck’s case won – recent cash tournaments. It’s not really surprising, seeing as Affleck has had professional poker lessons from a variety of big names, including Danny Negreanu and Amir Vahedi. While Affleck is known to host regular private poker games at his home, Damon has been improving his skills on the live circuits and placed respectably in the 2019 WSOP tournament. His interest in poker seems to have been sparked by his involvement in the 1998 poker movie Rounders, a film which is widely thought of as one of the best gambling movies of all time.
Someone who seems to play for pure enjoyment of the game is veteran actor James Woods. A regular at the cash tables of the Commerce Casino in LA, Woods is happy to spend the evening with fans, enjoying his hobby without the stress of high-profile tournament play. Of course, he is also a frequent participant at the WSOP and often takes to social media to post pictures and discuss his love of poker.
Victoria Coren Mitchell
As famous for her exploits in the casino as for her television appearances, Coren Mitchell holds the honour of being the first female poker player to win a European Poker Tour event. She eventually went on to win the EPT twice, netting a cool £500,000 for her troubles, with lifetime poker earnings of around £2 million so far. She splits her games between the tables of the Victoria Casino in London and the homes of her friends, including the four professional players, dubbed The Hendon Mob. Coren Mitchell’s reputation has earned her a place in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.
Another high-earning female poker player, Tilly has something Coren Mitchell has yet to win: a World Series of Poker Bracelet. She won the 2005 Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold’em event, but didn’t stop there, going on to win a Bellagio Cup and a WPT Ladies Invitational. As her boyfriend is poker professional Phil Laak, she probably gets plenty of practise in at home, as well as at the high-stakes tournaments she loves to frequent.
Although most people know Phelps for his phenomenal sporting achievements, since retiring from international swimming he has started to channel his energy into poker games, and it turns out he is pretty good at it. Taught by former house mate Jeff Gross, Phelps has been spotted at poker tournaments in glamorous locations including Las Vegas and the Bahamas. His best finish so far is fifth place, but if his 23 gold medals are anything to go by, he won’t settle for being anything less than first place in the future.
While poker attracts a lot of high-profile football stars including Neymar, Pique and Ronaldo, one of the most successful players to make the transition is former Manchester United striker Sheringham. He has played in both the World Series of Poker Main Event and the European Poker Tour Main Event, reaching the final table of the latter and eventually coming a very respectable fifth place. That win not only netted him €93,121, but saw him face off against some tough opposition, including Sam Trickett, the biggest tournament winner in British history.
Poker is a game which attracts fans and players from all backgrounds. High-stakes games require big bankrolls, so it seems obvious that these tables would appeal to celebrities who have plenty of cash to throw around. But not only is poker an exciting game, it is also a great equaliser. It doesn’t matter what your background is, or what you do for a living, once you’re at the table, you have the same chance of being dealt a winning hand as everyone else there. It’s then down to your skill and how well you play the game, as to how much – if anything – you’ll walk away with. It is part of what makes spotting a celebrity player so exciting; play your cards right, and you might just come out on top, with the bragging rights being an even better prize than the money.