The whole world is playing Texas Hold’em, and celebrities are no exception. In fact, poker rooms can be a great place for stalkers, autograph seekers and groupies to get otherwise impossible access to their favorite stars. While I don’t endorse any of those activities, I am interested in celebrity poker culture for a couple reasons. First of all, when a well-known celebrity sits down at a poker table they are forced to adjust to the different perceptions that people might have about them. The rest of us can just sit down anonymously and be judged mostly on our play. The celebrity player must figure out what their opponents might think of them based on their public image, and act accordingly at the table. Also, as a full time poker pro I understand just how difficult this game can be and how success requires constant study and improvement. Therefore, it’s quite impressive to see celebrities with ultra-busy lives finding time to at least be competent at the poker table.
If the rumors are true, Maguire is by far the best poker player on this list. I’ve heard whispers that he’s a huge winner in high stakes Hollywood cash games, with some estimates saying he’s won millions. Another rumor about Maguire is that he’s very good at talking his opponents into making bad decisions. But all gossip aside, there’s no doubt that Maguire is a regular participant in the World Series of Poker and a huge fan of the game.
We all know that Matt Damon is a great actor, but after watching how terribly he plays this hand I have even more appreciation for his performance as a poker genius in ‘Rounders’.
Affleck is also a regular participant in the World Series of Poker as well as the high stakes Hollywood private games. Eye witness accounts vary as to the strength of his game but most classify him as a very tight player who waits for good cards and doesn’t bluff much.
As an academy award nominated actress and ex-wife of ‘The Simpsons’ co-creator Sam Simon, Tilly has no shortage of money and enjoys using her wealth to play high stakes poker against some of the game’s best. While certainly outmatched against the game’s elite, she’s definitely not bad, having won a WSOP bracelet in 2005. She’s also in a long term relationship with poker pro Phil Laak, which can’t possibly hurt her poker game.
Phelps is an accomplished poker player and all around fan of the game. He can be found regularly at high stakes Las Vegas cash games and is known to stake other poker players. It’s no surprise that this world class athlete loves poker for the competition and excitement. Now that he’s retired from competitive swimming, I suspect we’ll be seeing more and more of him on the high stakes tournament circuit.
(Psssst! Play our Poker game here).