Celebrities Who Play Poker

When the game known as Texas Hold’em began growing in popularity, a wave of celebrities started hanging around the table to learn to play. The poker pros were more than happy to teach these good-looking novices, especially since this often allowed them to pick up some easy money. The trend is still alive, with a wide range of celebrity players showing up each year for the World Series of Poker. If you ever visit one of the leading tournaments or upscale Vegas poker rooms, you might just see one of the following:

Ben Affleck – An Oscar-winning director, actor, writer, and producer, Affleck learned the art of poker from pros such as Annie Duke and Amir Vahedi. In 2004, he put his skills on display by winning the California State Poker Championship and walking away with $356,000. 

Matt Damon – In addition to starring in Rounders, the Oscar-winning Damon has participated in several WSOP Main Events. He’s never got a major tournament win, but he still gets to be Matt Damon every minute of the day.

James Woods – A regular player at the Foxwoods Casino, the respected actor has competed in the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. One of his strongest finishes came in 2006, when he won $40,000 for finishing in the money at the L.A. Poker Classic.

Tobey Maguire – The star of Spider-Man started playing tournament poker in 2004, and he’s participated in numerous World Series of Poker events. He’s been tutored by Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth claims that Maguire has won millions by participating in Hollywood poker games.

Jennifer Tilly – An actress known for her curvy figure and little girl’s voice, Jennifer Tilly won a Word Series of Poker bracelet in the Ladies’ No-Limit Texas Hold’em Event in 2005. In addition to other tournament wins, Tilly has also been involved in a lengthy relationship with professional player Phil Laak.

Gabe Kaplan – Many remember his as the lead actor in TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter, but Kaplan has also had a longtime interest in poker. In addition to hosting various poker programs, Kaplan has demonstrated his knowledge of the game by posting career winnings of over $1,300,000.

Don Cheadle – The Golden Globe-winning actor is a notable fan of poker, even going so far as to organize a charity tournament with Annie Duke. In the 2007 edition of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, he eliminated Phil Ivey in the first round.

Alex Rodriguez – While his media persona is carefully calculated and dreadfully dull, A-Rod does love his poker. During his time with the New York Yankees, he has been a frequent visitor to the city’s underground poker establishments.

While a celebrity has never won the top prize at the World Series of Poker, they have racked up some impressive wins at tournaments around the country. Assuming the popularity of poker continues over the next few decades, there’s always a chance that someone could win an Oscar and the WSOP Main Event in the same year.