Despite what tabloids may try to tell you, being a celebrity doesn’t always mean having unusual hobbies. In “Gaming in Hollywood: A List of Celebrity Gamers”, for example, we talked about how famous actors like Vin Diesel and Henry Cavill enjoy sessions of both table-top role-playing games and video games like The Witcher. However, if there’s a high-stakes activity that has captured the attention of celebrities it is poker. Despite how demanding it can be to play at a professional level, many actors and athletes have demonstrated their skills and made a profit. Here are some of the most successful cases.
The young actor became world-famous after being cast in the acclaimed series Breaking Bad, where he played Walter White’s partner in crime Jesse Pinkman. After the series’ celebrated ending, Paul went to star in the film Need for Speed, although he gained more recognition for El Camino, a movie set in the world of the series that made him famous. The actor also made his passion for poker very public, playing against other celebrities and even participating in the World Series of Poker. Last year he starred in a one-on-one Poker Stars match with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Alex Rodriguez played as a shortstop and third baseman for the Seattle Mariners, the Texas Rangers, and the New York Yankees. His 600 home runs and 3,000 hits make him one of the best players, although he later admitted using performance-enhancing drugs as a result of being under enormous pressure. According to a blog post on athlete poker players at Poker.org, he’s also known for participating in high stakes underground poker games alongside Hollywood stars. It’s a famous scandal that inspired the book and movie, Molly’s Game.
German tennis player Boris Becker, who was also mentioned in the aforementioned post on athlete poker stars, was one of the best players in the history of the sport. He won 6 Grand Slams at just 17 years old and went on to win multiple championships and opens, as well as 13 Master Series and an Olympic gold medal. He’s also a talented poker player, making around $100,000 by participating in competitions like the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour.
The Golden Globe winner has remained a film critic’s favorite since his appearance in the surreal comedic drama Pleasantville, but he became world-famous thanks to his performance as Peter Parker in director Sam Raimi’s trilogy of Spider-man films. He recently returned to this role for the blockbuster Spider-man: No Way Home. Much like the relationship between his older version of Spider-Man and Tom Holland’s, Maguire has been tutored by multiple WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu. This allowed him to participate and make a profit in multiple tournaments.
The popular actor who rose to fame after winning an academy award for writing Good Will Hunting together with Ben Affleck has managed to keep his star power going. After reinventing himself as the expert assassin trying to recover his identity in the Jason Bourne series, he received critical praise for his roles in films like The Departed and The Martian. He also starred in Rounders early in his career, one of the most influential poker movies of all time. The film seems to have left a mark on the actor, who seems to live by his famous quote in the Crypto.com ad “Fortune favors the brave”, putting his skills to the test in multiple World Series of Poker events.
Tilly received critical acclaim early in the mid-90s thanks to her performance in the thriller Bound, and revitalized her career later by playing the girlfriend of Chucky in the Child’s Play movies. Recently though she is better known for winning a bracelet at the World Series of Poker Ladies’ Event and earning more than $1 million by participating in live tournaments, making her the most successful poker player on this list. Despite considering leaving acting for a full-time career in poker, she ultimately declined, arguing that there were too many variables she couldn’t control in order to stay at the top.
Celebrities live very intense lives. They have to deliver outstanding performances consistently, and are usually the face of franchises and brands worth millions if not billions of dollars. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that many celebrities feel attracted to a game like poker, where the only way to stay ahead and avoid losing great amounts of money, is to develop their skills and keep their focus, even under stressful situations.