There has been plenty of debate lately on whether poker is a game of skill or luck. It’s fairly safe to say that it absolutely requires skill to make it in the game. Players must think strategically and show that infamous poker face. Could this be why so many in the sports and acting industry are successful at it? Think about it, an athlete is constantly in a strategic mindset. Looking at the big picture and anticipating their opponents next move is what sports is all about. An actor acts for a living. It’s their job to make the public believe that they are feeling a certain way. Actors have perfected becoming the character they play. It would seem only natural that the footballer or silver screen actor would be drawn to gambling.
When we hear gambling stories they are often glorious tales of major wins so what are these winners doing with their new found cash? Is there such a thing as too much luxury in a world where everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses? There’s a big world of celebrities and athletes who dabble in poker and other forms of gambling who say no.
In terms of luxury items celebrities represent all things glamorous from fashion to expensive cars, yachts and even private planes. Did you ever think that some of those material items came from gambling winnings?
It Can Pay to Play
There is always risk involved in gambling but sometimes that risk pays off. Significant wins in the hundreds of thousands or millions not only boost one’s net worth but can provide material things that many only dream of.
We see big money wins in poker tournaments and highroller casino games and players have amassed fortunes landing them the means to spoil themselves with lavish homes, vacations or even a tennis court in the back yard just because they can.
It isn’t just those of us with 9 to 5’s that enjoy the thrill of gambling. There are a surprising number of stars and athletes that get in on the action too!
The Hollywood life is one filled with ups and downs as is the life of a gambler. Perhaps this is the reason why it seems that so many celebrities are drawn to it. One minute you’re hot and the next you’re cold just like Lady Luck. She’s on your side one day and the next she has flitted off and landed on someone else’s shoulder.
Speaking of celebrities, there was even a Celebrity Poker Showdown that ran on the Bravo network in the United States. The program featured celebrities that played poker over eight tournaments and five seasons. They played in a No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournament in which all the winnings went to charity. Dave Foley hosted the event that featured 25 celebrities per tournament over six episodes. Some of the stars that took part in the tournaments included Don Cheadle, David Schwimmer, Martin Sheen, Sarah Silverman, Tom Green, Mimi Rogers, Sean Astin and many more. The program was so successful that there were parodies made on shows like Saturday Night Live in the US. When you become the focus of a parody, you know you’ve made it!
Let’s take a look at one of the notorious celebrity poker players, American actor Ben Affleck. Sure he’s starred in a variety of films and has a movie star wife in Jennifer Garner but he also likes the thrill of trying his luck at the blackjack and poker tables. During his gambling career, Affleck has won millions while gambling and one of his most notable wins was at a blackjack table in Las Vegas.
Now let’s give it up for a successful female poker player. Jennifer Tilly is known for her roles in many films including Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky and Curse of Chucky. Tilly not only plays the wife of a creepy murderous doll but in her personal life she had the skill to snag a World Series of Poker bracelet during the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold’em Tournament.
Gladys Knight is a singer song writer that also likes to take risks at the baccarat tables. She wins some and loses some but her net worth is said to be nearly $30 million so she can afford to take a loss once in a while don’t you think?
Athletes that Gamble
As if the thrill of the game isn’t the enough for most, there are many athletes that continue to seek excitement even after the game is over. Footballers, basketball players, golfers and every type of sport under the sun has players that spend time gambling on poker tables, slots, baccarat and other casino games.
Allen Iverson was known for his professional NBA career. He has been known to spend more than $1 million in a night while at Atlantic City Casinos. This among several other factors has caused him to go bankrupt. Unfortunately, Iverson is not one of the successful gamblers but rather an example of how you can lose it all in an instant.
American golf pro Tiger Woods has been referred to as a Las Vegas highroller among his other temptations. His game of choice is blackjack and he’s done his fair share of damage at the tables in Sin City spending $250,000 per hand. He’s definitely got a daredevil side to him that puts him in the newspapers from time to time.
American Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps dipped his toe into the poker pool and it wasn’t long before he dove in head first. He began with low buy-in games eventually graduating to $25,000 buy-in’s on a weekly basis. He enjoys the excitement but friends were concerned that he was becoming too focused on gambling.
In the UK, several footballers have been the focus of authorities due to gambling related activity. Crystal Palace striker Cameron Jerome was slapped with a £50,000 fine in 2013 for violating Football Association betting rules, while Rangers midfielder Ian Black was banned for 10 matches for placing bets on 160 matches over the course of seven years and even wagering against his own team. Betting against your own team has got to be no-no number one for an athlete.
Poker Pros Turned Celebrity
Professional poker players are looked upon as celebrities these days. In the old days gambling was more of an underground activity. Fast forward to today and poker tournaments are now televised and hyped up. You even see some players mimicking these pros with their dark shades while seated at the tables at land based casinos around the world.
The desire to live a life of wealth and riches is strong and skilled card players have the opportunity to attain it simply by playing the game they love. Winning has is fringe benefits and so does the thrill of being the best at your job in the eyes of a professional player.
One famous American professional poker player is Phil Ivey who has been in the game since 1990 and has won several prestigious World Series of Poker bracelets over the years. Not only does he take part in live tournaments but he can also be found playing online poker and placing sports bets. Most recently Ivey has been accused of cheating at the Borgata casino. Is he simply a talented player or a card reading cheater? Either way he has built an empire as a result of his gambling wins. Ivey even has his own website and teaches newbies the game of poker. His net worth is in the millions. Mr. Ivey is definitely a success story and has become one of the most well-known professional gamblers.
Daniel Negreanu has won several World Poker Tour bracelets and is a famous face even outside of the poker tables. He’s been named WPT’s player of the year and has even appeared on Millionaire Matchmaker looking for love. He may have been unlucky in love but he’s had his fair share of luck in the world of poker.
Barry Greenstein once worked a regular job but started having such success at the poker tables that it enabled him to quit and become a full time poker pro. He has won millions during his career with his largest single win at the 2004 WPT Word Poker Open. Barry has gone on to write a strategy book called ‘Ace on the River’ and is a member of Team PokerStars. It is reported that he has won over $7 million over the course of his career.
Hard work is the one sure thing to fulfill your aspirations and achieve the life you want but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to take a gamble as these men and women have shown us. They would probably argue that it is not really about the cash because many of them already have all they need. They do it for the love of the game just as they do with their craft whether it is as a basketball superstar or the leading actor in the latest movie.