Top Five Celebrity Poker Players
The excitement, glamour, and prestige of the professional poker world is not unlike the glam of Hollywood itself. As it turns out, many big-name celebrities from films and TV shows have picked up on the thrills and tried their hands at the game of poker, too. Some celebrity poker players have even done quite well in the game, winning tournaments and stacking up cash in the background as their careers blossomed.
From a Rounders actor to WSOP contestant, sitcom comedian to poker enthusiast, and horror film star to poker champion, these are the top five celebrity poker players that have extended their name from Hollywood to the felt, and Bodog Casino is going to dive in and see who they are.
5. Matt Damon
Matt Damon is an A-list, award-winning actor known for films like Good Will Hunting, The Martian, the Bourne franchise, and most importantly in the poker world, his role in the poker film Rounders.
In Rounders, Damon plays Mike McDermott, a law student from New York City who competes in the World Series of Poker alongside a friend (Edward Norton) in order to pay off a huge debt.
As it turns out, Damon’s role in one of the most highly acclaimed poker movies in the world wasn’t purely method acting. Its authenticity comes from the fact that Damon himself has been an avid poker player who competed in the underground cash games known as “Molly’s Game” whose infamous story was later turned into a film of the same name.
The Boston-born A-lister is known to frequent online poker games and shows up at various poker tournaments, including in 1998 when he joined the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in preparation for his role in none other than Rounders.
He’s played against big names like Doyle Brunson and has found himself seated at the WSOP Main Event in 2010, as well as donating the proceeds of multiple games for charity.
4. Ray Romano
If you saw Damon playing at the WSOP main event in 2010, you may have also seen Ray Romano seated at the felt with a baseball cap and that cheerful, friendly demeanour that he’s so well known for.
In fact, the Everybody Loves Raymond star has competed in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event every year since 2007, which was two years after his famous sitcom stopped running.
Taking a break after the sitcom ended, Romano focused his attention on his passion for poker, competing in multiple tournaments with commendable success. He reached the final table in the No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournament in Las Vegas with its $1,080 buy-in, and made it to Day 3 against 6,352 players in the WSOP Main Event of 2013. On one occasion, Romano even brought his son along to a WSOP event.
When asked about his experience in poker, Romano said he’s been playing in private games since he was a teenager and continues to practice at a monthly “turbo style” gathering.
3. Ben Affleck
The winner of the 2004 California State Poker Championship wasn’t a big-named poker celebrity like Daniel Negreanu or Gregory Raymer; it was the star of the 1993 classic Dazed and Confused and Good Will Hunting sidekick of our number 5 celeb player: of course, it’s none other than Ben Affleck.
Affleck’s celebrity status as a major Hollywood actor in blockbuster films such as Gone Girl, Argo, and a number of Marvel productions, but he’s caused quite a stir in the poker and gambling industry as well.
Having been trained by professional poker teachers such as Amir Vahedy and Annie Duke, Affleck has seen his own share of success after winning $356,400 at the Championship in 2004.
He was also a regular attendee of the high-stakes poker games run by Molly Bloom in the mid-2000s, attended the WSOP on multiple occasions, and participated in the Ante Up for Africa charity tournaments.
Affleck’s gambling activities go even beyond the felt, and in 2014 he was banned from the Hard Rock Casino for card counting where he reportedly won over $1 million dollars on multiple occasions, according to the NY Post.
2. Jean-Robert Bellande
Hailing from Long Island, New York, you may recognize Jean-Robert Bellande from his stint as a contestant on Survivor: China, or perhaps from promoting his night club in LA or his appearance playing poker on the television show Poker After Dark.
As an avid poker player, Bellande is known as a high-rolling baller with a cutthroat playing style who isn’t afraid to take big swings.
Known on the felt as “Action Bob”, Bellande has, as you’d expect, seen plenty of action – and he’s won more than $2,800,000, and possibly well beyond that figure.
After being the runner-up multiple times at the WSOP, Bellande finally took home the bracelet for himself in 2018 in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold ’em Six-Handed event in which he won $616,302.
That was 13 years after he came in third during his debut in 2005 at the World Series of Poker circuit event where he won $210,900 and made a strong impression for his aggressive banter and table presence that stuck with him throughout his poker career.
1. Jennifer Tilly
We’ve been impressed by a good number of celebrities playing poker throughout the years, but none have done quite as well as The Family Guy and Bride of Chucky actress Jennifer Tilly.
Tilly is the daughter of a Canadian school teacher and stage actress and Chinese-American used car salesman, and she’s starred in many major films including alongside Jim Carrey in Liar Liar. Outside of the movie set, she’s been cultivating a love of poker ever since her father gifted her the video poker game “World Series of Poker”.
The Monsters, Inc. voice actress went on to compete in professional tournaments winning over $1 million in cashes. Her first major success came in 2005 when the actress-turned-poker-pro claimed her first WSOP bracelet from the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold ’em event where she beat out 600 other players and won $158,625, making her the first-ever celebrity to win a World Series Tournament.
Later that year she won the third World Poker Tour Ladies Invitational Tournament near Los Angeles. In 2008, she put her chips away and retired from playing poker professionally.
These top five celebrity poker players have found their passion both on the screen and behind the felt. At Bodog Casino, you can follow in the footsteps of the A-listers, and play your own game of poker at Bodog Casino. Maybe one day we’ll see you sitting beside Ray Romano at the WSOP tournament, competing for the cash. No joke.