Like all of us “regular folk,” celebrities are multi-faceted human beings with interests that extend beyond their most well-known professions. As an avid poker player myself, I thought it would be interesting to find out who among the rich and famous share the same passion for my beloved pastime. It turns out that this famous card game is enjoyed by many of the biggest names in acting, sport, business and music, likely because it’s a great way to socialize with friends and destress.
Here are some of the celebs I would love to sit next to (and chat with) while battling for poker dominance on the felt.
Marvel fanatics can argue all day about which actor is their fave modern-day Spiderman—but I guarantee that Tobey Maguire will always end up in the top two. Tutored by poker legend Daniel Negreanu, the superhero actor competed in his first poker tournament in 2004. That year, Maguire won the Phil Hellmuth Invitational No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event at the National Championship of Poker. Since then, throughout his second “career,” Maguire has participated in several tournaments.
Maguire has also scored money finishes in several WSOP events. In 2005, he earned $2,000 by placing 54th at No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Then in 2007 he won $10,000 by placing 292nd in World Championship Texas No-Limit Hold ‘Em and $5,000 from placing 66th in Six-Handed No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. As of May 2019, Maguire had earned a total of $51,669 in live WSOP lifetime tournament winnings and $223,645 in lifetime tournament winnings. That’s not too bad, but one would think that his Spidey-sense would have produced even more impressive results…
Tobey also has a history of spicing up the action outside of tournaments by organizing private poker battles attended by fellow celebrities. These contests initially took place at the Viper Room in West Hollywood, but eventually moved to actors’ homes and hotel rooms. These high-stakes competitions—and their ensuing drama—lasted for several years, as has been seductively depicted in the 2018 Academy Award-nominated film Molly’s Game, featuring Jessica Chastain as the now-infamous Molly Bloom.
Jennifer Tilly has had a significant acting career, having starred in several notable films such as Liar Liar, Bound and several Chucky horror movies. That being said, my favorite tidbit of Jennifer Tilly trivia is that for several years she was also the voice of Bonnie Swanson on Family Guy (which is clearly one of the greatest shows of all time, if you have a sly and wry sense of humor).
In between (or perhaps during) acting gigs, Tilly has also been a formidable poker player. In fact, given her countless poker-related celebrity sightings over the past few years, many fans might only associate Jennifer with her sick skills on the felt. That would be understandable, given that this actress has a WPT win, a WSOP bracelet and nearly $1 million in total wins! She also has a net worth of around $30 million.
Gerard Piqué is one of the most decorated defenders of all time in the game of football (aka “soccer”). He plays defender for FC Barcelona—one of the largest, most popular football clubs in the world—and also plays for his Spanish national team. He’s earned four Champions League medals, a World Cup title and a European Championship.
But Piqué (aka long-time lover of Shakira) is not only a famous centre-back for FC Barcelona, but also an avid poker player and former PokerStars ambassador. Piqué learned to play poker during his time at Manchester United, where he played prior to moving to Spain. Since then, he has played in World Series of Poker events and European Poker Tour events, amassing over $250,000 in winnings. Piqué finished 3rd on two occasions in both the 2011 and 2016 European Tour tournaments in Barcelona.
Tiger Woods is most famously known as (arguably) the greatest golfer of all time and one of the highest earners in sport. But few know that the 15-time major champion is also an avid, cutthroat poker player. Woods’ competitive streak at the poker tables was on full display when he hosted his annual Tiger Jam event last May to raise money for his charity, TGR Foundation.
At his own event (which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas), Tiger found himself in a high-stakes duel with nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook. Being the no-holds-barred competitors that they are—each of whom can afford to risk a few pennies in the pot—both Westbrook and Tiger went all-in with their respective hands, both feeling confident about their chances of winning (Russell held a pair of queens, while Woods had ace-king). When the dealer turned over the cards, it seemed at first that Tiger’s victory was a foregone conclusion—so much so that he started celebrating! But, alas, Tiger’s merriment ended up being embarrassingly premature…
The dealer flipped over three cards to reveal an ace at the top of the stack, giving Tiger a momentary advantage. But then the dealer spread the cards out to reveal a queen, gifting Westbrook three-of-a-kind, which trumped Tiger’s top pair and handed Russ bragging rights for having bested the event’s illustrious host.
Brad Pitt is one of Hollywood’s most famous poker players. He’s been known to enjoy playing cards both on and off-screen, with his opening scene in Ocean’s Eleven depicting him teaching poker to beginners.
He regularly takes part in private poker games with some other leading actors, including Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and George Clooney. The British TV presenter Natalie Pinkham even told the Daily Mail of a time played in an all-night game with these four and several other A-list celebrities.
However, unlike his on-screen hustle with George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven, Brad Pitt isn’t necessarily the best poker player in real life. According to Radar Online, Pitt lost five figures in his first hand while playing against his driver and some other players, though he apparently told his wife, Angelina Jolie, that he’d done it on purpose as a way to give a bonus to his employee.