Nevada is the state commonly associated with gambling but Hollywood’s close proximity to Las Vegas means several famous Hollywood actors are well acquainted with the casino life.
While their main income may come from their high profile acting career, many Hollywood actors have also proven their skill on poker tables over the years. Nowadays, the most entertaining casino sites can be found online but back in the day players would travel to Vegas to hit the casino floor.
Here are five famous Hollywood actors who have made a small name for themselves as professional gamblers and card players.
In 2011, the 44-year-old actor and first-ever person to play the part of Spider-man was revealed to also be a talented poker player. A lawsuit put forward by investors who claimed to be victims of a Ponzi scheme named Maguire as the recipient of stolen funds earned through winning at poker. Maguire allegedly competed in an illegal high-stakes poker ring that included several other high-profile Hollywood executives and billionaires. The events have recently been immortalized in an Aaron Sorkin movie called “Molly’s Game“, named after their organizer Molly Bloom.
The events involved games of high-stakes Texas Hold’em poker played in the private suites of five-star hotels across Beverly Hills. According to a report by The Independent, the lawsuit put forward by the Ponzi scheme victims claimed that Maguire and other players had no right to keep their winnings since they constituted “fraudulent transfers” and unlicensed gambling is illegal in California.
Some of you will remember Shannon Elizabeth for her breakthrough role as sexy foreign exchange student Nadia in the teen comedy American Pie. However, the actress is also an incredibly talented card player who has had a very successful poker career winning large cash prizes at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). In 2010, Elizabeth finished 2nd place in the WSOP, winning almost $80,000 in the African charity-focused event.
Following the rise of her fame amongst poker circles, rumors surfaced that she was running an illegal poker den from her home. However, no evidence was ever found to confirm the rumors. Elizabeth stopped playing tournament poker in 2013 after finishing 165th place in the Seminole Hard Rock 2013 Poker Open Championship, winning just over $11,500. The actress now works for a non-profit animal rescue organization in South Africa that she co-founded.
The world-famous Titanic actor and Academy Award winner was also named as one of the players present at Molly Bloom’s illegal poker events. While he was described as being not quite as successful as Maguire, DiCaprio apparently enjoyed attending the events and did so in a more casual manner.
However, despite this, a report from The Daily Mail alleges that DiCaprio still owes Irish singer Ronan Keating “a couple of hundred dollars” from a poker game played in Sydney a few years ago. Consider the small amount involved though, it’s unlikely that Keating considers the debt very important. The article notes that Molly Bloom described DiCaprio as not a big gambler who “mostly came because his friend Tobey wanted him to come. He wasn’t a regular player and it wasn’t in his blood like some of the others.”
While not technically a big-name Hollywood actor, Ray Romano is famous in his own right for his role as Raymond in “Everybody Loves Raymond”. In 2004, Romano became the highest-paid television actor in the world after the show accrued $3.9 billion in revenue. Like Elizabeth, Romano has long been a regular at the World Series of Poker, often competing at the main event.
In July this year, Romano was eliminated by Mattero Leibowitz in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event at the 2019 WSOP.
Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly has cashed in over $1 million playing poker and won one World Series of Poker bracelet for the Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold’em event in 2005. The 61-year-old actress is best known for her role as Tiffany Valentine in the Child’s Play franchise and TV shows Monsters at Work, Hill Street Blues and Out of Practice.
Now dating and coached by professional poker player Phil Laak, Tilly was previously married to famous poker star and the creator of hit cartoon series The Simpson’s, Sam Simon.