Poker news | May 25, 2023
Biggest Celebrity Poker Winnings
By RTR Sarah
Poker is loved by people all around the world, even celebrities. Many famous faces have long established themselves in the community, with some having made millions from the game!
Many famous musicians, actors, and well-loved public figures are known for being active in the poker community. Some celebrities, like Jennifer Tilly, have made poker a second career while others like Kevin Hart and Matt Damon play leisurely.
The celebrities who are widely regarded as the best poker players and have won the most at the card game are Jennifer Tilly, Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth, Kevin Hart, Neymar Jr, and Matt Damon. Other notable celebrity poker players include Jason Alexander, Michael Phelps, Tobey Maguire, and Aaron Paul.
1. Jennifer Tilly
Jennifer Tilly is a two-time Academy Award nominee actress, best known for her roles in Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Bride of Chucky (1998), and Liar Liar (1997). She is also a voice actress, having played characters in Monsters Inc (2001) and Family Guy. Aside from acting, Tilly has been a familiar face on the poker scene for years and has achieved considerable success. She has won $1,048,903 in total live earnings.
In 2005, Tilly won her first World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet for $158,000 which made her the first celebrity to win the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold’em event. She has participated in various high-stakes cash games and tournaments including the World Poker Tour (WPT) Ladies Invitational Tournaments, where she finished in third place, and the 2010 Bellagio Cup VI. Tilly finished twenty-ninth in the Aussie Millions 2017 Main Event and, more recently, in 2019 picked up 4 World Series of Poker cashes.Tilly’s friendly, approachable attitude at the tables and her frequent appearance in televised poker events, such as Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown and NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship, has solidified her respectable celebrity poker player status.
2. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is a well known name in the entertainment industry, being a two-time Academy Award winning actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He is most known for his roles in films such as Gone Girl (2014) and Mallrats (1995) and has directed Gone Baby Gone (2007). Besides acting and directing, Affleck is known for being a poker enthusiast and has demonstrated his skill and passion for the game. He has won $365,400 in total live earnings.
Affleck has participated in various high-stakes cash games and poker tournaments throughout the years, beginning in 2001 when he won $800,000 playing blackjack. In 2004, he won the California State Poker Championship for $356,400 and competed in the WSOP Main Event. Affleck has showcased his poker abilities when playing amongst professional poker players, reportedly attributing his poker victories to the lessons he received from professional poker players Annie Duke and Amir Vahedi.
In 2020, Affleck staged an online celebrity poker game with hunger-relief organisation Feeding America. The event raised approximately $1,750,000 with famous stars such as Tom Brady, Bryan Cranston, Adam Levine, and Tobey Maguire paying $10,000 to enter the competition. Doyle Brunson, one of the best poker players of all time, also joined the charity event alongside other professionals like Tom Cannuli, Jeff Boski, and Jaime Staples.
Affleck’s public poker journey has not been without controversy. In 2014, it was alleged Affleck had been banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas for card-counting during the game. It is also rumoured that the actor participated in Molly Bloom’s high-stakes poker games along with other prominent actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
3. Shannon Elizabeth
Shannon Elizabeth is a former model and American actress who is most famous for her roles in American Pie (1999), Scary Movie (2000), and Love Actually (2003). Besides her acting career, Elizabeth has established herself as a respectable celebrity poker player and has won $245,866 in total live earnings.
Elizabeth first arrived on the public poker scene in 2005, finishing in the top 30 for the WSOP Main Event. Following this, she finished third in the 2007 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, winning $125,000, and came second place in the 2010 $5,000 Ante Up for Africa Charity Event where she took home $79,776.
4. Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is an acclaimed comedian, actor, and producer, known for his relatable humour and quick wit. His stand-up comedy specials and features in films such as Get Hard (2015), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and Ride Along (2014) gained him widespread recognition. Besides his prolific comedic acting career, Hart is actively involved in the poker community and is well respected as a celebrity poker player. He has won $47,828 in total live earnings.
Hart has been sponsored by big poker brands such as PokerStars and partypoker, having taken part in the 2017 $100k Super High Roller PokerStars Championship and the $300k Super High Roller Bowl where he came in twenty-fourth place. The comedian is known for bringing his unique sense of humour to the tables and making big plays that entertain everyone.
One of Hart’s most famous wins was during the PokerStars Championship Cash in 2018, where he accidentally won $40,000 after misreading his hand. Hart had grown tired of his opponent Mila Munroe’s bluffing and went to reveal his hand but it was not the straight he thought it would be. Nevertheless, Hart’s hand still beat Munroe’s and Daniel Negreanu called it ‘the greatest televised hand in the history of poker.’
5. Neymar Jr
Neymar Jr is a Brazilian footballer who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain. He is widely considered one of the best footballers in the world. Beyond his athletic achievements, Neymar also has an avid interest in poker and has won $32,131 in total live earnings.
In 2015, Neymar became a brand ambassador for PokerStars and was joined by Brazilian football legend Cristiano Ronaldo to form part of Team SportsStars. Besides his affiliation with PokerStars, he has hosted multiple charity home games and taken part in a variety of competitions. He finished in sixth place at the Brazilian Series of Poker $1,400 side event, winning $21,072, and more recently played in the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship and the $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em. In January 2022, Neymar made it to the final table of the PokerStars Winter Series $1,050 8-Max Turbo.
6. Matt Damon
Matt Damon is an Academy and Golden Globe Award winning actor, screenwriter, and producer. His performances in films such as Invictus (2009), Saving Private Ryan (1998), and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), has established him as a critically acclaimed actor. Damon is a close friend of Ben Affleck, both of their breakthrough roles being in Good Will Hunting (1997), and shares his passion for poker. He has won $540 in total live earnings.
Damon has participated in celebrity poker tournaments, charity events, and played with professional players. He participated in World Series of Poker events in 2009 for Ante Up for Africa Charity Event and 1998 for the Main Event. Although he was eliminated early both times, Damon proved his dedication and talent for the game which has earned him considerable respect in the poker community.