Celebrity Poker Players

April 19, 2009

I love watching celebrities play poker. Most of them aren’t very good, but it’s cool seeing these famous people taken out of their element and thrown into a game against professionals like a steak to a lion. They’re just so overmatched, underpowered, in over their heads, whatever cliché you want to run out there. They basically don’t stand a chance, and I’ve never seen one (maybe you have) do anything really worthwhile in a big-name tournament.

I remember back when the movie Rounders came out (great movie, by the way, I’m sure everyone reading this has seen it. If you haven’t, run out and rent it or I’ll send Grandma over to your house!) Ed Norton and Matt Damon played in the World Series of Poker that year. Now, this was before poker became mainstream – although in hindsight, the movie itself may have played a decent role in that taking place – but the two of them were/are huge stars and the event received a lot of press coverage at the time.

Both actors knew their place here, though. In interviews, at least, they played humble pilgrims in an unholy land (thank you Sean Connery), admitting how incredible these experts are, and how they went through the whole thing as a learning experience, etc… That’s all fine and good, but you damn well know deep down they wanted to advance in the tournament. They wanted to live up to their characters in the movie. Personally, I’d have been more than happy with a few hours with Famke Janssen.

Also, remember back in the early nineties when PC games still came on dozens of floppy discs? Well I loved poker back then, and had a spanking new 386 with something like a 50MB hard drive (hellz yeah!). Anyway, when I was at the mall shopping at Babbages (don’t bother searching, they’re gone now, thanks Gamestop!), I came across a Celebrity poker game. It was actually called Multimedia Celebrity Poker, and it was quite possibly the most entertaining poker game I’ve played to date.

Not for the mechanics or poker options, mind you, but for the comedy you received from seeing these three celebrities represented in cyber form facing off against you like they were the Chessmaster himself. Joining Frakes, whose Riker character from Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of televisions biggest poker swindlers (poor Data) was Morgan Fairchild and Joe Piscopo. What??? Exactly. And if my memory serves correct, Piscopo was no longer famous even back in 1995, so grouping him in with the term celebrity might be a little bit of a stretch. I haven’t searched YouTube, but if you have the chance see if you can find clips of this game somewhere, it’s priceless.

And finally, pay attention every time you watch a celebrity participate in a poker tournament or poker television show. They all act exactly the same. Quiet, serious, head in the game trying to beat the pros. They all act as if they’re supposed to be there and how dare you single them out as celebrities during the game – like you’re actually interested in watching the for their poker skills. Makes me laugh.

Of course, if you are a celebrity, you probably have at least a little money to burn. And if they love playing poker, more power to them. I’m sure one of everyone’s fantasies is being able to go all-in with $10,000 worth of poker chips. The other fantasy undoubtedly involves Famke.