Poker Pros Top Movie and TV Shows Appearances

1 year ago
Poker Pros Top Movie and TV Shows Appearances
05 Apr

Poker movies are always looking to throw in the odd cameo appearance by the game’s biggest stars, and we’ll meet quite a few of these below, but the big-name pros have also appeared in some less-expected films and TV shows. Read on to find out where your poker heroes can be seen in acting roles!

Johnny Chan

Let’s start with the most iconic of all poker movies, Rounders, just to get it out of the way.

The tale of Mike McDermott’s poker adventures see Matt Damon face several obstacles en route to meeting one of poker’s all-time legends – Johnny Chan!

John Malkovich’s ‘TeddyKGB’ character may be the star of the film when it comes to acting, but it’s ten-time bracelet winner Chan who is the real Rounders endboss!

Daniel Negreanu

The Canadian poker legend isn’t exactly known for being stuck for words, but his ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ cameo was a silent one, and didn’t exactly tax his acting skills either.

When Hugh Jackman asks Taylor Kitsch’s character ‘Gambit’ what his $17 will buy him at the $50/$100 poker table, it’s Kid Poker who pulls the ‘Can you believe this guy?’ face.

DNegs has appeared in several poker movies over the years, and also in Katy Perry’s video for hit song Waking Up in Vegas, but perhaps less-well-known is his appearance in TV comedy series Mr D.

Negreanu appears in an episode entitled ‘Poker Night’ where Gerry Dee organises a poker game to help a ‘down-and-out’ Negreanu.

Jennifer Tilly

Far and away the most talented actor among poker players, and also the most talented poker player among actors, is ‘Chucky’ star Jennifer Tilly.

Her role as Tiffany Valentine in the Child’s Play series of movies has given her icon status among the horror community, but her movie bio spans 37 years, numerous TV series and movies, including her breakthrough role in the Fabulous Baker Boys in 1987.

Throw in $1million+ in tournament cashes, a WSOP gold bracelet and a long-term relationship with the inimitable Phil ‘Unabomber' Laak and that’s quite the pedigree Miss Tilly boasts.

Phil Laak

Having mentioned her beau, Phil Laak, we might as well cover the Unabomber’s own big screen resume, and it’s quite a mix, with thriller ‘Runner, Runner’ and poker movie ‘7 Days to Vegas’ among them.

That first one might be a credit, but Laak’s poker playing scene alongside Antonio Esfandiari didn’t make the final cut, although they did get to hang out on set with Justin Timberlake!

The previous year, Laak had mixed with even bigger stars of the big screen, a small role alongside Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker, as well as rap giant 50 Cent, in action movie, Freelancers.

Antonio Esfandiari

Esfandiari teamed up again with Laak more recently in ‘7 Days to Vegas’, and a number of other poker celebs were involved too - unsurprisingly given that Vince van Patten wrote the story!

The movie charts the trials and tribulations of an insane prop bet that WPT commentator Van Patten’s character, Duke, takes on – walking from LA to Las Vegas in just 7 days.

Jennifer Tilly is in the mix, as are Van Patten’s real-life wife and brother, with Esfandiari playing a character named…Antonio!

Phil Hellmuth

It would be a rare list of poker anything that doesn’t include Phill Hellmuth, anything from bracelets to bad beats featuring the Poker Brat with great regularity – and screen appearances are no different.

The Fox TV series ‘Touch’ saw Hellmuth play a role he didn’t have to prepare for, suffering a bad beat at the hands of Kiefer Sutherland’s character, Martin Bohm.

The poker game sees Bohm needing to win in order to get information from another player, and his pocket 8s miraculously survive a board of AAK to get there, much to Hellmuth’s chagrin.

Other honourable mentions in the ‘poker stars on the silver screen’ stakes have seen Chris Ferguson, Doyle Brunson, Dan Harrington, and Erik Seidel all appear in the 2007 movie ‘Lucky You’.

Pride of place in the also-rans, however, has to go to Dan Bilzerian, one of the finest poker players of any generation starring in several big screen films – Lone Survivor the first, with credits for The Equalizer, Extraction and War Dogs.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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