That Time Matt Damon Played in the WSOP

5 days ago
That Time Matt Damon Played in the WSOP
11 Oct

Do you remember that first time we all thought we were seeing things at the ’98 World Series of Poker? It was a simpler time, when our biggest problem was Nirvana selling out, or our jeans not being baggy enough, and a Hollywood star had the bravery to sit up at the table. We were all shocked to see actor Matt Damon really test his acting skills at the poker table. Read on to find out how he did.

Who is he?

Known for so many hits in Hollywood, Matt Damon has gained many awards throughout his long and varied career, including Best Original Screenplay for his and Ben Affleck’s passion project: Good Will Hunting. Over time we’ve seen him as the face of America’s James Bond, Jason Bourne, stabbing backs in hits like The Departed, escaping planets in The Martian, and even showing some theatre skills in Thor: Ragnarok. He even returned to Las Vegas to gain some money in the slick heist franchise movie Ocean’s Eleven. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was hard to see a movie and not see his face.

But it seems Damon was spending a lot of time on sites like, honing his skills as a poker player, and poker fans around the world would be surprised but delighted to see him show up at various tournaments as his career continued.

How did he do?

Fresh off the Oscar stage, Damon was inspired into playing poker by his most recent film, Rounders. With the idea of doing research for his role in mind, Damon started attending underground New York games. Rounders itself is credited with sparking the 1998 poker boom, being a sexy thriller about underground high stakes poker – and it seems even Damon himself was enticed by the game.

Intrigued enough to give it a real go, Damon entered the ’98 WSOP while researching his role of poker player Mike McDermott, and unfortunately lost $25k to, of all people, Doyle Brunson, who is in fact mentioned in the film a number of times. He was holding two kings while Doyle hid two aces.

He even made it all the way to the 2010 WSOP main event. Joining fellow Oscar winner Ben Affleck and sitcom star Ray Romano, the star drew quite the crowd as he played. Unfortunately, the event was won by Canadian Jonathan Duhamel, who went home with almost $9 million.

Damon has grown into an avid gambling fan and has also joined the annual 2009 Ante Up for Africa event. The celebrity event attracts big names from all over, and saw Damon join 137 other names for a game that has a reputation for donating all their winnings to charity. No doubt Damon would have liked a few extra coins for his projects like the H20 Africa Foundation, of which he is a founder or the Not On Our Watch Project, which was created by Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, David Pressman and Jerry Weintraub to prevent mass atrocities such as the war in Darfur.

He got as far as 35 players to go, when Las Vegas local Erik Seidel moved all-in with a small blind. After a bit of contemplation, Damon folded and exited the game. Alex Bolotin from Belarus would eventually win the pot and donated half of his $177,730 winnings to charity.

Will he be back?

Matt Damon is a famously avid gambler, with Texas Hold’em being his favourite. His many appearances at the WSOP over the years would suggest he will be back, but it seems lately he’s been keeping to charity events and playing with friends. Maybe tournaments are in his rearview mirror.

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Writer and semi-retired poker pro from Edinburgh (UK).Read more


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