Broadway Actor Tony Yazbeck Cashes in at World Series of Poker

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Tony Yazbeck

Broadway and the WSOP are a very long way apart, but Tony Yazbeck found a way to bridge that gap.

The Broadway actor, famous for On the Town and Finding Neverland, is one of the thousands of poker players who couldn’t resist the siren call of the massive Colossus II.

Not content with merely playing the event, Yazbeck found his way into the money mid-way through the day with a healthy stack. That's when PokerListings caught up with him for a quick chat.

We talked about the surprising amount of poker that goes on behind the scenes of Broadway, the NY poker scene and comedian Steve Martin’s love for the game.

PokerListings: We don’t get a lot of Broadway actors at the WSOP. What brought you here?

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Tony Yazbeck

Tony Yazbeck: I’ve been a poker player for about 12 years now.

In the last couple years I’ve developed a really awesome network of friends and players in New York. I’ve played some great home games with actors and directors both from Broadway and film.

It’s sorta been my second family sometimes and it makes for some great Sunday nights or whenever I can play.

I’ve never played the WSOP so this was a huge deal for me. I’m was sorta just playing the Colossus for the experience but I just heard we’re in the money so that’s pretty cool.

PL: How are you liking the WSOP?

TY: It’s awesome. I’m really having the best time. Just the experience itself is amazing. You see it on TV for years. I had a bunch of buddies who kept telling me to go play it once.

My wife was like “Yes, you can go do your thing and then come back. Tell me how it goes.”

She’s proud, so we’re good.

PL: How much poker do you play?

TY: Mostly just home games. In my business it’s kinda hard to take trips to casinos or anything like that. Obviously I’m more of a Broadway actor and it’s very time consuming. I have to keep a regimen.

When I have time on certain nights there are a bunch of home games I can play, fortunately. It keeps my mind focused. It improves my game too.

PL: Film and TV actors are renowned for playing on set. Does that happen at all on Broadway?

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Huge Broadway fan Erik Seidel

TY: Yeah, for sure. There are a lot of Broadway games. For years people have been playing in Broadway dressing rooms. When I did Gypsy with Patti LuPone we had a game going in the dressing room.

There have been many, many games. I know when Hairspray was on there was a game going on in the backstage area.

There’s a huge following and actually every year I’m involved with a group called Broadway Cares. We do a fundraiser called Broadway Bets at Sardi’s in New York. We get a lot of people that come out and support it. Erik Seidel came out for it. Steve Martin also came this year.

Seidel is actually also one of the biggest Broadway fanatics. You wouldn’t know that but he literally loves it.

He could own Broadway. [Laughs] Maybe he does after that [Super High Roller Bowl] score last night. Maybe he’ll fund a show or something.

PL: What’s it like to play poker with Steve Martin?

TY: It was awesome. He’s really into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out to play the WSOP.

PL: Why do you think film and TV actors as well Broadway actors are so into poker?

TY: I think it’s really about human behavior honestly. When I started out I realized I was good at the game because of my ability to read people.

I learned mathematics and how to analyze certain hands later than I understood the behavior part. I think actors, especially ones that have been around, can sit there with patience and read a player with all their ticks and tells.

Even with some of the pros I think. It’s just the little things. That’s where I feel like I have a little bit of an edge.

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