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Robert Iler is famous for playing AJ Soprano on the long-running HBO series The Sopranos but what people might not know about him is how passionate he is about poker. Iler loves the game so much he's moved from his home in New York to Las Vegas to play cards. In fact, Iler hasn't even looked at a script in almost six years. Iler speaks to PokerListings.com at the World Series of Poker about what it's like living in Las Vegas and how he learned the value of a dollar. Editor's note: Iler requested not to be asked about the recent passing of his Soprano's costar James Gandolfini.
Living in Vegas is the greatest thing in the world. I mean, it's unbelievable. I'm from New York so obviously I miss New York a lot, but I mean the girls, the money, everything is just unbelievable. I think the summer we spoke, I got 275th in the main event, and I paid just over 40,000, and I was 27 years old and single. So I was like, "Why not pretend like I never had this money?" I got a place in Vegas for the year, a little bank roll, and was out here for probably about . . . I came for three weeks and stayed for like 16 months.
I came from nothing. My family was poor when I grew up and food stamps and all that, so the value of a dollar, it means a lot to me. Like the first three years I came out here I didn't even play the main. Everyone's like, "Why don't you play in the main?" I'm playing like $400 deep stacks. The way I was raised I was taught to value money and I still do. I never really feel secure. I always feel like it all came so fast that you feel it could all go away.
I need to go home at times and when I do it's the best. Then I'm home for like a month or two and I just need to come back here. I need the action. I miss the gambling. I miss all that. You go to Atlantic City, and like you said people are playing for their rent money. When you come out here, people come to Vegas with $5000 to lose. When I live here I'm like, "Well I have $5000 to win."
I told my manager to stop sending me scripts. I didn't want to look at it all and let's take like a year off, and then one year became two years, two years became three, and now it's six years have passed. They still call me every couple of months and when they send me scripts, and I just . . . I love it too much.
Everybody asks me if I'm a professional poker player, and I feel like it's like the way people call themselves like an artist. Like what makes you an artist? I don't know. I think I'm better than a lot of poker players, and there's some poker players I see that are just so next level and unbelievable and you learn so much from them. But as far as the job goes, I haven't had one in six years and all I've been doing is playing poker, but when people ask me I always say no. I never say I'm a professional poker player, but it's definitely all I do. I'd love to just player poker for the rest of my life.