WSOP 2011 Best Bets: Celebrities

Matt Damon
Matt Damon, the original rounder.

Every year, PokerListings releases its list of Best Bets for the upcoming World Series of Poker.

In the past we were naïve, believing it was possible to single out individual players and make convincing predictions about the certainty of bracelet wins. Frankly, few if any of those predictions came true.

That’s why this year we’re taking a more mature approach and pointing at groups of people from whom we expect big things at the WSOP this summer.

And so we continue with the 2011 WSOP Best Bets series with our next group: Celebrities.

Every year the World Series of Poker draws a crowd of celebrities to Las Vegas.

From C-Listers looking to stay in the spotlight to superstars who simply love the game, the list of Hollywood names chasing poker glory at the WSOP is always growing.

Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, Jason Alexander, James Woods, Jennifer Tilly, Lou Diamond Phillips and Rounders star Matt Damon are just a few of the stars who have become familiar faces at the Series.

Phillips, who cashed in the 2009 Main Event, says the connection between Hollywood and poker is a long standing one.

"I try to have fun at the table. I have no fantasies about what's going on here." - Jason Alexander

In fact, he has had a semi-regular home game running almost as long as he's been in show business.

"The home game has been crazy," Phillips told PokerListings. "It's been going on for 20 years."

Over two decades his game has seen a rotating group of actors and entertainers.

Brad Garrett
Brad Garrett is in over his head, despite being exceptionally tall.

"George Clooney used to hang back in the day," Phillips said. "Brad Pitt before he got Thelma and Louise, all the 90210 kids."

Like a lot of Hollywood home games the stakes are anything but the highest, and the level of play is anything but professional.

"No, it's a lot of bullshit is what it is," Phillips laughed. "We're drinking a lot of beer and going, 'My two-three offsuit will kick your kings' ass.' "

But despite the less than serious nature of Hollywood home games and how Brad Garrett rated his own chances in the Main Event a few years back, there’s really no reason a celebrity can’t succeed on poker’s biggest stage.

“I don't belong here," Garrett told PokerListings at the 2009 WSOP Main Event. "I'm not going to lie to you.

"I paid my money and I'm happy to be here. It's like when I golf: I have no reason to be out there either but I love the torture. I love the torture."

Alexander sees his point, but still holds out some hope of earning his first WSOP cash.

"Brad is in over his head," he said. "When they hand him the 30,000 [starting stack] he should hand half of it back.

"I try to have fun at the table. I have no fantasies about what's going on here."

“But when I came in the first year I was just intimidated," he said. "I thought, 'I don't belong here' and I really didn't, but it was fun.

"So now I come back and say, 'So here's a game I've spent a lot of time putting some education into.' I'm not a player but I enjoy being with players. I enjoy the social aspect of it."

So now, with the list of celebrities flocking to poker continuing to grow and the experience of stars like Garret, Alexander and Phillips increasing every year, it appears it’s a only matter of time before some celebrity makes good at the WSOP.

Stay up to date with all the action from Vegas this summer with's WSOP 2011 Live Coverage section.

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