Poker is all about deception so donning a costume is not exactly a giant stretch for high-stakes poker pros.
Tournaments, which can be quite slow, are also a good venue for putting costumes on display.
Over the years there’s been hundreds of poker pros who have donned elaborate costumes at the WSOP, EPT or WPT.
Sometimes it’s just for fun, other times it’s because of a lost bet and other times it’s merely a player repping some product or company.
In the early 2000s you could even argue that most poker pros had costumes by default. Think Chris Ferguson’s trademark black duster and cowboy hat, Phil Hellmuth’s black hockey jersey and even Scotty Nguyen’s signature white duds.
It’s anyone’s guess as to whether those players were attempting to build their respective brands or it just worked out that way. Either way, those players are still among the most famous poker players in the world.
Here’s a look at several of the most memorable costumes to ever grace the poker table over the years.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier as Joker/Mal'Ganis
We start things off with Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier who comes from an eSports background and is no stranger to the odd bit of cosplay. Over the years Grospellier has donned costumes straight out of Warcraft and Assassin's Creed. He famously donned a Joker costume at an EPT event several years ago and more recently channeled demon lord Mal'Ganis at Blizzcon.
Vanessa Rousso's Famous "Cockroach" Prop Bet
In 2012 Vanessa Rousso took part in a reality show with Vanessa Selbst, Maria Ho and Liv Boeree where they all shared a house for the World Series of Poker. Rousso ended up losing a bet to her housemates and the result was that she had to wear a cockroach costume for an entire tournament. The costume was decided by Twitter. Some of the other options? Snookie, Pippi Longstocking and... a giant penis. All in all, the cockroach costume wasn't too bad.
Senior Citizen Phil Laak
Phil Laak is always entertaining at the tables but he outdid himself in the 2008 WSOP Main Event by voluntarily dressing as an old man. The idea was to throw people off his usual game. Did it work? Sorta. He made it through the day. It also required four hours of makeup. Also, a few people made the argument it was unethical to hide his identity and the WSOP eventually incorporated the "Phil Laak" rule, which made masks at the tables against the rules.
Burning Woman Liv Boeree
Alright. To be fair, Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree keeps it pretty casual at the poker table. But she's absolutely next level when it comes to Burning Man costumes.
Phil Hellmuth's Numerous Main Event Entrance Costumes
Back in the day, when online poker sites had tons of money to burn, Phil Hellmuth put on an incredibly elaborate entrace to the WSOP Main Event ever year. Essentially Hellmuth would pick a certain theme, get a bunch of followers and parade through the Rio Hotel on the day he was playing. Over the years Hellmuth took turns as a race car driver, MMA fighter, military general, sports caster and perhaps most famously as a Roman Emperor in 2009. It was pretty ridiculous.
Tom "durrrr" Dwan's Legendary Funny Hat Bet
Long before the durrrr Challenge there was the "Funny Hat Bet." Basically online legend Tom "durrrr" Dwan lost a bet against fellow pro Alan Sass and had to wear a different hat every day of the 2008 WPT World Championship at Bellagio. Incredibly Dwan made a very deep run in the tournament, eventually finishing ninth place, which means he had to wear a lot of hats including flamingo, swan, fruitbowl and more. We'll always wonder what hat Sass would have deemed worthy of the televised WPT final table.
TV Presenters Join in On the Action
Poker pros aren't the only people who have donned an unusual costume on the tournament floor as presenters Kara Scott and Tatjana Pasalic have both worn some elaborate costumes. Kara Scott lost a prop bet in San Remo in 2009 that led to the bunny costume while Pasalic had to put on some cat ears at the 2012 WSOP Main Event.
Brazilian Fans Channel Scooby-Do
It was a big deal when Brazlian Bruno Politano made the WSOP Main Event final table in 2014 and for some reason one particularly passionate fan decided to cheer him on wearing a Scooby-Do costume of all things. We thinking alcohol had something to do with it.
Davidi Kitai is a Stone-Cold Monkey
We don't know the story behind this one but Belgian poker pro Davidi Kitai is perhaps the saddest-looking man to ever put on a fuzzy monkey hat. Cheer up, mon ami!
Joe Sebok as Robin/Alf/Spider-Man
Gavin Smith and Joe Sebok had some pretty legendary costume prop bets in the early 2000s that led to Joe Sebok putting on Robin, Alf and Spider-Man costumes on different occasions. Jeff Madsen joined the action as a very unhappy-looking jester in 2009.
Daniel Negreanu Becomes Scotty Nguyen
A poker pro dressed as another famous poker pro? This is getting pretty meta but that's exactly what happened at the 2009 NBC Heads-Up Championship when Daniel Negreanu and Scotty Nguyen were pitted against other in a match. You can check out who got ultimate "Scotty" bragging rights in the video below: