Vladimir Putin versus Barack Obama. It’s a common matchup in newspaper headlines across the world, but not one you’d expect to see on the felt.
But James Woods has an idea of how things would play out between the two world leaders.
“Putin would never have to look at his cards,” Woods said. “All he’d have to do is bet, you know, and Obama would talk his way out of every hand.”
Woods says he wouldn’t talk his way out of things, though. If he were elected the grand emperor of America tomorrow, he’d be a man of action.
“I’d put people back to work. I’d give everybody jobs. I’d take all our tax money and I’d get people into training,” Woods said.
“I’d get people working and make America an industrial might once again and compete with the world economy and try to help those in need. And the best way to help those in need is to give them training and jobs.”
But the next presidential election isn’t until 2016 and the next grand emperor will be chosen in approximately never. So, for now, Woods is going to focus on one thing: the World Series of Poker.
Woods Remembers Good Old Days of Las Vegas
“I just want to play poker, I don’t want to do anything else. You know? I don’t want to go to shows, go to nightclubs or any of that crap, I’ve done all of that,” Woods said.
“It’s become so corporate,” Woods said. “In my 20s and 30s we’d come to Vegas and I remember when I came with my buddies once and the whole place was comped. We were at Caesars, we got the penthouse and I told them I would like a pound of beluga caviar.
“Boom! Big tin, 16 ounces of caviar, I take a tablespoon and a glass of vodka and ate a pound of caviar. What are the chances of that now if I haven’t dumped, you know, a hundred grand in roulette?”
While Woods enjoyed visiting Las Vegas with friends, the Oscar-nominated actor said his favorite times in Sin City were with his family.
“You know, honestly, we enjoyed Vegas the way Vegas was originally meant to be enjoyed,” Woods said.
“I’d bring my mom -- my dad died when I was young, God rest his soul -- my brother and my aunt and uncle and we’d all come out and they’d play the slot machines and have fun.”
Cross-Country with Vegas on the Horizon
One things Woods still enjoys about Las Vegas is driving to it. This year, Woods rode to Las Vegas from Warwick, Rhode Island.
“I love doing it, I’m going to drive back,” Woods said.
“A lot of people ask why I’m doing it and I say I love driving cross-country. My old Jeep’s got 208,000 miles on it, put a new engine in, f****ng took it across again.”
Even breakdowns don’t stop Woods.
“Last time it broke down I towed it into the Jeep dealership and I said, ‘What do you give me for it?’ He said like 2,000 bucks. I said, 'Great, take it off the new one, here’s my credit card. That’s what I did,'” Woods said.
The only thing that was able to put Woods on a cross-country hiatus was the unexpected death of his brother, Michael J. Woods, who suffered a heart attack on July 26, 2006.
This happened only days after the two completed a cross-country trip to Las Vegas for the WSOP.
Reliving His Brother's Last Trip to Vegas
“It was at the last minute, and he loved to play poker, and we had Hollywood Poker at the time and he hosted the Main Event of our Hollywood Poker site,” Woods said.
“I was starting my television series Shark and he said, 'Hey, lets drive cross-country and do the [WSOP] and play a couple of events before you do that,' and I was so busy but I was like, 'You know what? Yeah, lets go, lets do it.'
“God must’ve smiled on me. So we got in the car and we drove cross-country. We had a blast and we played and had the best time. He left and I gave him a big hug and then five days later he died of a heart attack.”
Woods said it was hard for him to drive after his brother’s death, but he’s since found a way to honor his brother's memory and their last trip: by doing it again.
“I took the trip this time and I stopped in all the places we stopped. Every single place. It’s hard to explain to people,” Woods said.
“They’re like, ‘Why do you wanna drive across country?’ I just kind of wanted to remember that time on the way out to the [WSOP].”
Now that Woods has arrived, he’s ready to play.
Celebrity Poker Players are Good But Still Get Hustled
“It’s a wonderful sort of hobby although I think I play it at a level better than being a hobbyist,” Woods said. “I played poker all my life, poker and gin and everything.
And once he became a Hollywood actor, he had plenty of time to practice his poker skills.
“The movie business, believe it or not, is very boring,” Woods said. “You sit around a lot and you waste a lot of time in your life sitting in trailers, waiting for the lights and stuff. So it’s really nice to get involved in something else.”
Thanks to his love of poker and his A-list status Woods has played against many of Hollywood’s biggest names. Several of them, Woods says, aren’t too bad either.
“Todd [Phillips] is great, Nick Cassavetes is an excellent player, Tobey Maguire is an excellent player,” Woods said.
“You know, I like Kevin Pollak, excellent player. A lot of guys are pretty good home-game players.”
The biggest mistake Woods sees on the Hollywood poker scene is when actors try to swim with the sharks.
“A lot of them get involved in these big-money games and get involved with pros and so on, which automatically tells you that, you know, people can be really stupid,” Woods said.
“Like Jamie Gold, you see him on Poker After Dark playing with all these top-name pros. It’s like ‘Why are you playing Tom Dwan? You can’t beat Tom Dwan.’”
Woods had a stint where he played against the best, but the actor says it was short-lived.
“I stopped it pretty quickly because I thought, ‘Why am I playing in a cash game with Kenny Tran?’” Woods said. “I don’t think I’m good enough to play with Kenny Tran on a regular basis.”
While Woods steers clear of big-name pros in big-money games, he’s confident in his tournament play.
“I can hold my own in a tournament, and that’s one of the reasons I love tournament poker,” Woods said. “I might have a few moves up my sleeve for, you know, a poker tournament but I’m not gonna sit there and try to outplay pros in cash-games.”
James Woods' Guide to Picking Up Women
Woods, who turned 67 this April and competed in the Seniors Event earlier today, has plenty of advice for the younger generation. One of Woods’ areas of expertise is something that tends to elude poker players: women.
“Here’s the thing about women that a lot of men have never understood and I see this all the time. Men crave women, and they love women, and they fall in love with women but they don’t like women sometimes,” Woods said.
“Women, put them to the test, and all you’ve gotta do is not only love women and make love with women, but like them. Just like them and be nice to them.
“It’s amazing what happens. I’ve had, probably, wonderful success and by success I mean I’ve enjoyed wonderful relationships with women because, I respect them and love them. I was taught that by my family.
“So yeah, I think it’s really important to respect and care for women and I think a lot of people, they’re busy trying to get the obvious rather when, you know, there’s so much more to get.”
Woods then went over to a WSOP model and asked her if his theory was accurate.
“I agree,” the WSOP model said.
“Can I get your number later?” Woods said.
“Sure,” the WSOP model laughed.
“See, isn’t that nice?” Woods said with a wink.