“I just bulled myself into a partnership with PokerStars," comedian Kevin Hart deadpanned to start his short - and hilarious - press conference today at the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo.
“I’ve come here with Daniel Negreanu to tell you that poker just got fun. I’ll make it fun, and I’ll make poker cool.
"Daniel, I’ll make you cool. I mean you’re already cool, but I’ll make you real cool. I want to be the Eddie Murphy to your Nick Nolte.”
And so begins the Kevin Hart era at PokerStars, just a couple of weeks after football stars Neymar and Ronaldo disappeared from the list of PokerStars ambassadors.
In a time when many players feel like the game has become too serious, no matter what level you play, bringing in a comedian seems like the perfect idea.
More Than 48 Hours
Hart first appeared at a PokerStars event at the PSC Bahamas this year where he played both in the main and in several high roller events.
He might not have made the money, but he surely left his mark.
He clearly enjoyed the process so much he returned to do likewise in Monaco this week, along with announcing a deal (of logistics still to be determined) that takes his relationship with PokerStars a little further.
The American actor-comedian says he’s priority will be to bring some personality to the table and that conversation is more important to him than money.
“I’m a big deal," Hart said jokingly. “I mean a really big deal.
"When players sit next to me with their headphones on, I wonder how it’s not a big deal for them. And they need to understand that I can’t just let them not talk to me.
"You will talk to me if you sit at my table.”
“Kevin sure brings a new presence to the table," added Negreanu. “A new vibe that says you can play a serious game and still have fun.”
“I’ve been following him for a while. He’s not a guy who does things halfway.”
"I'm Mixing It Up With the Big Guys Now"
Asked about his poker experiences, Hart said: “I’ve been treating poker like a hobby for the last 10 years. Events like this here bring it to a completely different level.”
“But I’m mixing it up with you big guys now. I’m already so good, I can make Day 2!”
“It’s true that I played with Jean-Robert Bellande and Dan Bilzerian. He’s very authentic. So authentic in fact that I can’t really repeat any of the conversation we had in public or anywhere.”
“What I can say is that Dan is a character. He’s a fun guy and a loud guy. And he has quite an ego. And that he’s been saying the most outlandish things to me that I’ve ever heard.”
Sneaky Pete Will Be Massive
Many poker players have rituals. They are superstitious, have talismans, or always enter the room with the same foot first. Hart wouldn’t be Hart if he didn’t have his own take on it.
“My first quirk is the ‘Sneaky Pete.' When someone bets into me, I peek over my glasses with this really stern look.
"Then I put my glasses back up again. That’s it. But people will pick it up. It’s going to be massive.”
“I also act confused a lot and I leave my chips in a mess in front of me. When I push them in the middle and someone asks how much I bet, I say ‘this much’.”
“I guess if I ever win one of these it would be the funniest thing in the world. I stumble into one of these Championships and win.
"Then I could walk around saying I’m the best in the world, although I’m clearly not. But I’m all about the fun of it.”
There Will Be No Coaching
So we’ll be hearing and seeing more of Kevin Hart at future PokerStars Championships and we’re looking forward to the table banter.
But maybe the best moment in what was clearly the funniest press conference ever held by PokerStars was a joke that wasn’t even intended.
Asked by one of the press representatives if he knew any Romanian celebrities, Hart answered ‘I’ll say this with a straight face – no,' while Negreanu, whose family is of Romanian descent, sat right next to him trying not to laugh.
Still, Hart refuses to get any coaching from the Canadian superstar.
“For what?" Hart cried out. “I’m not going to read any books. There’ll be no coaching, no training, no nothing. I will figure out the game by myself.”
Check back here to the PokerListings news section to find out how Hart is figuring out the game at the PSC Monte Carlo.Poll