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Samwise the Shark: Sean Astin Holds His Own on Poker Stage

To most of the world Sean Astin will always be Samwise Gamgee - best friend to Frodo Baggins and fellow caretaker of the One Ring.

To another demographic, he'll always be Rudy. And to still another he's Mikey Walsh, the inhaler-puffing, baby-faced leader of The Goonies.

No matter the character, though, Astin has proven himself to be an unflappable pro under the lights and in front of the cameras for well over two decades.

Combine that with a long-term relationship with the game of poker and Astin was the perfect candidate for a spot on the new season of PokerStars’ Shark Cage.

The popular actor took a last-minute invite to the PokerStars and Casino Monte Carlo European Grand Final this week to participate in the last heats of the second season of Shark Cage.

While we can't disclose how he fared, we did get a few minutes to chat with one of the most famous hobbits on Earth.

sean astin 3
"I know the rules, I have some instinct, so why not?"

PokerListings: Thank you for taking a couple of minutes for PokerListings.

Sean Astin: So, you’re going to be my new sponsors?

PL: Ha, who knows? Can you tell us how you got onto the PokerStars Shark Cage?

SA: One of my colleagues works a lot with celebrities in poker so I was contacted the usual way.

Four or five days ago I got a call and they asked me if I wanted to be on the show.

I asked my wife, 'Do you want to come along with me to a poker show where I can win a million dollars?' She said ‘Do you have any chance?' and I said 'Well, I have a little.'

I know the rules of the game, I have some instinct, so why not?

PL: You must be a serious player otherwise they wouldn’t have picked you, right?

SA: I’m not so sure if they knew anything about my skills.

I played a couple of televised tournaments and I played in several celebrity tournaments with the NHL and the NFL.

I did relatively well but I’m not a very good player.

Still I don’t think they would have invited me if I was a total idiot.

0337 Phil Ivey
Everybody knows Ivey.

The people in England just love the Lord of the Rings so I guess they liked the idea of Samwise playing.

PL: You think they just went through the cast of “Lord of the Rings”?

SA: (smiles) Yes, I think so. That’s what I would have done.

PL: As an actor, do the cameras bother you at all?

SA: Not really. The first time I was in a televised event I got a little distraught about lights and the way they orchestrated it.

I went all-in on a bad bluff in the first hand and lost. That was a pretty good learning experience.

Nowadays it’s become very, very professional. The way they have cameras everywhere even under the tables, it’s very sophisticated.

You could say it’s just like you see on television.

It made me feel like a professional performer, who was sitting there aware that everything we were saying to each other was recorded.

PL: Did you know the players at your table?

SA: Yes, most of them. Of course I know Phil Ivey and Vanessa Selbst, pretty much from television.

Rudy Time.

I didn’t know the Russian guy or the other one (editor's note: Faraz Jaka), but I spoke to some people beforehand and they said that this was the toughest table on the show.

PL: During play we heard you say this was the perfect Rudy scenario ...

SA: It’s when the odds are against you. When you can only survive on sheer will and determination.

If you want to see how well Astin does on the Shark Cage, episodes will begin airing later in the year.

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