Whether it’s poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat or another casino attraction, select celebrity gamers play the tables, games and machines with vigor. Able to spend thousands in gaming, celebrities are lured and pampered by casinos, where they play for pleasure, and charities. They can found playing in special tournaments like Ben Affleck in blackjack and poker. A seasoned poker player, Ben Affleck is No. 1 on the list for his binges and tips. According to reports, Affleck has been observed betting $60,000 a hand in blackjack and on one occasion, is said to have tipped dealers $150,000 total. Strategy paid off for Affleck in 2004 as he played against Poker Superstar Stan Goldstein and 90 others. He walked away with $356,400. The following year, Affleck won a $25,000 seat for the 2005 World Poker Tour.
Because of his political notoriety, John McCain is No. 2. He was gaming long before occupying Capitol Hill. He has been seen in a Native American Casino as well as on the Las Vegas strip. McCain has an affinity for craps. The thrill of playing has nothing do with the money. McCain is known to bet thousands, and go on binges for hours, however, he starts out at the $15 minimum games. He is also known for his temper. In a Puerto Rican casino, McCain reportedly violated a rule by not placing his hands over the table as the dice were tossed. A woman grabbed his arm and he retorted loudly, demanding she stop touching him and asking if she knew who he was.
The List, Nos. 3 through 10
Olivia “Liv” Boeree comes in at No. 3 on the celebrity gaming list. Boeree earns a respectable place via her climb to poker fame. She holds a first class honor degree in physics, and is a television personality. Boeree is also a model who dressed casually in her 2005 debut on “Ultimatepoker.com Showdown.” On the show, she was coached by Poker Sensation Phil Helmuth. She was included as a member of Team PokerStars Pro, and in 2008, Boeree became the European Ambassador for Absolute Poker online. She is now heavily involved in representing live poker tournaments and online sites. Boeree’s first win came in the Welsh Amateur Championships where she placed seventh. She went on to earn a first place at Caesar’s Palace. Boeree was a featured player for Gala UK Poker, World Women’s Open and Sky Poker.
At No. 4 is Charles Barkley, a top gamer who admits his losses have exceeded $10 million. Last year, Barkley owed $400,000 to a Las Vegas casino after he borrowed four, $100,000 markers while playing an unidentified game. The casino took Barkley to court. Barkley claimed all along he had paid the bill, when in reality he didn’t. In an interview with ESPN, Barkley said gaming is a stupid habit he needs to get under control. Being broke isn’t in his game plan, but he continues to play. His favorite games are roulette, blackjack and craps.
Gladys Knight takes the No. 5 spot for her addiction to baccarat, which she has since mastered. She has lost as much as $45,000 in one night. She kicked her habit with Gambler’s Anonymous. She was hooked on baccarat in the 1970s and would lose thousands every night she played. Knight played the game well into the 1980s before realizing she had a problem. But Knight is extremely honest about her addiction, and answers questions in depth. Known as the “Empress of Soul,” Knight made her mark in the music world as Gladys Knight and the Pips. The group was inducted into the prestigious Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Another celebrity basketball player is No. 6. Michael Jordan, who has played millions in poker, craps and sporting events. Jordan has been a gamer for at least 20 years. In 1993, he admitted to losing $57,000. An author wrote a book that stated Jordan was beat by $1.25 million on the golf course. During the 1993 playoffs that included his famed Chicago team, Jordan was spotted at an Atlantic City casino, the night before a big game. He spoke candidly with an interviewer of television’s 60 Minutes show, saying he identified gaming as a problem when it affected the people around the gamer in a negative way. Jordan also said gaming hadn’t affected his family in that way.
Tobey Maguire is a cool No. 7. Last year, he agreed to an $80,000 settlement to help the victims of a poker player/failed hedge fund manager who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud. The manager used investor monies to pay poker debts. Maguire played poker with the manager, along with several other celebrities. All of them won thousands from the manager, who apparently wasn’t on his game. The bankruptcy trustee in the case sued the celebrities in a federal lawsuit. The amount sought is over $1 million. The game was Texas Hold ’Em and it was played in Beverly Hills. Maguire is said to have won $311, 200. The games were unlicensed and illegal. Maguire continues to play high-stakes poker, despite that associates say he is addicted.
The No. 8 celebrity gamer on the list is Tiger Woods. His limit at the MGM Grand casino was $1 million. He has been known to play Blackjack at $25,000 per hand. He has favorite clubs, the kind that cater to high-end players. Woods has been seen with other multi-millionaire athletes posting wagers alongside gussied up women, which is prearranged as Woods and his cronies are scheduled to be at certain casinos. It was reported Woods lost $25,000 in one night, a meager amount compared to other celebrities. After the controversy surrounding Woods, his family and his infidelity with porn stars, Woods was seen in Las Vegas while trying to keep a semi-low profile.
The third female on the list at No. 9 is Jennifer Tilly. She was the winner of a World Series of Poker bracelet worth $158,625. Tilly defeated 600 players to win the bracelet in Ladies No-Limit Texas Hold ’Em. She was on the GSN Poker Royale circuit and Poker Superstars in the third televised season. Tilly is also part of an ESPN poker series, but appears as a celebrity, instead of a poker player. It seems Tilly has somewhat of a dress code when playing poker. She wears push-up bras and low cut tops for no shortage on cleavage. But Tilly said her clothes shouldn’t make a difference in the outcome. Serious poker players are looking at their pairs, not Tilly’s pair.
George Clooney finished out the list at No. 10. Clooney was close to his gaming passion while filming Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, however, Clooney isn’t known for winning. In front of another celebrity gamer, Clooney lost 25 blackjack hands in a row. That same night, Clooney lost another $600 he borrowed from a fellow celebrity. He and Brad Pitt have invested $3 billion in a casino complex. Clooney was inspired by Ocean’s Eleven, but those around him say he needs to give up the gaming, however, Clooney isn’t unlucky on all betting. He was challenged to a one-on-one basketball game, came out with a score of 11-8, and won $1,000. In a quip, Clooney said he was wiping his forehead with $100 bills.