The attractions of poker are obvious – the thrill of a possible big win is coupled with the Wild West feel of the American card table, and the glamorous, Monte Carlo image of the European version. Card games been popularized by movies such as Rounders (1998) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965) for decades.
The rise of online poker has brought a new generation of players to the tables. Online casinos allow rookies to practise their game away from the unforgiving glare of the more experienced players. They can also provide a route to a seat at a big tournament – online or real-life. Here’s a look at some of today’s top pros and poker-playing celebrities.
Top poker pros
Daniel Negreanu, 39, tops our list with six World Series Of Poker bracelets (single event wins) and 2 World Poker Tour titles. His talkative style is said to distract some opponents, and his ability to “read” people is legendary.
Shannon Shorr, 28, famously had to travel outside the US in order to play – and win – before his 21st birthday. Shorr won over $200,000 in Australia in 2006, while he was still a student. He’s taken nearly $5.5m in live events.
Scott Seiver, also 28, has finished in the money 22 times at the WSOP, picking up a bracelet on the way. Earlier this year, Seiver won just over $2m at a PokerStars event, bringing his total live winnings to around $7m.
Jonathan Duhamel, 26, hit the big time in 2010 with a Main Event win at the WSOP, collecting a pay packet of nearly $9m. The Canadian has won over £12m all told in live events, with 16 WSOP money finishes.
Phil Helmuth, 49, will be a name familiar to many non-players due to his “Poker Brat” image. He’s picked up 13 WSOP bracelets, winning the main event in 1989, and can also boast 100 money finishes.
Celebrity poker fans
Plenty of celebrities have also been attracted to the game. Tobey “Spiderman” Maguire is reported to have won around $10m dollars in private games in Hollywood; opponents included Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. Jennifer Tilly is probably more famous now for her poker career than her acting, and though she had a stab at retirement in 2008, by 2010 she was back at the tables.
Those who are inspired to try their hand at poker or other card games like blackjack, have a huge range of sites to choose from. Blackjack fans, for example, can pick up tips and recommendations from sites like www.ace-ten.com. Take heart from the story of Chris Moneymaker, who qualified for the WSOP at an online event in 2003 – and then went on to win it!