Kevin Hart

Philadelphia-born Kevin Hart is a highly successful stand-up comedian, actor and producer, arguably best known for playing high school security guard Ben Barber in the Universal Pictures comedy film ‘Ride Along’ in 2014 and its sequel, ‘Ride Along 2’, in 2016. However, notwithstanding his loss, on a points decision, to underdog Antonio ‘The Magician’ Esfandiari – a three-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner – in a three-round boxing match in April, 2019, Hart does have form against professional poker players.

Indeed, at the last count, he had just shy of $48,000 in live earnings, just over $20,000 of which he collected for winning the Larry Flynt’s Challenge Cup at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, California in 2010. In recent years, Hart has been a regular participant in PokerStars Championship events worldwide, including in the Bahamas, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

In the PokerStars Championship Cash Challenge at Monte Carlo Casino, which aired on television in January, 2018, Hart misread his hand, possibly mistaking the three of spades for the jack of the same suit, which would have given him a straight. Consequently, Hart re-raised his opponent, qualifier Mila Monroe, on the turn and called her all-in bet on the river, despite holding only king-high. Miraculously, for Hart, Monroe was bluffing, with only six-high to show, so he ‘accidentally’ won the pot of €40,000. Although strictly against the rules, Hart returned €15,000 to Monroe, without complaint from the other players, who included Team PokerStars professional Daniel Negreanu, so that she could continue playing.

Victoria Coren Mitchell

London-born broadcaster, writer and poker player Victoria Coren Mitchell is probably best known as the host of the BBC Television quiz show ‘Only Connect’, which she has presented for over a decade. Nevertheless, she is a highly accomplished poker player, with $2.47 million in live earnings alone. She had the distinction of becoming the first player to win two Main Event titles on the European Poker Tour (EPT), collecting £500,000, or $941,513 – her best live cash to date – in EPT London in 2006 and a further €476,100, or $660, 947, in EPT Sanremo in 2014.

Coren Mitchell started playing poker with her elder brother, Giles Coren, before eventually branching out on her own and playing on legit online casinos. She has regularly played Texas hold’em at the Victoria Casino in London and is apparently close friends with the professional poker players Joe Beevers, Barney and Ross Beevers and Ram Vaswami, collectively known as the ‘Hendon Mob’. Coren Mitchell has also appeared on several televised poker shows, including ‘Celebrity Poker Club’, ‘Late Night Poker’ and ‘The Poker Nations Cup’, written an autobiography entitled ‘For Richer, For Poorer: My Love Affair with Poker’ and, in 2016, was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

Coren Mitchell joined Team PokerStars Pro in 2007, but terminated her contract in 2014 after the new owners, Amaya Gaming, introduced casino gaming on the PokerStars platform. Her decision was purely down to personal principles, rather than any criticism of PokerStars or casinos in general. At the time, she said ‘Poker is the game I love; poker is what I signed up to promote.’

Jennifer Tilly

Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Tilly is perhaps best known, nowadays, as the voice of Bonnie Swanson in the Fox animated sitcom ‘Family Guy’. Born in California, but raised in British Columbia, Canada, Tilly was formerly married to the late Sam Simon – co-creator of ‘The Simpsons’ and also a highly accomplished poker player – between 1984 and 1991. However, Tilly became serious about poker in the mid-Noughties –unsurprisingly, not long after meeting long-term partner Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Invitational, at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles in 2004 – and has since accumulated just over $1 million in live earnings.

Tilly won her first WSOP bracelet in the $1,000 Ladies Only Event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in June, 2005, and followed up that victory with another, in the WPT Ladies Night event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. Tilly admitted that, early in her fledgling poker career, she was more interested in playing the game but, in late 2008, announced that she would, in future, treat poker ‘more like a hobby’.

Nevertheless, she returned with a bang when winning Bellagio Cup VI at Bellagio, Las Vegas in July, 2010 – and with it $124,455, her second-best live cash ever – and has been a regular participant in high-stakes events, at home and abroad, ever since. Indeed, her best live cash since her return from ‘retirement’ was the $98,000 she collected for a seventh-placed finish in PartyPoker Premier League VI at Aspers Casino, London in March, 2013.

Neymar

Superstar striker Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, usually known simply as Neymar, joined French champions Paris Saint-German from Barcelona for a world record transfer fee of €222 million in 2017. The move did not work out as envisaged, for either party, but the Brazilian – who has scored more goals for his country than anyone bar Pele or Ronaldo – remains one of the most exciting footballing talents on the planet.

Still only 27, Neymar has just over $21,000 in live earnings as a poker player, all of which he collected when finishing sixth of 288 entrants in the R$7,000 No Limit Hold’em – High Rollers event in the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP) in Sao Paulo in 2018. However, according to his friend, and coach, Andre Akkari – a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner in 2011 – Neymar is intent on becoming a professional poker player at the end of his football career and plays studiously, even in the private games he hosts at home.

Neymar made his PokerStars debut in the at the European Poker Tour (EPT) $25,000 High Roller event at Casino Barcelona, playing alongside then teammate Gerard Pique, in 2012. He officially joined Team PokerStars in 2015, appearing alongside Christiano Ronaldo in a series of television advertisements, but left in 2017 when PokerStars retired their entire roster of brand ambassadors. He also appeared in the WSOP in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, famously winning a seat at the WSOP Main Event in 2016.

Shannon Elizabeth

Texas-born actress Shannon Elizabeth is probably still best known for her role as foreign exchange student Nadia in the Universal Pictures ‘America Pie’ franchise from the late Nineties onwards. However, for a few years in the mid- to late Noughties, she flirted with what she described as a ‘second career’ as a poker player.

Elizabeth played draw and stud poker from an early age, but came to Texas hold’em much later, thanks in no small part to her friendship with the likes of Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari. In 2005, under the auspices of Daniel Negreanu, she entered the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event but, although she performed with credit, finished out of the money.

On New Year’s Eve 2006, Elizabeth beat 83 celebrities and professional poker players to the $55,000 first prize in the Pure Nightclub Presents the Opening of the Caesars Palace Poker Room event and, as a representative of Full Tilt Poker, cashed three times, albeit for small amounts, in the WSOP during the year. The following year, she achieved far and away her best live cash so far, when collecting $125,000 for a third-place finish in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship, also at Caesars Palace. Indeed, Elizabeth achieved her last major cash, nearly $80,000, when finishing runner-up to Phil ‘Tiltboy’ Gordon in the WSOP Ante Up For Africa event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in 2010 and has cashed just once since. Even so, with a net worth estimated at $9 million, Elizabeth hardly needs to play poker for a living.

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