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.