Contemporary Casino

The contemporary casino is more than a gambling destination: it is a multifarious pleasure enclosure intended to satisfy every member of the family unit – Colson Whitehead

Kevin Pollak

California-born actor, comedian and impressionist Kevin Pollak is famous for his roles as Lieutenant Sam Weinberg in ‘A Few Good Men’, Todd Hockney in ‘The Usual Suspects’ and Philip Green in ‘Casino’, among others. However, in the world of poker, Pollak is best known for his deep run at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in 2012 – his first ever appearance in the WSOP – when he exceeded even his own expectations by finishing 134th of 6,598 entrants and collecting $52,718 in prize money.

Indeed, the 2012 WSOP Main Event was also memorable for the bad beat Pollak suffered at the hands of Kirill Rabstov on day five of the tournament; both players went all-in pre-flop with pocket queens, but Rabstov hit a backdoor flush draw on the flop and hit his suit on the turn and the river, while Pollak watched, helplessly, hands on head. Far from discouraged, Pollak has since played regularly in the WSOP Main Event and, although he has yet to better his 2012 finish, in 2019 he broke off filming ‘The Marvelous [sic] Mrs. Maisel’ in Brooklyn, New York and took his seat at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas straight from the airport.

A lifelong poker player – or, at least, since the age of 10 or 11 – Pollak started playing more seriously at the Mirage and the Riviera in Las Vegas during filming of ‘Casino’ in 1994. He still plays, weekly, in a Hollywood home game that he has been running since 2010, in some smaller buy-in events in Los Angeles and in charity events.

Teddy Sheringham

Retired striker Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheringham enjoyed an illustrious career with six different football clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, and with the English national team. However, some years before he finally retired as a player in 2008, at the age of 42, Sheringham had started playing live tournament poker. He made his debut in that sphere on home soil in 2005, finishing second at the Fahrenheit Festival in Southend-on-Sea, Essex and third in the 888.com Pacific Poker Open in Maidstone, Kent, for cashes of $7,230 and $20,000, respectively.

Other major cashes over the years have also included $66,738 for a fourteenth-place finish in the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event at the Empire Casino in London in 2009 and $28,530 for finishing 388th in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2012. However, Sheringham enjoyed his biggest payout, so far, in between times; he reached the final table, which also included the likes of WSOP Main Event winner Martin Jacobson, in the the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event at Casino Vilamoura in Portugal in 2010, eventually finishing fifth and collecting $118,346.

All told, Sheringham has nearly $330,000 in live earnings to his name. He has been less active on the poker circuit in and around London, and elsewhere, in recent tears, but remains one of the few celebrities who have translated love of the game into real, tangible results against some of the best players in the world.

Jason Alexander

Actor and comedian Jason Alexander, born Jason Greenspan, is best known for his portrayal of the iconic George Constanza in the popular NBC situation comedy ‘Seinfeld’ in the Nineties. However, New Jersey-born Alexander is a passionate poker player and is, in fact, a veteran of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, having made his first appearance at the Rio All-Suite Casino and Hotel in 2007.

He has yet to record a high finish at the WSOP Main Event but, by his own admission, plays competitive poker mainly ‘to have a great time’. Nevertheless, Alexander has nearly $30,000 in live earnings to his name, with his best live cash, nearly $17,000, coming in the WSOP $350 No Limit Hold’em event at Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino, in which he finished fifth of the 1,250 entrants, in 2010.

Alexander starting playing poker in college, but took more serious interest when televised celebrity poker became en vogue in the late Nineties and early Noughties. He freely admitted that a tutorial with 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil ‘Poker Brat’ Hellmuth – with whom he shared a publicist at the time – ‘scared the living bejeezus’ out of him. Nevertheless, the tutelage eventually paid dividends, to the tune of $500,000 for his chosen charity, The United Way of America, when he launched a dramatic comeback won the final of ‘Celebrity Poker Showdown’, televised on the Bravo cable network, in 2006.

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