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Television Stars Turned Poker Players

By on April 23, 2015

Ben Affleck. Photo © Wireimage

At first glance, there might not appear to be a connection between the television industry and the game of poker.

Why then are so many television stars and industry insiders finding poker games a staple of their weekly routine?

The answer is that while there really isn’t a direct connection, the poker bug has hit Hollywood in a big way and playing the game is just another form of entertainment for actors, producers, and everyone else in the television sector.

To prove the point, the following are just a few of the many television stars that often find themselves seated at a poker table.


Ray Romano


Ray Romano

Although he’s played the World Series of Poker Main Event seven times, Ray Romano has yet to come up with a cash. In fact, if you look at his poker record, his last tournament finish with any considerable winnings came nearly seven years ago in 2008.

Even though he hasn’t made millions at poker, it hasn’t stopped Romano from playing and he has actually ramped up his poker activities in recent years. We’re not saying that Romano is a bad poker player, but maybe he’s just going through one of the longest losing streaks ever in the history of the game.

For Romano, poker is also a way to connect with family. Just last year, the actor gave an interesting gift to his son, who had recently turned 21. Instead of a new car or other physical item, Romano and his wife pledged to put $5,000 towards their son’s first WSOP Main Event buy-in, an experience worth much more than the money it costs to enter.

As a one-of-a-kind event for both father and son, it will likely become a lifelong ritual for both and a way for them to enjoy poker together.

To add some of his trademark humor into the mix, the elder Romano stated publicly that he would buy a drink for whoever dealt the knockout blow to his son.

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

Better known as George Costanza from the seminal series Seinfeld, Jason Alexander was one of the most popular TV characters for nearly a decade.

When Seinfeld came to an eventual close, the actor moved on to other jobs, but also started paying more attention to poker, and like Romano, has played the WSOP Main Event on several occasions.

While Alexander may be a poker regular, there are some questions as to his ability in the game, as with Romano.

Despite entering in many events over the years, Alexander’s best cash to date was a fifth place finish at a WSOP Circuit event in 2010 for a prize of $16,933.

Still, with poker it’s often about the thrill of playing the game rather than always winning money, which Alexander certainly has plenty of, and there’s no doubt that the actor enjoys himself completely at the tables.

Laura Prepon

Laura Prepon

Laura Prepon

Proving that poker is not just for the boys, Laura Prepon is another television star that’s also joined the ranks of poker players.

Most famous for her roles as Donna on That ’70s Show and Alex on Orange Is the New Black, Prepon has transitioned nicely into both a poker player and personality.

With visits on the E! Hollywood Hold’em show, she established her position as a player and a host, but few are aware of her role behind the scenes.

Enthralled with poker, Prepon signed up to be one of the executive producers and helped bring the show to fruition.

As a yearly regular at the WSOP, Prepon is still looking for her first big win.

Gabe Kaplan

Gabe Kaplan

Gabe Kaplan

Of all the television stars that play poker, the name that sticks out the most is certainly Gabe Kaplan.

Everybody’s favorite teacher from Welcome Back, Kotter has been a poker player for years, often frequenting high stakes games with the most notable poker luminaries.

In fact, Kaplan’s experience with poker was so extensive that he was tapped to be one of the commentators for the High Stakes Poker television series.

His contributions to the show made it one of the highest rated poker programs of all time and he has since provided commentary for broadcasts of the World Series of Poker as well as the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

At the tables, Kaplan is a serious competitor and has actually won several big titles dating all the way back to 1980 when he took home the main event of the Super Bowl of Poker, a tournament series that is now defunct.

Add in a couple of WSOP and WPT final tables and it’s clear to see why Kaplan is far ahead of most of his poker-playing television peers.

 Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher

Sexy and seductive Teri Hatcher is another familiar face from the television screen that has started popping up at poker tables.

The Golden Globe and SAG-winning actress from Desperate Housewives has competed in several invitational tournaments and word on the street is that she is a regular at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.

The truth is that the above players are not the only ones that are itching to sling chips into the pot.

Movie celebrities like Ben Affleck, James Woods, and Tobey Maguire all have accomplished poker records to their names and have no problem mixing it up against professional players.

While they may not be looking to poker as a second profession, a la Jennifer Tilly or Shannon Elizabeth, all of these stars, all of these stars are able to compete at a reasonable level and more time spent playing will make them even that much more of a threat to take big winnings from elite pros.

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