by Ronnie Baker

When not on set, many top film stars enjoy the excitement of casino games, a great alternative to find some thrills. The glamourous world of movie acting and casino gambling often go hand-in-hand. Here is a list of some film stars who are almost as famous for their successes at the card tables as they are for their acting abilities.

Ben Affleck

There is no doubt that Ben Affleck is a big-time gambler who is regularly spotted in casinos. Possibly most famous for Good Will Hunting, he has starred in and directed a shed load of films in recent years. He is also known for placing huge bets. He once lost $400,000 in a hand of poker. On the other hand, he is recorded as winning $365,000 in a poker tournament.

This actor and director is known for controversy and success in both gambling and movie-making. He found himself banned from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas after he was caught card counting.

In 2003, he had to apologise to New Zealanders in his Oscar speech for Argo. The film that follows diplomats fleeing Tehran had implied that New Zealand had not welcomed them, so they had had to escape to Canada. In his 2003 Oscar speech, Affleck said he ” loves New Zealand and New Zealanders”. He might find he loves New Zealand even more these days. Not only is the country famous for some of the most stunning film locations, but he would also be very welcome at the country’s minimum deposit casinos.

Tobey Maguire

He might be best known for his portrayal of Spiderman, but Maguire also has some impressive tricks at the poker tables. For Maguire, it is more than just a hobby; he started playing professionally in 2004. He takes it very seriously and has been tutored by some of the top poker players in the world.

He has played in the World Series of Poker Main Event Championships on several occasions and won over $300,000 at the Hollywood Park Casino tournament. taguire, along with Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio, was amongst other participants at the infamous high-stakes poker games organized by Molly Bloom at The Viper Rooms. Known as the Princess of Poker, Bloom was arrested and charged with running an underground gambling club. The story was so like a movie that it became the subject of the film Molly’s Game. So it does seem that gambling and movie stars are inextricably linked.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are best friends who have often been spotted together in Las Vegas’s casino. He is said to be an even more passionate gambler than his friend, but he has a very different playing style. Unlike some of his fellow actors who roll high and take big risks, Damon plays a more cautious game. As a result, he often wins big at the gaming tables. It is said that rather than making large bets, he places a string of reasonable ones and remains in control of his game. Poker is his number one choice, which is hardly surprising as it is a game of skill and strategy rather than luck.

Charlie Sheen

If Matt Damon is a story of success and moderation, the same cannot be said of Charlie Sheen. The actor has struggled with addiction to cocaine, and he is also a compulsive gambler. He is known to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every month on sports betting and poker. His most significant recorded loss was $1 million, which is undoubtedly a high roll, even for a Hollywood name like Sheen. Sheen is a notoriously high roller, but you have to wonder how long he can keep going at that level.

Brad Pitt

Reportedly Brad Pitt never saw the attraction of playing on the slotties until he starred in Ocean’s Eleven. The heist movie featuring Pitt, Clooney and Julia Roberts is set in Las Vegas and sees the protagonists planning to rob three of the area’s most impregnable casinos. Apparently, he started playing slot machines and other casino games during filming and continues to enjoy them now. Of course, it is unlikely that his gameplay is bringing in more bucks than the acting work, but casino games are meant to be fun and entertaining, so that is ok.

George Clooney

Brad Pitt’s co-star in Ocean’s Eleven was no newcomer to the world of gambling when he got recruited to the cast. George Clooney had been playing poker since he was a teenager. Like Tobey Maguire, he was involved in private high-stakes poker. He once tried to become a casino impresario himself. He had plans to build a casino called Las Ramblas in Las Vegas. When the plans fell through, he lost millions. Hopefully, he experiences better luck at the poker tables.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson is most famous for being part of the Baywatch team. The beachside lifeguards were always on hand to rescue others who had taken a gamble on the water conditions. Pamela says that she enjoys a little game of poker occasionally. It is a good job that gambling is an infrequent pleasure, as she has been known to lose $250,000 in one sitting. However, when it comes to poker, it looks like she might be the one in need of rescuing.

James Woods

Hollywood actor James Woods has an IQ of 184. He attended MIT intending to be an eye surgeon. Instead, he followed a creative career in the world of film. Woods has won a host of awards, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy. He is not only a winner on the screen but also a dab hand at poker. Part of his winning strategy seems to be his ability to carry on a conversation with his opponent during the game. Despite the chatting, he continues to make calculated moves and win at the tables.

Todd Philips

The acclaimed director Todd Philips is the man behind The Hangover. Shot in Las Vegas, the film tells the story of the misadventures at a bachelor party in Sin City. Phillips obviously has an affinity with gambling, as he won $250,000 in cash at the Legends of Poker event in 2005. His films like Joker might be smash hit successes at the box office, but Philips also takes his gambling seriously.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash