$2m pot for actors who play their cards right - Tuesday 12th of July 2005
The game of poker has shed its murky connections to become the favourite pastime of actors, celebrities and "those with a taste for the finer things in life".
As part of this new image, the World Poker Exchange has a $2 million "monster pot" up for grabs at a "lifestyle" tournament in London next month.
The actress Jennifer Tilly, 46, will challenge all comers after beating 600 players to win £88,000 at the Texas Hold Em event in Las Vegas.
Tilly, 46, an Oscar nominee for her role in Woody Allens Bullets Over Broadway, said that all her time playing gangsters "molls" and hanging around gambling dens came in handy.
Nolan Dalla, who helped organise the tournament, said Tilly showed an "incredible amount of talent" to win in Las Vegas.
Tilly, whose films have also included The Fabulous Baker Boys, said she had learned plenty of pointers from her boyfriend, the poker player Phil "Unabomber" Laak, who is also coming to Britain.
"When youre living with Phil, you kinda learn by osmosis," she said. "Even in the middle of the night, he wakes up screaming out poker terms." The actress leads a celebrity line-up for the event at the former Billingsgate Market.
Matt Savage, who is directing the tournament, said it was designed for people with "a taste for the finer things in life".
"Europe is experiencing a huge boom in interest and play, both online and offline," he said. "The idea is for players to combine long hours of poker with excursions to Kensington Palace, backstage visits to the West End play The Producers, a champagne reception on the Millennium Wheel, a private tour of the Saatchi gallery and a private concert with Grace Jones."
Haden Ware, the chief executive of World Poker Exchange, said the event marked "a new era in gaming in London".
Other players include the actor Willie Garson, of Sex and the City, Nicholas Gonzalez, an actor in The O.C. and Spin City, and the actress Mimi Rogers.
Competing with them will be some of the worlds leading poker players, as well as Dominic Tofani, 21, of Milton Keynes. He said: "Actors seem to be doing well at the moment. Maybe theyve got good poker faces."
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