There have always been very close links between the worlds of celebrity and gambling. After all, it just seems like the two feed off each other with the heady combination of money, glamour and risk-taking. Probably the era that started it all off was the Las Vegas of the Rat Pack days followed by the swinging sixties in London when celebs started rubbing shoulders with high society in the capital’s exclusive casinos.
And it’s not just actors who are drawn into the gaming, there are plenty celebrities from the worlds of sport and music too as this list demonstrates.
He may be the most successful golfer of all time having won millions of dollars in prize money and probably even more in sponsorship deals but that hasn’t stopped him from developing a serious interest in gambling too. His favoured games are said to be poker and blackjack and rumour has it that in the past he’s thought nothing of betting $25,000 on a single hand. So the nerves of steel he’s developed on the putting green seem to have set him up for the casino too.
The competitive urge that drove Phelps on to be the most successful Olympic swimmer of all time once seemed to have been transferred to the gaming tables too. His stated attitude has always been “don’t quit till you win” and, following this philosophy, he was once reputed to have played solidly in a Baltimore casino for 8 hours straight. He’s since scaled back his gambling activities and concentrated on other feats of endurance like trying to out-swim a shark.
Actress Jennifer Tilly is one celeb who really has made a success of turning to the tables to earn a living. To date her lifetime earnings from poker are thought to be approaching $1 million and as long ago as 2005 she won a coveted bracelet in the World Series of Poker by emerging victorious in the Ladies’ No Limit Texas Hold’em event. She’s also a regular at tournaments all round the world and is even in a relationship with poker pro Phil Laak.
Winner of the California State Poker Championship in 2004, Affleck went on to hone his skills at blackjack too. In fact he became so adept at card counting that in 2014 one Las Vegas Casino banned him from entering there ever again. Since then he’s adopted a distinctly lower profile – maybe he’s taking advantage of some of the generous promotions that online casinos are offering these days and playing online instead.
For many people the quintessential James Bond, Connery is also a man in whom fiction and reality meet. As well as being a frequent visitor to casinos in the films in 1963 he was spending a little of his leisure time playing roulette in an Italian casino. In an almost impossible sequence of events he bet on the single number 17 three times in a row – and each time it came up winning him an unbelievable 17 million lire in just one night.