Jennifer Tilly Finds Balance Between Poker And ActingApril 13, 2012 12:31 pm
Daughter of a Chinese American car salesman, Jennifer Tilly is a star of TV, film and the stage who received an Oscar nomination for her part in Woody Allen’s Bullets over Broadway (1994).
Jennifer Tilly famously became interested in playing poker after appearing in a gambling comedy called Let It Ride (1989), after which she started playing poker home games and progressed to competitive tournaments by 2003. As Jennifer explains:
“Eight years ago I grew obsessed and wanted to become one of the best ever. I didn’t want to be a dilettante. I read the books. I went in full-steam. I met my boyfriend [Phil Laak], a pro poker player, at a tournament.”
Jennifer’s career then got off to the best possible start in 2005 after winning a WSOP bracelet at the $1,000 Ladies Only Event for $158,335 and she has now notched up $699,793 in live tournament earnings. However, that money pales into insignificance compared to the amount she has won playing poker’s lucrative cash game format which can see her sitting down at a table with half a million dollars or walking away up a few hundreds of thousands.
In fact, so enamoured was Jennifer Tilly of her new found success in the game that in 2005 she said she was more interested in pursuing her poker career than acting. This came in spite of the protestations of her partner poker pro Phil Laak who tried to dissuade her from what can be a “seedy gritty world.”
However, by December 2008 she announced her retirement from poker as a career stating at the time: “I love poker but greatness in poker is an elusive dream. There are too many variants. Trying to find validation in poker is like trying to find a virgin in a whorehouse. I’m not giving up poker entirely – gambling is an addiction after all. I’m just going to treat it more like a hobby and less like a career.”
That new approach seems to have worked well for Jennifer Tilly, who in July 2010 won the $5,000 Bellagio Cup VI for $124,455 and continues to put in celebrity appearances on the poker circuit. In the meantime, she also has relentlessly continued her acting career which is as busy as ever, indicating she has at last found the perfect balance between playing poker and pursuing her life long passion for acting.