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Hollywood celebrities and athletes from across the globe have always loved the sport of poker. As the current interest in poker surged, many famous names confessed their love of poker or discovered its thrills for the first time.

On one hand, the classic glamour and current trendiness of poker goes hand-in-hand with headline-making and image-creating celebrity lives. From the Roaring 20’s to the Texas Hold’em game in Casino Royale, our culture has been drenched with the cards and chips.

On the other hand, celebrities enjoy the anonymity of becoming just regular guys or gals while at the table. A brief respite from the constant attention and hype may certainly come as a welcome breath of fresh air for the “Glitterati” when they sit down at the felt.

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No history of poker, literature, or pop culture synergy can neglect to mention Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who was one of the earliest major figures to become associated with poker and use the game several times in his work. Famously describing life on a riverboat casino as well as the gold rush frontier capital of San Francisco, poker was a natural device for vivid descriptions, memorable characters, and even deep metaphors about life and the world.

An interesting twist is the influence of celebrities on the game of poker itself; poker slang is very adaptable to popular culture, and vice versa.

For example, many specific hands have taken more-or-less official nicknames from television, film, sports, or literature. Michael Jordan, T. J. Hooker, Luke Skywalker, King Kong, Quentin Tarentino, Anna Kournikova, Dirty Harry, Wayne Gretzky, even Harry Potter…the list goes on and on, and a careful examination of the initials that can often give you a hint of the particular cards that they describe.

In addition to playing the game because they love the thrill of competition, many celebrities have used poker as a way to raise money for numerous charities including the Bad Beat on Cancer charity event and the star-studded Ante Up for Africa tournament that takes place during the World Series of Poker.

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