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Actor Kevin Pollak Talks About Playing In The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event

Pollak Discusses How He Discovered Poker


Kevin PollakYou know actor and comedian Kevin Pollak from his roles in A Few Good Men, The Usual Suspects, The Whole Nine Yards and Casino, as well as his world famous impersonations of William Shatner and Christopher Walken.

On Saturday, the 54-year-old sat down for some poker, registering for day 1a of the 2012 World Series of Poker main event. The former host of Celebrity Poker Showdown is representing Hollywood Poker on the felt, documenting his play and searching for the best poker face.

Card Player caught up with Pollak to discuss his introduction to the game and his experiences playing in Hollywood home games.

Julio Rodriguez: When did you discover poker?

Kevin Pollak: My cousin turned me on to playing poker probably when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I played with friends growing up, but it really wasn’t until I was in Las Vegas in 1994, shooting the movie Casino, that I really got into it. The way Scorsese shoots, you really have to be available every hour of every day, so I was here for 20 weeks. Normally, that’s not a particularly long shoot, but it is if you are in my situation and are only in the movie for about 19 minutes. (laughing) Consequently, for 20 weeks I spent most of my time in the poker room.

I played some at the Mirage, but we were all staying at the Riviera during filming, so I ended up playing there a lot. Fortunately for me, there was a pit boss there who pulled me aside one day to talk. He said, “I’m a big fan of your work and I want to ask you something. You play poker with your friends alot don’t you?” I said I did and he told me, “that shit won’t work here.” From that moment forward, I worked on learning to play poker correctly, in a casino setting.

JR: Last summer, Tobey Maguire and other Hollywood celebrity poker players were sued for their winnings in a home game that featured Brad Ruderman, a man convicted of two counts of wire fraud and investment adviser fraud. Did you ever play in that game?

KP: No, I did not play with the scum bag who was writing bad checks, but I have played with many of the players who were in that game.

JR: You appeared alongside avid poker player James Woods in the TV series Shark a few years back. Did the two of you ever play poker during the down time on the set?

KP: Jimmy is the smartest card player you’ll ever meet, at least that’s what he’ll tell you within the first five minutes of a conversation. We’ve played poker in some home games before, but I don’t think we ever got around to it on the set. He’s lured me to his trailer before, but it wasn’t for poker. (laughing)

JR: Do you have any experience playing at the WSOP?

KP: This is actually my first trip to the World Series of Poker. I’ve been mainly playing some tournaments and cash games in Los Angeles, along with some Hollywood home games. Most recently in May, I finished second out of 200 players in a celebrity charity poker event.

JR: So after all of these years, why play the WSOP now?

KP: In addition to playing the main event, I’m also here working with Hollywood Poker, to find the best poker face. I’ve already photographed several celebrities and the fans can also play along by uploading their best poker face for a chance at winning prizes. The contest starts July 6 and will run through August 24.

When mastering your own kick ass poker face, the number one objective is to not intimidate your opponent, which is something that too many players try to do. You don’t have to look scary, you just need to be unreadable. I try to stay consistent, whether I’m bluffing or not.

JR: You started the Kevin Pollak Chat Show after meeting part-time poker player Jason Calacanis.

KP: I’ve made some great friends over the years at the poker table. I think the nature of the game really brings like-minded people together. In Hollywood, it’s really a great networking tool.

I met Jason in a home game almost four years ago. At first I thought he was kind of a prick, which Daniel Negreanu can attest to after his appearance on The Big Game, but I discovered more about him and his company. He had some studio space and I started doing the Kevin Pollak Chat Show. The show is every Sunday and we just had our 151st guest, so it’s been a nice run. I like to say that the show has kind of become my fourth career.

For more information on the poker face competition, visit, or follow @hollywoodpoker on Twitter.

You can track Pollak’s progress in the main event by following @kevinpollak on Twitter and listen to his archived show at

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, out our WSOP landing page.!/cardplayermedia