We all love watching poker players clash, but isn’t it fun when celebrities from other walks of life clash at the felt?
This week’s exclusive Poker After Dark clip features two non-poker professionals in action. You can watch a whole host of videos via PokerGO, our exclusive On Demand service. This week, we’ve been watching superstars of screen and sport run with the pros.
Orel Hershiser once pitched 59 consecutive innings without allowing a run in Major League Baseball. In fact, he threw so many cutters that he was the first MLB superstar ever to have shoulder reconstruction surgery. He wasn’t the only big name from outside poker in this particular hand, with PokerStars former celebrity signing Jason Alexander in the action. A celebrated comic actor, if you don’t know him as George Constanza from the sitcom Seinfeld, then that should be your new favorite box set.
Some hands are amazing just because they’re a clash between two players head-to-head. But this hand saw former Full Tilt pro Gavin Smith earn bragging rights after he bullied both men off an eight-high flop when they both had overpairs. Sure, Smith had top two, but Alexander and Hershiser didn’t know that. It made me think about the motivation and skills of poker players who are transferring experience from other careers. Do baseball players go for home runs but leave themselves open to changeups? Do actors love performing under the lights but sometimes suffer from sensitivity?
I fondly recall interviewing the snooker player Ken Doherty at the WPT Ireland festival in 2012. The former 1997 World Champion may be a legend within his sport, but a quieter fellow away from the competition you couldn’t wish to meet. He was exactly the same at the poker felt. Patient, measured, yet able to strike whenever given the chance, he excelled and was unlucky to bust out in 14th. I thought he had the skills and table image to go all the way.
When I got him on screen, Doherty explained to me that the skills he had playing professional snooker lent him an advantage above most sports stars who pitch up at the felt hoping to transfer their superiority to a completely different game. Snooker players have to wait for their chance to make their move, then it’s all about how they can stay in control and set the pace and style of the action. The character and disposition of snooker players gives them a good shot at transferring success from their rectangular felt table to an oval-shaped one.
If Doherty was one of the best ‘non-poker’ players I ever saw in action, then I should be fair and tell you who I thought was the worst.
I mean this with no malice, and thoroughly enjoyed his thrilling performance in the UK television show Celebrity Hunted, but Jamie Laing is the worst poker player I have ever seen play the game. Brought along to a soccer stadium poker tour a couple of years ago, Laing arrived – a few minutes fashionably late – at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge in West London. He was full of enthusiasm. In fact, he was so excited to get into the action that he was unveiled to the players halfway Level 1. Keen to impress from the off, Made in Chelsea star Laing sat down at his table, shaking hands with everyone who was there (one man was visiting the restroom) and immediately looked down at his first hole cards. A-5. Playable.
Undeterred by the aggressive player opposite him at the table, Laing, eager to prove his poker chops, looked like he believed he was starring in the remake of Maverick. Laing raised his opponent. His opponent raised him back. Before we knew it, it was a bunfight at the West London coral. Both players were all-in, and Laing was dominated. Seconds later, the dealer burned and turned him out of the tournament. But that wasn’t what qualified Laing for my “worst player ever” tag.
When the player who had been visiting the restroom returned, not only was he surprised to find Jamie Laing at his table, he was amazed to find him in his seat. Yes, you guessed it, Laing had sat down into the wrong seat, then six-bet shoved the poor absentee’s chips straight into the next pot. The upshot? Laing’s delighted opening opponent won a legitimate pot. The gentleman who’d needed an early rest had to have his chips replenished. But what of Laing? Well, he was bought back into the action on another table by the organizers. Celebrities are valuable commodities, don’t you know?
It’s not just this week’s celebrity-packed episode of Poker After Dark, you can watch on PokerGO on demand. Subscribe now and you can help yourself to a huge range of classic shows and live events on any device. Be unlike Jamie Laing – don’t miss a thing!