Interview with Jennifer Tilly ❤

17 Dec

Jennifer Tilly is a famous actress and one of the most well known and talented female poker players. Jennifer owns a World Series of Poker Ladies Event bracelet and has accumulated an impressive $992k winnings in her poker career.

cult_of_chuckyAfter recently visiting London to promote her latest movie – Cult Of Chucky – she kindly found time for an interview with the Chip Race Podcast including answering a few questions we posed for females in the poker community.

You were already a famous and successful actress, how did you then end up getting into poker? 

I grew up in a card playing family.  We didn’t have TV so every Friday we would sit around and play cards.  When I was doing movies on location, I would always play with the teamsters between scenes, or teach the other actors how to play so we could have a game.

Then I met Phil Laak (my boyfriend) at the WPT celebrity Invitational.  He really upped my game, and got me interested in playing professionally.  The first year I went to the WSOP I won a gold bracelet in the Ladies Event (2005) and was hooked.

 

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Jennifer and Phil

 

2. As a female role model in poker, how do we encourage more women into the live arena?
I think if women want to play poker, they will play poker.  I don’t think Casinos need to coddle women.  The female poker players I know can more than hold their own.
That said, I do believe Ladies tournaments serve a purpose, in that it is very intimidating sometimes to sit down in such a male environment.
I play the Ladies tournament almost every year at the WSOP, and really look forward to it.  I meet women from all over the world, and enjoy the camaraderie and support.
3. Do you feel being a recognised female poker player at the tables is an advantage or disadvantage?
Sometimes I feel it is a disadvantage to be a recognized female player because people really go after you more than they do the average player. Sometimes they play back at you based on a single hand they watched you play, and it’s difficult to factor in what preconceived notion they have of you.
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Like I used to play against guys, under the assumption that they thought I was weak/tight (female stereotype) and always had an Ace.  Then someone told me my image was someone who was really aggressive and always bluffing.  So play against me is sometimes incomprehensible, because is not based on anything I’ve done at the table.
Also, if I am playing on TV people are more reluctant to be bluffed by me, or more eager to take me down.
4.You have an impressive record of tournament cashes and a total of just under $1mil in career winnings. For a female newbie to the game, what advice would you offer to help them make it to the top?
One of the mistakes I see with beginning players is they like to limp in and see a flop.  This is obviously a terrible idea, because post-flop you pretty much have to have the best hand to win.  It’s important to try and narrow the field.
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Also mix it up.  If you are going to reraise someone mix it up, and don’t just reraise with premium hands but also suited connectors, and other random hands once in a while.
Finally I say to imagine poker as a boxing match.  You don’t want to be the one on the ropes covering your face hoping you don’t get hit any more.  You want to be the one throwing the punches.  Especially in tournament poker.  You want to be the one setting the pace.  You want to be unpredictable and make your opponents fear you.
5.  You’re known for your vivacious personality, do you have more fun at the tables now or earlier in your career?
I used to love to play poker with my friends, and then when I first got started in professional poker, I didn’t have as much fun, because I took everything so seriously.  I wanted to be respected.  Now I don’t really don’t care what people think.
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Poker is a great game.  When I’m playing on TV I’m super happy to be there.  Poker players for the most part are really funny and fun to be around.  When I do televised shows I sort of camp it up a bit, and have a good time.  People like to watch poker because they get sort of a vicarious pleasure out of it.  When I do a poker TV program I’m very conscious we are creating a show, and do my best to make sure everyone has a good time.
6. What is the highlight of your poker career & why?
Obviously the highlight of my poker career was winning the gold bracelet.
But I’ve set other milestones for myself, like winning my first open tournament, (the Bellagio 5k) and playing televised cash games with nosebleed buy-ins against the best in the world (the Pokerstars Big Game: a 100k buy in, with Tony G, Phil Hellmuth, and Daniel Negreanu.
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And the Super High Roller Cash Game on Poker Central with Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivy, Johnny Chan, and Antonio Esfandiari.  That was a 250 thousand dollar buy in and after losing my initial 250k, at the end of the day I ended up even! Phew!)
I’m also proud of the fact I wrote a poker column for Bluff magazine for 10 years, and this fall a poker short story of mine with be included in a compilation called “He played for His Wife and other stories” with some of the best poker writers out there including Barny Boatman and James MacManus.
7. What’s your favorite poker event/tour/destination? Will we be seeing you at any Unibet Open stops in the future?
I used to love to come to England.  There were a lot of poker TV shows I shot there, including the Party Poker Big Game, the Premiere League, and the Poker Open.  Also the World Series of Poker Europe used to be there.  I spent a lot of time at the Victoria Grosvenor Casino playing games Neil Channing would set up.  But after Black Friday the London TV shows stopped filming, and the WSOP Europe moved elsewhere, so that was sad.

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I like to film Poker Night in America at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Florida, and also the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, and I like the Atlantis tournament and the Aussie Millions.  That’s the cool thing about the tournament circuit, there’s always great destination.
I would have to say my favorite location though is the World Series of Poker in Vegas.  It lasts a month and a half, everyone’s in town, and the excitement is unparalleled!
8. Will a woman win the WSOP main event in the next ten years?
If I was a betting woman, (and I am!) I would put money on a woman winning The Main Event in the next 10 years.
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Female poker players are getting stronger and tougher and every year more and more of them are entering the poker arena. I can think of so many off the top of my head that are fully capable of winning a tournament of that magnitude if the cards fall right.
That’s what’s so great about poker.  Anything can happen!
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Thank you for your time Jennifer and good of luck at the tables! 
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