4 surprising celebrity gambling stories

Taryn Davies
Published: October 24, 2017

When people picture celebrities, they often place them high on a pedestal and assume their lifestyles are a million miles away from ours. But celebrities eat the same food we eat, they breathe the same air, and when they want to unwind, they often play the same games. Indeed, celebrities can be gamers too – and some of them are very good at it. Let’s look at some celebrity fans of gaming - from One Direction's love of roulette to the former Manchester City striker who dishes out winnings to passers-by in the street.

P Diddy Plays Blackjack in His Dressing Room 

Blackjack is a favourite among the elite. Not just because the game can be quick and simple to begin playing, but also because of the skill required to play. Perhaps they enjoy the etiquette of the game, its many variations or some of the heart-racing strategies needed to win – like going on the offensive and doubling down when the dealer is vulnerable. Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combes is notorious for being a fan of blackjack – and is even invited to attend casino event launches and place the first bet. Rumour has it that P Diddy requested a blackjack table at an MTV Awards dinner's dressing room. P Diddy also reportedly visits Ibiza quite often, which isn't known for its blackjack scene, yet still manages to play.

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Shannon Elizabeth Quit Acting for Poker

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While we’ll give Lady Gaga an honourable mention (p-p-p-poker face), there are a number of celebrities who are connoisseurs at poker, both online and offline. American Pie star Shannon Elizabeth (Nadia!) is reported to have quit acting to pursue a career in poker – and appears to be doing fairly well. She has been spotted at many a tournament, and even went on to star in the short-lived reality TV show CelebrityBlackjack that showcased her gaming ability. Elizabeth often goes incognito to high-stakes poker tournaments in sunglasses and a hat in order to shake her image of Nadia in American Pie, which only helps to further her chances as her strategic poker playing is miles away from Nadia's naivete in the films. Perhaps actors enjoy the game as it allows them to test their ability to pretend through bluffing.

Mario Balotelli Plays Poker for the Greater Good

Not all gamblers are as shrewd and strategic as poker players. Former Manchester City football player Mario Balotelli likes to do some good after winning a good hand. Ironically, given how often Balotelli is called a gamble when traded across teams, Balotelli is a fair poker player himself. According to this article about sports stars who gamble, Balotelli once pocketed a nifty £25,000 from a gambling session in Manchester, only to bump into a rough sleeper on his way home. Balotelli, full of the joys of his huge windfall, handed the homeless man whom he often saw around town £1,000 before carrying on his way - to the happy astonishment of onlookers. It just goes to show that not all well-off celebrities who gamble do it to further their own wealth. Indeed, reportedly, Balotelli also hands £20 to Big Issue sellers regularly without even taking the magazine, in a bid to help them on their way.

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Harry Styles Has His Love of Roulette Inked on Him

The casino wouldn’t be complete without the roulette table, and it often attracts a lot of attention, which could explain why it’s a pull with the stars. It seems that One Direction like to spin and win as Harry Styles was once spotted trying his luck at the table. He even has  ‘17BLACK’ tattooed on him – perhaps his single-number bet? He showcased his love of the game on The Late Late Show in a Tattoo Roulette segment that featured the singer getting inked. Roulette may well be the least risky of the casino games with the outside bet option which lets players choose a bet that has an evens chance.

While their victories are probably a lot more dramatic than other players, the pull of celebrities to casino games goes on to show how the glitz and glamour that once accompanied them still remain. And who knows who you might spot when you fancy a flourish with the cards...?

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