March 3, 2023 Gossip, Rumors & Buzz
A-list celebrities with a penchant for cards and creative things recently sat down for a unique event in LA called the World Series of Art Poker.
Organized by LA artist Jonas Wood, and featuring the likes of Jack Black and Tobey Maguire, the $500 tournament is now in its third year. This time, on a vague date described as “late February,” nearly 100 famous faces from Hollywood and the art world anted up in relative anonymity.
We say relative anonymity because, like a lot of celebrity poker games, there’s a clandestine vibe to the World Series of Art Poker. It’s not that the doors are closed and the windows are blacked out, it’s more that only a few select people know about it. In fact, we don’t even know where it took place.
Vanity Fair lifts lid on World Series of Art Poker
Someone who did have access to the event was Vanity Fair’s Nate Freeman. As reported, he mingled with the stars and got the scoop on everything from world-famous artist Richard Price joining the action to Jack Black busting on the bubble.
Freeman also spoke to the tournament’s organizer, Jonas Wood, about its origins. Woods explained that artists have been playing poker behind closed doors for years. However, once poker-loving celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio got wind there was another game in town, they wanted in.
DiCaprio joined the game and, before long, he was joined by Jack Black, Ellen DeGeneres, and Bruno Mars. Also in the mix were billionaire art collectors Peter Brant and Theo Niarchos. In Freeman’s words, the game started to “mimic the art world.”
The meeting of minds from different creative industries gave rise to new relationships and collaborations. Wood capitalized on the opportunity to grow the LA art scene by creating an official tournament. Now in its third year, the World Series of Art Poker is thriving.
Celebrities love poker
Of course, anyone who has been around poker long enough will know the odds were always in Wood’s favor. Molly Bloom famously lifted the lid on America’s richest celebrity games and, today, more and more famous faces are anteing up.
Actress Jennifer Tilly is not only a regular in tournaments and cash games, she was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2022. Other famous fans of poker are UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Vince Vaughn, all of which have played at the WSOP.
There are many more celebrity players, but none of them could win this year’s World Series of Art Poker. In fact, the winner’s bracelet, which was designed by Andrew Bunney, didn’t even go to an artist. It went to Jason Koon.
One of the few poker pros invited to the semi-secret game, Koon did what he does best and blew through the competition. He even sent Jack Black packing on the bubble.
The win won’t make it onto Koon’s Hendon Mob page, but we doubt he’ll mind too much. The man from West Virginia is now part of a bourgeois world filled with artists and celebrities, and it’s all thanks to poker.
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.
Share this story