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Poker Player Profile: Jennifer Tilly

By: Kenneth Bateman

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A well-known character actress for over two decades, Jennifer Tilly was nominated for an Academy Award for her marvelous portrayal of Olive Neal, the hopelessly untalented actress in Woody Allen’s movie, “Bullets Over Broadway.” (1994). She has performed in over 100 movies, and, possibly as a precursor of things to come, once starred in a gambling – themed film called “Let It Ride”, (1989). In fact, it was this film that piqued Jennifer’s interest in poker, and started her on the road to an eventual gold bracelet.

Born as Jennifer E. Chan to a Chinese father and Caucasian mother, on September 16, 1958, at Harbor City, California, Jennifer later attended school in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her initiation into acting was when she entered Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in drama. Her sister, Meg Tilly is a successful actress as well.

Jennifer has won numerous theatre awards over the years, and has recently added to her laurels by attaining celebrity status in the professional poker world as well. Jennifer brings passion and dedication to the poker table, that, and a keen mind has enabled her to succeed in motion pictures, and now at poker.

Jennifer is not a fly-by-night player out to enhance her celebrity status. She is a true devotee of the game of poker and a true poker champion. This was established as fact in 2005, when Jennifer became the first and only woman in professional tournament poker history to win The Ladies Event at the World Series of Poker Tournament, and The Ladies Night Invitational of the World Poker Tour in the same year, as well as the only women to have won both titles.

Appearing on the Jay Leno show to discuss her poker championship achievements, Jennifer told Leno, “I won two thousand dollars more than Phil, (Phil Laak, her boyfriend, and a highly rated poker pro), and I won a gold bracelet. I’m not rubbing it in, but I think that makes me a professional poker player.”

Jennifer became a poker champion for the first time when she entered the 2005 World Series of Poker $2,500 no-limit Hold ‘em event at the Rio in Las Vegas. Jennifer sat down at the Ladies Event and looked around. There were no less than 600 entrants to overcome. Crediting her boyfriend Phil Laak with giving her the skills and confidence to compete under pressure, Jennifer ended the tourney with her victory, taking home $158,625 in prize money and the coveted gold bracelet. “This is better than an Oscar,” she excitedly exclaimed to the press.

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Kenneth Bateman writes numerous articles on the subject of poker and its players. To read more player profiles, visit this poker room at XL

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