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Shannon Elizabeth puts down her cards, picks up a mic

 Shannon Elizabeth has often displayed her poker skills, and she's certainly comfortable in front of a camera, so her gig this week makes perfect sense: interviewing players and reporting on the action at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open.

 Elizabeth, who has modeled for Playboy and Maxim and competed on "Dancing With the Stars," finished third in the 64-player NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2007, defeating three World Series of Poker bracelet winners along the way. She also has been a regular in Las Vegas, playing in the World Series herself.

 But there's less stress by merely covering poker instead of worrying how much to bet, what cards her opponents have and how many eliminations she must avoid before cashing even a minimum poker payout, she says.

 "I get to be in the poker community and remain in a good mood," she says. "And I know when to be sensitive, because I've been there."

That includes knowing when to back off during those first five minutes after player are eliminated -- and reviewing and fuming over their mistakes.

 The poker tournament is covered in depth at, and Elizabeth's updates have included news (shown here)  and interviews, including one with Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi near his hot yellow Mazerati.

 Day 3 began at noon Monday with 62 players surviving from 1,499 entrants, and completed with 18 remaining Monday night. The 1 p.m. Wednesday final table will livestream on, on a one-hour delay.

Elizabeth, 40, was the smoking-hot foreign exchange high school student (Nadia) in 1999's "American Pie," the one who comes over to Jim's house to "change," with an adult situation ensuing.

(Historical-ironic note here: That's about when Finch says, "God bless the Internet." Now Elizabeth is doing her reporting via the ...)

Next came other TV and movie roles, as well as some writing and directing -- and now this new endeavor.

"Reporting and interviewing has actually been harder than I thought," she says. "But as long as they're happy with me, I'd love to keep doing it.

 "Plus, it's not live. So if it's really bad, I can re-do it."

 Elizabeth played in the last year's inaugural $10 million event, finishing 165th in the 2,000-plus field, earning $11,635. This year, her duties with the Seminole Hard Rock took up her time, but she says she still enjoys seeing the players. This year's field included former World Series of Poker champions Greg Merson, Ryan Riess, Joe Cada, Jamie Gold and Scotty Nguyen, top-ranked current players Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, notable locals Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Amir Lehavot and Kevin Schaffel -- plus at least two players at every table who have had significant cashes. (Phil Ivey Tweeted that he was coming ,but didn't.)

"I love seeing them, and I miss it," Elizabeth says. "So this is a win-win. Plus, I love this property and the staff is such fun, professional and easy to work with, so there's just no saying no to doing it."

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