There may be more successful poker players vying for $5 million in prize money in Hollywood this week, but none carries the glamour of Jennifer Tilly.
The actress, a 1994 Academy Award nominee for her role in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway," is among those playing in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. The World Poker Tour main event began Thursday.
Tilly, who in 2005 won the World Series of Poker Ladies Event, is known for wearing low-cut dresses when the TV cameras are taping.
"On TV, I want to give a good show, and as soon as the cameras start, I'm a poker player second and a movie star first," she says. "People say I wear low-cut tops to distract the other players, but I know they're here to win a tournament."
Tilly's boyfriend of 10 years is poker pro Phil Laak, who has $3 million in career earnings. Laak, who calls himself a "nonpracticing Zen Buddhist," says he enjoys playing at the Seminole Hard Rock resort.
"The restaurants and the nightclubs are nice, but I plan on spending 12 hours a day destroying players' souls," he says.
The event costs $3,500 to enter, which means the Seminole Hard Rock needs a field of 1,557 to cover its $5 million guarantee and its expenses. Players from other Seminole casinos, including Coconut Creek and Tampa, earned entries via smaller satellite tournaments, and the casino's card rooms also gave away entries.
This means fewer experienced players, and a weaker field, Laak says.
"When you sit next to someone who says this is the biggest tournament they've played in, you have an advantage," he says. "And in order to win a big tournament, you need an army of people."
This is the fourth year the World Poker Tour has come to Hollywood for a taping, and a WPT official says the Hard Rock's poker reputation has grown.
"Players are seeing it as a 'have-to' stop now," WPT president Adam Pliska says.
Tilly, meanwhile, says she will turn down acting jobs in order to play in a tournament. In fact, she refused a job that starts shooting Wednesday, when the final six players will vie for a $1 million first prize at Hard Rock Live.
"What can I say?" she says. "I'm optimistic."
To see photos and video from the event, go to SouthFlorida.com/action.Copyright © 2015, South Florida