|Sunday, 15 June 2008 14:31|
A poker biography of Jennifer Tilly.
The roles that actors play onscreen often put them in stereotypes which audiences find hard to shake off. Due to the idiotic, busty girlfriend roles she usually plays, the image we often associate Jennifer Tilly with is just that - the idiotic, busty girlfriend. However, she has proven her wit off screen by winning a World Series of Poker championship match along with other major poker games.
Professional poker playing was never actually part of Tilly's plans or dreams. Born Jennifer E. Chan to a Chinese father and a Caucasian mother in California, she had wanted to become an actress ever since. Before actually launching her showbiz career, she changed her surname by taking her mother's family name. When she became a teenager, Tilly showed tough determination to act, enrolling herself to a theater degree at Stephens College in Missouri through her winnings from several writing competitions. After studying, she went straight to Los Angeles where her career finally took off. For twenty years she enjoyed a constant flow of acting roles, perhaps the most memorable of which is the role of Olive Neal in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" for which she earned a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 1994 Academy Awards.
Despite having a lucrative acting career and no signs of prodigious poker playing, it was actually an acting role that perked up her in interest in the game, particularly the gambling comedy "Let It Ride" in 1989. After wrapping up film production, Tilly continued playing poker and developing her playing skills. She became a constant home game player.
She began participating in competitive games in 2003 through the encouragement of her boyfriend Phil Laak, a well-known poker player known as "The Unabomber." The couple met at the Commerce Casino for the WPT Invitational tournament. Following her WSOP win in 2005, Tilly credited Laak for imparting all the knowledge she has regarding poker, specifically citing "osmosis" as a learning technique of sorts. Because of this, she is now known in the poker community as "The Unabombshell."
Tilly is the only Hollywood actress who wears a WSOP bracelet, which she won in the $1,000 Ladies' No-Limit Texas Hold'em event in June 2005. Because of her surprising win, debates centered on whether it was pure wit or the workings of Lady Luck that helped her. However, these debates were put to an end when she won the third World Poker Tour Ladies Invitational Tournament merely two months after her WSOP win. She was able to beat such poker superstars such as Aidiliy Elviro, Cecelia Mortensen, and Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier. Her big winnings made her such a hit, not to mention a superstar herself, in the poker scene that invitations to play in games lined up one after another. Tilly has recently participated in Game Show Network's "Poker Royale" series, Fox Sports News' "Poker Superstars Invitational," and Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown." With her continuing success in the scene, Tilly proves that she is an accomplished actress with pretty looks and practical intelligence.