(Featured image: WPT)
It’s no secret that many famous people from Hollywood love poker. But usually, we know of iconic actors like Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck for these things. Seldom can you hear female celebrities being affiliated with the poker industry, but here’s Jennifer Tilly breaking the stereotype.
She is a famous actress and a well-known poker player as well. Jennifer is American-Canadian. She became popular because of her humor and seemingly natural comedic personality.
Plus, she has a very unique voice. If you’ve watched any Chucky movie, she’s the voice behind the character named Tiffany.
|Full Name: Jennifer Ellen Chan|
|DOB: September 16, 1958|
|Birthplace: Harbor City, Los Angeles|
|Profession: Voice actor, professional poker player, screenwriter, actress|
|Partner: Phil Laak|
|WSOP Bracelets: 1|
|Net Worth & Career Earnings: $25+ Million|
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Jennifer Tilly Bio
Jen was born in the US. She comes from a Chinese and Irish/Finnish lineage. She is the eldest daughter of Harry Chan and Patricia Tilly. Jennifer also has 3 other siblings – one older brother and two sisters who are younger than her.
Tilly’s father, Harry (of Chinese ancestry), worked in a used car dealership company. Meanwhile, her mother is a teacher and also a stage actress herself. Though Patricia didn’t have that Hollywood-like fame back then, it still inspired her. Isn’t it quite obvious from whom Jennifer got her talent?
Despite having two working parents, they lived an average life. When Jen was about 5 years old, her mom and dad decided to break up and got divorced. Patricia took custody of all her children and they moved to Texada Island, British Columbia. This is the place where Tilly spent most of her childhood years. She had a stepfather back then.
However, it was not always rainbows living in Canada, especially for Jen. She wasn’t the type of student who studies a lot. Instead, her heart was set out for the arts. Because of this, she has experienced being bullied at school. But I think this later worked to her advantage seeing how successful she has become today.
Her mom and stepfather eventually got divorced when she was 16, which prompted the family to move again to Victoria. Jennifer went to Belmont High School together with her two other sisters. They were then called the “three musketeers”.
Though it may sound endearing at first, this name was later tied up to bullying issues. It was never easy for them to get through high school, but they managed to overcome it.
Since Tilly loves art even when she was still young, she decided to pursue a degree in Theater at Stephens College, Missouri. Despite her rough childhood days, she was very determined to make a name for herself and she felt the need to show people her life has a purpose.
Strong determination has driven Jen to do only the best that she can. This somehow manifested in how quickly she received roles for acting that jumpstarted her career. Shortly after getting her degree, she was cast for several minor roles. Although they were small acts, she was proud of them.
Tilly had her first important role in the 1984 sitcom Shaping Up. Shortly after, she also landed a role in the film No Small Affair – her debut film.
Jen was instantly loved by many people because she has a very light and charming personality, plus her voice is very distinct. Those are some of her best qualities, aside of course from acting and poker skills.
Her breakthrough came when she was nominated for the Academy Awards as best supporting actress after her amazing performance as Olive Neal in Bullets over Broadway. And the next thing we knew, she was receiving awards and nominations here and there.
One of the most notable and unforgettable roles Jennifer ever had was lending her voice to the character Tiffany Valentine, Chucky’s partner in the horror film series. Whenever she appears in TV shows, they almost always ask her to do quick impressions of the character to which she willingly agrees.
Tilly had prior exposure to poker, thanks to his dad who was a card player as well. Harry Chan gave her a copy of the World Series of Poker video game and that’s where this multi-talented star’s love for the felt started.
Although she knew early on about poker, Jen didn’t pay much attention to it until she crossed paths with her now-boyfriend Phil Laak because, for her, the acting career must come first. He is also a professional poker player and he was the one who inspired the actress to play poker professionally.
Then, unintentionally, she was given a role in the Let It Ride movie, which had a gambling theme. She then learned more about the game and started playing at home with friends.
Jennifer proved she isn’t only good at acting, but also on the felt by winning her WSOP bracelet in 2005, just a few months after she started playing professionally. In this event, there were a little over 600 players and the actress ranked 1st, eventually taking home $158,625 during the Ladies Texas NLHE.
She also won a WPT Ladies Invitational tournament in 2005 in LA.
Aside from official live tournaments, she also appeared in televised poker games like Poker Royale, Celebrity Poker Showdown (she finished 3rd after Ida Siconolfi beat her), and Poker after dark.
Many called her an idiot after the clips of her checking behind Antonius even after having a full house. Seeing the shocked faces of the players who were there, she quickly said she thought the man had kings.
Though she received criticisms after that, she still managed to prove to the people she was more than capable of playing the game and that she knows how to deal with her hand. She has won several games after that.
But, her professional poker career was cut in 2008 when she announced her retirement from the industry. She wanted to focus more on her acting career and pursue her lifelong dream. Many were sad about the news, but supporters understood the decision of the actress.
Tilly was gone from the poker scene for a while, but she came back in 2010. Since then, she has been playing lots of tournaments and still appears on TV shows. Fast forward to 2020, Poker After Dark announced that she will be participating in the Lucky Charms Week episode with Antonio Esfandiari and Bill Perkins.
A few years ago, she’s also participated in Shark Cage TV show playing with men like Faraz Jaka, Scotty Nguyen, Theo Jorgensen, and Philipp Gruisseim.
(You should also check out the Finnish model Sara Chafak’s RECKLESS bluff during her first hand with Ronnie Bardah on that show.)
Jennifer first got married in 1984 to Sam Simon, the producer of The Simpsons – a very popular TV series. But, 6 years plus into the marriage, they both decided to go their separate ways. The couple got divorced in 1991.
After Jen’s divorce, she decided to keep her personal life more private. But in 2004, news broke about her relationship with Phil Laak. And ever since, they have been partners not only in life but also in poker.
Jennifer Tilly Net Worth
Having had so many TV projects alongside poker winnings, you’d expect Jen to have a sizeable net worth. Well, you won’t get disappointed. Her net worth is estimated to be around $25+ million!
Although most of that came from her acting career, we can’t deny the fact that she also had decent tournament winnings. In fact, her total live earnings is now at a little over $1,000,000.
If you were wondering about her WSOP cashes, here are the five best so far:
- 1st place 2005 36th Annual WSOP – $158,625
- 1st place 2010 Bellagio Cup VI – $124,455
- 7th place 2013 PartyPoker Premier League – $98,000
- 12th place 2008 L.A Poker Classic – $61,610
- 15th place 2006 Borgata Open WPT – $52,380
So, have you ever seen any of the poker games Jennifer Tilly participated in? Do you think she’d be better off pursuing her acting career compared to professional poker? Share your thoughts below!