Friday, 21st June 2024 02:32
Home / Live Poker / Lights, Camera, Poker: Jennifer Tilly’s insights from the Big Game on Tour

Back in 2010 PokerStars launched The Big Game. A high stakes cash game poker show with a twist, the Loose Cannon. An amateur pitched into shark infested waters to do battle against a mix of high stakes pros and wealthy enthusiasts.

Someone who straddled both worlds was Jennifer Tilly. The Oscar nominated actress played on the original series. When The Big Game was revived last year, she was a slam dunk to make the new line-up. Since 2010 she’s morphed from an actress who plays poker, to a poker player and actress. She is very much a fixture on the high stakes TV poker scene, something discussed in the full interview.

She’s also [spoiler alert] the star of Episode 1 of The Big Game On Tour, which debuted last weekend on FS1 in America and the PokerStars YouTube channels. In the first of five episodes we see her tangle with five opponents. The new line-up of Phil Hellmuth, Lex Veldhuis, Arden Cho, Alan Keating and, of course, The Loose Cannon. So, it was a no brainer for her to join James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton on the latest episode of Poker In The Ears to talk about the return of The Big Game.

It goes without saying that there are spoilers ahead, so if you’ve not seen Episode 1, catch up over here, before catching up back here. Below is an excerpt from the interview. You can listen to the full interview here.

Q: You were the star of the show, did it feel like that to you? Did you enjoy watching yourself?

JT: Well, I would have to say the lighting on me was so horrific! I was like oh my god do I look like that? I notice stuff like that because I’m a movie star. Then the camera angle, I have five chins! I had no idea (laughing).

I did enjoy the show, that’s one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on a poker show. I’m so happy that The Big Game is back, it’s the best concept ever. We’re all playing with our own money, we all have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table, well some of us do, However, it still seemed like a home game. Everybody was laughing, nobody was getting hurt, except for maybe (Alan) Keating, and he’s used to it! It was such a great mix of people.

Before we played I looked up Arden Cho and you know she’s an actress. Actors and Actresses, we all know, play poker differently from poker players, so I thought she’ll be timid and probably only raise with one of the top five starting hands and Arden is a beast. Oh my god she’s a maniac. She’s a real poker player, she’s super aggressive and not afraid to put it in.

Q: There was plenty of needling of Phil (Hellmuth) but he seemed to take it very well, he was laughing rather than getting grumpy.

JT: Phil is so used to it. In fact, I think Phil knows that part of the agreement is that everybody needles Phil and Phil laughs about it. Phil understands that his job is to have people make fun of him and needle him. He’s so secure in his prowess, because he has 17 bracelets. He’s the greatest there ever was, he doesn’t care if people make fun of him.

That famous Big Game Hand where I was sitting between Tony G and Phil Hellmuth, Phil understands what makes that dynamic funny, that’s why he’s great television, that’s why everybody wants Phil in their games. He also understands that when people are watching poker on TV they want to watch people interacting and enjoying themselves and having a good time.

Jennifer Tilly in action during The Big Game On Tour

Q: We’re talking about the first show of course, this episode you play the most hands. The first hand we saw you in was K-J against 6-5 and you decided to run it twice. It worked out in your favour…

JT: Right, my gosh yes. Karma got me. Usually I just like to run it once. I’ve played with Alan before, I think he’s one of the most beloved poker players to watch and also be in the game with. He’s not afraid to put it in, he likes to play a lot of hands, so you never know where you’re at with him.

So, even though I had a king with a pretty good kicker, he could easily have had two pair and easily had me beat there. So it’s hard, he always keeps you jumping. He’s ferociously funny and a really good sport, so it’s great to have him at the table. It was the most fun I’ve had at the poker table in a really long time.

Q: I’m so glad we got to hear your inner monologue every time you were in a hand, including that hand against Alan. But there was also the hand where you did get outdrawn, you flop trips and you got done by Lex and Alan who both had flushes.

JT: It really helps me to say it out loud. When I’m in big hand my brain gets all scrambled so it’s like I’m pulling out a long stream of consciousness, but sometimes I can’t remember. When I’m talking to them, I see them twitching in discomfort or looking smug or happy. So when I’m in a hand with three people it’s really hard because I can’t talk out loud. If I could’ve I think I could’ve solved it.

When I was watching the hand, because I just remembered winning, winning, winning, winning, when I saw the turn I said to myself it’s really obvious they both have flushes, of course you can say that when you can see the hole cards, but I didn’t remember the hand at all. I thought I must be calling on the turn because of the implied odds, I’ve got two opponents with big stacks who aren’t afraid to put it in. When the board pairs on the end I’ll get paid off. That’s what I thought and then when Alan bet and Veldhuis calls, I was lucky because I was last to act. I was like oh my god, what are you doing, I was so embarrassed at that.

This is what I must’ve thought, Alan is really aggressive, Lex is a pro, I was kinda weirdly timid and my hand was underrepped. That was not one of my finer moments for sure.

The new line up on The Big Game On Tour, featuring, from L-R: Alan Keating, Jennifer Tilly, Nikki Limo, Phil Hellmuth, Arden Cho and Lex Veldhuis

A new episode of The Big Game on Tour drops every Friday between now and June 7th on FS1 in America and is then available the following day on both the global and UK PokerStars YouTube channels.

And to get your weekly PITE fix, a new episode is released every Thursday, check out the latest episode here.

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