5 Professional Gamblers Who Have Been On Reality TV

The world of reality T.V. and gambling intersect more than you might think — a lot more. We look at 5 gambling pros who made a move from the felt to the small screen.

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It’s no surprise that professional poker players who have been able to make a living from the game would also do well on reality TV shows, especially ones based around skill, bluffing, and quick-thinking.

Today, we’re looking at five professional gamblers who have also appeared on reality TV shows – some who wound up coming in first place, and others who were voted off first from their respective shows.

1. Maria Ho

Aside from being one of the top female poker players in the world, Maria has had quite a career in reality television, too.

At just 18-years-old, Maria made it to Hollywood Week on American Idol after her sister convinced her to audition, but didn’t make it through to the semi-finals.

A few years later in 2009, after establishing a name for herself in the poker world and placing 38th out of 6,000+ players at the 2009 WSOP, Maria competed with fellow poker pro Tiffany Michelle as the only all-female team on the 15th season of The Amazing Race. Maria had much more success this time around, and she and Tiffany ultimately placed 6th out of 12 teams.

In January 2019, Maria appeared on Deal or No Deal as a celebrity guest to support a contestant who was a huge fan of poker, and Maria.

2. Kevin Martin

Kevin currently has one of the most-watched Twitch poker channels in the world and has been playing poker professionally since 2014. In 2015, he appeared as one of the HouseGuests on season 3 of Big Brother Canada but was evicted on day 49 as the third person in a triple eviction twist. He had previously survived being evicted after he was nominated on day 9.

Kevin returned for Big Brother Canada 5 in 2017 along with seven other previous HouseGuests. He was crowned the winner of season 5 on day 69, the shortest Big Brother Canada season so far, and was the only HouseGuest to not have been nominated for eviction all season. As the winner, Kevin took home a cash prize of $100,000, a 2017 Toyota 86, and a $30,000 home makeover package.

3. Vanessa Rousso

Another top-ranking female poker pro, Vanessa also competed in Big Brother on the 17th season of the original American version. After surviving being nominated for eviction on day 50, Vanessa went on to finish in 3rd place.

Vanessa hid her occupation from the other HouseGuests, and it clearly worked in her favor – she was able to easily manipulate other players and was responsible for a majority of the evictions that season. She is often considered one of the greatest players in Big Brother history, and many believe that she could have won the season if she had made it to the top two.

Even if she didn’t win the $500,000 prize, Vanessa was still a winner: she announced her engagement onstage at the BB wrap party after long-term girlfriend Melissa Ouellet popped the question in their hotel room before the bash. I’d say that’s a pretty good consolation prize!

4. Jean-Robert Bellande

Jean-Robert appeared on Survivor: China in 2007 and finished 9th out of 16. He tried using the aggressive attitude he brings to the felt to call out other players, but wound up making himself quite unlikable after making the women in his tribe uncomfortable and repeatedly causing conflicts. His ally turned on him at the Final Tribal Council, leaving Jean-Robert speechless.

Regardless, Jean-Robert still performed the best out of the other four poker pros who have appeared on Survivor. Out of 18 castaways, Jim Rice finished 13th on South Pacific in 2011, Anna Khait finished 13th on Kaôh Rōng in 2016, and Garrett Adelstein finished 17th on Cagayan in 2014. Ronnie Bardah was the first castaway to be voted off on Island of the Idols in 2019 after launching an early campaign to eliminate another castaway because she was too likable.

daniel negreanu playing poker with raised eyebrows

5. Daniel Negreanu

Although he is happily married now, Daniel’s relationship with actress Amanda Leatherman wasn’t always smooth-sailing. During an off-patch of their relationship, DNegs appeared on the Bravo show The Millionaire Matchmaker in 2013 to find a woman who “treats me well and doesn’t lie to me.”

After an astrologer on the show told him to seek “the person who isn’t talking to you”, Daniel whittled his choice down to two women to go on a series of mini-dates with, named Lindsay and Cody. Daniel ultimately chose Lindsay to accompany him on a date in Vegas where the pair had dinner at a vegan restaurant, went Russian dancing, and played a few rounds of blackjack.

Kid Poker asked Lindsay to date him exclusively at the end of the date, though a few weeks later he tweeted that he was still single, but remained friends with Lindsay, saying “she is a GREAT girl as advertised”.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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