A tall and dashing figure exited the UNICEF Masquerade Ball on October 26, surrounded by paparazzi. Dressed in a dark suit and wearing a skull mask, the man wasn’t easily recognizable, almost as if he wanted to pass unnoticed on purpose. He would’ve been successful in not attracting attention that night if he had been an average Joe. However, he wasn’t; the man was none other than Ben Affleck caught on camera in his latest sobriety lapse.
In the video published by TMZ, Affleck appeared inebriated while leaving the ball. To make matters worse, the international celebrity stumbled, grabbing onto an SUV to regain balance. That night, Affleck was far from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood — he was the embodiment of a troubled man.
However, the story of Affleck’s lapse didn’t end there; it culminated with a 30-minute ride to the Commerce Casino & Hotel with the actor’s latest fling — musician Katie Cherry. While there, the couple was sitting at a high-stakes poker table, with Affleck buying in for $20,000. The actor won $1,500 and left the casino, apparently in less time than it took Bruce Wayne to say, “This city needs me.”
The very next day, paparazzi were again following the now sober Affleck, who was quick to admit he had fallen off the wagon the previous night. Nevertheless, the “Gone Girl” actor seemed hopeful about the future, saying that the night of hard liquor and gambling wouldn’t derail him.
Although an avid player, Ben has continuously dismissed allegations that he’s suffering from a gambling addiction. Nevertheless, it’s a known fact that the international celebrity enjoys a round or two of poker and blackjack; when you add his famous pals to the mix, how can he resist showing his gambling prowess?
Affleck and Poker: A Tale as Old as Time
You might think that Ben Affleck is just another celeb who joins a poker game to flaunt his “hard-earned” money at a luxurious casino in Las Vegas while not caring whether he’ll lose any of it because that’s how bad boys behave. Well, you’d be wrong. When it comes to poker, Ben Affleck is not your run-of-the-mill player.
Affleck is that good at the game that he even won the California State Poker Championship back in 2004, which came with a $350,000 payout. The actor beat a field of 90 entries that year, which also secured him a seat in the World Poker Tour.
So no wonder he keeps returning to poker!
Poker Is Better With Friends
Ben shares his love for the game with a familiar figure from Hollywood — his childhood friend and actor Matt Damon.
In their downtime, the friends don’t only bond by co-writing screenplays — they also play poker. That passionate love for the game led the two to the World Series of Poker in 2009. Ben decided to be on the sidelines during the tournament and let Matt show his skills. Unfortunately, it was a bad idea and perhaps a sign for Matt to leave professional poker tournaments to his pal.
Namely, Damon needed a shoulder to cry on what with him giving his career’s worst acting performance at that table. Trying to bluff his way to victory, the actor, known for playing Will Hunting, failed miserably and proved that being an A-lister didn’t come with a good poker face.
Nonetheless, Damon’s poor performance in the WSOP didn’t stop the two from playing poker at a Beverly Hills cigar bar together with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
As we have previously mentioned, Affleck is adamant that he’s not addicted to gambling. And with a net worth of $130 million, the 47-year-old probably plays for adrenaline rather than money.
By now, most know the story of Molly Bloom — a young cocktail waitress who became the mastermind behind high-stakes poker games aimed at the Hollywood elite. In 2014, Bloom published a tell-all, revealing which celebrities frequently haunted her games. Not surprisingly, Ben Affleck’s name appeared on the list.
In her book, Bloom reflected on the actor’s style, describing him as a “smart player” who looked to minimize his losses. One particular evening was engraved in her memory — it was when Affleck bought in for $50,000. Like most nights, the “Batman vs. Superman” actor’s game put other players to shame.
But he didn’t stand out in a crowd just because of his poker skills in Molly’s Game. He also brought California charm with him.
To be more specific, while Bloom described Affleck as “charismatic,” she wasn’t as kind towards Maguire. As she was known in those circles, the poker princess was asked by the “Spider-Man” actor to bark like a seal.
You can say what you want about Ben and his alcohol slips, but at least he always behaves like a gentleman.
Play Blackjack or Get Banned Trying
Imagine being that good at blackjack that you get banned for life from playing the game at the Las Vegas-based Hard Rock Casino.
Well, Ben doesn’t have to imagine this scenario. It has already happened to him.
In 2014, Affleck was at a blackjack table at the Hard Rock Casino, and he allegedly kept on winning. This made the venue’s officials so nervous that they sent the security to observe Affleck.
When he continued to win, the security found the answer to the phenomenon — Affleck was probably counting cards. Although not illegal, the technique is frowned upon by gambling operators as it mostly results in them losing money. And regardless if you are an average Joe or Ben Affleck, who are you to take the profit away from casinos?
So the security swarmed the table, escorting Ben to his hotel and asking him not to play blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino ever again. This didn’t mean he couldn’t play other games, though — not at all! Poor Ben was encouraged to try craps instead as the venue wouldn’t lose as much money if he played that game.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Affleck confirmed the story and explained what happened. According to him, he became a decent blackjack player over the years. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the casinos as they were in the business of producing money, not the other way around.
He also had something to say about this “gambling mentality.” It made him sick that casinos were friendly to you only if you were losing money. They would pat you on the back and welcome you as you were family, provided they thought you’d squander your money away.
However, if you were there to win, Ben said, they would ask you to play roulette or craps.
Winning Blackjack Round
One story that is repeatedly mentioned regarding Affleck and blackjack dates back to 2000. Namely, the two-time Oscar winner decided to unwind with Damon at a Las Vegas casino. They agreed to play blackjack and see where it would take them.
Well, it led them to win $140,000, much to their amazement. Yet, they didn’t take that money home. Ever the gentleman, Affleck gave every cent to casino employees, providing each of them with a $5,000 tip.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you play blackjack.
Filming and “Casino”
Be it an accident or not, most stories concerning Ben Affleck and gambling seem to coincide with his filming schedule. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though. Even an average Joe sits at home, patiently waiting for the salary, before making his way to a nearby casino to try his luck. In this sense, the “Batman” star is no different than us. Although, yes, we aren’t quite earning seven-figure salaries as he is.
So giving $140,000 during his 2000 guy trip with Matt Damon was nothing to Affleck. He was filming the critically acclaimed “Boiler Room,” whose protagonist, played by Giovanni Ribisi, manages an unlicensed casino.
Although being panned by critics, “Surviving Christmas” filled Affleck’s bank account with several million dollars, possibly helping him participate in the California State Poker Championship without worrying.
We cut to the year 2014 when 20th Century Fox released the highly lauded “Gone Girl.” For his portrayal of the troubled teacher Nick Dunne, Ben received around $10 million — enough money to pay for his Las Vegas trip, so he could play blackjack, right?
Lastly, nothing stopped Ben from playing at the Commerce Casino in late October — a $20,000 buy-in is nothing if we consider that he is currently filming “Deep Water.” Although his salary has yet to be revealed, something tells us he is making at least several million dollars.
As Long as It’s For Fun…
The National Council on Problem Gambling states that around 15% of Americans spend time gambling at least once per week. Out of this number, at least 3% of Americans can be deemed problem gamblers. However, all signs point to the fact that Affleck doesn’t belong to that 3%.
With a nine-figure net worth, the international celebrity probably gambles because of the adrenaline rush. Apart from that, he likes to show off what he has learned and had people marvel at him. Therefore, as he’s improving both his poker and blackjack skills, why not reveal them to the patrons at the Commerce Casino or any other gambling venue for that matter.
In the end, it is admirable that Affleck is aware of his alcohol dependency and is working hard to combat it. He is still a human being, just like the rest of us, and as such, susceptible to mistakes. But what makes people great is the ability to admit their errors. And Mr. Affleck has certainly proven he is capable of that.