Very few celebrities played in the early years. The only notable celebrity finishes from 1970 to 2004 are Gabe Kaplan (6th place money bubble boy in 1980 and min-cashes for 21st place in 1986 and 13th place in 1991), Telly Savalas (21st place in 1992 for a min-cash), and Hal Kant (26th place in 1995 and 24th place in 1996 for min-cashes and 21st place in 1999 for $27,950 for the Grateful Dead's lawyer).
Below are the famous last survivors since 2005.
|2005||Nick Cassavetes||93||$77,710||The actor and director did very well for his first tournament.1
On the flip side, actor Tobey Maguire busted out on the very first hand of Day 1A when his full house lost to a bigger full house.
|2006||Rick Salomon||196||$42,882||The ex-husband of Pamela Anderson and Shannen Doherty won an impressive $2,800,000 in the 2014 WSOP Big One for One Drop ($1,000,000 buyin); Sully Erna also cashed.|
|2007||Sully Erna||237||$45,422||The lead singer of the rock band Godsmack followed up with a 2nd place finish in the Five Diamond World Poker Classic just five months later.2
Erna once lost with quad aces to a one-outer royal flush and immediately commemorated his bad beat by getting a "No Justice in Poker" tattoo.
|2008||Kara Scott||104||$41,816||The poker commentator previously hosted martial arts and backgammon shows in Canada and the U.K.3
Scott left her job with Sky Poker and officially became a poker pro one month after this cash.
|2009||Lou Diamond Phillips||186||$36,626||The actor busted out with pocket Kings against two opponents with pocket Aces.|
|2010||Bruce Buffer||478||$27,519||The ring announcer busted out when his pocket Queens lost to Ace-King on a river King; Vince Van Patten also cashed.|
|2011||Mars Callahan||94||$64,531||The actor and director of Poolhall Junkies was doing research for a Poker Junkies movie; Sam Simon was in 24th after 2 days and finished 500th for $23,876.|
|2012||Kevin Pollak||134||$52,718||The actor reached Day 5 but busted with Q♦Q♣ vs. Q♠Q♥ when his opponent hit a heart flush.|
|2013||Ray Romano||$0||The actor reached Day 3 for a personal best but has yet to cash in eight tries.|
|2014||Jason White||348||$33,734||The stock car driver has almost three million dollars in NASCAR earnings.|
|2015||Fatima Moreira de Melo||286||$34,157||The Dutch field hockey player lasted quite a bit longer than Australian cricket player Shane Warne, who finished 597th for $17,282.|
|2016||John Arne Riise||$0||The retired Norwegian soccer player reached Day 3, lasting just a little longer than actor Ray Romano.|
|2017||Richard Seymour||$0||The former New England Patriot lasted until Day 3 when he ran King-Queen suited into a pair of Aces.|
|2018||Ray Romano||$0||The actor made it midway through Day 3 before busting. New York comedian Clayton Fletcher finished 28th for $230,475 but isn't famous enough to even have a Wikipedia page.|
|2019||Richard Seymour||131||$59,295||The former defensive lineman took a healthy stack into Day 4 but couldn't make it through the day.|
Not that we've forgotten Gabe Kaplan's moment of athletic fame on the Battle of the Network Stars (nine and a half minute video). By coincidence, Telly Savalas was also one of the three team captains.
Acting has probably been the most common profession of poker celebrities in the WSOP Main Event, possibly because Hollywood is within driving distance of Las Vegas. Among the actors and actresses to contribute their $10,000 buyins to the prize fund have been Aaron Paul, Alexia Portal, Anthony Rapp, Ben Affleck, Brad Garrett, David Alan Grier, Dean Cain, Ed Norton, Hank Azaria, James Garner, James Woods, Janet Jones, Jason Alexander, Jennifer Tilly, Matt Damon, Norm Macdonald, and Shannon Elizabeth.
A few of these actors have had poker success outside of the WSOP Main Event: Affleck won the 2004 California State Poker Championship for $356,400. Tilly won the 2005 WSOP Ladies Championship for $158,335. And Elizabeth placed 3rd in the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Championship for $125,000 and 2nd in the 2010 Ante Up For Africa Charity Event for $79,776.
Athletes, male athletes at least, have also been well-represented: baseball players David Wells, Jose Canseco, and Orel Hershiser (5th place in the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship for $75,000); basketball players Charles Barkley, Earl Barron (8 WSOP cashes but none in the Main Event), John Salley, and Jordan Farmar; boxers Antonio Tarver, Audley Harrison, and Lennox Lewis; football players Emmitt Smith and Richard Seymour; hockey players Brad May and Robert Luongo (who placed 634th for $19,227 in 2012); and martial artists Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Georges St. Pierre, and Martin Kampmann.