Celebrity gambling stories in 2014

Caption: Molly Bloom told the world about the underground poker games she hosted, and about the celebrities who bet big money during those games. (Image: Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

Celebrities like to gamble just like everyone else.

In fact, given that they’re usually not short on funds, they’re often found at high-stakes tables or in exclusive games that most of us will never be allowed into.

That inevitably leads to the occasional gambling scandal that makes headlines even in the mainstream press.

Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest celebrity gambling stories from 2014!

Molly Bloom Spills the Beans

Molly Bloom played hostess to some of the biggest and most exclusive underground poker games in the world.

That all came to an end in 2013, when federal authorities busted a huge poker and sports betting ring operating in New York City and other locations, one that had ties to Russian organized criminal figures.

But Bloom’s full story wasn’t heard until this year, when she shared information on some of the big name celebrities who took part in her poker games.

Bloom had no problem dropping names in advance of the release of her book about her time as an underground poker hostess, telling the world of her encounters with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire.

She was quick to share her opinions of the Hollywood stars as well. Affleck, she said, was “nice to everyone,” while Bloom claimed that Maguire tried to get her to humiliate herself for money.

Bloom profited quite well off of the games herself, saying she made up to $50,000 a night just for hosting the illicit games.

Affleck Busted Counting Cards

As much as Bloom may have been rooting for Affleck, at least one casino decided they didn’t want any more of his play, at least at the blackjack table.

In early May, a story broke that Affleck had been banned from playing the game at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas after having been caught counting cards.

Affleck was apparently implementing a card counting strategy effectively, but wasn’t doing such a great job of concealing his play, leading security to quickly designate him as an advantage player and ask him to leave.

Phelps Gambles for Hours, Then Earns Second DUI Arrest

Michael Phelps is an Olympic hero, and may be the most decorated swimmer in the history of the sport. He’s also known for his interest in poker: he’s cashed in a couple of Las Vegas tournaments and played in the World Series of Poker for the first time in 2013.

Phelps has also had a history with drunken driving, having previously been arrested once as a 19-year-old.

He was charged with a second DUI in October, one that came not long after an eight-hour gambling session at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, during which TMZ reported that Phelps had been drinking.

The arrest led to a six-month suspension from swimming, something that could make his goal of reaching the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro a lot harder to accomplish.

Phil Ivey Battles Casinos Over Edge Sorting

Superstar poker player Phil Ivey is a celebrity even outside of poker circles, which means that when he battles casinos over tens of millions of dollars, it becomes major news.

Ivey found himself suing Crockfords Casino in London over £7.8 million ($12.4 million) they refused to pay him after he won big at baccarat using a technique known as edge sorting.

Ivey ultimately lost that case, but the story hasn’t ended yet.

The Borgata in Atlantic City is suing Ivey in an attempt to recoup his winnings after he took the casino for over $9.6 million using the same technique.

That case has yet to be decided, with Ivey saying he won the money skillfully in a game that the casino willingly took part in, while the Borgata claims that Ivey’s conditions for the game ultimately violated state gaming regulations.