THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2008-05-04, by OzonePhil Laak and Jennifer Tilly
Combined Career Winnings: $928,000
Who said poker players can't date high profile actresses? In this regard, Phil "the Unabomber" Laak is an inspiration to poker nerds everywhere. Three years ago, he began dating Academy Award Nominee Jennifer Tilly. Of course, Tilly's connection to the poker world isn't limited to exposure through her boyfriend. Not only does she play the game, but she won the Ladies' No-Limit Hold'em Event in the 2005 WSOP. To do so, she had to beat 600 fellow females. On the day Tilly won her bracelet, Phil Laak was Johnny Chan's final victim en route to his 10th career bracelet victory.
Tilly has proved that her WSOP win was no fluke. Three months after that win, she beat out five of the world's best female players to win the WPT Ladies Only Invitational. In just the past two years, she has finished in the money in a whopping five open-field WSOP events, two more than her boyfriend.
When the pair first started dating, Laak insisted on sharing his poker knowledge with Tilly before she started playing in casinos. Whatever he taught her, it's worked. Only a small handful of women have won more in the game over the past three years.
Bob and Maureen Feduniak
Combined Career Winnings: $606,000
Bob Feduniak had been a professional poker player living in Vegas for years before he married Maureen. When they married in 1998, his wedding gift to her was entry in the WSOP Main Event. It's safe to say that she enjoyed the experience. Since then, Maureen has actually amassed more career winnings than her husband. Although one might not expect a grandmother of five to possess the skills necessary to succeed in the game, Maureen has proved doubters wrong. In 2007, she made three final tables at the Wynn Classic. In a $1,500 no-limit event in the 2006 WSOP, Maureen was the last of 483 players to relinquish their dream of winning the tournament. She finished 2nd to Anders Henriksson, one spot ahead of Phil Hellmuth.
The Feduniak's may seem like a harmless couple just enjoying their retirement in Las Vegas, but I'd recommend avoiding them at the poker table.
Chip and Karina Jett
Combined Career Winnings: $1,600,000
These two player's paths crossed in a poker room several years ago. Chip was grinding a living at the poker tables and Karina was, well, grinding a living at the poker tables. I guess you could call it a match made in heaven. In the 2005 London Open, the couple met again, only in perhaps a more awkward way: they both made the final table of the $10,000 Main Event. Chip finished 4th in that event ($150,000) while Karina went out in 8th ($45,000).
Since that day, they've largely managed to avoid each other at the poker tables, but not elsewhere. The Jett's have two kids together and write a column for CardPlayer Magazine from their home in Las Vegas.
Marco and Jennifer Harman-Traniello
Combined Career Winnings: $2,315,000
Perhaps no poker couple poses as formidable of a threat at the tables as Marco Traniello and Jennifer Harman-Traniello. The latter has been the most successful female poker player over the course of the past decade. She accounts for nearly $2,000,000 of the pair's career winnings. In 1999, she met an Italian hairdresser who was vacationing in Vegas. Fast forward to six years later, and that hairdresser is now her husband and a fellow poker pro. Marco was in a three-way tie for most in-the-money finishes in the 2005 WSOP with seven. Incidentally, it was his first year participating in the series. Not long before, he married Jennifer who taught him the finer points of the game. She's managed to turn him into quite the poker player. He finished 5th in last year's $10,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha WSOP championship for $156,000.
Jennifer had to take a break last year from "the Big Game" (the Bellagio's famous high stakes cash game in which she is a regular) to give birth to twin boys. Not more than a few months later, she finished 2nd to German Thomas Bihl in the £2,500 buy-in WSOP-Europe H.O.R.S.E. tournament
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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