The World Series of Poker has over its years in operation worked with a powerful team of superstars; Jennifer Tilly is one of the regular players on the series and has a WSOP bracelet to her name; Gabe Kaplan is a former poker player and TV broadcast commentator; Norm Macdonald is a member of the poker community in the US; Brad Garrett and Ray Romano happen to be regular faces in Los Angeles and Las Vegas during poker tournaments. Partypoker has worked with and still works with Kevin Hart as a brand ambassador.
The gambling industry has always had a cordial relationship with all types of celebrities. In fact, there have been quite a number of famous people participating in the WSOP from time to time. Before the current poker boom that has seem the number of tournaments go up and casinos investing heavily in poker promotion, there had been notable appearances by celebrities like Milton Berle and Telly Savalas. Some of these appearances were for purposes other than gambling – like when Ed Norton and Matt Damon were preparing to appear in Rounders. Most recent names, as recent as the ongoing poker boom, include celebrities such as Ben Affleck, Kevin Pollak, Toby Maguire and Jason Alexander.
Based on the hype around the 2022 World Series of Poker, the organizers of the tournament have clearly upgraded their level of involvement. During the winding up of the 2021 WSOP, the top management had revealed some changes that would affect future series. It was important to share these developments with their fan base as they needed their support to implement them successfully.
The WSOP was to leave Rio for good and since the pandemic had been controlled, the calendar was to be taken back to summer as it had previously been. The new venue of the WSOP would be Bally’s and Paris Casinos situated in the Las Vegas Strip. Those who would like to see Vince Vaughn live in action better appear at the 2022 WSOP – he will be the Master of Ceremonies. Vaughn does not mention being consulted before the appointment was made but even if he was, he must have been as shocked as everybody else.
The WSOP has been quite enticing for politicians, sports professionals and celebrities who are often called upon to shuffle and deal cards for the Main Event. The inclusion of Vaughn in the WSOP events comes as a surprise to many because it puts him at the center of the poker action. This is however not the first time he has been active in a WSOP tournament; in 2021, he gave official commentary on the games. Being a comedian and actor, he was tasked with shuffling and dealing cards for the Main Event final table.
Speaking after the news of his appointment had been made public, Vaughn confessed to having been a poker player for a long time. For WSOP to honor him with the role of an MC is humbling especially at a time when the play venue had changed. For him, this role can only be described as an “absolute dream.”
Laurence Fishburne stars in promotions
For Laurence Fishburne who is a longtime award winning actor, the big break comes with his latest appointment as WSOP advertisement star. If you remember Laurence from Boyz n the Hood, King of New York and School Daze, that is him; he was also casted as Ike Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It? His appearance in sci-fi films has been on the Contagion, Predators, Mission Impossible II and the Matrix.
To date, Fishburne can count up to 130 screen appearance credit from IMDB that have earned him 73 award nominations out of which he has scooped 27 awards. He boasts up to 17 credits for production work; 2 for director, 1 for writer and others. Right now, he sits on the commercial committee of the online poker app for the WSOP.
To run the commercial and ensure that it reaches as large an audience as possible, Playtika will invest in television airtime as well as the renowned Nasdaq screen/billboard in Times Square. Why is Playtika involved in paying for promotional content? This is the mobile gaming operator under which the WSOP brand is trademarked and licensed.
In the press release that revealed to industry stakeholders that PLaytika and Fishburne were in partnership, Lawrence was described as an epic personality that complements the legacy of the WSOP. On his part, Lawrence who is not a regular poker player was aware of WSOP, spoke of his fascination by the tournament’s gamesmanship.
What should the public expect regarding the participation of famous personalities in poker promotion? The WSOP is just around the corner and there are obviously players who need a little convincing to make a date with the WSOP. It is anticipated that having familiar faces on brand promotion materials will go a long way in drawing in a large crowd of attendees.
It is not possible for the tournament organizers to review plans on the schedule that has already been decided and being at a new venue makes predictions of attendance even vaguer. Regardless of what is already certain, the presence of Fishburne will definitely improve brand exposure. For now, all hope is pegged on collaboration between what the audience can see now and what they hope to see at the event.
Meeting celebrities away from their regular line of work is something that many people look forward to. It explains the need to want to take photos with them and have them sign autographs. When a star identifies with something that you love to do such as poker, them the experience is even more exciting. WSOP appears to be well aware of this impact and judging from their efforts to incorporate celebrities in promotional content, they have a pretty solid budget for it.