During the poker boom, online poker rooms scrambled to sign as many poker pros and celebrities as they could to endorsement deals. PokerStars was big with tournament players, having three consecutive World Series of Poker Main Event champs onboard at one point: Chris Moneymaker, Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, and Joe Hachem. Full Tilt Poker (remember Full Tilt?) signed every poker player and their extended family. They had so many people lined up that they had different categories for them, like “Team Full Tilt” and “Friends of Full Tilt.” We don’t see as much of that nowadays, but on Friday, a surprise addition was announced for the partypoker family: actor and comedian Kevin Hart.
Looking to have some fun
The announcement was made via the Twitter account of partypoker partner and Dusk Til Dawn poker club owner, Rob Yong. Yong prefaced the one-minute video by writing, “Was talking about partypoker ethos at cash game with him, @Andrew_Robl @BrokeLivingJRB & Kevin promised to help us promote poker to new/amateur players, so made him do this video to commit his ass!”
In the video itself, which looks like it might have been recorded in a casino (before social distancing measures were instituted, I would hope), Hart said “I’m here to party, I’m here to make it a good time,” with Yong draped on his arm.
He added, “Expect the world of poker to get a lot more fun. Expect it to get real, and expect us to get rid of all the people who make it so fucking technical, man.”
“It’s a community sport, goddamit, and I’m big on community, I’m big on people.”
Yong chimed in, saying, “So I asked my man Kevin Hart to help me promote amateur poker, not just the professionals. He’s the highest stakes amateur poker player in the world….”
Yong added that Hart plays more poker than he does.
Yong is heavily involved with partypoker’s game offerings and has long attempted to make the online poker environment friendly for recreational players. He has gone on record as saying that he doesn’t care if policies he enacts drives high stakes pros away, hence his talk about “amateur poker.”
Hart is well known in the poker world
As for Hart, star of such films as Get Hard, Central Intelligence, and both of the recent Jumanji reboots, he is no stranger to working with an online poker room. A few months after playing in the $100,000 Super High Roller at the 2017 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, he signed on as a PokerStars ambassador.
He was one of the highest profile celebrity poker players to endorse PokerStars as the company moved away from courting die hard, serious grinders and toward recreational players. He appeared at numerous PokerStars events in the following year.
Hart is known as a solid poker player and has cultivated friendships with many in the poker world. Of particular note is his relationship with Antonio Esfandiari. In the summer of 2018, Esfandiari announced that the two made a prop bet about who would win in a boxing match. The following spring, Esfandiari emerged victorious by decision, despite believing he was a severe underdog.