The pairings for the 16th cycle of the Emmy Award winning reality series “Amazing Race” were released last week and, this time around, no poker players will make the journey. Competing last season was UB.com pro Tiffany Michelle, who hit the “Amazing Race” circuit with Maria Ho. Michelle sat down with Poker News Daily to preview the new season, which kicks off on February 14th on CBS.
Poker News Daily: This cycle’s cast list includes former housemates on CBS’ “Big Brother,” Miss Teen South Carolina 2007, and a Major League Baseball third base coach. Who’s your horse?
Tiffany Michelle: It’s interesting to see that there are three all-female teams this season. Last year, it was a really young, competitive bunch. The producers have to keep it to where everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, and abilities are on par with the others in that season. We thought it was weird that there wasn’t an old couple or a mom and daughter last year. This year, they opened it up again.
I’ve been watching the initial meet the cast videos and I think the cowboys (Jet and Cord) will be a fan favorite. The ones that stood out to me were the detectives (Louie and Michael). That’s an interesting type of person to put on the show.
PND: Were you surprised to see that no poker players will journey out for this season of “Amazing Race”?
Tiffany Michelle: Doing enough in the entertainment business, I have some insight into how casting works. You can’t exhaust one group of people. You want to keep it new and fresh every year and that’s why we were brought on last year. Each season, they’ll reach out to grab people from all walks of life. As hot of a topic as poker is, each of the poker players who have been on reality shows were there for a reason. I don’t think you’ll see a huge influx of poker players on reality shows.
PND: What about poker players gives them a leg up on the competition in a series like “Amazing Race”?
Tiffany Michelle: Your outlook on life, games, and competition is different than the everyday person’s. Poker encompasses psychology, mathematics, aggression, and observation. Poker is very similar to chess in that it requires a lot of mental stamina and gamesmanship. Poker players are used to approaching games from a different point of view.
PND: There has been a trend on the show to include racers who have already appeared in front of television cameras and in the public eye. Does that give anyone an edge?
Tiffany Michelle: After Phil [Keoghan] says go, you are not even aware of the cameras or audio guys. Within the first day, you’re oblivious to having a camera crew. They’re good at not getting in your way too.
PND: This installment’s cast is rumored to travel to places like Chile, Argentina, Singapore, and Seychelles. If you had the chance to run the “Amazing Race” again, where would you go?
Tiffany Michelle: Warm places like Australia, the Caribbean, and some lovely tropical destinations. This season, it’ll be a little bit colder and you won’t hit a lot of hot spots. A lot of our season’s cast wanted to go to Africa because it’d be an incredible experience. That was one place that I thought would be awesome. From a technical standpoint, it’s hard to pull that off, though. We went to Vietnam, which they said for years they had tried to do.
PND: How’d you fare at the L.A. Poker Classic?
Tiffany Michelle: I only played one event. Maria and I both played and it was nice to be back in the saddle. Now, I am off to Panama and I’ll be back at the Commerce Casino after that. I’m trying to decide between doing the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) or L.A. Poker Classic Main Events. In two weeks, I’m going to Las Vegas to do a show with the Harlem Globetrotters. We’re going to suit up and play against them. I’m pretty sporty, but basketball is my worst sport.
PND: We read on Twitter that you were reviewing movies for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. What’s your involvement with them?
Tiffany Michelle: I’m a member of SAG, which is the union for acting, entertainment, film, and television. Every year, whereas the Emmys and Oscars are voting on by academies, actors vote on the SAG Awards. During awards season, they send you movies to watch and you vote. I always get a slew of current nominees.
I thought “Inglorious Basterds” was incredibly phenomenal. I thought it was an amazing movie. “Up in the Air” was cool too. I’m a girl, so of course I loved “It’s Complicated.” For television shows, I love “Glee” and Kevin McHale is a friend of mine.
PND: How have you been faring in the ongoing Ultimate Bet Online Championship (UBOC)?
Tiffany Michelle: Sunday was the $2,500 buy-in $1 million guaranteed. I played it even though I don’t play short-handed poker. I can play six-handed, but I know there are a lot of specific strategies with regards to starting hands.