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Take one part WPT, mix with twenty-five parts celebrity editions of any game show and reality show you can think of... and you get Celebrity Poker Showdown, a six-part elimination tournament to decide who is the best home-game poker player in Hollywood and win part of a $250,000 prize pool. And it's all for charity, of course.

Recaps by Chris Wolvie, GSNN

Dave Foley and Phil Gordon
EP: Joshua Malina, Marcia Mule, Andrew Hill Newman, Bryan Scott
Packager: Bravo
Airs: Thursdays at 9:00pm ET on Bravo

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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

What follows is a televised-hand-by-televised-hand account.  Obviously, since it's only a two-hour show, most hands are not televised so you're going to see a lot of jumping of the dealer button.

What's a "dealer button"?  What's "all-in"?  What the heck is this weird poker game they're playing?  Well, I'll do my best to give the rookies out there a run-down while maintaining the flow of the hands for the veterans.

From Las Vegas, Nevada, where EVERY day is a holiday, Bravo presents CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN!  Five celebrities have taken time from their Christmas/Hannukah/New Year's parties to descend on the Palms Casino and play No Limit poker for their charities.  When the dust settles, one of them will advance to the Final Table and compete for part of the $250,000 prize pool.

Host Kevin Pollack, who ALWAYS knows how to throw a party (as long as celebs are around) introduce us to this week's gamblers:


playing for Heritage Begins Within
Coolio is a well-known hip-hop artist, best known for his hits "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage".  Will he get a bad rap tonight or will he leave with a "gangster roll" for his charity?

Shannon Elizabeth
playing for Animal Avengers
Elizabeth has been in the first two "American Pie" films and was recently in the romantic comedy "Love Actually".  But will she actually have a chance at this poker table or will she end up with pie in the face?

Ron Livingston
playing for ACCION International
Livingston played an ADA in The Practice before becoming Jack Berger on HBO's Sex and the City.  Will he be disbarred early or is there a certain "zsa-zsa-zsu" in the air for his poker talents?

Paul Rudd
playing for Project ALS
Rudd has been in many critically-acclaimed films like "Cider House Rules", "200 Cigarettes" and "Romeo + Juliet".  Will he be smoking the table, or is he fortune's fool?

Sarah Silverman
playing for Habitat for Humanity
Silverman's starting to become a sought-for actress.  She stars as Hadassah Guberman on Crank Yankers and was recently in the Jack Black film "School of Rock".  Will she rock and roll here or be hung up to dry?

Each celeb starts with $10,000 worth of chips and the game will go until one celebrity gets all $50,000.  That person then earns the right to play in the Final Table for a lion's share of that quarter-million dollar price pool.

The game, if you haven't figured it out by now, is No Limit Texas Hold 'Em.  A dealer button will be passed around the table after each hand to show the dealer where to start handing out cards (to the right of the button).  The two players to the right of the button post blinds, forced bets to insure there's money in each hand.  Each player is dealt two cards face down, called hole cards.  They'll then decide to call the highest bet, raise the bet or fold their cards and remove themselves from the hand.  After the bets are in, three community cards, called the flop, are dealt face-up on the table.  After another round of betting (and/or folding), a fourth card is turned up, called the turn or fourth street.  More bets (and/or folds) are made, then the fifth and final community card, the river or fifth street, is turned up.  After more bets/folds, the best five-card poker hand (made of any combo of the five community cards and the two hole cards) wins the pot.  The game is called no limit because, at any time, any celebrity can go all-in and bet all their chips.  But, if they LOSE the hand they go all-in with, they're eliminated from the tournament

At the announcers' position beside the Losers' Lounge are your hosts Kevin Pollack and poker expert Phil Gordon.  They'll be calling the action emanating from the main room and greet those that bust out.

If this were boxing, I'd say, "Let's get it on!"  But it's poker... so let's SHUFFLE UP AND DEAL!

Initial blinds are $100 (SB) and $200 (BB).  The Dealer Button (D) starts on Nicole.

Coolio Sarah Paul (D) Shannon (SB) Ron (BB)
K? 3? ?????  A? 9? ????? ?????
Raises to $600 FOLD Raises to $1,000 FOLD FOLD
Raises to $2,600 Calls $1,600
FLOP: 8? Q? A?
Coolio flopped a "nut flush draw"; one more club gives him the best possible flush.

                  \/-- Coolio, the first one after the dealer button who's still in, acts first 

CHECK Bets $1,000
Calls $1,000
TURN: 5?
CHECK Bets $1,000
Calls $1,000
COMMUNITY: Q? Q? A? 8? 5?
Bets $500 Raises to $1,000
Calls $500
Q? Q? A? K? 8? A? A? Q? Q? 9?
WIN $11,500
Had Coolio bet more than the meager $500, the bluff MIGHT have worked.  Now Paul is in a commanding lead.


Shannon Ron Coolio (D) Sarah (SB) Paul (BB)
6? 4? ????? 9? 9? ????? Q? 10?
Raises to $500 FOLD Raises to $1,000 FOLD Raises to $1,500
FOLD Raises to $2,000 Raises to $3,100
Paul has "tapped" Coolio, meaning he bet exactly the same amount of chips Coolio has left.  Should Coolio lose (and it's still a close race since Paul has two "overcards" or cards of higher rank than Coolio's 9s), he's out of the tournament.
FLOP: 7? Q? 3?
Paul flopped a pair of Queens.  Only another 9 can save Coolio now.
TURN: 2?
OW!  Coolio had a 17.5 to 1 chance of getting one of the two remaining 9s...and he got one!  Coolio "doubles up", or effective doubles his chip total.
9? 9? 9? Q? 7? Q? Q? 10? 9? 7?
WIN $6,800
Paul: "Coolio just kicked me in the 'nines'!"



Paul Rudd $14,500
Ron Livingston $11,900
Shannon Elizabeth $9,400
Sarah Silverman $7,400
Coolio $6,800


Ron Coolio Sarah (D) Paul (SB) Shannon (BB)
A? 10? A? K? ????? Q? Q? ?????
Calls $200 Raises to $1,000 FOLD Raises to 1,800 FOLD
Calls $1,600 Calls $800
Coolio's Ace-King is "Big Slick", the best non-paired hand in Hold 'Em... but it's PEANUTS compared to Paul's "ladies".
FLOP: 6? 6? Q?
Paul just flopped a "boat" or full house!  The odds of that happening were 136 to 1!

Paul is first to act this time --->

Bets $3,000
FOLD Calls $3,000
Most pro players would check the full house and "slow roll" the opponents (make it look like he has next to nothing in order to sucker players into betting).  But Paul knows that Coolio is an aggressive player and he knows Coolio is going to call any bet he makes. 
TURN: 7?
Coolio needed two Aces or two Kings in a row to beat Paul.  He's "drawing dead" now; nothing can help him.  Of course, HE doesn't know that.  Here, Paul asks Coolio how many chips he has left.  Coolio doesn't answer him straight.  Paul doesn't really have a right to know how much another player has left.
Bets 2,200
Paul's bet is reduced to $2,000 to cover Coolio's all-in.  Coolio is out of the tournament...and he knows it when Paul flips over his cards.
7? 7? 6? 6? A? Q? Q? Q? 7? 7?
OUT WIN $15,600

Coolio bemoans the fact that Paul had Queens "wired" (as the hole cards) all the way to the "Lounge" (he refuses to call it the "Losers' Lounge".  Kevin greet him and informs him that Heritage Begins Within will get 5 "large" for his participation.  Coolio says he was told by pros to play Ace-King all the way to the end and he all but curses Paul's incredible luck.  Ah, well, Coolio gets a chance to sip his cocktail and do a little "MST3K" work with the others as he watches the action...which we'll get back to right now.

Paul Shannon (D) Ron (SB) Sarah (BB)
J? 3? 4? 2? A? Q? ?????
FOLD Raises to $500 Calls $500 FOLD
Shannon is on a stone-cold bluff; no self-respecting poker player would hold on to deuce-four.  It's especially bad because Ron has "Big Chick".
FLOP: Q? 7? 3?
Another nut flush draw, this time for Ron.  Ron looks at his cards to make sure he has a spade.  Sarah points out that this is a "tell", something a player does that shows those who watch carefully enough what his/her cards are.
Bets $1,000
Raises to $2,000 Calls $1,000
Shannon continues with the bluff.
TURN: 9?
And there's the nut flush.  Shannon ALSO has a flush, but it's Queen-high whereas Ron's is Ace-high.  She is drawing dead.
Bets $2,000
Calls $2,000
RIVER: 10?
COMMUNITY: Q? 10? 9? 7? 3?
WIN $15,700
Had Ron wanted to, he could have bet relatively low and made Shannon put in more of her chips.  He should have known that Shannon had a decent hand since she was calling all his big bets. 

Blinds have gone up to $200 (SB) and $400 (BB).

Ron Sarah (D) Paul (SB) Shannon (BB)
10? 3? ????? A? Q? A? Q?
FOLD FOLD Raises to $1,000 Calls $600
Two "Big Chicks".  Shannon only puts in $600 because she already has $400 in on the Big Blind.  In the Losers' Lounge, Coolio is on a cell phone telling someone that Paul has something going on with the dealer to always get such good hands.
FLOP: K? 2? 8?
Bets $800 Calls $1,000
BOTH Paul and Shannon are drawing dead, technically.  Neither of them can make a flush, so neither of them can make a better hand no matter what the river comes up.  If both stay to the end, they'll split the pot.
CHECK Bets $500
Calls $500
Paul made a mistake and said, "I'll see the $500 and I'll raise it."  Tournament director Robert Thompson informs Paul that since he already said "I'll see the $500", he must only call the bet.  The reason for this is that Paul could have picked up a tell from Shannon after calling and, if he saw something he liked on Shannon's expression, he could then raise.  A "string raise", as this is called, is bad poker etiquette and illegal in tournament play; Paul should have just said, "I'll raise it," and THEN he could decide how much to raise it.  Even worse for Paul is that he's more-or-less informed Shannon that he MIGHT have a better hand and, thus, may not get any more chips out of her.
COMMUNITY: 2? 2? K? J? 8?
2? 2? A? K? Q? 2? 2? A? K? Q?
WIN $2,300 WIN $2,300
In poker, suits mean nothing in determining ranks of hands.  Paul and Shannon have the same five-card hand: a pair of deuces with Ace-King-Queen.  The pot is split evenly.



Paul Rudd $22,300
Ron Livingston $15,700
Sarah Silverman $7,400
Shannon Elizabeth $4,600

Blinds are up to $400 (SB) and $800 (BB).

Sarah Paul (D) Shannon (SB) Ron (BB)
????? 10? 3? A? Q? 10? 2?
FOLD Raises to $800 Calls $600 Calls $400
Ten-two hole cards are sometimes called "Doyle Brunson".  That's because poker legend Doyle Brunson won the World Series of Poker not once but TWICE with those two hole cards.
FLOP: A? 6? 10?
Everyone's flopped a pair...and Shannon has "top pair", matching one of her hole cards with the highest card on the flop.
Bets $500  FOLD
Raises to $1,000 Calls $500
THIS time, Paul did it right, saying, "I'll raise $500."
TURN: 3?
Paul now has two pair.  Had Shannon re-raised before the turn, she MIGHT have scared Paul out.
Bets $2,000 Calls $2,000
COMMUNITY: A? J? 10? 6? 3?
Shannon needed an Ace or a Queen...but she didn't get it.
Bets $800 ALL-IN
10? 10? 3? 3? A? A? A? Q? J? 10?
WIN $10,000 OUT

Shannon sulks back to the Losers' Lounge to talk with Kevin and Coolio.  Animal Avengers gets $5,000 and Shannon is happy for that.  She's also happy to give insights and rhetoric about the last three players while sipping cocktails.

Ron (D) Sarah (SB) Paul (BB)
K? 10? A? 6? Q? J?
Raises to $2,000 Calls $1,800 Raises to $3,600
Calls $1,600 Calls $1,800
FINALLY, Sarah is in a pot!  Paul almost goofed again...but when he said "I'll see the $2,000", he had his hand on a lot more than $2,000 worth of chips.  He was then obligated to make the minimum raise. 
FLOP: 7? 9? 2?
Bets $1,500 FOLD Calls $1,500
Sarah folded the best hand.  Had she bet instead of checked, one or both of the guys MIGHT have folded instead.
TURN: 2?
COMMUNITY: 2? 2? 9? 7? 3?
Bets $1,000
Calls $1,000
2? 2? K? 10? 9? 2? 2? Q? J? 9?
WIN $15,800
If only Sarah had stayed in.  After this, she takes her "lucky pen" and flings it across the table.  Open signs of aggravation is a tell of a player "going on tilt", or being so frustrated with the way you are playing that you make mental mistakes that may cost you the tournament. 

Several hands later, where the blinds go up to $300 (SB) and $600 (BB),...:

Ron (D) Sarah (SB) Paul (BB)
A? 10? 6? 4? Q? 9?
Calls $600 Calls $300 CHECK
Since Ron and Sarah only called the Big Blind, Paul wasn't obligated to put any more chips into the pot. 
FLOP: 9? K? 6?
CHECK Bets $600
Raises to $2,000 ALL-IN
Now it's Paul that folds the best hand.  Ron's bet is reduced to cover Sarah's all-in.  Sarah has the best hand, but not by all that much.
Ron needs and Ace or 10 to make a better pair...or a Queen to make Broadway, an Ace-high straight.  A King or 9 would give Sarah two pair.
A? K? J? 10? 9? 6? 6? K? J? 9?
WIN $3,000
If only RON had stayed in.  Such is the way of poker.  As Kenny Rogers so eloquently put it, "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em".



Paul Rudd $25,000
Ron Livingston $22,000
Sarah Silverman $3,000

And a few hands after that:

Paul (D) Ron (SB) Sarah (BB)
A? 2? J? 2? A? 3?
Calls $600 Calls $300 CHECK
FLOP: Q? Q? 6?
Phil Gordon likes to says that, with a pair on the board, the first one to bet usually wins.
Bets $1,600 FOLD FOLD
WIN $3,400
And we just saw why.  Sarah thought Paul might have had a third Queen, but she "mucked", or folded the best hand...again.


Ron (D) Sarah (SB) Paul (BB)
????? A? K? J? 9?
FOLD Calls $300 Raises to $1,600
Calls $1,300
FLOP: J? 10? Q?
Sarah flopped "Broadway".  Paul can't make a flush, so he needs an Ace to tie her...or there are other way (two Jacks being the most obvious) to beat her.
Calls $800
When the cards are flipped over, Sarah sees that Paul can still tie or beat her...and swears like a sailor.
TURN: 10?
Now things get interesting.  An Ace still ties...but a 10 or a Jack makes a full house, which beats a straight hands down.
A? K? Q? J? 10? J? J? 10? 10? Q?
WIN $4,800


Paul (D) Ron (SB) Sarah (BB)
10? 10? K? Q? ?????
Raises to $1,200 Raises to $4,000 FOLD
Calls $2,800
FLOP: 10? 8? 6?
Paul has flopped "30 miles of bad road"...or three 10s.
Bets $4,000
 Calls $4,000
TURN: 8?
BOAT!  Paul has 10s full of 8s...and Ron's drawing dead.  Sarah calls the pair of 8s on the Board "snowmen"...but talking about the hand while it's in play - especially when you're not involved - is bad etiquette...and illegal in most pro tournaments. 
 WIN $31,800


Paul Rudd $34,000
Ron Livingston $13,000
Sarah Silverman $3,000

Blinds are now up to $400 (SB) and $800 (BB).

Ron (D) Sarah (SB) Paul (BB)
Q? 8? K? 6? Q? Q?
Raises to $3,000 ALL-IN
Calls $2,200
FLOP: 9? 10? A?
Ron has an inside straight draw, needing a Jack to make Broadway,  Sarah needs some help.
TURN: 5?
Now Paul has a nut flush draw...and Sarah needs a King to stay alive.
PASS (ALL-IN) Bets $2,500 (Side)
When Paul bet, a side pot that only Ron and Paul were playing for was started, since Sarah had nothing more to contribute.  However, since Ron folded, Paul wins the side pot automatically.  Sarah can still win the main pot, however, with the King of Diamonds or King of Hearts (King of Spades would give Paul a flush).
A? K? J? 10? 9? Q? Q? A? J? 10?
OUT WIN $9,000 (Main)
WIN $2,500 (Side)
Too bad for Ron...he'd've made his straight...and won.

And so it is that Sarah retreats to the Losers' Lounge with Kevin, Coolio and Shannon.  Sarah's all right with Habitat for Humanity getting $5,000 thanks to her.  And she's notes that Paul has the chip lead (not knowing it's a 4-to-1 lead).

So it's heads-up action between a TV actor and a movie actor.  Who will come out on top?

Ron (SB) Paul (D) (BB)
10? 3? Q? 3?
Raises to $1,600 FOLD
WIN $2,400  
All Ron won with that raise was Paul's Big Blind...but every little bit helps against the overwhelming chip leader.

A few hands later...

Ron (SB) Paul (D) (BB)
9? 2? 6? 5?
Raises to $1,600 Raises to $3,600
WIN $5,200
The bluff didn't work twice.  Paul's "suited connectors" gave him a lot of opportunities, so he re-raised, forcing Ron out.  The difference is Ron lost $1,600, twice what he gained in the last televised hand.


Paul (SB) Ron (D) (BB)
A? J? K? Q?
Raises to $4,000 ALL-IN
Calls $4,400
Paul is a 58% favorite to knock out Ron.
FLOP: A? 8? A?
Paul has won the tournament.  Ron is drawing dead against the three "bullets" (Aces).
TURN: 10?
Even if a Jack comes up to make Ron's straight, Paul would have a full house, Aces full of Jacks.
A? A? A? K? 10? A? A? K? K? Q?
WIN $17,600 OUT

So ACCION International gets $5,000 thanks to Ron...but Paul Rudd, who dominated the game all night long, wins the silver chip from Kevin that signifies his entry into the Final Table.   He will play for the $100G share of the $250G Prize Pool for Project ALS!

Only one spot left...who will take it?

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