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Reality TV shows love to cast diverse groups of people. There’s nothing producers love more than to put a hodgepodge of people in a contest and see what drama unfolds.

Over the years, several poker players have been cast or approached about participating in reality TV shows. This makes sense because poker players are perfect for the reality TV environment.

Great at Reading People

If you want to win a Reality TV contest, you have to be able to read people. Just like at the poker table, you have to be able to determine which people you can manipulate, which you can form an alliance with, which are going to bend to your will and which are going to be your targets for elimination.

Daniel Negreanu is the prime example of a player that is excellent at reading people. If anyone could go on a show and figure out how to manipulate all of his opponents, it would be him. (But why would he. He can go win a high roller tournament in three days and not risk exposure, injury, or crappy drama.)

Great at Deception

There are few reality shows that don’t require a degree of deception. If you’re looking for cast members that have the ability to lie or manipulate the truth to their advantage, cast poker players.

Deception is one of our most valued tools in the game. Those that cannot bluff or deceive their opponents at the table will not be success over the long-term.


Great at Gamesmanship

Poker players understand gamesmanship and game theory and make great players in reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother and similar. They understand what it takes to win the game, and more importantly, they know how to formulate a plan to achieve that goal.

Able to Shift Gears and Strategy as Needed

A poker skill that also works well in Reality TV is the ability to change their strategy and adapt to ever changing situations and environments. Some might consider this a part of gamesmanship but you can’t always plan for the unexpected.

The ability to adapt when producers decide to change the game without warning can make the difference between winning and being part of a “whatever happened to” clickbait article.

They Carry Themselves Well on TV

One advantage to casting a poker player in a reality TV show over the average person is that some already have experience being on TV. They have been on televised final tables or have been part of a televised tournament such as the WSOP Main Event.

These pros already know how to carry themselves for TV and are comfortable in front of the camera. This is a huge advantage and makes the lives of casting directors much easier.

Many Already Have a Fan Base

Poker players make good reality TV cast members due to having a pre-established fan base. This is assuming that we’re talking about established pros a la Vanessa Rousso on Big Brother or Jean-Robert Bellande on Survivor.


Reality TV, like any other TV show, is all about ratings and if you can cast someone that is going to have dedicated fans guaranteed to watch, it makes perfect sense.

The Money Doesn’t Matter as Much as Winning

The biggest advantage to casting a poker player in a reality show is that the top prize in most shows are not going to be enough to change their lifestyle and thus it will not impact how they play the game.

If the top prize is anything less than $1 million, it’s not going to be enough for the pro to change their strategy. They will be playing to win rather than worrying about the money. This gives them more freedom over the average player and may be the ultimate advantage under the right circumstances.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.