Kevin Hart recruits PokerStars to change the face of poker
You had to know something was afoot when Kevin Hart--yes, the world famous actor and comedian with 32 million Twitter followers--decided he was going to call his own news conference in Monte Carlo. The clues were all there the moment Hart landed in Nice, boarded a helicopter, and zipped his way to the luxury spot on the Côte d'Azur. Even he, ever introspective, asked aloud, "Why am I so aggressive?"
Ostensibly, Hart was on his way to play the €100,000 buy-in Super High Roller event (one in which he made it to the second day after an afternoon and evening of massive prop bets, grandiose braggadocio, and a tequila shot). As we learned this morning, this trip had a dual purpose.
Kevin Hart has decided to take the future of poker into his own hands.
This morning, at that personal news conference here at the PokerStars Championship presented by Monte Carlo Casino®, Hart made his bold claim.
"I, Kevin Hart, have an amazing announcement today," Hart said. "I have bullied myself into a partnership with PokerStars. Why? Because I love the game. I'm deeply in love with the game. I've seen what the game is missing, and it's missing me."
The message was very clear. "I am going to make poker fun," Hart said.
"I'm glad there are all these poker pros here who I can compete with and take their money," Hart added. "But the best thing about poker is that anyone can play it, whether you're making millions like Daniel Negreanu or just sitting around the kitchen table playing for coins."
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While the full details of Hart's intentions are still sketchy ("I'm not going to tell you yet how we're going to do it," Hart said, because he's Kevin Hart and he can say whatever he wants), "making poker fun" is certainly within the realm of possibility. Having covered more than our fair share of poker tournaments, we would be hard-pressed to identify any other more fun to cover than the two Super High Rollers Hart has played on the PokerStars circuit this year.
Hart paid testament to Daniel Negreanu, Team PokerStars Pro's most celebrated ambassador, who sat next to him at the press conference today. He acknowledged Negreanu was also lot of fun at the table. "But what Daniel is missing is the black sidekick," Hart added. "The Eddie Murphy to his Nick Nolte. The Chris Tucker to his Jackie Chan."
Hart said: "Also, I'm going to make Daniel cool." Negreanu chuckled and Hart amended the claim. "OK. Cool-er."
If you need a little taste of what it's like to have Hart in your game, here's a sideline interview from this week.
This may seem like a slight deviation from our more serious side. In truth, it's exactly that according to the top brass at PokerStars HQ.
"We take poker seriously, because that's our business," says Eric Hollreiser, Amaya Vice President of Corporate Communications. "Kevin Hart makes everything he does fun because that's his business. Kevin is a maverick and we're thrilled to work with him to take poker to new audiences around the world and have a great time doing it."
It's a partnership of mutual admiration: "PokerStars has already done an amazing job," Hart said. "PokerStars knows poker, I Kevin Hart, know fun. I want to bring my essence to the game."
Negreanu said: "Just his presence in poker gives the game a new vibe."
Poker has seen its share of celebrity players over the years, but for the most part those folks have been been relegated to the occasional Main Event buy-in or one-off charity event. Hart is a different breed of celebrity. He's a man with enough discretionary cash (and, let it be known, enough poker skill) to sit with the best in the world for obscene amounts of money. All the while, he might as well be on stage.
Poker can be a brutal game, a pursuit in which preparing for the worst is part of ever player's psyche. Over time, there's the chance the fun can drain straight out of it. There might even be some people who have lost their joy for the game entirely.
Kevin Hart has not, and as far as he's concerned, he's going to make sure you don't either. He also said that he's not interested in diving into the books to study the game, nor even to get coaching from Negreanu.
"I don't want any help at all," Hart said. "I like figuring it out. I like bumping my head and taking some bruises and learning from the bruises you take. The more people who see me figure it out it will motivate those to take it up."
What's he going to do? Well, we've had no idea up until now and he's kept us entertained the whole time. So, stay tuned, because if Hart is involved, it's bound to be fun.
"I love to live, love and laugh and I'm going to bring this energy to the game of poker," Hart said. "I'm already in the kitchen cooking. This announcement gives you a tease, but there's a lot more to come."
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis.