Shannon Elizabeth

Shannon Elizabeth Isn’t Just an Actress: She’s a Poker Player Too

Shannon Elizabeth is a multi-talented model, actor, and poker player. Let’s take a look at her eventful life and poker career.

Early life and acting career

Raised in Waco, Texas, Shannon Elizabeth was a cheerleader and played tennis in high school. During this time, she aspired to be a professional tennis player. Upon growing up, she modeled in New York before turning to acting, conservationism, and then poker. 

Elizabeth’s breakthrough acting role was as Nadia in the 1999 comedy American Pie and its sequels. She subsequently appeared in such films as Scary Movie, Tomcats, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and she had a recurring role in That ‘70s Show. She also appeared on the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.

Since becoming active in poker, Elizabeth has successfully melded her two careers. She starred in the Burt Reynolds poker film Deal (2006) and the improvisational poker comedy The Grand (2007) that featured Woody Harrelson, Jason Alexander, and poker legend Doyle Brunson.

In February, 2018, Elizabeth appeared on Celebrity Big Brother and was the 3rd contestant eliminated.

Shannon Elizabeth’s Poker Story

Elizabeth began playing draw and stud poker at an early age with her family. She “found” Texas Hold’Em after her acting career was well on its way.

Interestingly, she did not like Hold’em at first, particularly the lack of opportunities for discarding and drawing new cards. By 2003, however, her friendship with Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, and Antonio Esfandiari helped her finally enjoy it. Of course, being mentored by some of the game’s best players didn’t hurt.

Shannon Elizabeth poker table

Elizabeth entered the 2005 WSOP Main Event and was mentored by Daniel Negreanu. She did well; finishing just outside of the money.

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Shannon Elizabeth’s tournament success

In 2006, Elizabeth was quickly becoming one of the top celebrity poker players, and she visited Las Vegas multiple times each month to play in what she called her second career. She appeared in the 4th edition of Celebrity Poker Showdown and also won the inaugural Nicky Hilton New Year’s Eve Poker Tournament that celebrated the opening of Caesars Palace’s new poker room, besting 83 other celebrities and pocketing $55,000.

During the 2006 WSOP, Elizabeth became one of Full Tilt Poker’s newest representatives. She also signed with Poker Royalty, the world’s premier player marketing and representation agency.

In 2006 and 2007, Elizabeth cashed four times in WSOP events. In 2007, she advanced to the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship semi-finals before losing to tournament winner Paul Wasicka. You can watch the entire episode here.

Ultimately, between 2006 and 2010, Elizabeth cashed in 12 major tournaments.

In 2010, Shannon Elizabeth finished 2nd in the WSOP’s $5,000 Ante Up for Africa Charity Event and won a hefty $79,776. Her last tournament cash was in August 2013 at the Seminole Hard Rock 2013 Poker Open Championship $5,300 No-Limit Hold’Em event where she finished in 165th place, winning $11,635.

Shannon Elizabeth rhino conservation

Personal life and altruism

Elizabeth lives in Cape Town, South Africa and runs Animal Avengers—a non-profit animal rescue organization she co-founded with her ex-husband Joseph D. Reitman in 2001. After dating for seven years, they tied the knot in 2002 but divorced in 2005.

Animal Avengers seeks to rescue and find homes for homeless pets, reduce pet overpopulation, prevent animal cruelty, and promote responsible pet guardianship. She partners with Team Bodog frequently to benefit her organization. In fact, an October, 2005, celebrity poker night sponsored by Team Bodog raised more than $50,000 for Animal Avengers. For more information, check out Animal Avengers’ Twitter.

Shannon Elizabeth is a vegan and environmentalist and considers herself very spiritual. She even lights sage before each tournament to keep herself energetic, fresh, and calm as she does in this Celebrity Poker Showdown clip. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys Krav Maga and snowboarding.

Elizabeth is very active on social media, particularly on Twitter and Instagram where she works tirelessly raising awareness about poaching, ocean contamination, and her many other conservation efforts.

The beautiful and multi-talented Shannon Elizabeth is, truly one of the bright spots in the poker community. She is a genuine and good-hearted person whose absence from poker is noticeable. Perhaps we will see her again on the felt in the near future.

Until next time.

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About the Author
Natalie Faulk

Natalie Faulk

Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

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