Interview with Tiffany Michelle
Tiffany Michelle is an actress and poker player who has co-starred in programs including ER, Nip Tuck and Guilty of Innocent. After learning the game of poker from her brothers and grandfather she played in Hollywood house games for several years before catching the tournament bug. She was the last woman standing (or should that be sitting?) in the 2008 WSOP, finishing 17th in the main event out of a field of over 6,000 and collecting over $330,000. In doing so she created quite a bit of controversy…
RB (Robert Butt): What have you been up to since your 2008 WSOP main event result, both in the poker and acting world?
TM (Tiffany Michelle): Wow, it’s been quite the whirlwind that’s keeping me super busy. I have my hands in a bunch of different projects including the launch of my own clothes line! I’m playing a lot more poker as well as traveling the professional poker circuit. Now that I’m a UB Pro I have fun playing online on a weekly basis. Everytime I turn around there seems to be some fundraiser, meeting, charity event, party or premiere on the calendar.
RB: Do you have any major acting work in the pipeline and these days do you consider yourself a professional poker player or actress, or indeed musician, first and foremost?
TM: I’d consider myself a poker playing actor! I get to have my cake and eat it too. Poker is taking up a lot of time in my life right now so the music and acting have taken a bit of a back seat but I’ve been very busy taking meetings and fielding various TV projects and opportunities so stay tuned!
RB: There was a lot of attention focused on you as a result of your success and behaviour at last year’s WSOP. You started the event as someone who worked for and was sponsored by Pokernews but after going deep you signed a deal with Ultimatebet. Do you feel you acted reasonably doing so and what is your relationship now like with Pokernews and its owner Tony G? How is your sponsorship deal with Ultimatebet working out?
TM: I absolutely believe that I acted reasonably during the WSOP especially with all of the pressure, drama and misconceptions that were flying around. Most people know at this point that I wasn’t sponsored by Pokernews! I was backed by two poker players, one of them being Tony G who owns Pokernews and therefore I wore their patch for the WSOP in his interest. I had no sponsorship deal or exclusivity with Pokernews for the WSOP nor did I enter into any kind of deal with UltimateBet (besides wearing their patch) until after the Main Event was over. I was very happy to join Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth at UltimateBet as one of their Star Players. I’m in great company and yellow is my favorite color so it’s a perfect fit for me, ha ha.
RB: The change of sponsor mid-event wasn’t the only controversy surrounding you at last year’s WSOP. You came under criticism for what some considered your bad behaviour at the table (something your fellow sponsored pro. Phil Hellmuth has of course used to help keep him one of the most talked about poker players on the scene). In one instance you called the clock in an extremely large pot with 3 tables left, when Paul Snead was involved in a heads up pot for almost his entire stack with Scott Montgomery. Snead had thought for little more than a minute about making the call before you asked for the clock to be put on him. Do you still believe this was a fair thing to do, and if so, do you think if someone like Phil Hellmuth had done the same thing such a fuss would have been made over it?
TM: Actually it was close to ten minutes that Snead took before I called the clock. Unfortunately people forget that TV (even a poker tournament) is heavily edited so rarely anything is shown in real time or in the full context that it actually happened. With that said, the clock is a rule in poker that is there for a reason. I understand that there is a time to have etiquette and allow someone the appropriate amount of time to make a decision, which I feel that I did. There is also a time when the situation calls for a clock to be called. I too was playing for millions of dollars ultimately Snead’s consistent delays were eating into my playing time and effecting my tournament life since I was under chip average.
RB: As someone working in both the TV and poker industry, do you think the poker boom will prove to be something of a fad for the majority, or do you see major poker events as a permanent fixture in our TV schedules for a long time to come?
TM: I think the "poker boom" happened quite a few years ago so considering that it’s still around and we have great ratings with shows like WSOP, Poker After Dark and NBC Heads-Up I don’t see poker fading from the media anytime soon.
RB: Would you consider following in the footsteps of Jennifer Leigh and doing a shoot for Playboy or a similar magazine, and how much would you need to be paid if so?
I was actually asked if I was interested in doing a pictorial for Playboy and turned it down. I’m all for doing sexy photo shoots but I’ve never had any interest in posing nude.
RB: What’s your budget/schedule for this year’s WSOP and how do you feel your chances are of a big score?
TM: Honestly out of all the tournaments throughout the year the odds of performing well at the WSOP aren’t in most poker player’s favor. It’s very hard to get through the huge WSOP fields. All I can do is play my best and be optimistic. I’d be very happy to make a final table but mostly I’m just looking forward to just getting the chance to play, play, play. I’ll be playing most of the No-Limit events which will be about 15-20 tournaments.
RB: I understand you’ve some upcoming projects on your website (www.tiffanymichelle.com) due to be launched in time for the World Series; can you give us some more information on those?
TM: I’ve had to keep my mouth shut for awhile now so I’m very excited to be able to tell you that we’ll be launching the Tiffany Michelle clothing line this year at the World Series. You’ll see me sporting some of my own designs including shirts, hats and hoodies.
Thank you Tiffany and good luck at the tables!