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Ben Affleck Wins California State Poker Championship

22 June 2004

COMMERCE, California – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Proving that his poker skills are just as accomplished as his acting talents, Ben Affleck became the first film star to win a major poker open last night when he captured Commerce Casino's California State Poker Championship's $10,000-buy in event that netted him a cool $356,400 for first place, and a seat at the World Poker Tour Championship next April.

The actor outlasted a field of 90 players, including Tobey Maguire, who went out the first day of the three-day tournament, but stuck around to see the finish. Coming in second was poker pro Stan Goldstein and third was Castle Rock Entertainment president and co-founder Chuck Pacheco. Affleck used a couple of pairs -- two jacks in the case of Goldstein and two fives with Pacheco to knock them out of the tournament.

Casino executives said that Affleck played "a very strong game" and that he was relaxed and enjoyed himself immensely. In a brief speech after the tournament while being awarded his trophy, Affleck congratulated Goldstein on being a worthy opponent. With self-deprecating humor, the actor noted he was pleased with his own play, serving notice to the skeptics that he wasn't "a complete donkey" at poker. Among the players Affleck outlasted at the final table was former World Champion John Esposito.

Affleck, who has played in a number of the World Poker Tour events, is an avid student of the game who paid tribute to such WPT pro players as Annie Duke, Antonio Esfandiari and Allen Cunningham, as well as Gabe Kaplan, the former actor-turned poker pro, for tutoring him. Affleck obviously learned his lessons well as he fought his way to victory after starting the final table with the second to lowest chip count among the nine players.

Just like in the movies, Commerce Casino's California State Championship final table provided plenty of drama, with the lead changing many times, even in the final few hands before Affleck outpointed his final two adversaries. As play came down to the last hands, Affleck joked to the poker pro Goldstein, "I like it that you are showing respect. I was afraid you thought you could just take it from me."

Goldstein assured him, "You've got respect." Shortly thereafter, Affleck finished off Goldstein.

The victory will earn Affleck a coveted $25,000-seat in the World Poker Tour Championship next April at the Bellagio, which will be filmed for airing on The Travel Channel. While the $356,400 prize money pales in comparison to what Affleck would even get for a cameo in a film, as hard as he has worked to earn it, the trophy may well take its place on the mantle with Affleck's Academy Award for writing the screenplay Good Will Hunting.

"This is not likely the last time you'll see Ben Affleck at one of our final tables," said Nancy Friedman, Commerce Casino Marketing Manager. "He has become a respected member of the poker elite and continues to work to improve his game. We expect he'll be a big factor in the World Poker Tour Invitational and the LA Poker Classic early next year as well. At this rate, Ben might even being toying with turning acting into his avocation and poker into his vocation."

Commerce Casino, in Commerce, CA, is the largest poker casino in the world. There are more than 200 poker tables featuring just about every form of poker: Texas Hold 'Em, 7-Card Stud, Omaha, Lowball, Pot Limit, Mexican Poker, Pineapple, Draw, Low-Ball and many others. Also offered are Pan and California games. Additionally, Commerce Casino will run satellite tournaments for the World Poker Tour events throughout the year, which anyone can enter.

Commerce Casino is located at 6131 East Telegraph Rd., Commerce, CA 90040, just off the Santa Ana (5) Freeway at the Washington Blvd. exit. The phone is (323) 721-2100. For more information, go to www.commercecasino.com.

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