It was all for a good cause: a celebrity poker match held at Microsoft's sleek compound in Playa Vista by the Peace Fund, a Sherman Oaks charity founded by Highlander: The Series actor Adrian Paul. As the daylong tournament got rolling, the stars couldn't help but divulge their strategies for winning — an unlikely prospect, since the TV and film folks were surrounded by Microsoft brainiacs and world-ranked poker players such as Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle.

So just imagine how stunned or elated the players were when a truly dark horse victor emerged: a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who instructs kids in filmmaking at Helen Bernstein High School and Roosevelt High School:     


Actor Carl Weathers says his strategy depends on who he's up against.; Credit: Mira Layne

Actor Carl Weathers says his strategy depends on who he's up against.; Credit: Mira Layne

LAUSD teacher Tom McCluskey, who earned his MFA in Cinema-TV from USC in 2003, must have learned a hell of a good poker face in film school. He celebrated his Oct. 11 poker victory on his Facebook page by telling his friends:

I won! Great day of poker for a great cause – TWO great causes in fact. Adrian Paul's Peace Fund and Wells Bring Hope. Great hosting by Microsoft and Adrian Paul, lots of fun people and a lot of action. Now can someone tell my wife I won a spot at the World Series of Poker next year?”

And no, he's not kidding around. The filmmaking teacher will indeed get a slot in World Series of Poker in 2015.

Having earlier in the day explained her strategy for winning as “just not to bust out too soon — that's it,” Kelly Hu, an actor on Phineas and Ferb, graciously explained how she lost:

“You know, I had terrible strategy, I don't know what I was doing half the time. But I had a great time, and it was all for a good cause.” 


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