Shannon Elizabeth, Jennifer Tilly, Orel Hershiser and Doyle Brunson Let The Chips Fall Where They May

I’m writing about the World Series of Poker for Monday, but here’s a glimpse of how things are looking at the Rio this weekend.

Here, you can see both Jennifer Tilly (redhead on the top left) and Shannon Elizabeth (in the smile on the right) getting ready for cards.

Elizabeth — the Playboy spread from "American Pie" who is fresh from getting booted off "Dancing with the Stars — is pretty good, but she busted out in the first 20 minutes.

Tilly told me she just moved to Vegas with her boyfriend to be closer to the action. Tilly — nominated for an Oscar for "Bullets Over Broadway," should have been nominated for "Bound," and voice-acts Bonnie on "Family Guy" — busted out later but is a more serious contender for the rest of the Series’ events.

Tilly’s boyfriend is Phil Laak, known as "The Unabomber" for his dark shades and hoodie. So Tilly is known as "The Unabombshell," though she’d rather go by the nickname given her by poker pro Gavin Smith: Tilla the Killa.

"Unabombshell" is "very cute as long as I’m with Phil,”  she told me. "If we break up, it would be very annoying to have a nickname associated with my former boyfriend, but I don’t think we’re ever going to break up.”

Since Laak wears a hoodie, she wears a cowboy hat. (Here he is in the hoodie, and her without her hat for another moment.)

“He says the hood blocks negative psychic rays. That’s why I started wearing my hat," she says. "You can tilt your head down and you can feel all the darts — people wanting to harm you with their energy. And it bounces off the rim of the cowboy hat and it bounces back. It really feels like a barrier.”

And it helps her focus, of course.
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Sex symbol and emerging star Vanessa Rousso gets serious with her hat and shades. Up close and without her sunglasses, she looks a lot like Mira Sorvino.
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Players paid $10,000 to enter the first of 55 events and were greeted at the door of the Rio with a UNLV marching band.
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Doyle Brunson (hatted) gives a pep talk to start things off.
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Cy Young winner, ESPN analyst and ex-Dodger Orel Hershiser (right) thinks about things.
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Poker is so stressful and demands up to 14 hours a day, so players get free massages from a hands-on team at the Rio.
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And this is what the poker tournament looks like from an outsider’s viewpoint. Hundreds upon hundreds of players engage in high-stakes sportsmanship, while hundreds upon hundreds of spectators gather around barriers to look for their favorite stars.
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