Q&A with Phil Olivier, the acting poker player: “The fact that you can play it online and all it takes is for you to sit down for one night and learn the game and you’re hooked”

We chatted to Phil Olivier the former Brookside star about his new-found love for poker

You might recognise actor Philip Olivier from his stint as troubled teenager Tim ‘Tinhead’ O’Leary in telly soap Brookside, or for dominating and subsequently winning Channel 4’s The Games – but less well documented is that he’s also a big gambler.

You’re a Scouser born and bred. You’re playing in Sky One’s The Match for a second year. I’m guessing you’re a bit of a footie fan? How do you think the Premiership will pan out this year?

It’s gonna be hard to take it away from Chelsea. They’re just in a different league. I think the only team that are going to rival them is Liverpool – of course! You can’t really write Arsenal off with the players they have. Manchester United are looking good as well. I watched them the other night and I think Cristiano Ronaldo is getting better and better.

You don’t really think your lot have a chance, do you?

I think Liverpool are in serious contention. We’re on a high after winning the Champions League and have also made a few nice signings.

What about Michael Owen and the whole transfer saga?

I’ve been a big fan of Michael Owen for years and was sad to see him leave. It’s a shame that Benitez doesn’t want him back, but I think it would be a good move to go to Man United. because he’d get to play week-in, week-out with Rooney, and that can only be good for England. I defi nitely don’t think he’ll stay at Real Madrid though. In fact, I’d put my house on it.

Do you ever bet on Liverpool?

No, I don’t like to tempt fate really. I like to support them, though, and sometimes I’ll bet on England…

Sounds like you fall into the trap of patriotic punting

…and now and again, I’ll go to the races. But my gambling lies elsewhere.

I have a feeling it’s card-elated…

I love poker. No-limit Texas hold’em. There’s a bunch of us who play it once a week. It started like a poker school, but there’s no more schooling – it’s quite vicious now. It was only a £10 buy-in, but there’s unlimited rebuys and by the end of the night it gets up to about £200.

How long have you been playing for?

I’ve only been playing for six months, but it doesn’t half get you hooked.

Why do you think poker’s getting so popular now?

I don’t know, you know? Well – I do, it’s an absolute diamond of a game. I always thought cards wasn’t a good game. I’d heard of poker, but not hold’em. Thing is, I always thought poker was too difficult. I think it’s gone huge because of the poker channels, the fact that you can play it online and all it takes is for you to sit down for one night and learn the game and you’re hooked. If you don’t know the game, you just fob it off like I used to.

Did any of your fellow competitors on The Games play?

I actually taught everyone how to play. Craig Charles got into it, but you know what it’s like with beginners – they’ll call with almost anything and their bets are all over the place. The first time we played Kevin from Liberty X beat me!

Would you be up for playing in a big tournament like the WSOP?

Maybe one day. But at the moment, I’m not quite ready!

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