The recent actors’ strike in Hollywood may have left Arden Cho away from studio sets, but allowed for more time at the poker table. The actress, who has appeared in shows like Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars, Chicago Med, and Hawaii Five-0, has mixed in more tournament play with the time on her hands.
“That has definitely been the opening door for being able to travel and play poker and take shots in tournaments,” she said recently from the PokerStars European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona. “Obviously, when I'm working, it's so hard for me to get a long span of time off so I can play. I think I've played these main events only a couple of times just because I've never been able to have an entire five or 10 days off so that I can take a shot and go for a deep run.
“But now, with the strike and everything that happened a couple months ago, I just decided I was going to take a holiday for the year. Whether the strike ends tomorrow or next month, I already told myself I'm taking this year off to play poker.”
Poker Between Acting Gigs
Raised in Texas and Minnesota, Cho attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before heading to Hollywood to try acting. That’s been a nice choice and the 38-year-old has been a working actor ever since.
Hitting the tables has been a regular part of Cho’s routine as well. When between acting jobs, she supplemented her income by playing cash games at Los Angeles-area casinos.
In the tournament arena, Cho has more than $174,000 in live tournament winnings. The best of that came in last year’s $10,400 World Poker Tour World Championship, finishing 55th for $71,400. She’s now glad to be getting more time on the poker felt and working on her skills as well.
“I've actually been playing a lot, maybe the most I've ever played,” she said. “But I'm enjoying it. I'm definitely now trying to learn a bit more as well. Cash games have always been something I enjoy, but I don't think I've ever really learned or studied the game in the way that professionals do.”
The globetrotting poker holiday has taken her to South Korea and the Bahamas so far. Cho knows there are some risks involved. She currently isn’t working in her main job and is then also taking a gamble in playing tournaments around the world. But the opportunity is providing a bit of a getaway after a busy few years in front of the camera.
“I've worked really, really hard and I've never really taken time off,” she says.
Next up are events in Cyprus and Prague. As she plays, part of Cho’s learning routine includes bouncing situations and hands off poker pro friends. She describes that process as “making the mistakes, getting the bad beats, playing a hand terribly, and then saying, ‘Hmm, maybe I shouldn't do that again.’"
“I definitely have considered getting some coaching for tournaments, but I think again … how much time do I want to invest learning if I'm only going to get to play a handful more tournaments this year? And next year, I'm busy working and I won't have a chance to play again. I think I'm still definitely in this discovery stage.”
The strike has now reached an impasse, but Cho has other plans on the horizon until studios and the union reach an agreement. But she does have some projects coming out in the near future including a live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender for Netflix. What roles would she like to play in the future?
“James Bond, but not like not be like the girl in James Bond – but me like James Bond,” she says. “Or a villain, I feel like a villain would be really fun, too. I also feel like I'd love to do something where I have some sort of superhero power.”
In the meantime, Cho is hoping to channel some of those inner superhero powers at the tables.