Vince Van Patten Surprises Ellen DeGeneres With Birthday Poker Lesson

  • Portia de Rossi, Degeneres’s wife, arranged Van Patten drop-in
  • WPT personality impressed by talk show host's skill and table talk
  • He taught her how to better size bets and put opponents on hands
Ellen Degeneres posing with her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Vince Van Patten gave comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres a surprise poker lesson on her 62nd birthday. [Image:]

Orchestrated by Portia de Rossi

This past Sunday, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres celebrated her 62nd birthday with a poker lesson from the World Poker Tour television announcer, Vince Van Patten.

In an interview with, Van Patten said actress Portia de Rossi, DeGeneres’s wife, was behind the get-together. She contacted Van Patten asking him if he would surprise her wife with a poker lesson on her birthday. The couple watches the World Poker Tour episodes on television and frequently play with friends.

Van Patten visited their house, where they played poker for three hours.

DeGeneres can talk

Van Patten was “blown away” by DeGeneres’s skill level. He said:

She’s very good, very strong, very aggressive, and really has a fun knack for the game.”

He added that she is the “table captain,” meaning someone with a strong table presence, usually talkative, who molds the dynamic of the table.

The “great table talk” that impressed Van Patten was on full display in a short video Portia de Rossi posted on Instagram. Van Patten was explaining how people often act strong when they are weak and vice versa. He added that, sometimes, when he looks like he’s going to fold, his opponent tries to “table talk” him back into the hand.

“I’m not table talking you,” DeGeneres said, looking him in the eye. “I’m just talking. And you’re at a table.”

One of Van Patten’s biggest takeaways is that not only is DeGeneres a solid poker player, but she also knows how to make a poker game fun.

Van Patten’s poker tips

Of course, this was still a poker lesson. While Van Patten said he loved DeGeneres’s “aggressiveness,” “poker face,” and “table talking,” he still had some ideas to improve her game. He said he spoke with her about how to put players on hands, figuring out what their starting ranges may be.

Bet sizing was also something Van Patten wanted to see DeGeneres improve upon. Things like reasons to overbet or underbet and how to “fine-tune” turn and river bets to maximize return were among the poker tactics he cited.

Van Patten added that he left DeGeneres a book of poker tips that he wrote. It is not a published work; he does not know if it ever will be.

“If I do a poker book, it’s going to be all my secrets, my ins, and outs of poker and gambling, how to gamble, and how to survive in the game and how to win, how to make it social and fun,” he said.