Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s relationship escalated while filming the 2003 superhero film “Daredevil,” a bit of foreshadowing perhaps that the now 42-year-old actor likes to take risks, especially when it comes to gambling.
After marrying in 2005 and subsequently having three daughters, Ben and Jen are calling it quits following a decade of marriage.
“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the couple said in a statement. “We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting… This will be our only comment on this private family matter.”
It might be their only comment, but the media is abuzz with speculation, and one of the primary rumors is that Ben’s persistent poker playing and gambling was a leading factor in the couple going their separate ways.
Affleck’s affinity for gambling is well documented, sharing a passion for both high-stakes blackjack and poker, but he insists it never got out of control, primarily because he’s too good. “Usually, when you’re a compulsive gambler, the casinos don’t ask you to leave because you’re beating them,” Affleck told Details last fall.
And by all accounts, Affleck has the record to back up his boasting. In 2004, he won the California State Poker Championship at the Commerce Casino card room in Los Angeles, beating 89 other players who each paid the $10,000 buy-in for a cash reward of $356,400.
In addition, he was prevented from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock and a number of other casinos in Vegas last year because his high-stakes betting was paying off. “There were a number of casinos that said, ‘Hey, you can’t play blackjack here. We know you count cards.”
According to Molly Bloom, the “Poker Princess” for Hollywood stars who routinely organized poker games and later pled guilty to the illegal operation of card games, Affleck participated in $50,000 buy-ins with other celebrities including Tobey Maguire, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Though $50k sounds like a lot to the average citizen, it’s chump change for Affleck, worth an estimated $75 million.
Tabloids allege it might not have been the financial risk of Ben’s gambling that garnered animosity in Jennifer, but the time spent away from the family, a notion he says is a complete lie.
Per the sometimes-reliable celebrity news site TMZ, not only did Ben’s poker and blackjack take a toll on the marriage, but also his drinking, and it got to the point where “she couldn’t take it anymore” according to an anonymous source.
Ben made no secret about the troubles in his marriage, which he spoke to during his 2013 Oscar acceptance speech. “I want to thank you for working on our marriage… it’s good, but it is work,” he told his wife and the crowd.
It should be noted, however, that while perhaps gambling in part led to the downfall of his marriage, it’s also responsible for plenty of good.
Affleck won a charity event sponsored by the Poker Players Alliance in 2008, raising some $60,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
He also hosted a $10,000 buy-in charity tournament with his longtime pal Matt Damon last February to benefit water.org and the Eastern Congo Initiative.