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American Pie movies, which made Shannon Elizabeth a star, may have come and gone, but the actress (who played Nadia the sexy
Czechoslovakian exchange student) is still in the public eye partly thanks to her devotion to tournament poker. The actress
has created a well respected name for herself in a number of celebrity poker tournaments, including the 4th edition of
Celebrity Poker Showdown and the 1st Annual Nicky Hilton Caesar’s Palace New Year’s Eve Poker Tournament, where she bested a
field of 91 players to take home first prize and a major chunk of the $120,000 prize pool.
Shannon Elizabeth Fadal was born on September 7, 1973 in Houston, Texas. She attended high school in Waco, Texas where she
was a cheerleader. She was also an aspiring professional tennis player and worked hard at her sport until she was given a
role in a music video that was being filmed locally. With that as a catalyst, she began a modeling career which in turn led
to acting jobs on television shows like “Hang Time” and “Arli$$”. As a result of these successful roles, she landed her most
famous character portrayal as Nadia in “American Pie”. Now with over 35 film and television credits under her belt, she is
recognized as a well-seasoned veteran.
Like many players, Shannon was introduced to the world of poker at an early age by playing games such as seven-card
stud with her family recreationally. During the poker boom and the burgeoning popularity of televised tournament poker,
Shannon was introduced to the game of Texas Hold’em.
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Similar to other celebrities, Shannon adopted poker mentors to help tweak her game and teach her the subtle nuances of the
game. While I originally offered to help her with her game
(at the finale of Survivor),
she honed her skills elsewhere. Helped by such players as
Phil Laak and fellow actress
Jennifer Tilly, she began to learn and play
with a proficient and seasoned style that was able to stand up to the best of competitors.
With her new experience and tutelage, Elizabeth started playing poker more often and in 2005 she entered the Main Event at
the World Series of Poker where (under the guidance of top players such as
Daniel Negreanu) she lasted through the first
day of competition and ended up just shy of cashing in the money.
With a number of successful finishes in 2006, including a sixth place at the Las Vegas Poker Invitational, Shannon Elizabeth
announced her newfound career and passion as a devoted Texas Hold’em player. Shortly after her proclamation, she cashed in
her first major event with a 201st place finish in the $1000 No Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of Poker.
Capitalizing on her unwavering enthusiasm for poker, Shannon has also found a way (like other celebrities) to mix her working
career with her recreational interests by starring in a poker rendition of the movie The Color of Money, called DEAL.
The movie also stars seasoned actors such as Burt Reynolds and Jennifer Tilly (along with a large group of pro-poker players).
She also stars alongside Jason Alexander, Woody Harrelson and poker hall-of-famer, Doyle Brunson in an improvisational poker
comedy called "The Grand". I actually met with one of the producers of the movie back in 2005 so he could pick my brain
about being a female in a predominately male industry. He was looking to "round out the female character". His original
email described the movie as "a factious improv comedy in the vain of Christopher Guest’s film Best in Show is the
best way to describe it." I get many emails talking about projects and it's nice to see one that has come to fruition.
It's even nicer to see some big names including Shannon involved in the project.
Shannon Elizabeth finished 3rd in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship in 2007 and won $125,000.
Shannon appeared in Season Six of Dancing with the Stars.