In a game where table image can be the difference maker between winning and losing, being known in many circles as “The Dark Prince of Hollywood” should probably be an intimidation factor that works in your favor. Watching Hollywood agent-turned-producer Gavin Polone in action at the World Series of Poker though, most of his tablemates likely don’t realize the reputation that precedes their competition.

Polone originally made his name in the entertainment industry as one of the top talent agents in the game before a highly-publicized exit from his firm, United Talent Agency (UTA). From there, he shifted to producing and managing talent and writers like Conan O’Brien and Larry David. His most notable project is arguably David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for which Polone received six Emmy nominations. Now, he focuses on producing as well as writing for outlets like Vulture and The Hollywood Reporter. His more recent projects include the movie “Zombieland” and the TBS sitcom “My Boys”, which prominently featured a home poker game in many episodes.

Yes, he is a recognizable Hollywood mogul, but today, with his earbuds plugged in at the tables, sporting unassuming attire, Polone blends in to the rest of the hopefuls taking their shot against the pros in the biggest tournament of the year. He’s trekked to the Rio three times this summer, playing in events like the Monster Stack in addition to the Main. Even when he is home in LA, he frequently can be found at the cash game tables at cardrooms like Commerce and The Bike. But even he can’t resist the call of poker’s biggest event.

“This is my fourth [Main Event] and it’s been dismal each time,” Polone admitted. “The last time I played, it was [the end of Day 1] and I got knocked out on the last hand, and I think I got knocked out three hands before the last hand the year before, so it’s been difficult for me. I hope to turn it around today.”

Even though he hasn’t fared well in the Main Event, he continues to return to the Rio for the same reasons as any poker enthusiast would.

“I like to play tournaments,” he said. “I hadn’t had as much time because I’ve been working a lot. I’ve kind of stopped working as much, or at least trying not to work as much. But the World Series of Poker is much more fun than everything else. It’s crazy and depressing and it’s really a lot of fun. And if you’re masochistic, like I tend to be, you have to come. How can you not?”

So far, it is working out alright for him. He came back from the Day 1C dinner break with roughly twice the starting stack, though the perilous last level of the night is still a couple of hours away. It seems though that his skills in the moviemaking industry do carry over to the tables and help him succeed, even if Polone once told the LA Times poker is much easier than producing.

Polone quickly clarified his stance though, smiling as he notes, “But I’m better at producing than I am playing at the poker table.” He suggests the two fields have a lot in common, even though one may come more easily to him than the other.

“Life is a series of decisions and it’s about maintaining your focus and making good decisions. Of course, there’s going to be a certain amount of luck, with more luck involved in poker than in producing…All I can do is make the right decision and stay focused every step of the way, and with producing you have to stay focused too and make the right decisions.”

While many outside of the film world don’t often understand what a producer does, they are the ones who identify material that will succeed, find the right talent to bring that material to life and, in many instances, find the money to make the project happen as well.

“I think if you stay focused at what seems to be working in the marketplace, what topics seem to capture the public’s imagination that, yeah, those things are really important as well as other parts of it—actors that are up and coming, writers and directors that are up and coming,” said Polone. “Poker can be a lot of the same thing in a microcosmic way, especially at the table I am playing at right now, where I am not playing with a lot of professional players like I tend to most of the time. It’s a lot easier to spot the way they play the game…the rest tend to play the kind of game like a regular person might play, like I probably play too, where it’s a little easier to read.”

Polone isn’t the only Hollywood creative type to take to this game. Just this Main Event, we’ve seen director Nick Cassavetes take to the felt. It is also a place where comedians like Jason Alexander and Ray Romano can be seen year in and year out. Even though it is a game with a reputation for being analytical, this year especially, we are seeing an influx of creative types like Polone taking their shot at the tables.

Polone suggests it isn’t necessarily that poker is a particularly creative game, and that isn’t what drives Hollywood types to play. To him, there are two real factors that explain the long-standing connection between entertainment and poker. One is rather practical:

“I think people in the entertainment industry tend to have a lot of disposable income, which tends to help,” he explained matter of factly.

The other reasons he offered though are the same reasons that drive everyone from a big time Hollywood mogul to a poker pro to an aspiring amateur playing in a weekly home game with his boys to make the pilgrimage to this series to take their shot.

“I do think it is the competition and the fact that anybody can play and be at the top. Here, I can play with one of the best players in the world, and you can’t go on a golf course and play with Tiger Woods or go and play football with a top quarterback. I think that’s what draws everybody.”

Given that Polone has built his career on knowing what audiences want, it’s safe to trust the man knows what he is talking about.