“If this was an R-rated comedy, and they put all these set pieces together like the poker, and the cars, and the Vegas of it all, no one would buy this movie,” said Hamish Linklater, an actor and playwright.
It was Friday night in Las Vegas and Mr. Linklater was standing inside Lavo, a dark, chandelier-filled lounge at the Venetian Resort. About a hundred people had gathered for a star-backed charity poker tournament hosted by Ben Affleck — with Jennifer Lopez at his side — during the Formula 1 Grand Prix Weekend, an event that culminated with one of the nearly two dozen similar races that determine Formula 1’s world champion.
Organizers spent $500 million on the Las Vegas race, which was the first of its kind in the city in decades. The race — which was won by Max Verstappen — drew celebrities, athletes, and moneyed spectators to watch drivers zoom around the famed Las Vegas Strip turned racetrack, and attend extravagant parties. Between the roaring cars, marquee names, and lucrative branding opportunities, it was over the top, as Mr. Linklater suggested, even for Las Vegas, a city founded on diversion.
The poker tournament opened with a reception at Lavo, and then moved upstairs to a side room for the games. Guests, which included Jon Hamm, Jimmy Kimmel, Colton Underwood, James Marsden and Tobey Maguire, spent about an hour drinking champagne (served by a woman dressed as a peacock) and eating Wagyu sirloin and Australian rack of lamb.