Poker has grown to become a widely enjoyed sport amongst people from all parts of the globe, including some of the biggest names of the sporting world. High stakes casino games, online tournaments and televised poker shows, the last few years has seen many sports stars take to the felts to try their hand at the game.
Poker offers a level ground of play where anyone can win, and these sports professionals are drawn to the sport owing to the competitive nature of the game. Using skills like patience, intuition and strategy for decision making is nothing new to these sports stars, and they find great satisfaction in using these well-honed skills to outplay their opponents on the poker tables.
Here’s a look at 5 of the biggest sports stars who are passionate about poker, and have enjoyed a fair amount of success in the sport:
Tennis superstar Nadal is currently the biggest name in sport connected to poker. His involvement with the game started in 2012/13, when he was forced to miss seven months of his career owing to a knee injury.
Nadal plays primarily online poker, and won his first tournament in 2013- a €10 Freeze-out event, for €15,200. He has enjoyed reasonable success thereafter, and can be found playing at the tables quite often.
Brazilian superstar Ronaldo is three-time World Footballer of the Year, two-time European Footballer of the Year, two-time World Cup Winner, and all time World Cup finals top goal-scorer. His interest in poker began when he created a sports and entertainment agency called 9ine.
Today, you can find Ronaldo playing cash games and tournaments locally and internationally, including the biggest events like the WSOP, EPT and WPT.
Probably one of the better players on this list, Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne has been associated with the game since the year 2008. He is a regular at events such as the WSOP Asia Pacific and WSOPE. He plays a lot of poker in Las Vegas, often accompanied by his partner Elizabeth Hurley.
Warne boasts over $80k in live tournament earnings, including a 3rd place finish in the Victorian Poker Championship in Melbourne back in 2010 for $35,899.
Ultimate Fighting Champion Welterweight Champion St-Peirre began his association with poker in the year 2012, and was seen at the WSOP in Las Vegas. He is one the many UFC fighters who have been seen fighting it out on the felts, including Chuck Liddell, Mick Swick and Forest Griffin.
Tennis legend Boris Becker began playing poker back in 2007, and can be seen playing frequently in live tournaments across Europe. His poker earnings amount to over $100,000, which includes an impressive 40th place finish in the WPT Championships in Las Vegas back in the year 2009 for $40,855.
While the sport has grown immensely on a world-wide level, India has enjoyed a successful 2017 with Indian chess legend Vishwanathan Anand joining hands with the sport in an effort to sportify the game and spread awareness about poker. Indian contingencies at international venues and events have steadily increased every year, and India found its name in the history books when Aditya Sushant and Nipun Java won the county’s first gold bracelet at the WSOP 2017 in Las Vegas.