Poker is a game known for attracting the rich, the powerful and the famous – with sports stars fitting into all three of those categories. Athletes from across the sporting landscape are continually drawn in by the glamour and glory of professional poker, as they look to add an extra edge of competition to their lives. Here are five successful sportsmen, looking to make their mark on the professional poker scene.
Since becoming Novak Djokovic’s coach, Becker’s pro-poker appearances have been limited, but for a number of years prior to landing his current job, Boris was a prominent figure on the poker tour.
The iconic German – who is a six-time tennis major champion and still the youngest player ever to win Wimbledon – has competed on both the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour, earning over $100,000 dollars in tournament prize winnings.
Poker is massive down in South America, but not a big as Ronaldo. The Brazilian scored almost 250 goals playing for some of the biggest soccer teams in the world and is the highest goal-scorer in World Cup history. After retiring, Ronaldo’s interest in poker has blossomed into an exciting new stage in his sporting career. Unlike many of his former sporting compatriots, Ronaldo has enjoyed some success on the poker table. His biggest win to-date was taking home a $30k prize at a 2015 WPT event in the Bahamas.
In his final professional bout, Carl Froch knocked out George Groves in front of 80,000 boxing fans packed inside Wembley Stadium – a fact Froch isn’t afraid to repeat during public appearances.
Since retiring, Froch has become a PartyPoker ambassador and could be seen teaching other celebrities the intricacies of the game during PartyPoker’s Big Bluff competition. Froch has only appeared in two professional poker competitions, winning the single table “Beat The Boss” competition in his home town of Nottingham 18 months ago.
Georges St. Pierre
Georges St. Pierre is the most notable name in a long list of former UFC fighters who turned to professional poker after hanging up their gloves. The former three-time Welterweight Champion was still active in the UFC when he entered a World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas in 2012 – where he was eliminated early on. He might have been a fearsome beast in the octagon, but the Canadian superstar has found the transition from the cage to the felt much more difficult than he might have anticipated.
Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time over the summer in Rio, securing his 28th Olympic medal on his final dip in a competitive pool. Phelps is well known for his love of poker – it’s even rumoured he was playing poker on his mobile in the build-up to one of his races during this summer’s Olympics. He’s appeared in several WSOP events in Las Vegas, but hasn’t recorded any notable finishes so far. Now he has fully retired, maybe he’ll turn this part-time passion into a fully-fledged career.