Sports and gambling have a very long history together that runs back centuries. From the earliest days of organized sporting events, betting money on the result has remained a popular way for spectators to get more involved in the action. But that’s not the only way some chose to combine the 2 of them. While most of us, the mere mortals prefer to place a stake on the outcome of a match, some of the sports superstars preferred to make gambling one of their hobbies. From football legend Cristiano Ronaldo to the former NFL player Richard Seymour, many top athletes turned Poker in their primary hobby or secondary career.
But why Poker? Poker is a game in which you need 80% luck and 20% skill in order to win, and for the more competitive ones it’s a challenge to try to win against the odds. Since it can be found online on live casinos and offline in the big gambling houses, there’s no wonder that it became extremely popular.
So, who are the ones that stay at the top of their domain and enjoy playing Poker in their spare time? We will find out now!
Everyone knows about this Brazilian football player, even if they never watched a football match in their life. Cristiano Ronaldo is a three-times World Footballer of the year, two-times World Cup winner, two-times European Footballer of the Year and all-time World Cup finals top goal-scorer.
But aside from his career as an athlete, he created a sports and entertainment agency called 9ine, which lead to his interest in knowing more about Poker hands and strategies. Furthermore, he didn’t stop there and also became one of the faces of the world’s biggest Poker sites. If he ever had something to say about his hobby is that it is bringing out intensity and determination he feels only when he’s playing football.
The three-times Super Bowl Champion Richard Seymore is, probably, one of the most successful Poker players. Although he didn’t have any results in this game until 2014, he started soon after to make a name of his own in this sport (Poker is considered a sport, even if it has a high percentage of luck involved) by obtaining bigger and bigger scores around the world at WSOP and WPT stops.
Although he could he has been seen at different Poker events ever since, he only got the Poker community attention 4 years later, in 2018. Back then, he finished third in the elite $25,000 Roller event at the PCA against some of the most famous players in the world like Daniel Negreanu. Ever since, he won another 7 significant tournaments, placing him in a league of his own.
Fatima Moreira de Melo
You probably have never heard of Fatima Moreira de Melo unless you’re dutch and a die-hard field hockey fan. Even so, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s one of the best in what’s she’s doing. She won gold while playing for the Dutch team at the 2006 World Cup and the gold medal at the Olympics from 2008 in Beijing.
After her retirement, she caught the eyes of PokerStars who signed her what ended up being the longest-term contract the company has ever offered to a former athlete. She turned out to be an outspoken ambassador for Poker around the world and also a fierce competitor at the Poker table.
And here is another legend that garnered a post-career sponsorship from PokerStars. Boris Becker is a legendary tennis star who won 3 times the men’s single Wimbledon title. He became the number one singles Tennis player in the world according to the ATP ranking system in 1991.
He had several notable scores on the PokerStars-hosted European Poker Tour over the years but his biggest win came on the World Poker Tour.
Becker managed to finish 40th in the 2009 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Championship for $40,855. It might not look like a large sum compared to his $25 million in prize money he earned during his tennis career, but it’s nevertheless a nice retirement perk.
Baseball can be considered a deeply strategic sport, so it makes sense why former players from MLB would find success playing Poker.
Orel Hershiser, who has a three-times all-star for the LA Dodgers got into Poker by mistake. It all happened when he moved to Summerlin, Nevada, and befriended by chance a Poker instructor. From that to getting the attention of PokerStars was just a small step and the brand decided to offer him an ambassador contract.
He surprised everyone in 2008 when he finished fifth in the elite NBC National Heads-up Championship, winning a $75,000 prize.
There are definitely more athletes that took a liking in Poker, but these are the most successful and famous ones. They’re story inspire us, somehow, to believe that a hobby can be polished to the point it can become a decent source of money.