It’s fair to say there’s always been some crossover between the world of the casino and the world of the professional sportsperson. The rate at which it has happened has increased exponentially over the years in which the popularity of all casino games has risen. Poker is the clearest example of this phenomenon as the variety known as Texas Hold’em has dominated the casinos and tournaments for the last thirty or so years. The internet has only helped the game’s popularity.
So why do sportspeople get involved with gambling? Actually that’s not a well-phrased question as it brings to mind gambling addicts who’ve lost fortunes to unwise sports betting – a better question is to ask which sportspeople have chosen to invest their time in the noble game of poker? To be a high profile player you need to be able to afford high profile-level buy-ins, something that is within the reach of wealthy ex-sportspeople. But, you say, surely you also need a reasonable level of intelligence to play the holy game? How do some of those cerebrally challenged footballers grasp the finer nuances and technical challenges of poker?
Well of course they don’t; the system soon weeds out those who can’t cut it at this level. They lose they substantial buy-ins and go back to the golf course, never to return. The ons that remain are the ones who can do the business, those who are sharp enough to learn the poker ropes and challenge for the money successfully. So below are a few of the more notable sporting/poker crossovers.
Teddy Sheringham – veteran of several famous English clubs across the leagues, he won a number of honours on the pitch before turning his attention to poker at invitational events. Some success at these convinced Teddy he had what it took to expand on this new career and he began to play more seriously. His first major success was in 2009 at a €4000 buy-in charity tournament in Monte Carlo where he finished second. He linked up with PokerStars and continues to make a name for himself in European events.
Boris Becker – sticking with the European theme, former tennis champion Becker has not yet had the success of Sheringham or Cascarino but may well in the future. Also signed by PokerStars, Becker has placed well in several medium sized tournaments, especially in the European Poker Tour but has yet to win any significant sums. Watch this space though.