Thursday, 19 October 2017
Tuesday, 23 May 2017 22:55

Sports Stars Who've Aced Their Poker Face

Poker playing isn't just for people who want to try their luck at winning; it's also played by a lot of people who are already winners in life. Take sports stars, for example. Some of the world's biggest names are involved in the pastime and many have even joined online teams. So, from the vast world of sport, just who's getting their poker fix?
Rafael Nadal
Spanish tennis pro - often regarded as the best in the world - isn't just a keen tennis player; he's got a knack for poker, too. He's only just hit his thirties but it really seems like there's nothing this guy can't do. While his impressive 14 (!) Grand Slam titles have earned him a reputation on the court, it was his sponsorship and subsequent appearances in the poker industry that turned heads in the gambling direction. For example, he went head-to-head against the famous Vanessa Selbst in the 2014 European Poker Tour Grand Final and even played against Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo - in a match affectionately known as "The Duel".

"Rafael Nadal" (CC BY 2.0) by Doha Stadium Plus
Calais Malik Campbell
Coming in at a similar age as Nadal, American football player Campbell is another sports star who's able to impress with skills of two very different kinds. On the pitch, we see a defensive tackle for the NFL's struggling Jackson Jaguars, a team that finished bottom of the AFC South in 2017 and remain rank outsiders to win their division next time around at +700 in the NFL odds with bet365; off the field though, he's sometimes found playing a game of a different sort entirely. In the past, he's even teamed up with some famous friends to hold a poker match for a charity called Care Fund, who help families with sick children manage their mortgage and living costs while caring for their kids. Of course, Campbell plays other tournaments including in the World Series of Poker. It seems to be a genuine passion for him!
Paul Pierce
Paul “The Truth” Pierce played basketball in the NBA for the LA Clippers, before finishing his career in 2017. He also played for other teams, including the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics too. He’s got an impressive record – playing 19 seasons and wowing people on the court. Despite facing a little drama in his personal life, there are also many highlights there too. Pierce participated in the World Series of Poker Main Event not once but twice in Las Vegas. He even attributed the game to helping him with his first love, basketball – saying it taught him “how to play smart and essentially how to be patient”, which paid off in both games!

"Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
Why Do It?
Sometimes it's nice to get a break from the norm; when your passion becomes your work, you need a new hobby. Also, it's important to note that most sports stars retire young, so they need something else to do. Finally, it might just be like Pierce said - perhaps the skills learned in poker can help with games of all different kinds.