Footballers Who Play Poker
Footballers and poker players share many similarities and the cross over between the two is common. For players that want to find an un-athletic game of skill that uses all of the professional athlete’s mental attributes without compromising their physical fitness before the next match, sitting at a table for a game of cards is a perfect fit. Poker is, after all, a game that combines all the required ingredients to be successful as a sportsman.
In a game that favours competitiveness, skill, mental toughness, selfishness, stubbornness and, above all, hard work, it is in no way surprising that so many footballers find a love for poker in their downtime or even in athletic retirement. Here then, are five famous footballers who all share a love for poker. With so many celebrities including sporting heroes and TV stars enjoying the game, poker is very much thriving both live and online. The UK poker scene is no exception and tons of players are exploring the huge number of sites available to them.
Italy’s latest World Cup winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has collected international caps as easily as he has trophies. The Juventus legend, known simply as “Gigi” helped his country win their fourth FIFA trophy back in 2006 in Berlin which must sit nicely at home alongside a domestic collection that includes eight Serie As, two Coppa Italias, one Serie B and a UEFA Cup.
However his love and skill at the beautiful game is (almost) matched by his passion at the poker table. As a man who knows the value of a strong hand, Gigi took up playing poker following his participation in a charity event. This has led to a major sponsorship deal and has seen to Gigi become a major face on the poker circuit.
Another supremely talented and decorated pro is Barcelona and Spain star defender Gerard Pique. Not content with playing for Barca, winning *deep breath* the world cup, two European championships, one FA Premier League, five La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys, four Spanish super cups and three European Champions Leagues before going home to his wife Shakira, Pique is also a successful poker player.
Along with fellow Barca star Brazil’s Neymar junior (who loves the game so much he named his dog “Poker”), the Catalan is often seen around the poker circuit and in particular the EPT Barcelona event where he enjoyed his biggest win at the tables yet when, back in 2011, he came in third in the Six-Max Turbo event to collect nearly €41,000 (£30,000) which is roughly the same amount as he loses down the back of the sofa each night.
The original Ronaldo, or to give him his full name Luís Nazário de Lima, was one of the world’s finest players at his peak and without the injuries that hampered his career, his impressive footballing resume would be among the best the game has even seen. Bought to Europe by Bobby Robson when he signed the young Brazilian forward for PSV Eindhoven in 1996, Ronaldo went on to score 247 club career goals in only 343 games. His best form came in his one season at Barcelona where he bagged a truly amazing 34 goals in 37 games. He tarnished his reputation among the Catalan faithful somewhat however when, after a five year stunt with Inter Milan, he returned to Spain only to sign on as one of Barca’s detested rivals Real Madrid’s Galaticos.
At international level he scored 62 goals for Brazil in 98 games, two of which were world cup finals while he was an unused 16 year old substitute in a third. He was, at time of retirement, the World Cup’ all-time leading scorer with 15 goals scored, although Germany’s Miroslav Klose has since better this.
In retirement, Ronaldo has carved out a neat second career as a successful poker player and ambassador and has really helped the game flourish in popularity back home in Brazil. One time things didn’t quite go to plan however is when in a game with Tennis star Rafael Nadal at a charity event at London’s Hippodrome casino he lost out and was made to do the washing up. You can’t win them all Ronny!
Liverpool’s great Dane, Jan Molby – a star in their all-conquering side of the 1980’s – prided himself on his speed of thought over his actual speed on the pitch. The shirt stretching midfielder might not have been the quickest moving player on the pitch but, mentally, he was as sharp as they come.
It is this exact ability and skill that has seen the Molby take so readily to the Poker table. In 2012, he converted this skill into cold hard cash when he finished 4th in the DKR 35, 000 EPT Copenhagen Main Event in which he collected a tidy $9, 723.
England’s Teddy Sherringham, who provided the ammunition for Alan Shearer at Euro 96 before he carved out a successful club career at Manchester United which peaked when he scored the winning goal in 1999’s Champions League final, has been a familiar face on the poker tour for the past ten years.
The former Millwall, Tottenham, West Ham and Portsmouth forward called time on his career in 2008, but poker was already over taking as a passion of Sherringham’s before then. Now managing League Two side Stevenage, he has raked in over $329, 477 from poker at last count.