Five Footballers Who Have Also Scored On The Poker Tables
Poker is a game that requires skill, mental strength, discipline and determination to succeed.
These are qualities that professional footballers have in abundance. They also have an abundance of cash, so are well qualified and bankrolled to be able to jump in and challenge themselves against the upper echelons of the game in high stakes poker matches.
Marketeers also adore them and, coupled with the growth of online poker, in the first decade of the Millennium, many poker loving football players became ambassadors for online poker sites.
Not just there for their image or appeal to fans, many of these footballers had real poker skills and some have tasted considerable success, winning major poker titles and generally crushing the game, while having a heap of fun doing so.
It’s not just a thing of the past, most of these players are still enjoying the game today. Beware if you happen to end up on the same table as one of them, they aren’t just there to hand out autographs and selfies, they are happy to take your chips too…and they probably will.
When he’s not scoring goals for Paris St-Germain or Brazil, Neymar Jr loves to spend time playing poker. As an ambassador for online poker site PokerStars, he’s taken part in several tournaments on the European Poker Tour, cashing in two separate events at the 2022 EPT Monte Carlo festival.
In fact, 2022 has been a good year for Neymar at the poker tables, as he also claimed 49th place in a $1k Super Bounty event at the World Series of Poker, which had over 2,200 entrants.
His best live cash was in 2018, when he made the final table of a high roller event at the Brazilian Series of Poker, for a payday of $21,000.
Considering that Neymar earns a whopping $700,000 per week for playing football, he’s clearly in it for the challenge and love of the game of poker, more than the money.
Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was Neymar Jr’s stablemate ambassador at PokerStars for several years and while he didn’t show as much love for the game as his fellow baller, the former Manchester United player did have some memorable moments on the felt.
Ronaldo – who makes our extensive list of the greatest World Cup goalscorers – took part in PokerStars Duel, where he played heads-up poker against other celebrities. He won both his duels, against Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul and against the reigning Miss World of the time, Mireia Lalaguna.
However as one of the richest sportsmen on the planet, the money being played for at the poker tables doesn’t mean anything to Cristiano and when he does win, he always donates the funds to charity.
Retired Republic of Ireland international footballer and talkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino is another very keen poker player and he has tasted considerable success on the UK poker circuit.
He was around at the start of the online poker boom and in 2004 was invited to take part in a made-for-tv poker tournament, Celebrity Poker Club.
Soon after that he made the final table of Europe’s oldest poker tournament, the Irish Open and landed a sponsorship deal with online poker site Littlewoods.
He was a frequent face on the live poker scene for a number of years, enjoying considerable success throughout. He won the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Bolton main event in 2008 and went on to finish 6th in the tour’s Grand Final in the same year.
One year later he repeated his final table appearance at the Grand Final, making him a rare two-time GUKPT main event winner. Tony has also cashed three times in the EPT London Main event and won a $1k side event at the Caribbean Poker Classic in St Kitts in 2006.
During his football career he played in two World Cups, representing Republic of Ireland, but later revealed in his 2000 autobiography that he had no actual Irish blood relatives.
He said he thought of himself as a fake Irishman, a fraud, despite only discovering his lack of Celtic roots late on in his football career. However, Cascarino is certainly no imposter at the poker tables with over half a million Euros in winnings to his name and is still competing, his last live cash coming in 2019.
Spanish defender Gerard Pique is regarded as one of the best soccer players of his generation. He played an integral part in Spain’s 2010 World Cup win and was capped for his country a whopping 102 times, finding the back of the net five times during his international career.
Since 2011 he has frequently taken part in high-roller poker tournaments, cashing four times in EPT events. His biggest win to date was in 2019, when he scooped over €350k for 2nd place in the €25k No Limit Hold’em Championship event at EPT Barcelona.
In total Pique has over half a million Euros in poker winnings to his name and having retired from professional football in November 2022, we might be seeing a lot more of him at the poker tables in years to come.
Ex-England forward Teddy Sheringham, who went to the 1998 and 2002 World Cups with England, is another professional footballer who has a love for No Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournaments.
He discovered the game at a similar time to his good friend Tony Cascarino and although he didn’t quite emulate the feats of his pal, he did achieve a string of respectable results in major events over the course of a number of years.
This included a 14th place finish in the £10,000 World Series of Poker Europe main event and four EPT main event cashes. His best result was fifth place in the €5,000 EPT Vilamoura main event in 2010, where he pocketed just under €100k for finishing fifth out of 384 entrants.
Teddy was also a regular in the big weekly game at Palm Beach casino in London, where he twice made the final table. His $329k in live poker winnings also includes a 388th place finish in the 2012 WSOP main event in Las Vegas, where a huge field of 6,598 players competed for poker’s “World Championship”.
Although Teddy hasn’t been playing so much in recent years, it would be no surprise to see him make a return to the poker room in the near future.
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