The game of poker is played by millions of players around the world daily. Interestingly, among these players are well-known media personas, artists, active or retired famous athletes that have gained both recognition and wealth from their athletic achievements. Pro-sport retirement takes players to all manner of positions in their careers, and many may even wind up at a poker table. In reality, the game features more former NFL pro athletes, international soccer, and even cricket stars than you realize.
Join us as we count some of the most talented and famous athletes who have succeeded in making good runs at poker tournaments just as much as the poker professionals like the pro team of Beasts Of Poker.
Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, best known as Ronaldo, is a former pro football player who hit 200 goals before turning 23. The record encompasses two World Cup wins and a Golden Boot award for becoming the 1996-97 season’s top scorer. His buddy André Akkari showed him the finer points of playing poker when he retired.
Ronaldo finally caught PokerStars’ attention and was signed up to begin a whole new life as a poker star. He has received a respectable change in most of his games, but at the 2015 Caribbean Adventure event, he earned over $42,000. Live earnings from Ronaldo reportedly sit around $45,700.
Dodgers fans would know pitcher Orel Hershiser during his career as a three-time All-Star player who played from 1983 to 2000. One of his remarkable landmarks came in 1988 as Hershiser pitched 59 consecutive scoreless innings to finish the season, eclipsing Don Drysdale, another famous Dodger.
Hershiser was an early spokesperson for PokerStars upon his retirement. He came fifth at the NBC National in 2008, earning a massive $75,000. In his poker career through the years, he has even won $23,000 more. His live profit is just within the range of $98,600.
Boris Becker, the retired German tennis player, had a fantastic career. Becoming a pro at the age of 17, and before turning 18, he became a champion of both the Tennis World Young Masters singles and Wimbledon. In 1999 Becker retired with six Grand Slam honors and winnings over $25 million.
He received support from PokerStars not much after his retirement. Over the years, Becker has won a few respectable pots; however, the most memorable was the Diamond World Poker Championship in 2009. He finished 40th and earned more than $40,000. Becker winnings sum up to about $111,416.
The Spanish defensive player has a World Cup title under his belt and several Champion League titles. Gerard Piqué is currently a center-back at Barcelona, although most of his poker loving friends are retired pro athletes.
Barcelona is the center of the European Poker Tour, and Piqué makes a lot of money in the city. In 2017 he made as much as $150,400. He also earned $391,000 for coming second in the competition. Piqué poker career winnings sum up to $668,155.
Audley Harrison had a long and profitable career as a boxer from 2001 to 2014. He became especially famous in the Summer Olympics in 2000, where he got a gold medal in the super heavyweight division.
Upon retiring, Harrison made a move into poker. In 2007, he made the news when he won $76,895, finishing runner-up in the Bellagio III event. Also, Harrison finished 3rd at a Venetian festival in 2019, earning a minimum of $90,298. Currently, his career winnings exceed $259,430, making him a very successful poker player.
Richard Seymour, a three-time Super Bowl Winner, has appeared in seven Pro Bowls. Widely regarded as among the highest draft picks ever. He started his career at the University of Georgia and was selected by the Patriots, where he began his professional career.
Seymour has been playing poker for many years, but in 2014 his winnings showed up. He has appeared on World Poker Tours and the Poker World Series. Seymour made considerable headlines in 2018 when he took third place at a Roller tournament and earned $376,360. So far, his win stands at $640,843.
These are just a few of the professional athletes who are successful poker players. Many other players are incredibly well-performing in the game; for instance, Michael Phelps and Neymar Jr. are well-known poker lovers. Equal to sports poker is a game of skill. Next time you watch a game, keep your eyes open, and you can maybe see one of those famous faces on stage.