Upping The Ante: Eight Footballers Who Love To Play Poker

Chris Wright

27th, February 2017

pique-poker

Everybody needs a hobby, even lucky gits who get paid handsomely to do their hobby for a living, i.e, professional footballers.

While many players are happy to limit it to tattoo sleeves and extensive video gaming, many leading lights have turned to the cut and thrust of professional poker to keep their eye in.

Here’s a little look at some of the footballing stars who have quite literally upped the ante over the past few years…

Gerard Pique

When he’s not playing for Barcelona or listening to Shakira warble in the shower, Gerard Pique keeps himself busy by frequenting the world of pro poker.

Indeed, in a respectable career to date, Pique currently has total career earnings of $123,173, making him the 134th most successful active professional poker player in Spain.

Neymar

As well as careful curation of his body art portfolio and the weekly hairstyle alterations, Neymar also likes to keep himself occupied outside of football by dabbling in high-stakes poker here and there.

Having previously only made a few special guests appearances at events in Spain, the Brazilian enjoyed some decent success in Las Vega last summer, even winning himself a seat at the prestigious World Series Of Poker Main Event.

That said, unlike his teammate Pique, Neymar really needs to work on his poker face.

Ronaldo

Before Neymar there was El Fenomeno, who began his professional poker career in 2015 and has taken home several big pots in the meanwhile.

Senhor Nazario certainly takes it seriously (he even wears glasses, for crying out loud!), once stating that he was “completely in love” with poker after earning a place on the Team PokerStars SportsStars roster.

Raymond Domenech

The worst coach in the (recent) history of the French national team is actually a fairly handy poker player, having first started playing in the aftermath of Les Bleus’ apocalyptic 2010 World Cup implosion.

His wife, television presenter Estelle Denis, is also a dab hand, once winning $37,000 after finishing 203rd at a prestigious World Series Of Poker Main Event.

Teddy Sheringham

The Shezzler has graced many a baize table in his time, earning an impressive $329,477 in seven years of live tournament poker.

His best run came over the cusp of 2009 and 2010, when the former England striker finished 14th at World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, 49th place finish at EPT London and then fifth at EPT Vilamoura.

Tony Cascarino

Currently Ireland’s 29th most successful active professional poker player, Cascarino boasts career winnings of $593,948 to date including a smattering of first-place finishes at several events.

Gianluigi Buffon

Having started by playing at charity events, Buffon caught the poker bug properly in 2010 when he signed on as a member of the PokerStars team.

As spirited at the table as he is between the sticks, the Juventus legend once described his approach to poker as “a passionate pursuit of victory.”

Sounds about right.

max-kruse-wolfsburg

Max Kruse

While hardly the most instantly recognisable name, Max Kruse does have the honour of having the most interesting football/poker anecdote attached to his name.

In March of 2016, the day after a match against Hoffenheim, the Wolfsburg forward won an impressive €75,000 (approx. £63,000) at a World Series Poker tournament in Berlin.

However, he was swiftly relieved of a five-figure chunk of that money when he accidentally somehow went and left his winnings in the back of a taxi on the way home.

After reporting the missing cash to the police, Kruse was reprimanded over his conduct by Wolfsburg sporting executive Klaus Allofs and also fined €25,000 to “teach him a lesson”.

Harsh.

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