Over recent years poker has seen a major boom in the number of people playing all round the world – so much so that there have even been calls to classify it as a sport which could then, possibly, even make it eligible to apply for inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Raising its status could also make it even more appealing to one group of sportspeople who have already shown a great interest in it already – professional footballers. Whether it’s the competitive element or just having to while away the time with team-mates on long journeys to away matches, poker has always been popular with players, as has the gambling aspect even though this has caused friction in the past.
So here are five of the highest-profile players to have made names for themselves at the poker table.
When Tony Cascarino hung up his boots after a career playing for teams like Chelsea, Millwall and Marseille, not to mention as an Irish international, he decided to combine a new role as a media pundit with semi-professional poker playing. It seems like he’s a natural with reported tournament winnings of $500,000 including the nearly £170,000 he won in the GUKPT Grand final in 2009.
Ex-Millwall team-mate of Cascarino Teddy Sheringham also decided to plunge into the world of poker when his playing career was over. He shows the same skills for the game as he did on the football field with over $329,000 in live tournament earnings. He’s also a regular feature in the World Series of Poker Main Event held in Las Vegas where he enjoyed his best ever finish in 2009 coming 14th and taking home $66,000 in winnings.
Following a successful time as a lynchpin of the Liverpool defence in the 1990s and appearing 33 times for his home country, Denmark, Molby took the well-travelled route to management. As well as having stints at Swansea, Hull and Kidderminster he supplemented his income with poker tournaments, though not as successful as Cascarino or Sheringham he has done respectably enough including winnings of around $10,000. Maybe a little more practice at the online poker rooms is what’s needed to sharpen his performance.
Jan Vang Sorensen
The other Jan in the list is the Odense player who had his football career cut short by injury. However a christian name is all they have in common as Vang Sorensen has managed to earn over $2,000,000 in winnings since his retirement. He’s also one of the players who has definitely put his skills at the game down to practicing while on the road to away matches.
Pique manages to combine playing for Spain and FC Barcelona with a poker career very successfully indeed. In the past he’s also made a strong showing in the WSOP Main Event as well as carrying off $56,000 when finishing third in a game at the EPT Barcelona in 2011 – more than enough to keep his partner Shakira in leopard-skin for the year.