Tennis Prose



Tennis Players Who Became Successful Poker Players

The life of a professional athlete isn’t always easy, and not often very long in terms of the length of their career time. Even if it’s not cut short by some unfortunate event, and even if they are able to acquire a small fortune to get them through the retirement, former stars probably need some plan for after.

Oftentimes they would stay in the business, turning to coaching, managing, or taking up other positions that keep them ‘in the game’. But they could also be chasing a crazy dream – like becoming a poker pro.

There isn’t much you can’t do via the internet these days, and finding some exciting online poker action is no exception. While there is no easier way to play, everyone who truly loves the game knows that live events are crème de la crème of this discipline. It’s true that you can be quite successful from the comfort of your home but winning on the big tournaments can give you fame and respect.

In this day and age, with some discipline and determination, you could find a comfortable place for yourself in this business, although it surely won’t be easy. On the other hand, it could just as well be a particularly exciting thing to do as a hobby. Perhaps the thrill and big money prizes are what attract so many people to it, famous sportsmen and women not excluded. So, who from the tennis world should we distinguish here?

Boris Becker

Of course, we have to start big. This German-born former number one in tennis has won so many titles in such a young age; his lifetime accomplishments include Wimbledon titles, Australian Opens, US Open, Masters Series titles, and Olympic Medal in doubles. He has also  been quite a busy man since his retirement –  being a business owner, working in the media, training Novak Djokovic for three years – you name it.

He’s also begun playing professional poker. The adjective here is fundamental. After all, you cannot say that taking part in prestigious tournaments such as World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour, or being an ambassador for a major poker company sounds like something amateurs do.

Rafael Nadal

Another living legend of tennis in the mix, and still an active athlete for that matter. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why he hasn’t made a name for himself as a card player just yet. He may be more of a celebrity poker player for the moment, but his is certainly enjoying himself, and making the most of the time spent at the tables, especially when he couldn’t train due to injury.

Who knows, maybe he is going to want to pursue this line of work/hobby after he puts away his tennis racket for good. Nadal had a sponsorship deal with the world’s largest online poker site PokerStars for three years (ended in 2015).

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

The mighty Russian champion of Roland Garros and Australia and Davis Cup, participated in the 36th World Series of Poker in 2005 and cashed three times, but missed the final table by just one spot. Kafelnikov pocketed $3,645 for his efforts. The former ATP world no. 1 tried his hand again at the World Series of Poker Europe at the end of 2017 and finished 45th. He won again, this time $23,605 at the No-Limit Hold’em €4 Million GTD.

Patrik Antonius and Patrick de Koster

A promising tennis career is something both gentlemen, and former players, have in common. Unfortunately, they also share the same unfortunate reason why it didn’t last very long, which is a bad injury. They did, however, find a new passion in cards.

Patrik, the Dutchman, studied the game for a long time. His biggest live tournament achievement to date is winning 150,000 euros at Marbella Poker Festival. Whereas Patrik, who comes from Finland, was forced into retirement from sports because of the recurring back troubles. He is his country top earner in terms of poker tournament cash prizes, accumulating over 12 million dollars so far.

Surely, there are a few other former or current tennis players, or people somehow involved in the discipline, who are interested in playing poker. An honorable mention in the above list of people could include Gus Hansen. This skilled, well-known poker player was a sports champion in his youth.

Do you know any tennis player with a knack for cards, or any other less usual hobby?

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 3, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I’m surprised a big Poker company does not stage an tennis/poker event during Monte Carlo, one night winner take all, maybe $500,000, gather a bunch of the top 50 for this special one night poker tournament and see who wins. Who is the best poker player in the ATP? Golf should do the same thing with tennis, find out who is the best golfer in the ATP. I think fans would find this interesting.



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