The world of football is filled with money fame and limelight. Many footballers have a hard time on the ground with the constant workouts during the season to remain fit and be at their best in order to help their team win. However, off season is the time for these superstars to go on exotic vacations and chill with their friends and family. Playing poker is one of the key sources of enjoyment for a few football players.
While some have played the game for leisure purposes, a few football stars have taken their affection for poker a step further and looked to compete in one of the most popular card games around the world. Let’s have a look at a few global superstar footballers who have enjoyed the thrill of competition on the pitch and as well as at the highly competitive poker tables.
One of the most consistent players for FC Barcelona, the Spanish star is considered to be one off the top tier defensive players of current time. Having won the various trophies like the Euros, and FIFA World Cup with the national side, Pique has also lifted various domestic titles with FC Barcelona. Apart from being one of the best players on the pitch, the defender is also seen to have shown impressive skills in poker.
Back in 2016, Piqué was seen expressing his interest in poker and was famously quoted by Pokernews.com saying that playing poker and soccer gives him the ‘same feeling in your stomach, a little bit of nerves.’ He has made appearances at numerous poker tournaments with the most prominent once being in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona.
The footballer featured in various editions of the tournament playing in 2011, 2013, and 2016. Most recently, he played in the 2019 edition of the EPT Barcelona and managed to finish 2nd for €352,950. Alongside Pique was his former Barca teammate and ex Bayern Munich star Arturo Vidal, who also managed to earn a 5th place finish in 2019.
The name needs no introduction with Cristiano Ronaldo undoubtedly amongst one of the greatest players to have every played the sport of football, the Portuguese icon is also known to have another hidden talent away from the pitch. The Manchester United star is known to be a good at poker.
He had reportedly said, “Although football is my world, poker has always been my game. I’m very excited to join the team. I started playing poker a few years ago, and I love the competition, strategy and fun. I’m looking forward to taking my game to the online and live poker tables and meeting my fans head to head.”
Despite not playing in high stake competitive games, Ronaldo has often made public appearances while playing poker and is seen competing with his friends, playing Pot-Limit Omaha sessions. Ronaldo also being a prominent philanthropist never takes his winnings home and is often known to donate his tournament winnings to various charities. One of his most recent appearances came against Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul where Ronaldo went heads-up against the actor and won in a charity event.
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One of the most well-known players to come out of Italy, legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who is also referred to as ‘Gigi’ is known to spend his free time playing poker. Starting out as a random player, the Italian shot stopper started to gain some attention in the poker circuit after he registered notable victories in online tournaments.
It also led to the goalkeeper’s skills at the card game catching the eye of PokerStars as he was invited to be a part of Team Pokerstars alongside the likes of Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negranu in 2010. Later on, Gigi Buffon went on to become the brand ambassador for PokerStars in Italy. He is also seen playing in various online events and live tournaments for the European Poker Tour with using his footballing nickname.
The Brazilian superstar is one of the top players in the world of football right now. He has often been heavily involved in poker alongside football and is acting as a longtime celebrity representative for PokerStars. Neymar also featured in various high-level tournaments across the world through PokerStars in the recent past.
One of his most notable appearances came in the 2018 Brazilian Series of Poker, where he was placed sixth, and won $21,072. The former FC Barcelona star was recovering from an fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot when he won the tournament while his Paris Saint-Germain were busy winning their seventh Ligue 1 title In 2018.
Neymar’s most recent outing came in the 2022 $10,000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Limit Hold’em Championship. Despite being knocked out on Day 1, the PSG star managed to end up walk away with some winnings as he finished at 49th place and won a prize money of $3,959 in Event #41: $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em.
The VfL Wolfsburg forward is an avid poker player and the few active professional footballers that are currently involved in the poker scene. The German professional registered his highest cash winnings in 2021 while playing in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em – Heads Up Championship ONLINE. He ended up finished at the 5th place to win $62,156.
Kruse was also spotted featuring at the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. Despite making it to the final table of $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw, the German failed to make it count and was the first one to be eliminated.
Edward Paul ‘Teddy’ Sheringham has played for various football clubs which includes the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and West Ham United. The former footballer, hanged up his boots in 2008, after playing the sport for 24 years and since then has been seen around the poker table.
The ex-forward’s appearance in the poker world did not go unnoticed and he is seen as one of the major football players, that’s terrorizing the poker world. As per reports, Sheringham’s all-time winnings in poker sit at a staggering amount of $329,475.
He has played in various major poker tournaments around the world and surely made a name for himself. Sherringham’s biggest cash win came in the 2010 edition of European Poker Tour (EPT), when he walked away with $118,346 for finishing 5th in the €5,000 EPT Main Event. Before that in WSOP Europe Main Event 2009, the footballer won $66,738, for ranking up to the 14th place. He also played in the WSOP World Championship in 2012, finishing the tournament at the 388th place to win $28,530.
A well-known name in the football community, Andriy Shevchenko has played for top level football clubs in the past. Currently working as the manager of Ukraine’s national football team, Shevchenko has been participating in online poker tournaments. The appearances include, $25,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em in the WSOP Online Bracelet Events where the former footballer went heads-up against Yuri Dzivielevski, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner. Check out the video below for the highlights.
Apart from online appearances, Andriy Shevchenko has also been seen playing in several charity matches. Those games came against former sporting stars and celebrities that include the likes of Rafael Nadal, Daniel Negreanu as well as current footballers such as, Neymar, Ronaldo.
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The former Irish professional footballer spoke about his love of gambling and poker specifically in his autobiography ‘Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino.’ Anthony Guy Cascarino, featured for various British and French clubs, playing as a striker before playing poker more seriously and turning into semi-professional at the card game since his retirement.
Since 2004, Cascarino is reported to have pocketed total live earnings of $595,809 with over 23 cashes from various tournaments. His biggest cash out to date came in the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour, where he won the Main Event to walk away with $283,412.
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