8 Poker Playing Sportsmen and Sportswomen

Professional athletes and sports people often play poker during downtime from training and travelling to and from events. Their naturally competitive nature suits poker perfectly because they want to win at all costs.

Just because a sports person is talented in their chosen field does not mean they will be successful in poker, but the following poker playing sports people are well known to the poker community and a seen on a regular basis around the UK, Europe and around the world.

Just because a sports person is talented in their chosen field does not mean they will be successful in poker, but the following poker playing sports people are well known to the poker community and a seen on a regular basis around the UK, Europe and around the world.

1. Shane Warne

Shane Warne.jpg

Australian Shane Warne is probably the most famous Australian of all-time, regardless of profession. Warne, 43, was one of the best spin bowlers the game of cricket has ever seen, having taken over 1,000 wickets in a long an illustrious career.

Now retired from the game he excelled at, Warne has swapped googlies and off-spin for chip tricks and triple barrel bluffs. To date, Warne's poker career has failed to set the world on fire, although he does have one excellent result, a third place in a $10,000 buy-in event in 2010 that bagged the controversial Aussie $40,000.

2. Michael Phelps


The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, has been seen on numerous occasions playing poker, particularly at high buy-in events such as the European Poker Tour Grand Final and the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

Nicknamed "The Baltimore Bullet" and "Flying Fish," Phelps is another play whose poker career has yet to reach the dizzy heights of his sporting career. A time of writing, Phelps only has two cashes to his name, one for $5,213 and the other for $367. You could say he is like a fish out of water if you were that way inclined, but he wouldn't seeing how he's worth an estimated $45 million, which is slightly more than you and I.

3. Steve Davis


Steve "The Nugget" Davis has won more professional titles in sport than any other player has with 28 ranking tournament wins, including 6 World Championships, and 51 non-ranking victories. Davis still plays professional snooker today, despite being 55 years of age, but when he is not potting balls at the green snooker baize, he is trying to win pots at the green poker felt! 

Davis has over $115,000 in live tournament winnings thanks to numerous appearances on televised poker shows. He certainly knows his way around a poker table having finished in the money at the 2006 WSOP Main Event and the 2008 edition.

4. Ken Doherty


Keeping with snooker, we bring you Ireland's Ken Doherty who is a regular in Irish poker games when he is not busy traveling the world hitting balls with the pointy end of a stick. 

In 2007, Doherty won a celebrity tournament for £20,000 but arguably his greatest poker achievement so far was his 14th place finish in the World Poker Tour Dublin Main Event in 2012. In that tournament, Doherty had to navigate his way through a stellar field, yet still had time to challenge poker players to games of pool once play ended.

5. Teddy Sheringham


During his playing career, striker Teddy Sheringham played 760 games and scored 289 goals and played 51 times, scoring 11 times, for England. Among the clubs he played for were Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Now retired, Sheringham is a noticeable figure on the world poker scene, and he is quite a talented poker player, too. With almost $330,000 in live tournament winnings, Sheringham is one of the more successful poker playing former sport stars. Those winnings were helped by Sheringham reaching the final table of the 2010 EPT Vilamoura Main Event (finished fifth for €93,121) and an 14th place finish in the 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event (£40,481 won).

6. Tony Cascarino


One of Teddy Sheringham's former team mates, Tony Cascarino, is another footballer who managed to make it in the poker world. The 6ft 3 in tall former Millwall, Chelsea and Marseille striker had a great spell at the felt from 2008-2009 where he won the £1,000 buy-in GUKPT Bolton Main Event, finished sixth in the 2008 GUKPT Grand Final and then won the 2009 GUKPT Grand Final.

Cascarino's last recorded cash was in September 2011, maybe he has retired from poker, too.

Image courtesy of The Guardian

7. Steve Watts


Another former professional football player has swapped balls for chips, Steve Watts. Although Watts has cashes dating back to 2008, it's 2011 onwards that his most impressive results have happened.

A 10th place in a $1,500 event at the 2011 WSOP banked him $19,953, while a 23rd place finish in a $2,500 tournament at the same series netted Watts $21,933. Staying in Vegas, Watts won $48,000 for his third place finish at the 5th Annual Binion's Poker Classic, then in 2012 Watts came 5th in WPT Dublin and 3rd in APT London.

Fast forward to 2012 and Watts came fifth in the Irish Open for €78,000, but his biggest result came in 2013 when he finished 59th in the WSOP Main Event for $123,597.

Image courtesy of The Poker Deck

8. Members of the Manchester United Squad


Last year, the infamous Tony G headed to Manchester United's Old Trafford ground where he taught six players how to play poker. The six players, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Rafael, Tom Cleverley, Johnny Evans and Darren Fletcher, battled it out in a charity tournament, a tournament that Evans went on to win.

Of those players mentioned, Fletcher is said to be the most keen poker player and has been spotted in various casinos playing relatively low stakes with the locals.

Of course, there are hundreds of big names and super star players who regularly play poker including Rafa Nadal, Boris Becker and Australian swimmer Ian "Thorpedo" Thorpe.

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