Friday, 13 May 2011

Football Players Who Excel at the Felt

Poker has been popular for many decades but it’s grown dramatically in recent years, with its popularity rising in part because of some of the high-profile athletes and celebrities taking to the poker tables, with many sponsored by poker websites. Most stars merely dabble at the poker tables, such as Nelly and Matt Damon playing a few events at the World Series of Poker each year, but others such as Jen Tilly and Shane Warne have made real efforts to improve their poker games. Of all the cross-over stars, though, it’s a trio of former football players that really stand out, with Teddy Sheringham, Tony Cascarino, and Jan Vang Sørensen all finding success at major poker tournaments around the world.

Jan Vang Sørensen is the most decorated of the three, with the former Danish footballer (who played for Odense BK and other clubs before retiring at the age of 30 with a knee injury) winning two World Series of Poker bracelets, and collecting more than $2 million in lifetime tournament earnings since he began playing regularly in the mid 1990s. He’s not a one-trick pony at the poker tables, either, winning one of his bracelets in Omaha and the other in 7 Card Stud, while his biggest tournament cash of $800,972 came in a No Limit Hold’em event (the 2008 Master Classics of Poker).

Sheringham and Cascarino are no slouches at the poker felt either, with the former Millwall teammates each notching big cashes in major events against top pros. Sheringham's best result was a cash in late 2010 in an European Poker Tour (EPT) event in Vilamoura, where he finished 5th for a payday of nearly $120,000; Cascarino’s biggest payday to date has been a victory in 2009 at the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Grand Final worth $283,412.

Some of the best online poker rooms have also been active in seeking out athletes to sponsor, with PokerStars sponsoring former tennis great Boris Becker in some events and bwin spending millions to be the primary sponsor of the Real Madrid football team. bwin has also sponsored some lesser-known athletes such as former Belgian national team football player Daniel Camus in a recent World Poker Tour event held in Austria, as well as sending former French team coach Raymond Domenech to the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2009.


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