There are many connections between football and poker, which leads players to card rooms after playing.
Firstly, much poker terminology is used in football. How often has a team been described as a wild card or a manager been referred to as going all-in on a game? Big matches are sold as high-stakes games, winner-takes-all events with huge regards for the winners, and desperate lows for the losers.
Poker is a game of skill combined with chance, much like football. It requires you to study your opponents, show nerves and patience, and make moves at the right time. Around the felt, you calculate poker odds, whilst in football, you calculate the chances of winning and develop strategies to do so. Most importantly, winning is exciting, bringing a rush of adrenaline that many footballers miss from their playing days.
There are more links if one delves deep enough, significant ones that lead players to turn to the tables after their career or even find their way there during. Some high-profile players are known ambassadors of poker brands; others become linked with the game when their boots are finally hung up. You might be surprised at the players who have become involved in poker; and here is a handful of them...
Neymar is a player who recently had a bluff called by his club, Paris St Germain. He demanded a transfer to Barcelona in April, but it didn’t happen, and now he’s playing the hand he’s been dealt in France. That’ll suit the poker fanatic down to the ground; he’s a brand ambassador for a major poker provider and has spoken of his desire to pick up the cards once he stops playing. He certainly has the means to succeed, as long as tournaments don’t clash with his sister’s birthday.
Pique is a high-profile name still at Barcelona, a club that is certainly down on their luck. He wasn’t struggling financially when he attended a Single Day High Roller poker event in 2019; he walked away with almost $400,000. His Barcelona teammate Arturo Vidal didn’t do too badly; he came out with around $150,000. The 34-year-old has been as successful on the pitch as he has around poker tables; he’s a four-time Champions League winner, once with Manchester United, and he has eight La Liga titles to go with his single Premier League title.
Douglas Costa is currently on the books of Juventus but is on loan to Brazilian side Gremio. The 31-year-old is a three-time Bundesliga champion and a three-time Serie A winner too. He carries that success off the field; last year, he just missed out on a $100,000 prize pot when he played at The Stars Call for Action. He even outlasted poker fiend and Brazilian teammate Neymar to reach the final.
John Terry had an illustrious career in which he won five Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, five FA Cups and three League Cups. He played for England 78 times, appearing in four major tournaments, and he’s now seen as a poker fan. In September, he appeared in a $1,000 buy-in event, a community knockout match in which former Aston Villa man Gabby Agbonlahor also appeared.