The game of poker is well known for attracting players from many walks of life. Tennis is one of a number of sports that has spawned some solid poker players, with some of the most accomplished tennis pros finding a new life at the poker table. This piece gives a brief rundown of five past and present tennis players who have had a major impact on poker.
He was a legend on the court and he has since become a mainstay on the felt. Boris Becker’s poker accolades have not come close to his tennis achievements – his poker cash earnings are less than $100,000 – but he has certainly held his own in major poker events.
So far, Becker has competed in two European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Events – the 2011 EPT Barcelona and the 2013 EPT Berlin – along with the 2009 WPT $25,000 Championship event. While that does not rival his nine tennis Grand Slam wins, it is a sign that Becker has another talent in the form of poker.
With Season 10 of the EPT kicking off in a week, it would be no surprise if the German tennis legend takes part in a few more poker events in 2013.
Patrik Antonius may not have reached superstar status on the tennis court, but he is definitely a force to be reckoned with at the poker table. The Finn was essentially forced to retire from tennis before having the chance to make a name for himself on the court due to recurring back injuries.
He also had a talent for poker, however, and decided to pursue the game professionally, a move that has paid off in more ways than one. While a WSOP Gold Bracelet currently alludes Antonius, he has a more than respectable 14 money finishes in the Series. He also has seven money finishes in the WPT and an EPT title to his name.
Antonius has also made a name for himself in online poker, having won one of the largest ever pots in online poker – $1,356,946 – against Victor Blom back in 2009.
Okay, so Nadal doesn’t actually have any major professional poker accolades on his resume right now, and that might prove this entry a bit controversial. However, the 27-year-old Spaniard has honed his poker skills in recent times and is set to showcase them at the upcoming EPT Prague in December.
Nadal would be one of the best poker players of all time should be able to replicate his tennis success. He is the second all-time leader in total tennis earnings, having won over $56 million – that’s right, million – over his decade long career.
He has won the Australian, French and US Opens and has won Wimbledon on two occasions, which would make him one of the highest profile sportspeople to ever play professional poker.
Patrick de Koster
Like Antonius, Patrick de Koster also had a promising tennis career cut short by a major injury. The Dutchman then started playing poker, and has passions quickly changed.
He studied the game and played poker more and more until he became a shark. His largest live poker tournament achievement to date is taking out the WPT National Series €1,500 No Limit event at the Marbella Poker Festival, where he won €150,000 and topped a field of 377.
That win has helped contributed to overall live poker tournament earnings of over $280,000 for de Koster.
He never reached the level of Boris Becker or Rafael Nadal, but one not-so-known fact about Gus Hansen was that he was a tennis champion in his youth. The Great Dane has since shifted his focus to poker, and has become one of the most polarising figures in the game.
Hansen is highly known in the poker community for his love of high stakes poker games, and his occasional unpredictable style of play. He has had a great degree of success in tournament poker as well, however, having won a WSOP bracelet and three World Poker Tour titles throughout his poker career.
Those wins are, unfortunately, overshadowed by his massive losses at live and online cash games, which include total losses of $10.4 million on Full Tilt Poker alone.