When Interests Overlap: Top Athletes Who Also Excel in Poker Games

Are you aware that some of the world’s top athletes are skilled poker players? These athletes, including NFL players, soccer stars, and cricketers, exhibit impressive strategic abilities on and off the field. They even participate in high-stakes poker games. Some are better than experienced players in triple-barrel bluffs. This list covers some of the athletes we know and love who are especially notable for their exceptional poker gameplay.

Audley Harrison

Audley Harrison was a successful boxer from 2001 to 2014, with his most notable achievement being winning a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the super heavyweight class.

After retiring from boxing, he pursued a career in poker and gained recognition when he was the runner-up at the Bellagio III event in 2007, earning $76,895. In 2019, he placed third in a Venetian event and won $90,298. His overall career winnings in poker are currently $259,430.

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Neymar, or Neymar Jr, the Brazilian superstar and one of the most expensive soccer players, is known for his love for the game at the poker table. Despite being transferred from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a record-breaking €222 million (approximately $268 million), he continues to excel in soccer. Currently, he holds the title of the third-highest Brazilian goal scorer. He has many years ahead of him in his career.

Neymar is not only passionate about playing soccer but also about playing poker. He frequently shares his poker experiences on Instagram, participates in online tournaments, and has even won $21,072 for finishing sixth in the Brazilian Series of Poker. In addition, he has partnered with a significant online poker platform provider twice due to his interest in poker.

Boris Becker

Boris Becker started his impressive tennis career when he was just 17 years old. He achieved many notable accomplishments by age 18, including winning the Tennis World Young Masters singles title and a Wimbledon championship.

Boris Becker had a successful career in tennis, winning six Grand Slam titles and earning over $25 million in prize money in his twelve-year professional tenure. Upon retiring in 1999, he found further success as a sponsored player for top poker companies, including his recent addition to GGPoker’s all-star team.

Fatima Moreira de Melo

Fatima Moreira de Melo is a thriving field hockey player who has played for the Dutch national team for 14 years. Despite having a different level of recognition than Becker, she has made a name for herself in the sport. In the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2006, she played as an offensive striker and achieved an impressive 30 goals in 191 matches, helping her team to win.

Moreira de Melo is a renowned professional poker player who has earned over $577,000 from her successful experiences. Her remarkable accomplishment was in the 2013 UK & Ireland Poker Tour No Limit Hold ’em Main Event, where she secured the second position and was awarded an incredible $96,649!

Gerard Piqué

Gerard Piqué is a Spanish defender who has won a World Cup and multiple Champions League titles. He plays center-back for Barcelona, while many former sports colleagues are now retired. Piqué also earns significant income by playing poker at the European Poker Tour in Barcelona. He has won $668,155 throughout his career, including $150,400 in 2017 and $391,000 for placing second in a tournament.

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Orel Hershiser

From 1983 to 2000, Orel Hershiser played as a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a three-time All-Star. He set a remarkable record in 1988 when he threw 59 consecutive scoreless innings, which exceeded Don Drysdale’s record.

With 204 career wins and an outstanding 3.48 ERA over 18 seasons, Hershiser had a remarkable resume that reflected his potential for the Hall of Fame. However, he could not attend because he missed the necessary admission requirements.

After retiring, Hershiser signed up with a well-known poker company. He won $75,000 in the 2008 NBC National and has since earned additional winnings from various poker circuits. His total live earnings have reached $98,600 and continue to grow yearly.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce, a retired NBA player, is highly likely to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame due to his 15-season career with the Boston Celtics and his average of 21.8 points per game. Besides basketball, he has shown a keen interest in poker and has participated in several shows, including “Poker After Dark.” In 2015, he narrowly missed winning the money in the WSOP Main Event.

Ronaldo, aka “Brazilian Ronaldo”

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, also known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian football legend who achieved a remarkable career. He scored 200 goals before age 23, won two world cup titles, and received the prestigious Golden Boot award for being the top scorer in the 1996-97 season. After retiring from soccer in 2011, he learned to play poker from his friend André Akkari.

Ronaldo’s poker skills were recognized after his football career, and he secured a new job. He made considerable money in each game, but his most significant victory was at the 2015 Caribbean Adventure event, winning over $42,000! His overall live earnings amount to an impressive $45,700. This former footballer has achieved success in another field as well!

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Richard Seymour

You may remember Richard Seymour as a former defensive lineman for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. However, after retiring from professional football, he transitioned to poker and has had a successful career. In 2012, he began taking poker seriously and earned over $600,000 in live tournament winnings. He even placed third in the 2018 $25,000 tournament. It’s impressive to see former NFL players excel in other fields.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is a famous swimmer who has won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. He started swimming at 15 and retired in 2016. He also plays professional poker. During the Beijing 2008 Olympics, he won 8 gold medals and set 7 new world records.

Phelps has pursued a professional career in poker and participated in various tournaments. However, his success with the poker cards differs from his swimming accomplishments.

So far, he has only won $9,873 as a professional poker player. Despite this, he has attained third place in some minor tournaments and placed ninth in the Caesars Palace Classic in 2008, earning $5,213. He also participated in the WSOP 2017 tag team event and secured sixth place, winning $3,000. Furthermore, he participated in the WSOP 2018 tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Athletes can apply similar poker skills and sports, such as taking calculated risks, staying focused under pressure, and being disciplined to follow a game plan. Some athletes like Orel Hershiser, Paul Pierce, Ronaldo, Richard Seymour, and Michael Phelps have shown that they can switch from sports to poker and achieve success. Although not all have excelled in poker, their experiences prove that athletes can use their skills in other areas.