Have you ever wondered what the top sport icons get up to in their spare time? There are star athletes who like fast cars and luxurious yachts, others who love fine-dining and the bling factor of the latest fashions. However, there are those who take the competitive spirit of their professions, converting that into hobbies and pastimes they enjoy.
This is what makes playing cards increasingly popular amongst sporting professionals, taking their sense of strategy to the poker table or aiming to beat the dealer in a blackjack game. Some prefer the fast-paced action of baccarat, while others relax with roulette as their game of choice. These are some of the biggest sporting stars and the games they play.
Nobody has yet managed to surpass magical Michael Phelps, who remains the most decorated Olympian of all time, amassing an incredible haul of 23 gold medals for his exploits in the swimming pool. Whether you know him as “The Baltimore Bullet” or the “Flying Fish” for his achievements, this guy is also an accomplished poker player.
PIC: @MichaelPhelps and I at his place. MP crushed in pool and weight room: let’s see if he crushes at poker table! pic.twitter.com/ycl1LBZqDB
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) January 9, 2016
We can imagine many of the top casino brands clamoring to get Phelps on their books, as the former athlete remains one of the most high-profile names in sports history, yet he’s not interested in the marketing. Phelps just loves playing poker as a hobby, albeit one that has brought participation at a few WSOP events and some interesting wins.
For many Australian cricket fans, Shane Warne is widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers the sport has ever witnessed. Since retiring from the game, along with regularly working as a TV commentator and pundit, Warne has maintained his fearsome competitive edge by competing at numerous poker tournaments.
Poker face Shane Warne impresses in $80m World Series of Poker in Las Vegas: http://t.co/4AFl55HneZ pic.twitter.com/0n4jgqDTVr
— PerthNow (@perthnow) July 10, 2015
Highly regarded for his fighting spirit in cricket, Warne is aiming to bowl over opponents at the poker tables. His biggest recorded victory came during an Asia-Pacific WSOP event, taking just over $20,000 in winnings. Often found playing at land-based or online casinos, Warne is estimated to have surpassed $150,000 in live poker game earnings, which is far from shabby.
Still going strong and amongst the greatest stars ever to grace the tennis courts, Rafael Nadal is certainly aces with a racquet in his hands, boasting 20 Grand Slam tournament titles to his name. Interestingly, this ultra-competitive Spaniard also enjoys an entirely different kind of tournament atmosphere, regularly frequenting poker events with other celebrities.
I won #theduel!! A great game of poker with @Ronaldo! The benefits will be donated to charity pic.twitter.com/45bnhLWguA
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) November 18, 2014
Back in 2014 at the Hippodrome in London, one special poker game featured Nadal against Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo. During this encounter which lasted just twenty minutes, Nadal walked away from the table with $50,000 in winnings. Instead of adding that sum to his undoubtedly lucrative career earnings, Rafa donated every cent of that money to charity.
Fatima Moreira de Melo
Throughout an excellent career playing field hockey, Moreira de Melo helped the Dutch team win the 2006 World Cup and gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, during a period when the Netherlands were practically unbeatable in the sport. Since retiring from hockey, Fatima has turned her attention to poker and has become phenomenally successful.
At the #pca (Bahama’s) now, but in 2 weeks I’ll be playing the #superprizepool in Valencia! Whoever eliminates me wins a beautiful prize ->his/her weight in beer ???????????? So if you like Spain , poker and beer, come join me there! https://t.co/AthdxPFoeY pic.twitter.com/tIXZmvazdm
— Fatima MoreiraDeMelo (@Fatimademelo) January 6, 2018
Some regular poker players may already be familiar with the FatimaDeMelo nickname, which she always uses in online poker rooms, after becoming an avid fan of the game. Along with being an ambassador for some of the leading online casinos, De Melo has competed at live events including the EPT and WSOP, boosting her career poker earning to more than $500,000 in the last few years.
Taking Online Cards to the Next Level
Whenever playing popular card games like poker or blackjack online, there’s always the chance of rubbing shoulders with celebrities and sporting superstars, without even knowing. Now that we can play live dealer casino games via desktop or mobile devices, participants are afforded the convenience, safety, and privacy of an online casino, alongside the immersion and realism experienced at land-based casino venues.
Live dealer casino sites have real human dealers, highly trained to deliver the best levels of hospitality and entertainment. Likewise, we don’t have to be sporting icons to enjoy the high roller VIP treatment at live casinos, given there are plenty of bonuses and promotions available at the best sites. That way, everyone can feel important while playing popular casino games like blackjack, poker, roulette and baccarat, enjoying the best live experiences.