Poker has certainly had it’s ups and downs over the years, but it’s popularity endures among recreational and professional players alike. A number of sports celebrities have also crossed over into the poker world on occasion. Some of them are just looking for some fun and entertainment, but many of these athletes also show their competitive streak at the poker tables, too. When at the tables, they can often be seen applying their hard coded character traits of striving for excellence, playing without fear, and performing under pressure.
Star athletes are used to the limelight and have no problem being the center of attention whether on the courts or at the felt. Below is a list of five popular, successful European athletes who have on numerous occasions crossed over into the poker realm.
Cristiano Ronaldo (football)
Might as well start at the top! One of the world’s most recognizable faces, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most popular footballers in history. The Portuguese sensation crushes opponents and has long instilled fear into the hearts of those who face him. In interviews, he revealed that he likes poker and often spends many hours playing tournaments online. While he hasn’t shared his on-felt results, he’s made more than enough over his career that it’s OK if he’s not a lifetime winner at the tables. PokerStars has leveraged Ronaldo’s popularity and in the past had him represent the brand. It was a good fit, as he’s said that poker drives him in the same way as playing his chosen sport of football.
— PokerStarsBlog (@PokerStarsBlog) May 27, 2015
Matthew Stevens (snooker)
Stevens is likely without question the best poker player among snooker players. While cash games are more his cup of tea, he’s notched some notable tournament success as well. Taking part in the 2004 Pacific Poker UK Open, he emerged victorious from a final table that included the likes of Irish poker pro Donnacha O’Dea, darts master Phil Taylor, and tennis legend Yevgeny Kafelnikov. The score netted him half a million dollars.
Will Matthew Stevens wish he was playing a cash game of poker than playing Kyren Wilson? pic.twitter.com/xm4zk1Q8Lz
— Brian (@MrBrian1961) April 20, 2018
Teddy Sheringham (football)
Sheringham is an English football legend, a past winner of the EFL Championship and the UEFA Champions League while being on the roster of the incredibly popular club Manchester United. His penchant for poker was known while he was an active player but Teddy more fully crossed into the poker world after the end of the sports career. Sheringham has made it to the final stages of a few large poker tournaments, which has allowed him to keep some money flowing in to his account long after the checks stopped arriving from his football team.
— Sofia Lövgren (@Sofia_Lovgren) October 19, 2016
Fatima Moreira de Melo (field hockey)
Fatima Moreira de Melo is a famous Dutch Olympic field hockey champion. The team’s leader and its permanent captain, she gained respect in the world of professional sports due to her indomitable character. Upon the completion of her professional sports career, she found herself in the world of poker. She has long been a member of Team PokerStars Pro, and has taken part in a number of both their live and online event series.
Spoiler alert: Unfortunately @Fatimademelo is out of the #EPTMonteCarlo Main Event. She exited in 44th place, cashing for €14,800. 👏
Just before she busted, she spoke to us about her deep run. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/abXADD2RDg
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) May 2, 2019
Ilya “ALOHADANCE” Korobkin (egaming)
Ilya is a Ukrainian professional Dota 2 player (HellRaisers team) better known by his online name ALOHADANCE. In recent years, his popularity has grown not only because of his success in his chosen field of egaming, but also because he’s just quite the entertaining live streaming personality. Ilya got involved in poker over time, participating in online-tournaments. You can watch hi in action in the clip below, but be warned that you ought to lower your volume and strap yourself in for quite the wild ride! In the past, PokerStars has invited him to play at their EPT Sochi festival, where he was a featured player at the TV table to the delight of onlookers both in person and watching from home.