The path from the tennis court to the poker table is one that has been followed by a variety of previous world sports stars, choosing to swap the tennis racket for a hand of dealt cards in search of further success.
Becker serving up aces
Former World No. 1, Boris Becker, has enjoyed much success on the tennis court, becoming and still holding the record for youngest ever Wimbeldon champion, after clinching the title back in 1985.
The German, who is now the coach of current World No.1 Novak Djokovic, has brought the same intensity and will to win to the table that he had on the court, if not the same level of results, yet. Becker’s live tournament winnings currently stand over an eye-watering $25,000,000.
The poker industry across the globe has been growing at an extremely rapid pace and competition has never been fiercer. Gambling companies across the world are under constant pressure to innovate and come up with original promotions, strategies and events that appeal to a world-wide audience.
Recognizing this constant need to invent and promote effective, The Global Poker Index announced that it had teamed up with tennis legend and grand slam winner Boris Becker. Becker who is a former world number one player loves playing poker and has now joined the GPI to promote their brand and bridge the gap between sports and poker.
For practise, in between coaching superstar Djokovic and playing in live poker events, Becker would take to online casino sites like Betsafe in order keep up his intensity and skills while waiting for the next upcoming live tournament. This is a technique used by several top sports stars who have dived into the world of poker, after originally starting off in a different sporting background. Others to have dipped into online poker are former AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko and Tennis ace Rafael Nadal.
Becker started playing poker seriously when a sponsor paid him to attend a tournament. Now he is on the circuit, playing for big money in Vegas and Monte Carlo, travelling all around the world again, like when he was in the prime of his career as a tennis pro. “The poker tour is like the tennis tour, travelling from city to city. Very competitive. It reminds me of being 20 again,” he said.
Game, set and match
Seemingly discontent with being one of the world’s best tennis players, Nadal has been undergoing some extreme training to turn himself into a poker expert too.
Nadal is another top sports star to have made the huge leap into the rewarding and risky world of high-stakes poker.
Last year, the 14-time Grand Slam winner, scored a first when he beat a line-up of sports stars, including the world number one poker player, to claim the EPT Charity Challenge title. It was the Spaniard’s first ever competitive live game of poker and the tennis ace’s competitive streak shone through to win €50,000 for his charity, The Good Hand Project.
The two-time Wimbeldon champion recently joined up with Brazilian football legend, Ronaldo, for another charity poker game in which the Spanish tennis star triumphed in. Nadal’s win earned $50,000 for his other charity, the Rafa Nadal Foundation. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, he was then left with 400 plates to wash up as punishment and a forfeit.