Footballers and poker do seemingly go hand in hand, with plenty of high-profile players enjoying a round of cards too.
A cursory search on the internet will reveal the likes of Neymar as a keen poker player. He’s even claimed he will take up poker professionally once he stops scoring the goals for Paris St-Germain. Former Manchester United and England striker Teddy Sheringham has played at the World Series of Poker, whilst both Ronaldo of Brazil and Ronaldo of Portugal have played in big poker tournaments over the years.
The attraction is obvious; poker is a game of high tension, where split-second decisions result in big wins or heavy losses. In that respect, it is much like football, giving those who play excitement they usually get on the pitch.
Players who have been injured are often found playing in casinos, looking to chase the high of winning when they can’t do it on the field. Couple that with today’s players’ financial means, and you immediately see why poker is such a big draw. Whether playing poker in a casino or at a charity event with other celebrities, footballers can often be found with cards in their hands.
Who are the other players, the ones who do not often make these lists? We’ve compiled a list of three famous footballers you may not realise like a hand of poker. You won’t find these names on other lists like this, that is for sure.
Image Credit: Granada, 20180610 FIFA Friendly Match Austria vs. Brazil Douglas Costa (BRA) 850 1486 (cropped), CC BY-SA 4.0
Douglas Costa narrowly missed out on a $100,000 prize pot when he played at The Stars Call for Action earlier this year. Eventually, he was beaten by Breaking Bad and Damages star David Costabile, but he went right the way through to the final, outlasting his Brazilian teammate Neymar. The 30-year-old Juventus star is currently on loan with Gremio in his home country, but he has eleven domestic titles to his name after spells with Juve, Bayern Munich and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Former Chelsea and England star Bridge is a well-known fan of poker, and he took $50,000 for his chosen charity at the Stars Call for Action event. He started playing during a loan move to Brighton but is reported to have taken poker very seriously after retiring in 2014, with 36 England caps. Bridge won three majors trophies during his playing career, the FA Cup, League Cup and Premier League, and scored a single goal for his country in the 6-1 demolition of Iceland in 2004.
Deeney is something of a Watford legend, having scored 140 goals in 417 outings for them, 47 of which came in the Premier League. Known for his all-in style and bruising approach, Deeney is also a big fan of poker. He played in a charity tournament with other Premier League stars, including Callum Elder and England’s James Maddison, in a £1,000 ($1,385) tournament. That was the sum given to charity at the end of the game, whilst the winner took an all-expenses-paid trip to Madrid for another fundraiser. He might have got his passion from Neymar – he once reportedly partied with him and the legendary Ronaldinho during an eventful summer.