Football players, just like anyone else, have hobbies outside their profession. Some of these hobbies often include other sports or games, such as golf and poker. There is a competitive element to playing poker and it is easy to see why it would appeal to a professional footballer. In fact, there are some great examples of footballers, past and present, who love to play poker.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique enjoys a game of poker and has tried his luck on the European Poker Tour. The Spanish international recently finished second at an EPT Barcelona 25k EUR Event, not that he needs the money. However, it shows how people are not always playing poker to win money, it is about the enjoyment of the game. Nonetheless, Pique's total poker earnings are sitting at around 70K EUR as he also participates in World Series of Poker events.
You only have to look at some of the ambassadors for the leading online poker brands to find footballers who love playing poker. Neymar is a good example and the Paris Saint-Germain forward was signed as the PokerStars ambassador in 2015. The former Barcelona man appeared in television adverts alongside Portuguese international Cristiano Ronaldo and has also participated in the Brazilian Series of Poker. Neymar finished in sixth place and won $21k. The Brazilian continues to play online poker and was even spotted at a poker table while his teammates were winning the Ligue 1 title in France.
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Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to ever grace the beautiful game. We are not talking about Cristiano Ronaldo but the former Brazilian international striker who played for Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid among other top European clubs. Ronaldo has always enjoyed a game of poker and in 2013 he became the face of PokerStars. The following year, he linked up with another sporting idol, Rafael Nadal, to play in a charity poker game. Ronaldo's poker winning record is not great by all accounts but he continues to enjoy playing.
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is another footballer who loves to play poker. Much like the players highlighted above, Buffon linked up with PokerStars in Italy to become their brand ambassador. Buffon has played in several poker events on the European Poker Tour and will shortly have more time on his hands to play the game as he nears retirement from professional football.
There are many other former professional football players who relish a game of poker, including Jan Vang Sorenson, Tomas Brolin, Teddy Sheringham, Jan Molby, Tony Cascarino, and Vikash Dhorasoo.