Poker continues to thrive with tennis pros
Rafael Nadal is the latest tennis player to try his hand at professional poker after the Spaniard prepared for the French Open by taking part in a tournament against some fans. Nadal will head to Roland Garros as the firm Betfair favourite for the title, and the eight-time French Open winner has been warming up for his latest defence by playing some poker. The world number one has been playing poker for a couple of years, following in the footsteps a string of former professional tennis players to try their hand at the poker tables.
Poker's continued growth in popularity over the past decade as seen a string of high-profile sporting and music stars try and transfer their talents to the tables. A number of tennis players turned to the game of poker after hanging up their rackets, but the current world number one is perhaps the highest profile player to take up the game.
Before Nadal began making a name for himself on the poker tables, six-time Grand Slam title winner Boris Becker was the most successful tennis player to move to the tables. The German has become a regular on the European Poker Tour, progressing to the final table in the 2008 EPT event, making nearly $100,000 in live events over the past seven years and surprising more than a few Betfair fans along the way.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov was another who managed to transfer their talents from the courts to the tables. The Russian racked up over $23 Million during his tennis career before going on to make a name for himself playing professional poker, making over $150,000, including three cashes at the 2005 World Series of Poker, narrowly missing the final table in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud tournament by just one spot and finishing 9th in the event.
Patrik Antonius was forced to hang up his racked before really making a name for himself on the tennis scene due to injury, but the Finnish player has gone on to establish himself as one of European poker's most successful stars, making over $5.3 million in pro cashes ? not bad work for a back-up career.