Poker is a great game and an awesome hobby to pick up as it requires skill, discipline and provides exciting competition, something that many former athletes search for after their professional career has ended. So it’s no wonder that so many former football (soccer) players turn to poker!
Let’s have a look at Top 10 best football poker players.
Neymar Jr. (Brazil)
Neymar Jr. is the most expensive football player of all time as his transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 set the club back for incredible €222,000,000.
Even with his tight schedule playing in French Ligue 1, Champions League, Copa América and World Cup, he still finds time for his second biggest passion, which is poker of course. Brazilian national has attended many poker tournaments under PokerStars wing, including Brazilian Series of Poker in 2018, where he made a final table of a High Roller, finishing 6th for R$79,440 ($21,072).
In 2022, Neymar also cashed in World Series of Poker tournament for the first time in his career. If his live poker appearances are more sporadically, he is seldom seen online at PokerStars tables, playing in High Rollers against the best poker players in the world.
He had some great results in 2022 Winter Series with 3rd place in $10k Highroller for $125,678, 3rd place in $1,050 Turbo for $23,884 and made a final table in another $2,100 event.
Gerard Piqué (Spain)
Barcelona legend and one of the best defenders of all time Gerard Piqué has retired from professional football in 2022 and now we expect him making a mark at the poker tables!
His poker tournament results so far are nothing to sneeze at, as he finished 2nd in €25,000 High Roller at EPT Barcelona in 2019 for €352,950, losing only to one of the best Spanish poker players of all time Juan Pardo Domínguez. Former Spanish international also has three other final table finishes at European Poker Tour, for a total of $668,155 tournament winnings.
Piqué has already shown a lot of dedication for poker during his football career, studying from the world best and now with all the free time in the world, we’re surely going to see him more and more at the biggest poker stage as well. After his retirement, he already made an appearance at EPT Prague.
Ronaldo Nazário (Brazil)
It seems that celebrities in poker scene come and go over the years, but not Ronaldo Nazário, who first started representing Team PokerStars in 2013 and has continued to play poker since these days.
R9, O Fenômeno, the Original Rolando, whatever you want to call him is a Brazilian football legend, who made 98 appearances for the National Team, scoring 62 goals, including 15 at the Football World Cup which netted him two championships, two Ballon d’Or awards and was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times.
His best live tournament result is at the 2015 PCA where he got knocked out in 26th place for $42,180. In 2022 he re-signed with PokerStars, but now his focus is more on online play and his Twitch channel RonaldoTv which is sporting 420,000 followers, promising to his fans he’ll be streaming poker tournaments soon.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably one of the greatest football players of all time, but not many know that five-time Ballon d’Or recipient is also an avid poker player. He started playing in late 2000s / early 2010s as he liked the strategy and competition part of poker, and we know not many people on this planet are as competitive as Cristiano.
In 2015 he also became the face of PokerStars as he signed a long-term deal as a brand’s ambassador, alongside other sports superstars like Neymar Jr, Ronaldo Nazário, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Rafael Nadal, Dwayne Wade, and more. He was promoting PokerStars app Duel and was part of #RaiseIt campaign.
Cristiano hasn’t attended many live tournaments as he preferred playing online. He was spotted on the tables several times as CR7sete, playing against the likes of Patrik Antonius and Dan "Jungleman" Cates.
Max Kruse (Germany)
With winning a WSOP Europe bracelet in 2022, Max Kruse immediately became one of the most accomplished football-poker players. German, who is playing for Wolfsburg in Bundesliga and has 14 caps for German National Team, has attended several World Series of Poker in Vegas and his first cash dates back in 2014 when he ended 3rd at $1,500 NL 27 Draw Lowball event for $36,494.
Since then, he finished in the money 19 times, including In WSOPE Event #7: €1,650 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed where he won his first ever bracelet and €134,152 money prize.
But the most impressive fact might be that many of his poker results are from mixed events like PL Omaha, Razz, HORSE, Mixed Triple Draw, which indicates he’s a very good overall poker player.
Teddy Sherringham (England)
Teddy Sherringham is one of the first football’s stars we remember that started making appearances on poker TV tables back in 2000s, at the start of the poker boom. His best result is 5th place at EPT Main Event in Vilamoura 2010 for €93,121 and he has a deep run in WSOP Europe Main Event in London 2009, where he finished 14th for £40,481. Former English striker has a total of $330,000 career tournament winnings.
With 51 caps for England National Team, scoring 11 goals and 418 appearances in Premier League with 146 goals and 76 assists, which brought him a Golden Boot award in 92/93 season and three Premiership titles with Manchester United, Teddy is one of the most accomplished footballers on our list.
He was also part of the legendary partypoker’s World Open V, playing against Alec Torelli, Sam Trickett, Scott Fischman, and others. Teddy played some great poker and managed to qualify into semi-finals.
Jan Vang Sørensen (Denmark)
Former football player with the highest poker career earnings on our list is Jan Vang Sørensen, who has amassed more than $2.2 million in winnings since he started playing poker in 1995! He is also by far the most accomplished poker player with many tournament wins, including two World Series of Poker bracelets.
First one came in 2002 in $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event and second one in 2005 at $5,000 Seven Card Stud. His biggest cash prize won was at Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam, where he took down €6,200 tournament for whooping €623,100.
Very impressive poker career for the Dane, who learned the game while playing football for a Danish Superliga club Odense Boldklub. At age of 30 he suffered a serious injury, which forced him to end his playing career.
Tony Cascarino (Ireland)
And we can’t have a top footballer poker players list without Tony Cascarino. After a successful professional football career in which he played for clubs like Millwall, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea, Marseille, and Nancy, Cascarino turned semi-pro playing poker.
He has close to $600,000 in career poker tournament winnings and his biggest success is winning the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Main Event for £168,800. Former Irish striker, who played in three major international tournaments: Euro 1988, World Cup in 1990 and 1994, wrote an autobiography titled “Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino” where he talks about his passion about poker.
He was also a teammate with before mentioned Teddy Sherringham and maybe that’s how both players ended up taking the same hobby.
Albert Riera (Spain)
One of the most surprising players on this list for you might be Spaniard Albert Riera. Left winger made his name in a top clubs like Espanyol, Liverpool, Olympiacos, and Galatasaray.
But the one connected to poker was Italian side Udinese for which he signed in 2014 but made zero appearances. Reportedly, rather than going to a match against Chievo, Albert Riera hopped over the border to Nova Gorica, Slovenia for a €300 poker tournament in which he finished second for €3,060. Not a bad result, but after he arrived back to Italy, he got sacked for his 12-hour poker trip.
His love for poker resurfaced after he was appointed manager of Olimpija Ljubljana and we might have found his account on Winamax, playing in a €10 tournament with Olimpija’s logo as an avatar.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
We had defenders, we had midfielders and strikers, all we need now for a complete football team is a goalkeeper and there are not many better than Italian Gianluigi Buffon. 10-time Scudetto winner with Juventus FC, World Cup champion with Italy, and French champion with Paris Saint-Germain.
Gigi fell in love in poker after playing in a charity poker tournament and later he became brand ambassador for PokerStars for their ring-fenced Italian market. Currently he has no recorded live tournament results as he prefers playing online.
According to Italian, he will focus more on poker after his football career and even though he is already 44-years old, Gianlugi is still playing football professionally. How many more years, Gigi?