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Football’s Best Poker Players

All top flight footballers have at least two things in common: plenty of downtime and lots of money to burn when they’re not at the ground or on the training pitch.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then to see many of them swap the turf for the green baize of the poker table and eventually carve out a second career.

Here are some of football’s most notable poker players who chose a casino lifestyle to accompany their main profession.

Tomas Brolin
Sweden’s Brolin made a much heralded move to the Premier League when he joined Leeds United in 1995 but the switch quickly turned sour and an unfortunate series of events ultimately saw the striker listed at Number 2 in a Times poll of the Premier League’s worst players.

Brolin went on to enjoy similarly moderate success in the world of poker with a 23rd place finish in an EPT main event in Prague. A year later in 2008, a move up to an EPT Grand Final saw him finish in 38th place and come away with a prize fund of 38,000 Euros.

Tony Cascarino
Former Chelsea and Aston Villa star Cascarino was one of the first footballers to transfer and perform well at poker on a consistent basis. His breakthrough came in 2007 when he won over £22,000 finishing 14th at EPT London while a notable triumph saw the Republic of Ireland International claim £168,000 by winning the GUKPT Grand Final in 2009.

In total, Cascarino has won over $500,000 in prize money at the green baize.

Max Kruse
As a current German international footballer, Max Kruse’s success at the poker table isn’t all that well documented but he must have performed well to have been able to accidentally leave some 75,000 Euros in winnings in the back of a taxi.

The unfortunate mishap, which occurred early in 2016, was a precedent to a strange turn of events that saw the Wolfsburg player admonished for his addiction to Nutella and forced to help build a chicken coop as part of the club’s community programme. As for his poker winnings, the money has never been recovered and although Kruse has been urged to focus on football for now, it seems he may well have the talent to earn back his money at a later date.

Former Brazilian star Ronaldo has taken his penchant for poker one step further by becoming an ambassador for a leading online casino and his face can be seen on many adverts for the brand in question. The World Cup Winner maybe isn’t the best poker player from the long list of footballers turned card maestros and his sign up may have more to do with publicity but he’s no pushover either.

Ronaldo’s tricks with a poker chip, balanced between his fingers are also worth noting and are just another reason why he has been able to enjoy a second career at the casinos.

Gerard Pique
Pique is one of the few current players to be known for his prowess on the table – let’s forget Max Kruse’s exploits for the moment. The Spain and Barcelona defender collected a cool $56,000 at an EPT event back in 2011 and has a good ranking among the professionals on the circuit.

So, if the former Manchester United player needs a pastime after retirement, a career on the poker circuit clearly beckons.