The highs and lows of top level sports are hard to mirror for fans, let alone for those involved in the thick of the action.
That’s why so many athletes turn to the world of competitive poker or high-stakes gambling, to try and recreate the exhilaration they feel when they are on the sporting field.
Table games are also professional athletes only real gambling outlet as well as they are legally not allowed to partake in sports betting.
Read on to find out about the sporting stars that spend the majority of their free time betting on the flop, waiting on the spin of the roulette wheel or spinning the slot machine reels.
When Tiger Woods was at the peak of his golfing powers, much was made of the training regimens put together by his father Earl. To help his son conquer his emotions and remain cool when the pressure was on, Earl would scream obscenities and throw things at his young son when he was practicing his putting.
That particular exercise, coupled with the other rigorous training exercises Earl devised obviously went some way to developing Tiger’s famous competitive edge which helped turn him into one of the best golfers of all-time.
When Tiger wasn’t on the golf course though, he found it hard to find an outlet for his ultra-competitive nature. Which is where his passion for poker came from. When Tiger wasn’t winning golf competitions he was sat at a poker table playing high-stakes tournament games.
In 1998 he brought together his passion for poker with his love of music, creating Tiger Jam, a star-studded, annual fundraiser that features live performances from some of the biggest names in music and a huge buy-in poker tournament.
Whilst we’re talking about sports stars with insane levels of competitiveness, what about Michael Jordan? The 6-time NBA Champion retired from the basketball court for good in 2003 and has found it hard to satisfy his competitive needs ever since.
The closest thing to the life and death of the basketball court for MJ has been gambling. The former Chicago Bulls player is a regular at casinos in Atlantic City and has been known to spend $100,000 at a time on single line wagers.
He is also an avid sports gambler since his retirement and has been rumoured to have made millions from his golf betting.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Legendary former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of the Red Devils in 2013 after steering his side to the Premier League title – his 13th in total.
When he is not spending his weekends in the stands at Old Trafford, looming large over the incumbent coach, he can be found doing something relating to horse racing. Whether that be checking in on the horses he owns or betting on races.
Sir Alex’s passion for horse racing hasn’t just been confined to his retirement, he was known to spend his spare time as United gaffer trawling through the Racing Post to find the best odds.
Growing up in Baltimore a young Michael Phelps had an idea that he was destined for great things in the pool, but no one could have predicted the success that he would go on to have.
Appearing in 5 Olympic Games between 2004 and 2016, Phelps became the most decorated and successful Olympian of all-time.
During that period he won 23 gold medal, 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals.
Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar was once touted as the heir to Lionel Messi’s throne, but he has never lived up to that lofty prediction. Critics of the Brazilian will point to his extra-curricular activities and his attitude as the reason for him not fulfilling his super star potential.
Recently, his late-night activities drew criticism not just from outsiders, but also from his own teammates with Kylian Mbappe urging Neymar to give up his late night parties and instead focus on his football.
Neymar responded to that criticism by taking part in two late-night poker tournaments at the Hyatt Regency in Paris.
Neymar is no stranger to the poker table and actually plans on becoming a professional player once his football career comes to an end, which judging by his lifestyle, will only be a couple of years of…