Pro Sports Athletes Who Have Won Big at Poker

Poker is in many ways the worldís universal card game. If people are willing to gamble at anything, itís usually black jack or some form of poker.

The reasoning behind this knows no limits. Many people are attracted to the different versions of poker, be it seven-card stud, five-card draw, Texas Hold ĎEm, etc. Poker has also been popularized by being the centerfold focus in hit movies, like the cult phenomenon Rounders.

More than anything, poker is both accessible and makes you feel involved. Not only is it commonplace for all sports betting sites to have specific poker rooms at this point, but the labor-intensive involvement in every hand is something players enjoy. It isnít just about having a strategy. You have to navigate multiple rounds of betting. Sometimes, you have to make decisions before you even have a chance to bet.

Other casino table games donít offer that same feeling. Black Jack hands can be over incredibly quickly. Players donít have the same direct control or participation in roulette or craps. Poker stands alone in this regard.

And being a sport itself these days, it should come as no surprise that poker also appeals to professional athletes in other sports. Some of them are even on record as having hit it big while playing. So, naturally, we compiled a list featuring a handful of the biggest names across other sports who got a taste of the jackpot life by plying their skills at poker.

Richard Seymour (NFL)

As a three-time Super Bowl champion, Richard Seymour is no stranger to winning. Back in 2014, though, he was a stranger to poker.

He didnít pick up Texas Hold ĎEm until around 2014. Less than a half-decade later, he decided to test himself at the World Series of Poker, where he entered the $25,000 Roller event. He ended up placing third, beating out a host of pro players and winning a whopping $376,360.

"Richard Seymour" by Michael Valeri is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Orel Hershiser (MLB)

Orel Hershister was a three-time All-Star during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And after retiring, he became something of an All-Star on the local poker circuit.

The right-handed pitcher didnít take up card gambling until he moved to Nevada, where he reportedly befriended a poker instructor. Hershiser eventually became so good that he was enlisted as one of the earliest ambassadors for PokerStars.

Then, in 2008, he entered the elite NBC National Heads-Up championship...where he won $75,000.

Ronaldo (Soccer)

This inclusion might catch some by surprise. Ronaldo isnít known in pro-sports circles as a heavy gambler.

And yet, after walking away from the pitch, he became tight with Andre Akkari, a pro poker player from Brazil. Like Hershiser, Ronaldo was tapped as an ambassador for PokerStars.

Almost immediately, he entered the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, which required a $10,000 buy-in. While he didnít win the entire thing, he did last quite a while, finishing in 26th place and cashing out with $42,180.

Paul Pierce (NBA)

Technically, retired NBA champion Paul Pierce has yet to publicly report any lucrative winnings from a poker tournament. Still, his story is too impressive not to share.

Many NBA players wind up being skilled in at least one card game. Poker is how they pass the time while traveling on team planes. After retiring, Pierce began entering some of the more expensive Vegas tournaments. This passion project culminated with his entry into the 2014 Main Event of the World Series of Poker.

As we already alluded to, Pierce didnít win a ton of money. But he did the next best thing: lasted nearly three days, finishing just shy of inside the money. Thatís an incredible feat for an amateur card player.

"Paul Pierce" by LAtimes is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Fatima Moreira de Melo

Many people may not have heard of Fatima Moreira de Melo before now. But youíll be sure to remember her from this point forward.

Moreira de Melo is famous for time as an Olympic Dutch field hockey player. For her career, she has competed in over 190 matches with the Dutch national team, through which sheís totaled more than 30 goals.

Except, well, she has a new primary career now: professional poker player. She began sometime after winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, and sheís done quite well for herself.

To this point, Moreiera de Melo has racked up more than $550,000 in career poker winnings, not including sponsorships. Oh, and she also found the time to get her law degree while dominating on the field hockey pitch and poker felt. Is there anything she canít do?