Being in the spotlight can put a lot of pressure on an athlete: whether it’s training, trying your hardest to beat the opposition or even maintaining a role model reputation in public, they all need outlets in some kind of form.
While some might buy sports cars, others might enjoy the pleasures of nightclubs a little too much – but some have an altogether different vice. Requiring just as much skill, patience and forward planning as the game of basketball, poker is a source of much entertainment for many famed basketball stars – here are just a few who have taken to the cards over the years.
For those who have been following basketball for many years, a trip down Memory Lane will lead us to recall former Montana All-state basketball team member Huck Seed. Back in 1989, Seed decided during his college years that basketball was not for him and took a leave of absence, instead deciding to focus his efforts into poker. It turned out to be a wise move however – today, he is a World Series of Poker winner, having gained the title in 1996.
Shanghai Sharks star Gilbert Arenas got himself into a pickle recently when he chose to forgo online poker games at Jackpot City and play in a Caribbean poker tournament. In January 2014, Arenas accidentally called himself out of a game when he raised a pot in error – he insisted that he was merely trying to call. He then went on to make a misguided bluff, causing him to lose his place in the tournament. He commented at the time: “Oh, you’re going to do me like that? I still like my hand, though.” Unfortunately, it would appear that no other players did. Sources said he did not appear like a rookie, but it may have been the pressure of play that eventually took him.
Washington Wizards star Paul Pierce thankfully has more luck on his side when it comes to indulging in his favorite card game. In July 2014, the NBA small forward had a very comfortable start in the World Series of Poker, making it to day three of the tournament. Unfortunately, 2014 was not his year to take the crown, and he finished in 800th place. As one of more than 6,000 players however, this is certainly not something to be sniffed at.