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Basketball players who have turned to poker

There might not seem, at first sight, to be very many similarities between basketball and poker. After all, the former involves frantic and exhilarating activity watched by noisy crowds while poker is a sedentary game where often the only noise is that of the cards being dealt, the chips going down on the table and the occasional comment by the players.

But if you dig a little deeper it becomes a little more obvious that the attributes of a first class basketball player could well be transferable to the poker table – though possibly not the other way around.

For example at the heart of both is a real need for competitiveness and a desire to dominate the opponents completely along with while maintaining self-control. Players also have to have real reserves of stamina and the ability to bounce back when they’re knocked down.

Given these requirements it’s not surprising that a number of NBA stars have found a level of fame around the poker table and here are just three of them.

Shawn “The Matrix” Marion

After a long and distinguished career lasting over 16 years including very successful spells at the Denver Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers Marion decided to try his luck at poker instead.

Like many basketball players, his career was somewhat marred by injury but it’s possible that he put the downtime to good use by perfecting his online poker skills. Although he retired at the end of the 2015 season he had already tried his hand in the World Series of Poker in 2011. More recently he’s also been seen out on the circuit, managing to scoop some winnings in the 2016 River Poker Series in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Gilbert Arenas

Another hoops star hoping to make the transition from the court to the table is the Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies player Gilbert Arenas.

He first got a taste for the game playing with team-mates in the NBA and the first major championship that he’s taken part in was the 2014 Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. Pitted against some of the best players in the world including Scott Seiver and Jason Mercier he found the going decidedly tough. But observers did note that "He handles his chips well and can be seen paying good attention to the action at his table."

Paul “The Truth” Pierce

Boston Celtics player Paul “The Truth” Pierce certainly believes in telling it like it is and has even been quoted as saying he wants to be the next Chris Moneymaker. He had his first crack at achieving this in the 2013 WSOP Main Event but failed to progress very far. But he was back again next year at the 2014 Main Event with renewed determination. He made it through to the third day before being eliminated. He still managed to come a creditable 800th out of the 6,693 players who entered and big things are expected of him in the future.