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Success on the Pitch and the Felt

While the game of poker may not be seeing the explosive growth it saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s -- largely fueled by many new fans taking up the game at online sites after seeing it on television -- more and more players give it a try each year. The game has also become a fashionable and trendy pastime for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as well as with professional athletes and entertainers, with the likes of Tobey Maguire, Nelly, Shane Warne, and Paul Pierce all spotted at the poker tables in big tournaments over the last few years.

Most stars play a few tournaments here and there and treat it more as a publicity stunt but others have taken the game very seriously, to the extent that poker has become a full-time profession for some athletes once their playing days are done. Former footballers have especially fared well at the poker tables, with the same competitive drive (and likely countless hours on team planes, buses, and at hotels spent playing cards) serving them just as well at the poker table as it did during the days on the pitch.

You need look no farther than a trio of former football players to see the above in action, with Teddy Sheringham, Tony Cascarino, and Jan Vang Sørensen all making their names name in the poker world. Major titles have eluded Sheringham and Cascarino so far but they’ve each have plenty of big paydays on the poker tournament circuit. Sheringham won about $120,000 in a European Poker Tour event in August 2010 while Cascarino scored a massive payday of nearly $300,000 when he won a Grosvenor UK Poker Tour tournament in November 2009.

The biggesr success of former footballers, though, is Jan Vang Sørensen, who has won more than $2 million overall in his poker career at tournaments. He also has two coveted World Series of Poker bracelets to his credit from winning WSOP events in 2002 and 2005 and won just over $800,000 in 2008 when he won the Masters Classics of Poker event in Amsterdam.

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