It's always interesting to see what professional athletes choose to do with themselves after retiring from their sports. Many go straight into broadcast booths or coaching roles, while others choose a different route completely and head into some type of business venture. Still, there are always some who seek new ways to actively compete, many times ending up on a golf course, aiming for a second career in professional sports.
Lately, though, it seems like we have seen many of these retired athletes moving to a poker table. Likely due to a combination of the fierce competition and large piles of prize money available, more and more former athletes are showing up at professional poker events.
Below are four well known athletes who have recently become recognized as poker players.
1. Shane Warne
Warne was a dominant cricket player and was one of five players selected to the Wisden Cricketers of the Century by a 100-member panel of cricket experts. One of the greatest bowlers in the sport's history, Warne has led the Australian National Cricket Team in addition to Australian and English teams in domestic leagues as well. These days, however, Warne represents 888 poker as an 888poker ambassador. In addition to placing well in several tournaments so far, his poker play has also raised thousands of dollars through charity efforts.
2. Boris Becker
Becker was a tennis master, holding the sport's number one spot for a while. He won six Grand Slams and even earned an Olympic gold medal in doubles. At 17 years old, he was the youngest to win the title at Wimbledon. As a poker player, he played in the European Poker Tour last year, and he won over $21,000 earlier this year in Berlin. Also notable was a $40,000 prize in the 2009 Five Star World Poker Classic.
3. Orel Hershiser
Hershiser pitched for several MLB teams from 1983-2000 and once threw 59 consecutive innings without yielding a run, a record that is very unlikely to be broken any time soon. After his career ended, he proved to be a capable analyst for ESPN, but he has also had success at the poker table, including a $54,000 haul at a 2009 World Championship of Online Poker event. Fun fact: if you're lucky enough to eliminate Hershiser from a poker tournament, you'll score an autographed baseball!
4. Toni Polster
Better known for his soccer talent, Polster is Austria's all-time leading goalscorer. In 1997, 15 years after making his pro debut, Polster was honored as the Austrian Sportsman of the Year. Although he has recently coached soccer and performed with the band Achtung Liebe, Polster also currently spends much of his time playing poker, appearing at various professional tour events.