Which Sporting Legends Would Make The Final Table In The World Sports Stars Main Event?

By Ian John
October 27, 2022

So, imagine a world in which one of the main poker companies decides to run a tournament in which only true sports professionals can participate.

Now, we already know that there is a relatively small overlap between sporting legends who have reached the pinnacle of their game, alongside those who then go on to try their hand successfully playing top level professional poker.

So if Bet365 Poker, or PokerStars or some other organisation was to make a tournament designed for sporting professionals, who do you think would make a seat at one of the eight spots available at the Final Table?

And who do you think would win the event?

So we’ve decided to take a look at some of the best poker players that have combined a career on the felt with an equally successful career in a sporting field and we have come up with eight names that we think would make for a great final table.

Please note, their table positions are randomly selected and not an indication of who I think is the best player from the eight.

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  1. Allan Iversen (NBA)

Allan “The Answer” Iversen was one of the most talented scorers in the history of the NBA and was renowned throughout the league as a fierce and fiery competitor during his 17-year career, a dozen of which he played with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Alongside a popular humorous video alongside Phil Ivey, which went viral in 2021 and which we have embedded above, Iversen also competed at the 2021 WPT Spring Festival Main Event, although he wasn’t amongst the players that earned a cash prize at the event.

Worryingly, Iversen’s behaviour at casinos in the past has seen him banned from many, so if Iversen was fortunate enough to make it through to the last eight, we’d have to have security keep close tabs on just what he puts in the waste bin.

  • Michael Phelps (Swimming)

The Baltimore Bullet is perhaps the most famous swinner in the history of the sport and also the most decorated Olympic medallist of all-time, landing 28 medals in total, an incredible 23 of which were Gold.

He won an incredible 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, breaking Mark Spitz’s 36-year-record of 7 golds at a single games and since retiring from swimming, he has been spotted playing a number of sports, including golf and also at the poker tables too.

He is currently listed 166,402nd on the All Time Money List according to the Hendon Mob, with total live earnings of $11,316 and a best live cash of $5,213.

He is also believed to have sought the advice and teachings of several top poker stars, including Doyle Brunson and is also thought to have competed regularly in an underground $25,000 buy in game.

Phelps himself said of poker “I love to play, it’s fun, it’s exciting. It was more something so that I could have time to myself. I could relax…I’ve met some of my best friends at a poker table.”

  • Richard Seymour (NFL)

Best known as one of the most talented defensive ends/tackles in the NFL during his 12-year career with the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, Richard Seymour was not just a hugely successful player.

At 6ft 6” and 317lb in his career, he was also a massive human being too; little wonder then that his name features highly when experts comment on dominant defensive linemen of this particular era.

With three Super Bowl rings, seven Pro-Bowl appearances and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame assured, Seymour has now switched his focus to becoming a professional poker player, and with some success.

He is 3,774th on the all-time money list and 33rd on the all-time list for the state of Georgia and has a best live cash of $376,360 which make up around half of his total live earnings of $648,485.

  • Ronaldo (Soccer)

Il Fenomeno was not just one of the most talented footballers of all time, for many he redefined what the centre forward role was in the 1990s and early 2000s. Ranked by many of his peers as the best striker and finisher ever, the Brazilian ace averaged almost a goal a game throughout his career, despite the fact that he was severely hampered due to knee injuries from 2000 onwards.

Without those injuries, Ronaldo would have set records in the game that would likely have matched those set by namesake Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in recent years and there are many who still believe he was the greatest footballer ever.

Now a majority owner of both Cruzeiro and Real Valladolid football clubs, Ronaldo also enjoys down time at the poker tables, where he has a best live cash of $42,180 which makes up the majority of his $45,760 total live earnings for a 47,693rd place on the all time money list.

  • Boris Becker (Tennis)

Boom-Boom Boris Becker is best known as one of the best male German tennis players of all-time and off the tennis court, Becker has now turned his attention to the poker table, for at least a proportion of his spare time.

Becker won three of the four Grand Slam titles in his career, including winning Wimbledon three times, including 1985 when he was the youngest Wimbledon winner in history.

After retiring Boris hit the poker scene competing in the European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour where over the years he has amassed over $111,000 in live earnings, a best live cash of $40,855 as well as earning himself 22,100th position on the all-time money list.  

  • Neymar Jr. (Soccer)

Arguably one of the most famous faces in the world of soccer today, Brazilian superstar Neymar is not just the most expensive footballer in history, he is also on the brink of becoming the greatest goalscorer in Brazilian soccer history as his 75 goals for the National Team stand just two behind the record of 77 held by Pele.

A star at club level alongside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe at Paris St Germain, Neymar Jr has found an enjoyable way to unwind from the pressures of top-level football at the Poker Table.

He has been a PokerStars ambassador previously and has amassed total live earnings of $32,131, with a best live cash of $21,072 to rank 62,987th on the all time money list.

However that money is chump-change to Neymar who reportedly earns $700,000 a week at Paris St Germain, plus considerably more from the vast range of sponsorship and image rights deals that the player holds.

  • Alex Rodriguez (MLB)

The former MLB superstar had a Hall of Fame career, albeit one that was embroiled in controversy over the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez finished his career with 696 home runs and a .295 batting average.

A three-time MLB American League MVP, a career record holder with 25 Grand Slams, A-Rod is also known for his philanthropy and as being a co-owner of the NBA professional basketball team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rodriguez poker credentials are less impressive, starting with when the MLB investigated him for taking part in an illegal underground poker game which is also alleged to have featured the likes of Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Dan Bilzerian’s brother Adam Bilzerian spoke highly of A-Rod’s poker skills saying, “I was surprised to see just how good a poker player Alex is…A-Rod won a bunch of money.”

  • Gerard Pique (Soccer)

Perhaps best known as the rangy centre back that has been the lynchpin of Barcelona Football Club’s defence for the best part of a decade, and also as the former partner of Colombian singer superstar Shakira.

Pique’s career has seen him win almost every honour it is possible to do so for club and country and as the defender now pushes towards his 36th birthday, he may well have an eye on moving into a different career.

That’s because back in August 2019, the defender took part in the EPT Barcelona €25,000 Single-Day High Roller event and won a prize of over €350,000 for finishing second in the tournament.

Since then Pique has almost doubled that amount in other poker wins, amassing $668,155 in live earnings to lie 3,612th on the all-time money list and 33rd on the money list for Spanish poker players.

So come on PokerStars, bet365 or indeed any poker company out there, let’s make this happen!

So Who Would Win?

Of course, you can’t pick a final table without saying who you think would win, so with that in mind, here’s how I’d see the top eight finishing:

  1. Richard Seymour
  2. Gerard Pique
  3. Ronaldo
  4. Alex Rodriguez
  5. Boris Becker
  6. Neymar Jr.
  7. Michael Phelps
  8. Allan Iversen

Who do you think would win?

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