Poker is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest industries. Since the explosion of poker culture through Hollywood films and online gaming outlets, many people have taken up the card game either as a hobby or on a more professional level. Poker is very popular amongst sports stars as many of the attributes they apply to their chosen sport can also benefit them at the poker tables. With that being said here are 5 sports stars whose love of poker is well known:
Michael Jordan

Jordan is known for quite a few off-the-court activities, and playing poker is one of his favorites. Both Magic Johnson and Spike Lee saw firsthand Jordan’s love of poker. In the 1992 Olympics, Magic often played poker with Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. Lee once got to watch the four in action, and according to the famed director, they played for 8 hours straight! Even today Jordan still plays poker frequently.
Paul Pierce

Pierce’s love affair with poker is well documented. He has been playing for over 15 years now, and has competed in several high profile poker tournaments. Notably, he made it to Day 3 in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. He finished at around 800th place out of the 6,683 players, just a few spots short of the top 693 finishers who received payouts. In January, Pierce played in the PokerStars Players Championship. USA Today reported that things didn’t go too well for Pierce, as he got knocked out — and trashed talked — by Mustapha Kanit. “Who’s The Truth now?” Kanit asked Pierce repeatedly, a reference to his famous nickname. Despite the loss don’t expect The Truth to stop playing poker any time soon.
Cristiano Ronaldo

Unknown to many soccer superstar Ronaldo loves his poker. Often he plays behind closed doors, with his friends and confidants. But he has played in some high profile tournaments, too, and even played actor Aaron Paul in a Duel Challenge two years ago. Ronaldo loves poker so much that he once quipped, “Although football is my world, poker has always been my game . . . I love the competition, strategy and fun.”
Rafael Nadal

Nadal first got into poker in 2012, as he worked his way back from a knee injury. He has been in love with the game ever since, so much so that he has played in live events and for charity. The Spaniard actually won a tournament in Budapest in 2013, then donated the entirety of his $50,000 prize money. A year later Nadal played heads-up poker against Vanessa Selbst, one of the world’s best female poker players. But like Ronaldo, Nadal prefers to play with friends, and he will probably keep doing so, even as he continues to build his legacy in tennis.
Richard Seymour

Seymour is an ex-Patriot, and his loss was deeply felt by New England in 2009. He also loves poker, and he has turned this passion into a professional career. A feature by NBC Sports Boston on Seymour’s life after the NFL details how the New England Patriot legend took to poker after retiring. Seymour admits to having learned poker from his old man, then pursuing it to satiate his competitive nature. It has been a wise choice for Seymour, who has found some success as a poker pro.
A transition to poker, like Seymour’s, is becoming increasing more common as more people take up the game as a second career. A large part of this transition is because learning poker has become much easier for those who don’t have a father who knows the ins and outs of the game. The extensive library of ‘How to Play’ guides featured on PartyPoker show how easy it is for new players to understand the game through online tutorials. Guides on Texas Hold’em, which is the version of poker played at the tournaments that Seymour participates in, shows players when to fold and when to go all in, among other things. One advantage that can’t be taught though is staying cool under pressure, which Seymour has developed through his years as an elite athlete in the NFL.