Killer crossovers: NHL players and professional poker

When you think of pro athletes crossing over into other games or other sports, names like Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and even Michael Jordan come to mind.  Of course, those stars crossed over to a major sport.  However, some pro athletes cross over to another type of game, and that is the game of poker.  The world of hockey is included as a few players have tried their hand at professional poker.  Let's take a look at a couple of those players.

Long time Toronto Maple Leaf and Hockey Hall of Famer Mats Sundin scored 564 goals for his career and was even a gold medalist.  After retiring from the game in 2009, Sundin took up the game of poker and was quickly signed by online site PokerStars to serve as an online ambassador.  Sundin's success in the poker world has not quite been the same as on the ice with the Swede only making one final table so far in his poker career.  Granted, that is still one more final table than many poker players will ever see.

Roberto Luongo is a current NHL player who enjoys the game.  The Vancouver Canucks goaltender made headlines this past summer for playing the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event.  The Main Event is a $10,000 buy-in poker tournament that awarded over $8 Million in prize money. 

Luongo did not make the final table of the event, but he did make the money.  He finished in 634th place and took home close to $20,000.  While 634th does not sound that impressive, consider the fact that 6,598 players started the event and you can see his feat was quite an accomplishment.

Sundin and Luongo are just a couple of the NHL stars that enjoy poker.  Luongo stated during an interview in this article at the WSOP that players on every team play the game at least recreationally.  Considering that the game of poker has many of the same competitive elements of hockey, it is no surprise that some would give the game a try and that some turn out to be quite competent poker players.

Makes you wonder which of the Penguins players would be the best poker stars. I have a sneaking suspicious former Penguin great Jaromir Jagr would at the very least be the first in line. He sure duped Shero and Mario a few seasons ago with a poker face.


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