The Tennis Players Who Turned Into Poker Stars

Boris Becker

STARNBERG, September 10, 2020 (Guest Post)

Playing tennis on a professional level requires a tremendous commitment to the game from a young age. Tennis can also teach you many mental models and skills that can be applied in other areas of life. One of these areas is playing poker, and it’s no surprise many accomplished tennis players have found a new page in their life at the poker table.

Both poker and tennis include technical skills and handling the different mental aspects of playing. If your mindset falls apart during gameplay, your performance will certainly suffer. Which tennis players have shown great abilities in poker then? An extensive database of high stakes poker professionals can be found at Beastsofpoker.com. One of these professionals happens to be a former tennis player. Let’s take a look at four tennis players who have achieved success in poker:

Gus Hansen

Gus Hansen is known in the poker circles as the ‘The Great Dane’. What most people don’t know about his early years is that he was a tennis champion in his youth. Besides playing tennis in his youth on a high level, Gus was rumored to be dating a professional Danish tennis player called Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.

Even though we don’t know how high a level Gus could have reached in tennis, in poker tournaments he has had a great degree of success. His career highlights in poker include a trophy from the Aussie Millions main event, a WSOP bracelet and three World Poker Tour titles.

Patrik Antonius

Patrik has excelled in many things during his life: tennis, modeling and poker. With serious back injuries early in his tennis career, Antonius started playing poker with his friends. In a very short period of time, he rose to the highest stakes available in online poker.

Antonius hasn’t dropped tennis for good though. He recently posted on his Instagram profile showing a video where he plays a few points of tennis. Residing in Monaco, he has excellent conditions to practice tennis. Patrik is the number one on Finland All Time Money List with lifetime earnings exceeding $12 million. He has been featured on popular poker shows like High Stakes Poker and Triton TV Series.

David Benyamine

David Benyamine, a Frenchman from Paris, is a WSOP Bracelet winner and a high stakes cash game player. His lifetime live tournament winnings exceed $7.6 million and he’s had great results for over a decade in tournaments. Before he found tennis, David was skiing and playing soccer as a youngster.

Benyamine didn’t move to poker right away after his promising tennis career ended. According to his Wikipedia profile, David suffered from serious shoulder pain and was forced to retire. According to some other sources, he also had problems with his back during his tennis career. In an interview with the Bluff magazine, David has said that he was found out having arthritis at the age of 18. Being among the top 25 juniors in the world at that time, this news was devastating for him. He stopped exercising completely and could not even watch tennis.

After his professional tennis years, David turned to shooting pool. He became one of the best pocket billiards players in France. David was also one of the most followed poker players online during the Full Tilt Poker years. He played under his own name, often battling it out with players like Viktor Blom, Gus Hansen and Brian Townsend. Nowadays he also enjoys playing golf according to his Twitter profile.

Boris Becker

Boris Becker is a living legend from Germany and needs no introductions to anyone who knows a bit of tennis history. Currently, in his early fifties, Boris is a former number 1 ranked professional tennis player with six major titles on his belt. His ambitions towards poker were revealed to the world in November 2007 when he was signed a Pokerstars ambassador.

Boris can often be seen playing the European Poker Tour events. Many tennis fans from Germany and Switzerland have closely followed his poker career. Boris has stated that his biggest strengths in poker are his patience and his ability to read other players. He prefers to play at the same table for a long time, as the more he can play with the same players, the higher his confidence will rise.

Boris has also said that winning can be very addictive: Once you begin to win, you want to win even more. There’s no other game like poker where this is true. In his opinion, there’s no perfect player in poker, but you can still be an observant player and a student of the game.