As two gaming disciplines that have been welcomed into the sports community in recent years, sports and digital poker share a synergistic relationship.
At the turn of the century, when MMORPGs began to take off, there was a great crossover in the communities that were forming in the world of poker and video games. Poker may have been a little less popular in the 2010s than popular game titles like Counter-Strike, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft, but in the 2020s it certainly began to catch up.
A story of two games
The roots of both poker and sports lie in competitive games. Both disciplines, when played at a professional level, require concentrated practice and a determination to succeed. Sports players often compete in day-long sessions during tournaments, and the same goes for professional poker players (either playing online or in real-life events).
Meanwhile, strategic thinking, the ability to do multiple tasks, and effective decision-making skills are absolutely critical to doing the right thing, and all three are skills that also depend on success in the field of sports.
There are also many parallels in terms of accessibility and career paths open to talented players in both the poker world and the sports world. Both disciplines are relatively democratic, as anyone with internet access can learn strategy and play in popular poker or sports titles like Fortnite, regardless of their budget.
Take the US, for example. For several years, online poker was limited to the entire country. But with the expansion of the poker map of Pennsylvania and the legalization of discipline in Michigan, more and more American players have the opportunity to start learning to play.
Finally, it’s no secret that doing it as an elite sports player is a lucrative career. The same goes for the best poker players in the world. While it is not an easy task to top the rankings in either The International or the WSOP, however, the opportunities to compete for amazing prizes are different realities.
Sports professionals who have switched to poker
Interestingly, there are many sports players who have changed careers and switched to playing poker for a career. World of Warcraft III alone has fed a total of seven professional players who have so far moved to the poker table.
Meanwhile, StarCraft tops the list of games previously played by most emerging poker professionals, with a total of 12 former players making the switch.
These are the three most recognized sports professionals who have made waves in the world of poker.
A great strategist, Doug Polk has been practicing mental sports since his youth and has even dedicated his talent to establishing a professional team at CSGO. A competitor to the World Cyber Games and a professional Warcraft 3 player (using the T-Rider handle), Polk was very successful in felt and was even considered one of the best No-Limit Hold’em players in 2013. .
Randy “Nanonoko” Lew
One of OG’s sports players, Lew began playing fighting games such as Tekken and Street Fighter. After advancing the sports boom, Lew naturally switched to digital and real-life poker, where he became known as Nanonoko. Lew has not only made one of the most impressive professional gaming careers, but he also set a record for the most online poker hands played in a day.
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
As one of the best StarCraft players in the world, Grospellier learned his trade in the super-competitive Korean sports scene (the game is considered the country’s national sport). He is also a major exponent of online poker, having been involved in Twitch streaming since the early days and was the first person to achieve Supernova Elite status on the PokerStars platform.