Sportsmen have always enjoyed social card games, and there's a definite affinity between sports stars and poker players. It's will be no surprise then that Rugby stars have begun to enter into tournament Poker games.
Gloucester's outside centre, Mike Tindall, is well known on the Poker circuit and began exploring the serious side of the game in 2005 during a prolonged spell of injury which would see him claim third place at the British Open.
Its little wonder that sports stars can transfer their abilities to the Poker table, after all, Poker 'Game Theory' requires the kind of vision and guile that Tindall regularly displayed on the pitch. Perhaps Poker suits sportsmen with vision and ability off the ball, as they can strategize more clearly.
Rugby has always been a thinking man's game, a combination of focused aggression and strategic thinking. This description could easily be applied to Poker. One such aggressive player who struck fear into the hearts of his opponents and carried off a demure persona is Sebastien Chabal.
Chabal has played number 8, famously for France and Sale Sharks, and now for Lyon. His main of hair and rugged beard give him instant charisma on the pitch, and he seems to carry this demeanour and aggressive style directly onto the Poker table.
Chabal is said to have developed many of his abilities online - as many Poker amateurs tend to do these days. Sites like Lucky Nugget allow amateur players to cultivate their game before moving on to the now quite accessible high stakes tournaments. With the convenience to practice anywhere and at any time, it's no surprise that many amateur players, as well as Rugby stars, are turning their attention to online casinos.
They offer beginner friendly options in order to help people build their experience, without losing all their money. They also allow people a lot of diversity - where else can you go from playing poker to playing slots games in one swift click?
Online casinos are a gateway to bigger events and can teach even some on the most strategic minds to become better poker players, or help them find a way in which to expand their minds by playing the game. Events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) have been much more open access since around 2005, and we've seen an abundance of rookies achieve highly on the professional circuit. Footballers regularly make the transition from sportsman to Poker player and it seems like their Rugby cohorts might now be following the same path.
Northampton's hooker, Dylan Hartley is known to enjoy the game, and he neatly fits the profile of a thinking man's Rugby player. Saracens winger David Strettle is also well-known as a big Poker fan.
Outside of the rugby season many sportsmen partake in other hobbies, and although it may be farfetched to suggest that Rugby and Poker are similar games, they certainly share common threads. It'd be interesting if there was a study regarding how a first class sportsman's mind correlates to a top Poker player's mind, with strategy, vision and psychology being paramount in both disciplines.