For the last few years, casinos and particularly poker have exploded in popularity, helped at least partly by the slew of famous sports stars who have turned to professional poker, whether that’s online or in casinos. It seems there is a direct correlation between successful sports players and an ability to play poker at the highest of levels.
Baseball players in particular have been getting in on the act with many former Major League players showing up at poker tournaments and in online casinos around the world. It’s likely that the skills necessary to become a world class baseball player translate well when it comes to the poker table. The same intense concentration is needed, as well as staying power, a calm demeanour and a willingness to take calculated risks. It’s no surprise that many baseball players have been showing great skill in the casinos.
Former Major League starting pitcher Orel Leonard Hershiser IV is a great example of a baseball player who is showing an increasing level of skill at high stakes games, and has the wins to prove it. Currently a professional poker player for PokerStars, Hershiser is also a three time All Star and won the Cy Young Award, NLCS MVP and World Series MVP with the Dodgers back in the late 80s. He holds many records, including for pitching the most scoreless innings consecutively and has had a full and glorious baseball career.
When he retired from the sport, he then took up professional poker, even moving to Las Vegas in 2006 and learning from many poker instructor friends. He became a regular player at Red Rock in Las Vegas and, although he still commentates and analyses baseball on ESPN during the season, when the baseball season is over he plays poker five days a week - even during the baseball season he still squeezes in a couple of days a week in among his filming schedule. He’s so tenacious at the tables that he is known as The Bulldog!
In 2008 he was asked to play in the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship, which he did under PokerStars. And that’s when he shocked the poker world by showing he is a major contender. He made it all the way to the quarter finals meaning he managed to knock out Ted Forrest, who won the event in 2006 and many other high calibre professional poker players. It was after this tournament that he signed up to be a professional online poker player under the name O.Hershiser. This has taken him to many other events, including the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean adventure. He has now won hundreds of thousands of dollars and carries a tradition of presenting a signed baseball to the player lucky enough to eliminate him!
Not in the same league baseball wise, but definitely up there in the poker stakes is a player known as ‘basebaldy’ online. Eric Baldwin was an all star Division III baseball player who took up online poker to support himself. And his instincts, whether improved by baseball playing or not, proved right as he has recently transformed into one of the most promising young players in the industry.
He has now earned over $3 million playing poker, including winning the Sixth Annual Five Star World Poker Classic in 2006 and getting to the two final tables in the 2009 World Series of Poker. Not bad for a former baseball player and student!
It seems that practising online is the key to winning big in poker, whether you’re a retired sports professional or not. Online casinos are a great place to hone your skills and win your way to the big tournaments. So, playing games at winagames.com for example, could stand you in good stead to winning some decent prize money of your own. All you need to do is sign up and hop on one of the online tables for your chance to prove you can be a poker professional as well!
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