Petter Northug, one of Norway’s top professional skiers, has revealed that he’s not allowed to play poker anymore because of his sponsor.
Known to some as the “bad boy of skiing,” Northug has long been a fan of poker and has competed at multiple events around the world, including the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and European Poker Tour (EPT).
In fact, on top of his $38,773 in live earnings, Northug is also a regular on PokerStars under the handle ‘NorthugJr’.
As well as finishing seventh in the 2013 $2,100 No Limit Hold’em SCOOP 02 event, he has also been known to play high stakes Pot Limit Omaha against the likes of Ben Sulsky.
Unfortunately for Northug, his days of playing his stakes poker appear to have been put on ice thanks to his reputation for taking things to an excessive level.
According to Norwegian newspaper Adresseavisen, Northug’s antics in Las Vegas and in Norway haven’t gone down well with his main sponsor, grocery story chain Coop.
While training in his native Norway, Northug told local reporters that he doesn’t “play poker any longer” and that his return to the felt will have to “wait until after [his] skiing career.”
The main reason for Coop’s dislike of poker goes back to the 2014 and a drinking driving accident. Reports at the time suggested that Northug fled the scene after crashing a sponsor’s Audi.
Northug later pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence and was subsequently fined $28,800 by the courts and dropped by another sponsor (Volkswagen)
The crash also strained the relationship between Northug and Coop, but he was able to save the deal and has been working to rebuild his reputation ever since.
However, as part of his agreement to curb his drinking and refocus on his skiing career, Northug has been forced to stop playing poker.
While it’s not the game itself that Coop appears to have a problem with, it’s the media images of him smoking cigars at the table and his off-the-felt partying that they don’t approve of.
While Northug’s behavior is in no way representative of the average poker player, there’s a definite party atmosphere on the live tournament circuit thanks to the heady combination of exotic locations and bulging bankrolls.
For the time being, however, Northug will have to watch his peers from the rail as they play poker and party at the WSOP in Vegas.