Premiership Soccer Pros Blame Poker for Poor Performances

April 9th, 2016 | by Kaycee James
Graeme Law finds poker hurts soccer players.

Premiership soccer players suffer from tilt at the poker table and on the pitch according to Graeme Law. (Image:

Premiership soccer players are struggling to perform on the pitch because of poker games before a match; that’s according to Graeme Law of the University of Chester.

Speaking at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birmingham, UK, Law explained that a number of high profile soccer players attributed a decline in performance to worries related to gambling.

Poker games between players is a common trend in soccer with many professionals using it as a way to pass the time during coach trips and overnight stays.

While the majority of players enjoy poker for its inherent entertainment value and competitive aspects, some appear to be taking things a little more seriously.

Tilt on the Pitch

According to Law, the 34 players he interviewed, including some that currently play in the Premiership, believed that poker losses on the coach directly before a game affected how well they played on the pitch.

“I have lost a lot and I had a stinker because it’s all I thought about during the game,” said one unnamed Premiership player.

Backing up this account of events, another player explained that he’d seen teammates suffer a similar fate.

“On the way to the game he lost about two grand, and he was only 18. Now he had a shocker in the game,” explained the player.

In addition to issues caused by playing against teammates, Law’s anecdotal evidence revealed that the presence of online gambling made things even worse.

“I liked to bet on the bus, but it got worse when I could bet online. I was able to do it all the time with no one knowing. I lost a lot,” another player stated.

It’s Not All Negative

Of course, not all soccer players have a problem with poker. Over the last few years, a variety of ex-professionals have transitioned from the pitch to the poker table and enjoyed a lot of success.

Former Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham can often be found at many of the biggest tournaments in Europe and currently has live tournament earnings totaling $329,477.

In fact, soccer players have also been used by various poker sites in the last 12 months to expose their brands to new demographics.

PokerStars famously enlisted the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr back in 2015 and earlier this year 888poker announced a sponsorship deal with former Brazil international, Denilson.

While the findings from Law don’t paint the intersection between soccer and poker in a positive light, it’s worth remembering that his sample size only covers 34 players.

Although we’re not suggesting that makes his points any less valid, it possibly doesn’t reflect the full spectrum of poker playing soccer pros.

One Comment

  1. eddy says:

    What about the reverse? Had anyone thought that maybe their poker game was affected by their playing soccer? Some of us would argue that poker is a sport that takes just as much devotion and practice to master as the game of soccer. Non poker players probably would not understand this…but competitive poker takes as much or more focus and practice as other sports such as soccer.

    With the underlying theme here being criticism of “gambling”…I would suggest that trying to play both sports simultaneously MIGHT make them a loser in BOTH. A professional poker player on his way to the world series of poker MIGHT have his play affected if he stopped off at the pitch and got an ass whooping in soccer. Would we then blame soccer for his bad poker performance? Why not?

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