Darts and Poker are both all about keeping a cool hand, and several famous faces have swapped the oche for…
Darts and Poker are both all about keeping a cool hand, and several famous faces have swapped the oche for the card table in recent years.
There are numerous similarities between Darts and Poker, and the most successful players in both games have a made a living from timing and holding their nerve under pressure.
A number of current and former PDC professionals have tried their hand at poker, be it for fun or with serious money up for grabs.
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Michael van Gerwen
The current world number one and three-time World Champion has cited Poker as one of his favorite pastimes.
Van Gerwen says Poker helps him to relax in between darts tournaments, but the Dutchman is just as competitive at the table as he is on the oche.
He was flown by helicopter to a Poker tournament in the Czech Republic last year and even won a hand against Steffen Sontheimer – one of the best Poker players in the world.
Van Gerwen has also signalled his intention to compete in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
“Coming up in the darts world is a lot like what people do in poker,” Van Gerwen told Pokerlistings.
“You start with low stakes, small tournaments, small events, and as you get better you can move up and play bigger tournaments.
“And if you get to the high level you get invited to the best tournaments in the world and that’s why you do it. You need to put in a lot of time and effort but the thing with poker is you have to have a bit of luck.
“In darts it’s not luck. No one wins the World Series of Poker three times in a row, you know what I mean? As a dart player you can do that.”
Raymond van Barneveld
Like his Dutch compatriot MVG, Van Barneveld is a keen poker player, having only recently learned the ins and outs of the game.
Barney travelled to Monaco in 2017 to participate in the PokerStars Championship, where he finished in 20th position from 149 entries.
Van Barneveld regularly plays online poker, and told Pokerlistings: “I haven’t played many live tournaments yet but I’ve been loving the game since I went to Las Vegas and the World Series two years ago. I realize it takes a lot of time to become good.
“I’ll put more time into poker in the future to become a decent player. I don’t know if I can become a fantastic player, but we’ll see.
“To me it’s so great that you can participate in a tournament and suddenly you sit there with the World Champion. In darts that’s not possible. You can’t just go and play me or Phil Taylor in the World Championship.
“If I go to a Round Robin with nine players who’ve never thrown darts before, nobody will beat me. But in poker, all that is possible. You never know. You can even beat good hands with worse hands.”
Taylor is renowned as the greatest player ever to pick up a dart, winning 16 world titles and hundreds of ranked events throughout an illustrious career.
The Power has also picked up the largest poker pay cheque ever by a professional darts player when he banked £179,000 as runner-up to snooker player Matthew Stevens in the 888.com Pacific Poker Open in 2004.
Taylor said: “I really like the game. When I finished second to Matthew it was such a highlight in my career.”
The Stoke legend also won the Darts Heat of the Party Poker Sports Star Challenge and finished second in a No Limit tournament in Galway in 2010.
A keen Poker player during his time as a darts professional, Mardle has made earnings of around $40,000 according to The Hendon Mob Poker database.
He notably finished sixth in the 2008 No Limit Hold’em Final in Maidstone and seventh in the 2008 Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in Luton.
Mardle had taken a break from poker until 2018, admitting on Twitter that the players “bored him senseless” by talking about hands from two hours earlier.
He regularly visits Las Vegas, where he enjoys some recreational time on the poker tables.
Australian ace Whitlock has one of the most unflappable demeanours on the darts stage and has transferred that key trait onto the poker table.
Whitlock appeared in the televised Sky Poker Cash Game which featured a mixture of poker pros and sports stars including Matt Le Tissier and Simon Hemsworth.
Whitlock has also competed in World Poker Tour events and finished seventh in a Broadway Casino tournament in Birmingham in 2015.