Darts stars who have tried their hand at Poker

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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Here are five famous darting faces who are also renowned for their Poker skills…

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.”

Phil Taylor

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.

Wayne Mardle

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.

Simon Whitlock

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.

Phil Taylor favourite to win PDC Walk-on World Cup

Phil Taylor has been installed as the 11/4 favourite to win the inaugural PDC Darts Walk-on World Cup.

The Walk-on World Cup has been devised by the PDC and consists of a series of social media polls to determine which player has the best entrance in the sport.

The competition involves both current and former PDC professionals, with fans encouraged to place their votes on the PDC’s Twitter page in a series of rounds.

The First Round saw Dirk van Duijvenbode’s rave music see off Kim Huybrechts’ traditional ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, while Michael van Gerwen avoided an early exit at the hands of Darren Webster.

Van Gerwen, whose ‘Seven Nation Army’ entrance is well-known around the world, is 11/2 third favourite with Premier League Darts title sponsors Unibet – who are offering an outright market under their ‘Odds Boost’ section on site.

John Part Imperial Marched his way to victory over Jermaine Wattimena in Round One and the three-time World Champion has been one of the most popular outside picks at 16/1.

Phil Taylor may have won almost every title the sport has to offer during his glittering career, but the 16-time World Champion will be keen to get his hands on this accolade.

His iconic ‘Power’ entrance by 90s dance group Snap became synonymous with the sport and makes him the hot favourite at 11/4.

Taylor’s box office rival Raymond van Barneveld enjoyed one of the sport’s most memorable walk-ons during the Premier League in Rotterdam and is 4/1 second favourite to claim glory.

Wayne Mardle, who continues to entertain fans with his ‘Hawaii Five-0’ walk-on on the exhibition circuit, is a well-fancied 6/1 pick, with reigning World Champion Peter Wright ready to ‘Get the Party Started’ at 7/1.

Dancing Devon Petersen is also a strong contender at 12/1, while Peter Manley’s ‘Amarillo’ could guide him to the title at 14/1.

John Henderson’s Status Quo walk-on had Aberdeen rocking during his Premier League appearances, and ‘Hendo’ is another popular outsider at 25/1.

Vincent van der Voort is one of the only players who openly dislikes his own walk-on song, but KC and the Sunshine Band give VVDV a strong chance at 25/1.

The Second Round is due to commence from 2pm GMT on Saturday March 21.

The Walk-on World Cup outright market is available exclusively at Unibet, with new customers eligible for £40 in Bonus Funds when joining and placing a first bet of £20.

Any profits made from this market will be donated to the Parkinsons UK charity.


Phil Taylor reveals ‘sadness’ over BDO crisis

Phil Taylor admits he is “very sad” to witness the current plight of the BDO and says he “feels sorry” for newly-crowned champion Wayne Warren.

Taylor, 59, spent the first six years of his career competing in the BDO system before being part of the breakaway group that formed the now PDC in 1993.

A protege of the great Eric Bristow, Taylor shot to prominence by beating his mentor in the final to win the World Championship at Lakeside in 1990, receiving £24,000 for the feat.

Incredibly, Taylor’s winner’s cheque from 30 years ago eclipses that awarded to Wayne Warren in 2020 amid a financial crisis that threatens the very existence of the BDO.

Taylor has praised Warren’s hunger for success regardless of prize money but says he has sympathy for the Welshman and those currently within the BDO system.

“The BDO were the breeding ground and I’m very sad to see the BDO not in a good place at the minute,” Taylor told Live Darts.

“Wayne Warren is a worthy World Champion and what he did there [at Indigo at The O2] was brilliant.

“The Semi-Final against Scott [Mitchell] was a tough game for both of them.

“The BDO are the ones that bring the champions through and it’s a shame.

“Wayne decided to play in the World Championship, he stood by his word, there were players who pulled out but he stuck by his word and he won it.

“So whether it’s five hundred thousand or fifty quid, that fella played.

“I would say Roy Keane would have played for Manchester United for one hundred pound a week, never mind one hundred thousand a week, it’s what you are as a person, you’re a winner and determined to be a World Champion, money isn’t everything.

“I do feel for him, course I do, but he still would have played.

“I think if at the beginning of the week they’d said “we can’t pay you, we’re struggling”, Wayne Warren would have still won the World Championship.”

Warren’s £23,000 winner’s cheque signifies a 77 per cent reduction on what Glen Durrant earned for retaining the title 12 months earlier.

The men’s prize fund was down 58 per cent on 2019 with a total of £127,000, while the Ladies prize fund totalled £26,500, a reduction of almost ten per cent.

Taylor, meanwhile, had been linked with a competitive comeback by tabloid newspapers over the festive period, and while he has not ruled out a potential entry to the UK Open qualifiers, admits a full-time comeback is out of the question.

He added: “I was going to come back and play in the UK Open.

“I phoned Barry [Hearn] up and said “have you got any objections with me playing in the UK Open?” just as a one off thing, I was going to go to the Rileys qualifiers and try to sneak a win through the back door.

“It was just to have that bit of a Rocky moment, a bit of fire in the basement.

“Barry said he had no problems at all and would love me to come back and play a tournament, but as a full-time professional, I couldn’t, I’m too old.

“I’ve got to have a new hip, I couldn’t do it.

“I’m still a professional an in exhibition work and it depends what you class as a professional, for me it’s somebody who earns money doing what they love, so I am a professional.”

Van Gerwen has “a big problem” with Price says Phil Taylor ahead of the World Championship

Sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor believes Michael van Gerwen will have a “big problem” on his hands with Gerwyn Price at the 2019/20 World Darts Championship.

Van Gerwen is aiming to retain the William Hill World Championship title for the first time and lift the Sid Waddell Trophy for the fourth time in total, but looks to have in-form Price hot on his heels.

The world number one has picked up eight televised titles this season, taking his career tally to over 50, but has seen a fresh challenge to his dominance by the rejuvenated Welshman.

Van Gerwen had gone 19 games without defeat to Price before ‘The Ice Man’ finally stopped the rot en route to retaining the Grand Slam title in November.

Price has appeared in three televised finals since late October, and Taylor believes the 34-year-old presents MVG’s biggest threat in the sport’s show-piece at Alexandra Palace.

“Michael [Van Gerwen] has got a big problem with Gerwyn [Price],” Taylor told Live Darts. “He’s playing superb and is full of confidence.

“He’s fit, young enough still to perform and he’s playing the best darts of his career.

“He does have a little bit of a flaw where he’ll play fantastic for a few legs but then have a few bad ones and miss doubles and that’s the only flaw in his game.

“He’s got the game to win the World Championship and I told him that.

“I told him to get the rest in and get the practice in.

“Gerwyn knows he can do it now, he knows he’s got the game and he’s not frightened of anybody which is good to see.

“It’ll either be him [Price] or Michael [Van Gerwen], I think.”

Taylor, who finished runner-up to Rob Cross in the 2018 final before retiring from professional competition, believes Price has the credentials to become a World Champion despite his below-par record in the competition.

He added: “It’s early days and I’ve seen it before with the amount of players who’ve won a World Championship once, but can he do it? Yes.

“Does he believe? I hope so, because it’d be great to watch.

“I’m not really a watcher of darts now but if he was to get into the final with Michael, I’d watch it.

“But don’t write Rob Cross off or Adrian Lewis – he’s full of confidence now and peaking at the right time.

“He doesn’t look 100 per cent at the minute and he needs to sort himself out that way but I think if he does, he can play a lot better.

“You can’t write anybody off.”

Taylor also revealed he has been practicing with his former rival Raymond van Barneveld in the run-up to the £2.5 million major, which signals Barney’s last competitive appearance before he will follow in ‘The Power’s’ footsteps and call time on his glittering career.

The Stoke maestro says Van Barneveld has looked sharp in practice but admits he is unsure how he will fare on the day.

“It really does all depend which Barney turns up,” added Taylor.

“In practice he’s been great and has had a big smile on his face.

“If he turns up and feels good, he’ll play brilliant, if he doesn’t feel clever he’ll have a miserable face and won’t perform, but I hope he does.”