You might wonder what is the connection between mixed martial arts and poker but actually, there is quite a lot. MMA and poker attract similar demographics, mainly men between 25 to 40 who like to risk and have confidence in themselves.
In this article, we will highlight some Ultimate Fight Club celebrities who like to punch in the face in the ring as well as to punch the payroll of opponents around the poker table. Szilvia Sultés, online gaming expert will help us understand how MMA and poker intertwine. Read more about Szilvia here.
MMA’s and poker’s popularity
As well as all around the world, MMA is becoming very popular in Hungary, rivalling boxing and professional wrestling.
Both MMA and poker are very strategic and it is very easy to make a mistake that can end in a KO or a loss in the bankroll. Both the sport and the game attract bad boy personalities and have had a dark past before the early 2000s. And finally, if you are a pro, both pastime can bring you in big bucks!
Casinos and MMA
Online casinos and betting sites have been getting further recognition and strengthening their brand through sports sponsorships. In the Premier League alone more than half of the clubs have an official iGaming sponsor. While football, NHL and NFL are, understandably, sponsored by sites that concentrate on sports betting, MMA is sponsored by poker sites.
UFC, the largest mixed martial arts promoter in the world is now officially sponsored by PokerStars, the heavyweight of online poker. PokerStars have also been recruiting their own ambassadors among MMA fighters and Daniel Cormier, Johnny Walker and Bruce Buffer have agreed to take on the roles. The three stars have been representing the poker giant and have been involved in promotions, campaigns and events.
Famous casino players from MMA
Chan who used to be a PokerStars employee has won over $1 million playing the game. He is one of the poker UFC stars as he has won two SCOOP bracelets during a single night and later on added a WCOOP title. Chan has had a history in training Muay Thai and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu but hasn’t been competing before officially.
Chan enjoys fighting as MMA is a strategic sport just like poker. His first MMA fight took place in Vancouver where he won by TKO.
Lex Veldhuis and Bertrand Grospellier
Veldhuis, the PokerSrars pro has had some experience in MMA but was considered an amateur when he and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier – similarly a PokerStars pro – staged their own fight in Marbella. Grospellier has done kickboxing and Muay Thai previously and has started training seriously in preparation for the fight. Veldhuis won the fight in only four minutes with a pair of kicks.
White’s main job is to run the UFC, however, he is also an avid Blackjack player. He likes to play high stakes, like $25000 a hand and as a UFC president, he can certainly afford it. White was so successful in blackjack that the Palm where he used to play, first cut his wager limits and then banned him from the game. He once won $2million from the casino and another time $5 million.
Celebrities play poker
Apart from MMA stars, other celebrities play poker as well. Ben Affleck – who is also famous for his card counting skills in blackjack – Matt Damon and NFL quarterback Tom Brady have teamed up to play celebrity online poker for charity. The tournament was streamed on Twitch last April. Bryan Cranston, Adam Levine, Sarah Silverman, Tobey Maguire and Jon Hamm also joined the table and they have raised $1 million for All-In For Feeding America.
Being familiar with the background of both MMA and poker it is not surprising to find partnerships between the sport and the game. Several MMA fighters have tried their luck with poker and pro poker players tried their skills in the ring during the past few years.
Roberto Villa is the Executive Writer, Senior Editor, and CEO of FightBook MMA. Loves all aspects of Combat Sports. Podcast host for Sitting Ringside and is also an ex MMA fighter and Kickboxer.