It’s one thing to be successful in your chosen sport but to reach the elite level in two very different sports is an almighty feat accomplished by very few in life. Michael Jordan failed to do it when he left the NBA to briefly sign for the Birmingham Barons in the MLB in 1993. Jordan quickly returned to the NBA after struggling to perform to the levels he did during his basketball career.
Current Washington Wizards and former Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce is said to be looking to reach the elite level in the poker world when he eventually hangs his sneakers up and retires from the professional basketball. Pierce has all the characteristics to suggest he could have a successful poker career: composed under pressure, has a steely competitive edge and has a willingness to succeed at all costs. Poker is a cutthroat world among a sea of card sharks but if anyone can swim in such treacherous waters, it’s Pierce.
The 2008 NBA Playoff winner’s start in poker was predominantly through games with ex-teammates during team breaks or away trips where they would play non-competitive games against each other. However, the real turning point was when Pierce decided to jump straight in at the deep end and play at poker’s most prestigious stage. This year Pierce paid the $10,000 buy-in to have a seat at the World Series of Poker. He finished in the top 800, however just missed out on any winnings by a whisker.
Throughout the tournaments many basketball publications followed Pierce’s rise to prominence before he was finally eliminated on the Friday morning of the WSOP. With the media now latching onto Pierce newfangled skill as an adept card shark, many stories started circulating the Internet about Pierce’s imminent career in poker. Although, Pierce was to remain tight lipped about how soon the public would see him start to appear at professional tournaments.
Following on from the tournament, a deluge of interviews with press followed. Pierce remained humble throughout but did touch on the many influences that got him into poker at the first place.
Like many fledgling poker players there are the groundbreaking moments that enthralled so many over the year. Things such as the invention of the hole cam to reinvent the way poker was watched on TV, the launch of online casino games through InterCasino and the grandeur stage of the WSOP captured the imaginations of many. Not to mention poker superstars such as Dan Harrington and Phil Hellmuth.
It’s hard to say whether Pierce will be able to replicate the achievements he’s had in basketball on the poker stage. However, what will be interesting is the journey he takes if he does in fact decide to dedicate his “retirement” to traveling the world and playing poker against the world’s elite.