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David Haye Trades Boxing Ring for Poker Table

Former heavyweight champion David Haye is primed to take a shot at professional poker.

Famed English boxer David Haye is hanging up the gloves and going all-in on a career as a professional poker player.

Haye, who considers himself a poker novice, told the The Daily Mail he would spend the next 12 months learning the card game from some of the best players in the world.

The former heavyweight champion’s training will culminate with a massive poker tournament called the Goliath that’s scheduled to take place at Ricoh Arena in Coventry next year. The 2017 edition of the Goliath attracted 6,385 entries and created a prize pool of over £638,500 (roughly $810,000 US).

Haye was easily one of the best pound-for-pound fighters that Britain ever produced with a sparkling 28-4 record that included 26 knockouts.

Haye the latest athlete to catch poker bug

It’s not like Haye is alone in his transition from sport to poker.

Haye is just one of the many former athletes who have attempted to scratch the competitive itch at the card table.

Former MMA star Tito Ortiz, New England Patriot Richard Seymour, tennis’ Boris Becker, the NBA’s Paul Pierce and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps have all tried their hand at poker with varying degrees of success.

Active athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr. and Rafael Nadal have also gotten in the action by signing high-profile sponsorship deals with the biggest online poker site.

The most successful former athlete would likely be former Dutch field hockey star Fatima Moreira De Melo, who has raked in over $531,267 from playing tournaments around the world. Of course, high-profile athletes are much more likely to play private cash games where the results are kept confidential and the stakes are significantly higher.

Antonio Esfandiari to Face kevin hart in boxing match

Interestingly just as Haye officially ended his boxing career there are two notable poker players who will be entering the ring for the first time.

Three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari will box superstar comedian/poker player Kevin Hart in March thanks to a prop bet the pair made recently.

Hart is in far better shape than Esfandiari and gave the Vegas-based poker pro +3500 odds on the match. Esfandiari does have a considerable reach advantage, however, as Hart stands just five foot four while Esfandiari is listed at about six feet.

There have been several high-profile fights between poker pros with Dutch poker pro Lex “RaSZi” Veldhuis taking down French poker pro/StarCraft legend Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier in a kickboxing match and more recently Olivier Busquet beating J.C. Alvarado in an MMA match. Both fights were part of high-profile bets.

If you’re looking for a slightly more legitimate fight to place a bet on, you might want to check out the odds for the upcoming Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs Gennady “GGG” Golovkin middleweight world championship on September 15, 2018.

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