Most soccer players are known for their prowess on the pitch and extravagant lifestyle off it. One such lavish activity is visiting casinos. Many indulge in gambling activities off the pitch.
There have been arguments on whether or not soccer players are allowed to gamble. The laws are crystal clear regarding sports betting. Players are not allowed to participate in the same game where they can influence the outcomes.
However, the rules do not apply to casino games which probably explains why it is a top choice for many. Players like Mario Balotelli, Gerard Pique, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Wayne Rooney, and Neymar top the list of many soccer players that love to play casino games. This article explores the conquest of these players off the pitch.
Alt: A poker table with chips and a pair of Ace.
Where famous soccer players love to play casino games
Whether offline or online, casino games are fun. Particularly table games like poker and blackjack, these players love the luxury and splendor of prestigious destinations, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, The Venetian Macao, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco.
Most football players travel for preseason competitions in other countries. Sometimes they take some time off to visit a casino in their host state. Before playing, it is vital to check the country’s legal requirements for playing casino games. For instance, just because you can play in Las Vegas or Arizona does not mean it’s legal in Texas. Instead, you must first find out if sports betting is legal in Texas, and the same goes for any other location. Afterward, you can visit the nearest casino to play your favorite games.
Neymar is one of the few Brazilians who still has that flair for samba soccer with his exceptional dribbling skills. His prowess as a football player has never been questioned following his successful spell at many prominent football clubs worldwide.
At the early age of 17, he kicked off his professional football career with Santos FC. His career growth was exponential, and in 2013, he joined Barcelona, where he played some of his best football. He has won many trophies, including La Liga, Copa Del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.
Afterward, he moved to PSG in 2017 and has continued to thrive as a top player. However, outside of football, Neymar loves to play poker. In 2022, he first debuted in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the next round as he ran out of chips following some risky moves. He competed against big names like Daniel Negreanu and Scott Seiver.
Many argue that Balotelli did not reach his peak due to his controversies on and off the pitch. One of them is his religious gambling habits. Known to be involved in many high-stakes betting across different sports and has faced scrutiny many times. Once, he won over 25,000 pounds in Manchester playing his favorite, Roulette. Reports have it then that he left 1000 pound tips to waiters who served him and homeless people at the gambling venue. Besides that, his football career was a mix of the good and the bad.
With hundreds of appearances, he had different spells at both sides of Milan (Inter and AC), Nice, and Manchester City. In the 2011-2012 season, he scored a last minute goal against Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League, securing the title for Manchester City.
Another fine player to have graced the world of football, Pique started his career in 2004 with Manchester United. It wasn’t a pleasant spell as he struggled to make it into the first team. Nevertheless, it did not stop him from winning three league titles, including the UEFA Champions League, in the 2007/08 season.
He returned to Barcelona, where he had initially started his youth career and established himself as a first-team player. He secured many trophies with Barcelona and enjoyed national success with the Spanish national team.
Another area where he enjoyed significant success was in playing poker. He appeared at the WSOP in Las Vegas in 2014, squaring off against other athletes like Paul Pierce, Richard Seymour, and Earl Barron. In 2019, he won 352,950 Euros at his first single-day high roller, EPT Barcelona. He was also joined by fellow teammate Arturo Vidal who came fifth (134,460 Euros) while he came second.
Besides regular sports betting, which is obviously for making money, it is unsurprising that most players who fancy casino games go for poker. It is a game that will test your patience and emotional intelligence. However, to succeed at the table, you should avoid some negative characteristics. Also, ensure you have the emotional intelligence to compete because poker isn’t just about having the best hand.