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Snooker stars who have tried their hand at Poker

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Comedian Tommy Tiernan and Snooker Player Ken Doherty who both competed in the Irish Poker Championship in Dublin (Photo by Julien Behal/PA Archive/PA Images)

Snooker and Poker are both all about keeping a cool hand, and several famous faces have swapped the snooker table for the card table in recent years.

There are numerous similarities between Snooker 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 snooker professionals have tried their hand at poker, be it for fun or with serious money up for grabs.

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Here are six famous snooker stars who are also renowned for their Poker skills…

Matthew Stevens

As well as being a former UK Champion, Stevens has also struck it rich on the Poker scene, scooping a staggering £260,000 victory back in 2004.

The Welshman, who had only started playing cards 18 months earlier, beat tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov and darts champion Phil Taylor in the televised final of the 888.com Pacific Poker Open.

In reaching the final, Stevens had to beat poker professionals and online qualifiers in a field of 108 hopefuls.

He spent some of his prize money, which was more than three times greater than what he received for winning the UK Championship, on a holiday to New York with his family.

Stevens admitted: “I was quietly confident going into the final but if at the start of the tournament you’d have told me I’d be winning it, I’d have thought you were barmy.”

Stephen Hendry

Hendry is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to have picked up a snooker cue, and his mentality as a serial winner has stood him in good stead when it comes to Poker.

Since retiring in 2012, the seven-time World Champion has enjoyed more time playing exhibitions, golf, commentating and Poker.

Hendry featured in the PokerStars Festivals in London and Marbella before finishing 56th in Dublin to claim £2,500 in prize money.

Speaking to Pokerstars about his love for Poker, Hendry recalled: “Around 2001 or 2002 at a snooker event, Steve Davis was playing online.

“I looked over his shoulder and wasn’t sure what he was doing on his computer, but he was playing poker. I got a bit fixed on what he was doing and it all started from there really.”

“The best poker player I think is Mark Williams. He’s very good.

“He used to play a lot of cash games – all sorts of wild games like six or eight card Omaha. I think he understands the game very well, and he can read players. I think he’s probably the most talented, but Ken Doherty is also very good as he plays a lot.”

Steve Davis

Davis dominated snooker in the 1980s, winning six world titles and a further 22 ranking events to etch his name into the fabric of the sport.

Thesedays, he may be more renowned for his DJing credentials, but Davis is also a keen Poker player, having made successful appearances in televised tournaments.

He made the final table of the 2003 Poker Million together with fellow snooker legend Jimmy White – who went on to win.

At the 2006 World Series of Poker, Davis finished 579th, pocketing just over $20,000, while in 2008 he finished 389th, winning $28,950.

Speaking about the crossover between the two sports, Davis told UK Poker News: “I think in a game like snooker, which is a static ball game, you have a decision to make before you operate so there are therefore decisions on a snooker table that have a likeness to the decisions you may have to make in poker.

“Whether to choose to go for the shot; whether to turn it down and wait for a better opportunity; what type of positional shot to play – one could be more aggressive than the other in how it all unfolds.

“Some players would choose the negative option while some would choose the positive. The attacking, or the reckless or the conservative or the percentage; there are different ways of looking at it.”

Jimmy White

White may be best known for losing in six World Championship finals, but he took the biggest Poker prize of all back in 2003 by winning the Poker Million.

The Whirlwind saw off his former snooker nemesis Steve Davis in the final to scoop the trophy and a first prize of $150,000.

White started the game as a 12/1 rank outsider and hit perfect cards to send his opponents tumbling out of the competition until he was one-on-one (or, in poker terminology, ‘heads-up’) with bookies’ favourite Joe Beevers.

People’s Champion White won the final hand by making a pair of aces against Beevers’ pair of jacks.

“I’ve been gambling since the age of 12,” said White after the match. “Horses, dogs, dice, roulette, you name it. I don’t play the other games any more but if I’d been betting on this, I’d have backed Joe!

“It must be ten years since I’ve won this kind of money in a final – and that was snooker.”

Ken Doherty

Doherty, the 1997 World Champion, has featured in numerous high-profile Poker tournaments down the years.

The Dubliner took the £20,000 first prize in the 2007 Sports Stars Challenge II and has more than $83,000 of earnings to his name in total.

Doherty also took part in the 2012 World Poker Tour in his hometown, finishing 14th, and featured in the 2016 Poker Stars European Poker Tournament.

On discovering Poker, Doherty told the Irish Mirror: “It’s really Steve Davis’s fault.

“He brought a laptop to a tournament about 12 years ago and was playing Poker Stars online with people from all over the world and I’d never seen this before.

“I had been playing poker for years and snooker and poker go hand in hand at the clubs but the online stuff is a different kettle of fish.

“We used to have many friendly games during [snooker] tournaments.

“It’s probably due to it also being a lot to do with strategy.”

Mark Williams

Williams has been cited by his close friend and former snooker rival Stephen Hendry as ‘the best Poker player he has seen’ from the snooker circuit.

Unlike Messrs Davis and White, three-time World Champion Williams has rarely made time to take Poker seriously amid the demanding snooker schedule but has enjoyed success on a smaller scale.

In 2005, the Welsh Potting Machine was crowned Betfred Poker champion in Manchester and he has also participated in several European Poker Tour events.