While they appear very different on the surface, both baseball and poker share many similarities. They both require quick thinking, endurance, patience and the ability to read an opponent's tells to deduce their strategy.
This may be why some baseball players have taken up the game with one in particular having become a household name in both the realms of baseball and professional poker.
Several high profile baseball players have made headlines in recent years for their involvement in the game of poker. Jose Canseco has been a regular on the poker circuit for the last few years and has been known to stir up trouble much in the same way he did in Major League Baseball. Canseco has made known his dislike for women's-only poker events and has even coerced his way into playing some of these events, showing up to some in drag.
Alex Rodriguez on the other hand does not show up to poker tournaments in drag, but his association with underground poker games, where drugs were also being used, did drag his name in the mud a bit. Rodriguez was part of several underground games being run by a ponzi-scheme organizer. His involvement nearly led to a suspension, but MLB officials stopped short of a suspension with the promise that Rodriguez would show better judgment in the future.
Former LA Dodger pitching legend Orel Hershiser tried out poker and soon shocked the world with his skill in the game. Hershiser was invited to the 2008 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship as a celebrity player. Normally these players are eliminated in the first round and on rare occasions make the second round.
Hershiser did not show up for just a cup of coffee in the event and went on not only to make it through the first two rounds, but ultimately made the Elite Eight of the event. He eventually was eliminated in fifth place, but that was good enough to earn him $75,000 and the respect of the poker world. Since that time, he has signed a deal with online poker site PokerStars.com and serves as a celebrity ambassador for the site.
Poker has many of the same elements of baseball and it is a game where 50-year-old players have just as much a chance to be superstars as 21-year-old players. Since the game requires many of the same skills as baseball, it is no surprise that some have taken up the game and chances are you will many other players take up the game in one form or another in the near future.