With a new NFL season not far away, fantasy fans are busy collating their teams, making their picks and plotting for the season ahead.
Fantasy Football is a huge business, and fantasy sports, in general, adds another layer of interest to the game outside of the actual action. Sure, you may be a Jacksonville Jaguars fans, still smarting from the awful 1-15 record ESPN.com outline from last season, but you can still top your fantasy league and feel good about the result. Yes, even the 27-3 reverse against Pittsburgh, especially if you had Ben Roethlisberger in your team.
Selecting a team is a little bit like picking a poker hand. You have a degree of choice around whether to fold, in some variants, you can exchange cards, but ultimately your success is because of a mixture of your choices and pot luck. We explained in our recent article Making an Effective Fantasy Draft that you have to expect the unexpected, as you do in poker, and you should check up on players. Knowing your opponent in poker is as important as knowing your footballers for the draft.
Football is a little about luck and a lot about excitement, again echoing poker. In fact, many football players turn to poker when they step off the field, perhaps chasing that excitement, maybe looking to keep their analytical brain in good shape. So, we have selected four former NFL players, who enjoy a game of poker. Who knows, if you can find some current NFL players who enjoy a game, such as current free agent Sammy Watkins, you might think this is a marginal gain you can use in your fantasy draft for 2021.
Credit: Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, Super Bowl 44 Emmitt Smith (4344089199) (cropped), CC BY 2.0
Smith is the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, a big name on the field for the Cowboys, but he is forging a reputation for himself around the poker table, too. He has a couple of impressive scalps too, with a heads-up knockout of Phil Ivey in a Celebrity Invitational Charity Tournament, as well as David Williams in the 2011 National Heads-Up Poker Championship. With three Super Bowls to his name, he is a proven winner, and he is taking that to the tables.
Credit: Keith Allison, Richard Seymour water bottle, CC BY-SA 2.0
Seymour was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champion. He might have been a fierce defensive lineman for the New England Patriots, but Poker.org reveal he is a keen card player, too. He has over $600,000 in live tournament winnings, including a 3rd place finish in the 2018 $25,000 PokerStars PCA High Roller. He also took 18th at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $52,174.
Credit: Ed Yourdon, Fred Jackson NY Jets vs. Buffalo, Oct 2009 - 05, CC BY-SA 2.0
Jackson’s career saw him spend 10 years with the Bills and the Seahawks, rushing for more than 5,700 yards and getting 30 touchdowns. He is a player who has looked to fill the void left by football after playing, by getting around the poker table. He is often found competing on Day Two of the Mid-States Poker Tour, and was often found in many fantasy teams during his playing career due to his stellar service on the field.
Antoine Winfield Sr.
Credit: Kevind810, Antoine Winfield covering Calvin Johnson at Ford Field on September 30, 2012, CC BY-SA 3.0
Winfield Jr. is already a Super Bowl champion, at just 22, something his father never managed. What the former Bills and Vikings man did manage was three Pro-Bowl appearances, and a hobby playing poker after football. It cannot be called a career, he managed a small cash in at a WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event, but he has always been a fan, and has played in the WSOP main event, too.