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The cricketers who will beat you at poker

The late Shane Warne
The late Shane Warne

Plenty of cricketers don’t just spend their time trying to hit sixes and take wickets. They also love to try and get straights and flushes when playing poker.


When you think about it, there are some similarities between cricket and poker. For starters, it can take a long time to get to an end result (five days for Test match cricket is actually shorter than some poker tournaments).

Then there are the concentration levels that are required. Just one lapse of concentration can see a batter lose their wicket or bowl a ball that gets smacked for six. In poker, you simply need to maintain your concentration at all times. One sloppy mistake can see you lose all your chips on just one hand.

The late Shane Warne and former England Test players Ed Giddins and Phil Tufnell have all played poker. All three have shown they enjoy playing live games, but they have also been known to enjoy playing poker online.

Well, long hours can be spent in the dressing room or hotel rooms, so it’s a great way to fill your time. That was important for cricketers during the pandemic when players spent days at a time stuck in their hotels.

With his amazing spin bowling, the legendary and much-missed Shane Warne caused many a headache for his opponents. He also had a great passion for poker, with over $151,000 won in live tournaments.

When Warne was growing up, he had regular Friday night card nights with his parents. One of the games they played just happened to be poker. Those nights certainly prepared him well for the days when he played on the professional poker tour in Australia.

He did the same with his son Jackson, who has also had great success on the professional poker tour. Shane may have passed away, but it’s good to see the family name still making an impact.

During his hugely successful cricket career, Warne had plenty of opportunities to play poker. Speaking about those days, he was glad that the buses they used had tables. “As soon as we hop on the bus, bang – the cards and chips would come out.”

Those bus journeys often lasted up to seven hours. Plenty of time, therefore, to play poker and improve your skills. Add on those frustrating times when the rain stops play, and there were even more opportunities to play. All that practice was put to good use when he finally retired from cricket with several successes at the poker table. After his untimely death, his family and friends got together to put on a poker tournament in his honour.

Ed Giddins made it into the England test team in 1999 and 2000. He played for Sussex, Warwickshire, Surrey and Hampshire in the county championship. He also enjoyed playing poker when not being required to bowl at a pace much faster than Shane Warne.

After his cricket career ended, Giddins went on to become a professional poker player. He’s won over $80,000, but the game has also given him a new career in broadcasting. It’s probably fair to say that unless you’re an avid cricket fan, you probably know him better for his poker activities.

Giddins has worked as a poker analyst for Sky Sports, giving his views on getting pairs, and we’re not talking two ducks in a match.

Another cricketer who has turned their hand to poker and had a very successful broadcasting career is Phil Tufnell, who left the popular Question of Sport series last year. Perhaps spin bowlers just love playing a few hands of poker?

Again, here’s a cricketer with a lot to thank for the inclement weather. Hours spent in dressing rooms waiting for the showers to end gave him lots of chances to play poker.

His years of playing poker may not have seen him win as much as Warne or Giddins, but he’s found other ways of making money from poker. You can buy his ‘Win at Poker with Phil Tufnell’ DVD, which has proved to be popular.

It includes tips from top poker players such as ‘Mad’ Marty Wilson and Gary ‘The Choirboy’ Jones. What is it with poker and darts players and nicknames?

He has had some professional wins, but the former England Test cricketer admits that he plays poker “for enjoyment really and a bit of a laugh”.

Anyone who’s ever heard him on ‘Test Match Special’ knows it doesn’t take much to get him giggling. You can’t imagine Tufnell having the best poker face, can you?