The five most popular sports retirees turned poker athletes 

Professional poker players are now considered as ‘athletes’ by the US Department of Labor. And with many of these superstars taking a serious interest in sports other than their fields of expertise, it’s no surprise that many of them are adding the title “poker player” in their curriculum vitae.

Of the long list of professional players who have become superstars at big time poker halls, here are the five most popular retirees turned poker athletes.

Boris Becker

He may have been mired with scandals since his retirement in 1999, but the former tennis world number one and Wimbledon’s youngest-ever champion has found a successful career in poker. Boris Becker took part in his first international tournament in 2007 at the European Poker Tour (EPT), and recently won €8,000 ($13,000) at the 2012 edition of the EPT. His biggest collection yet is the $40,000 he amassed at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas.

Orel Hershiser

Becoming a World Series MVP and an MLB household name aren’t enough reasons for Orel Hershiser to earn more titles under his belt. After his retirement, he carved his name in the world of poker when he participated at the NBC Heads-up Championship in 2008. His stellar performance in this tournament, where he reached the quarter finals by defeating players who hold a total of 12 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, made Hershiser a real poker athlete to contend with.

Tony Cascarino

Football fans have someone to look out for in the world poker scene: former Chelsea and English striker Tony Cascarino. Having dominated high-profile tournaments such as the WSOP Main Even Europe and the Caribbean Poker Classic, Cascarino has raked in as much as $500,000 from being a poker athlete. He has also lent his expertise on the card game as an erstwhile commentator for Partypoker’s Poker Den.

Michael Jordan

He had an annual pay slip of a staggering $30 million during his stellar NBA career playing for the Chicago Bulls, and yet Michael Jordan continues to be an unstoppable moneymaker even after retirement. Jordan once participated in the annual Tucker Celebrity Poker Tournament, where he took all the chips and crushed other NBA superstars like Scottie Pippen and Kevin Garnett to seize the top prize.

Michael Phelps

Hailed as the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps seems to be heading to casinos and poker tournaments now that he has retired from competitive swimming. He made his presence felt at high buy-in poker events like the WSOP Main Event and the EPT Grand Finals. So far, he only has $6,000 worth of poker winnings on top of the 18 gold medals he collected from the Olympics. Nevertheless, people may soon find the “Flying Fish” from Baltimore fly his way to the upper echelons of poker.