Snooker legend Stephen Hendry crashes out of PokerStars Festival 2017 on first day

  • Record-breaking snooker champion latest celebrity poker player
  • Hendry believes qualities of being a sports champion could cross over to poker
  • Star shows promise with Media Event win against poker pro

He may be a legend and icon of snooker, but his skill on the green baize of the poker table may still need some fine tuning.

Stephen Hendry won the Media Event at the PokerStars tournament in London

Stephen Hendry, the record-holding seven-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has failed to bring that winning edge to the poker table, crashing out on the first day of the PokerStars Festival 2017 in London, which ran from January 22-29.

Taking place at the Hippodrome Casino, players were vying for a total prize pool of a little over $500,000 (£400,000), with a $1,240 (£990) buy-in for a seat at the table. The Scot, 48, who retired from the sport in 2012 said he had an interest in poker from the early 2000s to pass time between matches. But he said late nights before snooker tournaments together with the stingy amounts put up by cautious fellow players meant he never dedicated himself to the game.

Hendry beats poker champ in Media Event

But although he failed at the first hurdle against some of the world’s best players, he did at least have success in the Media Event tournament, beating professional Felipe Ramos of Brazil, who has career prize earnings of well over $1 million. Ramos told Hendry at the event: “You’re a really, really good poker player and with the celebrities I’ve played with, you are the best of all of those celebrities.”

He admitted to Telegraph Sport that he was “out of his depth” in the tournament, which attracts among the world’s best, but said that an icy-cool and determined temperament coupled with an unshakeable will to win are skills that should translate well over to poker.

“In both snooker and poker, you have to play your best under pressure. I was always able to do that. I don’t think it is something you can teach. Your mental strength, your confidence, your self-belief has got to be very strong. That is the common denominator.”
Stephen Hendry

BetStars didn’t miss an opportunity for some publicity, offering Hendry odds of 147-1 of winning the whole tournament, the same 147 score which is the maximum break in snooker. He was 20-1 to finish in the top ten, suggesting his Media Event win made the bookmakers at least consider him a reasonable prospect of finishing in some serious prize money.

But up against fellow Brits James Koumis and the appropriately named Lucy Gamble (it is her real name apparently) he busted and was left to wonder what might have been. But with Hendry’s track record of winning, there will not be many people who would bet against him making a go of being a poker pro if he becomes as single minded as he was in snooker.

The tournament in the end was won by London law student Rehman Kassam at precisely midnight, fending off Daniel Harwood and scooping $111,875 (£89,320). He had earlier made a three-way deal, from which Harwood pocked $119,000 (£95,000) and Eric Cech $87,684 (£70,000).

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