Pro footballers are suckers for playing a game or two once their exhausting training sessions or matches are over and done with.
It is rare for a footballer not to have some kind of console or gaming station in his or her mansion, with multiple controllers at the ready just in case friends or family wish to come round and play.
However, there is one game that has consistently enthralled pro ballers and that is poker, a game that perfectly blends skill, maths, and decision-making, played until there is just one player left standing.
As an ode to the game, and the footballers who play it regularly, we thought we would pair up some famous Premier League stars with the poker hands that would best fit their personalities and style of play.
Matty and Sean Longstaff – One-Pair
It only seems right to start off with these two youngsters who are vying to be the next Neville brothers of the Premier League.
So far both have made appearances in the Toon’s first team but are yet to nail down permanent spots on the team sheet. For this reason, they currently sit as just One-Pair, but they are certainly a couple to keep an eye on.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Two-Pair
Two-Pair is an often overlooked hand in poker, catching out many players who are new to the game, which is little bit how Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are viewed within the game of football. Both men knock in goals week after week, but seemingly get little praise for it.
With Mikel Arteta getting a better handle of his Arsenal charges, it perhaps won’t be long before this dynamic duo is budged up the rankings.
Virgil van Dijk – Three-of-a-Kind
The great Dutchman comes in at Three-of-a-Kind because there are times during Premier League and Champions League games when he appears to be a one-man back three; his presence at the centre of Liverpool’s defence allowing the likes of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to bomb forward at will.
Raheem Sterling – Straight
Judging when to hold out for a straight in the midst of a game of Texas Holdem is tricky, with many players starting out on their journey of how to play poker by losing their way. The same could well have happened with Raheem Sterling after his big move to Man City and a few guilt-edged misses in front of goal.
However, the England star – like a good Straight – has come good at crucial moments, both for club and country.
Paul Pogba – Flush
Paul Pogba is an easy choice as the Flush, because he is the most flush player in the Premier League when it comes to pounding notes, reportedly earning a whopping £290,000 per week.
The French star must feel like he has flopped a flush every single time his pay-check comes in the post.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Four-of-a-Kind
Anyone who was setting up a fantasy football team for this Premier League season will have been involved in a bidding war for this Liverpool sensation, who can defend, score freekicks and put pinpoint crosses on the foreheads of the Reds’ strikers.
Four-of-a-Kind rarely loses a dual on a poker table, and neither does Trent when he squares up to opposition wingers and fullbacks.
Harry Kane – Straight-Flush
It takes a player akin to a Straight-Flush to garner the sort of praise that Jose Mourinho has lavished on Harry Kane since the Special One arrived at Spurs.
However, that praise is for good reason, with the Tottenham front man notching 143 Premier League goals in just 210 appearances in the competition.
Sergio Aguero – Royal-Flush
The only man who can seriously claim to be ahead of Kane – and be given the title of Royal-Flush to boot – is this diminutive Argentine.
Martin Tyler screaming “Agueeeeerooooooo!” will live forever in the memories of Man City fans everywhere and is backed up by the striker having scored 372 career goals in all competitions.