This November marks the fifth Anniversary of Boris Becker joining Team PokerStars SportStar. The tennis legend has brought the same intensity and will to win to the table that he had on the court, if not the same level of results (yet). Becker’s live tournament winnings currently stand at an eye-watering $25,153,732 which would put him at the top of the all-time money leader board if it weren’t for the lion’s share, some $25,080,956, being awarded for his performances in tennis tournaments. Still, $72,776 in poker tournament cashes shows that Boris knows his way around the table and with a main event cash at EPT Berlin last year he’s moving in the right direction.
Over the years Boris has got involved into a whole host of promotions, videos and bonuses. Here’s just a small selection:
And here’s an interview with the big man himself (as conducted by our colleagues in Germany).
PokerStars: You have been a member of Team PokerStars SportStars for five years. What have been your most exciting poker experiences so far?
Boris Becker: There have of course been several great moments. I will never forget my first European Poker Tour (EPT) in Monaco where I became chip leader in a side event after the first day. And I even made it to the final table and finished seventh. That was definitely an important milestone, and since then my fascination has continually grown.
My best result in poker terms was probably at the World Poker Tour in Las Vegas: After five long days, I took 40th place with a total of 400 players participating. I had my first Main Event cash at last year’s EPT in Barcelona – something I will never forget.
PS: Which of your poker TV appearances do you remember best?
BB: My first appearance on Stefan Raab’s “TV total PokerStars.de Nacht” on German TV. I am always reminded how I was eliminated by my wife. At the same time it was also the first big national success – especially for my wife who ended up winning the tournament, but when I was a guest on Stefan Raab’s show for the second time, it was me who sent my wife off the table. Unfortunately, hardly anybody remembers that! In the end, I lost heads-up against the online qualifier but at least made second place. I would like to play on Raab’s show for a third time.
PS: According to you, what are the most important traits in a successful poker player?
BB: The secret is probably patience – you need a lot of patience to then play aggressively at the right moment. In English, you have this saying: “there is no shame in folding”. And it is really true when it comes to poker, especially in tournaments – one bad call and you’re out. The ability to concentrate, having patience and a good poker face are important. You need to invest a lot of time and practice in order to have all that.
PS: Would you say that poker has had an influence on your life?
BB: Yes, and even an extremely positive one in the last five years. It is always good to practice patience and concentration. In some ways, I compare my poker career to my tennis career -there are several similarities. During tournaments, I spend a lot of time with young people; we travel together and stay at the same hotels. This is similar to what I experienced at 25. My daily life is different today, but it is a good feeling that poker brings me back sometimes to my twenties.
Wimbledon is often called your living-room. Is the poker table your new living-room then?
BB: After my many injuries and some surgeries, I can rarely play tennis nowadays, and my game is not nearly as good as before. But I got to know and appreciate poker – and even put up my own poker table at home. I also have several favorite tournaments I try to attend every year. Poker has definitely replaced tennis for me.
PS: Are you pursuing your poker career as seriously and ambitiously as you played tennis?
BB: Unfortunately, I am not a professional poker player, that’s the only difference. Due to other commitments, I can play five or six tournaments at most in a year. This is why you cannot really compare the two from a sporting point of view. But when I am playing poker, I am just as focused as in tennis, that’s for sure.
PS: Have any of your weaknesses turned out to be a disadvantage at the poker table?
BB: In the beginning, as a newcomer, being so well-known was definitely a disadvantage. Everybody wanted to play against me, even though I wasn’t very good, yet. As a consequence, I always had to play till the end and bluffing was almost impossible. But I was soon able to benefit from this initial disadvantage as I improved my game fast. I was then able to repeatedly surprise my opponent and take his chips
Nowadays people accept me as somebody who knows how to play poker. In the end, my biggest weakness is the lack of time. When I sit down for a poker tournament, I have been living in a completely different world for weeks beforehand, which means I have to start off by getting my head in poker mode first. And this can be quite difficult, especially in a tournament situation – because you play two bad hands and you’re out. This means, I would still be working on my mental strength and my poker face while the tournament is already over unfortunately.
Boris plays at PokerStars under the name ‘Boris Becker’.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.