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Boris Becker

Last Update: 20. March 2014

"As a tennis player, I always played poker between the games, because it helped me to concentrate better. Now I want to work on my abilities so that I can measure up with the best here as well."
from an interview
22. 11. 1967
Monte Carlo
Tennis star
Celebrity, former professional tennis player, businessman, poker professional
Online Poker, Tennis
in his youth
aggressive, intuitive
his Team PokerStars colleagues
"Boris Becker has heart, discipline and competitive spirit. Thanks to his many years as a top athlete, he brings the perfect qualifications for a Full Tilt poker player with him." Tamar Yaniv, the marketing direktor FullTilt Poker

"He really benefits immensely from his experience in tennis competitions." Katja Thater

From 1985 to 1999, he was among the best players in international professional tennis.

In 1985, when he was 17, he won the international tennis tournament Wimbledon, being not only the youngest player to do so but also the first German player to win in the history of the tournament.

Boris Becker intently observes his opponent: a situation he has become quite familiar with over the years. The only thing breaking the tense silence is the “Clack Clack Clackclack” coming from Becker’s end. His gaze wanders over the green surface stretching out in front of him, making his opponent visibly nervous. Becker remains calm; his composure comes from years as a tennis pro and he is not easily unnerved. “Clack Clack Clackclack,” he shoots one more look over at his opponent and then…instead of going for a top spin (the topspin shot is the opposite of a slice in tennis), he goes all-in.

Boris Becker sits at a poker table at one of the side events of the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Monte Carlo and fiddles with his chips. It is a habit that comes naturally to him, just like his habit of tapping the ground before a serve. He even enjoys confrontations. Not only that, but being at center court (the main court at a tennis complex), is what he is good at. It doesn’t matter whether center court is a grass court, a clay court, a synthetic court, or even a green baize (a fabric resembling felt) covered poker table: Boris Becker just enjoys being at the center of attention. He is successful at being in the center of things and that is how it’s always been.

A High Roller at Center Court

Boris Becker has been playing poker for a while now. When he was still playing tennis professionally, Becker used to casually play a couple of poker games in between tennis matches because it helped him improve his concentration, he said in an interview. This “concentration training” was definitely fruitful, judging from his shining tennis career, the numerous games, tournaments, friendly matches and show games that he won. Boris Becker has become a synonym for tennis all across the world. Hardly any other tennis player has had such a big influence on the sport itself; hardly any other player has as many achievements to show for his skills as Becker has.

Boris Becker retired from professional tennis at the age of 31, only playing the odd celebrity match since. Becker, being the tennis pro he is, soon got bored as exercise and training makes up the essence of his existence. Even as a child, he was used to non-stop action. At the early age of four he held his first tennis racket and ever since then there has been no stopping him, from one win to another, on his way to the top. 

After his “early” retirement, he tried his luck as an entrepreneur while earning a little bit on the side—the benefits of being a celebrity. Although he still owns three Mercedes workshops, numerous scandals have cast a shadow on his reputation. His once squeaky-clean image became not so clean anymore. Income tax evasion and a sex scandal (Becker became sexually involved with a Russian woman by the name of Angela Ermakova while his wife was pregnant in the hospital at the time) are only the tip of the iceberg of intrigues that highlight his personal life, maliciously printed by the media. 

Boris Becker trusts his Aces

Just because Boris Becker is treading on new territory to try his hand at poker does not mean he is going through a mid-life crisis. All he is doing is trying a different path of life, as poker is also a passion of his. Already as a child he was switching his racket for a pack of cards during breaks between games and not only conjured up aces on the court but also off the court. 

Boris Becker readily provides information concerning his passion for poker in interviews. He has also spent a lot of time playing at online poker rooms. For a long time, he saw poker strictly as a hobby, but eventually he got better and seriously started to consider a career as a poker player the hard way, as many before him have. Yet his celebrity status and his well-known face helped him a lot more than his poker skills, which prompted many critics to see Becker’s interest in poker as nothing more than an advertising stunt. Yet they would soon be proven wrong…

From Racket to Rake

Boris Becker was signed on by the online poker room PokerStars at the end of 2007. Funny and entertaining commercials were filmed and it soon became apparent how well Becker fit the team. With his athleticism, charisma and winner’s face, he is the perfect ambassador of a team that also includes poker stars such as Joe Hachem, Daniel Negreanu and Barry Greenstein. You think you have the stuff to become the next big poker star? Come have a go at it! When you visit the PokerStars website directly from here, you receive an exclusive BonusBonusBonus welcome bonus. 

Because of his contract with PokerStars, he received a “wild card” (entry to a tournament under special conditions), which allowed him to directly take part in all the major tournaments. PokerStars even paid the high buy-in fees to the biggest tournaments in the world. Becker, with his ambition and his passion, was exactly what the poker world needed.

“Boris Becker is Back”

As a debut, PokerStars organized a live poker tournament and called it “Boris is Back”— a pretty catchy advertising slogan. Becker faced eight PokerStars online winners that had to first qualify by winning a series of tournaments. More than 100,000 participants were up to the challenge, which meant that the winners, and Becker’s opponents, were all top-notch players.  

The tournament itself lasted almost four hours during which the former tennis star gave everything, unfortunately in vain. After a good hour, Becker went all-in. What he couldn’t know was that with the river, his opponent was able to complete his flush. Boris Becker had to leave the table and his opponent won the $ 5,000 bounty.

“I had good cards; my opponent played the flop and got lucky. That is why I lost so early, I would have liked to play longer,” the tennis ace responds when confronted and asked about his early elimination. In the end, the just 18 year-old Austrian student, Harald Hautzinger, won the tournament.

From the ATP to the ETP

After losing all his money in a tournament, and this for the first time, his sponsor PokerStars paid the $ 10,000 buy-in for the European Poker Tour Finals in Monte Carlo in 2008, one of the biggest poker tournaments in the world with a total winning pot of € 8,000,000. Stars such as Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negeanu came to this event. In the beginning, it looked pretty bad for Becker. He lasted only a couple of hours before he lost all his money and was eliminated by an American. Becker made a typical beginner’s mistake: at one point he nervously went all-in, risked everything on one card although he knew that his opponent had twice as many chips as he did and that losing some of them would not disturb him. For Becker though, this careless all-in cost him everything.

Throughout the course of the tournament though, Becker was able to turn his luck around to come out a winner after all—in a side event. As what poker pros would call a fish (a beginner that is easy to beat), he did pretty well at this particular side event. He made it all the way to the € 500 No Limit Hold’em Final Table. On the way there, he was able to keep up with renowned players such as Arnaud Mattern and William Haughey. First place seemed within reach, but then came along Team PokerStar’s pro André Akkari. Becker called Akkari and went all-in, holding A8. Akkari revealed his hand: K 9. On the table lay 7 K 2 5 6and just like that, the former tennis champion was eliminated. He left the table seventh out of 338 participants and with € 11,800. After all, Monte Carlo is not Wimbledon. Yet coming in seventh place, earned him more than just money. This accomplishment also brought him a great deal of respect within the poker scene. He is now accepted as a poker player and not just seen as a mascot for PokerStars. If you want to try your luck playing against Boris Becker, then you should definitely pay PokerStars a visit. 

Serve and Volley or Bet and Raise

Boris Becker also uses what used to be his best weapon on the tennis court, his fast and well-placed serve, at the poker table. He brings fresh ideas to the game and takes a whole new approach to poker. He works his opponents relentlessly, like one time in the 80s when he was prized as one of the best serve and volley players in the world of tennis. As skillfully as he used to operate on the tennis court, he now operates at the poker table. His Team PokerStars colleagues polished his poker playing skills with an intensive training program. Within a short time, Boris Becker was ready to play in the major tournaments. His nerves are made of steel; you won’t ever find him sitting at the poker table with a hat and sunglasses. He remains so calm, that not even a pulsing vein on his neck could blow his cover. The poker face just comes naturally to Boris Becker.

Becker sees a future in poker and will definitely continue playing. In his own word:

“Now I want to develop my poker skills and challenge myself to become really competitive at the highest levels in poker.”

When Boris Becker lifts the famous “Becker fist” into the air now at the poker table, you see, not that much has changed since his tennis days.

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