Former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye has suffered an embarrassing defeat in his first poker tournament in Blackpool, England.
The retried boxer joined a recent £165/$210 side event at GUKPT Blackpool as part of his partnership with Grosvenor Casinos. Anteing up alongside 127 other players, Haye was using the event to improve his skills ahead of next year’s GUKPT Goliath where he’ll aim to win his first major poker title.
However, despite a crash course ahead of the tournament, Haye was eliminated within three hands. Such was the speed of his exit that Grosvenor’s live reporting team missed the action, meaning it was up to the organizers to alert the media via an official press release.
David Haye Battered in Three
As Haye watched from the sidelines with his mentors, Jeff Kimber, Katie Swift and Joe Beevers, Dave Maudlin went on to clinch the £5,860/$7,543 top prize after beating Roy Finlay heads-up.
Although he lasted less than a round at the poker table, coach Kimber said Haye’s experience battling over 12 rounds in the ring should help him bounce back.
“He’s got loads to learn but he’s a champion sportsman and that competitive edge means he wants to learn more and get better” said Jeff Kimber.
Prior to partnering with Grosvenor Casinos, Haye claimed to be a complete poker novice. Although he was involved in a promotional event for Full Tilt back in 2014, his skills as a player are virtually nonexistent.
As a testament to his lack of poker knowledge, the sports star admitted during a recent training video (see below) that he still gets confused by clubs and spades.
Sports Star Still Valuable Despite Poor Performance
Irrespective of his recent performance, Haye’s route to the 2019 GUKPT Goliath will give Grosvenor Casinos with some valuable exposure. With remote gaming duty in the UK set to rise by six percent in 2019, British operators are looking to bolster their bottom-lines any way they can.
By enlisting the services of David Haye, Grosvenor is bidding to harness the boxer’s mainstream profile and attract new players to ante up online and live.
Although Grosvenor Casinos might be slightly late to the party, using sports stars to promote poker is one that’s been successful for other operators over the years. In 2015, Partypoker signed retired boxer Carl Froch, while PokerStars has worked with Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr and a host of other sports stars.
While many are still prepared to debate the idea of poker being a sport, the value of using famous faces such as David Haye isn’t seen as a gamble by the leading operators.