It seems the press’s favourite poker player these days is Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
That’s if you believe what you read in the papers.
Yesterday the British newspaper The Daily Mail ran a story detailing Phelps’s winnings during a recent trip to the poker tables of Las Vegas. They quoted a TMZ report suggesting that the 27-year-old walked away from one cash game at Caesars Palace having won $100,000.
All nonsense according to Phelps, who tweeted:
@MichaelPhelps: I wish I won a 100k…. Haha not true tho:(
Phelps began playing poker several years ago but admitted that it’s a form of relaxation rather than anything more serious.
“I love to play, and it’s fun,” Phelps told Card Player magazine in 2008. “It’s exciting. This is a good time for me to learn some things, to pick up a few things in poker, to try to read people and [learn the] mind-set that goes into it and everything — just to try something new.”
Phelps, who has sponsorship deals with Visa, Omega and Hewlett-Packard among others, may play down his prowess at the tables, but his former roommate Jeff Gross believes the Olympic swimming champion is no “fish”.
“Mike is easily one of the best celebrity poker players around,” Gross told Card Player last year. “Overall, I’d say he treats the game seriously and loves the competition, but it’s just a hobby. Once he finishes up his career at the 2012 Olympics in London, I think you’ll be seeing him competing more in live tournaments.”
We may yet see Phelps at the business end of poker tournaments around the world. For now stories of big wins remain fiction, although it may be true that he spent that evening at a nightclub. But that’s hardly headline news in Las Vegas.