Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, but he also tried his hand at card games every now and then. Image Credit: PlanetF1

Formula One Drivers Who Tried Their Hand at Card Games

December 15, 2018

At first glance, F1 racing seems a world apart from card games. One involves speeding around a track at life-threatening speeds to out-grit opponents whereas the other conduct battles over a table with cards and chips. Yet many F1 drivers are attracted to cards as a pastime, both during their careers and afterward. Perhaps F1 stars crave activities to get the heart pumping. A quick pit stop in Monaco, known for its card games tournaments and high-roller casino lifestyle, seems fitting! Here we look at the F1 drivers who have been known to try their hand at Texas hold ’em.

Force India Motorhome Games and TV Tournaments

The connection between mind sports and F1 was likely first elevated when Robert Kubica and other drivers on the circuit began holding regular card games in the Force India Motorhome. The games were then joined regularly by thrill seekers like Fernando Alonso, Bernie Ecclestone, Vijay Mallya, and Rubens Barrichello. The games got so popular that they took up too much focus at the racecourses. So, they had to be kept in check so that drivers focused all their mental energy on winning the race!

Card games leaked into the F1 culture both at the races and during the racer’s downtime. As a result, it was only a matter of time before both TV sponsors and card games rooms jumped on the opportunity to use these famous driver’s passions for Texas hold ’em to promote the game and give the sport’s marketing a boost. High profile celebrities are ideal for charity events and televised tournaments.

Take, for example, a televised TV tournament that was broadcast in 2009 in Italy. Drivers like Robert Kubica, Giancarlo Fisichella, Eddie Irvine, Tonio Liuzzi and more took part in the tournament. However, it was Nico Rosenberg who won the tournament, proving that he is one of the better F1 mind sports players — either that or the cards fell his way on the night!

F1 Drivers Who Liked to Play Mind Sports

There were a few drivers who had a strong association with the mind sports scene, either privately or through signing up with online card games sites as ambassadors — the public faces who could help to promote brands and popularize card games in specific areas of the world.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher has won the most championships in F1 history and is known as one of the greatest drivers of all time. Best known for his epic run with Ferrari, Schumacher won 7 World Championships, including 5 consecutive victories as well as 91 Grand Prix wins and 72 fastest laps. It will be hard for anyone ever to beat his records.

Schumacher also liked to play Texas hold ’em. His tragic skiing accident means that he doesn’t play right now, but back when he was still on tour, he used to play with fellow drivers like Kubica and Rosenberg. He also took to the tables during times when he didn’t have to train or race. He isn’t known to have made any serious money playing cards, or even attend any of the high-profile international events, but Schumacher did play in quite a few charity card games tournaments. He admitted to enjoying the game a lot.

Top 50 Formula One drivers based on number of podium finishes from 1950 to 2017
Michael Schumacher is still the number one F1 driver in the world ever, with 155 podium finishes in his career. Infographic Credit: Statista

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella
Giancarlo Fisichella

Fisichella was known as a capable F1 driver, even though his career was often overshadowed by the superior performance of teammate Alonso, who nearly always got ahead for Renault. Fisichella won three races in his career but was successful enough to drive for nearly every team imaginable, including Ferrari and Force India.

He was also the first F1 driver to be recruited for a card games site. Back in 2009, he became an ambassador for the site and for card games themselves, attracting more sports stars to the tables. In live games, he has only cashed out for a few hundred dollars, but he has appeared in quite a few online poker tournaments, too. It was a trend that was to continue.

Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari
Young Spanish driver Jaime Alguersuari also enjoys mind sports. Image Credit: Racefans.net

Though his career in F1 was quite short, spanning from 2009 – 2011, Alguersuari was known as the youngest F1 driver ever. He entered the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 at just 17 years old. This record has now been broken by Max Verstappen, who was 17 years old when he entered a Grand Prix in 2015 and is now setting records and hitting fastest laps regularly.

Alguersuari followed in the footsteps of Fisichella when he signed up to be an ambassador for a mind sports site. He has played in international tournaments like the World Poker Championship and EPT and still appears in live events to this day, though he is yet to make any serious cash. If life couldn’t get more interesting for Alguersuari, he also spends his time as a DJ in clubs!

Similarities Between F1 and Mind Sports

Card games and F1 are both high-velocity games, different on the surface yet teeming with similarities when it comes to the mentality. Both F1 and mind sports also lend themselves well to risk-taking. Drivers and players must weigh up all the factors when deciding how to act, whether to go all out and push through a tight corner for an overtake or sit back and wait for opponents to make mistakes.

Racing at such high speeds kicks in the adrenaline. It makes drivers feel alive! When not driving, it makes sense to take up activities that apply to this inner nature, even more so upon retirement. Several world famous F1 players have become known on the poker scene, either for their enthusiasm for the game or as promotional figureheads. However, none of them have yet made an impact in winnings. Perhaps Texas hold ’em isn’t a full-throttle game!

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