Few people ever get to do what they truly want to in life – but Billy Chattaway isn’t one of them. The Bromley man, who played for Sutton United, made the trade from football to poker – and hasn’t looked back. Whether it’s Omaha Hi-Lo, Texas Hold ‘Em, or Seven Card Stud, Chattaway has shown his mettle and skill in the world of poker and helped make a name for himself, alongside a considerable amount of winnings. Chattaway is currently playing in the World Series of Poker in the USA’s party capital of Las Vegas, having won a seat and a $12,600 that covered his hotel and flights. Does his success in the tournament and move away from football help inspire others to follow their poker dreams?

How is Chattaway Doing in the 888poker 2018 World Series of Poker?

Playing in the World Series of Poker has to be the goal of any professional poker player, so for Chattaway to be included in the UK squad already shows how prolific his poker career is. Having gained valuable skills at playing poker online while playing football, Chattaway was one of Team UK that won the 400 points in the eight-team international competition, and will have a place at the 2019 Main Event. Led by fellow poker player Chris Moorman, Chattaway cashed in 652nd place, good for a $21,750 prize. Chattaway’s fierce play style has been a staple of his time in the 2018 World Series of Poker. When faced against Veron Lammers, who played a 3,000 bet, Chattaway raised to 8,500. Lammers called and they saw a flop – Chattaway fired 13,500 and Lammers folded. It’s this ability to push play forwards in a dramatic style that helped Chattaway achieve his strong position in Team UK. The winner of the World Series of Poker could stand to bag $8 million, which is definitely higher than the salary Chattaway was on while playing football. Still, he remains focused to play to his best ability and think of the winnings as a bonus afterwards. Chattaway is no stranger to such intense competitions, having previously played the 2016 Aussie Millions, and finishing in 36th place with winnings of AU$30,000. Having gained the experience of playing on such a global scale will have helped prepare Chattaway for his foray into the World Series of Poker.     

From Football to Poker

The incentive to swap over to poker came from his passion for the game – and earning between £3,000 and £20,000 per week by playing on the side. Very quickly he realized that he had the talent and skills to make it big. In 2015, Chattaway managed to scoop £360,000 in two poker tournaments, confirming to him that he had made the right choice to swap chasing a ball to chasing his dreams. Undeterred by critics who questioned his ability to be responsible with money, Chattaway’s first move was to invest in property. Putting down roots in bricks and mortar further showed how Chattaway was prepared to give it his all for poker. One of the biggest obstacles was his parents’ desire for him to have a ‘proper job’ – but through Chattaway’s smart decision making, they are now fully on board. The family man told Worcester News that if he happened to win the $8million on offer at the illustrious World Series tournament, he would be open to sharing. Chattaway said: “My family haven’t asked for a percentage – but if I can go all the way and win the title, I will be more than happy to share my winnings.” The decision to trade in his football boots to get his feet under the poker table must weigh heavily, and any thought of winning would vindicate Chattaway against any doubt or criticism he received for making the move to the card game.

Who Else Has Given Up Sports to Follow Their Poker Dreams?

Chattaway’s position from footballer to poker player isn’t a unique transition. In fact, there have been several other footballers who have moved over to poker. Tony Cascarino – who played for Chelsea, Millwall, and Marseille, traded in his muddy boots for the sleekness of the poker table in a semi-pro capacity. He seems to be doing well, with a reported $500,000 in winnings – including £170,000 from 2009’s GUKPT Grand Final. Cascarino’s Millwall teammate Teddy Sheringham also swapped his love of the game for a love of the chips with a prolific poker career. Sheringham even came 14th in the 2009 World Series of Poker, where he scooped up $66,000 in prize money.

1980s Liverpool player Jan Molby also swapped running about the pitch for running up winnings. While he may not have achieved professional acclaim, he still has at least an estimated $10,000 through playing poker, which is certainly an accomplishment. As for non-retired players, Gerald Pique continues to juggle playing football for Spain and Barcelona FC with leading the life of a semi-pro poker player. He excelled in the 44th World Series of Poker Main Event and managed to win $56,000 by finishing third at the EPT in Barcelona in 2011. Jan Vang Sorensen has reportedly earned more than $2 million through playing poker when his football career came to an end. Speaking about football and poker, he claims that practising his poker hands while playing on the road at away games helped him perfect his game. So, he could literally have football to thank for his poker success.