From Cricket to Poker

Creative people often speak of “cross-pollination”, or how their interest in a particular field improves the quality of their work in another. It’s like Steve Job’s skill on calligraphy influencing the development of the Mac, the first computer with beautiful typefaces. This phenomena, however, is not limited to artists and computer geeks. Athletes, too, cross-pollinate. It’s not uncommon now that an athlete would excel in more than one sport.

Shane Warne, affectionately called Warnie by his fellow Australians, has been playing cricket since his youth, and started playing professionally at 23. In 2006, he made a record 700 Test wickets, until it was broken by Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka who made 708 the next year.

In 2008, a year after his retirement from international cricket, he took the helm of domestic Indian team Rajasthan Royals as both its coach and captain. He would lead the team to a string of victories, until he went back to Australia in 2011 to play for Melbourne Stars.

Halfway through his time with the Royals, Warne also played another sport professionally. He was signed up in 2010 by an online poker site as an endorser, captaining the Australian poker team of said brand as part of his duties. Poker is anything but new to Warne: he got his poker training from playing with his teammates during trips to cricket matches.  With the rise of online gambling sites like partypoker, many athletes now are trying their hand at poker. Who would have thought that one of history’s best bowlers would also have a knack for bluffing?

How do cricket and poker cross-pollinate in Warne? In his blog, Warne pointed out the similarities between the two. Both games last a long time, he says, so one needs “a mixture of things” to win:
Read your opponents keenly.
You must know when your opponent is confident, vulnerable, or simply bluffing.
Image is everything.
Keep in mind that your opponents are reading you as much as you are reading them. So you need to project the right image whether at the table or on the field, to confuse or even intimidate.
Surprise them.

In cricket, play in an angle or position that you wouldn’t normally do. In poker, play a hand you’ve never played before.
Warne also underscored the combination of skill, patience, and concentration, essential for anyone who wants to succeed in either game. He also didn’t miss mentioning that elusive element that everyone wants to be on their side: luck.