Despite its desert location, Las Vegas is now home to an ice hockey team. Following much speculation, the Las Vegas Golden Knights skated onto the ice for the first time in 2017. With Sin City now crawling with players and fans alike, the obvious question is: could any hockey buffs make it big in the betting world?
Well, if we leave casino games to one side on account of them involving a large amount of luck, it makes sense to consider online poker or poker in a casino as a potential competitive outlet for hockey’s finest.
With Vegas being home to many of the best players in the game, a visiting hockey player would have no shortage of action if they wanted to play. However, with the likes of Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson being tougher to beat than an NHL enforcer, anyone wanting to ante-up would need their wits about them. This raises a second question: which hockey players could cut it at the felt?
Greg Mueller: From Germany to Las Vegas
The obvious answer is Greg Mueller. The German-Canadian defenceman enjoyed almost as much success playing poker as he did in hockey. After spending two seasons with Munich Hedos between 1992 and 1994, Mueller went on to play for hockey teams across Germany before hanging up his stick in 1999. With his sporting career over, Mueller turned his hand to poker.
Taking his defensive, competitive style to the felt, Mueller went on to win two WSOP bracelets in 2009. Those victories catapulted him into the big time, and today he’s still grinding. As of 2018, the hockey-turned-poker-pro had banked $2.8 million from live tournaments, which suggests he’s more than capable of experiencing the perks of being a high roller.
Scott Hartnell: The Winger Who Danced Rings Around the Pros
Another player that has some form at the poker table is Scott Hartnell. The 6ft 2in Canadian will be better known to Nashville Predators fans as the left winger who was a first-round draft in 2000. Today, as well as gliding his 215lb frame across the ice and scoring an average of 20 goals per season, Hartnell is the winner of the 2009 NHL Charity Shootout Presented by Pokerstars.net.
Despite being a charity event contested by NHL greats, the tournament did feature some high-level pros. As well as Vanessa Rousso and Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker – the man who’s said to have started the poker boom – was in attendance.
Even with some skilled pros in his way, Hartnell was able to fake and attack at all the right times to lift the trophy and prove he’s got some serious poker skills.
Ken Daneyko: The Man with the Winner’s Mentality
Following in Mueller’s steps was former New Jersey Devils defenceman Ken Daneyko. The three-time Stanley Cup winner became a member of Team PartyPoker in 2014. The sponsorship deal was his chance to compete on the live tournament circuit with the best players in the world, and he didn’t waste it.
In fact, just before he was drafted by partypoker, Daneyko tasted success on the World Poker Tour (WPT). Although it wasn’t one of the tour’s $10,000 main events, Ken did manage to close out the Borgata Spring Poker Open by winning the $230 Deepstack for $14,723. For those not in the know, winning a Deepstack event takes more than luck. With the blinds less of a factor, these events are much more suited to skilled players. So, despite being a relative novice, Daneyko has proved that he’s more than capable of mixing it with the pros.
Arron Asham: Fast, Loose and Aggressive
The final player that could be a force in the poker world is Arron Asham. After spending 15 seasons in the NHL, Asham has not only developed a fighting spirit but also spent countless hours on buses traveling from game to game. According to Scott Hartnell, it was this time in between games that Asham showed his poker skills. While the results of said games remain private, we do know that Asham played poker just as aggressively as he played hockey.
“He's a loose player and likes to call everything, so he ends up catching more times than not," Hartnell said when asked to describe Asham’s skills. Tangling with a loose, aggressive player is never easy. If Asham were bold enough to sit down with the pros, this style could serve him very well. If that fails, a four-way showdown with our other hockey picks could certainly make for entertaining viewing.