by Jeff Thomas
How poker adds fuel to Paul Pierce’s competitive fire
Failures, disappointments, upsets: these are just some of the bitter experiences a poker player endures on a daily basis. Like many of their more physically-gifted counterparts in major US sports like basketball and football, these card gamers also go through the process of either succumbing to the constant pressure of an everyday struggle for supremacy or rising above adversity and feeling the ecstasy after a hard-fought battle. For NBA veteran Paul Pierce, he has probably been through and seen almost all imaginable challenge that faces the life of a superstar athlete; but sitting in front of the world famous green tables of poker, the test of battling against some of the world’s most vicious card sharks proved to be a different beast on its own.
Proudly wearing the colors of the world-famous Boston Celtics for 15 years – before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer – Paul Pierce has constantly shown basketball fans his tenacity and drive towards achieving greatness. Coming out of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program, the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft strived hard to reach his goals; weathering the bumps and bruises en route to his first – and only – NBA Championship in 2008. To say that this accomplishment was simply the cherry on top of his illustrious career is a huge understatement, as Paul Pierce always dreamt of becoming the greatest. He loved the challenge. And coming into the tail end of his legendary basketball career, “The Truth” saw a rather solacing ground this time in the world of poker.
As a relatively newbie in the live tournament poker circuit, Paul Pierce has not yet come remotely close to his hard court achievements. In fact, he has notoriously made a few unproductive attempts in the World Series of Poker Main Event. However, Pierce – like the fierce competitor that he’s known to be – has exhibited the same respect, passion, and hunger he shows during basketball games while playing poker. This ideal isn’t foreign to athletes like Pierce, as some of the world’s most well-known sports figures have also crossed the same road as the Oakland, California-native – but accomplished a rather different result. A partypoker blog once featured the rise of a female poker player named Kara Scott, and documented the beginning of her promising career in the world of Texas Hold’em. From being a TV sports presenter from Brighton, Scott impressively beat out fellow sports personalities in the PartyPoker.com Sports Stars Challenge III to fully legitimize her status as a force to be reckoned with on the felt.
Of course not every athlete can have the same fate as Kara Scot’s. And for Paul Pierce, there’s nothing wrong in getting the short end of the stick when playing live tournament poker. Because sometimes that’s where competitors learn the value of accepting the harsh realities of failure and improving oneself in order to achieve greatness. Now along with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, Pierce has learned to accept his new role as one of the reliable players off-the-bench. Together they have slowly found their stride after a dismal start to the season and learned to adjust on-the-fly just like how a promising poker player and a world-class basketball talent should.