Every year, the World Series of Poker draws players in from all walks of life, and this year PokerNews came across famous footballer John Arne Riise in the field for the $10,000 Main Event.
"I'm sponsored by Betsson, a betting company, and I like to play poker," Riise said about what brought him to Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event. "It's my third or fourth year playing the Main Event, but I've been to Vegas seven times already. It's one of my favorite places to go to."
After starting the tournament with 50,000 in chips, Riise went on to more than double his stack. Riise advanced to Day 2 of the event with 111,900 in chips after a successful Day 1c, and while he still has a long way to go if he wants to win the $8 million first-place prize, he claimed this to be his best start.
"This is my best year," Riise said. "I'm struggling a little bit now after I lost a big pot with kings against aces — all in preflop in an 80,000-chip pot. So I lost a lot there and am struggling now."
Heading into the final one hour of play on Thursday's Day 2, Riise had about 65,000 in chips going into the 1,000/2,000/300 level. Going forward, Riise will definitely be someone we'll have our eye on as we see if he delivers as much as his thunderous left foot does.
Speaking of Riise's cannon of a left foot on the pitch, the Norwegian spent the recent Sunday on a different green playing surface, but one that he is very much experienced in — the soccer field. The former Liverpool standout, who won the Champions League title with the squad in 2005, participated as part of team Norway in the World Cup of Vegas, a 16-team tournament organized by Timothy Adams that has taken place for the past three years at Las Vegas Indoor Soccer.
"It went well," said Riise of the tournament. "It was a great day, a long day with all the matches and my body was aching after that, but it was good fun with the boys and nice to meet other people from the other countries. It was certainly competitive at the end."
The Norwegian team advanced to the knockout stage and made it to the semifinals where they played against Brazil, the defending champions. Down two goals with under a minute left, Riise put the team on his back and buried two rocket shots to tie the game. Norway then won in a penalty shootout with Riise securing the first goal in it for his country.
"They were a little bit... loud, you know," Riise said of the Brazilians with a slight smile. "They were winning 5-3 with 58 seconds to go, and I scored two goals at the end. That was the real big game for us because we really wanted to beat them, but in the final we were absolutely done, we were finished — no more power, and no more energy left. It was an amazing day."
In the end, Norway lost to France 8-3 in the finals to give the Frenchmen their first World Cup of Vegas title, and with that Riise was focussed on the felt.
"I'm trying to get to Day 3 and see what happens," he said.