Will Magnus Carlsen Turn to Poker after Chess?

August 2, 2022
Andrew Burnett

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen’s decision not to defend his title has sparked debate that the Norwegian genius may be about to turn his attention to another of his great loves – poker!

31-year-old Carlsen chose International Chess Day to deliver his bombshell announcement that he wouldn’t defend his title against Russian challenger Ian “Nepo” Nepomniachtchi.

Carlsen, who is the reigning 5-time World Champion and has spent 11 years as number one in the rating list, revealed his decision on the first episode of the Unibet-sponsored podcast, ‘The Magnus Effect’.

He told Unibet sports presenter Magnus Barstad, “I feel I don't have a lot to gain, I don't particularly like it [the world championship matches], and although I'm sure a match would be interesting for historical reasons and all of that, I don't have any inclination to play and I will simply not play the match.”

Although he still plans to play chess, his decision not to focus on the gruelling world championship cycle has led many to believe he will turn his attention more to poker.

Carlsen recently appeared at the World Series of Poker, taking a shot at the Main Event although he crashed out on day 1c after a rollercoaster ride, chipping up early but eventually busting out when his A9 offsuit ran into pocket queens...

That wasn’t the end of his poker run in Vegas, though, as he featured in a $20k buy-in cash game with Phil Ivey, with Magnus keen to show off his new friend...

Carlsen has been spending quite a bit of time at the poker tables this year, most notably with a deep run in the Norwegian Poker Championships in April.

That event saw Carlsen finish in 25th spot out of 1050 runners for his first official Hendon Mob cash of €5160 ($5,681), mere pocket change to the multi-millionaire owner of the PlayMagnus group.

However, it attracted the attention of chess-fanatic Daniel Negreanu, who did a hand breakdown on one of Magnus’ huge bluffs at the tournament (which was held in Dublin due to Norwegian gambling regulations).

Now that the world champion has decided to relinquish his chess crown, he may well turn his attention to the poker world, where his incredible analytical mind should find plenty of new challenges.

Magnus wouldn’t be the first player to move from chess to poker, with Dan Harrington, Dan “Cowboy” Smith, and Mike “Timex” McDonald all starting out as gifted chess players before finding fame and fortune on the green felt.

Magnus has the fame and fortune already, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the poker table if he decides that’s his next big challenge. Watch this space!

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