Race Weekend Central

From F1 to High Stakes

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Great mental agility and the ability to stay calm under pressure, two essential skills that professional poker players and Formula One drivers have in common. The same exhilaration felt speeding around the track can be felt when raising your bets at the card table, beating your opponent in either is your key focus.  

Millions of people around the world enjoy playing poker games online or in-person at the casino. Some of the most experienced players enter into poker tournaments and participate in a series of games, with some high stakes games needing significant capital in order to be able to buy-in. 

One group of people with the ability to buy-in to these games are Formula One drivers and many are known to enjoy a game or two at the card table, either online or when visiting a casino. Here are just some F1 stars that have a interest in high stakes poker:

Jaime Alguersuari

Spanish Jaime Alguersuari may now be retired from racing and enjoying a new life as a DJ, but at the height of his track career he was the youngest Formula One racer to start a Grand Prix at the age of just 19. The record was later broken by Max Verstappen in 2015, when he started the Grand Prix aged 17. 

Alguersuari spent three years as a part of Formula One on the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, he was then a test driver for the Italian team Pirelli between 2012 and 2013.

Jaime has always been open about his love of the game poker, it was this passion for the game that led to him taking on the role of ambassador for PartyPoker. He has remarked on the similarities between F1 racing and poker, stating that in both the individual must pick spots when to be aggressive.

Lewis Hamilton

One of the most famous names in Formula One racing, British driver Lewis Hamilton hailing from Hertfordshire, has won the championship seven times. He shares the title for most F1 wins with Michael Schumacher.

He has now surpassed a total of 100 race wins but since 2021 has been unable to win any F1 races in its current era with Mercedes. Hamilton is now set to join the Ferrari team for the 2025 season.

The racer has been vocal about many of his interests outside of Formula One, he is considered to be an environmental and social activist and launched a vegan restaurant in London in 2019, as he himself leads a vegan lifestyle. Hamilton has also always been interested in music and featured on Christina Aguilera’s track ‘Pipe’ in 2018.

Poker is another interest he has and in 2020 he joined a high stakes tournament with a $10,300 buy-in which came with a $1.25 million dollar guarantee. However, he only came 113th place out of 130 places.

Lewis has been spotted at both casino poker tables and participating in online tournaments. While he is until to go pro at poker any time soon, the racer sure does have the capital to participate in as many high stakes games as he wants.

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella, also known as Fisico, has won three Formula One championships over the course of his career. The Italian first learnt to race as a youngster on the Guidonia’s Kart circuit.

He then moved on to compete in Formula Three Championships in the 1990s, achieving victory in 1994 after winning races in Monaco and Macau. Fisichella made the move to F1 in 1996 and has since driven for a number of teams, including Team Minardi, Mild Seven Benetton Playlife, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari.

Now retired from F1, Giancarlo enjoys a range of hobbies including poker. Just like Jaime Alguersuari he was also an ambassador for partypoker in 2009. 

The racer likes to pay high stakes and participated in a charity high stakes tournament in 2008 that was broadcast live on television. Other drivers including Eddie Irvine, Giorgio Pantano and Tonio Liuzzi also competed but the tournament was won by Nico Rosberg, who took home a $42,000 prize.

Other honourable mentions of F1 stars that enjoy high stakes poker…

Two other Formula One drivers with a love for the game include the Spanish driver Fernando Alonso and German Michael Schumacher.

Alonso, a two time winner of the F1 championship, has shared social media posts of his poker tournaments played with friends. He is known to be a card shark within his social circle. 

F1 legend Schumacher is a seven time champion and enjoyed a 19 year successful racing career. Although he has been out of the spotlight since a ski accident in 2013, the star previously participated in charity high stakes poker tournaments and private games with friends too.

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