Why Are So Many Snooker Players Skilled At Poker Too?

The gradual infiltration of the WSOP by the WPBSA continues apace. It all began about 20 years ago when Steve Davis and Jimmy White were invited to fill some celebrity guest spots at a pro poker tournament and shocked everyone by getting through to the final table and dispatching some big name poker pros on the way. Davis and White continue to play poker regularly at the highest level, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. 

Matthew Stevens, Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty, the number of current and former snooker professionals making the transition to snooker is going up year on year. Here, we take a look at why that is by uncovering some basic commonalities that mean if you have an aptitude for one, there is a good chance you’ll pick the other up with relative ese.


Something that few people outside the pro snooker and poker circles truly understand is how many hours practice it takes every day. Stephen Hendry is arguably the greatest snooker player ever, and he is the first to admit that his game started to lose its edge in the early 00s when he cut down the daily practice hours, leading to him dropping out of the top 16 in 2011.

Poker has been described as a game that takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Going through those daily routines and exercises can be repetitive but it spells the difference between greatness and mediocrity. There is a growing number of legal US poker sites, such as those reviewed at https://www.legaluspokersites.com/, where aspiring players can log on any time and from anywhere to keep their game sharp.

Psychological warfare

It’s well-known that winning a hand of poker is only partially down to the cards you are dealt. It is also how you play them and how the other players play theirs. A good poker player can influence both by getting into the other player’s head and planting ideas about how good a hand he is really holding. 

Some might argue that’s irrelevant in snooker. When you’re at the table, your opponent is powerless to do anything unless you let him back in, so it shouldn’t matter who is your opponent. That’s great in theory, but it is just not so. Search Google and watch a video of Peter Ebdon playing Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2005 World Championship quarter final. Ebdon should have been dead and buried at 8-2 down, but by adopting painfully slow play, he got inside O’Sullivan’s head and the reigning champion fell apart. 

Playing the long game 

Ebdon played a long game in 2005, but this is different. Snooker players are constantly thinking ahead. Is there a safe red that could be nudged off a cushion to keep the break going later? Should they push a colour safe to help protect a 40-point lead?

Poker players need to adopt an identical mindset. There are so many things that can happen between the preflop and river, and the best players have most of them mentally mapped out.