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World Number One Van Gerwen Keeps His Brain Sharp at the Poker Tables!

MVG Plays His Cards Right

Posted: 17.09.18 in Darts Performance Centre Blog category

World Number One Van Gerwen Keeps His Brain Sharp at the Poker Tables!


Michael van Gerwen doing what he does best at the darts oche. Photo by Sven Mandel

Dutch world number one darts icon, Michael van Gerwen has played darts since the age of 13. It has always been his dream to reign the sport and topple the likes of Phil Taylor, and it’s safe to say that he has already achieved that and more. Even though the 29-year-old recently suffered a defeat in the Dutch Darts Championship at the hands of the plucky Irishman Willie O’Connor, every player has an off day now and again. It’s almost impossible to keep van Gerwen down for too long, however. And when you consider that he’s won multiple top titles available in World Darts, “Mighty Mike” has resilience like no other in the game.

To maintain his form and three-dart average, it’s been critical for the Dutchman to keep his brain sharp away from the oche. Van Gerwen’s favorite pastime is a good game of cards and has been fascinated by poker for many years. The Dutchman even ventured into the World Series of Poker (WSOP) last summer in Las Vegas to relax by playing some cash games before the U.S. Darts Masters, alongside compatriot and poker pro Steven van Zadelhoff. Van Gerwen is also close friends with a string of other successful Dutch poker players, namely Noah Boeken and Fatima Moreira de Melo, both of whom have had success online and offline.

Van Gerwen first visited Las Vegas at the tender age of 17 and ever since has frequented Nevada regularly to take part in America’s top darts tournaments. Poker is a bigtime hobby for van Gerwen, and he has often spoken of his desire to enter the WSOP Main Event in the future. Unfortunately, his hectic darts schedule — including preparations to win the upcoming 2019 PDC World Darts Championship — prevented him from doing so in recent years.

More recently, van Gerwen opted to steer clear of the U.K. Open qualifiers to try his luck against a string of professional poker players. Mighty Mike took a flight to the Czech Republic to play in “The Big Game” event. He made a name for himself by managing to win a big hand against some of the leading poker pros on the planet, namely Steffen Sontheimer, who some regard as the best in Europe.

In van Gerwen’s earlier years, he looked up to fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld, who took the world of darts by storm when he switched codes from the British Darts Organisation (BDO) to the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). Like van Gerwen, “Barney” has also been a fan of poker through the years. Recently, Barney, who has diabetes, opted to take a much-deserved sabbatical from darts to play his second-favorite game of poker. And last year, he took part in the PokerStars Championship hosted by the Monte-Carlo Casino. Barney’s manager, Jaco van Bodegom, who taught him everything he knows about the game, traveled with him to Monaco last summer to take part in the championship at the Monte-Carlo Casino.

All in all, there are many parallels between darts and poker. But perhaps most of all is that in both games, as van Gerwen shows us, players require patience and the ability to step up a gear to crank up the pressure on their opponents.



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