Fourteen-year NFL veteran Calais Campbell has a plan for when he hangs up his cleats. The six-time Pro Bowl player, three-time All-Pro and member of the 2010s All-Decade Team wants to conquer the world of poker. At a World Series of Poker (WSOP) event this past weekend, Campbell finished in 2,405th place out of a 20,080-entrant field in the WSOP Housewarming tournament in Las Vegas. It was the fourth-largest field in WSOP history. While it wasn’t a win, Campbell knows he just needs time to master the game.
“I really didn’t expect to win today, I really just wanted to play and get some experience,” Campbell said to The Sporting News after being eliminated from the Housewarming. “I don’t play enough to be really good like that. I just wanted some reps and it was fun to go out there and compete.”
Whether it be Texas Hold’ em, Omaha, Hi/Lo, Razz or any of the other variations, high-stakes poker is no joke. If you want to be proficient you need to put in countless hours of study and work. It’s a full-time job, just like playing defensive end in the NFL.
As an athlete at the highest level we already know Campbell has the requisite discipline to commit to a task like this. After a career of demolishing quarterbacks, high-stakes poker will likely give him the competitive rush he and all athletes need in retirement.
“I never spent time to be good at poker. I just enjoyed it, Campbell said on how he approaches the game. “When I retire, I plan on putting in a lot more effort to be really good at poker. I want to win the WSOP Main Event. It’s a tough thing that very few people have done, but I feel like why not? If it can be done, why not me? Just to win a bracelet would be cool. It’s really just about getting the reps, getting the experience. Like anything else, it takes time to be good at it, and eventually, I plan to be a pretty good poker player.”
It’s remarkable how confident pro athletes are or really anyone that has achieved the height of their profession. When you’ve done something only a small amount of people have done or can do, you feel like there is nothing you can’t accomplish.
Experts estimate the odds of a high school player making the NFL as anywhere between 0.2 and 1.6 percent. The acronym “NFL” colloquially stands for not for long, as the average career is just about three years.
The Ravens’ DE has already defied the majority of the odds. He was a second-round pick. Not only did he make the league and has been a player for 14 years. He’s reached the highest heights with All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. The only thing missing is a Super Bowl title, but that’s a team award in the ultimate team sport. He’ll need his entire team to be very good and lucky.
“Everybody that plays this game wants to be a champion,” Campbell said about wanting to win a Super Bowl. “You know you’re a champion at heart, but you have to get it on paper. I just want to go out there and have a chance to compete for a Super Bowl again.”
In his rookie season Campbell appeared in Super Bowl XLII as a member of the Arizona Cardinals and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now, the odds of winning the WSOP lie anywhere between 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 6,000 depending on your skill level. Of course luck plays a factor here as well. But it’s likely given what he’s accomplished, the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year likes those odds just fine.