Joel Lindpere: It will not be easy to beat me!
The list of current and former professional football players, who have been trying their luck at the poker tables, is almost endless. The list of footballers, who actually had success in poker, is rather short though.
On the latter list you will for sure find the former Estonian national player Joel Lindpere.
In 2016, the year after he finished his footballing career, he scored an impressive second place in the Main Event of the Estonian Poker Championship. A few years earlier he also reached the final table of the now defunct GSOP Live in Prague.
Nowadays, Lindpere is the sporting director for the Estonian Premier League team Tallinn Kalev, where Coolbet is a main sponsor. With his relations to Coolbet, he was looking very much forward to playing the first Coolbet Open in May and adding another cash to his Hendon Mob profile but then he suffered a painful bad beat.
During the Estonian Poker Championships a month earlier he suddenly felt as if somebody had put a knife in his lower back. He went to the hospital and eventually had to undergo surgery for a slipped disc.
The doctor ordered that for the next month he was not allowed to sit down for longer periods of time – something you do want to hear when you plan to go deep in a tournament like Coolbet Open!
Lindpere had to cancel his participation then but this time around he is ready to stay in his seat for many hours in the Main Event.
We asked Joel about his passion for poker and his expectations ahead of the event:
You have been playing football professionally abroad since 2005. Where and how did you start to play poker?
Joel Lindpere: I started to play poker already when I turned 21 but we did play cards for money and punishments with team mates even years before that. When you go to training camps, away games and so on, what do you do? Play cards of course…
You almost won the Estonian Poker Championships a few years ago, was that the highlight in your poker career so far?
Joel Lindpere: I think so. If you look at the statistics of my tournaments, then I have maybe played around 30 tournaments during the last 10 years 🙂 But I also got to the final table of GSOP Prague with 600 participants. That was my first big thing. Now I have played two international tournaments outside of Estonia, and in one I made it to the final table.
Is poker a good substitute to feel the same kind of adrenaline you experienced as professional athlete?
Joel Lindpere: In poker you can have tactics. You need a bit of luck as in other sports. But the real adrenaline comes when it is close to the end. You don’t need to worry about spectators or TV. It is passion but it is not team work where everything depends on each player’s contribution. In poker it is all about You – you call, you check, you choose.
You have been playing several poker events here in Tallinn before. What are your expectations ahead of Coolbet Open?
Joel Lindpere: As I know how Coolbet does things with passion like I did during my whole professional football career, I don’t need expectations. Things will go with a flow. And I will be part of it, because it is not easy to beat me.
Photo: Cash Game Festival