Former boxer Said El Harrak makes his mark in poker
Retired super welterweight professional boxer Said El Harrak (12-4-2, 7KO) is a man used to being in the spotlight. He fought on the “Fight of the Century” undercard and now he’s making moves in a completely different spotlight.
After moving to Santa Clarita, California in his youth, the Moroccan took up boxing and stepped into the ring eighteen times without dishonor. His record stood at twelve wins, four losses and two draws before hanging up his gloves after losing to current top super welterweight contender Terrell Gausha in 2015.
A CAREER CHANGE
Fighting in Henderson, Nevada, little did he know his next career would literally be right down the street in Las Vegas. He now cites poker as his profession and he has certainly found success!
El Harrak can now say that he was also a knockout on the green felt of the poker table since he won on the World Series of Poker circuit. But that’s not the only crossover between pugilism and poker, as many prominent names on both sides of the divide have had success.
OTHER BOXING/POKER CONNECTIONS
Former WBC interim lightweight champion Ryan Garcia, who is set to return in April against Emanuel Tagoe, has often been seen taking the tables. Current WBA #1 ranked middleweight Chris Eubank Jnr. is another fighter who likes to go all-in. He pitched himself as a potential opponent in a competition in London with the added incentive being that whoever brings his knockout from the table will win £10,000 ($13,000).
Meanwhile, one person who has taken the step in the opposite direction is Phil Ivey; one of the best poker players of all time. Not content with winning ten World Series of Poker bracelets and earning over $25 million in prize money, he co-founded All In Entertainment with Jeff Fried. The pair supported Dusty Hernandez-Harrison early in his boxing career and promoted former undefeated two-division world champion Andre Ward, before his retirement.
Many may wonder why two of the most popular activities that seem so opposite come together with such frequency. It may be hard to see where the connection comes from. However, there are tangible crossovers. Both boxing and poker rely heavily on strategy and the best reps train hard to become the best.
The best champions don’t rely on having a chance to hit, and poker players won’t stay long if they go all-in, hoping they’ll scare off other players. Remember that an average fighter can defeat a world champion if he is not mentally prepared. Likewise, the poker player can suffer a massive loss with a momentary lack of concentration.
Observation and patience are massive in both activities and part of the best game plan. Boxers will look for the right moment to attack, waiting for their opponent’s defenses to be brought down before delivering a knockout blow.
In poker, players at the table look for clues, as they aim to read the intentions of the other player before committing to making their own move. The similarities go further. You need resilience, courage, informed decision-making, and a positive attitude before you can bring home the fruits of your labor.
A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION
For El Harrak, there is no doubt that his successes have been born out of his ability to embrace discipline. He is certainly grateful for his boxing career and his influence, as he might not have collected around $750,000 in earnings so far at the table without it.
“I became a professional boxer. In 2016, I retired. I love poker, so I said, ‘let me try to take my last
paycheck in boxing and put it in poker. I do it constantly.
“Boxing is all about reading your opponent. I feel like I can pick up on tell and betting habits. I like the psychological act of the game.”
Said El Harrak – Retired Super Welterweight Competitor
So this is it! Ever thought there was no connection between soft science and poker, consider El Harrak’s opinion and it just might change your mind.
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