Olympic legend Michael Phelps has a new gold standard in mind — the World Series of Poker.
The 18-time gold medalist participated in his first World Series of Poker event on Wednesday, clanking chips alongside other high-stakes gamblers at the annual event in Las Vegas. In all, more than $200 million in prize money will be awarded in 62 separate events, Fox5Vegas.com reports.
"I always wanted to come out and play,” Phelps said. “This has been the first year I've been able to since I retired. I just came out and I wasn't going to play today, but I got talked into it. I'm just having fun.”
Entry fees into the tournaments – or buy-ins – begin at $75 and soar well past $100,000. WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky said part of poker’s allure is being able to play with the likes of Phelps and well-known poker stars like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu.
"The reality is LeBron James is in the NBA, and you can't play basketball with LeBron James if you wanted to,” Palansky said. “In poker, you can play against these guys.”
The professionals, meanwhile, said they will approach the physical and emotional grind of the game in the same way as usual.
"I try not to do anything different in my everyday life," said Dallas poker pro Arthur Morris.