Darts world champion Michael van Gerwen is in Las Vegas for the US Dart Masters and he's relaxing by playing cash games at the World Series of Poker.
van Gerwen said he would have loved to play the WSOP Main Event but that the darts tournament on Friday would have interfered.
The Dutch darts pro is ranked #1 in the world but plays poker as a hobby. Earlier this year he competed in the Unibet Open in London.
“I grew up loving card games,” van Gerwen told PokerListings.com. “For me the most important thing is having fun and enjoying myself. Poker pros have to make a living playing but for me it's for fun.
“I don't really put a lot time and effort into poker. I know my strength and it's darts. These guys put so much time into playing poker and studying. But it's a big hobby for me and I like it.”
Main Event in future plans.
From Shanghai to Vegas
van Gerwen first came to Las Vegas when he was 17 and has been back regularly to compete in darts tournaments.
This week's US Darts Masters event is part of the World Series of Darts hosted by the Professional Darts Corporation. It has lots of international stops and van Gerwen says darts is gaining popularity fast.
“Darts are getting big in America and also all over the world; Australia, Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, Dubai. I've just come from Shanghai to Las Vegas,” he said.
This week's event in Vegas is an open event, giving all darts players who enter a chance at competing against van Gerwen and other elite pros.
“I'll Definitely Play WSOP Main Event One Day”
van Gerwen said he would have loved to play the WSOP Main Event but his heavy darts schedule makes long poker tournaments tough.
That didn't stop him from getting in some time at the tables at the World Series of Poker.
PokerListings.com found him in a cash game with Dutch poker pro Steven Van Zadelhoff in the Kings Casino Poker Room at the Rio and Van Gerwen said he was also playing sit and go satellites.
van Gerwen says he's friends with lots of Dutch poker players, both from playing live and online.
“Coming up in the darts world is a lot like what people do in poker."
“I know Noah Boeken of course and I know Steven Van Zadelhoff very well. I know Fatima De Melo. I know most of them to be fair because we all play online and have a bit of fun,” he said.
van Gerwen said he has a lot in common with poker players but that there are important differences between poker and darts.
“Coming up in the darts world is a lot like what people do in poker,” said van Gerwen. “You start with low stakes, small tournaments, small events, and as you get better you can move up and play bigger tournaments.
"And if you get to the high level you get invited to the best tournaments in the world and that's why you do it. You need to put in a lot of time and effort but the thing with poker is you have to have a bit of luck.
“In darts it's not luck. No one wins the World Series of Poker three times in a row, you know what I mean? As a dart player you can do that.”