Celebrity poker brand ambassador Boris Becker sentenced to two and a half years in prison in bankruptcy case

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: April 30, 2022 11:23 PDT

Tennis legend and intermittent poker brand ambassador has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison in connection with his ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, in which he was found guilty of attempting to shield considerable personal assets from the court's reach.

Becker, a native of Germany and a current and long-time resident of the United Kingdom, was sentenced on Friday in London's Southwark Crown Court after being convicted on four separate counts related to his ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, which began in 2017.

Judge Deborah Taylor decided on the two-and-a-half year sentence after listening to final arguments from both prosecutors and Becker's defense. Becker could have received as much as a seven-year sentence, and in reality, he'll likely spend only 15 months behind bars. Becker originally faced 24 counts of hiding assets from the insolvency proceedings, ranging from a million pounds he received from selling his share of a German car dealership to numerous missing tennis awards, including two of his Wimbledon champion trophies.

Becker denied all the charges, but was judged to have transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from his business account to other accounts and people after his June 2017 bankruptcy filing. His ex-wife Barbara and current-but-separated wife Sharlely “Lilly” Becker are among those who received funds. Becker also failed to disclose his ownership of real estate in Germany and a 75,000-share bloc in a tech company. Becker additionally failed to disclose his receipt of a €825,000 bank loan.

Becker's long dalliance with poker

Becker was a long-time amateur and celebrity-event poker player when he signed up to represent PokerStars in 2007, as an important part of Stars' outreach to its actively growing European market. Becker remained with PokerStars for nearly a decade, but had little success at the tables -- cashing for about $110,000 over his entire tourney career -- despite receiving a multitude of high-buy-in entries as a part of his deal.

In late 2016 he found a new poker sponsor in partypoker, though that deal lasted for a much shorter period. In 2020, Becker, who also played occasionally at Leon Tsoukernik's King's Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, reached yet another deal, this time representing both King's Casino live and online, with the online portion taking place on GGPoker.

There's extra continuity behind BeckerBecker's era at PokerStars' largely coincided with the Stars-repping run of French poker great Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and the two enjoy a long poker-based camaraderie. Becker's familiarity with Grospellier likely figured into Becker's GGPoker/King's deal as well, as Grospellier, before his poker success, was a professional StarCraft player in South Korea, where he became good friends with the man who would become GGPoker's founder and CEO, Michael Kim.

While its unclear whether Becker has been a profitable player online at GGPoker, it's a rather safe bet that Becker was a significant loser at live tournaments. His last cash at a live tourney occurred in 2012, and in light of his ongoing financial difficulties, it's unlikely he'll reappear at a major live event any time soon.

Featured image source: King's Casino