Magnus Carlsen surprises poker players at the 2022 Norges-Mesterskapet in Ireland

Jon Pill
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Posted on April 10, 2022 1:58 am EDT

Magnus Carlsen, the five-time world champion of chess, was spotted this weekend taking part in the Norges-Mesterskapet Poker event. The event is held in Ireland most years, as live poker for money is not legal in Norway.

While trading wood pushing for pushing chips all-in, Carlsen managed a deep run making it to the final day.

Bill Chen spotted Carlsen at the last few tables of the event, tweeting a picture along with the caption: “Magnus Carlsen what the hell!!! Just saw him at the table next to mine in Dublin! @MagnusCarlsen he’s going pretty deep in the Norwegian poker main event.”

A deep run

Carlsen himself tweeted about his deep run: “Final day of the Norwegian Poker Championship starts in a few. 39 players left. I am middle of the pack.”

Ultimately, Carlsen busted in 25th out of 1,050 entries. With Carlsen’s record in chess, it must feel strange not to come first. But that, as they say, is poker.

Carlsen’s presence at the event may just have been him enjoying some downtime from his duties at the top of the chess heap. However, he was patched up with Unibet logos. Unibet was one of the first sites to set odds on chess matches and they run an online poker site, so the match makes a certain kind of sense.

Plus his attendance comes within just a few weeks of his renewed partnership with the brand. So, there may have been a contractual element in his appearance. Taking a break now, ten days ahead of the Meltwater Champions Majors chess event on April 19, 2022, seems a little risky.

Carlsen has a comfortable lead in the Meltwater Tour standings. However, with $1.6 million in the combined Meltwater prize pools, cutting out to play a €800 (~$870) buy-in event instead of prepping openings for the seven other Grandmasters he’ll have to take on.

In the end, Carlsen took home €5,160 (~$5,600). First place took home €127,500 (€138,675).

Additionally, chess and poker have seen a lot of crossover in the last couple of years. In part, this is because Netflix’s adaptation of The Queens Gambit got a lot of card players back on the eight-by-eight. It is also driven by the strong presence of both games in the Twitch community.

The stream is clearly two-way, commentators noted that Carlsen’s strategy and bet-sizing betrayed a solid understanding of modern poker theory.

Perhaps we’ll get to see him at the WSOP.

Featured image source: Twitter