Roberto Luongo: Florida Panthers Goalie Has His Future Mapped Out

 

The short window in which a professional athlete can earn money to potentially safeguard his or her family’s future is a short one compared most normal professions. Yes, it could be argued that such a window is a more lucrative one than your average job but there are many uncertainties that athletes have to consider such as injury, that don’t occur in most professions. However, for the current Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo the prospect of retirement from professional hockey isn’t one that particularly fazes him.

Luongo, who was traded back to the Panthers after spending eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, has won many honors in the NHL and has played in the Stanley Cup Final, while also having won international honors with Team Canada at the World Cup (2004) and two Winter Olympics gold medals (2010, 2014). Without a doubt, Luongo has had a career that most fledgling players can only dream about, but it seems the journey in professional sport isn’t going to end when Luongo retires from hockey.

With some veteran hockey players, setting their sights on gaining their coaching qualifications and extending their stay in the sport post-playing years, Luongo has different ideas. Luongo has been obsessed with poker, and doesn’t have the desire to usher in the next hockey stars of tomorrow like many of his fellow professionals he plays with currently.

In 2013, he made an appearance at poker's biggest annual tournament in Las Vegas, playing against some of the world’s greatest stars as reported by Yahoo Sports. Although Luongo finished in 634th place, he managed to double his money and take home nearly $20,000 and out place approximately 6,000 other competitors – a lot of which were professionals or at least seasoned players on the poker circuit.

And the puck doesn’t stop there with Luongo’s love of poker as he has set his sights on a career in the sport upon retirement. After his recent appearance at  a charity event that he organized in 2012  along with his performance in Vegas, he has been encouraged by his skillset that has enabled him to mix it with professionals. 

He attributes his newfound skills to being able to play online as a Canadian, unlike his neighbors to the south in the United States, ever since Black Friday came into play. Before Black Friday, Americans were able to utilize casino platforms ever since the first portal went live through InterCasino  in 1996. Now Americans are seeing the rest of the world catch up in the world of poker - most notably Germany, who seem to have progressed while Americans haven’t been able to hone their craft online. It’s a factor that many Americans are becoming frustrated about even if some states are now welcoming online poker back after so many years.

As Luongo’s career comes to end, it will be interesting to see what his next steps are and how quickly he transitions into the world of poker. One thing is for sure; hockey will certainly miss one of the most decorated goaltenders the sport has seen.