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NBA All-Star Klay Thompson "Killed" In Team Poker Games

Golden State Warriors Shooting Guard Said His Team Was Filled With Card Sharks

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Early in his NBA career, the team’s poker games were a financial drain for Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson.

In an interview with Maverick Carter on Kneading Dough, Thompson disclosed some of his early career leaks with his paycheck.

“What also would kill me for a while was the team poker game,” said Thompson. “We had some sharks on the team. Every road trip on the plane. It’s a great way to build camaraderie.”

The Washington State product has spent his entire eight-year career with the Warriors, which just happens to be one of the most poker-friendly franchises in the league.

David Lee, who was on the roster early in Thompson’s career, is an avid poker player and was coached by 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth. Their minority team owner, Chamath Palihapitiya, has three WSOP cashes and has gone on record talking about experiences playing in some of the biggest cash games in Las Vegas. Hellmuth, a die-hard Warriors fan, even gave the tech guru his 13th bracelet.

The team’s power forward, Draymond Green, recently appeared on a Poker After Dark high-stakes cash game and the club held a charity poker tournament in the Bay Area last March. It raised $2 million to support education and youth development for underserved kids.

But when you’re not one of the sharks in the game, on a rookie contract, and playing with guys who have been making millions in the league for several years, those games can get pretty expensive.

“If I got to buy in more than once… when I have to tell my financial advisor what happened, it’s not good,” said Thompson. “It’s like getting brought into the principal’s office.”

Eventually, Thompson figured out his way around the poker table.

“I got much better, but that was one of my faults. I love playing cards,” he said.

At this point in his career, Thompson has more than enough of a bankroll to play poker. Through the end of last season, Thompson had earned just shy of $79 million throughout his time in the league. Last summer, he signed a $190 million max contract but has been injured since the end of last season.