Most poker fans remember Bernard Lee from his 2005 ride World Series of Poker main event, or for its regular reports and columns on ESPNTHE Herald of Bostonand even Card Player’s Magazine. But the twice WSOP Circuit the winner showed off some of his other skills last week at 2023 National Games for Seniorsfacing the best in the country in Pickleball National Championship.
The event, held in Pittsburgh, attracted over 1,500 pickleball players, with 53-year-old Lee competing in the younger age group of 50-54. Despite being in one of the toughest groups, Lee had no trouble making it to the final by winning every match in his matches.
You can see Lee in action below.
He was poised to reach the championship, winning his first of three games in the final, before a calf injury threatened his title chances. His daughter, who acted as her coach, was concerned, but Lee wanted to continue playing.
“I told her she would have to cut off my leg to stop me from playing,” Lee said. “I was basically playing on one leg after the injury. I decided to just bet on my shots and try to wrap up the points as quickly as possible.
Luckily for Lee, the shots landed and the match was his.
“I am extremely grateful to be taking home gold and the 2023 National Championship.”
Lee is relatively new to pickleball, having just started playing a couple of years ago, but quickly discovered that he had a knack for it. When he’s not battling the table or reporting on poker, Lee plays pickleball for Team Engage and is also the head pro at the Life Time Boston Metrowest in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Pickleball combines many elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. The sport was invented in 1965, but has seen a surge in new players in recent years, being named the fastest growing sport in the United States for the last couple of years.
Professional pickleball teams have attracted investment from the likes of Drew Brees and LeBron James. Some bookmakers are even working to offer professional pickleball betting in the near future.