Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer, former Light Heavyweight champion and current Bellator MMA fighter Tito Ortiz has already conquered the world of mixed martial arts, but did you know he’s also an avid poker player? That’s right, you might have even seen him on PokerStars’ very own Shark Cage show, where he competes for the grand jackpot of up to one million dollars with other famous players like retired soccer superstar Ronaldo Nazario and tennis prodigies Rafael Nadal and Boris Becker.

Ortiz, a native of Huntington Beach, California, is one of the mixed martial arts scene’s most prominent figures with an impressive 30 bouts to his name. His most recent fight was on November 15, 2014, where he defeated Stephan Bonnar by decision. Earlier that year, he defeated Russian martial artist Alexander Shlemenko with an arm-triangle choke.

Tito Ortiz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Tito Ortiz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Outside of the ring, Tito’s a father of three boys, including 2 with former porn star Jenna Jameson, but he has focused heavily on his outside the ring interests; he’s the founder of a successful line of MMA equipment and clothing line called Punishment Athletics, and an MMA training gym, also called Punishment, in his home city of Huntington Beach.

A few years ago, http://www.fulltilt.com constantly sponsored mixed martial arts events, but then slowed down. Tito Ortiz hopes to see that change, so he’s participating in the tournament, drawing attention to this cause. But how does a man with an 18-11 fight record do at the poker tables? According to fellow poker player Randall Flowers, the prize fighter actually has a very defensive style, where he just waits to see what other players will do before making any moves of his own. A style, Flowers mentioned, also employed by Ronaldo.

Ortiz, himself, mentioned that there are various similarities between what goes on inside the cage and at the poker tables. For example, Ortiz mentioned that the first thing he does on both activities is measure up all the players, study their techniques and try to figure out what’s the possible counter. By studying his opponents, Ortiz has managed to learn some tricks so he can play better. “I try to play tight, and when I play loose, I try to get out fast” said the pugilist. “It’s a learning experience, you learn something new every day” added Ortiz.

Tito Ortiz got into fighting during high school when he joined the wrestling team; that’s when he found he had a talent for contact sports. “It’s been lots of troubles and tribulations, a lot of up and downs,” he added. Tito also credits martial arts for saving his life,  helping him make it through school and college, and now, seventeen years later, he’s still at it and in the greatest shape he’s ever been in.

When asked about advice on how to be a better poker player, Ortiz said that it’s about preparation, to keep constantly playing online, playing with smaller bets or a smaller casino, and often so you can get the hang of it. He also recommends not dwelling on all the possible moves you could have made during a game, and also to take some time to clear your mind by reading a book. “You should give your mind a break, things like that will let you reboot your brain.”

Tito Ortiz (Sherdog)

Tito Ortiz (Sherdog)

An important piece of advice from Tito is that you should watch your opponents because, “sometimes you’ll catch a guy not putting all in, you’re kinda doubting his bet or the way he shifts his shoulders or how he checks, little small things that you watch and you kind of really learn a lot from how guys [move] and their mentality”. He mentioned that his experience as a professional fighter gave him an edge in noticing these small details that reveal people’s attitudes.

Tito is definitely a savvy business man with his career as fighter manager, avid poker player and of course, prize fighter in Bellator MMA, and he definitely goes all in with whatever he does. It’s big news if Tito wins big at the Shark Cage, because it’ll put fighters back in Full Tilt’s sight, and who knows? Maybe they’ll go back to sponsoring mixed martial arts fighters. Perhaps the next great Tito Ortiz is out there, but lacks the means to dedicate themselves full time to fighting — maybe this will nudge Full Tilt towards them the right way.