Born Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr., Nelly is a two time Grammy Award-winning rapper, who came to prominence in the early 1990s. Since then he has undertaken a career in music, television, film, and has started his own clothing line. Despite juggling all these career paths Nelly still finds time to engage in poker, having played in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. However, his affinity for the game has created rumors that he has had to fight against for some time, but he is usually able to laugh them off.
Although he was born in Austin, Texas, Nelly and his mother relocated to St. Louis, Missouri after his mother divorced his father. While still in high school, he formed his first musical group, St. Lunatics, which enjoyed a degree of local fame with self-produced, and self-promoted, single “Gimme What You Got” in 1996. Never one to settle, though, Nelly released his debut album Country Grammar in 2000; the record went platinum nine times over and showed that Nelly had arrived. With his musical grew, the St. Lunatics, he would release Free City in 2001, and in 2002 he released Nellyville; both went platinum — with Nellyville going platinum six times over — signaling that Nelly was here to stay.
Since then Nelly has sold over twenty-one million copies of his albums in the United States. In addition, he won the 2003 Grammy Award for best male rap performance for his single “Hot in Here,” and would win a second Grammy Award the following year. In total, he has released seven solo albums, each a major success.
He has also branched out into acting, having made appearances in The Longest Yard and several episodes of CSI: New York, just to name a few. And then there is his affinity for poker; this hobby has been the source of a great deal of joy, as well as a few headaches, for Nelly.
In 2013, when asked why he was attending a poker tournament, Nelly replied “I’m actually coming down to have a little fun…” going on to state that he was not able to play as much as he would like. Based on these statements, and his artistic and professional ventures, Nelly just does not have the time to begin a career as a professional poker player. However, he has fun playing, and always seems to look for an opportunity to make it to the poker table.
As far as strategy goes, Nelly says he chooses not to rely too much on the statistical approach many new poker players, like Joe Cada, use when playing. When asked to explain this he said “I’m more intuitive, so to speak, how I feel about it. I’m not really the math guy as far as breaking it down precise but obviously, you want your favor. If that doesn’t work I go with my gut”.
However, Nelly’s hobby has created some conflict for him in the media. In 2011, his disgruntled manager, identified as “Slim,” reported that Nelly had lost all of his assets because of a gambling problem, and was facing a foreclosure on his home because of the debts he had accumulated; this same manager also asserted that Nelly had developed a cocaine addiction, and had taken to using steroids. Such allegations created a bit of a stir in the music industry, but Nelly stated that all they were false.
In spite of such rumors, Nelly’s career has flourished. Since those statements were made back in 2011 he has released another album and does not show any signs of slowing down. As for his poker hobby, Nelly seems content to keep it a hobby for the foreseeable future.