“I’m Ronaldo. No, I’m Ronaldo. No, I’m Ronaldo.”
I know it’s all very Spartacus, but that’s the debate that’s rocking and rolling on poker forums, after The Daily Mail ran a story containing a shot of the reigning FIFA Ballon d’Or winner playing poker, after his hat-trick had helped prick a fork into Sevilla’s 35 match unbeaten home run with a 3-2 victory.
The photo shows Ronaldo sitting at the head of a [6s] [5c] [5h] [7s] [4c] board, with an associated caption stating: “Nice time to have my favorite hand [7h] [7c] #fullhouse #CR7 #poker,” and fans of the game want to know if he is going to be signed up for an online poker room.
The confusion ensues because PokerStars already have a Ronaldo in their Team SportsStars ranks. Americans devoid of any interest in football soccer don’t understand it. They have never heard of either of them. Cue the Spartacus rumblings.
PokerStars Chips Have People Wondering
All joking aside, if you take a closer look at the poker chips sitting in front of the Real Madrid and Portuguese star, you will notice that they are adorned with the PokerStars logo. And why is Ronaldo posting this photo on Facebook and Instagram? Has he ran out of shots of himself in his tiny whites? Is this the start of a promotional campaign that will see him signing with the world’s online poker room? Or is this nothing but a pipe dream coming from a man desperate to find a story?
It wasn’t that long ago that news broke of another star of football turning down a chance of a sponsorship deal with PokerStars. Controversial Paris St Germain, and Swedish striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, apparently turning down a multi-million euro deal to represent the French arm of PokerStars. Is Ronaldo going to take his place?
Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable faces in world sport (unless you live in America). He is still young, good looking, in peak fitness, and at the top of his game. He has an army of fans all over the world. This includes 35.3 million Twitter followers, and 16.6m Instagram followers. By comparison, Floyd Mayweather has 6.13m Twitter followers, and Dan Bilzerian has 8.3m Instagram followers. The Facebook photo, showing Ronaldo twirling PokerStars chips, was shared 7,888 times.
But does any of that matter?
Take the Money and Run
PokerStars Team SportStar Rafael Nadal has 7.83m Twitter followers, and yet despite being in Monte Carlo for the Masters tennis tournament, shortly before the European Poker Tour (EPT) Grand Final also took place, he hasn’t tweeted anything about poker since March 23rd. Even then, you couldn’t tell he was affiliated with Stars.
I had a great time last week playing with Vanessa. There is nothing like learning from the best. pic.twitter.com/XwRFdOqV7o— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) March 23, 2015
This makes you wonder if sports stars are keen to take the money, and yet keep their association with poker at arms length. It doesn’t matter how much you dress it up, poker is gambling, and with recent news that tennis is the most popular sport to attract corruption, and a football season blighted by bribery scandals, I’m not sure the two go hand-in-hand.
Its one thing for the likes of Neymar or Ronaldo to take snaps of themselves playing poker. But are online poker rooms going to get value for their money, and are the teams of the sports stars going to happy with their affiliation with a gambling site on an individual basis?
I don’t think so.
News of this story will die just like Spartacus did.