Once considered a shady and obscure game played by characters featuring similar personality traits, poker has come a long way to improve its reputation and achieve an almost sport-like status. While there are still arguments going on if poker should be considered an actual sport or not, it is at least no longer an activity that majority of people frown upon.
The fact of the matter is, poker features many qualities of other sports, most prominently the competitive element of outplaying and out-bluffing other players. It is thus hardly a surprise that many football stars enjoy the game of poker a lot, as it allows their competitive drive to come out even when they aren’t out sweating and running trying to appease their demanding fans.
Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the face of PokerStars
One of the best players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo has certainly left his mark on the football world. Portuguese forward, born on February 5, 1985, was recognized as an extraordinary talent when he was just 10 years old. In 2001, he signed with Sporting, and he never looked back. His success continued with Manchester United and his current team, Spanish Real Madrid.
Writing about Ronaldo’s football successes is redundant, as every fan of the game knows them all too well. However, what some may not know that poker is other great passion. For this reason, he was signed by PokerStars, the largest online poker site on the planet, and on that occasion, the Portuguese superstar stated that, although football has always been his world, poker’s always been his game.
As of recently, Cristiano Ronaldo no longer seems to be a part of team PokerStars, as the site decided to pretty much do away with their entire Sports Stars lineup. The Amaya-owned company has been experimenting with ways to increase their casual clientele since leaving the US-based online poker market in 2011. However, this certainly won’t stop Ronaldo from playing poker with his friends whenever he can, and sharing an occasional pic from his star-studded home games.
Gerard Pique has had recorded tournament success
Barcelona’s star defensive midfielder Gerard Pique was born on February 2, 1987. Born and raised in Barcelona, this was also the club where he made his first football steps. However, Pique actually started his professional career with Manchester United in 2004, where he stayed until 2008 when he finally came back home and signed with Barcelona.
Pique’s career tournament winnings
Pique is another player whose football achievements are well-known to most fans. But he, too, is an avid poker fan, who uses every opportunity he gets to play the game. Pique has been a regular in European Poker Tour Barcelona events, and he’s had his fair share of success, accumulating around €120,000 in tournament winnings. Pique’s biggest score came when he finished third in a €5,200 EPT Barcelona side event in 2011, for a payday of €40,950.
Neymar Jr. joins Ronaldo with PokerStars
The Brazilian star Neymar Jr. started his career in Santos FC, and it didn’t take long for his talent to come out. Born in 1992, he was only 11 when he joined Santos, and a few years later, Real Madrid was already trying to get him to join the ranks. However, the team managed to convince Neymar to stay for a while and help them achieve notable successes.
In 2013, Neymar Jr. finally arrived to Europe, signing with Barcelona, and joining the likes of Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique. Apparently, apart from his love for football, he shares another passion with Pique, and that’s poker.
In May 2015, Neymar Jr. joined Cristiano Ronaldo as a member of now disbanded PokerStars Sports Stars team. The company recognized Neymar as an ideal candidate because he was already involved with poker, often posting pictures from his home games, so PokerStars figured a star of Neymar’s stature could do wonders for their brand.
So far, Neymar hasn’t had any notable tournament successes like Pique, but he’s helped raise a lot of money for various charities through special poker events gathering some of the biggest names from poker, football, and other venues. The young Brazilian clearly enjoys poker a lot and while he may not have enough time to study the game and move up through the ranks, it remains one of his favorite pastimes.
Teddy Sheringham became one of the best football to poker transitions
Unlike the other three, Teddy Sheringham is no longer an active player. That, however, doesn’t take away his well-earned star status. Born on April 2, 1966, Sheringham has achieved a lot over the course of his 24-year career. Scoring 111 goals for Millwall, his first professional club, between 1983 and 1991, he already raised to the fame. His success continued with Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur, culminating with Manchester United.
Like with the rest, we won’t try to list all the achievements of Teddy Sheringham here, as they are too many to count. However, what’s interesting is that, after retiring from professional football, he became seriously involved with poker, and he actually managed to rack up some nice results. Overall, he has around €320,000 in live tournament earnings, and his biggest score came in August of 2010, when he came in 5th in the EPT Vilamoura Main Event for €93,121.