Brazilian football idol Ronaldo returned to Barcelona this week to take part in the Poker Stars European Poker Tour event that has become Spain’s biggest annual poker festival. Barcelona was where Ronaldo played before breaking the world transfer record with his GBP 19.5 Million move to Inter Milan. The record has now been set at a staggering EUR 100 Million, thanks to Gareth Bale’s move from Tottenham Hotspurs to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo took part in the EUR 5,000 ‘Phenomenon Table’ – Ronaldo’s nickname as a player – with three Spaniards who won their places by playing online poker in Spanish qualifier events organized by PokerStars. Jose Luis Saez from Madrid, Vicente Delgado from Malaga and Manuel Correas from Cordoba were the lucky winners, although Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst won the EUR 5,000 and donated the prize to charity
Spanish poker rooms have obviously remained popular despite the country’s economic woes, as the Estrellas Main Event earlier this week attracted a record 1,798 players, becoming the largest EUR 1,000 event outside of Las Vegas. Ronaldo, meanwhile, was delighted to try his aim at poker, comparing it to his football career.
“I always look to give my best in everything, in football and in life. Poker is another challenge that excites me,” said Ronaldo. “For me, there are a lot of similarities between football and poker – it takes a lot of mental discipline, practice and training.”
Since the Spanish gambling laws changed last year, the world of sportsbooks and poker has gone from strength to strength, despite heavy fines. With so many players taking part in the Barcelona PokerStars event, it seems that Spanish poker is still on the rise.
The European Poker Tour is the largest and richest in Europe, paying out half a billion in prizes since 2014, and with six more events scheduled, as well as this Barcelona event, it is set to hand out a lot more in the future.