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Sports Stars and Poker – A Match Made in Heaven?

Posted by Ivan Potocki, January 25, 2015

More and more well-known sports stars are being signed by the big poker rooms. This trend started a while back as the rooms became aware that a recognizable face will attract people who would perhaps never have otherwise taken an interest in online poker. Boris Becker, Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, and Fatima de Melo are just a few of the names that you can see at the green felt these days.

 

Are they good for the game?

Working in my current capacity, I often hear people complaining that these people are don’t ‘deserve’ to sit where they sit as high paid poker ambassadors - that they would never get there on their own and that their poker skills don't warrant the attention they are getting. I couldn't agree more and, I am sure, many of them would also agree on those points. But...

It is all too easy to forget about the external aspects of the game and how fragile the poker economy is. In order for poker to continue to grow, we need the influx of new players (live and online) on a daily basis. People need to take an interest and start noticing poker as something fun and cool; and what’s better to make a product cool than an endorsement by a world renown athlete?

Sportifying poker

If you haven’t been following the most recent developments on the poker scene, you may have missed the efforts by the Global Poker Index (GPI) and its lead man, Alex Dreyfus, to, as they put it, ‘sportify’ poker. This concept, although maybe a bit far-fetched, could bring the game to a whole different level and turn it into a respectable sport.

Whether or not, and to what extent, these efforts will be successful remains to be seen, but endorsements by sports stars will certainly help them go a long way. If the things turn out all right, who knows what it could mean for the future of the game we all hold dear?

Go with the flow

The game of poker has changed significantly since it first started gaining popularity. The fact of the matter is that at this point it would benefit greatly from being reinserted into the mainstream media once again and the support from the sports stars could do just that.

As an example, Ronaldo has just recently made a very deep run in the PCA Main Event and he was receiving huge support from his fans on social media. A lot of these people are not poker players, but some of them will most certainly give it a try after seeing one of their favorite football players just missing the final table.

Had he won, his fans would have gone crazy and, no doubt, many of them would be flocking to poker. If Ronaldo is playing, it must be a great game, right?

Overall, poker, like any other game or sport, needs its heroes, and although new generations of poker players may be very sophisticated in terms of game itself, they often don’t make for great heroes; they are not someone the everyday man can relate to. This is why we need sports stars on the felt to help promote the game and bring in new blood. Who knows, with the competitive drive that’s inherent to all top athletes, it wouldn’t be shocking to see some of them become top level players as well!

 


Ivan PotockiIvan Potocki is a veteran Titan Poker player who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and spent part of his childhood under war conditions. He studied English language and literature and discovered Texas Hold’em while in college. After working different jobs he turned to poker full time and this serves as his main source of income.


 

Further Reading:  

Titan Poker Benefits
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texas hold'em


Texas Hold'em Poker Guide

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Why Poker Is Better than Sex

 

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