If you've played at the highest levels of international football, you'd think throwing a few chips and cards around at the poker table would be a walk in the park.
Not so, say legendary footballers Ronaldo and Andriy Shevchenko.
Two of the famous sportsmen (along with Rafael Nadal and Alberto Tomba) to play a €100,000 charity poker tournament at EPT Prague yesterday, both Shevchenko and Ronaldo say the challenge of poker is nothing to take lightly.
So much for Shevchenko that he even swears off playing for money.
PokerListings Russia's Artur Kurvits had a chance to talk briefly with both superstars prior to the event and got a small glimpse into what it's like to make the transition from the pitch to the felt. Read more about the charity tournament itself, won by tennis legend Nadal, here.
PokerListings: Andriy, any comments about this tournament?
Andriy Shevchenko: I enjoyed the game. First of all, because it was a charity event, which was attended by famous sport stars. And to play at the same table against Daniel Negreanu was something special.
PL: What about against Ronaldo or Nadal?
Shevchenko: I'd say that in general the game today was quite beautiful and very interesting. Sometimes it was like actually real poker played "almost like" professionals (smiles).
PL: Where are you more confident: at the poker table or still on the football pitch?
Shevchenko: Football is my element. I understand football very well and have played since childhood, so I have quite a lot of experience. Now I'm just starting to learn poker and I'm only playing for fun -- no gambling.
PL: Why just for fun?
Shevchenko: This is my principle. I like to play with friends but I don't play for money. For me it is very important -- although I do have a few friends in poker, one of whom is Eugene Katchalov who helps me a little in the learning of this game.
Andriy Shevchenko (Getty images): Will stick to the pitch.
PL: So we won’t see you in the Main Event?
Shevchenko: No, I won't play these tournaments for money. I like to play poker, but don’t have plans to play for money.
PL: So, no poker career at all.
Shevchenko: Not now.
PL: What's in the near future for a football superstar like you?
Shevchenko: I finished the courses to become a football coach and received AB category, so my next step is to get a Pro license. This should happen next year.
It will take almost a year but at least I will have pleasure from spending my time with friends and family at least.
PL: I need to ask about the recent football game between Ukraine and France. What happened in the Paris?
Shevchenko: Somewhere we didn’t have luck, but the French team had a really strong performance at home. Right now it’s not easy to blame someone or analyze the game. Just that the French team played really well.
PL: Thanks for the answers and good luck!
PokerListings also had a chance for a quick chat with Brazilian football icon Ronaldo.
PokerListings: How did this tournament go for you?
Ronaldo: Against Rafa I was playing really good, pretty solid but I was quite impressed more with Daniel skills on the table.”
PL: In football you played only against men, but poker is a mixed game. Did you feel differently playing with Fatima (Moreira de Melo) at the table?
"Poker definitely is more difficult for me."
Ronaldo: There's no difference. Poker is a really democratic game and I would be glad to see more women in this event and in poker in general.
PL: You played a few poker tournaments now. Which game is harder for you?
Ronaldo: Poker definitely is more difficult for me. Yes, football is a more dynamic and physical game but in poker you have to be more concentrated and analyze every move.
And you know I like 9 because I played in football with that number but in poker these nines don’t really bring much sometimes.
PL: Do you enjoy bluffing and did you do it here?
Ronaldo: Yes I prefer to win and sometimes I can do it without good cards.
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