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Ronaldo: "We Have to Make Clear that Poker is a Mind Game"

He’s the only football player ever to be nicknamed “phenomenon."

He received that nickname because his skills on the pitch were simply indescribable.

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is still seen by many as the best football player of all time. “Probably the best striker of all time," said 1970 World Cup winner Tostao.

Former coach Bobby Robson called him “the fastest I’ve ever seen running with the ball."

Five years after the end of his active career the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year has become the spearhead of PokerStars' promotion campaign in Brazil along with Neymar Jr.

On his first appearance in the PCA Main Event a year ago Ronaldo made a surprise deep run, finishing 26th out of 816 players. He’s back in 2016 to have another go and took a couple of minutes to talk to the poker media beforehand.

Note: This interview was carried out together with Robbie Strazynski of PokerUpdate.


Not alone.

RS: As a former football player you’ve always been part of a team. How do you make the adjustment to an individual’s game like poker?

Ronaldo: I grew up in a team, I always had my team mates around me, and I really still have my team. I’m not alone when I am at the table.

I feel I have my fans with me and my staff. I don’t feel alone at all.

RS: Another place where you certainly never feel alone is at home. Do you ever invite friends over to play just for fun?

Ronaldo: For sure, yes. I have PokerStars chips and a table, too. I still work and travel a lot, but when I’m at home I love to play with friends.

I’m from Rio but I live in Sao Paolo so I have PokerStars tables at both places.

I generally prefer to play tournaments because whenever we play among friends there is only a symbolic amount of money involved.

If you bluff, everybody just calls you down. But here at a big event nobody wants to go home early so a bluff is more powerful.

PL: What do you actually do to promote poker in Brazil?

Ronaldo: We started working together three years ago when PokerStars just began to work in Brazil.


"I've traveled the world to do this"

Some people still think about poker the old way as a game played in dark rooms, but most people now know that it’s a sport that needs a lot of practice.

We’ve been doing a lot of different things to promote poker and not only in Brazil. I’ve traveled the world to do this.

There is still a lot of work to do, as for example in some places poker isn’t even allowed. We have to make clear that poker is a mind game, a modern game, and not an old-fashioned card game.

PL: You did very well in the PCA main event last year. Do you feel you’re a better player now?

Ronaldo: I think yes, I’m a better player now, but I’m not sure I can do better than last year. It is so difficult to play against all these professionals from all around the world.

But I still hope to improve compared to last year. It’s not easy, but I will try.

PL: Who’s going to win the Champions League this year?

Ronaldo: I think Barcelona is favorite for the title. We don’t know how Munich will do now that Guardiola’s going to leave.

In the end, it’s going to be between Barcelona, Munich, and Madrid.

PL: Thank you very much, Ronaldo!

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