Cristiano Ronaldo is like the Michael Jordan of football - everyone knows who he is, and everyone knows what he does. After all, as of 2016 he was the most liked person on Facebook with more than 116 million likes, and that number has since grown. However, not everyone knows that Ronaldo is also a highly skilled poker player who has competed on the highest level against some of the best professional poker stars in the world.
There are plenty of sports stars who like to play poker and many of them wind up starring in televised tournaments to generate publicity and exposure for the events. But Ronaldo's involvement in high-stakes poker has been particularly remarkable, much like his performance on the pitch. While he has stated that football will always be his favourite sport, he's also made it known that poker is his favourite game.
How Did Ronaldo Get So Good at Poker?
Cristiano's love for poker started at home with his friends, where he used to play the game for hours to pass time. Most people get to be great at one sport or game, but he's got the best of both worlds. So how did he get so good, and why is he so good at football and poker? You would think that, after hours of intensive footballing, he would be too exhausted to focus on an intense poker match. Well, there may be a correlation between the famous footballer's skills on the pitch and at the poker table – the rules of engagement.
If you really start to analyse the similarities between the game of football and poker, you'll see that almost anyone who is good at football can also become a decent poker player. However, not every poker player can easily become a pro footballer. So, in that sense, one could argue that Ronaldo has a mental advantage over the typical poker player, primarily because he's used to maintaining intensity and focus through tougher tribulations than a poker match.
The Connection Between Football and Poker
Both football and poker have a reliable set of rules that high-level players are expected to know and leverage. In football, simply knowing the rules can't make up for a lack of athleticism, but in poker the rules of engagement are all you need to get started climbing the ranks. Ronaldo probably started like most of us, studying a poker glossary and playing a few games with family and friends.
Ultimately, Ronaldo's skill at the poker table comes from his ability to persist where other players would give up. Football requires a lot of stamina and commitment, especially at a professional level. Having that kind of resolve and mental resilience at a poker table can be an asset for a football player, which may explain why other pro footballers like Gerard Pique, Neymar, and Tony Cascarino are also quite decent poker players.
Taking Advantage of Time Off
Ronaldo has had a few setbacks over the years, giving him the opportunity to take some time away from football. It was during those spurts that he really started making appearances as a poker player. In 2015, he was unable to play for a while due to sustaining a couple of injuries during the European Tournament. While these stumbling blocks caused many fans to worry, Ronaldo bounced back nicely as a footballer, and the time off gave him the chance to surpass his peers in poker as well.
Injuries are never a good thing in football, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems Ronaldo has fared quite well athletically and had the extra advantage of being able to focus on a second craft while healing. Still, there are some who question just how good he might have been at football without injuries, considering he still went down in history as one of the greatest footballers ever.
He Is a Member of Team PokerStars
The fastest way to answer just how good Ronaldo is would be to simply tell you that he's a bonafide member of Team PokerStars. You don't just become a PokerStars member because you're a celebrity – you have to at least be able to play poker at a high-intermediate level. PokerStars players are expected to perform at the highest level, and even if they don't make the greatest decisions beneath the surface, their poker faces are always spot on.
Speaking of poker faces, Ronaldo's unwavering seriousness at the table is reminiscent of his fiery fury on the pitch. Even through the chaotic back and forth of a football match, he maintains focus, so it seems like a one-on-one duel of any kind should be a walk in the park for him.
He Has Beaten Aaron Paul in a PokerStars Duel
Aaron Paul, the star of the hit television show Breaking Bad, is known for his exceptional poker skills and has starred in a number of televised poker events. If you've ever seen Aaron Paul play, that gives you an idea of how good Cristiano Ronaldo really is at poker. Most people expected Aaron to win against Ronaldo, but the Portuguese footballer shocked the world with a serious performance in one of the most epic PokerStars duels ever. There's been talk about an upcoming rematch between the two, although no official date has been set. Nonetheless, the match wound up being one of the most memorable PokerStars events in history.
Poker and Philanthropy
Another cool aspect of Ronaldo's poker-playing habit is that he donates winnings to charity. Of course, it would seem rather greedy if he kept the funds for himself, considering how large his salary is. In his last tournament against Aaron Paul, he donated all his winnings to charity. That doesn't really speak to how good of a poker player he is, but if you think about the definition of the word “good,” it means he's definitely a good poker player because he's chipping in towards the greater good every time he wins.