While you may not automatically connect the dots between the popularity of football and poker, it’s clear that they are both games of immense skill, strategy and plenty of bluffing. Long after players hang up their tracksuits for good, many are still testing their wits around poker tables and in prestigious tournaments like the World Series of Poker (WSOP)…no doubt trying their luck at taking home prize funds to rival the weekly wage they’re accustomed to. Today we’re providing some surprising facts you might not know about football players and poker…

Ronaldo digs it

Not content with being the best in the world, Brazilian Ronaldo decided to take on the poker world. Having been awarded the Ballon d’Or twice for this contribution to the game and immense skill, the footballer didn’t even bother to show to receive the award for the third time – he was too busy competing in a tournament in the Bahamas which saw him take home around $42,000. Surely small change for such a player!

 

The science bit

Psychologists believe that the reason that players including Gerard Pique, Neymar Jr, Cristiano Ronaldo and Christian Vieri love poker so much is down to the fact that it allows them to focus on themselves for once. While they’re used to relying on a team dynamic for success, poker affords them the chance to go within and work alone. Playing football is extremely physical. In contrast, poker presents the ultimate mental challenge. Its appeal to footballers apparently stems from a compulsion to be the best mentally as well as physically.

 

Got a rep to protect

Gambling of any kind has always gotten quite the bad rap. Over the last 20 years, industry professionals have identified the influential effect of professional sportsmen on the reputation of the sport. If successful, fit, healthy and super rich role models want to play poker, so should you.