Ronaldo Nazario and Rafael Nadal are two of the biggest names of all time in their respective sports, but now the two athletic giants will be adding PokerStars to their resumes as well.
Nazario, who is best known simply as Ronaldo, is a legend of Brazilian soccer, while Nadal has been dominating the professional tennis circuit to the tune of 14 Grand Slam championships so far in his career.
Now, these two legends of sport are set to take each other on in a new arena: the world of heads-up poker. On November 6, Ronaldo and Nadal are set to take part in “The Duel,” a PokerStars match set to be broadcast live from London. It’s a match that may not feature transcendent poker talent, but which should draw plenty of attention for fans of both athletes from around the world.
This isn’t the first time the two players have met at the poker table, however. Both Ronaldo and Nadal took part in a charity event last year at the European Poker Tour Prague. In that encounter, Nadal got the best of the footballer from Brazil, ultimately winning the event.
“It was my first live poker tournament when I last played against Ronaldo and one year later I’m more confident with my skill level,” Nadal said. “I really enjoy playing poker and the challenge of learning as quickly as possible, so I can’t wait to get back into training on my game and to play against Ronaldo.”
Nadal was a major signing for PokerStars, who targeted the tennis pro when they entered the newly regulated Spanish online gambling market. Since becoming a part of the PokerStars team, Nadal has participated in a variety of events, including a heads-up match against poker superstar Vanessa Selbst. Nadal was unable to overcome one of the top poker players in the world, as Selbst won that match, though it added up to some good experience for the Spaniard.
Ronaldo is also a PokerStars.com ambassador, and says that he has been itching for a rematch with Nadal ever since that six-man event in Prague.
“I challenged Rafa to a rematch after finding out he was preparing for another live poker game,” Ronaldo said. “The last time we played together Rafa won the match and it was a lot of fun. This time it will be different, though, because I have been improving my own poker strategy and will be more prepared.”
Nadal was also featured in a new viral campaign for the competition, one in which the nine-time French Open is learning more about bluffing. In the video, Nadal poses as a helicopter pilot who will be flying couples over Majorca. Not surprisingly, many of the passengers immediately recognize Rafa, but he does manage to convince them to stay in the helicopter with him, at least for a little while.
Along with his French Open titles, Nadal has also won Wimbledon and the US Open twice each, and also has an Australian Open title. He has won over $70 million in prize money during his career.
Ronaldo made 98 appearances with the Brazilian national soccer team, scoring 62 goals and winning World Cups for his country in 1994 and 2002. He also enjoyed an outstanding club career, primarily with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.