There is huge excitement around PokerStars today with the news that the Brazilian soccer sensation Neymar Jr. is returning to the world’s largest online poker site for a spectacular new partnership.
It represents a realigning of the stars: a global great on the soccer field with the world’s leading card room.
One of the most talented footballers the game has ever seen, Neymar has long been a passionate poker player too, with numerous appearances on the European Poker Tour (EPT), the Brazil Series of Poker (BSOP) and at the online tables. He returns to the PokerStars fold for a fresh collaboration across the brand.
“When I’m not playing football, I love playing cards,” Neymar said as the partnership was announced. “Competing with my friends is a huge passion of mine, I love the sense of community, the fun, and the unpredictable moments that can occur in any game. As a true poker fan, I am excited to start a new chapter with PokerStars. Together we’ll be creating moments for our community and fans all over the world.”
In short: Neymar is IN!
Martin Nieri, Global Director of Brand and Creative at PokerStars, echoed the excitement and underlined the significance of the new partnership.
“Neymar Jr is a true global superstar,” Nieri said. “But what underpins this partnership is his genuine love for poker. It’s about a shared passion for the game and the beautiful uncertainty at the heart of it. At PokerStars, we are constantly trying new things to bring new energy, excitement, and entertainment to our customers. Together with Neymar Jr we believe we can take this to the next level for the PokerStars community.”
Neymar Jr is one of the biggest stars in world soccer, and the most expensive player ever transferred between clubs. Still only 28 years old, he has played 103 times for Brazil, scoring 64 goals, and is also a legend at three domestic clubs in three countries.
He scored 105 goals in 186 appearances for Santos, in Brazil, which earned him a move to the Catalan giants Barcelona. Neymar scored 105 goals in 145 appearances there, in all competitions, and won the treble of La Liga title, Spanish Cup and the Champions League in 2014.
He moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a fee of €222 million — still a world record. Neymar has been the undisputed star of football in France ever since, and has won the Ligue 1 title in each of the three seasons since he arrived. Neymar has scored 79 goals in 97 appearances so far.
Celebrities come and go in the world of tournament poker, but ever since he first set foot in the EPT Barcelona tournament room in 2015, Neymar was clearly different. Here was a player whose passion for the game was totally genuine — how else to explain the fact that he was still buying into side events through the night, long after his made-for-television sit-and-goes had ended, or he had been knocked out of the high roller events.
Neymar’s security guards eventually learned that their jobs weren’t always going to mean battling away screaming fans amid a barrage of camera flashes. By the end of most days at EPT Barcelona, Neymar could be found in a corner of a tournament room, playing the last €1K on the schedule, happily chatting away to the fortunate seven other people happened to be on a table that they were now sharing with a superstar. The security guards sat nearby eating snack or playing on their phones.
Neymar has repeatedly demonstrated that his love for the game is genuine, his skills solid and that his enjoyment has rubbed off on friends and team-mates. Gerard Pique, Arturo Vidal and Giovanni Lo Celso are among other football superstars to join Neymar at the EPT tables, while the man himself made the final table of the BSOP High Roller in 2018, finishing sixth. He has also put together a good few results playing online, including cashes in the Sunday Warm-Up, the Hot $215 and a 12th place finish during SCOOP.
Both Neymar and PokerStars are keeping their cards close to their chests at this stage as to what’s in store for the partnership. We are none the wiser than anybody as to what we can expect over the coming months, but one suspects Neymar will be back on the felt — both virtual and live — as soon as schedules permit.
We’ll have all the information on PokerStars Blog, as always.