It’s rare to know exactly who you’re playing when it comes to online poker. You may recognise their screen name, avatar, or even their playing style, but players’ true identities are harder to discern.
That’s a fact that’s highlighted in a great new video, showing what happened when passers-by were invited to try a hand or two of heads-up hold’em in a special booth in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Members of the public, separated by a curtain from their mystery opponent, duked it out on the virtual felt using the PokerStars mobile app, only for the curtain to be suddenly drawn back to reveal Brazilian footballing superstar, local legend and PokerStars ambassador Ronaldo!
There were plenty of laughs when they realised who they’d been playing, but there was more to come. In a classic double bluff, the last ‘member of the public’ to take on Ronaldo was none other than fellow Brazilian World Cup-winning striker Bebeto! Click the video below to watch Bebeto turn the tables on his old teammate.
After the shoot, the two footballing icons stayed on for a chat with PokerStars about poker, sport, and this summer’s hotly-anticipated FIFA World Cup – the first to be played in Brazil since 1950.
Ronaldo, of course, is far from a stranger to the game of poker. “I play poker almost daily. I have been travelling around the world playing poker, visiting lots of countries and taking part in some important tournaments,” he said, proving that the lives of professional footballers can continue to inspire envy even after retirement. Bebeto may not have the same level of dedication as his former teammate, but has also seen poker factor more in his life recently thanks to his son, who recently graduated having written his thesis on poker. “He tells me that it is a sport based not on luck but on a lot of strategic thinking,” Bebeto said, “so it makes me curious to understand the game more and see if Ronaldo is really as good as he says he is!”
Football is, naturally, Bebeto’s area of expertise, and together with Ronaldo and the rest of their compatriots they can’t wait for the World Cup to kick off in their own back yard on June 12. “Of course we are all hoping that Neymar will set the tournament alight,” Bebeto said, referring to Brazil’s explosive young forward. Ronaldo added: “There are a lot of players that could make the difference, but we have a lot of faith in Neymar. We have an exceptional player in Neymar. We have a solid defence, a midfield that battles very hard and great goalscorers. We are at home, with our fans…we have everything in our favour.”
So is it a foregone conclusion, or do any other teams stand a chance this summer? In Ronaldo’s opinion there are four teams that have a great chance to win the World Cup: “Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain. They are the favourites, but we will see. As always, the Italian team could win, they have a very strong team. Russia and England should definitely be considered, as they can surprise us, and Uruguay is also a very good team.”
Ronaldo’s achievements with Brazil included helping the national team to three World Cup finals, winning two, and his individual accomplishments are similarly impressive. But there’s one record of his that could be broken during this World Cup: that of the competition’s most prolific scorer, with 15 goals. Germany’s Miroslav Klose is just one goal behind him, and is expected to play this summer. “I am very proud of that record, but records are there to be broken,” Ronaldo said, “It would be nice to keep it for a while longer, but I am cheering for someone to come along, do better, and break the record. It will be good for the sport.”
Whether or not Ronaldo’s record is still standing when the curtain comes down on the 20th FIFA World Cup, he is looking forward to what promises to be a truly memorable tournament. “It will be a great World Cup showing high technical ability, with the best players in the world on show in a country known around the world for its football. Brazil deserves this; it will be a big party!”
This is one case where we’re sure he’s not bluffing.