Last year, Rafael Nadal signed the biggest sponsorship deal in poker history with PokerStars.
Math math math 18 months later, he’s ready to play his first live tournament.
Nadal, known by many as “The Spanish Entity” for his good looks wit and charm, will play a charity poker tournament at the EPT Prague on December 12th.
We’ve been saying for years that poker needs to bring some sexy back. While globally poker is bigger than it has ever been, the buzz and sex appeal that accompanied the boom years simply doesn’t exist, as the game has been overrun mostly by personality void math geeks (albeit higher caliber folks, for the most part) with little mass public appeal.
Celebs that frequented events from 2003-2006 (Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire, those That 70’s Show kids, Oliver Hudson, Joanna Krupa, shit, even James Woods) don’t play any more. So much of that fun and excitement is gone.
If Nadal can get that ball rolling again, great. We expect some big headlines, internationally at least, from this.
If you’re looking at where the growth segments for the game are, PokerStars, focusing on leveraging sports stars with broad appeal, is spot on. Appeal to the competitive nature of people, and do so with marketable stars. It’s a model we expect the WSOP to follow (Michael Phelps, anyone?) and we’re surprised Ultimate Poker (UFC? hello? is this thing on?) hasn’t done more of in the States yet.
Read more about Nadal’s first live poker appearance here.