LAPT8 Bahamas: Getting a kick out of Ronaldo
The first break of the day of the LAPT Bahamas Main Event saw the 300-plus players who've come out for the event scatter from the tournament area about the Imperial Ballroom and just outside to stretch their legs and clear their thoughts during the allotted 15 minutes.
Among them was Faraz Jaka, standing nearby and busily tapping at his phone as he read and answered responses to his latest tweet:
"Apparently very famous football (soccer) player is @ my table. No idea who but every1 takin pics & he just min 3bet me," wrote Jaka, including a picture of the player in question.
Jaka grinned as he explained to us the education he was receiving over Twitter regarding his famous tablemate, the Brazilian footballer Ronaldo Nazario -- or, rather, simply Ronaldo.
Soccer fans around the world know Ronaldo, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year who led Brazil to two World Cup titles while scoring 62 goals in nearly 100 matches for his native country. Upon his retirement he was the all-time scoring leader in World Cup history, and is still regarded by many as one of the sport's all-time greats.
He's becoming increasingly known among poker players, too, in Latin American countries at least, having participated in the last two LAPT events in Brazil as well as in the BSOP Millions last fall.
When Ronaldo took his seat today a player sitting across from him eyed him for a moment, then tentatively asked, "Are you a soccer player?"
"I used to be," said Ronaldo with a grin. "But now... I'm a poker player."
Like many athletes, Ronaldo has found poker a ready outlet for satisfying that desire to compete. A couple of months ago he took on tennis pro and fellow PokerStars Sports Star Rafa Nadal in "The Duel" with Nadal coming away with the win in an entertaining, competitive match.
Ronaldo has managed to chip up above the starting stack so far while avoiding too much drama. Watching him for an orbit shows him mostly folding, only limp-calling a raise once then folding to a continuation bet.
Otherwise, he might well be said to resemble any other player, checking his phone frequently while patiently waiting for spots to fight for pots. That is except for the occasional requests by players from neighboring tables to pose for pictures with him.
Just as there is a mix of LAPT regulars and first-timers in this inaugural LAPT Bahamas event, so, too, are there those who know all about Ronaldo and those being introduced to the international sports star for the first time.
"Seems like a nice guy," reported Jaka by way of follow-up. "Besides that pot he just scooped from me!"
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.