Rafael Nadal joins PokerStars

  • Peter Abraham
Image courtesy: PokerStars

The world's leading online poker room has joined forces with one of the most famous athletes on the planet. On Wednesday, PokerStars confirmed that Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal is the newest member of Team PokerStars SportStars.

Nadal will join fellow tennis legend Boris Becker, field hockey player Fatima Moreira de Melo and cross-country skier Marcus Hellner on the SportStars team.

The 26-year-old is the former World No. 1 and is currently ranked No. 2 in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings behind Novak Djokovic. Nadal is fresh off a victory at the French Open in Paris, his 11th career major title and seventh championship at the French Open in eight years. The victory pushed Nadal over $50 million in career earnings on the court. He's added millions to his net worth by endorsing companies like Nike, Kia, Armani and Lanvin.

Now, enter PokerStars.

As a member of Team PokerStars, Nadal stands to earn a rumoured and whopping €12 million for his two year deal with the world's biggest online website according to a report by PokerGenio.

To start things off in this new association, Nadal is seeking help from players to help improve his on-court online play. So players are invited to send in their videos with their best poker tip. Rafa will award exclusive prizes to the videos he thinks give him the most useful advice. The player whose video impresses Rafa the most at the end of the contest will win a European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona prize package, including buy-in for the €5,300 Main Event (August 19-25), eight nights accommodation in a 4-star hotel and €1,500 for expenses. The winner will also receive a chipset signed by Rafa, as will five runners-up! Everyone who submits a suitable video will also receive a $22 MicroMillions Main Event tourney ticket. See this link for more details on the promotion.

The signing of Nadal comes two weeks after the opening of Spain's new regulated online poker market. PokerStars.es launched on June 5 and is already ranked eighth worldwide in online poker traffic, according to PokerScout.com. The online tracking site reported Monday that PokerStars.es hold a nearly 3-to-1 advantage over its nearest competitor, 888poker.es, two weeks after the launch of the new space.

With a universal celebrity like Nadal at the front of its marketing campaign, PokerStars could scoop a significant share of the early marketplace in Spain and enhance its brand awareness around the globe.

PokerStars has a history of dealing with professional athletes. In 2007, the company signed tennis legend Boris Becker to its Team SportStars. Field hockey player Fatima Moreira de Melo and cross-country skier Marcus Hellner also represent PokerStars as part of that team.

Nadal joins Spaniards Ana Marquez, Juan Manuel Pastor and Poli Rincon (Friend) on Team PokerStars.

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