BLOG – Let’s pray for a European poker boom

BLOG – Let’s pray for a European poker boom

Sunday, 23 May 2010

PokerStars have announced that Italian goalkeeper and football legend Gianluigi Buffon has become the latest addition to the Team PokerStars Pro club, joining the site’s International Ambassadors.

Buffon, known to fans as ‘Gigi’, is widely known as one of the game’s most talented players and was even called one of the best living footballers by Pelé himself, which is kind of like Phil Ivey telling you that your poker game is good. Gigi is very good at stopping balls going into nets... I don’t really do football, sorry.

This isn’t an unprecedented move by PokerStars – Buffon will join one of history’s best tennis players and an ice hockey superstar in the shapes of Boris Becker and Mats Sundin, two other big sports stars associated with the world’s largest poker site.

"I love living life to the full," Buffon said in a press release. "I know there will be many commitments, but I love playing poker and the opportunity to join Italy's (and the world's) largest poker site is an honour and a great challenge. I can't wait to play against Team PokerStars Pros and I'm ready to have lots of fun playing against everyone who wants to take me on."

Well, he can afford the $100/$200 games and it would certainly take the online whizzkids’ collective focus off of Daniel Negreanu. I doubt will will be seeing Mr. Buffon at such high stakes but his signing made me ponder. The trouble in America with regards to online poker coupled with this recent sponsorship makes me think that major sites are trying to get more European players in – look at the amount of poker adverts on television now; not to mention their involvement in football, the way to reach most people in Europe. Poker and sport share a common 18-30 male primary demographic so with so many exposed to football and other sports it’s an obvious advertising route.

I hope it sets off a mini European poker boom. Despite the worries of US players it’s looking like a great time to be playing in Europe with the EPT enjoying a successful season, the WPT increasing the amount of European destinations and more and more European players making a mark on the world stage. More poker popularity means more recreational players, which means more dead money for you and I.

Of course, I remember lots of talk about a Chinese movie titled Poker King that was meant to give us an Asian poker boom. Besides the success of such tournaments as the APPT I don’t see that happening... that said, Rounders took a couple of years of DVD sales to become a cult hit so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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