Back in June 2012, PokerStars inked a historical poker sponsorship deal with Rafael Nadal. The tennis legend was at the top of his game and quickly brought more mainstream recognition to poker. But now, a little over three years later, it appears that this union is over because Nadal isn’t on the Team Sportstar page any longer.
Interestingly enough, there’s been no news about this omission from the Sportstar page; however, whenever somebody disappears from PokerStars’ website, it never turns out to be a bonehead move by an IT person.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the world’s largest poker site is fronting millions for Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and (retired) Ronaldo to represent them, coupled with the fact that Nadal’s contract is over. Maybe it’s also a little of the tennis champ never plunking down in any live EPT events. Whatever the case may be, the 29-year-old Spaniard will be missed in the poker world.
There were never any expectations of Nadal to be a regular on the poker circuit. Instead, this was more of an athlete’s journey from poker novice to, well, somebody who just learned their starting hand requirements. But he certainly provided some memorable moments, such as the video below where he learned bluffing tips, or when he found out that you can play online poker through tablets.
Now that Nadal is gone, the trio of aforementioned football legends will carry the banner while Dutch field hockey star Fatima Moreira De Melo, (recently signed) snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier and Swedish skier Marcus Hellner will also be represent the brand. Obviously signing these big sports stars must be paying off for the site because they keep recruiting new ones. And it will be interesting to see who else PokerStars brings aboard in the future.