I was delighted to see the my great childhood hero in football, or as the North Americans say soccer, has recently joined team Pokerstars SportStars this year. That, my friends, is a HUGE thing. We are talking about the ultimate association of the image of poker as a sport in Brazil. As a Brazilian, now living in Europe for a few years, I know that in Brazil poker is not at first associated with a competition game of skill but still largely placed in the same category of other casino games purely based on luck such as roulette or slot machines.

It's popularity has grown over the past decade, but still It's seen as a bad reputation to play poker, many don't dare to say it in their circle of family and friends because of the impact it may have on their opinions about their lifestyle. Some of the top brazilian players today had to cope with these misconceptions early in their carriers. Team online poker pro André Akkari still fights to clarify the intellectual aspect of poker and implement poker as a sport though different events and social activities.

Brazil is today an emerging market which has survived the global crisis fairly well and is projecting itself as one of the top economies of the world. The growth of the middle class since the presidency of the iconic popular leader Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva has been notorious. Since the discovery of the Pré-sal, a huge petroleum reserve off the coast of Brazil, many European companies are seeking partnership with Brazil and investments have been growing immensely. With an extra impulse added by all the media around the organization of two of the biggest events in the world, the World Cup and the Olympic Games, both to be held in Brazil in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Markets are being expanded, opportunities are rising and the market for poker is one of them.

For those of you from countries which are less familiar with football as a sport, allow me to try to describe in a few words what Ronaldo means as a sportsman: the striker, also known as Ronaldo Nazário or Ronaldo "The phenomenon",  who immortalized the shirt number 9 of the Brazilian national team, has been chosen best player of the year 3 times (there are only two other players with the same record, Zidane and Messi), has won two world cups, has the record of most goals scored in world cups, won virtually everything there is to win in the major clubs he participated such as Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Real Madrid, was chosen the player of the decade 2000-2010, well, the man is a giant. A living legend who is admired by millions of fans around the globe and often cited by world stars from newer generations such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an inspiration in their carriers. He retired from professional football in 2010.

The marketing impact of his entry into the world of poker is such that the Brazilian poker community already have a new nickname for the 9 card: the Ronaldo.