The 888 Poker family has been extended once again – this time with a World Cup winner. Denilson, who was a member of the all-conquering Brazil team at the 2002 tournament, has - according their site's news section - inked a deal with the platform that will see him take part in a number of events worldwide as the brand seeks to enhance its appeal with yet another high-profile signing from the world of football.
Of course, Denilson isn’t the first former professional footballer to swap the grass for the green felt. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was among the early chip leaders in the WSOP Main Event back in 2011, while Teddy Sheringham, a former Champions League winner with Manchester United, has accrued earnings of more than $300,000 from events worldwide. Tony Cascarino – another former World Cup star with the Republic of Ireland – triumphed in a Grosvenor United Kingdom Poker Tour (GUKPT) event in 2009.
888 Poker will be hoping that the link-up with Denilson has a better outcome than when they added another South American talent – Barcelona and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez – to their books in an ambassadorial role. Just one month after signing, the former Liverpool frontman was embroiled in a biting scandal at the 2014 World Cup and was subsequently released from his contract with the popular poker room.
When asked about his card-playing abilities, Denilson said:
"All my friends started to play poker and so I got more and more interested in the game. Many of the qualities you need to be a successful footballer can help you improve your poker game. 888poker is one of the biggest and best poker platforms in the world, so I am very proud to join the 888poker team. I hope it will help develop my own poker skills as well as encourage new players to get involved in this exciting game."
The signing of Denilson is something of a coup for the brand; after all, he is one the most celebrated talents of Brazilian football in recent years, with 61 international caps to his name. In 1998 he became a household name worldwide after agreeing to a then world record fee of £21.5 million to join Real Betis from Sao Paulo.
Crucially, the former flying winger played his club football on more than four continents – thus helping with the global appeal of 888 Poker – although it was in Europe he was known best, having helped both Betis and Bordeaux to qualify for the Champions League.
Little is known of the 38-year-old’s style of poker play, although if it is anything like his football then you can expect plenty of flair, great technique and an aptitude to carry out the unexpected. He will join a growing Brazilian stable of players at 888 Poker, with noted pros such as Bruno’s Politano and Kawauti alongside the likes of Nicolau Villa-Lobos, among others.
Itai Pazner, senior vice president at 888, said:
"We're delighted to have signed Denilson as a member of the 888 Poker team. He played football with skill, enthusiasm and energy, bringing happiness to millions, and we want poker players to approach the game in a similar way. It is a game of skill, it takes practice and intelligence, but we also want our players to have fun and enjoy themselves along the way."
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