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Actor Aaron Paul and Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo have used their poker skills in a series of heads-up matches.

Recently, PokerStars has organized heads-up matches with a selection of media darlings against its biggest sponsored pros. This is PokerStars’ way to appeal to a wider audience.

Poker pro players including André Akkari, Felipe Ramos e Vanessa Selbst gave each celebrity a few pointers, but ones the matches got underway, the celebrities had to make their own decisions at the tables.


The duels were designed to be much more TV-friendly than the traditional ones you’d see on the World Poker Tour (WPT) or European Poker Tour (EPT).

The videos feature dramatic scenery, movie-like soundtracks and talking heads, focusing more on entertainment and production value.

The videos are meant to be more than high level strategy, since most of the celebrities featured are, obviously, not at the same level as the pros.

The aim of the videos is to reach casual fans. The winner of each match donated their $5.000 price to a charity of their choice.

 Mainstream Attraction

Such videos, combining dramatic productions elements, poker and well-known celebrities, help paint poker in a less serious light.

Not only PokerStars, but the whole poker industry has shift and is trying to appeal to novice players.

The industry is now catering to casuals and examples of that are: combining poker and casino in a single platform, offer games such as Spin & Gos and use the appeal of mainstream celebrities.

Earlier this year, 888poker did a similar move, by enlisting the services of Brazilian ex-soccer star Denilson. This movement toward beginners and away from hardcore grinders has helped sites boost their traffic.

Recently, PokerStars also announced they designed a new dual system events to offer something for players at both ends of the skill spectrum.

There has been some criticism regarding this new marketing angle, but the truth is that the industry needs fresh blood.

Bringing new players into the game is beneficial for players of all persuasions.