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Rafa Nadal emerges victorious in his live poker debut

Two days ago, 2013 WSOP Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu talked on Twitter about Rafael Nadal’s intentions of moving the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague charity event on clay. The move was never made, but the tennis star still prevailed by beating Negreanu on his own turf: the poker felt.

Nadal came out victorious after four hours of play, knocking out five different players from football legends to Olympic gold medalists and one poker professional. But what a pro: one of the best in the world who won $19.4 million by competing at the poker tables worldwide. “He came in really solid and he didn’t make any mistakes. And then he knew when to make adjustments, to play more aggressively, and he did,” Negreanu said of the winner.

The proker pro also praised the other four athletes that participated in the €100,000 EPT Prague Charity Challenge: Ronaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, Alberto Tomba and Fatima Moreira de Melo. “I’ve played a lot of charity things, with like Hollywood celebs and different things, but I notice with these guys, the athletes, they got coaching. They were prepared. They had much more of a killer instinct. Anytime you get to the top of a craft, you just have that winning instinct. I felt like, on average, they all exceeded my expectations on how they were going to play,” Negreanu told the PokerStars Blog.

The game was very competitive for the first three hours with none of the players wanting to bust out. Eventually, Tomba was the first one to experience the bitter taste of defeat. He shoved the flop with pocket sixes on a 2-10-J board and Negreanu called with top pair. Ronaldo was the next player down at the hands of Moreira de Melo: both of them were all-in pre-flop and neither one connected with the board, but Moreira de Melo held the victorious Ace high.

After that, it was Nadal’s time to shine. Following a conservative start to the game that brought him to the brink of elimination, the Spaniard came back strong, playing very aggressively and moving all-in at just the right spots. He doubled up twice thanks to Negreanu, who was eventually eliminated in a three-way all-in pot against Nadal and Shevchenko.

Sheva quickly followed, leaving huge chip-leader Rafa Nadal heads-up with Dutch Olympic field hockey gold medalist, Moreira de Melo. The Dutch put up quite a fight, although she had a 10-to-1 chip disadvantage. She got back into the game after several all-ins, but couldn’t survive till the end. In the last hand of the event, Nadal took all the tournament chips with Ace-Ten to secure the top spot.

All the winnings, including Nadal’s €50,000 first place cash prize, will be donated to charity.

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Florian Gheorghe