World number one tennis star Rafael Nadal not only made his live tournament debut at the PokerStars European Poker Tour Prague, he won it! The EPT Charity Challenge had €100,000 on the line for competitors to donate to a charity of their choice. The minimum contribution was set at €5,000 and the highest at €50,000.
Joining Nadal in the poker competition was FIFA World Cup winner Ronaldo, Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko, Italian skier Alberto Tomba, Dutch Olympic field hockey gold medalist and PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo, and Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. This field of super sports stars and a poker pro were all playing a one-table sit-and-go event.
Negreanu took off to an early chip lead and was quoted as saying,“I’ve had so many good hands,” according to the PokerStars Blog. But as poker wins and losses can be determined by the turn of a card, it didn't take long for Negreanu to become the short stack as the others chipped up and doubled.
Tomba hit the rail first, busting out in sixth place to claim €5,000 when his pocket sixes ran into Negreanu’s top pair of jacks on a flop that brought . Ronaldo was next, busting out in fifth place to collect €5,000 for his charity. Ronaldo held the against de Melo’s .
Nadal went from short stack to chip leader after doubling through Negreanu with the by catching a queen against Negreanu’s and then Nadal doubled again with the against Negreanu’s pocket threes. Nadal wasn't slowing down, next he won a three-way all-in against Negreanu and Shevchenko and sent Negreanu to the rail to collect €5,000 while Rafa jumped to 80,000 in chips.
Nadal never looked for the brakes after that, his run picked up speed as he sent Shevhenko out in third place for €10,000. Then it was Nadal and de Melo heads-up for the top prize of €50,000 to be donated to their charity of choice. The battle was well fought and eventually Nadal won the trophy and title after his chips went in with the against Moreira’s short-stack shove with the .
Rafael Nadal is not only a world number one tennis player, but also is also becoming a world-class poker player! Adding a PokerStars EPT Prague Champion title to his list of accolades, Rafa also picked up €50,000 for his favorite charity. Big congrats to Nadal on his journey into live poker events and his win.