Rafael Nadal Aces First Live Poker Tournament, Wins €50k for Charity

Rafael Nadal and Fatima Moreira de Melo (Photo: Neil Stoddart, PokerStars)

Global tennis icon Rafael Nadal can now add felt to the playing surfaces he's claimed a victory on.

The 13-time Grand Slam title holder and clay-court kingpin earned a new honor for himself today after he defeated a select field of sports stars and poker pros to win his first live poker tournament.

Nadal, who picked up the game last year during his recovery from knee surgery, defeated Dutch field hockey star Fatima Moreira de Melo heads-up to finish off his victory, earning €50,000 for his charity of choice.

The €100,000 tournament kitty provided by PokerStars was split among the six pre-selected participants with a €5,000 minimum from each player.

Poker aficionados from the world of sport to take part were Italian skiing legend Alberto Tomba, Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko, Brazilian superhero Ronaldo and Nadal.

De Melo, now a poker pro herself, and poker icon Daniel Negreanu represented the poker world.

The chosen ones. (Photo: Neil Stoddart, PokerStars)

Nadal Nervous Going In

Nadal, playing in his first-ever live poker tournament, said he was nervous heading in:

"Well, it's different. We are playing for a good cause and that always makes an event special. But obviously the pressure, in my case, is completely different between when I'm playing in a professional tennis tournament and what I'm playing today.

"For me, it's a big honor to be playing with all these stars around me. I want to be competitive. It's my first live poker tournament and that's made me feel a little bit nervous."

Nadal had to get lucky a few times to stay alive, doubling up with Q3 against Negreanu's A9 and again with Q9 to Negreanu's pocket threes.

A three-way all-in shortly after put Negreanu out and pushed Nadal into the chip lead and he held on from there. Official results and money won for charity:

  • 1. Rafael Nadal €50,000
  • 2. Fatima Moreira de Melo €25,000
  • 3. Andriy Shevchenko €10,000
  • 4. Daniel Negreanu €5,000
  • 5. Ronaldo €5,000
  • 6. Alberto Tomba €5,000

For a full rundown of all the action, check the PokerStars blog.

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