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  • Rafael Nadal Comes Up Short in Charity Match Against Vanessa Selbst

    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by Ryan

We’ve seen many professional athletes take to the felt and play a little
poker, and one of those athletes that we’ve seen a fair amount of is Rafael
Nadal. Nadal has proven that he has some game, and we don’t just mean as a
tennis player. Nadal may be one of the best tennis players in the world,
and still has a bright future in front of him as a tennis player, but his
poker game is definitely impressive as well. On Saturday he had a very
interesting poker match for charity against possibly the best female poker
player in the world in Vanessa Selbst.

The charity poker match was held at the Casino de Monte Carlo this past
weekend, and the two sat down to play heads up. Nadal has played in a few
other events such as a charity Sit N Go that was held during the European
Poker Tour in Prague, the Czech Republic in 2013. In that event he beat
multiple other athletes in the Sit N Go, such as soccer legend Ronaldo,
field hockey player Fatima Moreira de Melo, and former Olympic skiing
champion Alberto Tomba. After that, he took on one of the top players out
there heads up in Daniel Negreanu and was able to knock off the poker pro.

He came up just short against the incredibly strong poker pro this year
though. The two played back and forth and once the clock hit zero, he was
a few chips short of Selbsts’ stack. Nadal called it a “great honor to
play against a strong competitor” and also said that he had a lot of fun
playing against Selbst. Nadal also had his poker coach at the event,
Alfonso Cardalda, and he had some very good things to say about how Nadal

It wasn’t just Nadal’s poker coach who was impressed though, as Selbst said
that he played a “great game” but that the format and cards were in her
favor. She said that she was able to win by “using aggression in good
spots and making a number of strong hands.” She also said she had a great
time, and is “looking forward to the rematch.” Both players were there to
do their normal jobs though, and this match-up was just for fun. Nadal was
playing in the ATP Monte Carlo Masters, which eh has won eight times in his
career, while Selbst was getting prepared for the European Poker Tour’s
stop in San Remo, Italy.

If you don’t know, Nadal has a sponsorship deal with PokerStars, and some
people have said it’s for publicity for Stars’, but that may not be the
case. Nadal has shown that he can not only play some poker, but also that
he is more than willing to work on his game to continue improving. Even
Negreanu stated that Nadal “played a solid game, and didn’t make any
mistakes” when the two played last year (Nadal’s victory). He also stated
that Nadal “knew when to make adjustments, to play more aggressively, and
he did.”

Obviously Nadal isn’t going to play tennis forever, but he has plenty left
in the tank at only 27 years old. He’s definitely looking for something to
play competitively in once his tennis career comes to a close. He has won
13 Grand Slam titles, and is still the top overall ranked player in the
world currently.

As previously stated, we’ve seen many athletes start playing poker. We saw
Paul Piece in the World Series of Poker last year, and also have seen
players like ex- NFL tight end Bubba Franks, cricketer Shane Warne, boxer
Lennox Lewis, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, NHL goalie Roberto Luongo,
pitcher Orel Hershiser, and tennis legend Boris Becker. It’s easy to see
that poker is a popular choice for professional athletes, and with the
World Series of Poker coming up soon here, don’t be surprised if we see
even more athletes taking part in a few of the big time events. This of
course includes the World Series of Poker Main Event, which always draws in
a huge number of players, and all of the big names.




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