Rafa Nadal is not usually the man to be the underdog when it comes to playing the games he loves best, but when it comes to poker he is not yet as special on the felts as he is on the court – saying that he is beginning to prove that things might be changing.
We’ve seen Nadal interviews, and seen him sit down with his poker coaches assessing A-K hands. We have also seen him take down an EPT title in a charity tournament that included Daniel Negreanu. He is certainly beginning to develop his poker, which is now earning him an income outside of tennis. An income that is sure to continue if he maintains his present status of up and coming poker pro.
His most recent achievement was in a Zoom game of poker playing micro stakes in order to claim a poker challenge victory and donate more cash to charity. In the challenge, he was up against his home nation playing online poker. Sat in his home city of Porto Cristo on the island of Mallorca for an hour, Rafa was taking on heads-up players in a game that was all about winning hands in exchange for points.
Rafa took on every challenger that came at him via the Spanish version of PokerStars. Every hand he would win would give him one point, while every hand the Spanish online poker challengers would win would earn the country of Spain a point. At the end of the one hour the tallies would be totalled. A win for Rafa would mean he would donate €3,000 to charity. However, if Spain won, then any player that entered the challenge would be awarded a Freeroll entry ticket into a €3,000 guaranteed prize pool tournament.
When the challenge itself was announced, the set-up looked to be against Rafa. He was playing poker heads-up while simultaneously answering questions on Facebook and Twitter under the hash tag #askrafa. This was just one distraction to his plays. His face was also being aired live on the PokerStars.tv webcast, meaning that those playing against him had the chance to see if they could get any poker tells out of Rafa’s facial expressions.
Despite the obvious disadvantages, the tennis champ still managed to pull out in front early in the challenge with a big lead. By the end Rafa had played just over one and a quarter hands a minute making it a total of seventy-five hands. Sixty-six percent of those hands were to be going his way giving Rafa the win over his fellow countrymen.
For Rafa, this was definitely a high point in his poker career. He had just achieved another challenge take down by seeing off his entire country in a round of heads-up poker games. It may not have been a game about stakes or cash as such, and irrespective of that, this was still a huge win for Rafa. It’s also great that he fought so hard to ensure that the prize money was secured in order to be donated to a good cause.
Check out the following video of Rafa against Spain: