Widely regarded as one of the best poker players in the world, Vanessa Selbst has had an amazing time at live tournaments and cash games in 2014. Her most recent triumph didn’t bring her a fortune, in fact all the money collected in the charity tournament was donated. What made this confrontation and the subsequent victory special is that she played a heads-up game against Rafael Nadal.
The tennis superstar started playing poker a few years ago when he joined the PokerStars team and much to his credit, he took this project seriously. At the time Rafael was injured and couldn’t perform on the tennis court, so he traded it for the poker felt and put in just the same passion. Under the guidance of a professional poker coach he made giant leaps forward and even won a shorthanded tournament in late 2013 at the EPT Prague.
He locked horns with Vanessa Selbst in a game that took only 20 minutes and not surprisingly, Rafael lost the confrontation. Selbst praises him for his effort and says that the game format was clearly in her advantage and under the circumstances, Nadal played very well. Vanessa is even more impressed by his ability to play tennis and as one who has played for many years, she draws some powerful conclusions.
Her peers know all too well that when Selbst plays away from home she always takes her tennis racket with her and never misses an opportunity to play. The game keeps her in shape, focused and helps her overcome the inherent obstacles of spending so much time on the road. The passion of tennis is not new, in fact she started playing when she was ten and kept improving her game through school and college.
Although her tennis skills are not even close to her abilities to play poker, Vanessa would probably defeat the vast majority of poker players, including men. Against Rafael though, she has serious doubts that she could even win a point, even though he told her to keep the dream alive, because it is always possible for him to double-fault. For the time being, this remains just a theoretical possibility, as it is far more likely that the two professionals will meet again at the poker tables, than outdoors on a tennis court.
Read Vanessa’s blog about her heads-up play with Rafa Nadal.