Rafael Nadal: King of Clay (and cards)

If you presumed that Rafael Nadal was merely world-class on the tennis court, think again.

This week, the world number one took on his poker counterpart at Texas Hold’em – and he only went and won the contest.

Oh, and did we mention it was his live tournament poker debut, too?

It makes you wonder if there is anything Rafa cannot do.

The event, the EPT Charity Challenge in Prague, featured other sporting names such as former Chelsea and Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko, Brazil legend (and newly-engaged) Ronaldo, three-time Olympic gold medallist Alberto Tomba and field hockey star Fatima Moreira de Melo.

Also in the field was Daniel Negreanu, currently the world’s top-ranked poker player. Even he, however, could not stop Nadal from clinching a maiden success at the table.

"(Nadal) came in really solid and he didn't make any mistakes," Negreanu said. "And then he knew when to make the adjustment, to play more aggressively, and he did."

The Spaniard only began playing poker while recovering from chronic knee problems last year which at one point looked set to cut short his decorated tennis career.

Instead, he embarked on a dazzling return to prominence which included a record eighth French Open title as well as victory at the US Open, shooting him ahead of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, old foe Roger Federer and the rest of the pack to the top of the men’s singles chart once more.

And if coming back from serious injury to do all that wasn’t enough, it now turns out that Nadal became awesome at something else while out of action.

Talking about the strategy of the Prague poker tournament with my friend Ronaldo. — Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) December 12, 2013

He has no plans on ditching one for the other just yet, however.

"I had fun. I had a great experience here playing with friends, playing for a good cause, for charity," Nadal said after the game.

"The next thing I know is that tomorrow morning I will be on court at 9am practising tennis."

His tournament win earned €100,000 (£84,000) for The Good Hand Project, a poker-based charity project which Nadal is heavily involved with.

And if you want to see how Rafa outlasted the other stars, here’s a blow-by-blow of the table action.


Watch LIVE European Poker Tour action every day from now until Wednesday December 18 between 22:00 and midnight GMT by clicking here.