Nadal bows to Selbst in heads-up match (vid)

Rafa Nadal

Rafa Nadal continued his adventure in the highly competitive poker environment, with a special heads-up game. His opponent was Vanessa Selbst, widely regarded as the best female poker player, so the odds were stacked against him. Nadal was the less experienced player at the poker table, but he can still brag about winning a live tournament. Back in December, he outshined Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu and Ronaldo among others, en route to a thrilling victory.

Earlier this week, we reported that the two professionals were supposed to play a charity match and that the gracious host for the event would be Casino de Monte Carlo. Everything went exactly as planned and even though Selbst emerged victorious, Nadal put up quite a fight and earned the respect of his opponent. Both players had a great time and Rafael said at the end of the heads-up match that this experience will prove useful in the attempt of honing his poker skills.

He has a reputation of being relentless on the tennis court and he carried that determination to the poker felt. Nadal’s poker coach Alfonso Cardalda said that he was thrilled with how his student played against a seasoned professional and that he made a significant step forward. Rafa began training more than a year ago and was involved in many live and online poker tournaments, with his big break coming in December.

By comparison, Vanessa Selbst has an impeccable track record that includes victories in some of the biggest poker tournaments and even two WSOP bracelets. The victory over Nadal won’t make her richer, as the €5,000 she won will be donated to the Care International charity. The heads-up match proved to be a win-win event, as the two champions played their favourite game while helping those in need. Now that the contest has ended, they are expected to return to their regular activities and both Selbst and Nadal have a busy schedule ahead.

While she looks forward to a rematch, Vanessa will be travelling to Sanremo where the European Poker Tour resumes shortly. She will be facing some of the best poker players in the world, so the heads-up played against Nadal served as a great warm-up session.


As for the tennis professional, he won’t leave Monte Carlo because the ATP Monte Carlo Masters starts next week and Rafael will try to defend his title. He won the event for a record eight times and is the main favourite to prevail this year. Vanessa is quite confident in his ability to prevail, especially after learning how tiny her own chances would be if pit against Nadal on the tennis court.


Check out the heads-up highlights below: