The EPT Charity Challenge
Read below for live coverage of the EPT Charity Challenge, a €100,000 charity poker tournament, featuring Rafa Nadal, Ronaldo, Daniel Negreanu, Andriy Shevchenko, Alberto Tomba, and Fatima Moreira de Melo. The most recent updates are at the top. Scroll to the bottom if you'd like to start from the beginning. This is what it's all about.
7.20pm: Rafa Nadal wins the EPT Charity Challenge for €50,000!
Rafa Nadal has just won the EPT Charity Challenge beating Olympic gold medallist and fellow Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo.
Moreira de Melo had valiantly fought back in the heads-up having started with a ten-to-one chip deficient, and had even taken the chip lead several times, but 13-time Grand Slam winner Nadal wasn't to be stopped. Nadal finally claimed the trophy, his first bit of poker silverware, getting it in with Q♥T♣ against Moreira's short-stacked shove with T♥6♥. The dominating hand held to send €50,000 to Nadal's charity of choice.
"Really well done. Seriously," said Moreira de Melo to Nadal.
Full wrap to come, but in the meantime: Congratulations, Rafa!
7.15pm: Nadal takes the lead back!
The all-ins have continued with the blinds at a punishing 6,000/12,000, and it's another flip.
Moreira de Melo: 5♦5♥
The board ran out in Nadal's favour. He's now the 80,000 to 40,000 chip leader. Advantage, Rafa.
7.10pm: Taking turns with the chip lead
They've been taking turns to try and win this, but each time the shorter stack has won. This time it was Rafa Nadal's turn to lose with 9♣T♥ against Moreira de Melo's A♥7♥.
Moreira de Melo: 80,000
The heads-up dance continues. The winner's charity will receive €50,000, while the runner up will have €25,000 to donate to their cause. Both players seem to be enjoying themselves.
6.55pm: Moreira de Melo into the lead
She is still here. In fact, she's now got the chip lead with around 80,000 to 40,000. Moreira de Melo had moved all-in with A♦8♥ and Nadal, trying to claim the win there and then, made the call with Q♠8♦.
Rafa started waggling his finger in the air and apologised in advance for hitting the queen. The apology wasn't needed, the queen never arrived. The sentiment seemed to be appreciated though.
"You think I'm a lady? You don't know me very well," laughed Moreira de Melo as she stacked her chips.
6.50pm: Moreira de Melo groans, calls, wins
Fatima Moreira de Melo was so short that she had to call all-in with 2♠9♥, the maths dictated that any two cards were worth it, but she didn't like it. Rafa Nadal's A♥5♠ was some way ahead, then Moreira de Melo flopped a two... and held. That doubled her up to 29,800. Nadal is still ahead with 90,200, but he's got a battle on his hands now.
"I'm still here, dude," said Moreira de Melo.
Indeed she is.
6.45pm: No progress for Moreira de Melo
Fatima Moreira de Melo managed one double up, but with the blinds now an eye-watering 4,000/8,000 she'll need to catch up more. Nadal still a five-to-one chip leader.
6.30pm: Heads-up break
There's going to be a small pause before heads-up begins. Rafa Nadal's got a huge chip lead at the moment.
6.20pm: No joy for Shevhenko, busts in 3rd for €10,000
Andriy Shevchenko has played some pretty solid poker today but lady luck wasn't kind to him in the later stages. Following two large double-ups, Rafa Nadal raised to 10,000 from the button with 5♦5♣ and was called by a short Daniel Negreanu with A♦7♦, then chip leader Shevchenko moved all-in from the big blind with 8♠8♥.
Nadal wasn't in the mood to fold, any pair is a big hand with just four players left in. He made the call for his stack of close to 35,000.
Nadal flopped a set! The turn paired the jack and the was a ten. Nadal won a huge pot to go into the lead with three players left.
Shevchenko got it all in the next hand with J♣9♦ against Nadal's K♠8♠. No joy for Shevchenko who was went to the rail in 3rd to set up the heads-up duel.
Fatima Moreira de Melo: 12,000
Rafa Nadal: 108,000
6.15pm: Nadal hurricane knocks out Negreanu in 4th, €5,000
Wow. The last few hands have seen Rafa Nadal go from short stack to chip leader! He first doubled through Negreanu jamming all-in with Q♦3♠ and caught a queen against Negreanu's A♠9♥. Then he doubled with Q♥9♥ against Negreanu's pocket threes catching a straight on the river, then he won a huge three-way all-in against Negreanu and Andriy Shevchenko to give him 80,000! More details to come.
6.10pm: Ronaldo busts in 5th, €5,000
A short -stacked Ronaldo was knocked out in 5th witrh K♣8♣ losing out to Fatima Moreira de Melo's A♠T♥. Neither did anything wrong there.
6.05pm: Alberto Tomba busts in 6th, €5,000
Former pro skier Alberto Tomba is the first player to bust. Daniel Negreanu gave him enough room to fly past him before tripping him up with top pair. The players had got to a 2♥T♥J♠ flop and Negreanu checked. Tomba moved all-in with pocket sixes and Negreanu quickly called. No six and Negreanu is up above 20,000. Tomba out.
6pm: Shevchenko bullying
Andriy Shevchenko is up to 57,000 now. A raise and take with the blinds at 1,000/2,000, ante 300 is worth almost 5,000 chips!
5.50pm: Nadal and Ronaldo shoving back
Rafa Nadal is chipped up back to 13,575 after a couple of well-timed all-ins. Ronaldo has more than doubled up to 15,000 after getting it all-in against Fatima Moreira de Melo with 9♥9♦ beating K♠Q♠. The board ran out a dangerous 9♠A♣J♠3♥2♦, but Ronaldo's hand held. Daniel Negreanu is now the short stack.
5.40pm: Shevchenko bossing it
Andriy Schevchenko is up to 50,075, almost half the chips in play with all six players remaining. Shevchenko opened for 3,000 and was called by Fatima Moreira de Melo. Shevchenko bet the 5♥A♣Q♠ flop and took the pot.
"Eugene (Katchalov) taught him good, huh," said Negreanu, of Shechenko's Ukrainian countryman and a fellow Team PokerStars Pro.
5.30pm: Shevchenko chipping up
Andriy Shevchenko is up to 46,000 and is a clear chip leader. He won a big 20,000 pot against Daniel Negreanu when the Team PokerStars Pro bluffed a double-paired board 4♠7♦6♦7♠4♠. Shevchenko held a four and made the call. Nadal was the next to have some problems with Shevchenko and had to give up on his hand in anotehr inflated pot.
Three short stacks, but Ronaldo just got a walk. Negreanu in the big blind next.
5.25pm: Serious poker
The players have elected to dodge the scheduled break and keep going with the action.
5.20pm: Chop it up
Daniel Negreanu and Fatima Moreira de Melo both held pocket threes and chopped a pot on the river. Much merriment ensued, as always seems to happen when two players show the same hand. It's just one of those things in poker. It can make the most stony-faced player chortle.
5.15pm: Blinds up
The blinds are up to 400/800 with a running ante of 100. Ronaldo jammed all-in for around ten big blinds and took the blinds to bump him up to 9,650, while Daniel Negreanu closes in on Andriy Shevchenko's chip lead.
5.10pm: Negreanu's running hot
"I've had so many good hands," said Daniel Negreanu.
Kid Poker has hit two sets in the last few hands, but hasn't been paid off with either of them. He also caught a couple of straights earlier, too. Then he ran into Alberto Tomba's aces, the second the Italian has had today.
"You want one thousand? You don't get it," said Negreanu to Tomba. Negreanu passed.
5pm: Ronaldo on the ropes, fighting on
Andriy Shevchenko took a decent pot with ace-king against the pocket jacks of the Alberto Tomba taking Shevchenko up to 29,000. Tomba is down to 14,000, but Ronaldo is the shortest stack at the moment. He is down to 8,000.
4.45pm: Rafa Nadal nervous?
Can it be true? The 13-time Grand Slam winner is nervous? Surely not. I've had some info piped in from freelance reporter Howard Swains who attended the pre-game press conference. When asked how playing today compared with any tennis tournament Nadal said:
"Well, it's different. We are playing for a good cause and that always makes an event special. But obviously the pressure, in my case, is completely different between when I'm playing in a professional tennis tournament and what I'm playing today. For me, it's a big honour to be playing with all these stars around me. I want to be competitive. It's my first live poker tournament and that's made me feel a little bit nervous."
Those nerves aren't showing too much at the moment, but that may be because he hasn't been in much difficulty. He's easy had either folds or easy raises. As the blinds increase Nadal will find himself in many more marginal situations. Ronaldo is clawing his way back and is up to 13,000.
4.40pm: And we're back
The stacks are relatively level with Ronaldo the player most at risk as we go into level 4 (blinds 200/400, ante 50). The Brazilian striker still has about 30 big blinds giving him plenty of time to get back into this.
Rafa's won his first decent pot after a raise from Daniel Negreanu was called by Andriy Shevchenko and Nadal made a chunky three-bet with pocket aces. Negreanu's K♦6♦ wasn't good enough to pay more, neither were the pocket fours of the Ukrainian footballer.
4.05pm: Lively action, fun banter
There's plenty of chat flying back and forth, not to mention chips. Fatima Moreira de Melo now has more han her starting stack with 22,000 having flopped a set (three-of-a-kind) with 6♣6♥ on a 3♠6♠K♦ flop. The Q♥ turn and K♠ river completed a full house for Moreira de Melo, but Ronaldo didn't have much with his A♣T♥, but Moreira de Melo wasn't to know that.
"Why are you hiding?" asked Moreira de Melo, trying to find out how strong Ronaldo was.
"I'm just making myself comfortable," replied Ronaldo.
Moreira moved all-in and Ronaldo made an easy fold.
3.55pm: Rollercoaster for Moreira de Melo
Dutch hockey champion and Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo folded the second nuts earlier, possibly partly thinking her poker experience would be able to get her back into the game, but she's twice run into straights from Daniel Negreanu! That put her down to 10,000 - half her starting stack - but she's managed to get herself back up to 15,000. She's a great player and recently came second in the UKIPT Main Event for £59,660 (which you can read about here). Daniel Negreanu's the chip leader with 27,000.
The blinds are now up to 100/200 (level 3).
3.45pm: Understatement of the day
"600 goals in 800 games? You were pretty good then," said Daniel Negreanu, after Ronaldo told the Canadian his goal scoring record.
Yeah, he was pretty good. World Cup winner and one of only three players to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times. He also scored 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil.
3.35pm: Tomba powers past Moreira de Melo!
Well, it's suddenly got lively. If the TV grapics in the gallery are correct the action played out as follows.
Tomba made a small raise with A♠A♣, Moreira de Melo called with K♠Q♠, Nadal called from the small blind with J♣3♣ and Ronaldo called in the big blind (but folded on the flop).
The flop: J♠5♠Q♥
A big flop for Moreira de Melo with a flush draw and top pair. Nadal bet his middle pair for 250 and was called by Tomba. Moreira de Melo raised to 750 and Nadal wisely moved out the way, Tomba called.
The turn: J♠5♠Q♥K♣
Moreira de Melo moves ahead with top two-pair. Tomba checked and then called a bet of 950.
The river: J♠5♠Q♥K♣4♠
That third spade completed the flush for Moreira de Melo who made the second best possible hand! Tomba bet 1,000 and Moreira de Melo made a small raise to 2,000. Tomba quickly moved all-in for around 20,000. Moreira de Melo thought long and hard before folding. Tomba was on his feet, shades on. Tomba showed the A♠.
"Yes, it's the right decision. I'm so happy," said Moreia de Melo.
Hmmm, perhaps not. To be fair, it looked and played like the nuts. Tomba made it incredibly hard for Moreira de Melo to call. That's the kind of move that can make you feel sick to your stomach.
To confirm, this tournament is playing out as a freezeout. No second chances,
3.20pm: Charity is the winner
All six players have allocated a charity which will get at least €5,000 from their performance at the poker table today.
First prize: €50,000
Second prize: €25,000
Third prize: €10,000
Fourth-sixth prizes: €5,000
They also get the bragging rights too. Early skirmishes have been relatively bloodless.
3.15pm: And we're off
Just as the dealer was preparing to pitch the first cards, Daniel Negreanu said, "No penalties. No red cards, no yellow cards."
That wasn't a call for fair play between the players, but more a shout to the tournament staff not to penalise the players for making little mistakes. It is a friendly game after all!
Okay, the poker: Andriy Shevchenko won the first pot, which was a very small one against Fatima Moreira de Melo. Shevchenko a very early chip leader!
3.05pm: Play begins (well, nearly)
Play is about to begin with the six players lined up as following.
The table draw
Seat 1: Fatima Moriera de Melo
Seat 2: Rafa Nadal
Seat 3: Ronaldo
Seat 4: Daniel Negreanu
Seat 5: Andriy Shevchenko
Seat 6: Alberto Tomba
It's a tough draw for tennis ace Rafa Nadal and World Cup winner Ronaldo who have Daniel Negreanu on their left. Why is this problematic? In poker players act in turn in a clockwise direction which means that in most situations Nadal and Ronaldo will be acting before Negreanu. They're going to be in for a rocky ride. That said, there are only six players in this tournament which means every player will almost certainly tangle with everyone else. This should be a lot of fun.
2.55pm: Poker scrum
The six players are posing for the press in front of a PokerStars branded poker table (it's got a lovely comfy lip upon which to rest your arms). All these players have competed at the highest levels in their chosen sport, but when it comes to poker Fatima Moreira de Melo and Daniel Negreanu obviously stand out. Moreira de Melo recently finished second in the UKIPT Isle of Man Main Event while Negreanu is the current world number one having pocketed more than $3.2m in live tournament winnings this year alone. The chatty Canadian, who goes by the poker nickname "Kid Poker", has won more than $19.5m in live tournaments in his career putting him third on the all-time money list.
2.35pm: Press conference down, preparing to play
The press circus is over and the players are prepping for the big game. The seat draw has been made, but I've not yet been cleared to reveal it. Suffice to say it's going to be interesting. I've also been led to believe that we'll be operating a 'second chance' until the end of level six (two hours in). This means that if a player goes bust (loses all their chips) then they'll get another stack to play with. If you haven't used your back-up stack by then you'll just get them as extra chips then.
Members of the production crew are currently sat in the seats to help the cameramen get their eye in.
2pm: What is a sit-and-go?
Today's game is a one-table tournament. What does that mean? Well, in tournament poker (as opposed to ring game poker) everyone starts on the same footing. Each player is given the same number of chips, in this case 20,000, and they play until just one player remains.
The longer you last the more you win. So, why not just fold every hand until you're one of the last players in? That's been thought about. Forced blind bets (shortened to 'blinds) are enforced to encourage action and reward active players. If you raise with your starting two cards and everyone folds then you take those blinds. Easy!
The blinds do increase over time according to a set structure, which in this case runs on a 20-minute clock for the first three levels, then 15 thereafter. Every 20 (then 15) minutes the blinds will increase which will put pressure on the shorter stacks to make a stand, while also encouraging the larger stacks to increase their aggression because there's more in the pot to win. You'll get the hang of it.
1.15pm: What is... the EPT?
In the lead up to today's game, which starts at 3pm CET, I'll be filling you in on some key info. So, first, the EPT.
The European Poker Tour started in 2004 in Barcelona, the brainchild of TV director John Duthie (no mean poker player himself), with a €1,000 buy-in tournament that attracted 229 players. Alexander Stevic won that event for €80,000. The tour has grown year on year ever since with winners now collecting in six- and seven-figures prizes. For instance, Tom "hitthehole" Middleton won €942,000 at EPT Barcelona earlier this year after topping a field of 1,234 players, all of whom entered the €5,300 tournament. You can read about that here
Today's players haven't paid a bean though. The €100,000 has been put up by PokerStars and will be given to charities of choice. More on those charities later. If you want to follow the coverage of the EPT10 Prague Main Event then just jump on through to our EPT Prague Main Event live coverage. We've got one of our reporters in the EPT Charity Challenge press conference at the moment and we'll feed back from that later.
12.45pm: The EPT Charity Challenge
Welcome to the live coverage of the EPT Charity Challenge, a €100,000 giveaway poker tournament which is taking place here in Prague at the Hilton Hotel. The six players, comprised of sports legends and poker heroes, will play a sit-and-go, a one-table poker tournament, where the winner will get the lion's share of that enormous €100,000 prize pool.
If you're new to poker, don't worry. We'll be gentle and explain all. If you want to get up to speed with some of the basics then jump on through to the rules here. And if that seems like too much, then stay with us anyway! We're not going to get too technical. I'll map out the basics of exactly what a one-table tournament is. Expect things to be a little cagey at first and to ramp up as the players get knocked out.
Today's players are world tennis number one Rafa Nadal, FIFA World Cup winner Ronaldo, Ukrainian footballer Andriy Shevchenko, Italian skier Alberto Tomba, Dutch Olympic field hockey gold medallist Fatima Moreira de Melo, and (also a world number one) poker player Daniel Negreanu.
Play is due to start at 3pm CET, but there's press conferences and photo shoots galore before cards and chips are distributed.