Do you know that feeling of things being very familiar? It’s not quite deja vu, but something closer to the way things are. Deja santi, perhaps: the sensation of having already felt a certain way.
There was something like that feeling yesterday when Neymar Jr arrived.
Three years ago he took a seat in some events. He played with a broad grin, and signed a production line of garments and regalia for people, anything that would hold the ink and was small enough to be passed along.
If you were here, or if you read the coverage on the blog at the time, you might remember it. He created such a feel-good buzz in this place that the hotel chandeliers wobbled for days.
He arrived as Neymar Jr, the international soccer star. He left as an EPT poker player. Just like everybody else.
Gerard Pique (left) with Neymar Jr in the charity event today.
Flash forward to now. His employer might have changed (Neymar has since moved from Barcelona to Paris) the reaction to this adopted hometown hero is still quite something.
He’s an EPT player, that’s for certain. But there’s no mistaking the star appeal.
In other words the buzz is back.
Yesterday he was playing for himself. Today though, he’s playing for others.
The game is an 8-handed charity tournament. There’s a 25K buy-in and a line-up from the world of sport and poker that did justice to the size of the crowd gathered around the feature table as they took their seats.
That money will add up, and find its way (depending on the results) to some great causes close to the hearts of the players.
For Neymar that means The Neymar Jr. Project that helps disadvantaged children in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A few seats along Sergio Garcia, one of the finest professional golfers in the world, plays for his foundation, which helps promote social inclusion for children and young people.
Meanwhile Gerard Pique plays for the Barefoot Foundation, a Colombian charity founded by his wife Shakira.
Then there’s PokerStars Ambassador Andre Akkari, playing for Right to Play, PokerStars official charity partner.
The result will be, well, it might not actually be about the result as much as the money donated (although there is a trophy).
But poker being poker, they’ll likely be a few highlights at the table. And let’s not forget, these are people who got to where they are by being competitive. That usually turns up something.
Which we’ll have highlights when we get them.