It’s no secret that soccer gamers, or soccer gamers to a few of you, get pleasure from enjoying poker. There’s quite a lot of touring to and from video games, and far downtime for footballers as they grasp round lodges and airports. Lots of “the attractive sport’s” stars are at present out in Qatar for the World Cup, away from household and mates, and are in all probability enjoying poker to cross the time.

Most soccer gamers play poker for enjoyable, however others are a lot keener, and generally the poker and soccer worlds collide, with soccer’s stars mixing it up with poker’s elite.

Again in August 2019, the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona cease was in full swing. A number of occasions had already topped their champions, together with the €100,000 EPT Tremendous Excessive Curler that Spaniard Sergi Reixach took down, defeating Sam Grafton heads-up. All consideration was now on the €25,000 Single-Day Excessive Curler, a match that noticed 70 entries. Two of these entrants stood out from the group: Gerard Pique and Arturo Vidal.

Two Goliaths of the Stunning Recreation

Gerard Pique

Pique and Vidal, on the time, performed for Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona. Each had made greater than 350 appearances for the Catalan membership and have been each feared and revered on the soccer pitch. Pique, the FC Barcelona captain, had 5 cashes, all at earlier EPT Barcelona stops, with a fifth-place end in a €25,500 Excessive Curler occasion banking him €129,350.

Vidal’s poker expertise have been rather less recognized, with no cashes on his Hendon Mob profile. Nonetheless, everybody knew that if Vidal approached poker like he did soccer, he could be fearless and anybody at his desk could be in for a tough journey. The Chilean star had and nonetheless has a status for being tough-tackling, with him incomes the nickname “King of the Deal with.”

The €25,000 Single Day Excessive Curler gamers fell by the wayside all through the day, till solely 9 gamers remained within the hunt for the title of champion. Each Pique and Vidal had navigated their method to a closing desk the place the likes of Michael Addamo, Joao Vieira, Juan Pardo, and Mike Watson have been all current and proper.

Watson busted in ninth place when he misplaced a coinflip with pocket eights in opposition to Pardo’s ace-king. Vieira adopted Watson to the payout desk. Like Watson, Vieira misplaced a coinflip, his pocket eights proving no match for Pique’s ace-queen courtesy of two girls on the flop.

When Ramin Hajiyev and Kazujiko Yotsushika have been eradicated in the identical hand by Pardo, a crowd started converging on the ultimate desk as a result of there was each probability one of many two FC Barcelona gamers may beat the poker professionals of their yard.

Vidal Bows Out

Arturo Vidal

Vidal’s spectacular run led to a fifth-place end price €134,460. Pardo min-raised to 80,000 and Vidal referred to as. Pardo continued for 80,000 on the jack-deuce-deuce flop, and rapidly referred to as when Vidal raised all-in for 305,000 in whole. Vidal flipped over ace-nine of golf equipment, which wanted to enhance in opposition to Pardo’s ace-king. A king on the flip locked up the hand for Pardo and despatched a smiling Vidal to the rail to rapturous applause.

Pique, flying the FC Barcelona flag, doubled via Hirokazu Kobayashi, leaving the Japanese star with lower than 2.5 massive blinds. Kobayashi crashed out by the hands of the dominant Pardo a number of moments later.

Three-handed play ended with Pardo eliminating Australian celebrity Addamo with pocket nines versus pocket threes. After including Addamo’s stack to his, Pardo held a considerable 5,300,000 to 1,700,000 chip benefit over Pique. The hole proved to far for Pique to bridge.

Early into the one-on-one battle, all of the chips went into the center of the felt, Pique holding ace-nine of hearts, and Pardo pocket deuces. A jack-ten-six flop gave Pique working outs to a straight along with his overcards. The three of hearts on the flip gave Pique extra outs, though he was nonetheless a 34.09% underdog based on the PokerNews odds calculator. The river was a non-hart king, and Pique fell in second place for €352,950, leaving Pardo to gather the €491,600 prime prize and the match’s trophy.

Pique’s Spain are in motion within the World Cup immediately, December 1, the place they face Japan of their third and closing Group Stage fixture. Pique just isn’t concerned, having retired from worldwide soccer a 12 months earlier than his runner-up end at EPT Barcelona, and calling time on his skilled enjoying days earlier this month.

Vidal’s beloved Chile did not qualify for the World Cup, though he nonetheless seems for the Chilean nationwide group regardless of being 35 years previous. Vidal is the fourth most-capped Chilean participant in historical past, with 137 appearances. Solely Claudio Bravo (144), Gary Medel (152), and Alexis Sanchez (152) have performed extra video games for Chile.

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