Rafael Nadal readies for First Live Poker Tournament

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For the past year, Rafael Nadal has been sporadically playing online poker. The 13-time Grand Slam winner began playing internet poker while taking time off of tennis to let his injured knee heal. And this little hobby has now turned into something much bigger since Nadal will enter his first live poker tournament.

The Spaniard has been invited to the EPT Prague celebrity tournament, where he'll compete against other famed part-time players. The charity tourney will take place on December 12th, which also happens to coincide with the start of the EPT Prague Main Event.

Nadal sounds very exciting about pitting his poker skills against fellow celebrities. "It’s no secret that I love the competition and that’s what I like about poker," he said. "It's a game of skill that requires mental strength and the ability to out-think your opponents, and in that way there are similarities to tennis. I have been playing poker online for almost 18 months and now I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing my first live tournament."

In preparation for his live poker foray, Nadal hired poker coach Alfonso Cardalda to tutor him. Cardalda has previously said that Nadal's skills are improving and playing in a live tournament will be a big step in his poker career.

While Rafa may not have any live poker results, he has grinded in plenty of online tourneys. Back in January, he won his first onine event after taking down a €10 freeze-out tourney. Nadal collected a €152.40 first place prize and gained quite a bit of fame throughout the poker world for winning this event. Obviously the money wasn't very significant to the Spaniard; but just the fact that he won a poker tournament was a big thing.

Now he'll hope to replicate a little bit of this success in the celebrity tourney at EPT Prague. Not much has been said about what other celebrities will take part. But you can guarantee that there'll be some fine poker players there.