July 26, 2018 / 5:12 PM / 19 days ago

No dives, but bluffs aplenty as Neymar shows poker skills

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Ridiculed for fakery at the recent soccer World Cup, Neymar bounced back at cards this week with the aid of some well-timed bluffs, finishing an impressive sixth place in the 288-strong field of a Brazilian Series of Poker event.

Brazilian soccer star Neymar takes part in the finals of Brazilian Series of Poker in Sao Paulo July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto

Neymar, who was in the Brazil side that lost 2-1 to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup earlier this month, turned his R$7,000 ($1,877) entry stake into R$79,440 ($21,308)before being eliminated in the final of the High Roller event, organisers said.

“I’m very happy to be playing this tournament for the first time and for reaching the final with some great players,” the 26-year old Paris St Germain forward said, moments before the final began. “This is a new experience for me.”

Brazilian soccer star Neymar takes part in the finals of Brazilian Series of Poker in Sao Paulo July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto

Neymar signed up for the tournament with five of his friends on Monday and was the only one of the six to make it through to the second day.

The final table of nine players was scheduled to play on Tuesday night but the contestants agreed to postpone for a day to allow Neymar to attend a friend’s wedding.

He returned to compete on Wednesday but after almost four hours of play was eliminated after betting big on two consecutive losing hands.

Poker has in recent years become one of the ways Brazilian footballers relax away from the game.

Ronaldo is a keen player and spokesman for an online poker firm, while Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and former Paris St Germain striker Nene also competed in Brazilian Series of Poker competitions this week, a spokesman told Reuters.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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