Soccer Ace Neymar Denied PokerStars Titans Event Victory
Brazilian soccer sensation Neymar "neymar-jr" Jr. came agonizingly close to taking down the latest edition of the $5,200 Titans Event at PokerStars this weekend, ultimately having to make do with a runner-up finish. Although Neymar collected $66,056 for his bridesmaid finish, he will be bitterly disappointed not to have come out on top and added the Titans Event title to his long list of personal accomplishments.
Neymar fans will likely see more of their hero at the live and virtual felts in the coming months because he faces a spell on the sidelines. Last week, while representing his country in a World Cup qualifying game against Uruguay, Neymar landed awkwardly and left the field in tears on a stretcher. Tests later confirmed a meniscus tear injury to Neymar's knee and a season-ending Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear. Neymar faces up to a year in the treatment room.
Soccer's loss looks to be poker's gain. Neymar decided to fire up PokerStars on October 22 and flick in the $5,200 buy-in for the Titans Event. It was a drop in the ocean for the man who recently put pen to paper on a two-year deal worth a reported $219 million annually. But as Team PokerStars' Rafael Moraes revealed to PokerNews last year, Neymar does not play poker for the money; he just wants to win.
$5,200 Titans Event Final Table Results
|Dominykas "Mikensonas" Mikolaitis
|Neymar "neymar-jr" Jr.
|Christian "WATnlos" Rudolph
|Benjamin "bencb789" Rolle
This weekend's Titan Event saw 59 entries processed, a lower than usual number, partly because many of the tournament's regulars were traveling home from the PokerStars European Poker Tour Cyprus festival. The compact field meant only the top seven finishers received some of the $295,000 prize pool.
"Jesper8" was the only player to reach the final table but not bank any prize money for their efforts. Canadian "Stumpfed" was the first casher, their seventh-place finish coming with a $12,837 payday.
The final table lost two Goliaths in succession. First, Benjamin "bencb789" Rolle bowed out in sixth for $17,814 before Christian "WATnlos" Rudolph ran out of luck; Rudolph's fifth-place finish earned him $24,720.
Fourth place and $34,304 went to Brazil's "Rajadanaativ" before "drew.derzh" joined the ever-growing list of casualties. Third place came with an impressive $47,602 haul for the Ukrainian.
Heads-up pitted Neymar against Lithuania's Dominykas "Mikensonas" Mikolaitis. Both players were now guaranteed at least $66,000 for their performances, but the all-important title and an additional $35,000 awaited the champion. Brazil has never faced Lithuania on the soccer field, so the inaugural battle took place at the PokerStars tables. The crocked Neymar had to settle for second place this time around, which was worth $66,056, leaving Mikolaitis to bank $91,663 and a cool story about defeating a soccer icon.
Neymar The Poker-Loving Soccer Star
The Titans Event is not the first time Neymar has come close to becoming a poker champion. In January 2022, during the Winter Series, Neymar collected $23,884 for a third-place finish in a $1,050 turbo event. Another third-place finish, this time in the $10,300 High Roller, earned Neymar $125,678.
Later that year, Neymar made his World Series of Poker (WSOP) debut after buying into the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship. Neymar failed to cash, but he reached the money places less then a week later, with a 49th place finish in the $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty event.
During the Super Turbo Bounty, as the money bubble burst, security staff almost ejected Neymar from the tournament area. Neymar was stood chatting to some friends, including Team PokerStars' Andre Akkari, when a member of the security team, unaware Neymar was one of the entrants. Thankfully, Neymar was not thrown out on his ear and went on to earn his first WSOP cash.
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What Next for Neymar?
Neymar has plenty of time of his hands while he recovers from surgery on his ACL and then during his recouperation. It would not surprise anyone to see the soccer icon head to Sao Paulo this November for the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP) Millions festival. Neymar finished sixth in a High Roller event at the 2018 edition of the festival, earning his first recorded live cash. As Neymar is recovering in his native Brazil, it would make perfect sense for him to make the most of his time away from soccer and to hone his skills at the felt.
Knowing Neymar's fondness for glitz and glam, perhaps the PokerStars NAPT Las Vegas series would be more up his street?
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