A star of the turf and the felt? Barcelona star Neymar hosts charity poker tournament

  • Neymar Jr. and friends gather around a poker table to help underprivileged children of Brazil
  • Experienced Andre Akkari seizes the day, earning €15,000 for the Right to Play Foundation

Neymar Jr, best known for his dazzling soccer skills with FC Barcelona, is also a keen poker player has just taken part in a match to support his own charitable institute.

Apart from his usual marketing gigs promoting the largest online poker room PokerStars, Neymar is also heavily involved with charity work through his Neymar Jr Institute that helps underprivileged children in Sao Paolo in his home nation of Brazil.

Neymar is a member of the PokerStars SportsStars team and his latest effort to raise funds for the institute saw him and a number of other SportsStars team members friends take part in a charity home game. The proceeds went towards his institute and the Right to Play children’s charity.

Many superstars and one amateur

Neymar’s poker game gathered a few of his fellow players and friends, like Fatima Moreira de Melo, a gold medal hockey player, Brazilian actor Rafael Zulu, and Andre Akkari, a WSOP bracelet winner and a member of the PokerStars Team Pro. The tournament was played at Casino Barcelona and it featured €100 ($108) rebuys during the first hour to try and raise as much money as possible.

Joining this group of celebrities was one Diego Garcia Bello, a Spaniard who won his seat in the home game playing for free on PokerStars. Bello made it into the top ten of the tournament, after which he had to record a video explaining why he wants to join Neymar and others at the table.

His video caught the attention of the people behind the scenes, and he got the chance to sit at the poker table across one of the biggest sports stars of the modern era.

Bello didn’t try to hide his excitement after he received the news. He wasn’t only delighted to be able to sit down with the likes of Neymar, Fatima Moreira, Zulu, and Akkari, but he was that much more thrilled because this was his very first opportunity to play poker in a live setting.

Win for the children

The home game, held on Friday, featured a prize pool in excess of €50,000, and whoever won, it was going to be an important victory for the underprivileged children of Brazil. Neymar was playing for his Institute, while Akkari and Moreira de Melo were playing for the Right to Play Foundation.

In the end, it was Andre Akkari, the most experienced poker player in the mix, who took home the trophy and earned €15k for the Right to Play, together with Fatima’s €1,000 she earned for her 12th place finish. As for Neymar, he described the gathering as a wonderful night with friends, although his competitive mentality shone through – he moaned he didn’t win! The soccer start finished in 8th place, earning €1,900 for his Institute.

As for Mr. Bello, there is no doubt he had a great time surrounded by celebrities of such stature and being a part of something as important as providing the support for those who need it the most in the world. He ended up busting out in 7th place, good for €2,300 ($2,486), which he donated to charity as well.

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