The biggest names in poker - think Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Doyle Brunson - are used to being in the media spotlight. Cameras are thrust in their recognisable and marketable faces whenever they're playing a tournament. They're the stars of the show and they know it. Few players that turn up to play must know what that kind of fame is like. Gerard Pique, Barcelona centre back and World Cup winner with Spain, is one of the few that does - and on a far greater scale. While thousands, if not millions of people, know Negreanu's name it's a case of millions, if not billions, know Pique's. Football prowess aside, he's the other half of pop sensation Shakira and it's little surprise that he finds himself starting on secondary feature table with several camera men targeting him. Three lenses, no, four - Lee Jones is secretly papping from the feature table rail - is significantly less than would be trailing him at the Nou Camp.
Pique started the day in seat four with Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov on his direct left (conceding position, not good) and has Ole Schemion three to his right (tough, young Super High Roller, also not good) and has been acquitting himself well: a three-bet had forced Schemion to back down pre-flop, which is no mean feat.
Piqué started the day with 23,100 from the 30,000 that his starting stack afforded him. A solid performance saw him outlast Katchalov, a player who has won $7,408,077 in live tournaments, who bust out when he ran pocket kings into the aces of Max Greenwood and the ace-king of Dainius Ulke.
Unfrotunately for those poker fans that also love football, which is, let's face it, about 99% of players, Pique has bust. He quite understandably got his chips in with a very playable 5♠6♠ on a 6♣4♣8♠ flop for a pair and a straight draw. That gives you a huge amount of equity against most hands. Put it this way, you'd not be devastated if the other guy called with aces as you'd still win plenty of the time. As it was, PokerStars qualifier Carlos Mora Alvarez also had flopped well with Q♣8♣ to give him top pair and a flush draw. Pique failed to get lucky in this instance, but given his life at large it's safe to say that things are working out pretty well for him.
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Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.