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WSOP Rookies

While many eyes will be on the World Cup in Brazil this summer, there will also be some attention diverted Vegas’ way as the 44th World Series of Poker (WSOP) gets underway. Anyone familiar with poker will know big players such as Phil Ivey but who are the rookies looking to make a name for themselves in the ultimate poker tournament?

Ole Schemion

One of the most hyped about players currently on the circuit. The 21-year-old really is a prodigy and widely regarded as the best no-limit hold ‘em players in the world, so it comes as little surprise that he currently sits atop of the Global Poker Index. With over $5million in career winnings, Schemion is touted by many as a cert to claim a WSOP bracelet at the first attempt. What makes Schemion so hard to play against is his unpredictable, ultra aggressive playing style which makes others hesitant to gamble against him.

Lukas Berglund

The Sweden native cut his teeth on the virtual felt, in the past three years he has accrued more than $3.7million in online poker. When it comes to live tournaments he is hardly a novice, back in 2011, aged just 18, Berglund became the youngest World Poker Tour Main Event winner, winning the Spanish Championship, making a cool €206,000. Berglund will be looking to announce himself at the WSOP and in truth, he probably will.

Jordan Westmorland

Born in Seattle but currently living in Australia, Westmorland will be making a rare trip back to the States with just one thing in mind, claiming his first ever bracelet. After a third place finish in the European Poker Tour Main Event in Sanremo last month, Westmorland should arrive with unbridled confidence. With more than $2million in career winnings he should have a big enough bankroll to do some damage.

Alen Bilic

The Bosnian and Herzegovina star only started playing poker four years ago. After being inspired by Michael Friedrich he deposited $20 with PokerStars, the rest is now history. Fast-forward four years and Bilic is now one of the premier talents plying their trade online and was at one point ranked as the 7th best player with PocketFives. Although he only has one live cash to date, Bilic has entered into 20 tournaments in Vegas this summer, so you would expect him to cash and perhaps earn a maiden bracelet.

Mateusz Moolhuizen

Dutch ace Moolhuizen made his name in online poker rooms, winning events such as the Sunday Million and the Sunday Warm-up. While he has also proven himself in live tournaments, his €117,000 win at the 2011 Unibet Open Malta was his first cash, and too date, remains his largest. Since that win he gone on to scoop more than $350,000 in live tournament winnings. It is a 13 hour flight from the Netherlands to Vegas so you can be damn sure than Moolhuizen will not want to go home empty handed.

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Poker Ace Nadal Hoping For French Open Flush

Rafael Nadal prepared for last year’s French Open by taking part in a poker tournament, and the Spaniard could be forgiven for looking to play a few hands of cards in the run-up to his return to Paris. Favourite Nadal will head to Roland Garros this month looking to win his fifth straight French Open crown, which would then take his overall French Open tally to nine, and the world number-one has made it clear he believes he is able take plenty of the skills he has learned playing poker into his tennis.

When taking into consideration Nadal’s supreme athletic ability, it’s no surprise to discover the Spaniard was brought up playing a number of sports in which he excelled in during his formative years, but it was tennis which took his full focus for the majority of his career until trying his hand at professional poker last year. While Nadal doesn’t appear set to trade his racket for his visor on a full time basis just yet, he has previously highlighted the parallels that run between poker and tennis.

“It’s no secret that I love the competition, and that’s what I like about the game of poker. It’s a game of skill that requires mental strength and the ability to out think your opponents and in that way it is very similar to tennis,” Nadal said before last year’s French Open.

Nadal revealed on his website that he has managed to find time in his French Open preparations to play a hand or two of poker, and the Spaniard looked rightly relaxed as the overwhelming favourite for the title. After winning three titles on the way to the second grand slam of 2014, Nadal will know victory at the French Open will give him a great platform on which to launch an assault on the rest of the season – not to mention complete the Spanish star’s French Open flush.