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When it comes to the backgrounds of successful poker players, they don’t come much stranger than that of Fatima Moreira de Melo; ‘Olympic gold medalist. World Cup champion. TV presenter. Singer. Jewelry designer. Masters degree in law. Model. Winner of the Dutch version of Survivor. PokerStars pro,’ is how PokerListings described her achievements back in 2013.
The 38-year old Rotterdam-born former field hockey star does indeed seem able to turn her hand to anything and everything, and her road to fame has been a very busy one indeed, debuting for the Dutch national team back in 1997 and adding a further 190 caps as well as multiple Olympic and World Cup medals in her illustrious career.
On the similarities between her field hockey and her eventual poker career, De Melo says:
"It's mostly focusing on becoming better at what you are doing. If I'm doing something I'm focused on becoming the best that I can be in that certain area."
Her strategic poker brain came to the fore in the TV reality show Expeditie Robinson, a Survivor-style island adventure. De Melo told pokerlistings that:
“They just distract you with the island and no food, the people get hungry, get mad... the emotional part gets into the game but this is what poker players have learned not to do. You can´t bring your emotions into the game.”
Her poker credentials are real, of course, having won $484,237 since her tournament debut cash back in 2009, her 2nd place in the UKIPT Isle of Man event in 2013 a career highlight so far, worth $95,750. But her spot on the PokerStars Team Sportstars goes back to before her initiation into the rigours of competitive poker.
It was 2009 and according to Fatima:
“I was already playing quite a bit in home games with friends and last year PokerStars called and asked if I was interested in poker and I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I really love poker."
"I told them I love the game, but I want to get proper training and get really good,” she explained to Onlinepoker.net and this she did, enlisting the help Dutch Team PokerStars Pro Lex Veldhuis in her quest for mastery.
Several years on and she’s as in love with poker as she ever was, and ever the sportswoman she knows the need for preparation.
“I wake up and then I try to do a little bit of fitness, she told ALifewithFrills.com this year in Monaco, explaining that, “I love tennis, so every time I'm at a poker tournament, I try to find out where the tennis courts are. Me and my friend Vanessa Selbst play - she's my good friend, she's from the States and we both love tennis. So that's what we do to get our fitness up a bit and get some fresh air.”
Being good at everything often makes other people jealous, but with De Melo’s down-to-earth approach to life it just seems to inspire instead.
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