.- A South Carolina priest bested an NBA basketball star and two professional poker players, including former world champion Daniel Negreanu, to win $100,000 in a poker tournament and qualify for a competition with a $1 million grand prize.
Fr. Andrew Trapp, associate pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Garden City, played in the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge held in Los Angeles, California. Among his opponents were retired NBA star John Salley, Team PokerStars.Net pro Vanessa Rousso and Negreanu, a four-time World of Series of Poker bracelet winner.
The young priest, who Fox News says is known as “Father Rambo” for his love of paintball, at one point held rosary beads while in a big hand against Salley. Fr. Trapp defeated Salley and Rousso before defeating Negreanu.Playing the final hand of a game of Texas Hold’em, the priest was dealt a Jack of clubs and an eight of diamonds while Negreanu took a six of spades and a five of diamonds.
The flop, the game’s first three community cards, consisted of an eight of spades, a four of diamonds and a two of clubs. This gave the priest a pair of eights, while Negreanu could make a straight with any seven or three among the next two community cards.
Fr. Trapp lived up to his name when he went “all-in,” putting all his poker chips on the line.
“I wish you wouldn’t have done that,” Negreanu told the priest.
“You told me to be aggressive, so I’m trying,” Fr. Trapp replied.
“You’re bluffing right now, right, you don’t have an eight?” the poker pro asked. “You have a pair of eights? You don’t have to answer that…”
“My gut says I’m going to hit it,” he continued. “I call.”
The priest again took out his rosary. The next card was a jack of hearts, giving him two pair.
The final card, a two of diamonds, secured Fr. Trapp’s win.
“It’s one of those ‘Thank you, Lord!’ moments,” the priest explained to the show announcer after his victory. He also thanked Negreanu for teaching him how to play poker.
Fr. Trapp said all the money will be used for a new church building for his congregation, according to his audition video. His parish is $1.5 million short of its fundraising goal.
He also explained that he hopes to teach people that gambling in moderation is acceptable in Catholicism.
“The Catholic Church teaches that there’s nothing morally wrong making a bet or games of chance,” the priest remarked.
Commenting on his MySpace page, Negreanu said that the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge is “a game show first and a poker show second.” In his view, its fast pace benefits the amateurs facing the professional players.
Fr. Trapp will play for the contest’s $1 million grand prize in December.