With all the traveling that I do for poker, I don't usually get to take non-poker trips. But I've spent lots of time recently planning for a non-poker trip. My club soccer team, Corinthians, won the 2012 Copa Libertadores for the first time ever last July. They advanced to the semi-finals of the 2012 FIFA World Cup in Japan this December. If they win, they could be in the final against Chelsea. It's going to be the biggest match in Corinthians' history and I'm going to be there!
I always watch Corinthians games with 15 friends from my neighborhood in Sao Paulo. After Corinthians won the Libertadores, we all knew that we had to go to Japan. Of course it's really hard to get the tickets from FIFA. Everybody stayed up the night that FIFA said they were going to launch the website. We were awake for eight hours, between midnight and 8am, trying to buy the tickets.
Since then I think I've spent about a month planning this trip. We bought our plane tickets, booked our hotel and got our visas. We planned parties, flags to bring to the match, and sightseeing trips. I saw a documentary a few weeks ago called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's about a guy who makes the best sushi in the world in a tiny restaurant in the Tokyo subway. We made a reservation and added that to our list of things to do.
We're all very excited for the trip. It's the first time in 101 years that Corinthians has won the Libertadores. I can't really describe how wild that day was, but maybe these YouTube clips will give you an idea. The first is an aerial view of Sao Paulo after Corinthians took a 1-0 lead in the final. The second is from a stadium near where the final match was held, at the moment that Corinthians won.
That's what it means to be a Corinthians fan. I've been a Corinthians fan since I was born. It's not something you choose. It's something that's chosen for you and it goes with you your whole life. My father was a Corinthians fan. My brother is the same. My mom too.
Corinthians matches in Brazil are like a giant party. All my friends are crazy, wild guys. Me, I'm kind of old for this. I have a family. I have two daughters. They're not happy that I'll be gone to Japan for 10 days. My wife also knows that it's an expensive trip (the plane tickets alone are about $5,000). But I told her, "Be happy for me because I'm going anyway, no matter what you say." She understands - she's a Corinthians fans too.
I've never been to Japan. This will be my first experience and I know it's going to be fantastic. I have no idea what's waiting for me over there. But I'm open to everything.