Earlier this year we included Fabiano “Kovalski1” Kovalski among a list of Brazilian players to watch.
We have known Kovalski from the LAPT, the BSOP, and other PokerStars tours. We best remember him for his deep run and 11th-place finish in the EPT Barcelona Main Event two years ago.
And with more than $4 million in online cashes according to PocketFives and WCOOP titles in both 2018 and 2019, we necessarily had our eye on Kovalski during this year’s World Championship of Online Poker as well.
Of course, you couldn’t have missed Kovalski at the final table of Event #59-H, the $5,200 buy-in Midweek Freeze where he had the chip lead pretty much the entire way to win his third WCOOP title and a $119,483.15 first prize.
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James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton caught up with Kovalski after his win. Noting how he’d enjoyed the chip lead in the 97-player event pretty much the entire way, they asked him if the tournament had been as easy as it looked.
“I think it was,” grinned Kovalski. “It’s very hard to find a tournament where you run as good as I did. I basically had the best hand in all the big spots… that was awesome.”
Not only was he getting hands, but his value bets were being paid off routinely as well. So, too, were his bluffs getting through.
“I think they all worked,” he said of his bluffs. “Or at least they worked before they got big. That’s the most important thing… that some of the bluffs work before they get big. Because sometimes [you set yourself up to have] to make a river jam for like 70 bigs, but the guy folds on the turn. When that happens [and you can avoid that], you’re running good.”
The final table was predictably stacked, with Filipe “Zagazaur” Oliveira (who finished third), Samuel “€urop€an” Vousden (fifth), and Sam “Str8$$$Homey” Greenwood (who finished eighth) among the tough foes with whom Kovalski had to contend.
Finally it was Kovalski and Steve “Mr. Tim Caum” O’Dwyer heads-up, with Kovalski still enjoying the chip advantage to begin their duel.
“I think he had 40-45 BBs, then I got a big hand,” Kovalski said. “Jack-nine versus jack-eight where I hit a boat and he had trips. That was very crucial. Then he got down to like 20 BBs and from there all [went] really good.”
They chatted further about it being Kovalski’s third WCOOP title and his hopes of earning a fourth before it’s all over this week. They also discussed the exploding poker scene in Brazil and its many pockets of players forming ever-larger groups to help each other raise their games.
But the conversation ended on a much more serious topic — namely, the fact that Kovalski managed to win his title despite having a dog avatar.
As James and Stapes have well established on the stream, cats have proven much more fortuitous, a trend WCOOP winner Matas “NoTilit” Cikinas attested to in his appearance a short while back.
As a fan of the stream, Kovalski had heard the fellas’ critical view of dog avatars. Kovalski decided to invite them to make their case directly to his avatar’s subject.
For the record, James and Stapes hastily backed down. All bark and no bite, those two.
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