Back in the summer, thousands of athletes flocked to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games. Records were broken, tears were shed, and a select few left holding the gold.
Now it’s São Paulo’s turn to host a ‘sporting’ event; one that attracts the cream of the crop in poker. No doubt records will be broken and tears will be shed here too, as this is set to be the biggest ever poker event in all of Latin America. The best in Brazil and beyond have made São Paulo their home for the past five days, here to take part in the massive BSOP Millions festival, which kicked off on November 22 and runs until Thursday December 1, followed by the LAPT Main Event, kicking off on Tuesday November 29.
Heck, we’ve even had one Brazilian Olympic medalist – retired swimmer Fernando Scherer – take down a tournament here already! We’ll have more on Scherer and his win later in our coverage.
The first big events on the schedule were the R$600 No Limit Hold’em R$1M guaranteed event, and the “Gentleman Jack” Super High Roller tournament, which came with a R$15,000 buy-in. It was Brazil’s Daniel Zandomeneco who took down the former on Friday night, banking a massive score of R$265,000 (that’s $77,416, currency nerds). The event had an enormous field of 3,403 players over it’s three Day 1 flights, which created a prize pool of R$1.71 million.
The really big bucks were of course saved for the bourbon-sponsored Super High Roller though, which featured some of the biggest names in Brazilian poker, such as Team Pro Andre Akkari, Ariel Celestino, and Rafael Moraes. He’d final table this one, eventually busting in third.
The man who outlasted the 71-player field was a Frenchman, Rachid Amamou. He won R$271,000 ($79,169) on Friday night, becoming the first French player to win a tournament at the BSOP. “I was impressed with the organisation of the tournament, it’s all very well structured,” Amamou told the legendary Sergio Prado over on the Brazilian PokerStars Blog. “But what impressed me most is the friendliness of all the Brazilians, who are always smiling.”
He’s not wrong. The feeling in the enormous poker room is overwhelmingly positive, from the emphatic players to the upbeat dealers and friendly floor staff. In fact, everyone I’ve met so far in my jollies around the city has been warm and welcoming.
The PokerStars Blog will be here in São Paulo right through until the end of the festival. We’ll be bringing you some feature content over the next few days as the BSOP Main Event plays down to a winner; today is Day 1C, sure to be a busy day of poker. Day 1A in the R$3,500 Main Event attracted 715 players, while yesterday’s Day 1B brought in 885 entries.
On Tuesday November 29, our attention will turn to the last ever LAPT Main Event. We’ll have live updates for you throughout, so make sure you stick with us all week here on the PokerStars Blog.
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Jack Stanton is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog. Photos by Carlos Monti.