You probably don’t know Ariel “ArielBahia” Celestino if you’re not logging on from Brazil. That is very likely to change. Celestino is one of the best players in Brazil, an online grinder with some major results, and is well chipped going into the final 24 here in the EPT Sanremo final table.
The 30-year-old Brazilian professional player who has clocked up $2,795,632 in online tournaments but only $486,984 in live tournaments. That’s something that he wants to change.
“I’m trying now to get my big hit live,” said Celestino. “In Brazil, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the best players, but outside of Brazil they don’t know me so well. I’m trying to put my name in the hall of the good guys.”
That may well be one door that he’s knocking on, but he’s already got a seat at the SCOOP, FTOPS and Super Tuesday winners’ tables. That’s quite some success at the online tables.
Key online wins
August 2010: FTOPS Event #16, 4th: $111,313
May 2011: FTOPS Main Event, 1st: $346,696.49
May 2012: SCOOP Event 20-L, 1st: $55,048.04 (report here)
August 2013: Super Tuesday, 1st: $115,101 (report here)
“Everyone in Brazil is very excited and there’s a lot of messages from them on Facebook,” said Celestino. “It’s very exciting. I am friends with everyone. Brazilians are very close. We are on the rail for everyone and we support each other and are always talking about hands. That’s why we’re growing so fast.”
Celestino is among a growing group of fantastic Brazilian players making it big on the global stage, alongside, of course, Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, Nicolau Villa-Lobos and Victor Sbrissa (to name but a few).
The 30-year-old turned pro five years when he was at the back end of completing a law degree. To any outside observer with little to no knowledge of the poker world it seemed like he had lost his mind; parents included.
“I was a law student. I didn’t finish law school. I stopped in the last semester actually. I couldn’t do both and I had to make a decision. I chose poker… My dad [didn’t] support me. He wanted me to finish law school so bad, but I knew that poker is my life and I know that I made the right decision.”
His parents and friends soon came round to Celestino’s way of thinking. Winning hundreds of thousands of dollars tends to do that.
“Money changes everything, right?” said Celestino. “Everyone in Brazil supports me; my family, my friends. First of all they thought I was crazy but now they think I’m right… I moved to the South and I feel like a professional there with all the other guys, the players, they all support me. I got some coaching and lots of conversations. They try to open their minds. I then got money, real money and they thought it was a good decision.”
Well, there’s always that law degree, so close to completion, that could be returned to.
“No, no, no,” he said. “Poker is my life.”
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.