In the football world (read soccer if you’re North American) the Brazilians are known as the most skilled in the world. They’ve won the World Cup more times than anyone else (five) and had the greatest number of FIFA World Player of the Year wins (eight, way more than France and Argentina with three apiece). You can pin it on the samba rhythm or the capipirinhas if you want, but those South Americans have flair when it comes to sport and it appears it’s a playing philosophy that Brazilian João Paulo Simão has adopted here in Madrid.
The 23-year-old hit our radar yesterday when calling out for Pele, Brazil’s iconic number ten, when looking for the board to match the ten in his hand. It didn’t come, but he didn’t seem to mind. It allowed James Sudworth to double, a player that he seemed to like and perhaps would have felt bad for flipping out of the tournament so near to the money.
This sensitive side manifested itself again on the last hand of play last night when he knocked out two players in one fell swoop. The sympathy he showed to Konstantinos Nanos (3rd place finish at EPT Vienna for €265,000) was obviously genuine.
“When I knock out players I say good game to show respect but that guy was special. He was talking to me since the first day. He was a very great guy and we started a friendly relationship. I didn’t want to knock him out but I have ace-king, I have to call. I was sad to do it,” he said, finishing with a shrug as if to shirk the last vestiges of guilt.
Simão, who astutely categorises his own game as ‘very aggressive’, had a swingy day yesterday, hoovering up chips in one hand, doubling someone else up the next, tearing away with a monstrous chip lead and then tangling with Bruno Lopes when the Frenchman held the near nuts. If we were to draw his chip counts into a chart it would look a little like Sugarloaf Mountain: some large humps, steep drops but an overall general incline. Today has been no different.
“I started the day with 2,000,000 chips, lost three big pots in the first level and was down to 1,000,000 then I won small pot, small pot, small pot to come back to 1,500,00,000. Now I’m back to 2,000,000 (after knocking out Siyu Sha) after winning with queens. My stack has been going down and up, down and up, like in every tournament,” he told us at the break.
Perhaps that’s how your stack goes in every tournament, João. It’s a playing style reminiscent of the Brazilian national side, who eviscerate their opponents with a we-don’t-care-if-you-score-we’ll-just-score-more policy. It’s devilishly effective if you’re got the skill to pull it off.
Simão has been playing professionally since graduating in civil engineering and largely plays live cash games but has latterly turned his attentions to online and live tournaments: “I’ve played twice in Las Vegas and once at the PCA. This is my first EPT, my first tournament in Europe and it’s going well.”
Level 23: blinds 10,000-20,000, ante 2,000
Players: 15 of 477
Average stack: 954,000
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Moments after we hit the publish button on this post news came through that Simão had bluffed off half his stack to Frederik Jensen. Keep following the updates to see if it’s just another bump on Sugarloaf Mountain.