We’re not supposed to see the amateur players last through four days of PCA Main Event poker, let alone have the chip lead going into Day 5. But that’s exactly what happened in the case of Eugenio Mattar last night, and he can’t really believe it either.
We didn’t really know much about Mr Mattar until yesterday, when our Brazilian colleague Sergio Prado mentioned Mattar’s business background and something about a little article in Forbes.
Mattar is actually among the most successful businessman in Brazil, operating a car rental business that is the biggest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. It also turns out that he has a little flexibility in his schedule at this time of year, time enough to play some live tournament poker for example.
Eugenio Mattar in action this week
“I’m just playing for fun,” said Mattar, looking trim and stubbly in a PCA t-shirt with a sweater slung over his shoulders. “It’s a very interesting game so I’m just having fun. I’m surprised by my performance here in Bahamas, my first tournament.”
The whole trip was something of a whim for Mattar. Staying in Miami, a friend invited him to come to Atlantis to play the first day of the Main Event. One day, that was all. But then the plan began to change a little.
“Now it’s the fifth day. It’s a surprise for me!”
Despite his current success – Mattar had 2.6 million chips coming back today – he’s all too aware of the steep learning curve he’s had so far.
“I’m learning how to play better while at the tables,” he said. “I think that I remember some mistakes that I made and I learned from those mistakes. So I’m improving my performance during the tournament.”
Perhaps the most significant hand Mattar played yesterday involved another Brazilian, Ronaldo. Risking villain-status across his own country, Mattar put an end to Ronaldo’s heroic run in 26th place. It closed the book on that improbably story, but opened another, putting Mattar in a commanding position as the day drew to a close.
“I eliminated him but he’s a gentleman,” said Mattar, joking that the PCA was unlikely to make him as famous as the footballing legend. “It’s a game, and he’s a Brazilian idol, I love him.”
So Mattar plays on today, one day away from the final table of one of the biggest events in poker, with effectively five days experience under his belt. But then, you don’t get to the top of the business world without a knack for learning fast and making the most of every opportunity.
So would this be the first of many appearances on the tournament circuit?
“Yeah maybe,” he said. “I don’t have enough time to participate, because I’m very busy. But then this time of the year I think maybe in Rio or Europe. So some time I will participate again, for sure.”
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.