Throughout our coverage of the Spring Championship of Online Poker 2020, one particular screen name cropped up more than most on the daily results sheet. That name? “RuiNF”. The player? Portugal’s Rui Ferreira.
While he couldn’t quite clinch a SCOOP title in 2020, Ferreira had so many close calls (nine final tables) and cashes (more than 100!) that he would ultimately be crowned the SCOOP 2020 Player of the Year.
In doing so, he banked a beautiful bonus of $50,000.
“Yeah, it went quite well,” he tells me, having safely travelled back to his native Portugal from his SCOOP grind station in the Netherlands.
That it “went well” is really an understatement. Ferreira took control of the leaderboard lead early on and never took his foot off the gas.
To name only three of his more than a hundred cashes, Ferreira finished second in SCOOP-24-M: $1,050 NLHE [8-Max, Super Tuesday SE] for $173,792, fifth in SCOOP-110-H: $5,200 PLO [6-Max, High Roller] for $42,781, and sixth in SCOOP-17-H: $10,300 NLHE [8-Max, High Roller] for $75,885.
He truly crushed the biggest online tournament series in online poker history.
And when we spoke to him a few weeks after SCOOP 2020 had come to an end, he provided some amazing advice on how you too could crush a big tournament series.
Ferreira wasn’t alone during his grind.
There’s a healthy contingent of Portuguese pros who call the Netherlands home (due to Portugal’s gambling laws, local players can only play in the PokerStars Southern European player pool).
But when SCOOP was done and dusted, he was able to return home triumphant.
“The food is much better in Portugal,” he says. “That’s the biggest difference. But I was playing SCOOP for 34 days in a row. I didn’t have much time to enjoy life in the Netherlands anyway.”
As anyone who has been stuck at home recently can attest to, doing the same thing for 34 days in a row will take its toll on you. Fortunately for Ferreira, who has been playing for more than a decade and has already won plenty (including multiple SCOOP titles), he doesn’t grind all year round.
“I only travel three times a year to play online poker as I only play the big series, and I haven’t played anything since SCOOP.
“SCOOP is probably my favourite time to play online poker, but…” he pauses. “It’s not that I’m getting old, I’m only 28, but I’ve been playing for ten years now. When I was younger I loved it. These days, not as much. I still like the challenge though.
“Now I enjoy helping the players in my stable more than playing, I think.”
If bossing online poker (and all the behind-the-scenes work that involves) wasn’t enough, Ferreira also has a stable of more than 100 players that he backs.
“[Managing a stable] is a lot of work,” he says. “I have 107 horses at the moment, and managing that is like a full-time job. I have a great team on the management side, not all of them play, so things ran smoothly.”
Alongside his partners, Ferreira provided a group coaching class to his horses every day during SCOOP. Let’s just say his coaching proved very valuable indeed.
“It was our best month by far,” he says, proudly. “All of the stars aligned. I don’t know exactly why, a lot of luck I imagine, but SCOOP 2020 was the greatest.”
Ferreira admits he wasn’t a big fan of the SCOOP schedule being extended (“I had plans,” he laughs. “But then I had to keep playing.”) But he was confident he could take down the player of the year title if he continued to grind, and told his girlfriend that if he stayed in the Netherlands a couple more weeks, he would make sure he won it.
Now they can both enjoy some well-deserved rest at home. “I’ve since been enjoying quarantine life in Portugal,” he says. “I don’t know why, but I’m enjoying it.”
When Ferreira first started playing poker a decade ago, he admits he was “just a kid”. But when I ask whether the game came naturally to him–as is often the case with young poker phenoms–his answer is refreshingly candid.
“When you first start to play, you fail a lot, you know?” he says. “You fail, and you fail, and you fail, and you fail, but you never give up. I know I sound like a cliche, but it’s true. I failed so many times when I was starting.”
Ferreira credits his poker success to his ability to talk through strategy with other players.
“For me, it was quite easy to talk poker with people, and it’s still like that for me with my stable. I then met my partner in the business and he is more organised. He taught me things, I taught him things. We’re a good match and helped each other improve.
“For me to become good at poker, it was a lot of luck and a lot of work, all at the perfect time.”
Ferreira has since worked his way up the MTT ranks to the highest possible echelon: the live Super High Rollers. Of his $1.22M in live cashes, his two largest have come from final table finishes in €100Ks, with his third-largest coming from a €50K (all three at EPT Barcelona).
However, he admits he still utilises strict game selection.
“I only play the 100Ks that I think will be very good for me to play,” he says. “I’m quite selective. I don’t like to gamble, really.”
He certainly doesn’t like to gamble with his health, so he has no plans to travel for live poker anytime soon. I wondered what his plans would have been if 2020 turned out differently.
“I have never been to Las Vegas and I was planning on going for the first time to the World Series of Poker this year,” he says. “I was also planning to go to Barcelona, as I’ve been to EPT Barcelona for the past eight years in a row.”
While live poker is out of the question, online poker is still very much on Ferreira’s mind. As he said, he only travels for the big series, and they don’t come bigger than the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).
“I am planning to take a lot of my stable to Brazil to play WCOOP if it’s possible,” he says. “We played from there last year and the time zone is better than the Netherlands. Plus, the weather is better.
“Being together is great for your game. We meet people, we help people, we talk poker 24/7, we’re all in it together and we all improve in that time.”
Then Ferreira drops a bomb which will be welcome news to every online poker player.
“WCOOP 2020 might be the last big online series I play,” he says. “I’ve been talking with my team about what we might do during it. We might do commentary and shoot it like a documentary. We will see. It might be too much work.”
With retirement from non-stop professional play potentially on the horizon, I wonder how Ferreira might look back on his career when he’s “finished”. Is he annoyed he didn’t clinch another SCOOP title this year, despite having a player of the year series? Are titles important to him at all?
“Right now, no, winning titles isn’t important to me,” he says. “Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll look back on my poker career and I will wish I had a cabinet full of trophies, but at the moment I focus more on the process rather than the results. They are two different things.
“I try to improve the process every day, and the results will come, you know?”
When we asked Ferreira how he prepares for a big online series, he gave us an incredible response. Heed his advice.
Rui Ferreira: “How should you prepare? You simplify. You simplify everything.
“You make sure you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat, or when you’re going to exercise, or what time you’re going to wake up. You must try to simplify everything.
“Try to wake up at the same hour every day, try to go to sleep at the same time each night, eat at the same time, exercise at the same time. That’s what I did every day during SCOOP.
“Exercise is more important than study for me at this point. I didn’t take a day off from exercise in 30 days or so.
“I don’t believe I’m the best at anything. But I think I’m somehow good at everything because I simplify everything.”