If you’ve been following along with our daily WCOOP reports you’ll have noticed one name in particular keeps cropping up on the winner’s list: Filipe “Zagazaur” Oliveira.
The young Portuguese pro is undoubtedly the breakout star of the World Championship of Online Poker 2019, with three titles won this year alone. That currently puts him at the top of the series leaderboard, and as he told us, winning said leaderboard was his intention heading into WCOOP.
His first came on September 12, with a victory in Event-28-M: $530 Thursday Thrill PKO for $185,467. Oliviera followed that up with another win just three days later on September 15, taking down Event-41-H [UFC Heavyweight]: $10,300 NLHE PKO for another massive score worth $360,309.
The UFC-themed element of his second title also means that Oliviera won himself a trip to New York for UFC244 in November.
No rest for the wickedly good, Oliveira was back on the grind yesterday (September 18) and took down his third title in Event-49-H: $2,100 FL 2-7 Triple Draw. The $40,200 he won might be modest compared with his previous prizes, but it proves this guy is no mere NLHE phenom.
It would be remiss of us not to mention Oliviera’s poker success prior to the past seven days. He already has a SCOOP title from 2016 on his résumé, and positioned himself firmly on the poker world radar when he won a $5,300 tournament in the Bahamas for $1.5 million at the end of 2018. He was back in the Bahamas for a deep run in the inaugural PSPC just two months later, finishing in 29th for $105,000.
Oliveira was kind enough to take a break from winning WCOOPs to talk to PokerStars Blog. You can check out the interview below.
PokerStars Blog: Hi Filipe, congratulations on your amazing WCOOP run so far. Can you believe you’ve won three titles in one year?
Filipe “Zagazaur” Oliveira: Thank you very much! Winning the first one was a big accomplishment for me, it was something I really wanted to win and I was really nervous during the final table and relieved once I won.
To what do you credit your recent success?
I think my recent success is due to a lot of luck, being able to perform better while playing, and having a better understanding of my image to each one of my opponents. I have always studied a lot and the guys at Polarize Poker, my poker team, make me want to study even more so I can teach them, and that has not changed over the past few years.
You’re also going to New York for the UFC thanks to your win. Is that something you’re excited about?
At first I was thinking about not going. I’m just so tired from travelling a lot and I wanted to stay at home. But after giving it some thought it is too good of a thing to pass up on, and I’m pretty excited to go. I wish they would give me a belt for my win as a trophy, if somebody from PokerStars is reading this, please make it happen!
You had your breakout live result last year in the Bahamas. How has life changed for you since that huge $1.5 million win?
Life has changed a lot but not because of that result. I was going through a phase where I wanted to stop playing poker, as it was just not as enjoyable as it used to be and travelling all the time was starting to affect me. After taking some vacations, I now just want to learn all the games and play a lot! The Bahamas win changed nothing, of course the extra money was good and I loved the experience, but other than ordering all the extras on my Tesla Model 3 there is nothing I have done since that would have made things different.
You seem to excel playing against tough fields in big buy-in events. Why do you think this is?
Lots of luck! It’s the thing I have done better than those guys out there. I don’t think I am currently the best, I have a lot to learn.
Where do these WCOOP titles rank in your poker career so far?
I don’t give rankings to my titles, each one was a different experience and I loved each one of them.
You had quite a deep run in the PSPC back in January. What was that experience like?
I was not aware of how deep I was while playing, but looking back it was crazy!! I loved the tournament, it was my first time playing PCA and I loved the place. I am definitely playing the Barcelona PSPC 2020!
Going back to the beginning, how did you first discover poker?
A friend of mine taught me the game (he is the one I’m taking with me to the UFC) and I just started playing a lot at his restaurant. I lost all the time at first, and online things did not go any better. I believed I lost my first 10 deposits. I eventually decided to stick to Sit & Gos and I started making some money.
I decided to go pro when I was 19, after the first year of university. I was just failing all of my classes because I was playing poker all the time, it was what I really wanted to do. My parents were not happy at first but they accepted it, and now they are my biggest fans.
How long have you been living in the Netherlands, and what is it about the country you like?
It’s safe, close to home, and everybody speaks English. I am currently playing the WCOOPs in Brazil though. I chose to come here because of the time zone and I wanted to try to win the leaderboard so I thought this would give me a big edge. Brazil is currently my favourite place to live, after Portugal of course.
There are some great Portuguese players out there. What’s it like to be a part of that community?
We are really good. The fact that we all had to move [to a different country to play online] was a big motivator to get better and I think those first years in Prague when we were all together was a big part of it. One factor that is common to us all is that we are very competitive and this makes each and every one of us want to get better as we see the others doing good.
Me and Rui “RuiNF” Ferreira stake and coach a lot of guys, most of whom are Portuguese, so I think you’re going to hear a lot more than you expect from the Portuguese in the future.
• Espen “_sennj_” Sandvik: “It’s my first win in an official tournament”
• Rodrigo “guinHuuh” Freire: Brazilian’s roller coaster ride turns $11 into $13K
• Patrick “prepstyle71” Serda: No more pizzas for the three-time winner
• Jeffrey “Jefffrr8” Reardon: He wanted a five-figure score. He got one.
• Maxime “Daghemuneguu” Chilaud: Malta-based Frenchman wins first WCOOP of the series
• Norway’s “19_Kumite_79”: First two-day event, biggest field, biggest cash
• Viktor “TsiTool” Kovács: Puts Hungary on the WCOOP map
• Italo “sep_itl1914” Carandinas: Brazilian chooses his own adventure
• Naoya “nkeyno” Kihara: Woken up by a kick from his 3-year-old, plays Razz and wins!
• “snovalshik1”: first-timer, who turned $5.50 into $3,408
• Rinat “Zapahzamazki” Lyapin: Won PLO while streaming live
• Alex “dynoalot” Difelice: Second win, but “I feel I have a ways to go.”
• Pedro “PaDiLhA SP” Padilha: Akkari’s acolyte, who sets the record straight
• Shaun “shaundeeb” Deeb: Seventh title, surely not the last
There are still plenty of WCOOP titles left to be scooped. Click here to open a PokerStars account.