Saturday, January 09, 2016

Travel Report: 2016 PCA, Day 3: Learning about Brazil in the Bahamas

I was on for most of Day 2 of the Latin American Poker Tour Bahamas Main Event yesterday, getting a chance to leave a little early again and so wasn’t there for the last few hours of play.

A ton of big names went deep in the sucker, and some are still in it with 10 left. Just looking at the last half-dozen tables or so, Aaron Massey (11th), Ole Schemion (16th), Jeff Rossiter (17th), Mike Leah (20th), Daniel Weinman (21st), last year’s LAPT Bahamas winner Josh Kay (26th), Carter Gill (31st) Marvin Rettenmaier (32nd), Michael Telker (35th), Chris Moorman (39th), Juan Martin Pastor (43rd), Yann Dion (45th), and Michael Mizrachi (48th) all lasted until the latter levels last night.

Among those left in the top 10 are the leader Georgios Sotiropoulous, Joe Kuether, Will Molson, Darren Elias, Ismael Bojang, and the last of the Team PokerStars Pros (and representatives of Latin America), Andre Akkari. A solid line-up, although as I was talking about yesterday, the PCA tends to attract pretty tough fields all around, especially in the marquee events, so it isn’t surprising to see a lot of players with plenty of past results getting back to final tables.

Speaking of Akkari, I didn’t mention yesterday how before the start of Day 1 he and Felipe “Mojave” Ramos -- a “Friend of Team PokerStars” -- hosted the first of the “Breakfast with the Pros” sessions they have scheduled prior to just about every day of play here (pictured above via Neil Stoddart of the PokerStars blog).

The topic of their talk and Q&A was the “boom” presently happening for poker in Brazil, and I have to say despite having just been to Brazil for an LAPT event and having a lot of experience covering tourneys at other LAPT stops, I learned a few things I hadn’t known before about poker in Brazil.

There were a couple of big takeaways for me besides just learning a few more details about how poker has become especially popular in Brazil over recent years, something I could readily see to be the case from my visit to the Brazilian Series of Poker Millions and LAPT Grand Final in São Paulo in late November.

One was how poker’s proponents really have managed to associate the game more readily with sports than with other gambling games in Brazil. The lack of casinos there helps in that regard, as poker is generally played in poker-only rooms or in tournament series like the BSOP.

In America that way of “marketing” poker -- or even just defending the game from its detractors -- can’t only be marginally effective thanks to a legacy lasting more than two centuries placing poker firmly alongside not just other gambling games, but other “immoralities” put under the category of “outlaw” activities. (This is why attempts to “sportify” fail to resonate that much in the U.S., and in other places, too.)

The other interesting item I learned from the talk was how the recent downturn in Brazil’s economy has encouraged legislators now to start allowing casinos and other gambling games in order to find a new revenue source. Which means poker is interestingly going to be caught in the middle somewhat between groups with interest in the new casinos and gambling and the Ministério do Esporte and other who’ll want to continue to keep poker in the “sport” category.

You can read more about the talk here “Reporting on the Brazilian ‘boom.’

Heading back over now for the LAPT Bahamas finale. It won’t be live streamed, unfortunately, but you can follow the updates from start to finish on the PokerStars blog.

Photo: courtesy Neil Stoddart/PokerStars blog.

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