Brazil’s #1-Ranked Player Joao Simao Starting 2019 Off Strong

Brzail's #1-ranked Joao Simao has started 2019 off with a six-figure win.

Joao Simao had an incredible 2018 on both the live and online MTT scene. He finished the year as both the #1-ranked online and live player in his native Brazil. On Friday he started 2019 off by outlasting a stacked final table to win the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for a $184,420 score.

Simao, who was once the #1-ranked online player in the world, outlasted a pair of PocketFives legends and former #1-ranked players in Cliff Josephy and Shaun Deeb to take down the event. Simao was thrilled to start his year by posing for a winner’s photo.

“It was incredible. I love to play PLO tournaments but I don’t usually play too many live PLO tournaments because there’s not too many with big buy-ins. I was really happy when I saw they were running a $10K PLO,” Simao said. “I was expecting a lot of good players, but to be honest the first tables I got I had really good seats and then the final table was really tough and I ran really well.”

Deeb, the reigning World Series of Poker Player of the Year, finished third while Josephy ended up as the runner up. Closing out a tough tournament this early in the year is a drastic change from how things went for Simao in 2018. He earned $1,329,087 off of 15 cashes but only managed to find the winner’s circle once. His lone victory came in a Brazil Series of Poker event in November for $37,530. Even though he only picked up the one win, Simao has enough to perspective to understand he shouldn’t be beating himself up at all.

“I can’t complain at all. I had great results live (in 2018). I didn’t win until December. I made 12 final tables if I’m not wrong, some big ones like the $25K and Main Event of MILLIONS Rozvadov,” said Simao, held the #1 spot in the world on three separate occasions in 2016. “When you play 50,000 tournaments online like I did in the last 10 years, you know how it works. So I think that the background that I have from the online tournaments makes me feel comfortable to not finish in first place. I’ve arrived at final tables in first place and finished ninth, and I’ve arrived in every single starting situation for any final table; soft final tables, tough final tables.”

With a win already locked up for this trip, Simao is hoping to continue his winning ways in the 816-person PCA Main Event with more than $1.5 million going to the eventual champion. Simao thinks that momentum can be a real positive force in poker as long as you’re not expecting it comes from doing the same thing over and over again.

“I think it exists for sure. Even more when you don’t play the same things. If you just play the $109 online, then I don’t believe too much in momentum,” Simao said. “But if you play online, then live, then main events, then high rollers, big difference in buy-ins, then I think the momentum is really important. It’s not too often you can play for more than $1 million. It was good to win the $10K PLO before this tournament. I feel like I have real momentum now.”

As Day 2 of the Main Event continues towards the money bubble, Simao just might be proving his theory on momentum. He’s one of the top five stacks in the tournament and feeling like he could pull off something special to cap his week. He’s not as focused now on the Rankings as he used to be. While it was certainly a great accomplishment to do what he did in 2018, climbing back to the #1 spot in the world – a place he hasn’t been since mid-2016, isn’t something he’s interested in pursuing anymore.

“I used to #1 in the world in 2016, then I had a really big problem in my family, then I stopped playing a little bit and I went down. From that, I never grinded to be #1. I was #1 for live and online (in Brazil) so at the end of the year I was looking for the rankings because it would be nice to finish #1 in both, live and online rankings,” Simao said. “I think it’s really good to have rankings like PocketFives to motivate and make people grind and study more and more. I used to look for it, but now I’d rather get the compensation to be the #1. I’d rather get the great feeling to be the #1. Now I just want to play to make money.”