If you were an up-and-coming poker player who just had a pile of cash fall into his lap, what would you do with it? How would it change your career? Would you play higher stakes? Would you swim your way out of make-up? Would you stake others in hopes that they’d have a monstrous score as well?
Enter Joao ‘XxJoaoFeraxX’ Otavio, who won the final PokerStars Sunday Million of March outright for a commanding $213,000. There were 7,124 entrants that week and he took the lion’s share of the $1.4 million prize pool that was up for grabs. In the span of one afternoon, his life was changed forever.
“I will surely invest my Sunday Million winnings somehow,” Otavio said. “A poker player’s career is very unstable and we never know when we will face a bad run. It’s good to have something safe.”
It’s not every day you get to sit back and contemplate your future knowing that you have enough in the bank to sustain a few bumps in the road.
“This experience was awesome,” he said. “Every single player dreams about winning a Sunday Million and my time has come. It’s a great feeling. My plans now are to celebrate, set up a few pending things, and then go back to the grind. I want to enjoy the good run and get more great results this year. The hard work can’t stop, and it won’t stop.”
Currently, poker is his only source of income, making a big hit like the Sunday Million even more meaningful.
“I just play poker nowadays,” the Sao Paulo resident said. “That’s my only activity and income source and that won’t change much, even with the Sunday Million. What will change in my career is that I will have more safety for an eventual bad run. My daily routine online won’t change either. I’ll probably make a few more trips to play live tournaments, though.”
He only has a handful of live cashes to his credit, according to the Hendon Mob, so that area of his game is almost wholly untapped. And, as he said, with a $213,000 windfall and $831,000 in career winnings, now seems like as good of a time as any to take the training wheels off his live game.
“Right now, I only play Brazilian Series of Poker events and don’t travel abroad to play, so I’d really like to play some Latin American Poker Tour events,” he said. “I don’t have any specific places I’d like to go except the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, but that’s another step.”
“I really like to play live tournaments because I think the real essence of the game is there,” the Sunday Million champ said. “Despite the fact that I love playing online, live poker is way more exciting. And I believe it must be great to hit a big live score, so I want to know how it feels. I know it’s not cheap to travel and play.”
You know what could take the sting out of the high cost of travel? $213,000.
As he said, he believes the essence of the game exists more in live poker than online.
“We’ve always heard that in poker you have to play the player before the cards,” he said. “Is there a better place to prove that’s true than in a live tournament, in an atmosphere where everybody is breathing the game, handling their emotions, and not willing to give any information? I think that’s the essence of poker, although online poker has a lot of positive particularities as well.”
“My live skills have been honed and adjusted as I’ve played,” he said. “I think experience counts a lot and I’ve been playing the best tournaments in Brazil for some time now. Keeping focused on every single action at the table and not distracting yourself easily are important.”
The major live tournaments in Brazil, a country that is increasing rapidly in poker relevance, are held in convention centers and hotels, according to Otavio. During one of his very first forays into that live world, the Brazilian had around 100 big blinds on Day 2 of a tournament and a friend of his, ‘pitaoufmg‘, had 15.
“When Day 2 was about to start, my friend joked, saying that he trusted his 15 big blinds much more than my 100,” said Otavio. “After the first break, I had already busted out and he had four times his initial stack. When my friends asked me what happened, I told them about a hand I played terribly with J-7 suited. They changed it into something even worse and told everyone about the freak hand I played with J-7 offsuit. I’m still known as the ‘J-7 offsuit guy’ and there are thousands of versions of the hand floating around now.”
Now, maybe he’ll be known as the Brazilian who won the Sunday Million for over 200-large.
Online, Otavio also has wins in the Big $109 and Big $27.50, just to name a few. With a little momentum from his Sunday Million victory, the sky’s the limit for the remainder of 2016.
“My online goals are to keep my game up and play high stakes more often, which I don’t play much right now. And maybe, who knows, winning a SCOOP or WCOOP? That would be awesome.”