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  1. [caption width="640"] Poker success has opened a whole new world for 888poker ambassador Nicolau Villa-Lobos[/caption] Nicolau Villa-Lobos has made a deep run in the World Series of Poker Main Event, he posted a runner-up finish to Mike Watson in the stacked High Roller field at the 2013 WSOP Europe series, but rather than travel the globe seeking only the toughest competition at the higher stakes, Villa-Lobos spends much of his time at home playing in Brazilian Series of Poker events. Over the past four years, he has cashed in 14 BSOP events, most notably a runner-up finish in the Sao Paolo Main Event in 2012 and a final table appearance in the High Roller event at the same venue in 2014. While his success in Brazil has primarily come in Sao Paolo, Villa-Lobos has different reasons why another spot is his favorite on the tour. “I love the one in Natal (in northeastern Brazil). Nice hotel in front of the beach where I can surf a bit. Amazing food in that area too. Probably my favorite,” Villa-Lobos says. He has plenty of other reasons why the BSOP is worth his time too though. “Playing poker for an extended weekend is amazing. Besides that, BSOP it's an opportunity to visit amazing cities spread Brazil and meeting great friends. So, it's a combination of those factors that makes the experience amazing.” Natalie Hof Joins Team888As mentioned though, Villa-Lobos has found plenty of success outside of Brazil. Ever since his 77th-place finish in the 2012 WSOP Main Event, Villa-Lobos has been a representative of 888 Poker, which means he has played poker all over the world promoting the brand. “Traveling the world is amazing. 888 gave me the opportunity to travel to every continent playing the best poker tournaments in the world. This is a dream for every poker player,” Villa-Lobos says. “Being around of great people is such a great experience too.” What Villa-Lobos is really looking forward to is for the glamour of these major tournaments to head home when the WSOP Circuit visits Brazil for the first-ever South American Circuit series in WSOP history. Yes, it is a competition for rings and not bracelets, but the mere presence in Brazil is a big deal for Villa-Lobos and his peers. “It's massive! Huge! Having a WSOP circuit in Brazil is a great accomplishment for both WSOP and Brazil. The WSOP is now setting foot in the most successful place if we are talking about [the growth of] live tournaments. Brazil proved that we are in love to this amazing game, and our capacity to make huge events is great. On the other hand, Brazil is going to a next level if we are talking about international poker events. Having the WSOP here is mind blowing.” When you consider the spectacle Villa-Lobos experienced in Rio this summer, his words have even more weight. He was one of many Brazilians who attended the recent Summer Olympics, and his reviews for it are even more enthusiastic than those for the Circuit. “It was amazing,” he gushes.. “It was a once in a lifetime experience to have the Games in my city. I had a busy schedule and I went to almost every sport competition. I saw Phelps, judo, handball, basketball a few times, beach volley, volleyball, and football semis and final. And I’m probably missing some out of this list!” Villa-Lobos and friends, including fellow 888 Pro Bruno Kawauti, took in all the sights and sounds of the Olympics. If you have ever seen a Brazilian rail, you realize this was a truly epic celebration. “It was a huge party for two weeks. Everywhere was super-crowded and the arenas were amazing. Can't imagine that happens the same way in other places.” In some ways, it was making up for the missed opportunities that come with the sacrifices of a busy poker travel schedule. Villa-Lobos and many mother Brazilians had to make a choice between the WSOP and the World Cup in 2014. Villa-Lobos and most others opted for the poker equivalent of the World Cup instead of the real deal. He missed the major matches, but did manage to see some of the early games before heading to Vegas. “Went to Maracanã to watch Belgium and Russia, and that was it for me. In the end, I was actually glad to be in Vegas,” he says with a laugh. Many poker pros start playing high rollers, then never go back to the smaller stakes. Villa-Lobos is not motivated by ego though. His decisions both in what events he plays and how he spends his free time is about finding the best Brazil has to offer in tandem with international travel. He understands this is how you grow poker in Brazil. You travel to raise international awareness about all the great stops and events the country has to offer, then you come home when these events run to play in them and support them.
  2. [caption width="640"] Nicolau Villa-Lobos thinks players should focus in the early parts of tournaments if they want to gain an avantage.[/caption] In addition to earning over seven figures playing online, Brazil’s Nicolau 'nicofellow' Villa-Lobos has racked up the cashes at various events at the Brasilian Series of Poker. With so much experience in a wide range of buy-ins in BSOP events, Villa-Lobos is the perfect person to talk to about how to approach the early levels of a poker tournament, especially large-field low buy-in events. There are plenty of players who don’t even bother to show up for a tournament until the antes kick in, but Villa-Lobos is a proponent of signing up and getting involved early. “I think early levels are amazing to get to know your table, and also there are a lot of ‘free’ chips flying. If a big fish is playing, he is not going to stay alive too long, so it's always a battle to get his chips,” Villa-Lobos says with a chuckle. While he encourages players to get involved early, he also stresses you can be active at the table without having to voluntarily put chips in the pot every hand. Rather than focus on your phone, watch a video on your tablet, or give your attention to whatever sporting event is on TV, Villa-Lobos reminds players that, while it may be difficult to focus, keeping your attention on the table is the only way to get a good read on your opponents. It isn’t just about following along the action either. Villa-Lobos believes there is no action too small to merit your scrutiny. “Pay attention in every move your opponents make. The way they get the chips, how much they are betting, how fast they are betting, and those kind of things,” he said. For Villa-Lobos, a key part of the process isn’t just observing his tablemates, it is also about discussing the game with his friends, like fellow poker ambassador Bruno Kawauti. The two Brasilian pros share a lot in common, including the same sponsor, the same home country, and both can boast deep runs in the World Series of Poker Main Event. Villa-Lobos took 77th in 2012, while Kawauti finished 15th in 2013. “He is definitely my best friend in poker,” he says of Kawauti. “We get along really well and I think I could spend some time saying good things about him. Most importantly, he is a loyal guy and I respect his values a lot.” He is also a great sounding board, as Villa-Lobos credits the friendship as the key factor in his growth as a poker pro. “I think that's how I improved my game the most. Being close to good poker players allows you to be in a constant learning process. Every piece information is valid! I definitely learned a lot with Bruno, I guess it works the other way around too.” While Villa-Lobos is always learning and improving, his approach to the first portion of tournaments doesn’t vary all that much from event-to-event. He has found a style he likes, and he sticks to it. He advises others to stick to their game plans in the first few hours of a tournament as well. “I still use the same style [at the beginning of a tournament,” Villa-Lobos says. “(You should) play solid and just enter the pots with the intent to win. Try to be the aggressor too.” While he advocates a relatively straightforward approach, don’t think Villa-Lobos is suggesting you focus on observing the action unless you have a premium hand. If anything, most tournament structures allow so much play early on that Villa-Lobos suggests keeping your range a little wider, as deep structures mean there is more room for post-flop maneuvering and aggressive play. “Since everyone is deep-stacked, you can afford to see more flops than usual as well,” he explains. In summary, if you’re taking a shot in a live tournament, don’t sacrifice the 25/50 level for some extra shuteye. Arriving at a tournament on time not only gives you more hands, it also gives you more opportunities. All levels of players are still in and there are more opportunities to win chips off weaker players. Thanks to deep-stack structures, there are more opportunities to see flops with non-premium hands as well. Most importantly though, there is free information to be had, but you have to both be there and pay attention to every little detail at the table. Observe, take notes, and talk things over with your fellow poker players to get a different take on the same situation. Doing all these things may not guarantee tournament success every time, but getting in the habit of being both active and acutely aware of what is happening as soon as you hear “Shuffle up and deal” are the kind of good habits that helped Villa-Lobos make runs in everything from the BSOP to a second-place finish in the 2013 WSOP Europe High Roller for nearly $700,000 to the thrill every poker player dreams of—a big run in the WSOP Main Event. Use Villa-Lobos' tournament tips at the 888Live Poker Festival at the Aspers Casino in London, England this October.
  3. Gediminas Uselis, one of Lithuania’s top online grinders, continued to add to his World Series of Poker accolades on Sunday by winning WSOP Event #76 ($400 FORTY STACK) for $227,186 and his first gold bracelet. With over $2.5 million in online earnings and another $330,000 in live tournament results, Uselis has been spending the past year racking up wins in WSOP events. In November 2019, he grabbed his first live WSOP Circuit ring with a victory in the first-ever $2,200 High Roller the WSOPC Choctaw stop. He followed that up with an online victory in the WSOP Super Circuit Online Series on GGPoker for his second ring. On Sunday night he used that experience (and three bullets) to navigate the 4,461-entry field of Event #76 to claim a career-high cash and yet another piece of WSOP hardware. It didn’t take long for the first player to fall at the final table. Uselis put in a raise from early position with [poker card="qc"][poker card="ts"] and Nicolau Villa Lobos shipped his short stack for slightly more holding [poker card="kd"][poker card="qd"]. Yucheng Xiao made the call from the cutoff with [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"] and Uselis also came along. Uselis and Xiao checked it down through the [poker card="8c"][poker card="as"][poker card="5h"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4h"] runout, giving the hand to Xiao who paired his ace. Villa Lobos departed in ninth place. Brazil’s Guilherme Dos Santos was running on fumes when he faced a late open raise from Andrew Wilson who opened with [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"]. Dos Santos made his stand with [poker card="8h"][poker card="4d"] from the small blind. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="7d"][poker card="3c"] flop left Dos Santos looking for serious help. The [poker card="th"] turn had him drawing dead to the [poker card="2c"] river and Dos Santos exited in eighth place. A classic cooler was responsible for the end of Michelle Roberts’ tournament as she got her stack in the middle holding [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"] against the [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"] of Israel’s Yaniv Bohadana. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="3c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="7c"] board ran clean for the pocket aces and left with less than a small blind in her stack, Roberts lost the very next hand to finish in seventh place. The rapid bustouts continued as Wilson put in a raise with [poker card="qh"][poker card="6h"] only to be shoved on by Xiao holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="tc"]. Wilson opted to go with it and made the call. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="jc"][poker card="9h"] flop put Wilson in the lead but opened the door for Xiao to hit a gutshot straight in addition to his ace. The [poker card="2c"] was no help and the [poker card="qd"] improved Wilson to trip queens and sent Xiao to the rail in sixth place. From under the gun, Espen Jorstad put in half of his short stack in with [poker card="6h"][poker card="6d"] only to be shoved on for less by Bohadana holding [poker card="jd"][poker card="js"] in the small blind. Wilson folded his big blind and Jostad made the call, leaving himself with only a few chips behind. The [poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"][poker card="3c"] flop all but locked up the hand but when the [poker card="9h"] hit the turn, flush outs opened up for Jorstad. However it was the [poker card="qs"] that fell on the river awarding the hand to Bohadana and leaving Jorstad crippled. Jorstad was eliminated on the very next hand in fifth place. From the button, Silviya Kaymakchieva put in a raise holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="8d"] only to be reraised by Wilson in the big blind with [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"]. Kaymakchieva made the call with their tournament on the line. The board ran out [poker card="6d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="3h"][poker card="9d"] never gave Wilson’s jacks a sweat and Kaymakchieva fell in fourth place. At three-handed Uselis made his move, doubled through Wilson and climbed the chip counts to eventually take over the chip lead. He scored his second knockout of the final table when he shipped his stack from the small blind holding [poker card="2s"][poker card="2h"] and Bohadana made the call with his final ten big blinds with [poker card="qd"][poker card="js"]. The flop came [poker card="th"][poker card="9h"][poker card="3d"] giving Bohadana open-ended straight outs in addition to his overcards. The [poker card="7s"] turn didn’t help and the [poker card="2d"] river improved Uselis to a set and sent Bohadana home in third place. The thirty-minute heads up match saw the chip lead pass back-and-forth between Uselis and Wilson a number of times. The final hand was a big one as Wilson called on the button with [poker card="kc"][poker card="8c"] and Uselis checked his option holding [poker card="js"][poker card="7d"]. The flop came [poker card="7s"][poker card="6c"][poker card="9c"]. Uselis checked, Wilson put in a bet. Uselis called and the [poker card="7h"] hit the turn. Both players checked. The [poker card="7c"] fell on the river. Uselis, covering Wilson, open shoved his quads. Wilson, with the king-high flush, tanked but ultimately called, ending his run as the runner-up. Gediminas Uselis took home $211,282, a package to play in World Series of Poker Europe, and his first career gold bracelet. Final Table Results Gediminas Uselis - $211,282 Andrew Wilson - $159,705 Yaniv Bonhadana - $114,237 Silviya Kaymakchieva - $81,714 Espen Jorstad - $58,450 Yucheng Xiao - $41,809 Michelle Roberts - $29,906 Guilherme Dos Santos - $21,392 Nicolau Villa Lobos - $15,302

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