EPT12 Barcelona: There are more Brazilian players than just Neymar. Ask Wikipedia
Neymar Jr dominated headlines today--and he's not done yet. Rumour has it that he'll maybe dip into a few side events and have another crack at a title.
It was easy to think he was the only Brazilian in the room, such was the press attention surrounding him. But one need only wander around the other tables for a bit to spot at least another couple of vaunted talents playing under the Auriverde.
For at least the first few years of the Brazilian poker boom, the names of both Andre Akkari and Alexandre Gomes appeared in just about every sentence. Gomes was the first Brazilian to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, in 2008, and Akkari did so a few years later. Even now, if you look at the omniscient Wikipedia, Gomes and Akkari are the only two Brazilian players it knows.
Although Gomes relaxed his poker schedule over the past few years, occasionally popping up on PokerStars as "Allingomes" and in the live arena to, say, final table the EPT Grand Final, Akkari has remained a prominent member of Team PokerStars Pro.
And this week in Barcelona, it's been something of a throwback for Brazilian poker fans as the pair of them are sitting on adjacent tables, both with big stacks.
Akkari and Gomes have slightly different styles, at least to the casual observer. Akkari seems to be the more sedate, setting about his reliable accumulation in a steady climb. Gomes, on the other hand, is all action, playing big pots and playing them often.
It was kind of amusing to think that it had been Akkari giving Neymar tips on best strategy today because the footballer's up-and-at-em approach was much more akin to Gomes's game.
Case in point: I stood between their two tables late on today, hoping to get a glimpse of both of them in action simultaneously. What I actually saw was Gomes play pretty much every hand for an orbit, winning some, losing some, while Akkari sat tight.
On the first hand, Gomes opened to 1,200 from under the gun and the cut off and big blind came along. There were two sevens and a jack on the flop and a c-bet took a small pot. Over on the other table, Akkari's button raise got through.
Next hand on table Gomes, and Abulaziz Abdulaziz opened to 1,200 and Gomes defended his big blind. The flop came A♠6♥8♠ and Gomes check-called Abdulaziz's bet of 1,500. They both checked the turn of the A♥ and the river of Q♥ and Gomes's 7♦7♣ were good as Abdulaziz mucked.
After a wander to Akkari's table yielded no further action, my glance returned to Gomes to see him putting out a three-bet to 3,250 from the small blind over Seyyed Mirnia's button raise. Mirnia called. The flop came K♥3♠7♥ and Gomes led for 3,300, which won it.
Gomes was on the button next hand and, of course, played it. Roger Johannessen opened to 1,250, Gomes three bet to 2,650 but then they checked all the way down the board of J♠J♥Q♠ 7♠ T♦. Johannessen had paired his kicker in his A♥7♥, but Gomes' 8♥8♠ stayed good.
Next hand, Johannessen tried again, opening to 1,250. Gomes called from the cut off and it was just the two of them to a flop of J♣5♦7♣. They both checked. The 9♥ came on the turn and Gomes called Johannessen's 1,500 tickle.
The J♦ came on the river and again Gomes called after Johannessen fired J♦. The Norwegian player tabled K♥J♥ and Gomes mucked. You win some, you lose some.
Gomes then checked the size of his stack and learned it was still around the 100,000 mark. That's pretty much what Akkari has too, even though his recent path was a little less rocky.
You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page. And everything from Neymar's tournament -- that's the official name -- is on the single day high roller page.
You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.