By now you've probably seen the new series of PokerStars television adverts. The series is titled "We are poker" and features three spots, including one called "Nacho v. Brazil". That spot begins with a voiceover declaring, "We are 10,000 people in Brazil, holding our breath" as Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero faces off against a Brazilian player in the streets of Brazil.
Even if you'd never seen the Nacho v. Brazil spot, you could get a sense of the passion of Brazilians for poker just by watching a Brazilian player make an online final table. Other Brazilians invade the chat box in droves, 10,000 people holding their breath as the thing plays out. Whenever their designated champion wins a pot, the chat box is flooded with variations of "VAMOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Win a big all in? "VAMOOOOOOOOO!" Run a massive bluff? Slam it down on the table and shout "VAMOOOOOOOOO!" Need to run to the bathroom? "VAMOOOOOOOO!"
What's true for Brazilians online is doubly true for Brazilians at a live tournament. I've covered events on an alphabet soup of poker tours, including the EPT, the NAPT, the ANZPT and the APPT. None of those tours has as much passion as the LAPT, and none of the LAPT tour stops display as much passion as the stops in Brazil, as much passion as has been on display in the first two days of this Grand Final.
A level ago Felipe Ramos was racing all in against another Brazilian. Ramos' pocket tens were out-flopped when by his opponent's king-queen with a queen in the window. Ramos' opponent stood over the table and shouted, "VAMOOOO!" so loudly veins started popping out of his neck. When Ramos spiked a ten on the river, however, Ramos was the one shouting "VAMOOOO!" as he stalked over to friends on the rail for hugs, high-fives and more "VAMOOO!" cries.
Brazilian poker players like Ramos, and their counterparts sweating from the rail, have already made enough noise and injected enough energy into this Grand Final to power a few medium-sized towns. The noise has run the gamut, from grunts and groans that defy written description to bizarre slogans like Jorge Pereira's "Rabo da macaca!" (tail of the monkey). And, of course, the ubiquitous "VAMOOO!"
It shouldn't be surprising. Brazilians seem to approach all other aspects of their loves with unbridled passion - food, drink, friends and lovers. The Carnival holiday that is providing a backdrop for this Grand Final boils down to a gigantic and energetic four-day celebration of passion.
Passion is life here. As the old saying goes, if Brazilians could live without passion maybe they'd know some kind of peace. But they'd be truly dead.
And they certainly wouldn't be Brazilian.