LAPT Grand Final: Who wants to party? We want to party!
It's almost impossible for me to see Brazil with the fresh eyes of a newcomer and big buy-in poker player. For one thing, I'm no newcomer. I've been here multiple times over the last decade. For another thing, I'm not a big buy-in poker player. And as long as we're listing things, for a last thing, a late night of guzzling Brahma beers in the Vila Madalena neighborhood of São Paulo with my PokerStars colleagues and watching a dozen drunken Brazilians dance and sing, "Who wants to party? We want to party!" has left me at less than my freshest today.
Thankfully, I'm a room with a few (hundred) big buy-in poker players. Several of whom have come to Brazil for the first time, specifically for the LAPT Grand Final and because they want to party and to experience the joy of Carnival. Almost all of whom are fresher and more functional than I am.
Sure, we're missing a few big names for one unfortunate reason or another. But a quick circuit of the tournament room turned up other people with less fake-sounding names who were more than happy to talk into the digital recorder that a bleary-eyed skinny guy jammed in their faces during the first break.
Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo traveled through South America extensively when she was with the Dutch national hockey team. Yet somehow none of those trips included a visit to Brazil apart from transiting through Guarulhos International Airport here in São Paulo on the way to somewhere else.
"My dad is Portuguese so I feel like I have roots here," Fatima said. "It's a great opportunity for me to connect with that and to explore what's happening in São Paulo and Carnival."
Like most professionals, Fatima is focused first and foremost on her job. She exercised last night after arriving at the venue but otherwise didn't go out. She wanted to remain as fresh as possible for Day 1 play. Eagerness and anticipation will likely get the better of her later in the week when she joins in the party.
"I love it that there's Carnival here," she said. "We've been asked to walk in one of the parades, which is really cool. But it's at 5 in the morning!"
Yes, those late Brazilian nights can be a shock to the system if you're not used to them or prepared for them. Sometimes, even if you are.
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu is no stranger to late nights and partying. He arrived in São Paulo yesterday afternoon for his first-ever visit to Brazil and took the opposite tack of Fatima: he jumped right into the thick of the party and began exploring what this Carnival thing is all about.
Daniel started his Carnival with a few glasses of that Brazilian alcoholic specialty, the caipirinha. As the PokerStars blogging team that was here last year can attest, caipirinhas are deceptively strong. The strong comes from the cachaça (a type of rum) that is the bulk of the drink. The deception comes from the lime and tablespoon of sugar added to each one to make it more palate-pleasing.
Daniel may have heard of caipirinhas before he arrived in São Paulo but apparently he didn't hear how they can knock you on your ass. He was a late arrival for Day 1 play and made no bones about why.
"Pulling a @phil_hellmuth showing up in level 3 of LAPT slept off a hangover," he tweeted. "Feels like a really smart move, I feel MUCH better."
The party is going to rage on here in São Paulo for another four days. As those drunken Brazilians repeatedly pointed out, "Who wants to party? We want to party." Hopefully Daniel will find a moment to impart his newfound wisdom to Fatima before she repeats his rookie mistake.