PCA 2013: The Ballad of Joao Nogueira

A couple of months ago, Portugal's Joao Nogueira had a pretty good life. He worked with his dad installing air condition units. He had a girlfriend who had been the love of his life for the past three years. He was a happy 21-year-old man in a small town. Life was great.

And then something weird happened. For the cost of less than $2, he made it into a $10 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure satellite. He finished in the top ten. It was a moment that changed everything.

Nogueira had just won what amounted to an amazing vacation...and the ability to play in the first live tournament of his life.

It was bittersweet. His girlfriend Diana had school responsibilities and couldn't go. So, Nogueira left her behind and came here with a dream.

He just left with $165,900.

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Nogueira lost a big pot early at the final table when his pocket nines lost to Owen Crowe's pocket kings. Just a bit later, he shoved into Joel Micka's queens with A♦6♣ and didn't improve.

When he woke up today, Nogueira's worst-case scenario was finishing in eighth, and as that played out, it had to be a disappointment. Regardless, that disappointment has to be viewed through the prism of the young man's life just a few months ago...when he had no conception of what it was like to play in one of the world's biggest tournaments, nor any hope of making the final table.

Now, at 21 years old, he has $165,900 he didn't have and the experience of a lifetime...all for less than $2.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging