PCA 2015: As Ronaldo advances, another Baggio appears

Many of us remain starry-eyed over the continued survival of Brazilian football legend Ronaldo Nazário in the Main Event. Over on the televised feature table to start the day, Ronaldo has mostly been parking the bus in front of his below average stack today, content to bide his time while waiting for a spot to strike.

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Ronaldo, parking the bus at present

Meanwhile on the secondary feature table another Brazilian has been battling. Uncannily, he, too, bears a household name from the World Cup world, though not one you'd necessarily expect a Brazilian to have...


Even casual World Cup fans recall the famous 1994 final played in the United States where Brazil defeated Italy on penalty kicks. With Brazil ahead by one, Italian legend Roberto Baggio famously fired -- or, rather, misfired -- his penalty kick over the crossbar to clinch the Brazilians' victory.

A young Ronaldo was part of that Brazil squad, though it wouldn't be later until he emerged as its heroic focus during the next two World Cups, with Brazil winning a second in 2002. Meanwhile about a year before that '94 final, a younger man was getting a haircut.

Let us explain.

Sometime after Antonio Estornio Da Silva got that haircut, friends of his began pointing out to him how the new do resembled that of the famous Italian footballer. By the time the World Cup came around, the resemblance had become even more conspicuous as both Brazil and Italy advanced toward their clash in the final.

Then on July 17, 1994 -- Antonio Estorino Da Silva's birthday, in fact -- came Brazil's big win. Also born that day was a new nickname for Da Silva.

"Antonio is 63," he explains. "But Toni Baggio is 21," he adds with a grin, referring to the birth of his new name.

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Don't call me Antonio... call me Baggio!

Like Ronaldo, Baggio wouldn't take up poker until much later, only getting interested in the game after his son began playing online. He started to play a few small tournaments, got some coaching, and has since done well in smaller tourneys in Brazil. However, wherever he finishes in the PCA Main Event it will mark his biggest poker tourney achievement by far.

Going to the day's first break, Ronaldo sits with just under 600,000 which is above the average with 51 players left, while Baggio has about 180,000 and is one of the short stacks at present.

It looks like Baggio is about to be moved over to the TV table to sit with Ronaldo. We'll see how both fare as they try to weave their way through each other and those who remain.

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Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.