WSOP Event #24: Gualter Salles in race for WSOP bracelet
Gualter Salles is a man used to high-pressure situations, able to make the right decisions and call on bravery when it is required most. Above all, he knows how to win races - both at and away from the table.
The Friend of PokerStars, one of the most famous racing drivers in Brazil, is now making a name for himself at the poker tables. Here at the WSOP he is proving once again that his competitive spirit on the track has crossed successfully to cards.
Day three of the event number 24, the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em (not to be confused with today's start of event number 28, the, er, $1,500 No Limit Hold'em) and Gualter is sitting neatly on the last two tables and already guaranteed a $17,753 pay day.
But he and the other remaining 17 players have their eyes on the bracelet and $607,256 first prize, generated by a huge turnout of 2,506 players.
"I had a nice first few days, steadily accumulating chips," he said between hands. "But then on the first hand of today I dropped 160,000 when I re-raised with A-J and then had to lay it down when the other player moved all in. I am feeling good, although I could do with some more chips now."
As if by magic, he strapped on his seatbelt and played the next pot as if his tournament life depended on it. Actually, it did... he was all in.
With blinds at 8,000-16,000, he raised to 40,000. It was folded around to the big blind, who called.
The flop came 9♠A♦K♣ and Gualter put the throttle down, throwing out another 40,000. Call. On the 8♦ turn he paused for a moment, then asked his opponent how many chips he had left. It was more than him. "I'm all in," said Gualter. After a brief pause, the big blind gave up - and our man in the pit lane is now back up to 350,000.
Supporting him on the rail today is Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari, a great friend of Gualter's back in Brazil. "He is very famous in Brazil," said Akkari. "But he is also a very good poker player."
Gualter then came over to recount the story of the last pot. I won't divulge confidential table information, but let's just say he played that hand very well.
Gualter started out driving go-karts, before moving on to Formula 3, CART, and finally the Indy Racing League, with his career highlight a victory in the Formula 3 British Grand Prix in 1995.
Post-racing, Gualter moved into team management and is now a team owner.