WSOP 2017: Real updates in real time from Felipe
Felipe Ramos held his phone forward, snapping a picture of his chips before standing from the table. He typed a caption before sending it to the tens of thousands following his progress online.
"First break. Bad level," he typed. Ramos has had as much as 250,000 earlier in the tournament, and started today with 165,300. After two hours of poker he had 128,000.
Ramos is identified strongly with Brazil, having become one of the more popular poker players in a country where poker continues to experience a long, sustained period of growth. But thanks to social media, Ramos is no longer just a Brazilian poker player -- he's an "international player."
"A company recently was looking to hire me -- they were interested in some kind of promotional work," he explains. "They told me something I did not know. Actually 35 percent of my followers are not from Brazil -- they're from the U.S., Europe, everywhere."
One probable cause for Ramos becoming better known outside of Brazil is his having been awarded the "Most Inspiring Player" award at the Poker Listings Spirit of Poker Awards last November. As our colleague Stephen Bartley reported here at the time, his earning the honor was hardly a surprise to those of us who know him, given his many forms of generosity with others and how he "almost single-handedly dismantles the myth that poker is a cutthroat every-man-for-himself pursuit."
Talking to him during the break, it becomes clear that even an innocuous-seeming message reporting a less-than-stellar start to his WSOP Main Event Day 3 represents a way of looking at not just his poker playing, but his place in a larger community of poker players and enthusiasts.
"I try to help out new players, to bring new players to the game. I don't always just talk about myself. Most poker players will send updates about themselves and how they're doing. But I try to send poker tips and help people out who are trying to get started in poker."
Part of that effort to help new players and make poker more inviting is being realistic about the game and what it means to be a professional player.
"I try to let people know how the industry works, how tournaments work, and how variance in poker works. I think poker players should do that more, you know? To incentivize people to enjoy the game and to see the beauty of poker and grow the community."
Following a red-hot start to the year that saw Ramos cash in five straight high roller events, his WSOP has been a struggle at times. He's cashed four times, but didn't get the results he'd like to have had. Still, though, he unhesitatingly shared reports about how things were going with his followers, including the times when outcomes didn't go his way.
"Some would respond and say like 'Why don't you quit? You're losing too much!' They don't know how poker works. You play a bunch of tournaments. Sometimes you run good, sometimes you run bad. If you're a good player, you'll win money overall and what's important is your balance overall. So if I go on a good heater like earlier in the year, I always tell people, 'hey, this is not normal!'"
In a short space Ramos has identified two different misconceptions about poker, both of which are more common than many of us inside the "poker bubble" might realize.
Some think of poker as a risky endeavor, like other forms of gambling in which those who participate are destined to lose everything. From that point of view comes the call to quit the game rather than risk losing more.
Others make the opposite mistake of thinking poker to be much easier than it really is -- that when a player wins once or twice, he's likely to win again and again and rarely if ever experience any kind of failure.
"Most people think that if they win a tournament or even just cash in a tournament that they're invincible. They're going to cash the next one and next one... but that's not how it works.
I think one of my duties as an ambassador of the game is to help people understand this... what poker really is. That's why when I'm struggling or I'm not doing well or having a hard time at the tables, I'm always very honest. And people who follow me know that, because I'm very genuine about that.
"A lot of people -- especially poker pros -- don't understand what I'm doing. Because most of them just tweet out when they are winning."
Ramos looked back on the level, offering some more specifics to go along with the brief summary he'd messaged to his follows.
"I had some bad luck. There were some where I was supposed to have the best hand and I didn't. And some unfortunate runouts where I had to find a way to lose less," he explained.
"But I also played very aggressive that level, and I lost a couple of hands where my opponents had the hand and did not give up," he adds with a laugh. "But that's tournaments. Tournaments go in phases, and you need to play according to what phase of the tournament it is. Even though I lost some chips early today, I feel pretty good because it's when you know that you're having a bad day you can adjust your play accordingly."
Such self-awareness -- and, importantly, honesty when it comes to assessing your own play -- is crucial to being able to adapt in such a way and give yourself a chance to turn things around.
"Sometimes I go to my Instagram account and I tell a little about what happened during the day. Sometimes I'll say I played this hand really well, and this is what happened. Other times I'll say I played really bad. I'll say 'guys, I screwed up.' I need to know where I'm at all the time if I want to be a good poker player."
In a way, the messages help Ramos stay honest -- stay "real" -- about his own play. By letting others know "where he's at," he helps himself to recognize where he's at, too.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.