It’s not unusual to hear stories of poker getting people out of a hole, and not necessarily the financial kind. There are servicemen who try poker during convalescence, or sports stars, careers cut short by injury or just the passing of time, finding their competitive instincts met at the poker table.
For Marcella “MenininhaMah” Camargo though it wasn’t injury or competition that made her turn to poker, but severe depression diagnosed in early 2016. After seeking medical advice the prescription turned out to be simple: do the things you enjoy. Amid difficult times Camargo at least knew how to answer that.
“I decided to follow my heart, even against my family’s wishes and thoughts about poker. Since then I have been practicing this sport that I love so much.”
Up until that point Camargo, had been playing on PokerStars for fun.
“Back then I got some significant results but, on the top of it there was this huge willingness to learn more and make poker my daily job.
But in a short space of time Camargo has turned that commitment into a career, and last week a first TCOOP title worth more than $13,000, a figure that goes a long way to calming the nerves of relatives insistent on a little more financial stability.
“I was very happy to be in a place I longed so much to be,” said Camargo, who recorded her biggest career cash with the win. “Happy and focused at the same time, because getting to the final table was just another step towards my final goal.”
Camargo, 28, grew up in Uberlândia, Brazil. Her parents divorced when she was just four years old, a difficult time for Camargo who then lived with her mother until she was 14.
“Through the years, I always felt a lack of strictness from her. In my opinion, strictness is important for a kid to build good values, manners and behaviors. Despite the fact that she is my mother and I love her so much, I decided to move and live with my father; because I was sure he would be a better mentor, teaching me discipline and deepen values that I believed would make a difference in my future.”
That discipline and those values show in her approach to poker, a game she learned to play while at college. When not grinding on PokerStars she makes time to deliberately study the game, and stays healthy by working out three times a week. All of which has turned the past year into a life changing one for Camargo.
“Many good things happened: I became a professional player, I left my parents’ house, and I got engaged. These achievements are so bright for me that they fade any bad things that may be come on the way.”
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That latest milestone was Event #32, a Win the Button contest. Camargo overcame a field of 6,481 on her way to the title, becoming the fifth of seven Brazilians to win a TCOOP title this year.
“My friends were all watching and cheering. My fiancé “Velasconobad” was at home with me and gave me all the support needed. I received many messages even from people I didn’t know congratulating on the title. It was a huge excitement! This title brought me a great sense of [going] in the right [direction], and reaffirmed the importance of learning and studying day by day.”
For Camargo, whose username is a combination of the two nicknames she had as a child (“Menininha” is little girl, and “Mah” a contraction of Marcella), it’s an affirmation she sought to confirm she was on the right path, a boost to a fledgling bank roll now looking ahead to the next challenge.
After all she comes from a family of people who set about achieving those things they set out to do, regardless of how hard or how long it takes. Camargo tells the story of her aunt Cleusa, “an incredible women” and patriarch to the family, who went against the wishes of her husband to graduate law school… age 70. Camargo shares some of that spirit.
“I am charismatic and easy going. When I want something I dedicate myself to my maximum to achieve it. I’m intuitive and brave, I choose to be a positive person as much as I can, and everything I conquer is a result of much effort and merit.”
So far so good for Camargo.
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