Pedro Fernandes was not a name the Brazilian poker community was familiar with until a couple of weeks ago. The Brazilian poker scene is dominated by names such as “Padilha,” “Madeira,” and “Garagnani.”
That changed on July 8 when Fernandes put his name in lights by triumphing in the World Cup of Cards Main Event. Fernandes defeated a whole host of poker stars on his way to banking a mightily impressive $166,000.
Monday 5 July saw the 25-year-old Fernandes from Brasilia reach the final table of the World Cup of Cards. He made it there with 31,841,707 chips, which were enough for third place when the dealer pitched the first cards. Victory was far from guaranteed because Fernandes was surrounded by some of the biggest names in online poker.
Fernandes was keen to secure a massive payout, of course he was, but he also wanted to prove that he could compete with the best poker players in the business. He had one major advantage going into the final table: the fact he was an unknown quantity. Fernandes studied every detail of his opponents to try squeeze out every edge possible.
“The issue for me was not even the money itself because it was not my focus. I really wanted to beat the players I was facing. The problem was not to fall in ninth and be left with only $13,000. The point was to not fall in ninth. I wanted to at least get a piece of them. If I went all the way until three-handed and got knocked out by a cooler, I would have been fine. I just did not want to be the first to fall.”
Preparing for the biggest tournament of his life
He did this by enlisting the services of two of his close poker friends. Fernandes, Guilherme “guix2x” Brasileiro, and Pablo “Pablos701” Wesley discussed tactics via WhatsApp. Both Brasileiro and Wesley are consistent winners in mid-stakes games, and their advice proved invaluable.
“Luckily, there were many well-known players at the final table,” Fernandes told the Brazilian partypoker blog, “So I could watch a lot of videos. The final tables with face-up hole cards helped me a lot. I made a group with two friends of mine, then we studied them player by player, taking in as much information as possible.”
It did not take long for the study sessions to pay off, because Fernandes found himself in a battle with Peter Chien on the third hand of the final table. Fernandes faced a 12,050,000 bet into a 24,000,000 pot holding on a board.
“One piece of information I learned was the Chien was a regular who, when under pressure, was capable of some unusual moves.”
Fernandes called, and Chien showed . The hand left Chien with three millions chips, and he busted in seventh place soon after. Fernandes, on the other hand, was the new chip leader.
One by one the final table grew shorter until Fernandes found himself three-handed against Mikhail Mikheev and Christian Rudolph. It was the latter who Fernandes had paid particular attention to.
“I’ve watched a lot of the final table’s he’s played at. I studied some of the sizes tells and paid attention to his unusual plays.”
Rudolph crashed out in third place, leaving Fernandes heads-up against Russia’s Mikheev. The pair struck a deal that left $10,000 for the eventual champion. Fernandes got his hands on the extra cash when all the chips went in on the river of the board. Mikheev held but Fernandes’ made a higher straight.
“The feeling of winning such a big award in a few hours is gratifying because we work out whole lives for these moments. At the time it was all happening, I felt I did everything to be here.”
Years of study pays off
Fernandes has been a professional poker player since 2016, and credits such luminaries as Yuri Martins, Diego Ventura, and Caio Pessagno as being part of the reason behind his continued success. His detailed preparation for every tournament he plays is another reason for Fernandes’ longevity in this game.
“I was actually more nervous before the tournament started because by the time I began to play I had all the information I needed. it was like preparing for an important exam; you know you will excel. You know you’re doing very well.”
“I already knew it would go well, because I had put more work into studying my opponents than anyone else at the table. Nobody could come after me because they wouldn’t find the information they needed. My nervousness became a feeling of accomplishment. The move was happening and I simply said ‘dammit, I studied this.’ I already knew what to do. It was a sequence of things that were going right. Things I had already studied and all I had to do was put them into practice.”
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