One player who has a reason to smile upon arriving at the PokerStars Championships Bahamas $5,300 Main Event is Brazilian legend and Team PokerStars Pro Felipe Ramos. He’s already cashed in a $2,000 side event and will play tomorrow’s Main Event Day 1b and is all about the positive mental element of success.
“I cashed in the last event of the year and my first event of the year," he said. "It doesn’t get much better than that!”
Ramos, who worked his way up from the slums of Sao Paulo to poker’s top table, has earned a reputation as one of the stars of Brazilian poker and the game worldwide. Friends with FC Barcelona’s legendary forward Neymar, Ramos is the go-to guy on social media, having become Snapchat and Instagram king to his legions of followers. But his family upbringing and father’s strong sense of professional discipline have taught him how important the fundamentals are:
“Momentum is insanely important," Ramos said. "As a poker player, the most important thing is consistency. If you’re a consistent player, you’re always making money. In 2016, I had five final tables in a row, it was insane. Some were small events, some large events. But it keeps that momentum.”
His many fans around the world follow his every move online, and after his recent trip back to Brazil, he found that some of his supporters had been concerned of his whereabouts:
“I took 24 hours to travel home. I landed and my phone lit up with a bunch of random messages asking ‘Are you sick?’ or ‘Are you OK?’ I’m like ‘It’s fine, guys, I’m all right!' I can’t believe there isn’t Wi-Fi on every flight in the 21st century — it’s unbelievable.”
Ramos the Nomad
It doesn’t end there for the Brazilian. The next 12 months are scheduled to be his busiest yet as he pushed to win the biggest tournaments of his life so far.
“I’m going to play everything in 2017," he said. "I sold my house back in Brazil, so that I could have no expenses and travel the world. I’m going to play everything. I go from the Bahamas to London to play the first PokerStars Festival which is going to be huge. I’m going everywhere.”
Unlike the actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who is here with a huge entourage of supporters, Ramos frequently travels solo, with just his guitar — quite literally — on the former musician’s back.
“I like to travel light," he said. "At the PokerStars BSOP, I took two or three people. At the biggest stops such as Monaco and Barcelona where there are a lot of events and I need some help, I’ll have people with me, but at small to medium events I like to travel alone.”
Ramos traveled to the Bahamas following a traditional family Christmas. While so much of his year is spent at poker events, surrounded by people he hasn’t met before, there is no substitute for family.
“Christmas is our biggest holiday including the Rio carnival in February," he said. "We’re very traditional Christians, so Christmas is a huge deal. I spent it with my family and friends, drinking beers with my Dad; there’s nothing better than that.”
Legend has it that every baby boy in Brazil receives a football at Christmas. Ramos confirmed that for him, it was even sooner than his first Christmas.
“Before I was born, I had footballs — I had a bunch of them!" he said. "My whole family are Corinthian fans, but my uncle was a Palmeiras fan and another uncle supported FC Santos. They all gave me team jerseys and balls to try to get me to support their teams. My grandfather saw the things for the other teams and he told me to ‘throw this stuff away!’”
His love of football has grown and grown, leading to Ramos recently giving a seminar on the mental aspects of poker to a professional under-20 team in Brazil. They won the next game, and the coach contacted him personally to tell him what a difference it made.
While he supports Corinthians, Ramos was one of the worldwide football community affected by the tragic air crash transporting Chapecoense players, media and staff to the 2016 Copasudamericana Final. Only six people survived of the 77 passengers aboard, just three players from the fabled team.
“That was really terrible," Ramos said. "I was playing the BSOP Millions, a huge PokerStars event in Brazil when we got the news. I remember that day, I couldn’t do anything. I was devastated.”
It’s clear that for all of his positivity at the felt and on the rail, Ramos was deeply affected by the events of that day. It left him with a lasting message to apply to his own life.
“You can’t imagine such a terrible tragedy," he said. "I was incredibly sad, but because it is something that can happen to any of us, it made me realize that we must live in the present moment as much as we can.
"If you want to say ‘sorry’ or 'forgive me,' do it now and live better. Because you may not have the chance to say it. The tragedy made me much closer to my family. I have a grandma who is 79 and she’s the oldest person in my family. I already told my dad that we’re going to have a huge party when she turns 80. It will have samba, with music and I’m going to play and sing. It’s important.”
With that, Ramos is on the move again, hopping from friend to friend across the tournament floor in much the same way as he’ll travel from tournament to tournament in 2017.
If his life continues on the same track, you’ll be hearing about a major trophy heading the Brazilian’s way very soon... probably because your friends shared it on social media.