Only when the champagne hit his face did the enormity of what Felipe Boianovsky had just accomplished begin to sink in.
On the last day of May 2023, the Brazilian poker pro of more than a decade, known as “lipe piv” on PokerStars, took down the $10,300 buy-in Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) Main Event for just over a million bucks, besting a 587-entry field made up of the best players in the world.
But he’d been so focused on the game, it took him a while to realise what had just happened.
“A friend came over and opened a bottle of champagne in my face,” he says, remembering the moment it hit home. “It was obviously very, very special and fairly different from other results I’ve had. It was a very special feeling.”
Boianovsky, who grew up in Brasilia but now lives in Curitiba with his partner and daughter, has enjoyed plenty of success in his 12-year professional career. He won a WCOOP title in 2014 and his maiden SCOOP in 2017.
But this victory was crucial for him, and not just because it was the biggest event of the year so far. He’d truly dedicated himself to the SCOOP, playing six days a week instead of his usual five during a series. He did warm-ups and yoga to prepare each day. He was in the best poker shape of his life, but the results weren’t coming.
Until that one huge score changed everything.
“We deal with so much variance as poker players,” he says. “So every time you have a big result it helps confirm that you’re doing things the right way, and it helps with any doubts you might have during a poker career.”
THE CAREER OF Felipe Boianovsky
The first seeds of Felipe Boianovsky’s career sprouted back in 2007. Obsessed with High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark, he deposited $50 onto an online site and began playing online tournaments and cash games. A year later, he decided to focus on the latter, while dabbling in live games.
“I’d watch an episode of High Stakes Poker and then go play live cash games,” he says. “Tom Dwan was a big inspiration for me at that time, for sure.”
By 2011, he was established as a solid regular in the $1/$2 online games and dropped out of the business course he was studying at college to pursue poker full-time. “I wasn’t doing well, I was just too focused on poker,” he remembers.
Although primarily a cash game grinder, Felipe Boianovsky would always play tournaments during the SCOOP and WCOOP and even won a WCOOP title in 2014 – a $530 PKO for $102K. “It was an important moment in my career,” he says. “It brought big change. The money was life-changing, in a way.”
In 2016 he decided to switch to tournaments and hasn’t stopped since, racking up $6.35 million in online cashes to date.
“How good was I really?”
Not only has Felipe Boianovsky established himself among Brazil’s best players, but he’s also considered one of the top poker coaches in the country. He’s worked with many of the Brazilian crushers we see dominating throughout the big online series, and he also began streaming on Twitch last year.
“I had a lot of recognition in terms of people respecting my game and putting me high in rankings as a Brazilian player,” says Boianovsky. “But in terms of results, I hadn’t had anything super relevant yet.
“You’re always questioning yourself. People knew I had a lot of theory knowledge and that I was a good coach, but how good was I really as a player? Playing is definitely different from teaching. So this win really helps in that sense. It feels like a weight off my shoulders.”
His inbox has been rife with coaching requests ever since, but he’s putting that part of his work on hold. “I’d already dropped down a lot of coaching volume because I wanted to focus and dedicate myself as a competitor. The plan moving forward is the same,” he says.
Although the $1.03 million he won in the SCOOP Main Event is a staggering sum, Boianovsky says the changes to his overall life are only subtle. “I’m now able to play a bit higher than I used to and sell less action, playing more of the big stuff for myself,” he says.
“For live events, I’ll probably go to EPT Barcelona and I might play some $25Ks that I wouldn’t have played before. The plan moving forward is the same as if I hadn’t won. I just might play a bit higher and have bigger pieces of myself.”
PLAYING ON THE BIG STAGE
Felipe Boianovsky has also enjoyed success on the live felt over the years, most notably in 2019 when he took down a side event at EPT Barcelona (“I always wanted a silver spade!”) and a High Roller at the BSOP Millions.
“The BSOP was a bit more special because it was more prestigious to me,” he says, reminiscing on the passionate rails that poker events in Brazil produce. “We have that in our culture. Everyone screaming with the Brazilian flag.”
But the biggest live event Boianovsky has ever played was the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) in January 2023.
“It was very special,” he says. “I’d never played a live $25K before. It’s obviously the best value tournament for a professional because of all the Platinum Passes. You never have $25Ks with as many recreationals usually. It’s a great opportunity. To make a deep run there and play on the TV table was a very fun experience with a really cool atmosphere. I don’t plan on missing the PCA from now on.”
While he admits to being nervous his first few times playing on the feature TV table at the PSPC, we wondered how he felt going into the SCOOP Main Event final table, knowing that thousands of players – including his competitors – would be watching.
“I think it’s really hard for it not to impact you, especially if it’s not something you’re used to,” he says. “The SCOOP Main was a big stage with a lot of people watching. I worked with my mental coach to deal with that pressure and I think that helped me a lot. I was a bit nervous when the final table started, but that went away completely and I was very zoned in and focused and playing my best.”
After such a big score, you’d excuse Felipe Boianovsky if he was still off celebrating, drinking champagne somewhere fancy. But instead, after just one week off, he’s been back on the online grind.
“It just makes sense to keep going,” he says. “After a series like that, I think it’s important to have at least a week off and take some time to reset. But the goal is to be playing higher and higher and growing the bankroll. This score is just one step.”Back to Top