No other country dominates online poker quite like Brazil.
It’s become something of a running joke when we report on both the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) and World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP): there’s no longer a question of whether Brazilians will win the most titles (they will), more by how many titles will they dominate other countries around the world.
Among the throng of talented and successful Brazilian players, Pedro “pvigar” Garagnani undoubtedly sits near the top of the pecking order.
An incredible resume
Garagnani has won just about everything there is to win in online poker. Two WCOOPs. A SCOOP. A Winter Series title. A Turbo Championship. Multiple High Roller Club victories. Eleven six-figure scores from 2020 onwards.
All of that adds up to almost $11 million in online cashes, and he grabbed the world no.1 spot on PocketFives in 2021 before being named the Online Poker Player of the Year.
But what he doesn’t have is a live title. In fact, according to the man himself, he “basically doesn’t have any live results yet.”
That’s not strictly true, of course. Garagnani has amassed just shy of half a million bucks in live earnings throughout his storied career, more than enough for your average online player to feel extremely successful in the live arena. But when you consider Garagnani’s biggest online score is $454,196, it shows you just how big his expectations are.
His next challenge
“I think the next challenge in my career is to play live poker,” Garagnani tells us on a break from the EPT London High Roller. “It’s very interesting. So I’ve decided to try and travel as much as I can.”
He’s not doing it alone. Garagnani is great friends with many of Brazil’s best players, including Bruno “great dant” Volkmann, another online phenom who has recently placed a bigger focus on conquering live high rollers.
“They were playing live poker way more than me before covid,” he says. “Now I’ve started playing higher stakes and we all have similar goals. We all love to travel to new places to play and it’s something else to add to our careers. I’m really into it and I want to get the best results. I’m trying very hard.”
Is it the money that drives him the most? Or is it titles and the trophies and winner’s photos that come with them?
“Well, I’d really like to have a picture like this,” he says, laughing as he points to one of the EPT screens in the hallway showing previous winner photos.
“Obviously, it’s a bit of both. If I only cared about the money I would just play a ton online. Travelling is expensive, there are lots of costs. But having a new accomplishment in my career is something that I really value in the long term.”
We wonder why now is the right time for him to chase live poker success.
“I just feel like, for the stakes I’m playing right now, outside of a big series there isn’t always a lot of very exciting stuff to play online,” he says. “It’s a new challenge for me because live poker has its own uniqueness and it’s very different from online. I think it’s more challenging mentally, and it can be more challenging physically as well. There’s a lot of weird stuff.”
The mind instantly thinks of maintaining your posture and poker face for hours on end as the biggest difference between online and live. But for Garagnani, it’s his day-to-day habits that are challenged.
“As you get older, your daily routine becomes very important,” he says. “But it’s tough to keep a steady routine when you travel a lot for poker. It’s hard to wake up at the same time, to exercise, to hang around people. The hours are longer in live poker too so it’s more exhausting in many ways.”
“Having a new accomplishment in my career is something that I really value in the long term.”
Garagnani began his poker career as an online cash game player. With a $15K bankroll in his pocket, he went to Las Vegas to grind but things didn’t go his way. He returned to Brazil with around $3K and began grinding online tournaments at a friend’s recommendation. He then won $70K in three months and hasn’t looked back.
But even though he’s now reached the highest echelon of online MTTs, you won’t always find Garagnani battling in the biggest buy-ins of the day. He’s certainly rolled for every $530, $1K and $5K he wants to play, but it’s not a certainty he’ll be in the fields.
“I’m not the kind of guy who’s always smashing and battling the regs,” he says. “I only play tournaments when I feel there’s value. I won’t play just for the sake of playing.”
He says the same goes for live poker too, where the swings are not only much bigger, but happen much faster too.
“Like most players, you have to sell action and do swaps at these events because I don’t think there are many people in the world who have the bankroll to play $100Ks and $50Ks,” he says. “It takes a toll mentally to battle at these stakes. I’ve played 20 events above a $25K buy-in and you can easily lose a million.”
How to handle life at high stakes
When it comes to coping with the stresses of live high-stakes tournaments, Garagnani follows the same process as online.
“I do sessions with Jared Tendler, who I think is the best mental coach, and we’re always working on it,” he says. “It’s very stressful so you have to rationalise.
“I think the most challenging thing is to become satisfied with your life in general, and life in poker, when you’re losing. That’s probably the most challenging thing about playing high-stakes poker. If you don’t get any satisfaction while you’re not winning, then your life is going to be miserable. That’s the thing I’m working on the most right now because I haven’t had the best results live.”
“I’ve played 20 events above a $25K buy-in and you can easily lose a million.”
According to Garagnani, when you reach the top, it’s very important to maintain. For him, that often means playing online sessions even if the tournament schedule doesn’t excite him.
“It’s definitely tricky to maintain a good routine in poker when things aren’t very interesting,” he says. “That’s one thing I’m focusing on. I won’t play any live poker from now until the PCA, so it’s very important that I play online at least three times a week, so I don’t fall behind and forget stuff. There are so many things you have to know in tournament poker.”
Poker’s highest echelon
“I think the same reasons drive people to the top,” says Garagnani. “If there are bigger tournaments taking place more frequently live, then I think it’s inevitable that people who are trying to get to the top will play live.”
“Timothy Adams, Daniel Dvoress, Henrik Hecklen… these guys basically only play online on Sundays while travelling a full circuit.
“Then you have other players like “Lena900” [Niklas Astedt] and “C Darwin2” [Simon Mattsson], who I think are among the best players in the world. I don’t think they travel as much because of tax implications. They are Swedish. But when they can, they do travel to play because it’s just the next step for many high rollers who have great results online.”
“If you don’t get any satisfaction while you’re not winning, then your life is going to be miserable.”
While he might not have the live results he desires just yet, it’s safe to assume that, as one of the best online tournament players in the world, Garagnani is well-respected among the high roller community.
One particular hand certainly got his fellow pros talking. At a recent Triton event, Garagnani managed to avoid going broke in a set-over-set hand, prompting Kahle Burns to ask: “How the f*** do you do that?”
Event #5 Triton Poker Cyprus $75k
“How the F*** do you do that?!” – @ROFLshove
in a flopped set over set with a CRAZY ENDING!
ft. @pedrogaragnani & Vezhenkov pic.twitter.com/mdHiqJyObb
— Triton Poker (@tritonpoker) September 9, 2022
“I’m happy that I made a good play but also not so happy that the hand I’m now known for is the one in which I had to not value bet trips,” Garagnani says, laughing.
“It felt nice but it was like, oh come on! I felt like he might have aces or kings a large percentage when he checked because of many factors. I had 12 bigs and he called a raise and that’s very weird for that stage of the tournament.
“When you’re value betting in position you have to be called a lot by worse. I didn’t think there was much. Many players have spoken to me about the hand and it’s nice.”
We’re sure it’s just a matter of time until Garagnani is known for winning big titles instead. Watch this space.Back to Top