Wednesday, 8th February 2023 17:15
Home / Interviews / The EPT Prague dominance of Rodrigo “seijistar1” Seiji 

If you’re going to go on the biggest heater of your life, it might as well be at the coldest stop on the European Poker Tour (EPT).

Rodrigo Seiji has been a poker professional for 16 years now, climbing his way from the bottom rung of the poker ladder to the very top of the high-stakes scene. For years the 36-year-old has been crushing online behind the PokerStars screen name “seijistar1”, winning WCOOP, High Roller Club and Titans titles on his way to more than $4 million in online cashes.

But when it comes to results, he’s never enjoyed a year quite like 2022, nor a week quite like the one he’s having here at EPT Prague. There’s just something about this city that brings out the best in him.

CRUSHING IN PRAGUE

It all started back in March when he won a €2K Mystery Bounty event for €240,655 at the first EPT Prague of the year. At the time it was the biggest score of his illustrious career, but he’s smashed that on this visit, first winning the €10K Mystery Bounty for €95,880, then the prestigious €50K Super High Roller for €773,630.

And what does the humble Brazilian put his incredible Prague results down to?

“I’m just lucky, I guess,” he tells us on a break as hundreds of players flock out of the tournament room, many glancing in his direction. Chances are they’ve seen his photo a lot over the past few days.

“I really enjoy Prague a lot,” says the 36-year-old. “The atmosphere and the fields are very good here, and there are a few Brazilians on this trip who are friends.”

But when EPT Prague is over, Seiji is looking forward to getting back home.

“I’ve just had a son who is five months old and it’s great to travel, but I want to bring them and it’s hard,” he says. “They’re very supportive but it’s been hard for my wife to manage the baby alone. But she’s amazing and at least she will be happy with the results.”

THE BEST OF BRAZIL

Many of Seiji’s friends happen to be some of Brazil’s best online players.

“I travelled with Pablo Brito [known as “pabritz” on PokerStars] to Prague, but I’m also friends with Yuri [Martins, a.k.a. “theNERDguy”], Pedro [Garagnani, a.k.a. “Pvigar”]…” Seiji says, trailing off as if he could keep listing names for hours.

When we spoke to Garagnani at EPT London in October, he mentioned that many of the best Brazilian online players had decided to switch their focus from the virtual felt to the big live tournament stops and Super High Roller events post-pandemic. Seiji is among them.

“The stakes are higher live, so for me, it’s the next step. And I’ve been doing good,” he says, playing down the fact he’s won close to a million euros on this trip.

“When you win a tournament, there’s such a good feeling attached to it. You get a trophy. Everyone gets to know you. I feel lucky to win these two tournaments and now I’m very confident–maybe overconfident. But when you win tournaments, there’s far less stress when playing.”

MOVING UP TO HIGH STAKES

“In the high stakes tournaments, you have to get a feeling for what each player is doing,” says Seiji. “You need time to do this, it’s not easy the first time you do it. You can prepare and study to face tough opponents, but in the end, everyone gets two cards and that’s it.”

While he still loves to play tournaments with lower buy-ins, it’s not surprising to hear that it’s the live high rollers that really get his juices flowing.

“The atmosphere changes at the higher stakes because even the recreationals put in effort and study and approach it as a challenging game,” he says.

It might seem easy for a player as accomplished and reputable as Seiji to suddenly start firing super high roller tournaments on a whim. But it took a long time for him to reach that point.

“I’ve been a professional for 16 years now. That’s a long time,” he says. “But I only joined the high stakes scene maybe three or four years ago. I’ve put in a lot of effort to study the game, but you still need to be lucky in a sense.”

We wondered how other players–perhaps those currently grinding the mid-stakes–could make the leap into high stakes.

“The more well-known you become, the easier it is to sell action,” he says. “If you’re in touch with other players, they will also buy your action.”

So, socialising with other players and selling pieces is important. But, unsurprisingly, so are solid results.

“It’s easier to get into high stakes when you’ve won some big tournaments online,” Seiji says. “You need [some big results], so you must take shots and sell action. The step [from mid stakes to high stakes] is too big. You reach the $500s, then the $1Ks, and after that, there are only $5Ks and $10KS. Unless you hit something or sell a bunch of action, it’s hard.”

If you feel stuck in your own poker journey, don’t be deterred. “Even if you’re a good and talented player it can take time to move up from the lower buy-ins,” he says.

But stick with it and one day you might have a trip like the one Seiji is currently enjoying. And it isn’t over yet.

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