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Nicolau Villa-Lobos has won events on the Brazilian Series of Poker, the UKIPT and even picked up the medium buy-in SCOOP Main Event this year on PokerStars, but so far a WSOP gold bracelet has eluded him. Right now Villa-Lobos is deep in the 2013 WSOPE High Roller event, playing alongside some of the biggest names in poker including Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey. PokerListings.com speaks to Villa-Lobos about his background and how a surprise heart surgery when he was 18 led to him getting into poker.
My name is Nicolau Villa-Lobos. I'm from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. I'm 25 years old. It was kind of crazy the way I went into poker. I had a heart surgery so I had to stop playing football, everything for quite a while. My dad said to me, "Yo, you want to play Poker? I'm not giving you any money. So work it out." My father, he's a guitar player. He is from Legião Urbana. Which is certainly number one in Brazil rock band, ever. They sold, like 20 million records. They were, like, top sellers in EMI, also.
I just started playing professionally. I was runner up in BSOP Rio, my hometown, it was amazing. I went to Vegas, had a great deep run in main event. I was 77. I won UKIPT Edinburgh. It was incredible, first victory of a Brazilian in a major tournament in Europe. And then I won the Scoop [SP] Median Main Event. And that was like a blown, I was blown. I couldn't understand what I had just done. And I felt safe, I could continue to play poker with my head like nothing in mind. I just could play my game, and I got my family's support now.
To be a poker player, I think you have to believe in luck, because, after all, in the short term luck will be always involved. In the long term, if I'm going to be a winner or not just depends if I'm doing well, if I'm working hard, and playing my best.
To have won UKIPT, I was the shortest stack in the room, like I had seven big lines when I started and I won. So I had to be lucky. My situation, the heart condition that I discovered when I was 18. I was born with it, but I discovered like 18 years after. I could have died any moment, but I think I have a star looking for me, maybe. I got something looking for me. I have to be.