In less than a month, Rafael Caiaffa, from Minas Gerais, was once again, this time in online poker, which he had been away for years. At Super Millions Week he put the Brazilian flag on top of the podium, using the nickname “Bruxo R10”.
Last month, Caiaffa had participated and also took first place in the Pot-Limit-Omaha tournament, returning in style to face-to-face poker, his favorite, in the first edition of the BSOP held in São Paulo.
And as if that weren’t enough, on the 19th now, during the online High Rollers Main Event, Caiaffa crushed all 223 opponents and took first place.
The 41-year-old native of Belo Horizonte’s return to the felts in style proves his skill with the cards, being one of the great names of Brazilian poker, along with João Simão, Rafael Moraes, Thiago Crema, Yuri The Nerdguy, among others.
Caiaffa started his career in 2006. In 2007 he was champion of his state, Minas Gerais, winning as a prize the possibility of going to play a Main Event in Las Vegas. Now it’s back to live tournaments, with an eye on Las Vegas still in 2022.
iGaming Brazil spoke with this star of the cards in an exclusive, taking advantage of the break between one tournament and another.
Check out the exclusive interview:
iGaming Brazil – How was it for you to play in person poker again after 2 years of a pandemic?
Rafael Caiaffa – It was a very good feeling, after two years without playing, I was in a good rhythm of live poker, with good results and the pandemic broke that. So it was that wonderful feeling of arriving at the room after so long, hearing the noise of the chips, that little noise that only those who attend poker tournaments know.
But I had a personal mishap at the BSOP and ended up playing less than I wanted to. That’s why I chose to play the Omaha tournaments that are my specialty, including one of those you mention that I took first and it was Omaha Dealers Choice. And right in the first tournament I took second place. It was a lot of fun, in addition to the financial return, the personal satisfaction of winning another BSOP trophy (I have several).
iGaming Brazil – What are your plans going forward, year 2022-25?
Rafael Caiaffa – I don’t take poker as a profession anymore, but it’s a hobby that ends up giving me a financial return. So I play online when I feel like it, sporadically, online and cash games, but what I really like is live. My goal is to play the Brazilian circuit like I’ve been doing for the last few years, the BSOP and maybe some other tournament that I have here in Brazil. And eventually the WSOP in Las Vegas, which gives it a bigger spotlight.
I have two World Series rings, which are like world titles, but every player’s dream is to win the gold bracelet in Las Vegas and that has to be in person in Vegas. The rings are from the circuits of the World Series, which goes around the world, but the main event is in L.A.
iGaming Brazil – Do you like online or in person more?
Rafael Caiaffa – I prefer in person. Online is very stressful. The live one you can take breaks, take a breath, have a better social interaction. There’s no comparison, face-to-face is much better, eye to eye. Much better and where I have my best results.
iGaming Brazil – How did you start playing poker? Who do you admire in sport?
Rafael Caiaffa – My family is all card players. I grew up watching my grandparents, parents and uncles play. But who introduced me and shaped me in poker was my uncle Max Dutra. He was the first professional in the family. Among his great titles is the BSOP Main Event.
iGaming Brazil – What are your memories of your first tournament as a professional and the first title you won?
Rafael Caiaffa – My first tournament came along with my first title. It was in the stage of the Minas Gerais Poker Championship. Even with little experience I felt comfortable. People didn’t know how to play well. It was even easy to be a winner at poker in the early 2000s.
iGaming Brazil – How does it feel to be one of the best Brazilians in WSOP history, winning two rings and finishing 55th in the Main Event in Las Vegas?
Rafael Caiaffa – Just to make it clear: I am no longer the 55th Brazilian record holder. The record has already been beaten by a Brazilian who finished 9th. And I’m no longer a WSOP ring record holder. Today there is a player who won three rings. But I feel like a star person. I believe in big events.
iGaming Brazil – How did you continue your career from there? What relevant facts could you mention?
Rafael Caiaffa – During the WSOP tournament, I was hired by the Best Poker website, from the Ongame network, playing bigger and bigger tournaments. In 2011, I left Best Poker and signed with Rox Poker. The objective was to play all stages of the BSOP. In my first year, I won the BSOP Main Event bracelet, with a prize pool of over 100 thousand reais. In 2013, I was an ambassador for Full Tilt Poker. I switched to the pro FTP network and started playing big world tournaments. In that time, I won the BSOP High Roller once again and got some good results in BSOP and WSOP. In 2015, Full Tilt ceased operations and I played without any sponsors.
Just this year, at the BSOP in Brasília, I won the main tournament in Omaha. In the same stage, I reached another BSOP Main Event Heads Up, being the first to make three Heads Up and the new BSOP ME final table record holder, with seven. I took 2nd in the Main Event, but there were two more big cashes in that event.
Between 2017 and 2018, I played a few tournaments, winning a few BSOP events. I was the first Brazilian champion of Courchevel, among other lesser titles. In February 2019, just before the pandemic started, I arrived at the FT from a tournament in Punta del Este, the Party Poker Millions. I was eliminated in 9th, but I made almost $100,000.
iGaming Brazil – What made you announce your retirement at the time? How did you get through this period without playing professionally?
Rafael Caiaffa – Professional poker consumed all my time. My nights, my holidays, my weekends. I gave up a lot to play poker. I lost some things in my daughters’ lives because of this. Even so, they were wonderful years, with great trips and a lot of learning. I decided that I would play poker only as a hobby. So I could dedicate myself to other things. I’m young, I have energy.
iGaming Brazil – What do you attribute the growth of online poker to? How do you explain this explosion?
Rafael Caiaffa – Online poker followed the world trend. The Internet dominates the world, in poker it would be no different. The ease of playing from the sofa at home is priceless. But I’m a fan of live, face-to-face. I prefer this modality a thousand times because the adrenaline is different.
iGaming Brazil – What things did you change as a player after the pandemic ended?
Rafael Caiaffa – Nothing, I already played online and was used to staying at home playing. The only thing that made it worse was the end of live tournaments. But, thank God, that’s over and now we’re back to tournaments in Brazil and around the world.
iGaming Brazil – What is your opinion and vision about Brazilian poker? What place does it occupy in Latin America?
Rafael Caiaffa – The evolution of Latin American poker is worthy of applause. When I started, it was rare to see Latinos competing on equal terms with Americans and Europeans. Today, I dare say that we are on the same level. Brazilians themselves are creative, they have this cultural quality, and many have taken their creativity to the poker table.