It had been a difficult few months for Alex Brito. The 38-year-old married father of two from Osasco, São Paulo, Brazil, lost his job about six months ago. Anyone who’s been out of work for a while knows the struggle. The current Coronavirus pandemic puts that situation into focus even more.
But a poker tournament was about to change everything for Brito. He’s been playing for more than a decade and won a satellite into the $215 PokerStars Sunday Million, set for March 22. The 14th anniversary event featured a $12.5 million guaranteed prize pool.
The Sunday Million has become a PokerStars staple and one of the most popular in online poker. Taking down the event would bring quite a bit of prestige – not to mention a massive payday. When the other 60,897 players and 93,015 total entries were gone, Brito was the last man standing.
By that time, the prize pool had ballooned to $18.6 million. After a four-way deal he took the title and $1.1 million. For Brito, who plays under the username “AAAArthur,” the lack of employment no longer seemed a concern.
Recreational micro stakes player to PokerStars millionaire
Growing up, Brito always loved card games. That only grew after some friends began playing poker about 15 years ago.
They’d meet at each other’s homes on weekends to play and down a few beers. In 2011 he also started playing online at PokerStars. Definitely not a high roller, Brito is a recreational player who enjoys some micro-stakes action.
“I like to challenge myself and enjoy playing with friends,” he told USPoker. “The sensation from bluffing and getting the pot is awesome.”
True to his low-stakes poker life, the Brazilian player started his championship run in a $4 qualifier. He then won a ticket into an $11 satellite and won that. His entry into the Sunday Million was set.
When the tournament came, the deeper Brito progressed in the tournament, the more Brito felt he could do it. He recognized the magnitude of the opportunity the closer he got to the win.
“Each pay jump I got, I felt more and more confident in my game,” he says. “At the same time, I was nervous to know that I was close to changing my family life completely.”
King AAAArthur qualifies and cashes in
The hot streak and deep run continued. Brito went on to parlay his good fortune into winning the biggest online event in PokerStars history. How did it feel to take home the title?
“To be honest, it took me a little time to really understand what happened,” he says. “I can only say that it’s a dream that I’m living. I got the big hit that every poker player wants.”
Beyond poker, cooking is one of Brito’s favorite hobbies – especially hamburgers. He owned a burger restaurant in his hometown until two years ago.
He worked in sales when he was younger and as a business manager before losing his job. Family and friends have always played a major role in his life.
“Like a lot of Brazilians I like to play soccer every week, and after the match I drink beer and eat some good barbecue with friends,” he says. “I am very friendly and love my kids, and I will do whatever I can to make my kids happy.”
What to do with his PokerStars winnings?
With the score on PokerStars, Brito’s children may already be making birthday requests. His son Arthur actually inspired his username on the site.
What does he plan to do now with the winnings? Family immediately comes to mind but poker may play a role in his plans as well.
“I’ll travel with family – my dream is to go to Las Vegas,” he says. “I’ll also pay some bills, help some close friends and relatives, and invest. It isn’t easy to know exactly what to do – it’s a lot of money!”
At the tables, Brito enjoys the democratic nature of poker and how a regular guy like himself can win. He hopes his own story of going from the unemployment line to poker millionaire can inspire others.
“Poker doesn’t distinguish the social condition and gives everybody an opportunity,” he says. “Believe me, never give up. I’m an example of an aspiring poker player, a recreational player who could change his own life and his family’s life thanks to poker.”