888Live Barcelona: Vivian Saliba – “I found myself within poker.”

TAGs: 888poker, audio interview, Vivian Saliba

Lee Davy sits down with 888Poker Ambassador, Vivian Saliba, to talk about her life on the road, how she improves as a poker player, and a whole lot more.

888Live Barcelona: Vivian Saliba – “I found myself within poker.” Audio

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888Live Barcelona: Vivian Saliba - "I found myself within poker."There’s a birthday cake in the wings.

25 lit candles, ready for some puckering and blowing. I can’t think of a better pair of lips to kill the lights than Vivian Saliba’s. The 25-year-old poker pro from Sao Paulo in Brazil sits next to me on a cream sofa. The cake carrier keeps winking at me in a ‘get a move on kind of way.’

It’s cramping my style.

When you Google “Vivian Saliba” one of the first headlines that greet you is “The Story of Vivian Saliba: One of the Sexiest Women in Poker.” You know this is true when someone in the media room asks the gang if anyone has a photo of Saliba, and one of the women says she has a ‘secret stash’.

Saliba began playing poker when she was 14. Her father sneaked her into a poker club with fake ID when she was 17, and the game stuck a hook into that big fat lower lip.

Things got real in 2017.

She went to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) full of hope; cashed in five events, including an eleventh place finish in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) Championship, and a 421st finish in the Main Event where she appeared as the only female entrant under 25-years old. She also cleaned up in the PLO cash games.

In September, she wound up in good Old Blighty to play in the 888Live London event {more by design than chance}, won the Ladies Event and a free ride to the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event in Rozvadov. It was in the King’s Casino that 888 unveiled her as the latest ambassador and Saliba repaid their faith in her by cashing in four events including a 59th place finish in the Main Event.

And, now, here she is.

Unknown that the birthday song is just around the corner.

Knee over knee.

Waiting patiently for my questions, the biggest eyelashes in the world fluttering in the sea breeze.

Where is home?

“Right now, the world. I have been travelling for two-years. I never stay too long in the same place. I am always moving because of poker.”

How does it feel to be homeless?

“I miss having a base. Having connections and your personal space is good. Having the opportunity to be travelling is amazing. It’s something you can only do when you are super young. I like it, but I get tired for sure. I am excited for Vegas. I will be there for two-months, and I like it when I can stay somewhere longer because I can get more into a groove.”

How many years have you been travelling to Vegas?

“It will be my third year in a row. I love it. It’s my favourite stop for sure. Last year was amazing. I have such good memories, and huge expectations for this year.”

What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

“I never had an idea of what to do with my life. I remember when I was younger I wanted to be a teacher and then a vet. I was always changing my mind, But I found myself within poker.”

Why do women find it so hard to find success in the game?

“I think women, in general, are a little more emotional and maybe this is the hardest part for female poker players when it comes to success. I had to learn to handle my emotions. It wasn’t easy at all. I remember three-years ago I started yoga classes to help me calm down and avoid tilt. Nowadays, I have a good mindset. You have to teach yourself to manage your emotions, and it’s a little bit different for guys.”

What aside from the odd downward facing dog do you do to reduce tilt?

“In my personal experience, when you play poker you learn you are not a machine. As a human, you need to relax. I try to live a balanced life, to eat well, exercise and to have a good time when I’m not playing poker. When in Vegas, for example, before a big tournament like the Main Event or a big PLO event, I like to go to see Cirque du Soleil or have a nice meal to relax.”

If you shot yourself five years into the future what would anger you if you hadn’t achieved it?

“I think I would be disappointed if I haven’t made it as a poker player. I’m talking success and profits. I make the best decisions in the moment, and even if it’s not the right one, I think my conscience will be fine. It’s a tough question. I just want to make it as a poker player.”

888Live Barcelona: Vivian Saliba - "I found myself within poker."It seems like you are 100% focused on poker. What falls to the wayside because of this focus?

“Home, my friends, my family, my dog, my country. I have been on the road for so long. I miss the people I love, and my country.”

How do you get better at poker?

“Being an 888 Ambassador helps me. I am around amazing poker players and people who push me to be better. I like to be surrounded by ambitious people who I can talk with about poker hands and theories. I like to watch videos. There is so much good poker content online. I have had private coaching. Do a little bit, and it will help a lot.”

Who inspires you in life?

“In poker, for me, more than a good score, I admire people who are constantly making good scores. For example, Dominik {Nitsche} and Martin {Jacobson} are crushers and have been doing this for years. They inspire me.”

How does poker make you feel?

“Very happy. I like what I do. I am a competitive person. It’s a job like any other. There are good moments and bad moments, and I am growing as a poker player and person.”

And with that, I place by dictaphone in my pocket, give the cake carrier the nod, and the lights come on. Saliba may be a long way from home, but the 888 family make up for her loss with a resounding rendition of Happy Birthday, and at that moment nothing else matters except the blow, and as competitive as Saliba is, you know she wants to extinguish all 25 in one gush of air.


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