The Online Player of the Year race went right down to the wire, proving to be one of the closest contests in recent years. In the end, Brazilian online crusher, and current #2-ranked player in the world, Pedro ‘pvigar’ Garagnani did what was necessary to edge out high-stakes legend Sami ‘LarzLuzak’ Kelopuro and took down the PocketFives 2021 Online Player of the Year honors.
2021 proved to be the best of Garagnani’s decade-long career and the story of his year is one of a player who climbed the rungs of the Online Poker Rankings and didn’t stop until he reached the top.
Last year saw him dive headfirst into the online high roller waters and emerge with a reputation as one of the game’s elite talents plus seven six-figure scores. He found success at almost every stage of the year and in nearly every major online series. Garagnani finished 2021 with a PokerStars WCOOP title, two WPTDeepstacks High Roller titles, a Turbo Series win, a GGPoker WSOP High Roller victory, and a runner-up finish in the GGPoker Super MILLION$. In fact, of his top 20 career scores, 15 took place in 2021.
Although he had some fairly notable scores in the first two months, Garagnani’s big year didn’t truly kick off in earnest until March. That’s when he bested the 202 runners in the PokerStars $5,200 High Roller Club Titan Event for $197,646, a career-high score for him at the time. It was a bit of a proving ground for Garagnani as he battled against a stacked final table of online poker talent including Mike Watson, Parker Talbot, and former #1-ranked Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson. His victory in this tournament can be looked back on as the launching point for things to come in 2021.
Two weeks later, on April 6, Garagnani, who at the time was ranked #6 in Brazil and approaching the worldwide top 20, would blow his previous high score out of the water. He went on a deep run in the GGPoker’s weekly $10,300 Super MILLION$. His runner-up finish earned him $454,196, a score that stands as his current career-high. It also brought him a massive haul of 1,165.36 Player of the Year leaderboard points, a score that stood as his highest of the year and was instrumental to him clinching Player of the Year honors.
By the time summer came around, ‘pvigar’ had climbed to #12 in the world. That’s when he earned his second career PokerStars WCOOP title, outlasting yet another heavyweight final table that included Samuel Vousden, Christian Rudolph, and 2021 U.S. Poker Open champion David Peters in the $5,200 8-Max High Roller. He added $195,689 to his bankroll and another 1,000 leaderboard points in what was a top-3 result for him in the year. Then, just four days after his WCOOP win, he finished as the runner-up in another $5,200 WCOOP event for another $71,712.
All of these major scores were adding up for Garagnani. He inserted himself into the Online Poker Rankings Top 10 and became a real threat to those at the top. Then, a late-year heater kicked in for him which propelled him to the top of the rankings.
In September, he won a GGPoker WSOP High Rollers event for $31,280, and then in October, he was in the winner’s circle again with a victory in the WPTDeepStacks High Roller on partypoker for $112,079. Finally, at the end of November, Garagnani took down the Winamax Mini WSOP SUPER HIGHROLLER for $47,197 and that’s when he earned enough points to put him over the top.
In the first week of December it became official, Garaganai overtook fellow Brazilian Bruno Volkmann and became the #1-ranked player in the world for the first time in his career. He joined the ranks of Volkmann, Yuri Dzivielevski, Brunno Botteon, Joao Mathias, and Joao Simao in the elite club of Brazilians who have reached the top of the rankings. In his first week at #1, Garagnani was back on his WPTDeepStacks grind only this time it was on 888poker. He won event #9 of that series, a $200,000 GTD PKO, for $40,500 and 447.21 leaderboard points, a score that made all the difference in the Player of the Year race.
Garagani finished the year with 24,867 leaderboard points, just 343 more than Kelopuro. In contrast, when the UK’s Conor Beresford took the Online Player of the Year title in 2020, he finished more than 4000 points above runner-up Brunno Botteon.
Garagnani held on to the #1 spot for six weeks before relinquishing it in early January and ended the year with more than $8.4 million in total career earnings.
2021 Online Poker Player of the Year Standings
|1||Pedro ‘pvigar‘ Garagnani||24,867|
|2||Sami ‘LarsLuzak‘ Kelopuro||24,524|
|3||Enrico ‘whatisL0v3‘ Camosci||23,961|
|4||Mike ‘SirWatts‘ Watson||23,854|
|5||Patrick ‘pleno1‘ Leonard||23,549|
|6||Daniel ‘SmilleThHero‘ Smiljkovic||23,415|
|7||Anatoly ‘nl_profit‘ Filatov||23,273|
|8||Dalton ‘daltonhb‘ Hobold||22,791|
|9||Alex ‘Alexyo‘ Theologis||22,154|
|10||Maskim ‘MAMOHT_T‘ Mamonov||22,108|