South America, a huge subcontinent in the Southern hemisphere, has one of the world’s biggest poker hubs: it’s Brazil.
This country of over 200 million people has legal poker, both live and online. This is thanks to a “game of skill” exception for poker – which is a rare example in the world. Oddly enough, for live poker, only tournaments qualify for this exception, but not cash games. This has a ripple effect on the entire South American region, where cash game action is a lot harder to find than tournaments.
But still, that big of a population having access to legal poker has great benefits for the game as a whole. On top of that, one of the nation’s soccer stars, Neymar Jr., is an avid poker fan.
Brazil has also hosted major tournament series in the past, such as WSOP Brazil and the Brazil Series of Poker (BSOP). The Latin American Poker Tour used to have stops across almost every South American country – in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, to be exact. However, unfortunately, the series discontinued in 2016, after its 9th season.
South American governments tend to be more restrictive on gambling than in Europe or North America. Some, like Chile or Argentina, have just started setting up their legal and regulated online gambling market.
Where there is legal gambling, sports betting is a big favorite – especially betting on these countries’ beloved sport, soccer.
However, to get back to poker, let’s not forget that this continent has given two WSOP Main Event champions to the game. Carlos Mortensen, born in Ecuador, won poker’s most coveted title in 2001 (for $1.5 million). Damian Salas from Argentina triumphed in the very unique online-live tournament hybrid WSOP Main Event in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He collected $2.551 million along the way.