Alisson ‘heyalisson’ Piekazewicz says poker is a lot like rock climbing

If you’ve ever rock climbed, then you know it’s in part about setting goals, achieving them, and then setting new goals. Get up to that next ledge, set your rope, and climb some more. When you’ve hit the summit, find another mountain to climb or find another course to conquer. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s similar to poker in that respect. Master one game, move on to the next. Master one limit, move up. Win one tournament, win something bigger.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that Brazil’s Alisson ‘heyalisson’ Piekazewicz, who was ranked as high as #60 in the world last year on PocketFives, has a passion for indoor rock climbing. You’ve seen them around town: large silo-looking buildings with multiple tracks, walls, and obstacles inside them. Some are even like the Aggro Crag on the old Nickelodeon game show “Guts.”

“My friend in college was very good at rock climbing and asked me if I wanted to go with him one time,” the Brazilian said. “I did and really enjoyed it. I started to go every week, but after some time my friend had to stop. So, I discovered that a good friend of mine in poker also enjoyed climbing and we started to go every week, but he ended up moving out of Brazil, so since then I’ve only gone once in a while.”

Just like trying to climb the PocketFives Rankings, Piekazewicz has tried to move up levels in rock climbing. And he’s a competitor, so he was determined to succeed. Failure is not an option.

“There are different levels in each track when you climb, so we were increasing the difficulty every week, trying to climb one track better than the last one,” he said. “You have to have a lot more skill to climb the upper levels. You can take 10 minutes to climb an easy track or you can take 40 minutes on a hard one or not finish it at all. You don’t know for sure when you are ready to go to the next one. You just have to know and master each level at a time.”

Speaking of mastering, in July, Piekazewicz final tabled the PokerStars Sunday Million and put back $36,000, his third largest score to date. One year ago, he took down the site’s Super Tuesdayand cashed in for almost $100,000, his largest in the money finish ever. He’s on the rise in the live scene as well. The Brazilian took down a $5,300 No Limit Hold’em Eight-Max preliminary event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier this year for $175,000.

“I like feeling of achievement when I finish a track,” he said. “I also enjoy that feeling of going until you reach your limit. Moving up in tracks is similar to the way you climb stakes in poker. You don’t know for sure if you can beat higher stakes games until you are consistently beating lower stakes ones.”

He’s not an avid climber anymore since his climbing buddies have left town, but he has made it a point to excel on the virtual and live felts to the best of his abilities. He has over $1.8 million in career online tournament winnings, is up to #21 in Brazil, and is tops in the city of Curitiba.

“When I was at school, I went to the beach with a group of friends on a holiday, but it just rained every day, so they taught me how to play poker and we played the entire trip,” he said of his start in the card game. “I fall in love with the game and when I came back to my house, I started to learn about poker on the internet and started to play some play money games.”

After that, he found his way into a local home game and began his proverbial climb up the poker ladder.

“I started to play some live games in my city and I was a dealer in a poker room here for a short time,” he said. “I also played small tournaments on PokerStars until I decided to drop out of college and become a professional poker player.”

And with 2016 halfway in the books, and his third largest score already booked, he has a few goals of his own for the rest of the year and beyond. It’s all about making it to the next level, reaching that next foothold, moving on to the next track.

“I want to be the best player I can be and win as much money as possible,” he said. “I also want to start climbing more than I have been.”