It’s late October, and there’s an electric tension in the air at a shop around the corner from Takadanobaba Station — four players, cards in hand, sit around a table, three looking intently at the last, who chooses a card and considers it for a moment.

With a smile, Luiz Gonzalez drops it onto the table. Instantly, the other three players fall back into their chairs with a collective groan.

“Of course he had it!” says teacher Victor Banuelos, referring to Gonzalez’s winning card.