The luck of Ludovic

I had a horrible downswing after the World Series. Not only was I running bad, but the variance was pretty whack. I was feeling pretty awful as I got ready to travel to the EPT San Remo but once I got there, something clicked inside of me and everything changed. I was playing my A-game and went deep in a lot of tournaments, including the €2k no-limit. At one point I was Top 5 in chips in the Main Event and at the end of Day 2, I made a swap with my friend Ludovic Lacay since we both had such big stacks. Of course, I went on to bubble while Ludovic won the whole thing!

After Ludovic's win, I went on a ridiculous upswing, like, maybe 150k over two months. It was crazy. Before Sanremo I felt like I couldn't win a hand. From then on, it was entirely the opposite. Not only did I make some deep tournament runs, but I did really well in the cash games in Sanremo. The no-limit games had crazy action and I'd recommend them to anyone who comes out there for the EPT.


After Sanremo, I went to Peru for the LAPT event in Lima. Before I left I had a strange feeling I was going to win it. Super-confident about my chances, I was in the zone throughout the tournament and played great. Over the last year, I had been very unfocused at live events and spent time chatting with people or looking at my phone instead of paying closer attention to my opponents. It cost me a lot of money and I knew I had to change my approach. This time, I put my mind into it 100% and tried to pick up tells and betting patterns from players the way I used to. I didn't look at my phone once while I was at the table, and when I was away from the table I was focused as well. I woke up early, went to the gym, then went downstairs to play. I wasn't thinking about going out at night, meeting girls, or having fun--only winning the tournament.

Channeling all my energy into the tournament really worked. I made the final table, but ended up busting out in sixth place. It would have been huge for me to win my third LAPT title, but I was super card-dead at the final table and never found any good spots. I also had a really bad table position with the chip leader to my right, and it seemed like every time I picked up a decent hand, I ended up having to fold. It sucked not to win, but getting sixth was still good. This was my fourth LAPT final table. Before, I was tied with two other players who had three final tables, Bolivar Palacios and Alex Brenes, but now I officially have the best record on the LAPT. It's an accomplishment that means a lot to me as an ambassador for poker in Latin America.

To close out the year, I played the Brazilian Series of Poker in Sao Paulo. The tournament was massive and I'm so happy about the way poker has grown over there. 1,650 players turned out for a $900 buy-in event--that's almost a $1.5 million prize pool! The tournament was awesome, but I actually didn't play my best. On a A-K-K-Q-5 board, I three-barreled really big on the river with K-J but only left myself 25 BB behind. My opponent ended up check-raising all-in. I knew he had me beat (turned out he had A-A), but still felt I had to call, given how much I'd already committed to the pot, like 85% of my stack. So I called and busted, but was reminded what a mistake I'd made in my bet sizing. If I folded, I would have had only 25 BB left, but I also would have still been alive in a really juicy tournament. I was kind of disappointed in myself for that performance, but you never know, maybe the guy was running a sick bluff (I have to justify it to myself...).

I've also been riding this upswing by playing a lot more online. Aside from the WCOOP and SCOOP where I play every day, most of the time I only play once or twice a week. But lately, I've been playing three or four days a week, multi-tabling MTTs. I've actually been doing really well and I'm really happy about how I'm playing. Sometimes you feel like you're playing well, but don't see the results in terms of money earned. Right now I have the best of both parts--playing well and crushing!

Jose Barbero
@PokerStars in PokerStars news