Pablo "Gordiju" Gordillo on that remarkable hat-trick
Admittedly there were a few distractions on the final Sunday of WCOOP a little more than a week ago. As you'll have read by now "CrownUpGuy" was on his way to winning the Main Event, and "Mr Negreanu"* the Player of the Series--two outstanding achievements that commandeered all the headlines, and rightly so.
On such days it's easy to miss the other stories, those that are equally spectacular but remain hidden away behind the massed crowds piling around one or two tables to watch history being made.
But one of these "minor" stories was never going to stay minor for long. It was that of Pablo Gordillo, a Spanish pro now living in the United Kingdom, who pulled off an almost unbelievable hat-trick, winning the Sunday Kick Off, the Sunday Storm and then The Bigger $55, to earn a combined $101,060.
It wasn't the first time we'd heard of Gordillo, who finished fourth in the hugely popular Vienna leg of the European Poker Tour last season. But now he was demonstrating flair for the online game, prompting people to start asking first of all whether this story was true, where was the proof, and how did he do it?
Well it was true, and here's the proof.
Now to how he did it.
Gordillo talked to the blog about that glorious day, one spent winning while everyone else was looking in the other direction. I started by asking him about that day in general.
"I started the session like any given Sunday, waking up at 1pm and eating early in order to start playing the last WCOOP Sunday," said Gordillo. "I didn't want to miss the Kickoff - and it was a good choice, since it is one of the tournaments I did win. After 17 hours and 100 tournaments (which turned a bit lengthy), I ended up winning three of them and making some deep runs, too... You can't win them all, hahaha!"
But for anyone watching that was the impression they were left with, that this guy could win anything that day. But what was he thinking?
"Actually, after each tournament I was thinking different things," he explained. "I felt released after the first win, because it made up for the downswing I was in; after the second one, the Storm, I started to think about the difficulty of what had just happened, because of the 35,000 players. And then came The Big 55, the last one. I only could think in how every hand was fitting and how well I was running. I was overconfident, and the last part felt quite easy."
In his own words Gordillo admitted that in terms of the WCOOP in general "I wasn't going too well". This was in many ways an extension of the year in general. Having left Spain to live in London for poker reasons, he admitted that it's difficult to leave that life in Leon behind, but that his plan was always to look forward rather than back, focusing on his game.
That attitude may be behind his success, along with a solid support network of family and friends, who are never far away in the background when you dig deeper into stories like this. Poker may suit the individual but only while they're at the table. Away from it there is the same need for support.
"My friends were so happy for me as if they were winning themselves, and everyone was thinking that it was something really hard to happen," said Gordillo. "At home we celebrated every major pot won. By the way, my other flat mate also won The Hot16.50 to square a perfect night at home. We changed the Internet provider a couple of days ago, so maybe this IP is really blessed."
They were not alone in finding what they were seeing unfolding before them to be incredible. Pretty soon the poker community picked up on it, and sure enough the people at PokerStars were among them. Was Gordillo surprised by this?
"I didn't realize that this was going to get so much attention from the media, because every day there are people who earn similar or bigger amounts playing at PokerStars, so yes, I'm a bit surprised. Too many things have to come out well, that's something difficult to achieve."
It's natural to think that after moments like this the mood is one of celebration. And while that may be true it's often also one of exhaustion, tempering any desire to hit the town and celebrate. This certainly applied to Gordillo, who found it hard to get some much needed rest, although he found an ingenious solution.
"It was quite difficult to get to sleep, so I put on Big Brother show to help me."
Tough to sleep yes, but one suspects that these wins might serve as a wake-up call for the Spaniard, a firm nudge in the direction of poker after a series of false starts.
"I've always liked games, played almost everything that I could find," said Gordillo. "But the real truth is that what I'm really good at is to start studying something new and then giving up. I have started three different degrees, but this I have not enrolled in any yet. Someday I will put all the careers I have started in my curriculum, hahaha."
Now, with the move to London, the result in Vienna and now this, it might prove to him that poker was the right choice after all. Either that or he'll quit and head back home. But then, dropping poker doesn't seem likely to a player with talent in abundance. That's great news as far as we're concerned.
*Our apologies, this detail was incorrect when first published.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.