Eavesdropping on Team PokerStars Pro Portugal
If you missed the announcement last week, PokerStars has announced its newest live tour. The Portugal Poker Series kicks off later this month with its first stop in Vilamoura.
As part of the kickoff, the PokerStars Blog has been provided what appears to be some sort of transcription of a wiretap inside the headquarters of Team PokerStars Portugal. It's either that or something equally interesting. In either case, what we have below are a series of fairly interesting questions and revealing answers from two of Portugal's top poker pros, João Nunes and Nuno Coelho. Enjoy. --BW
João Nunes asks Nuno Coelho
Q. As an attorney, do you think you have an edge when trying to persuade opponents with your speech at the tables?
A. Yes, of course. As you can imagine, to be well spoken is essential to be successful in my occupation. As I often say, I have two jobs. I am a lawyer during the week and professional poker player on weekends. It's not an easy task to be a professional player and forget my day job. Therefore I try to take advantage of my skills as a lawyer or professional poker player and use them as often as I can. That's what I try to do when talking at the tables: make opponents fold better hands with my argumentative abilities.
Q. Poker is increasing its presence in our media through advertising, articles in newspapers, and television. How do you see this?
A. There is no doubt that this media coverage is very important. The excellent advertising helps is teach more people about a game that some still think as nothing more than gambling. It helps to bring new players to the game who are attracted by the huge prizes often displayed.
I think this presence in the media is very important, but at the same time there should be some caution on how it's promoted, because poker is not as easy as it may seems.
Q. As an result of this increasing media presence, do you think poker in Portugal is still booming or is it stabilizing?
A. Poker in our country is still growing, but I believe that the boom effect has passed. In the near future, the challenge is to stabilize a sport that is a novelty to our society. That's hard work ahead. We have to explain that there's a strong strategic component in poker, and I have no doubt that the media have an important and prominent roll in this task.
Q. Do you think our market has the strength to hold on now that the boom as passed?
A. I really don't know. There's a lot on offer right now and I don't believe that we have an market that can sustain it. In the near future I think that the tournaments organizers will have to adapt and acknowledge that we don't need so many tournaments. We need more appealing events with guaranteed prize pools and better game structures. That's the way to make ensure the future of this sport. If the situation remains as it is, I believe it will lead to a decreasing number of live players.
Q. Are you following the regulation processes of online gaming around Europe? In Italy and France the residents can only play in rooms with opponents of the same country, and in Spain the draft law under discussion refutes this standard.
A. I follow the news but don't know how it will work if they try to implement it in our country, because I have zero knowledge about the regulation.
But if the game in Portugal were to be regulated in the same way it is practiced in Italy and France, it would be the death of online poker since we are a small country, and there's no volume for the existing number of players. Most certainly this measure would lead to the few existing professionals to seek other countries to live and play. I hope that what's being discussed in Spain may be adopted and taken as an example in other EU countries, but it all depends of the legislators. Let's wait and see, but it would be very important if Portuguese poker players could have a say on this.
Nuno Coelho asks João Nunes
Q. Who is João Nunes, and why did you decide to become a professional poker player?
I'm a 35-year-old retired professional basket player, married with two kids, and crazy about sports! After 15 years competing at the highest levels on the Portuguese basketball league, it was impossible for me to quit competing every day. Poker came to me as a constant challenge who gave me the thrill and will to try to improve myself every day!
Q. What is the reality of Poker in Portugal? Do you think it still has a lot to do to evolve?
A. In Portugal, I believe poker is still expanding. Nowadays everybody speaks about poker, or has seen a TV show about it, or even has a friend that plays poker for a living. We can also consider that the game is now on a more mature phase, but it is my personal belief that we're close to that last step.
For this last step to happen we need two things: TV Poker Shows on the main free TV channels, and a well-known person from the Portuguese celebrity scene to show up as spokesperson for the game. Those two points were the keys in other countries, and we shouldn't be different.
Q. Live or online Poker? What are the main differences for you?
A. It's hard to make a choice as each one has its own charm. The biggest advantage of online poker is 24/7 action, anywhere, with multiple tables and tournaments happening at the same time.
In live poker, you can only play one table. That's its biggest negative point. Still the feeling of having your cards in your own hands is special, as is the challenge of keeping up with the pressure the other players have on you while you try to read their mind. That makes me prefer the live action. Still, they are neck-and-neck, and I feel one complements the other!
Q. What do you enjoy more, playing poker or doing the live commentary on the Portuguese television?
A. That's a tough question! I think I like both on the same way. Being at the poker table is a constant challenge. The thought of overcoming your opponents and winning a huge prize is an exceptional one.
On the other side, I get a lot of satisfaction helping to spread word of the game and helping others understand the game through my TV commentaries. Those are relaxing moments, where you enjoy watching something that you simply love and at the same time you know you are doing an excellent job explaining something simple or the more elaborate and complex strategies.
Q. What is the future of poker worldwide? Do you think that the constant evolution of the gaming laws won't prematurely kill the game?
A. You just need to play a live tournament to know that poker will have a long life. It is true that the gaming laws popping everywhere will force us to make small steps ahead and steps back, especially on this transition phase. When it all comes together, without any doubt, I'm sure poker will be huge!