WSOP 2017: Laid back Vas Nunes taking another deep run in his stride
For a man who stands around 6'3" and has won close to $1.5 million in high-profile live poker tournaments, Paul Vas Nunes does a pretty good job of flying under the radar. But today Vas Nunes is sitting in Seat 1 of the ESPN feature table at the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event and there's no hiding anymore.
Speaking of the spotlight that has now been shone on him, Vas Nunes said today: "I don't mind it too much." But there was also certainly the element of British understatement about that, like how a Brit will respond to a "How ya doing?" question with a "Not bad" even if their family, house and all their worldly belongings had just been swallowed into a sinkhole.
Vas Nunes finished the first level of play today with more than 8 million chips, which put him in the top 15 of the remaining 67 players. As the tournament clock signalled the end of the level, Vas Nunes stood from the table and walked straight into a trap: a television producer asked Van Nunes to accompany her to an interview room.
Vas Nunes brokered a deal whereby he was allowed a trip to the bathroom first, but his new chaperone stood outside the restrooms and then escorted him down the corridor of the Rio Convention Centre for a sit-down chat.
With only three minutes remaining on his 20-minute break, Vas Nunes then trudged all the way back to the Brasilia Room to prepare for Level 28 and the continued attempt to win $8 million.
Vas Nunes is absolutely no stranger to the deep stages of major tournaments. (And, it must be noted, did seem perfectly laid back about the interview.) Two of his top three lifetime cashes came at the WSOP, for placing third in a $3,000 buy-in event in 2012 and third again in 2015 in a $1,000 event. Between that, Vas Nunes finished second in one of the monstrous Estrellas Poker Tour events in 2013, actually picking up the biggest prize in the event in a four-way deal, but yielding the title to Soenke Jahn.
He told PokerStars Blog back then that he hoped the result would propel him to greater heights, and this deep WSOP run seems to represent the best chance of a life-changing payday. Even if it didn't happen like that, Vas Nunes will simply go back to being a much-feared online grinder. He is also a regular at final tables at PokerStars, where he plays as "pvas2" and has won the Sunday Million (in 2010 for $233,944) and the Sunday Warm Up (in 2014 for $116,370) among numerous other online scores. The biggest of those came when Van Nunes won a $2,100 SCOOP event, picking up more than $400,000.
This is the real life of the modern poker pro: quietly accumulating heaps from the comfort of ones own home.
During our briefest of chats at the last break, Van Nunes said that his biggest regret about doing the long TV interview was that he hadn't had a chance to review the hands being played at the feature table. The action is being broadcast on a 30-minute delay, with hole cards, so there's a lot of information available to participants.
Vas Nunes said he has a small team of friends, some of whom have a percent of his action, analysing the play. He was busily flicking through messages even as he was walking back from the interview room. He also mentioned a hand he played against Ben Pollak where Van Nunes rivered the nut flush with A♣Q♣ and bet out.
Pollak folded and will now know that he was correct to do so. "I would have preferred it if he hadn't known I had it," Van Nunes said. "But it's OK."
It's worthwhile getting used to it as there's still a long way to go in this event. With Max Silver and Ben Lamb also up there on the feature table, there's a lot of information to harvest too.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.