Two European Poker Tour champions, a WSOP and double WPT champion, and another WPT champion sit at the same table. Squeezed between them is PokerStars qualifier Roberto Bermejo Santos from Spain, a man who many would say has a terrible seat draw today.
But poker is a fickle game. While some cower before the lucrative history of others, people like Santos see it as a challenge. Opponents at the table can have as many titles and bracelets as they like, but Santos couldn’t care a jot. In fact, he’s seems to be bossing the table right now.
So who exactly are these star-studded people with whom he shares the felt? My first exhibit is Michael Mizrachi, otherwise known as The Grinder, a fearsome poker beast with $12 million in tournament cashes, gleaned in part from a WSOP $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship win and two WPT victories. Next up is Liv Boeree and Zimnan Ziyard, both EPT winners (Boeree in San Remo and Ziyard more recently in Loutraki), and further along sits Victor Ramdin. Like Boeree, he is a member of Team PokerStars Pro but his title is a WPT one.
That lot have shared more than $18.4 million in tournament cashes. As far as I can tell, Santos has very little. In fact, I can’t find a single cash (not on the usual sources, anyway).
Yet if he carries on like this today, he may well find his tournament record up and running. First he knocked Ramdin off a chunky pot, and then on the next hand he did the same to three others. Ziyard had raised to 2,600, getting calls from Boeree, Santos and Max Leonhard. They saw a A♥10♣10♠ flop which Leonhard checked, Ziyard continued with a 2,100 bet and Boeree called before Santos tossed out 15,000 casually, sending everyone scarpering.
That little lot sent him up to a healthy 140,000, leaving Mizrachi (54,000), Boeree (80,000), Ramdin (50,000) and Ziyard (40,000) trailing in his wake. Perhaps it was they who welcomed the 15-minute level break most, particularly Boeree who then doubled up Ramdin just before the level end.
It soon became clear interest in this table was not just mine. When the players returned from the break they found they had been moved to the feature TV table, something with which most are familiar, apart from our man Santos.
At least the move gave me a chance to have a quick word with him. “It’s hard,” he said.
I told you it was a quick word.