Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #29 Jose “Nacho” Barbero
Poker is a global game. While so many people are focused on the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas once a year, or the World Poker Tour stops that take place each season, and some American’s pay some interest in the European Poker Tour, there are still a lot of other tournament circuits out there. This year, the Latin American Poker Tour created somewhat of a poker legend out of their one of their own in Jose Barbero.
The man they call “Nacho” had a monster year that went unnoticed by so many. But a recent look at the Bluff Magazine 2010 Poker Player of the Year rankings has Barbero currently ranked 9th on the year, and with a few more tournaments still yet to play, he could make a further run up that list. Especially if he continues to play the way that he has this year.
His 2009 campaign ended with a little more than $300,000 in career live cashes in five years, with his biggest score coming in a win in the $925 buy-in event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January 2009. That $73k win coupled with 6 different WSOP cashes, including a final table at last year’s $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout, should have at least placed him somewhat on the poker radar. Well the people in his native South America certainly took notice of Barbero who brought with him the largest rail section at the Latin American Poker Tour event in February of this year.
When the LAPT Punta del Este series began in February, the talk around the tournament series had been about how it was dominated by European poker players. But when the final table began, there was only one person who could stand in the way of giving Latin America the LAPT championship, and that was Frenchman Nicolas Cardyn. With the crowd chanting “Nacho! Nacho! Nacho!” Barbero would get to heads up with the Frenchman and hold a chip lead. On the final hand, he used some help as he’d call Cardyn’s all in shove with As-Ts to Cardyn’s Ad-Ks. But the crowd pleaded for a ten chanting “Diez! Diez!” and someone among the poker gods must have heard their cries as the Ten of Clubs magically appeared on the turn, giving the victory to Nacho. The crowd exploded for their local hero as Barbero booked $279,330 for the win, and promised his fans that he wasn’t done with the LAPT.
Seeing as how the next LAPT event wasn’t for another couple of months, Barbero has some time to kill. So Nacho decided that he would ride the run-good by traveling across the globe to the WPT Bucharest where he’d finish in 15th, and then over to the EPT in San Remo where he’d min-cash in that main event as well. Then in May, Nacho booked his second live win of the year when he took down the €1,100 Buy-in event at the France Poker Series for a nice little €40,123 score. After his short European stay was completed, it was back across the Atlantic to defend the title that he won in February at the second LAPT stop of the year, this time in Lima.
The Lima LAPT event began in June, which was somewhat unfortunate given that it was during the same time as the early events of the World Series of Poker. But the crowds were again made happy as all eyes were on the fan favorite “Nacho” who decided to defend his title in Lima as opposed to taking a stab at his first bracelet in Las Vegas. 385 players participated in the $2,500 buy in main event, and when the final 8 were introduced at the last table of the tournament, it was again Barbero who had the most chips. Going into heads up play with Ben Barrows, Nacho held a 6 to 1 chip lead that would last only a few hands until Barrows would send all of his remaining chips Barbero’s direction, and Barbero claimed the $250,000 top prize and a title that no other had before him, a Two Time LAPT Champion. What made it even more impressive was that the win was in Back-to-Back LAPT events.
With 6 months remaining on the year, Nacho’s year wasn’t through as he made his way up to Las Vegas to play in some of the WSOP events and booked 2 impressive cashes, finishing in 12th at the $2,500 Mixed Event for $14,232 and a 9th place finish in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event for $40,364. He then headed back to Latin America for the LAPT event in Florianopolis, where finally Nacho wouldn’t finish in the money.
But his next trip overseas proved to be his most fruitful yet as he entered into the EPT London €20,000 High Roller Event. The final table included the likes of Vanessa Selbst and Andrew Robl, but no one was standing in the way of Nacho who would cruise to the victory and book another €556,000 for the win (about $870,000 USD) for his 3rd major win on the year.
Proving that poker is alive and well around the globe, Nacho has to date more than $1.5 million in tournament earnings throughout 2010. But it was his 3 major international victories that make him a player that no one will overlook in the years ahead.