Were you to pick out the former EPT winners remaining in the field you’d start in the obvious places and find three big names, and on each occasion you’d say that Mike McDonald, Toby Lewis and Kevin MacPhee were three players you’d bank on coming close to a second title.
But there are four.
Joao Barbosa might not be the most flamboyant players, and is known both across the poker world and in his native Portugal, as one of the more cerebral players in the game. It’s a playing style that has secured him more than $1.3 million in prize money over the past four years, an EPT title and tenth spot on the EPT TLB; all while going largely unnoticed by the poker world.
Today he’s among the short stacks and, with the money coming into view, set for a difficult next level.
“I’m have a very short stack so now my goal is to be in the money if possible,” said Barbosa. “Still 20 players to go and I’m way below the average.”
Casino Gran Madrid will also be a place that Barbosa thinkos of with fond memories, as the place he can credit for launching his career after an event he won here back in 2008. Not only was it worth €115,800 to the computer engineering graduate, but it opened numerous doors into the poker world.
“It was a very big cash for me at that time,” said Barbosa at the break. “It was probably my way to jump into bigger tournaments like EPTS. I had some bankroll and some savings to be able to support myself for some time and not to have to depend on another job. So that helped me to concentrate on poker.”
Barbosa turned his attention to the EPT with considerable aplomb. After cashes in Barcelona and London, he won EPT Warsaw, worth €367,140, before scoring further cashes at the PCA, Deauville, Dortmund and San Remo.
His career continued to develop, with more success in side events, winning one in Deauville in 2010 and then a second in San Remo (worth €275,000) in 2011. It’s an upward trajectory for the Portuguese who sees his game as something that is constantly developing.
“When I remember my EPT victory, for example, I think if it were today there are probably 10 or 20 moves I would have done differently,” he said. “I’m more experienced now, I’m not so nervous to be in a big tournament and to be facing the possibility of a big win, so I think I’ve evolved.”
Back to today, and the short stack will make life difficult, at least when it comes to hanging on for the money.
“Everything is possible in a tournament,” said Barbosa. “Right now I’m more focused on trying to be around at the end because with my stack I don’t have many options to win big posts. If I succeed I’ll focus myself on making some double ups and to make some stacks.”
It’s a tough order but one Barbosa has shown ability to master before.
Level 15: blinds 1500-3000, ante 400
Players: 94 of 477
Average stack: 152,000
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