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When I Was A Donk With Adrian Moreno

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Dec 06, 2017


In this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Adrian Moreno was an anonymous cash game grinder for years before he finally broke through this summer at the World Series of Poker. The 48-year-old from Ontario, California began his summer with a deep run in the $1,500 Monster Stack event, finishing in 23rd place out of a field of 6,716 for a $37,831 payday.

He followed that up with a 19th-place showing for $26,070 in the $888 Crazy Eights event, which had a field of 8,120. He topped off his magical summer by besting 4,391 entrants in the $1,111 Little One For One Drop, picking up his first gold bracelet and the $528,316 first-place prize.

Here, Moreno explains why he waited so long to concentrate on tournaments.

The first World Series of Poker event I ever entered was back in 2002, and it was the only event I played that summer. It was a $1,000 tournament, and that was back when they gave you chip for chip for your buy-in, so we all started with 1,000 in chips. It was intimidating for sure.

On the very first hand I played, I was dealt pocket queens and flopped a queen. We got it all in, and I didn’t win. So, I basically went to the WSOP for just one hand that year, which was obviously a terrible feeling.

But I don’t think it would have made much of a difference even if I won that hand, because I wasn’t very good back then. I had a lot of leaks. I definitely played a little too tight, and I would get nervous about the other good players. I was very aware of not only the good players, but my own skill level.

I spent many years after that just playing cash games, and getting better. This is honestly my first real year playing tournaments. In the past, I might play just a couple each year to take my shot, before I went back to the cash games.

But now I feel like I’m ready to play with anyone. Now, when I see a tough table, it doesn’t bother me. It also helps that people are starting to recognize me now, and sometimes they will go out of their way to play back at me. It’s definitely been good for me because now I can win pots that I had no business winning before, and still get paid off when I make big hands. ♠