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Tournament Trail Q and A -- Joao Barbosa

Champion Barbosa Speaks about his Poker History and his New Title


Joao BarbosaPortuguese Joao Barbosa has been grabbing the attention of other players and the rest of the poker community at most stops of the European Poker Tour so far. He cashed in 26th place in London for $22,888, went off the radar in Budapest, and reemerged as champion at the EPT Polish Open in Warsaw, where he faced a final table which held the likes of Dario Minieri, Arnaud Mattern, and Ludovic Lacay. The lone survivor of a 217-strong field, which was filled to the brim with notable professionals and online wizards, spoke to Card Player just after the big win, but before a double celebration — his new title and his 26th birthday.

Rebecca McAdam: How does it feel to win an EPT?

Joao Barbosa: I feel very good. I don’t know exactly what to feel but it’s great. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I started the final table kind of short stacked, not very, but shorter than the average. When I started as the short stack, I played very, very tight. They didn’t realise that I was capable of changing styles and that’s what I did. Once I got to the last four, I became the chip leader and didn’t lose it.

RM: Who were you most afraid of on the final table?

JB: Dario Minieri was a very dangerous opponent because on day 2 I played with him and he’s really good. He’s as good as the fame he has.

RM: How did you get here from being a computer engineering student?

JB: I thought of playing poker while I was still in university but I decided to finish up my graduation and even work for a few months. But then I started getting really good results in poker and I decided I had to take that opportunity.

RM: So, you started by playing online. How did you find the transfer over to live — was it difficult for you?

JB: It’s different because people react differently, people play a little differently because it’s harder to pick up the chips and play than it is to click. People think more. I played live for a little over a year when Portugal started to have live poker tournaments — about a year and a half ago.

RM: Do you play mostly live or online now?

JB: I play mostly online. I got this opportunity to play all the EPTs but I usually play online cash games, sometimes tournaments. But yeah, mostly cash games online.

RM: What’s the poker scene like in Portugal?

JB: I just heard the main community has reached 10,000 people recently. There are two or three tournaments each month, not very big tournaments, but poker is really running good and growing fast in Portugal.

RM: You had to go outside of Portugal to play bigger events — where was the first major tournament you played in?

JB: The first reasonable tournament I played in was in Milan. It was a tournament that I won and it allowed me to have this opportunity.

RM: What about a bracelet now?

JB: Maybe. I want to go to the World Series.

RM: Are you going to play in more EPTs?

JB: Yes. I’ll try to play all the EPTs this season.

RM: What’s the next event you would like to win?

JB: I don’t know. It’s always very difficult to win. It’s very hard to win more than one in a lifetime.