Let’s be honest for a second. I know this is poker and all, but let’s call a truce on truth: players from emerging poker nations tend to be seen as soft touches. Your ‘average’ American player will be seen as stronger because they’re from the nation that owns the game and they all grow up playing the game for pennies during the holidays. It’s in their blood, look at Las Vegas.
While other countries have embraced the game they’ve all had to go through their own growing pains, each taking their turn to carry the burden of being labelled ‘donkeys’. The overly trappy Brits, the spew monkey Scandis, the ‘I-have-a-feeling’ Italians, the passive insouciant French – everyone has had their turn so it’s with no prejudice that I say that many tour regulars feel happy coming to Spain, another poker nation which is relatively new to the game.
As the years go by the soft spots diminish and domestic talent comes through to the fore. That same process is taking place here in Spain. While Carlos Mortensen flew the Spanish flag alone for some years – and did so more than adequately, winning $10,806,141 in live tournaments in the process – the rest of the nation played catch up; Raul Paez Corral weighs in with the second largest number of live cashes with $1,571,248, quite some chunk of change behind Mortensen. The young Spaniards are starting to catch up and it is to those that we look to become the first Spanish EPT winner. Jesus Cortes came close at EPT Barcelona last year but lost out heads up to Swede Kent Lundmark. Another hot prospect – and a hat tip to Spanish PokerStars blogger Ivan Marti for the nudge – is Cesar Garcia Dominguez, a Spaniard well versed in the art of online success who is yet to strike oil in a major live tournament. Garcia has scratched out a credible $104,455 in live winnings thanks largely to a 39th place finish at the PCA for $59,000, and he’s close to the chip lead here.
Garcia, who plays under the name ‘CesarSPA’, has more than a million dollars in MTT cashes at PokerStars with one huge $188,853 payday coming courtesy of a runner-up finish in the Sunday Million back in August 2009. That kind of success in the live forum has eluded him thus far.
“I have played about eight or nine EPTs,” mused Garcia as he racked up his 100,000 of chips, his table breaking him away from ElkY and Michael Tureniec.
And what was it like playing with those two guys, you had position on them at least.
“They came to the table late. The table started soft and all my good hands got paid,” said Garcia.
Good hands? Such as when he got paid off with pocket tens by pocket fives on a [t][t] flop? Yeah, that will do it. That pot alone got Garcia up to 73,000 but he certainly doesn’t seem to be the sit-and-wait kind of player. In the final orbit of table 36 Garcia played five of the nine hands, winning and losing a balance of them but still pushing out towards the chip lead.
Unfortunately for Garcia his next table move took him onto EPT London champ David Vamplew’s table, who is now sat with 100,000, Garcia with around 55,000.