If you consider the statistics of just the European Poker Tour, you might think that the level of Spanish poker is amongst the lowest in Europe. It was just a year ago that Adrián Mateos broke the jinx, winning the first major EPT title for Spain. The biggest online tournaments, high stakes cash games and the most prestigious live tournament always have Spanish representation, something that was almost unthinkable just five or six years ago.
Spanish poker has experienced a significant improvement in their level of play, and proof of that comes from Vicente ‘vicenfish’ Delgado.
The 25-year-old guy from southern Spain started playing poker in 2012 while studying at the University of Madrid, frequenting places where private games were held in which the level of play was not excessively high. At the same time, he also began playing online. In just one month the self-taught player built a bankroll that allowed him to be a regular in $5/$10 NLHE games.
From there, he never looked back.
In mid-2012, Spain regulated online gaming – including poker. The borders were closed, forcing Spanish players out of international player pools, only being able to play against other Spanish players in the ring-fenced environment. Delgado had to make a decision on what to do in the future: Leave university and pursue the poker pro dream or continue studying and play only on .es sites?
He eventually took the first option.
Until early 2014, Delgado played almost exclusively on .es sites, where he became one of the top winners playing all forms and achieving Supernova Elite status, although his greatest volume came from cash games. This led him to become a PokerStars.es Team Online member, which gave him the opportunity to provide commentary on television episodes of the EPT for two years working with Juan Manuel Pastor, a player that contributed to the popularity of poker in Spain.
Until then, Delgado didn’t play many tournaments, but he eventually became a regular on the MTT scene.
“I wanted to prove to myself I could win tournaments. It is the most similar to a sport competition, and even though I was making money in cash games, I wanted to measure myself against the best in the MTTs,” said Delgado. “This was also what made me decide to move to Portugal. In Spain the fields were small and prize pools were too. I wanted to win more.”
“Even feeling that the cash games are the most competitive part of poker, because the level of rivals is infinitely superior, there is no feeling like winning a tournament. I find tournaments much more fun and exciting, so it is my preferred way to play poker,” said Delgado.
Throughout 2014 Delgado changed his modus operandi and focused almost entirely on tournaments becoming one of the best players in the world, ending the year in the top 10 of PocketFives rankings.
He got several important results in the regular tournaments on PokerStars.com, including two victories in the Sunday Second Chance, a pair of second place finishes in the Super Tuesday and another second place in the Sunday 500, but certainly, the result that was a turning point in his career was his victory in the 2015 World Championship of Online Poker High Roller.
It was a special result, not only because of the $637,436 prize that he earned, but also due to the difficulty of the field which he did it against, the number of great players that reached the final table and because it also marked the largest online prize ever won by a Spanish player, beating Diego ‘Unstoffable’ Perez’s second place finish in the 10th Anniversary Sunday Million, for $580,724 in 2011.
The final table included the likes of Doug Polk, Ben Sulsky, Dimitar Danchev, Mustapha Kanit and Ankush Mandavia, with whom he made a deal with once heads-up. Although money is always important to maintain a healthy bankroll, what Delgado really appreciated was the difficulty of winning a tournament like this.
“Actually, when I started that final table, I was not thinking about how much money was waiting for the winner. I looked around and just wanted to beat all those players with more experience than me. The bracelet and the taste of victory is what I will never forget,” said Delgado.
Since his WCOOP victory, Delgado has taken down many online tournaments. He won the Sunday Second Chance for a third time and the Hot $ 162 twice. He has played more that 2.5 million hands and more than 40,000 online tournaments.
Beyond the online tournaments, Delgado also plays regularly in major live tournaments in Europe with impressive results.
AT the last European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona, he won a €5K Turbo side event beating Chance Kornuth heads-up to win €97,630. At EPT Malta 2015, he won another side event, this time a €1.5K Six Max winning €49,420 and in October 2014, on the Isle of Man, he finished second in the UKIPT High Roller, losing heads-up to none other than PokerStars founder, Isai Scheinberg.
However, if Delgado has a glaring omission from his live resume, it is the World Series of Poker. He has not set foot in Sin City yet, not because he has not had a chance, but because his relationship with aircraft is not exactly ideal.
“I have had tickets to fly to Las Vegas twice, but both times I ended up losing the flight. This year I was even qualified for the Main Event through 888poker and missed my flight and my seat in the tournament too,” said Delgado. “I’m not afraid of planes, just didn’t feel like going. I know, I’m a donkey. Honestly I’m not the kind of player that feels a special pleasure playing this kind of tournament. Live poker feels very slow to me. It is a good source of income as the level is much lower than online poker. But it’s too boring to consider it as a lifestyle for me. I compete to improve as a player, it is what really entertains me, not simply to make money.”
In addition to playing tournaments and long sessions of cash games online, Delgado has a staking group of about 20 players who he coaches personally, as well as being partner and teacher at DrawingDead.es, one of the largest Spanish poker schools.