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RankingHero Interview: Argentina's Number One, Nacho Barbero

Two-time LAPT champion @Jose Ignacio Barbero is one of Latin America's most popular and successful pros - both online and live. The former PokerStars Team Pro and now ambassador of Aconcagua Poker is Argentina's Number One by live poker earnings but was a national champion already in 2003, though in a different card game: Magic:The Gathering! 

In what ways have the competitive years in Magic:The Gathering been valuable to you to this day?

Well, this is pretty simple in my opinion. When I was playing mtg I was facing and training with the best, the competition was super tough, many said it was the toughest years, everyone was sharp and motivated, it’s kinda the same in poker when you are playing against the best all the time and you gotta be on top of your game to beat them. There is no free money anymore, you gotta be competitive with yourself as I was when I was playing Magic. I also got used to the traveling and the heads up competition - most of the situations in poker are heads up, in mtg you are only playing heads up so your skills get better.

Photo: http://archive.wizards.com/

Last year you didn’t play the WSOP Main Event because you were watching and supporting Argentina in the FIFA World Cup. Do you play football yourself? How do you keep in shape?

Yes I do, not too much these days but in every poker tournament in South America we get together to play some soccer. I also play in Argentina but rarely. I love crossfit, it is the only thing that doesn’t bore me and keeps me fit. It’s very demanding and sometimes it’s hard to be in shape with all the traveling because if you miss even one week, you lose almost all your training. I also play golf, tennis, and I snowboard.

What about ‘mental fitness’ - do you use any special techniques before and after tournaments?

I try to meditate a little and I do a lot of talking to myself before a tourney. I think about my goals. I sometimes also do yoga to keep my mental balance.

Can you offer any tips about coping with downswings and the inevitable disappointments in poker?

Well that is the toughest part, I am suffering a small downswing now and it sucks, but it has been only like 40 days downswing, overall I am up good this year. So, you know, I try to smile, and think that eventually I’ll get them; I try doing other things - I watch more movies, I train harder, I study more, and just try not to think much about how poker is going. Instead I think of the great life I have, I get to do what I love when I want and I am good at it!

During a big festival like the WSOP or an EPT, do you find time to analyze your own game before moving on to the next event? Would you share some of your ‘self-analysis’ about Event 32 - you were chip leader at possibly one of the toughest unofficial final tables we saw this summer and finished 7th after a quick succession of coolers?

I try to analyze with my friends all the time during the events, then come home and shut all my devices and think about what I’ve done, where I failed, and where I can get better.

That was a bummer, let me tell you that I was really on top of my game. I lost 2 flips and after qq vs kk also in the middle lost 2 big hands vs jason mercier. I do have some regrets, I made a bad call vs jason (@Jason Mercier) that cost me 4 bbs on the river, it was bad and maybe I shouldn’t have taken a flip with @Dario SammartinoI opened with 2 bbs he jammed 12; I had pocket 88s, it’s pretty standard the call but my stack was healthy and I could have just folded; he had AK and I lost the race; after that I got short and 3 hands later got QQ vs KK, so nothing I could do.

 

@Bruno Politano’s deep run in the 2014 Main Event set all Brazil on ‘poker’ fire. Did it have a similar effect all over Latin America?

Yeah, it did, everyone was going crazy. It was a very big thing for all of us and he is a super nice guy so everyone was so happy for him!

How is poker doing in Latin America and how do you assess its prospects? Are there any legislative/regulation issues that stand in the way of future growth? Is it gaining in popularity among women as well?

Well, South America goes a couple of years slower than other countries, so right now they are just talking, but nothing yet! The only more advanced place is  Mexico where they are trying to regulate it. About the women - even though we’d all love there to be more women in the game, they are not that many yet.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new sponsor Aconcagua Poker-ArgenLive?

Aconcagua is a new network that is growing really fast. They have an amazing system with focus entirely on recreational players. They try to restrict the pros so  you’ll play against a lot of recreational players all the time. I think it’s a great idea.

Does success in poker come with a responsibility in your opinion (even for non-sponsored pros)?

Yes, it does, I have been sponsored for so many years that I don’t even know how it is, I kinda always had the responsibilities of being someone that is inspirational so I have to behave.

RankingHero recently launched an innovative ranking that aims to measure popularity and contribution in addition to online&live poker results. Have you had time to explore it?

No I haven’t explored it but I will now. I really like it, people should use it more. 

Are you happy with your own HeroScore :)

I am very happy, to be honest!

Who are some of your own heroes in poker?

My heros... mmm, good question - Vanessa Selbst, Phil Ivey, Negreanu are up there; Fabrizio Gonzales is there too as online player.

As a football fan and former PokerStars Team Pro,what do you think about the signing of Neymar Jr and Cristiano Ronaldo with PokerStars?

It’s great to gather new players, it’s gonna bust the industry for sure. I’d prefer Messi though, rather than Ronaldo, I don’t like that dude!

You were one of several very popular Team Pros whose contracts with PokerStars were not renewed last year. Were you prepared for the split? Would you have continued your professional poker career without the Aconcagua Poker sponsorship?

Nobody is prepared for such a big cut, but I was not planning on playing much poker. Yes, I will play poker forever, I love the game, but I don’t know if I’d still be on the circuit.

You started a restaurant in Buenos Aires a few years ago. How has it been - combining poker and private business?  Do you have any other business projects?

It’s been tougher, I had to split time between them. I do have other projects but I focus mainly on my restaurant. We are killing it so I am really happy with it, you guys should visit it if you are in Argentina sometime - www.theargentineexperience.com

The Argentine Experiencewww.theargentineexperience.com
 

Do you like the November Nine format? Do you have a favorite to win the Main Event?

I love it, it’s soooo good for the game. It creates a great expectation. I think the chip leader is gonna win, Joe [@Joseph McKeehen], he has a lot of ships and he’s very good. Also my friends have pieces of him so gonna be rooting for him.

You’ve said in interviews that EPT Barcelona is one of your favorite stops on the live circuit. Will we see you there?

Claro I will be there! It’s definitely my favorite one!

 Thank you and best of luck!!!

[published by @Annie RKH August 19, 2015]

#RKHinterview 

Poker has been on my mind ever since i have left playing it. Currently i am working at essay champ online writing service which keeps my mind away from poker. Poker caused me to go bankrupt one time and i didn't even had anything to wear as well, you can see that in my DP as well, joking. Well, i loved the game but the consquences were to much for me.