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2014 Spirit of Poker Awards Rising Star Nominee: Adrián Mateos
It's hard to burst onto the live poker scene in a bigger way than Spain's Adrián Mateos did last year.
Winning a €1k Estrellas Poker Tour event in Madrid in January for €103,053 would have been an impressive enough debut for any teenager.
But that wasn't enough for Mateos, who went on to bag the biggest title in Europe - the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event - in the Fall for €1,000,000.
Not ony did he win it against some of the toughest competition in the world - Fabrice Soulier, Dominik Nitsche, Ravi Raghavan, Benny Spindler and fellow Spirit of Poker nominee Shannon Shorr were all all that final table - but he did so in impressive fashion, looking calm, confident and aggressive the whole way through.
What could possibly be more inspiring than that kind of win at just 19 years old? The way Mateos handled it and kept on grinding, spreading the game and its joys to more and more people everywhere he went.
PokerListings Spain's Esther Amores caught up with Mateos to find out more about his whirlwind debut season, his optimistic outlook on life and poker and more.
PokerListings: What did you think when you found out you were one of the nominees for the PokerListings Rising Star Award?
Adrián Mateos: The first thing was to share the nomination with my parents and we were reading the article.
PL: What do you think about the awards, which not only focus on big scores but on inspiring people to play poker?
AM: Those awards give you recognition, they are very good because is something completely different from the first goal that you have in a tournament: make the most money as possible.
PL: Who do you thinks is the strongest nominee in your category?
AM: I think the strongest is Dominik Panka. He has some amazing performances this year and also he is a very friendly player. I have a good relationship with him.
PL: In your short poker career, you've achieved one of the biggest prizes with the WSOPE Main Event bracelet. Were you confident at the beginning of the tournament that you were going to win or did you have some doubts?
AM: I'm a very optimistic person. Obviously, one of my best thoughts was to win the tournament but I knew that it was something very difficult.
When I was able to cash and I was chip leader I started to think that I could win the bracelet and I could not miss this opportunity.
PL: Could your next goal be to become the first Spanish player with an EPT title?
AM: Yes, this is my goal number one although I know it doesn’t depend only on me but I will be more than happy to carry out a “deep run” in an EPT.
I am planning to play all the stops of the EPT in this new season and I am sure that I will have my chance in one of them.
PL: Although you couldn't play the WSOP this year we imagine that you will go to Vegas next year. Are you anxious to play?
AM: Yes, I will celebrate my 21st birthday (July 1) there to play. I really look forward to playing the Main Event because it is annoyance not to be able to play.
I have the talent level and enough bankroll to make something good there but laws are the laws.
PL: At the WSOPE 888poker was your sponsor. Do you have a sponsor now, because it would make sense that more than one room would like to support you?
AM: Actually, I don’t have a sponsor right now. The second question is not for me but for rooms that are interested ;)
PL: Are you the kind of player that invests his winnings on outside projects or keeps them for playing poker?
AM: If I find good business opportunities I don’t think too much and I invest my money, but to play the levels I'm playing I need a lot of this money to play without problems.
Like everything in life, the balance needs to be correct.
PL: With your age we don’t think you could get bored of poker in the short term. Do you see yourself playing at a high level for 10, 20, 30 years? Do you have other plans in case poker changes for you?
AM: I see myself playing poker in the short term, at least a few years more, but in the future I don't know. Business always calls my attention. I may focus on the business world if I get bored of playing poker.
PL: While most young people in Spain are studying or trying to work, you've already built a successful career. What are your friends and family telling you?
AM: I've played poker for more than a year but they still remain amazed. It is a world where money is a tool and moves very quickly, and this surprises some people very much.
They are very surprised but they are happy. I was lucky and I found the good side of poker and it is much easier to understand it.
PL: Our PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards try to find players that inspire new people to play. Do you think you are a good example for future generations?
AM: Yes, I can represent the positives values of poker. I have gotten to be where I am with my work and study and much remains to be done.
PL: In your case, who has inspired you to play poker?
AM: I never have another player as a reference; I don’t like to focus exclusively on someone.
I try to copy and learn from the best players. At the beginning I read everything from all the pros that write in Spanish and, little by little, I built my own style.
The 2014 PokerListings Spirit of Poker Awards will be handed out during a live ceremony at the €500,000 Guaranteed Battle of Malta Nov. 6-9. Vote for Mateos and your favorite nominees right here before August 26!