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Fernando Pons: "It’s an Honor to Be Compared to Moneymaker"
Last month Fernando Pons became just the second Spaniard - after Andoni Larrabe - to reach the World Series of Poker Main Event November Nine.
He doesn’t intend to stop there.
Despite coming into the final table with just over 12 big blinds Pons has eyes directly set on becoming poker's next World Champion.
With his inspiring route from $30 satellite to $1m WSOP payout, many have already dubbed Pons a "new Chris Moneymaker" for 888poker.
But he knows better than anyone that to really earn that nickname he'll have to take his journey right to the conclusion and win the Main Event come November.
"A Dream Come True"
"I’ve done what all poker players dream of," Pons told PokerListings Spain earlier this month. "It’s literally a dream come true."
In his Twitter bio Pons describes himself as "a worker, father, husband and poker fan in my spare time." A worker who had to explain to his boss what happened at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino of Las Vegas.
"To be honest," Pons says, "I didn’t tell him what I was doing. I just told him I was in the US, not that I was playing poker. I told him when I got back to Mallorca, but he obviously already knew."
In the three-month break before the Main Event resumes Pons is now taking a sabbatical to enjoy the aftermath of his performance.
"I’ve asked for time off to be able to enjoy this year and spend more time playing poker, even though it’s still just a hobby."
So far his plan has already paid off as he recently won a €50 SuperJueves Bigstack Turbo on PokerStars.es for €2,947 -- not that he needs the money.
Fishing for Chips Early
Pons’ task in the 2016 WSOP November Nine will be far from an easy one. He'll have to use all of his talent to fish for chips early and hope to survive, even though he prefers not to discuss tactics.
"I’m not going to talk publicly about what I have planned to do, because I do hope it will help me double up several times," he says.
Pons is acutely aware of what he needs to consider for his Main Event final table.
"In my case, it’s very simple: I have to choose my hands well and have a bit of luck. If I can score a few pots, I’ll go back to my game."
"Logically, it should be Cliff Josephy. He has the experience and he’s ahead. But it’s a final table and anything can happen."
In any case Pons will have a few months to prepare for the succession of his two Spanish predecessors at the final table of the WSOP Main Event: Carlos Mortensen, champion in 2001, and Andoni Larrabe, sixth in 2014.
"I haven’t contacted them as I don’t know them personally. I doubt it will happen before the final unless I run into them."
Until then Pons will take part in the 888Live Local at the Bilbao Casino and more.
"I will also go to Barcelona for the ESPT and the EPT. And then I think I’ll play some events on the national tours.".
The "Pons Effect"
In 2003 Chris Moneymaker launched the golden age of poker. He started from the very bottom climbed to the top of global poker.
History might repeat itself for 888poker and Fernando Pons.
"I started poker almost like anyone else, at home with some friends, before getting into online poker because they had some satellites for the Mallorca casino.
"It’s really an honor to be compared to Moneymaker, but the comparison only works if I win the ME. I hope I can do it and have the same effect as Moneymaker on Spanish poker."
It won't be simple, however, as Spanish superstar Adrián Mateos has explained before. The problem with Spanish poker is mainly that it’s "a two-tier system." Mateos himself doesn’t live in Spain anymore, but Pons resides in Palma de Mallorca. He knows the topic well.
"Today, it’s almost impossible to make a living playing online poker in Spain. I think you can count the players who do so on the fingers of one hand, and that’s all because of Spanish law.
"It’s totally unfair to have to give half of what you make to the State. The only thing this law achieves is to scare away all the professional players." And yet, Pons would still encourage anyone who wants to play poker.
"It depends on each situation, but if you want to play poker full time leaving Spain is the best solution."
Pons, who is already guaranteed $1m, will hope to win his first major title in Las Vegas this November. Whatever the outcome, he told us he was already enjoying some of his prize money.
"I haven’t thought about how I’ll spend it, but I’m a cautious man and I have time to figure it out. But I’ve already indulged a bit. (laughs)"