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A Conversation with Humberto Brenes
Humberto Brenes is known as the "Godfather of Costa Rican Players" and can be easily recognized at tournaments thanks to his wild and wacky attire and his cheerful and ever-friendly personality. Behind that charismatic façade, however, lies a highly-skilled poker mind with more than $4.5 million in total tournament earnings and two World Series of Poker bracelets. I sat down with Humberto shortly after he was eliminated from the World Poker Tour's North American Poker Championship to get his impressions of the brand-new event.
How did you play today?
I played - what time is it now? - about five or six hours. I never made any chips and was always on the way down. In the last thirty minutes, I brought my stack back up to $20,000, but then I lost it on the last hand. I had two queens and the other guy had two kings. It's very difficult here to throw away two queens - there are too many crazy people. I've seen guys with ace-king moving in, ace-jack moving in, two sixes moving in, two nines. I raised with two queens and my opponent moved all-in. I called, and boom, he hit a king on the river.
So the play's been pretty wild here.
It's about the same as most tournaments. Every table has three or four good players, two bad players, two people who aren't bad players but haven't played any tournaments before, so they're not very good, and two crazy players. But it's the same in all poker tournaments. When you play on the World Poker Tour, there are pros and normal players and there's all kinds. You play with them all.
What were your impressions of this tournament?
Yeah, it's very good. The people are very nice, the food is good and it's beautiful here. I think the organizers have the chance to make a very good tournament here. I promise I'll come back next year.
So this is a tournament that you'd like to see continue in the upcoming seasons of the WPT?
Yeah. I think it's very good for the World Poker Tour and for the Fallsview Casino. Most of the stops on the WPT are very hot, and it's different. There are too many tournaments in Vegas; I mean, it's always the same place. So it's good to have a change.
How is your season on the WPT going? Have you played many tournaments other than the North American Poker Championship?
This year I've played two tournaments on the WPT so far. It's possible that I'll play two or three more - in Tunica, in Los Angeles, and at Bellagio for the WPT Championship.
You recently signed with PokerStars.com to be one of their representatives. How has that affected your poker playing career?
It's good. I signed with PokerStars in June of this year and I've had a good time. They are good people at PokerStars, nice people.
I read a previous interview where you said you didn't play much online. Has that changed since you signed on with PokerStars?
I play online more. I like to play tournaments, and PokerStars is the best site for tournaments online. One month ago I made a very good finish in a tournament online. It's good for me. And I use it to teach my sons how to play; they watch me and they'll ask "Hey Papi, what are you doing?" So I like playing on the Internet and I like playing at PokerStars.
Your sons are also budding poker stars?
I have two sons and one daughter. My eldest son is seventeen, the other is fifteen, and the girl is thirteen, and they all like poker. On Sundays in my country it's a big party; everyone goes to eat and when we come back, the whole family plays a tournament.
Yeah, it's good. We have a big screen like the one in the poker room here where we can keep track of the blinds and stuff. It's good.
So would you like to see your children follow in your footsteps and become professional poker players like their dad?
Yeah, it's a very nice life. The people in poker are very good.
Do you find that it's easy to stay active in the business of poker while being based out of Costa Rica?
I have too many friends from Canada and Costa Rica. There are many poker companies with offices in Canada and Costa Rica.
It's easy to manage my poker life thanks to PokerStars. I'd love to fly to Toronto more often - it's easier to come here than to go to Vegas. To get to Vegas from Costa Rica I need two planes, but to get to Toronto there's only one.
So you like playing in Canada then.
I really like to play here.
Great - well hopefully we'll see you back here next year for WPT Season 6.
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Humberto didn't last very long in the NAPC, but from the sounds of it, he enjoyed the event and will be back next year. Humberto is a crowd-pleaser and a fan favorite wherever he goes, and with his approachable and easy-going demeanor makes a great ambassador for the game of poker. If the World Poker Tour elects to continue its relationship with the North American Poker Championship next year, you can bet Humberto will be there, and you can bet the tournament will be the better for it.