Mayu Roca is Colombia’s top-earning live poker player of all-time and he'll need all of that experience to come back from being one of the tournament short stacks in the final 24 of the 2015 PCA Main Event
He definitely knows how to do it in big events, though.
Roca’s live tournament winnings exceed $1.3 million with a large chunk of that --$579,6832 to be exact-- coming from a 4th-place finish at the 2014 EPT Monte Carlo Grand Final.
Excluding the PCA, Roca was the first Latin American player to make an EPT final table since Brazil’s Rodrigo Caprioli final tabled the Grand Final two seasons earlier.
“It was the biggest live tournament of my life,” Roca said.
“It felt really great and it felt good to be there with a lot of latin friends that kept cheering for me from the rail. Besides the WSOP, the [EPT Grand Final] is the other tournament players dream about.”
Not a Rocky Year for Roca
2014 was a good year for Roca.
Before his EPT Grand Final finish, Roca finished 3rd in a $5,000 NLHE event at the PCA for $117,830.
Then, in December, Roca won the R$20,000 super high roller at the Brazilian Series of Poker Millions for $121,481.
Those were the three largest cashes of Roca’s career.
Now the Colombian pro is starting another year off with another deep run in a PCA event. This time it’s the main event.
Roca is one of the final 24 players returning to play Day 5 today.
The remaining players are guaranteed $42,180 but are just one elimination from a pay jump to $50,100.
Roca was the third-shortest stack to end the day but knows that rebounding is part of the game.
Learning the Game
“I started playing poker, like a lot players, after the Moneymaker boom,” Roca said.
“I started watching televised games and then I started playing online and in small poker rooms across Bogota.
“The live tournaments were all really small buy-ins and then I started building my online bankroll. Then I lost it.
“After that I took a break and then started back up. I started climbing step by step until I got to the more expensive online tournaments.”
Roca, who plays online under the nickname marocca5, then graduated college and graduated to large buy-in live tournaments.
That was in 2010. In 2011, Roca scored his first major live cash when he placed 2nd in the €2,500 WPT Bratislava main event for $105,790.
Despite travelling across the European poker scene, Roca still lives in Bogota. He doesn’t play there though.
Colombian Poker, Not as Pure
“I don’t play in Colombia anymore,” Roca said. ”The game hasn’t grown that much there and it’s just been stagnant for a while.”
The problem, Roca said, is that there’s little support from casinos, no well-structured tournaments and very little advertisement.
That’s how Roca found himself part of a larger community of Latin players whose home countries face similar problems.
“I discuss hands and strategy with a lot of Latin American friends,” Roca said. “There are some Colombians, but they’re mostly from the rest of Latin America. It’s a big community now.”
As for changing the Colombian scene, Roca says he’s interested in impacting it in a positive manner as much as he can, but he has other priorities.
“At this point in my life, I’m involved in other personal projects,” Roca said.
“So I’m also not feeling like I have all the time to craft an image or commit myself to poker, I’m trying to balance my life out at the same time.
“I just want to play well and have results.”