The word “phenom” is thrown around loosely in poker.
In the case of Adrian Mateos, it’s an appropriate adjective.
Mateos became the youngest three-time bracelet winner in World Series of Poker history over the weekend, and the 22-year-old Spaniard has exceeded the hype that accompanied his arrival on the live tournament scene more than four years ago.
“For sure, this is very important for me, like a goal,” Mateos said. “Not only to win three bracelets — that’s amazing for sure — but I started playing poker and dreamed of being in the World Series and playing the big tournaments. I’m here, and at the moment I am crushing it, so I’m really happy.”
Mateos started playing poker at age 16 after seeing it on television at his home in San Martin de la Vega, Spain.
In October 2013, he won the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event as a 19 year old for his first bracelet and €1,000,000.
Mateos made his much-anticipated debut at the WSOP in Las Vegas in 2015 — he turned 21 on July 1 of that year — and last year he banked the $1,500 buy-in “Summer Solstice” No-limit Hold ’em tournament for more than $409,000.
Last week, Mateos won the prestigious $10,000 buy-in Heads-up No-limit Hold ’em event, defeating seven opponents (including Daniel Negreanu in his opening match) along the way. He beat John Smith, 70, to earn his historic third bracelet and $335,656.
“At the moment, I love the game, so I want to keep winning and try to crush the high rollers,” Mateos said. “I think that’s the biggest goal I have at the moment.”
Mateos, who now lives in London, already has more than $9.1 million in career live tournament earnings and is ranked No. 7 in the world, according to the Global Poker Index’s tournament player rankings.
Phil Hellmuth holds the all-time mark with 14 career bracelets, but Mateos, who exclusively plays No-limit Hold ’em, said it’s unlikely he will ever make a run at the record.
“I think I can’t compete with him because he play(s) all the events and all the poker varieties,” Mateos said. “At the moment, I only want to focus on my no-limit game and try to improve as much as I can. But you never know. Maybe in two years or next year, I will play in all the events.”
Crunching the numbers
Through the first two weeks of the WSOP, an interesting trend has developed involving the size of the tournament fields.
The “Colossus” No-limit Hold’em event drew 18,054 entrants on the first weekend, down from 21,613 in 2016.
But the $1,500 buy-in “Millionaire Maker” tournament featured 7,761 entrants, a jump from the 7,190 that entered last year. And the $565 buy-in Pot-limit Omaha event garnered 3,186 entries, making it the largest live PLO tournament in history.
“I think we’re going to end up right in the ballpark of where we’ve been record-wise the past few years,” said Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications for the WSOP. “At least the numbers for the first 15 or so events indicate to us it’s tracking very similarly.”
Contact David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.
— What: 48th annual World Series of Poker
— When: Tuesday through July 22
— Where: Rio Convention Center
— Online: pokercentral.com
— Admission: Free (21 and older)