Humberto Brenes: From Fish To Shark

Humberto brenes

Those who are more interested in biology and couldn’t care less about poker might be tempted to say that the only difference between a regular fish and a shark is that the latter is always carnivorous and sometimes significantly larger. At the poker tables, the distinction is much more important and those who fail to spot the fish at the table while identifying the shark are in serious danger.

Humberto Brenes is one of the poker professionals who fall into the second category, being both feared and admired by their peers. As on the sharks populating live and online poker tables, Brenes frequently feeds upon the lack of knowledge and excessive confidence in their abilities to play, of less experienced opponents. Back in the day though, he was equally inexperienced and overconfident, as he decided shares in a PokerStarsBlog post.

The metamorphosis began 27 years ago when he and two more friends came to Vegas, hoping to turn their lives around by winning a fortune. What initially began as a fun pastime with a tremendous potential to evolve into a lucrative business, turned into a meaningful yet equally expensive experience. Brenes tells us how both he and his friends lost money at the poker tables for consecutive nights, against players whom they dismissed to be inexperienced tourists.

Obviously, the vast majority of those who came to Vegas those days were experienced poker players who tried to make a deep run at the World Series of Poker. Stunned and frustrated by the successive losses suffered at the poker table, Humberto asked his peers for directions and some of them suggested Doyle Brunson’s bestseller Super/System.

This is how it all began as Humberto started comprehensive research and one year later when he returned to Las Vegas, he achieved a remarkable result at the World Series of Poker. Brenes finished in the 14th place and won $12,500, an insignificant amount by today’s standards but a decent payout for 1987. With his confidence boosted by this performance and with hundreds of thousands of hands played, Humberto bought in for the main event again in 1988.

This time he finished in fourth place and took home $77,000, while setting a new milestone in his brief career. Even though he never finished higher than the fourth place, Humberto kept improving and nowadays he is widely regarded as a poker shark.

His story should serve as both a cautionary tale for enthusiastic players who hope to win overnight, and a motivational one for those who encounter adversity in the early stages of their careers.

The great pic came from his original blog post, that everyone should read.

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