Why Portugal is the New Powerhouse of Omaha Poker

November 19th, 2019

Portuguese poker player, Tomas Ribeiro, made a name for himself and his country back in October by winning the €2,200 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. He walked away with a total pot of €128,314 and his first-ever tour gold bracelet. Ribeiro beat Swedish player Omar Eljach to claim the prize following six hours of play. It was his second final-table finish of 2019.

Putting Portugal on the poker map

Ribeiro follows in the footsteps of fellows Portuguese professionals Jonathan Aguiar, Francisco Antonio da Costa Santos, Diogo Veiga, and top-ranked countryman and poker rising star Joao Vieira who have all been gold bracelet winners.

It was not the first tournament that Ribeiro has won – he has three previous victories to his name – but it was the first at a WSOP event and the first to offer a trophy as well as a significant prize fund.

After five years as a professional, the player from the Iberian Peninsula has become something of a Pot-Limit and all-round Omaha specialist, although he still takes part in other events such as No-Limit Hold’em. His victory follows a recent trend of Portuguese players making their mark on the world poker stage.

Portuguese pioneers

In 2012, Francisco Da Costa Santos became the first Portuguese player to don a gold bracelet in the 43-year history of the World Series when he won the Six-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha Title event at the WSOPE in Cannes, bagging €83,275 in the process. That sparked a wave of interest and a spike in performance from Portuguese players. Just a year before at the same event, fellow countryman Michel Dattani had finished as runner-up.

Later in the same year, Jonathan Aguiar landed $336,661 and his one and only gold bracelet for winning the €10,000 Mixed Max event on the WSOPE. He quit the full-time circuit just a year later aged just 29 having earned more than $1.6 m in lifetime earnings.

In 2018, Diogo Veiga came from nowhere to become the first Portuguese player to win gold in Las Vegas when he triumphed in the Big Blind Antes $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em event to scoop the $522,715 prize. Veiga currently stands third on the Portuguese all-time money list with earnings of $2,151,332.

Topping the money list in Portugal is Joao Vieira who fought off 814 entrants to land the $758,011 grand prize in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed, at the 2019 World Series of Poker. Vieira had to fend off four-time bracelet winner and former main event champion Joe Cada to land Portugal’s fourth bracelet overall. The Funchal-born player has earned $3,535,652 in his career so far.

Poker powerhouse

From having no bracelet winners in 43 years to having five in seven years including three in the last year-and-a-half, Portugal is emerging as a poker powerhouse. The country is blessed with some specialist players such as Omaha expert Tomas Ribeiro who, at 24 years of age, still has a big future ahead of him.

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