A person's 21st birthday usually brings a joyous, and often drunken, celebration. For Spanish poker phenom Adrian Mateos, it brought a business trip to Las Vegas to play in the Main Event of the 2015 World Series of Poker.
Incredibly, Mateos is already Spain's second all-time money winner in tournament poker, having banked more than $3.4 million in his young career. Despite his tender age, he's no stranger to WSOP success, having taken down the 2013 WSOP Europe Main Event for over $1.35 million at 19 years old.
Yes, that's right, 19 years old.
Just a few months ago on May 2, he raked in another monster score of over $1.21 million for winning European Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event in Monte Carlo.
On July 1, he turned 21, making him eligible to play WSOP events here in the United States. He flew in on July 5 and entered Day 1c of the Main Event, bagging 88,625 to end the night. His Day 2 has proven even more fruitful, with Mateos running his stack up to just about 300,000 by the last break of the night, making him a strong contender for the chip lead.
"It's amazing," Mateos said of his successful Main Event so far, speaking with PokerNews on the final break. "When I started playing poker, I was waiting to play the Main Event, dreaming of playing the final table. I really want to make a big run here."
Mateos is used to playing against some of the toughest competition the world has to offer on the EPT and other events in Europe, and his table in Pavilion appears to have been a welcome respite thus far.
"It's a good table," he said. "Not too many people are playing aggressive, so I'm winning a lot of pots."
PokerNews was around for one such pot, which helped vault Mateos to the top of the chip counts. The Spaniard had raised under the gun and found two callers, with the player on the button and the player in the big blind opting to come along. The three of them saw the flop, and action was checked to Mateos. He bet 4,000, and the player on the button raised to 14,000 with a little over 21,000 behind. After the player in the big blind folded, Mateos wasted little time in setting his opponent all in.
Mateos' opponent began to think about the decision before he eventually said, "Gotta play to win, right?" He then called with the for two pair, but Mateos was well ahead with the for trip nines.
The turn was the to keep Mateos in front, and then the river delivered him a full house when the completed the board.
More pots like that and Mateos may prove impossible to catch in his only chance at WSOP glory this summer.
"I wanted to play the One Drop, but I couldn't, so I just came for the Main Event," said Mateos, whose birthday fell after the June 28 start of the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop. "I like to play EPTs, but this is a special tournament."
Mateos knows that he only gets one shot this summer in Las Vegas, and so far, he's making it count.