Just a few months ago, Argentina’s Iván Raich saw live poker solely as a reason to travel. He’s an online tournament pro by trade – playing on PokerStars as “cristofanell” – and picked his poker destinations carefully, only occasionally leaving his computer behind.
But since the introduction of the Power Path – PokerStars’ exciting new way for players to win their way to live events – his outlook has changed a little.
He still sees live poker as an excuse for a holiday, albeit a serious one. “I don’t go out to the disco or to the bar, no no no,” he says. “When I play, I focus.”
But now it’s a holiday he hopes to extend indefinitely.
The reason is that Raich won himself a seat into the Estrellas Poker Tour (ESPT) Main Event, then turned $11 into $109 and ultimately $10,300, winning himself a Gold Pass on his very first Power Path attempt.
“Only one try!” he tells me. “Amazing.”
He’s now spent almost two weeks in Barcelona for the European Poker Tour (EPT) thanks to online qualifiers.
“This is my favourite stop, always. I prefer Barcelona to Las Vegas. Most people I know prefer Vegas but I like the beach, the food, and it’s the same language for me.”
And if he can qualify once, he’s sure he can do it again. And again. And again.
“I love to qualify with a package,” he says. “You get a nice hotel and money to spend.”
FOLLOW THE POWER PATH
Iván Raich started playing poker while studying marketing at university in 2005, during the height of the Moneymaker Boom. When he graduated, he started his own business and for five years juggled his work life with poker.
“In 2009 I decided only to play poker,” he says. Since then, he’s amassed just shy of $300,000 in live tournament earnings, more than half of which came from a runner-up finish on the Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT) in 2013, good for $172,568.
He’s won hundreds of thousands more online, where he plays the majority of his poker volume. Earlier this year he even made the final table of the prestigious Sunday Million, finishing in sixth place for almost $15,000.
“It was very nice,” he says. “I usually only play turbo tournaments online, that’s my speciality and preference. Only on Sundays do I play the long tournaments.”
But online poker is on hold for now.
After leaving Barcelona Raich plans to qualify online for ESPT Malaga, followed by some poker in Madrid. Then he hopes to book his trip to EPT Cyprus through Power Path.
“The travel is most important to me,” he says. “I never thought I would end up traveling the world thanks to poker.”
Poker… and the Power Path.
MORE FROM EPT BARCELONA
EPT BARCELONA COVERAGE HUB
Everything you need in one place.
POKER NEWS LIVE UPDATES
Our live reporting partner will offer hand-by-hand updates from a number of tournaments across the series. We’ll link to their updates when the series begins.
EPT BARCELONA OFFICIAL SITE
The PokerStars Live official page, with everything you need to know about the tournament series in Barcelona.
POKERSTARS BLOG ON TWITTER
Follow us on Twitter.