No one has waited longer for the second edition of the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) to roll around than Florencio Campomanes.
The 35-year-old from the Philippines became one of, if not the first player to win a Platinum Pass for the event, now taking place in the Bahamas in January 2023.
A pretty sick week
It was way back in January 2020 that he won his pass, and a whole lot more. “It was a pretty sick week,” he tells me, having just arrived at the European Poker Tour (EPT) London stop at the city’s swanky Hilton Park Lane hotel. But frankly, “pretty sick” is an understatement.
Coming up on three years ago, Campomanes enjoyed a week-long sun run at the Red Dragon Manila, the kind that most players can only dream of.
First, he finished second in the ₱500,000 Super High Roller for ₱3.6 million ($70,400). Then he entered the ₱100,000 Red Dragon Main Event and his table was randomly selected to take part in a Crazy Pineapple Flipout for a Platinum Pass. He won that too.
And when you’re running good, you’re running good. Campomanes went on to win the Main Event, defeating a field of 669 entries to win an additional ₱13.8 million ($270,400).
“I’ve mostly been playing high rollers in Asia ever since,” he says.
The wait for the PSPC
He’s also been waiting for the PSPC ever since, too. “I honestly just hoped it wouldn’t get cancelled,” he says. “I always hoped it would just get postponed rather than cancelled.
“I was getting teased by friends that PokerStars would just give me the money equivalent of the Platinum Pass, but I didn’t want that. Money comes and goes but playing in a tournament like the PSPC? It’s a cool experience. Not just playing a $25K, per se, because there are lots of them now, but that particular Championship as a whole. It’s pretty cool.
“It’s a very good tournament to freeroll my way into.”
Campomanes remembers keeping a close eye on the first PSPC, mainly due to his countryman Mark Rivera, who made the final table and ultimately finished third for $2.16 million.
“He’s one of the guys from the Philippines who has played poker for the longest. Everyone knows him,” he says. “He’s not primarily a tournament player, but he’s probably the best cash game player in our country. So when he made the final table, the Philippines was glued to the PSPC. We all watched it.”
Soon he’ll get a chance to potentially follow in Rivera’s footsteps.
“I’m stoked. It will be my biggest buy-in live. I’ve played a $25K online before, but live is different. I’m very excited about it.”
“It’s very sentimental for me”
When he took his first steps into the poker room here at EPT London, Campomanes took a moment to soak it all in. That’s because it’s his very first EPT festival, despite the fact he’s been playing high rollers tournaments for years, and despite the fact he has a special connection to the EPT.
“It’s surreal,” he says. “It’s even better in real life than it is on the TV.”
Campomanes began playing poker when he was just 18. He made the switch from cash games to tournaments around eight years ago and plays everything from $1Ks to $10Ks across Asia. He plays online too (“Only the good stuff like WCOOPs”) but live is his bread and butter.
And for more than a decade, he’s been a huge fan of the EPTs. He remembers when the likes of Phillip Gruissem and Fabian Quoss were at every final table. He remembers when Fedor Holz burst onto the scene.
Yet he’s never visited an EPT until now. We wondered why.
“I never wanted to come to an EPT just for the experience. I wanted to feel ready.”
“I never felt ready,” he says. “I watch a lot of EPT tapes and I knew the adjustments I would need to make before playing here. The fields, although similar in some ways, are very different to the gameplay in Asia.
“Players here are more technical, whereas there are more recreationals in Asia,” he continues. “Even in the high rollers, it’s different. I thought I would be at a disadvantage playing against the regulars here, as I don’t have a lot of hand history with them.
“But obviously, with the PSPC coming soon, I figured I have to put my toes into the water. I never wanted to come to an EPT just for the experience. I wanted to feel ready.”
He feels ready right now.
So here we are, chatting just outside the main tournament room at EPT London. Inside, the £10,300 buy-in EPT High Roller is underway. And Campomanes is about to take his seat.
He hasn’t been able to play anything yet. Visa complications meant he has just arrived. But there were enough high rollers left on the schedule to entice him to make the trip.
“It’s very sentimental for me,” he says. “The attachment I have to PokerStars events isn’t just for the PSPC, it’s a long-distance relationship I’ve had with the EPTs for years.”Back to Top