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HUMBERTO BRENES



Humberto Brenes
2006 Jason Kirk  


Humberto Brunes - Source LasVegasVegas.com

Entertaining at the tables, popular among both players and fans, Humberto Brenes is one of a kind. The native Costa Rican has been playing poker for 35 years, and now ranks 21st among all-time tournament money winners. He has numerous final tables on the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker to his credit, and one of the longest track records of tournament success among any active player.

Brenes was born in 1951 in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. At the age of 7 he learned the game of poker from his father, who played socially. (It's worth noting that a talent for playing poker doesn't end with Brenes - his brothers Erick and Alex are also professionals.) After earning an engineering degree in his home country, Brenes began a career as a gambler. He mostly played baccarat and craps tournaments, eventually making his way to poker in 1974 at the urging of a friend. In 1987 he made his first World Series of Poker main event cash, and the following year he began playing tournaments regularly. He hasn't looked back since then.

In 1988, his second year in the main event, Brenes finished 4th at a tough final table - just two spots behind runner-up Erik Seidel and three behind the reigning champion, Johnny Chan. While Brenes hasn't made his way back to the final table of the main event since then, he has definitely made his own mark on the WSOP in the intervening years. From 1987 to 1996, Brenes cashed at least once at the WSOP every single year. During that period he made final tables in seven-card stud, Omaha, and hold'em tournaments, demonstrating his skill in a variety of games. Two of those final tables came in 1993, when he took home the only two bracelets of his career - one for the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event and another for the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em event. Two others were runner-up finishes.

The year 2002 marked the start of unprecedented success for Brenes. In January he took home the title at the main event of the Jack Binion World Poker Open, earning over $500,000. That spring he made three final tables at the WSOP, two in pot-limit Omaha and one in limit hold'em. At the Hall of Fame tournament that summer he made 5 final tables in tournaments with buy-ins of at least $1,000, including one win and two 2nd-place finishes. Through the end of the year and the beginning of 2003 Brenes continued to run well, cashing twice at the Five Diamond Poker Classic and 5 times at the WPO. He missed the money in the main event at the WPO, shutting him out of a television appearance with the new World Poker Tour, and then bubbled out of the TV table with a 7th place finish in the main event of the LA Poker Classic.

Brenes finally got his shot at the WPT in 2004. After another successful run at the WPO he played in the WPT Invitational at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. He made the final table along with an impressive lineup of fellow tournament players, including Antonio Esfandiari, Harry Demetriou, Jose Cassidy, John Juanda, and Phil Laak. Brenes managed to outlast all of them except Laak, who defeated Brenes in a memorable match-up. After his first TV appearance, the Costa Rican went quiet. With no cashes at the WSOP or any other tournaments after the WPT Invitational, the rest of 2004 seemed as if it would go by without another Humberto Brenes final table sighting.

Then Brenes played in the WPT main event of the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods in November. He placed 3rd, outlasting fellow professionals David Pham and Bradley Berman and taking home the single largest prize of his tournament career - $636,930. Just one month later, after he made two final tables in preliminary events at the Bellagio's Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Brenes turned in another outstanding performance - he placed 2nd in the main event. At a whopping $923,475, this prize easily eclipsed his November win at Foxwoods - and it capped off an incredible run with style.

Brenes has continued to stay active on the tournament trail since his string of WPT appearances, cashing 5 times at the 2005 WSOP as well as at various preliminary events on the WPT schedule. When he's not playing poker he can be found at home in Costa Rica, where he lives with his wife and 3 children and owns an Univision station, a construction company, and several restaurants.
 


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