Some players travel to Las Vegas late in their career, in order to sample the atmosphere of Poker’s first city after hearing stories of legend for years. For others, including this week’s Road to Vegas subject, Adrian Mateos, coming to Sin City was something they couldn’t wait to do.

With some of the best players in the world expected to come to Las Vegas to play this December’s Super High Roller Bowl and February’s forthcoming U.S. Poker Open, we caught up with the Spanish high roller, who has over $16 million to his name in live tournament winnings alone. It turned out that Mateos came to Vegas to play the WSOP Main Event as early as he could.

Barely Legal

“The first time when I turned 21, my birthday was the 1st July, I came to Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event Day 1E because it started on the 4th July. It was one of my best memories because I was chip leader of the Main Event on Day 2, which is incredible. Miguel Luzman announced me as the chip leader at that point of the tournament and the youngest player in the field as I had just turned 21 three days ago. I was the reigning WSOPE champion of, so it was pretty fun.”

If that was an amazing story, it would end too soon for the young Spaniard. Mateos would bust inside the money, but far from glory.

“I min-cashed. I didn’t go deep, but it’s an amazing memory because I was pretty young, playing my first Las Vegas Main Event and being chip leader, it was sick. If I ran deep it would have been an even nicer story. I felt like I needed to go deep next year, so I could complete the story.”

The International Man of Mystery

Las Vegas is home for many poker pros, but Mateos divides his time between three iconic cities, with a distinctive line between work and play separating them all.

“Las Vegas is probably the city where I spent the second largest amount of time this year. I live in London, and go to Madrid for holidays and Las Vegas for poker. I spent many days in Vegas in 2018 and I’ve had good times and downswings there, but it’s a special city. I’m really lucky that I have no big problems outside poker, downswings aren’t important, there are more important things in life.”

Mateos may have dedicated much of his young life to the game of poker, but he sees his future including a return to his roots in the city of his birth.

“I was born in Madrid and lived there until I moved to London. It’s the city where I want to live in the future. The weather in Las Vegas is too hot. Madrid in the winter is very cold and in summer is hot, but Vegas is the hottest city. I try to manage my life so that when I’m travelling, I usually play a lot of poker, especially tournaments. If I go somewhere for 10 days, I’ll probably only have one free night. I spend a lot of time at the poker tables when I’m there, but I like to go for dinner with friends too. I make myself play a lot of poker whenever I’m away so when I’m in Spain, I’m on holiday and can relax.”

The High Rollers are Calling

Mateos has made his name as one of the toughest high rollers to take on at the felt. There’s one thing he loves about playing these expensive tournaments in Sin City above anywhere else.

“Normally, I know all the players, but sometimes in Vegas, someone comes along who you’ve never seen before, a random guy playing a $25k or $10k. It’s a special city for this, because a lot of people come gamble or have a good time. It’s really good for poker players because of that. You’ll always find new players.”

When I discovered poker at 16 or 17, I watched the poker content on the internet and watched all the World Series, especially the Main Event. I really enjoyed following the updates and everything. Now, I appear in the updates! It’s pretty fun, it’s something I feel proud of.

There are some pretty nice High Rollers in the U.S. Poker Open series and I love the idea of the Aria. I only play No Limit Hold’em, I don’t play PLO or Short Deck, which reduces my chances of winning the leaderboard, but I’m looking just for No Limit tournaments. On the days when there aren’t No Limit tournaments, I can play cash games. I really enjoy this type of High Roller series, they’re fun. Back in the day, when you busted a High Roller, it was tough. Now, every day you have a new chance to win. It’s probably my age, but I feel like I can grind for many days and many hours more than most, it’s an advantage to me in this kind of series, with tournaments every day.”

The U.S. Poker Open kicks off on February 13th, with ten tournaments taking place across the festival. You don’t have to miss a thing if you subscribe to PokerGO, with this year’s action all available on-demand on PokerGO too. The Super High Roller Bowl V coverage starts on December 17th, with a $14.4 million prize-pool and top prize of $5,000,000. Just like Adrian Mateos when he turned 21 in Las Vegas, we can’t wait for the action to begin.

Adrian Mateos, Las Vegas