Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Nacho Barbero

Poker player Nacho Barbero chats to a player at the poker table
Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: February 11, 2024 14:51 PST

Jose Ignacio Barbero - 'Nacho' to his friends and the wider poker world - currently sits atop the all-time money list for his native Argentina. His $17m+ in tournament winnings is more than double the total of Ivan Luca in the #2 spot, so he's likely to stay there for a while. He's also Top 60 all-time, worldwide; testament to a career spent traveling the world, winning as he goes.

Barbero has booked major wins everywhere from Argentina to the Aria, and Paris to Panama. After almost 20 years traveling the circuit, 2023 saw him rack up the three biggest scores of his life with final table runs first at the $25k PSPC (4th, $1,551,300), then the $212k Triton Poker Super High Roller in London (2nd, $3,445,807), followed by the $106k Triton in Monte Carlo (2nd, $2,190,000).

When not on the road, Barbero is based in Buenos Aires, and has been an ambassador for ACR since April 2023.

What’s one bit of essential prep you do before a big tournament or cash game session?

"I like to wake up and drink a black coffee, no sugar. My goal is to be fasting till 6-7pm. After that, I go to the gym, come back and take a cold shower. That is my only preparation, to be honest!"

What piece of strategy advice did you get when you started playing that you wish you’d ignored?

"Try not to get tilted… Haha!"

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen/done at the poker table?

"I've seen many dumb things, to be honest. I was playing in a private game in a high-rise in Vegas. A guy took a bad beat, grabbed all his chips off the table and tried to throw them out of the window. Luckily we stopped him, but all the chips were all over the place and nobody knew how much we had in front of us. It was very funny!"

Argentine poker player Nacho Barbero smiles at the table Nacho Barbero

What’s your most memorable hand?

"My most memorable hand is the 8-4 offsuit on the bubble of the final table, at LAPT Lima in 2010.

Mark Scheinberg, the owner of my then-sponsor PokerStars, was watching at the time. I was chip-leader and I opened 8-4 offsuit on the final table bubble, this other guy had 35 big blinds and he 3-bet from the small blind. I ripped, as I thought he could not call because of ICM: everyone had around 10-15 bbs and I did not think he was going to call unless he had A-A, K-K, Q-Q or A-K. But… he ended up calling with A-Q offsuit.

Unfortunately the flop came nothing, the turn came nothing, but then there was an 8 on the river! I went on as the massive chip-leader to win my 2nd LAPT back-to-back (I had won the previous stop in Punta del Este, Uruguay). Mark's face was hilarious… it was, like, 'This is our pro, shoving 8-4 off!?!'”

What’s your single best piece of advice for poker players?

"My best advice is: 'ICM is for poor people'. I like the glory, I want to be in the spotlight. I play to win and not for the money jump. All the money is in the top 3 of these tournaments.

Also, not being stupid with your bankroll management is very important."

If you owned a poker room, who's the first player you'd want to sign as an ambassador and why?

"One would be Daniel Negreanu, and the other is Phil Hellmuth. They are both great ambassadors, so I'd get whoever is cheaper!"

Feature image courtesy of the WPT