Interview: Jose ‘Girah’ Macedo

Interview: Jose ‘Girah’ Macedo

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The man, the myth, the legend – the “Portuguese Poker Prodigy” is real, and his name is José Macedo! Adam 'Snoopy' Goulding catches up with one of poker's rising stars.

Why did you unveil yourself?

There was a thread on Two Plus Two about me and when I saw it I was worried about being discovered because I was only 17. There were lots of rumours and exaggerations in the thread that weren’t true (saying that I’d won four million on Euro sites, for example), so when I turned 18 I wanted to be able to clear all of that up.

You’re now with LockPoker. How important is sponsorship to you?

I never looked at the sponsorship money as the endgame, but it has some long-term expected value and it could bring me other opportunities in the future. It wasn't by any means a financial decision. From the beginning, LockPoker always told me that their ambition was to be the best. They weren't just going to be another small site. I found all these huge ideas and ambitions attractive.

You contacted a number of pros when you were learning the game. How receptive were they?

The response was positive overall and I probably ran good in terms of when they received the message – maybe they were on an upswing or something. Most people were happy to help, adding me on Skype and chatting to me. I added Tom Dawn, Patrik Antonius, Daniel Negreanu and a bunch of people who never talked to me, obviously, but most of the high stakes players were really receptive. I also promised to pay them for coaching, so I don't know how much of a factor that was.

Do you consider yourself a natural talent?

I wasn't talented at all. I've never met anyone who I thought had a natural gift for poker. At the beginning, when I played poker on Facebook, I was probably one of the worst among my friends and I didn't even think it was a skill game. When I heard Tom Dwan's story, I started working hard. Even then I was pretty slow at learning concepts compared to most people, so I don't think I'm particularly talented.

Do you think you have an addictive personality?

I definitely got obsessed with poker. Last year I was playing loads, from when I got home from school until midnight. I've always been wise about poker in terms of tilt and how much I study and the decisions I make, but I still have an addictive personality; I've just channeled it in a way that is positive. If I was really pissed off that a guy beat me, rather than playing him when I was at my 'C' or 'D' game and being a huge ’dog, I would review all his hands for six hours instead and then play him again later.

What is it do you think that enables you to jump up to the next level?

Being really analytical about everything and finding as many reasons as possible for a decision. A lot of the decisions in poker are two or three big blinds apart in terms of value, and if you're only using the information from the hand that was just played, you can pretty much just flip a coin as to which decision to make. What makes it less of a coin flip is the extra information you can get from doing work away from the table as to how people play overall.

You showed interest in playing the Durrrr Challenge. How would you rate your chances?

I think there are a lot of things that make me more plus EV against durrrr than I normally would be: he's playing, like, five million pots in Macau which makes this challenge look like pocket change; he's playing a lot of PLO; he isn't online much; he plays on aeroplanes and so isn’t as focused; I know quite a bit about his game and he knows nothing about mine; he's playing worse than he has done over the past few years; he doesn't play many heads-up matches online – there are a lot of things that increase my chances.

You’ve been learning PLO. How is that going?

I ran over 50 buy-ins above EV and managed to go from $1/$2 to $100/$200, but since then I’ve lost a bit and have been playing $25/50 and $10/20. I think I'm negative EV in most of the games I play in, but it’s a good learning experience. I do believe it’s a more interesting game for recreational players because there is a lot more gamble involved and more ways for you to win. It’s also a more complex game, despite the variance, and so a really good player is going to have a bigger edge in PLO because the skill gap is wider.

How do you foresee your future? Will you always poker?

I don't think poker defines me; it's just what I enjoy doing right now, although that may change in the future. Hopefully, I'm going to take a gap year and then go to university, and, although I'll still be playing a lot of poker, I'd also like to have my own business at some point, be it poker related or not. It’s hard for me to say because I don't see myself doing anything else. I just really love poker.

Tags: Jose Macedo, Interviews, Girah