Andres Campero Could Turn Freeroll Into World Championship Walk Off
Not long after selling his Artificial Intelligence startup to play poker professionally, Andres Campero is in position to win the WPT World Championship and $5.678 million and then walk away from poker and return to the world of A.I.
Lance BradleyDec 18, 2023
About a year ago, Andres Campero decided he wanted to take poker more seriously. A recreational player from Mexico City, Campero had recently sold his start-up company and was looking for something to do that would occupy the bandwidth that he had previously poured into his company.
He reached out to Angel Guillen and told him he wanted to learn. Guillen and Campero had first met almost 10 years ago at a Latin American Poker Tour event. Guillen went on to become one of Mexico’s greatest poker players and a WPT Global ambassador while Campero only dabbled in poker while pursuing his education.
Now Campero is one of the bigger stacks with less than 50 players left in the WPT World Championship. He is arguably also the smartest person in the room. He has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT – in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
And he won his way to Las Vegas via a freeroll on WPT Global.
“I played a bunch of $1K (satellites), but the one bullet that I got here, I actually played a freeroll,” Campero said. “I played a freeroll where I won a $55 ticket, then I played a $55 (satellite), I won a $220 (ticket) and then I won that $220 (satellite) – only one player won. So that was fortunate and that’s why I’m here.”
Many players, particularly online qualifiers might look at the tournament clock and think that making the top 50 players in a 3,835-player field means you’ve made it, but Campero is quick to recognize the marathon aspect of a tournament like the WPT World Championship.
“I’ve been running good, I think I’ve been playing pretty well. We’re still so far from the final table and stuff, so I just keep reminding myself of that because it’s easy to forget. We’re (only) halfway through actually,” Campero said.
He’s not wrong. Monday is Day 4 of the WPT World Championship and there are still 3.5 days to go before a world champion is crowned. No matter what happens between now and then, Campero won’t be seen back at the felt any time soon. Probably even ever.
“Whatever happens in this tournament, he’s going to stop playing poker,” Guillen said. “He’s quitting poker because he’s going back to research and AI and building companies and all that. So this is his last tournament. If he wins it, that’s it.”
With only $51,098 in lifetime earnings, Campero is guaranteed to pocket a career-best score no matter what happens. Do not let that resume fool you though, he’s been in tough spots before against some of the best in the world. Being able to go toe-to-toe with them in the WPT World Championship is an opportunity he’s savoring rather than fretting.
“I have battled with some of them online, so I fortunately have a bit of experience like that, but it’s very cool,” Campero said. “Yesterday, for example, with ‘LuckyChewy’ (Andrew Lichtenberger) and Davidi Kitai, even on Day 1, I had very good players. So it’s been good.”
Going from a freeroll to winning $5.678 million in a matter of months will be a story told for years. Guillen sees that it will likely resonate with the people in his home country, but thinks the story has something that anybody can relate to.
“It would be amazing because it would show, first of all, anyone can do it. Obviously, he’s a sharp guy, but there’s many sharp people in the world,” Guillen said. “It’s all about dedication and putting the hours and really committing to a cause. And I think it will really be amazing, I don’t think only for Mexicans, but for the world.”
Nick Funaro seeing the success of his brother Frank followed in his footsteps in taking the game of poker seriously. After just a couple years of working and studying together, both siblings are finding high-level success.