By Sean Chaffin
Life hasn’t been easy in Venezuela. The country has faced an economic and political crisis few countries have experienced. Just a few struggles include soaring inflation, vast shortages of food, crumbling infrastructure, hospitals with no medicine, rigged elections, and a populace that has tried to oust a regime that continues to hold on to power by violence and intimidation.
It’s an economy in shambles and even gotten worse with most of the country suffering electrical, communication, and water outages for the last several days with numerous deaths attributed to an already desperate situation.
More than two million have been forced to flee the country over the last few years, and Joseph Di Rosa Rojas is one of those. He and his family fled his hometown of Caracas, the nation’s capital, about a year ago and the problems in Venezuela are a constant concern.
“The situation in Venezuela is very difficult,” he says. “We have a disaster, but I think we can make important change. My family is here, but I still have friends and some family back in Venezuela. It’s the first time in our history we’ve had this type of crazy situation.”
Playing at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open final table here at HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas, Rojas is hoping to provide a glimmer of positivity for his home country.
The 36-year-old enters the final table fourth in chips and will have his work cut out for him. Back in Atlantic City, he was on a short stack much of the time on Day 4 and at one point was down to four big blinds with two tables left. As action near the final six players, however, he surged back after a few big double-ups.
At the tables, Rojas has accumulated more than $780,000 in lifetime tournament winnings since hitting the tournament scene in 2016. Before this WPT final table, his career highlight came in 2017 at the World Series of Poker, where earned a bracelet by taking down the $2,620 Marathon event for $690,469.
Adding a WPT title to a resumé that already includes a bracelet would make this trip to Las Vegas even sweeter. But even if that doesn’t happen, Rojas has some definite plans for some of his winnings.
“Of course I’m going to help out my friends and family back in Venezuela,” he says. “All I can do, I’m going to do. I’ve actually already sent money to my family and friends to support them, but it’s still not enough.”
How was he feeling as the final table got underway?
“I feel great,” he says. “I’m very focused on this final table. I’ve been playing a lot. I played last week at the LAPC. I made Day 3, but busted with Ace-King versus Tens. Winning his title would be great.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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