- Nickname: The Shark
- Facebook: Humberto Brenes
- Twitter: @humbertoshark
- Birthdate: 8th May1951
- Birthplace: San José – Costa Rica
- Residence: Miami Lakes, Florida
- WSOP Bracelets: 2
- Biggest Win: $923,475
- Total Winnings: $6,014,133
- Sponsored by: PokerStars
Humberto Brenes was born and raised in Costa Rica. He was just seven years old when he learnt to play poker through watching his father playing for fun. His talent remained unrefined to start with as he focused on baccarat and craps and made quick money by playing tourists in the Bahaman beach resort casinos. His largest win was a princely $377,000 for top spot in a craps tournament which Humberto invested rather than gambled away.
His other big investment at that time was in his education at the University of Costa Rica where he achieved a degree in industrial engineering. After this he concentrated on building up a substantial business empire which includes shares in hotels, restaurants, real estate, a TV channel and ownership of ‘Nueces Industriales,’ a major player in Costa Rica’s dried fruit and nut market. During this time, Brenes switched his game to poker in 1974 and played tournaments in his spare time.
Humberto’s talent was honed over many years and it wasn’t until 1987 that he entered his first major poker tournament, achieving a respectable fourteenth in the WSOP No Limit Hold’em main event. The following year he surpassed that, coming fourth, his best finish in the WSOP main event. Since then, he has concentrated solely on tournament play and has barely missed a year at the WSOP.
On two consecutive days in 1993, he won the WSOP pot limit Omaha and limit Hold’em events earning a bracelet for each arm. His other major victory was at Binion’s World Poker Open in 2002 when he walked away with over half a million dollars. Other notable finishes include second and third places during the third season of World Poker Tour events in 2004 which netted him over $1.5 million.
Although he hasn’t been crowned champion in many top-rated tournaments, Humberto’s consistency over his long career is impressive and his tally of over sixty five WSOP cash finishes is truly remarkable. Though his poker tournament career has lasted over thirty five years, his shared record of eight cash finishes in separate WSOP events in a single year, 2006, shows he was still a force to be reckoned with in the post-internet poker boom. In 2008 he got 1st in the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. In early 2011 he won $200,000 coming 5th in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
In tournaments, Brenes is instantly recognizable with his range of garish tracksuits and sun visors. Often he wears two pairs of glasses, sunglasses over his regular prescription spectacles. And if his appearance doesn’t draw the eye then his larger than life character will. His comic behavior never seems to fail to bring a smile to people’s faces, players and spectators alike, because for all his declarations of greatness, his showmanship is good-natured and without arrogance. However, his tomfoolery belies a sharp mind, as shrewd in business as at poker.
Aside from poker and his many business interests, he is a family man and has tutored two of his brothers, Alex and Erick, all the way to WPT titles of their own. He is married to Patricia Underwood Guido and they have three children, Jose Humberto, Roberto and Jessica and his wealth means their financial futures are secure, he is also known for his generosity towards his fellow countrymen. In fact, make that his fellow country-fish as well as he is heavily involved in a project to save the Costa Rican coast’s dwindling shark population. Long live the shark!
In the 2006 World Series of Poker, Humberto Brenes was on form. Not only top poker form but also in terms of entertainment. In the main event, sitting atop of his shortened chip pile was his ever-present lucky mascot and card protector in the shape of a shark. At a table with the eventual winner, Jamie Gold, he signaled a raise with a A♥ Q♠ and announced in his strong Costa Rican accent, ‘the shark is coming.’ He pushed his model shark towards each of the remaining players in turn, asking for ‘just one customer please,’ as all folded.
Gold was tournament chip leader and the last to call. Brenes goaded him but Gold wasn’t rising to the bait. As he folded, Brenes shook his head. ‘Oh my friend,’ he said in mock disappointment and cupping his hands around his mouth started to ‘boo’ him, a cheeky grin on his face. His antics brought smiles to the faces of everyone at the table.
Later on in the tournament, even more short-stacked but still one of the few remaining professionals left, he faced the Swede, Erik Friberg who held 9♥ 9♣. Brenes looked at his K♥ J♣ and motioned that he was going ‘all in.’ He pushed his shark into the center of the table and rubbing his hands together declared, ‘I need to rumble.’ Friberg asked for a chip count but he couldn’t get a sensible reply out of Humberto so it was up to the dealer to tell him that he held seven times as many chips. Looking irritable, Friberg called.
When the cards were turned it was clear that the odds were slightly in Friberg’s favor, but that didn’t stop Humberto asking, ‘Do you know who is the king?’ He answered his own question stating ‘Humberto is the king,’ before beginning to sing in Spanish while attempting to conduct with his index fingers. The flop came A♠ A♣ 10♥ and Brenes, in Spanish, called for a lady. He got his wish as the turn card was Q♥ and flung his arms in the air. A glint in his eye, he acknowledged his opponent with a nod of his head and though disappointed, Friberg couldn’t help smiling at Humberto’s clowning. The river card was a K♠ and Brenes immediately picked it up and holding it aloft, shouted to the cheering crowd, ‘Who is the king? I am the king!’ before huskily singing another song to the bemused table. He had doubled up his chips which helped him come thirty-sixth overall and take $329,865 back to his homeland.
Last updated May 2013