Jose Serratos is the quintessential grinder. He’s travelled all over the country, chasing down tournament scores in places like Choctaw, Council Bluffs, Atlantic City and Tunica. So when the World Poker Tour came calling and told him he’d been chosen as BLUFF.com WPT Ones to Watch for Season XIII he was happy for the recognition.
Heading into the season he’d only had only about $180,000 in tournament cashes over a three-year span so his selection turned a few heads. He validated his inclusion on the list almost immediately, final tabling the WPT Borgata Poker Open event in September.
“I’ve been watching WPTs for, no joke, like eight or nine years. Just to be there when I walked on that stage and in that room, the adrenaline rush was just insane. It was such a cool experience. I just hope I can relive it again soon,” said Serratos.
He came into the final table with just 12 big blinds but worked his way up to a third place finish and a $308,067 cash. A score that big for somebody who had previously been working his way through $350 buy-in events meant some changes – big ones – were in order.
“It’s just nice to have a little bit of security with the nice cash. I’m not really travelling to play the prelims anymore; just time away from my family and everything,” said Serratos. “So it’s better to just fly in and play the Mains now and now that I’m able to do it, it makes poker a lot less stressful and more fun, less like work.”
Playing fewer small events isn’t the only change though. Once he got over the disappointment of not winning at Borgata he knew there was something he needed to take care of.
“I’ve been with my girl for eight years, and she stuck by me through a lot so I proposed as soon as I got the money. Life’s been a lot better since then,” said Serratos. The success didn’t stop there at Borgata either. A few months later he grabbed a $41,815 score in a Bellagio Five Diamond prelim event.
Born and raised in Detroit, Serratos still calls the area home but his poker success has let him move out the suburbs where he lives with his fiancée Elizabeth and daughter Isabella. He’s also letting his poker winnings do some of the work for him now.
“I have two properties that I bought with poker money, foreclosed homes, me and my buddies fixed them up,” said Serratos. “I rent them out. It’s a little bit of steady income. It’s nice to have a little bit of stability.”
When the Borgata final table finally made it to air Serratos became a bit of a local celebrity in his local cardroom.
“People who know me, know I was on TV, see me on there. I didn’t tell anybody, so it was a surprise to them,” said Serratos. “They’re like ‘dude I just saw you on TV’. And then there’s other people who just walk up to me and ask ‘are you the guy who was on WPT a little while ago?’ It’s awesome.”
The star status at the local casino is cool, but he found somebody else for whom the TV experience was even cooler, seven-year-old Isabella.
“She was so excited that she was on TV when I was on the final table of Borgata, and ever since then she’s been so into poker,” said Serratos. “When I go out of town she’s like ‘if you get on TV I wanna go so I can be on TV’. She’s so cute.”
With the WPT season nearly over, Serratos looks back at what was a financially successful year. He does have one small regret though.
“I wanted to play the Shooting Star. I’ve always dreamed of playing the Five Diamond and the Shooting Star, and even though I did get to play the Five Diamond, I didn’t get to play the Shooting Star, I had a prior obligation. I’m definitely going to play that next year,” said Serratos.
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