Whatever happened to Jose “Girah” Macedo, we at Pokersites.com used to wonder during our idler moments. Well, now we know: “the Portuguese Prodigy”, once feted by 2+2 as the next big thing in online poker – before he betrayed the poker community and besmirched his name forever in a very ugly and well-publicized scam – has moved to the UK and is studying at the University of Lancaster, where he has launched an entrepreneurial student cleaning business. Not that he cleans students, of course – Macedo’s new initiative merely employs students to clean rooms and bathrooms, both on and off campus.
“In only three months, we have managed to clean over 1,000 rooms,” enthused Macedo in an interview with Portuguese website sic.sapo.pt. “At the moment, we have many clients and we employ seven people.”
The venture, which is a collaboration between Macedo and three other Portuguese students, apparently has a turnover of â‚¬240,000 ($327,504) ,and has attracted private investments of over â‚¬140,000 ($191,044) – although, since this is Girah talking, you’ll forgive us if we take those figures with a pinch of salt.
For those late to the party, here’s the back story. In 2011, on the 2+2 forums, all the talk was of the mysterious “Girah,” who had been killing the high-stakes six-max ring games, grinding away sometimes on 20-plus tables at once. Amid wild speculation about his true identity, rumors began to surface that he was a young Portuguese kid – not yet 18 – and he became known simply as “the Portuguese Prodigy.” Others scoffed at this, but when Jose Macedo turned 18, he stepped out of the shadows with a post on 2+2 that declared “I am JosÃ© “Girah” Macedo, the so-called ‘Portuguese Poker Prodigy.’ ”
Girah soon became a much-respected contributor to the 2+2 strategy forums, and actively sought out personal tutelage from the likes of Daniel “jungleman12” Cates and Haseeb “Dogishead” Qureshi, with whom he became friends. Soon, Girah had secured a sponsorship deal with Lock Poker.
However, some 2+2 players became suspicious when Macedo, following a private strategy Skype session, suggested they play against “sauron1989,” a “friend” whom he described as a “rich fish.” By screen-sharing, Macedo would “sweat” the session, and the group would then analyze the plays, and this meant that Girah was able to see the players’ hole cards throughout. The players lost money to sauron1989 and they smelled a rat. They began reviewing hands and analyzing Skype activity during sessions, and soon discovered that the Skype accounts of Macedo and sauron1989 would often log on and off at the same time.
In the meantime, Macedo had won the Lock Poker Challenge, before being disqualified just days later for multi-accounting, having allowed Qureshi to play on his account – a state of affairs that prompted a distraught and penitent Qureshi to retire from poker. Macedo was stripped of his Lock sponsorship, and then, confronted with the suspicions of former strategy session buddies, was forced to admit all.
“I’m young, I made a mistake and I hope that this doesn’t define me,” he said, after a full confession. “I hope that how I deal with this and move forward is the thing that does. And people will say I have no excuse and I know and understand that. I agree. I just want to let everyone know, I’m sorry. I apologize to the guys who lost their money, the people who I love and care about and I have disappointed, and the guys in the poker world who have supported me for letting them down. I wish I had something to say to you all, to say to my parents and my friends and all of those who thought I could do no wrong. Again, I’m really sorry.”
Macedo, as he was quick to admit, was young and foolish in 2011. He paid back the money he scammed, some $30k, which, when you consider that his talent was never in doubt, seems a paltry sum to risk so for much. His behavior, then, was bizarre, and his fall was tragic and pointless. Let’s just hope that his new venture has taught him the value of earning a good, honest buck. If it has, we wish him well.