Bruno Lopes is one of those players who was originally highly known for being something other than a poker player, but who then became known as a solid player in their own right. In the three decades before he began playing in the top echelons of poker, Lopes was better known as Kool Shen, one of two members of hip hop group Supreme NTM, who later went on to have a solo rap career.
The Frenchman of Portuguese descent attracted controversy during the height of NTM’s popularity, as the group’s often violent lyrics polarized French society (both NTM members even served brief stints in prison in the mid-1990s for making anti-police comments). However, Kool Shen has mellowed out a lot over the years, which was reflected in the more mature content of his lyrics in his solo rap career.
Lopes has shown that his talents are not only limited to rapping, though, as evidenced by his strong poker performances over the last decade. The Winamax-sponsored player began his professional poker career by playing a numerous small events throughout Europe, but it was not long before he made it in the money at two European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Events in 2010.
He played in the WSOP the year after, and went in the money in two events, which included a 20th place finish in the $5,000 Triple Chance event. Lopes then went on to win his first ever major live poker tournament – a €5,000 event in his hometown of Paris, where he beat a field of 109 to win €100,000 (around US$127,514).
A few months his first win, Lopes had truly established himself as more than just a celebrity who enjoys a game of poker after a stellar performance at the 2012 EPT Madrid Main Event. Lopes finished that event in fourth place out of 477 players, and finished ahead of seasoned poker pros like Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald, Nicholas Levi and Olivier Busquet to win €140,000 (US$183,660).
Lopes followed his strong EPT Madrid performance by taking out the 2012 WPT National Series Cannes Main Event in May 2012, and also came in the money at the WSOP 2012 and 2014 Main Events. While he began playing professional poker on the back of a long and highly successful rap career, Kool Shen’s performance on the felt has made him a solid poker player in his own right.