ROMDOM on Sunday success and making the most of a little heart
For ROMDOM, poker, much as with life, is about getting on with things. It's about identifying what's important, what needs to be done, and doing it. To do anything different would be to simply give up.
Winning an event such as the Sunday Warm-Up is some achievement. But while the play at the tables is pretty interesting (a report of which you can read here), with a few others details found by Googling a username, you don't really get the context of a win, and what that can mean to a player without understanding all the other stuff.
To ROMDOM it's the most recent win in a poker career that started more than a decade ago. In that time ROMDOM has got to the level he plays mainly through trial and error, which before now was good enough for a Sunday Million win win and a WCOOP Main Event final table. But it's also a period of his life that has involved a lot of heartache and change. All you can do is pick yourself up and press on.
"Tony Romo is one of my heroes," said ROMDOM, referring to a play during which the Cowboys quarterback broke his collarbone in a game against the Giants. "NFL films had him miked up. When the medical personnel came out to check on him they asked if it was his collar bone. His response was 'did we complete the pass?' Then he tried to finish the game with the broken collarbone. So much heart."
It's that spirit that has stayed with ROMDOM. It's hardly surprising that the world of NFL would prove so inspirational. His grandfather was a Hall of Fame quarterback during the 1950s and 60s, a legendary figure who strove for success at every opportunity. But it's never really just as easy as that, as ROMDOM discovered in 2010. It proved to be a year laced with equal parts success and tragedy.
ROMDOM's career was coming to life. He won the Sunday Million and reached the WCOOP Main Event final table and it seemed like the hard work was paying off. But then he received some news that would put all of that well and truly into perspective.
"My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and given six months to live. She had lived with me for the prior three or four years after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I loved my mother more than anyone on the planet. My father died when I was seven so she raised my sister and I on her own. She did everything she could to allow us to succeed in life."
His mother died three days before his birthday in March 2011. With his home life was in tatters, Black Friday struck a month later.
"I was in a tail spin," he said. "I had gone from the top to the bottom so fast."
ROMDOM filled the time doing, well, nothing. He worked a few jobs before finally moving to Playa del Carman in Mexico on the advice of some friends. It proved a wise move, providing an ideal place to get back on his feet, devote more time to playing and studying the game. "Every time I win or do well in anything I think of my mother."
Flash forward to this week and ROMDOM, now 30, earned a pretty big indicator that all that renewed effort was paying off. He reflected on the win, worth $80,234, and how different it was to his first win back in 2010.
"It felt great as you would expect. I had just chopped the big ben on FTP so I was feeling very confident. Poker is much harder these days, so this win feels better in some ways. It's a good bit less money but the satisfaction of winning a major in today's poker climate is up there. And yes, I definitely still get excited about the result."
That meant a bit of "woooo-ing" around the house with friends grinding with him, fellow exiles with whom he has formed a tight knit community down in Mexico.
"Living in Playa... I've met so many amazing people over the last year. I went to Jazzfest with some buddies and saw the greatest band in the world, Phish. The only real tough part is being away from my dogs for most of the year."
For now it's back to the tables, with a boosted bankroll and the support of friends -- if not his dogs -- to provide the perspective.
And yes, he did complete the pass.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.