SCOOP 2012: Alex Gomes and the elephant in the room
Alex Gomes, the Brazilian poker rock star, is now a Spring Championship of Online Poker champion. He won $282,240 in Event 1-High a $2,100 NLHE 6-max contest that pitted him against some of the best players in the world. It was his first SCOOP title and another important box ticked on his resume. He's a man who has a WPT title and WSOP bracelet. One of his biggest goals is to win an EPT and pick up his Triple Crown.
That's the way a mini-profile of the Brazilian should read. He puts it another way.
"I'm just a normal guy trying to make some money on the poker scene," he said with a smile. "I used to be a lawyer here in Brazil, but now I just play poker."
That phrase, "used to be" is one Gomes could emphasize more than a couple times, because...well, there is an elephant in the room, isn't there? A big, noisy elephant with a Brazilian flag draped over is shoulder.
See, Gomes also used to be a Team PokerStars Pro, and on any normal day a couple of years ago, that first paragraph would've started with "Team PokerStars Pro Alex Gomes..." For people who have followed this blog for any length of time, that missing prefix on Gomes' name may seem a little off-putting. I'm here to tell you, it shouldn't be.
The business of poker sponsorship and Team PokerStars Pro is something that happens for more reasons that we can list here. Similarly, relationships end for as many reasons as they begin. As it happened, Gomes was an admirable dude before he joined Team Pro, he represented himself well while in the stable, and he's still an admirable guy since he left the Team. The point is this: while we have an admitted bias toward the people who fly the flag of the Big Red Spade, we don't lose sight of the people who have been good to the game. Gomes is one of those people.
What you should know about Gomes today is that he barely had time to play poker over the past year. His wife was pregnant with their son, Bruno. It was an anxious time in the Gomes' home, one that distracted the Brazilian from the game in ways he had never been distracted before.
In recent weeks, he's been able to focus a little bit more. Nonetheless, he didn't even intend on playing the first event of SCOOP. It was a last minute decision that end with him more than a quarter-million dollars richer.
"All high SCOOP events are really tough, especially this one, in my opinion, as it's a six-max no-limit hold'em event with a great structure," Gomes said. "So I can compare it maybe with the toughest win of my career. That was the WPT Bellagio."
Gomes is, indeed, a champion's kind of champion. A ready smile, a winner's stare, and enough major titles to put him among the elite in the game. It's not enough yet, however. The man from Brazil is going to be getting a lot of European ink on his passport.
"I'm now back in business and looking forward to my Triple Crown," he said. "And that's the main reason that I'll be focusing for now mostly on EPTs."
It's not an easy road, this poker game. It's made even tougher when you have a new baby in the house. Gomes intends to make it all work. If his performance in SCOOP so far is any indication, it looks like he is well on his way, and walking a lot faster than that elephant ever could.