If you’re reading this and watching the coverage on EPT Live, you might have noticed that Diego Gomez tends to stand out a bit. Not for him the refined elegance of shirt sleeves, at least not today. Instead he swaps the bow tie of Day 5 for a lion outfit, a furry jumpsuit and bonnet complete with whiskers and floppy ears.
Despite appearances Gomez has had a sedate start, taking some time before playing a first hand. But while his dress sense has changed his antics haven’t. An earlier hand sent him into a delirious parade around the set. Cheered by his friends on the rail, the Spaniard later moved all-in with pocket tens. Ramzi Jelassi had ace-queen and flopped a queen, but Gomez caught runner-runner clubs, then did runner-runner around the stage.
The crowd erupted, rushing forward to high-five their lion king, who yelled and screamed about being the boss and having a dream. Watching this was Jeff Sarwer, who departed in 18th place yesterday. He got a hug from Gomez who had rushed to meet his public. Sarwer laughed, as did everyone in the crowd. Irritating? No this was just a man having fun, and to players like Sarwer, and Anton Wigg who had come over to watch his countryman Jelassi, it’s something positive for the game.
Diego Gomez (in the lion suit) with Jeff Sarwer
“If someone is in your face, it’s obviously not okay,” said Wigg. “If people do it because they’re happy, then I’m always happy for them. It’s really obvious when it’s either of the two, when it’s ‘f*** you’ or ‘I’m just happy’. You’ve got to allow it for a guy who’s happy, but not the guy who’s trying to shove it in my face. You need a little bit of character.”
Sarwer agreed. “I think it’s great to have players like Diego at the table, he’s having so much fun,” he said. “He’s not used to playing such big tournaments, and he has the best of intensions. He’s a really fun guy. I’m sure it’s really exciting for him!”
How long Gomez will last is difficult to say, but while he’s here the spectators, and Gomez himself, are going to enjoy it.