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From Rags to Riches: The Alex Gomez Story
Perhaps due to the fact that he struggled through the day with a dangerously low chip count, Alex Gomez managed to fly under the radar, undetected, until emerging as the dominant chip leader late in the evening. With only three big blinds to his name at one point tonight, Alex will be going into the final table tomorrow with close to fifty percent of the chips in play.
After the dust settled and he had a chance to catch his breath, Alex sat down and told us the story of how he amassed more than $1 million in chips here tonight.
Well, Alex, we didn't hear much from you for most of the day. Take us through how you managed to hold on and chip up late this evening.
Starting the day there were about seventy of us, and I was probably in the bottom six. I just tried to play solid poker all day and pick my spots. I had a few good hands, but I had some setbacks too. I ran into aces with pocket jacks. I guess the hand that really did it was when I had pocket threes, and I raised to three times the big blind. The gentleman across the table, he had aces, just smooth-called and the flop came, you know I don't even know what it was, all I remember is seeing that three. I put a small bet out there and he raised. I moved in, and he called, so I doubled-up there.
What happened during that break earlier?
Well, there's a timer in here on a big screen that shows the level times as well as the break time. So when we broke down it showed thirty minutes and I thought we had a thirty minute break. I was downstairs on the phone with my girlfriend, taking my time, and about ten minutes later I was in the restroom I hear my name over the intercom which was playing all over Harrah's to come up to the ballroom.
When I got back, I had run through the big blind and the small blind as well as two antes, it was about half my stack. I think the blinds were four and eight thousand, and I had about eight. I had a couple of decent hands, a suited ace that took on K-J and doubled-up there. There were a couple more calls that I just had to make to survive. And it worked out.
Tell us about that sequence of hands with Brian Strahl where you got a hold of a lot of chips.
It was actually kind of interesting because we were talking a few minutes before because he had such an overwhelming chip lead there was pretty much no way he wouldn't make the final table and probably place in the top three. There was a hand where I had raised and the player to his left had re-raised me, and I had recognized this player as an aggressive player, so I picked my spot. I had K-Q, and I really thought he was just trying to push me off my hand. I believe he had pocket nines and the flop came out with a couple of sixes and an ace and we ended up splitting the pot when another ace and six hit.
So I got really lucky, by all rights I should have been out of the tournament. I think that hand had a lot to do with Brian calling me later with nines against my kings, because he had seen me push in with nothing.
Tell us a bit about your general strategy as a player.
Generally I'm a tight-aggressive player, I try to pick my hands. But it's dependant on what your position is and what your chip stack is like compared to other players. You really have to switch gears, that's something I probably don't do as much as I should, but I'm still developing as a player, and it's part of the learning process.
On that point, tell us about your background and how you got into poker.
I've been playing for about four years mostly online, but I do play a home game every once in a while and a couple big events. Last year I qualified for the World Series Main Event and that was just amazing. Before that I had never really read many books on poker so I figured I should. Not only to learn but to understand what other people are learning and how they approach the game.
Actually yesterday I was lucky enough to be at a table with Phil Gordon two seats to my right, and his was probably the most amazing book I've read as far as poker goes, "The Little Green Book". I was in a hand with another player and I flopped a queen-high flush, and I put in a small bet and then a little larger and a little larger and I pretty much sucked out as much as possible.
When I was done the hand Phil paid me a really nice compliment and said, "Wow, you bet that perfectly every single time." And I told him, "I appreciate that Phil, but I have to admit, I've read your book."
That's cool. One last question, having such a huge stack, do you have a game plan in mind for tomorrow?
I'm just going to play the same way.
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Alex is a soft-spoken person who will be a force at the final table tomorrow. Having a chip lead of nearly five times that of your closest competitor can do that for a guy. Being tight-aggressive, it will be difficult for the other players to overcome the obstacle of his stack. One thing's for sure though, it will be interesting to find out how this match is going to play out.