By SEAN CHAFFIN, Senior Writer/Editor
The European Poker Tour Grand Final finished up on Friday, and once again Brazilian phenomenon Alex Gomes found himself at the final table – finishing eighth and pocketing a cool $261,000. Top finishes are nothing new for this poker star, who first gained notice in July 2009 in Las Vegas. Decked out in his green and gold jacket, Gomes became the first Brazilian winner on the World Poker Tour. Cheered on by friends, Gomes beat 268 players to claim the Bellagio Cup V title and $1.18 million.
The win added to Gomes’s poker success. In ‘08, he became the first Brazilian to win a World Series of Poker bracelet beating 2,300 players and winning $770,000. He was hoping the EPT Grand Final might be his “triple crown” – winning a championship on all three tours.
Growing up in the city of Curitiba, Gomes did not play cards growing up, but like most Brazilians – he loved soccer. After high school, he attended law school, graduating in 2005 and working at a firm in Curitiba. Soon, however, he discovered online poker, cashing regularly in big tournaments and playing with friends.
“I started playing in a friendly game about five years ago,” he says. “It was just a hobby. We used to play once in a week in my friend’s house. It was really fun.”
Gomes began winning big bucks in some larger Brazilian tournaments and pondered the bright lights of Sin City. In ‘07, he left law behind for the life of a poker pro. He now splits time playing big U.S. tournaments and the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour.
“Poker is growing really fast in Latin America and especially in Brazil. If we compare the poker scene three years ago to now, it’s easy to see the big difference due the number of players, and also how the media and population think about poker in a serious matter,” he says.
Now sponsored by PokerStars.net, Gomes credits his aggressive style and ability to read opponents for his success including tournament winnings of over $3.8 million.
“My life changed a lot since winning my first poker title. A lot of people recognize me when I’m here in Brazil,” he says. “It’s pretty awesome to see people giving me a lot of respect as a professional poker player. They usually come and congratulate me for my titles, take pictures, and ask for autographs. It’s amazing.
Just a prediction – but look for a great WSOP from this Brazilian cardsharp this summer.
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Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in Rockwall, Texas. To hire him for writing assignments, email email@example.com or visit www.seanchaffin.com.