Daniel Gonzalo, who has been on a nice run this year, won the WPT Regional Poker Showdown main event Sunday at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
Gonzalo, 32, has been a dealer at the Isle Casino and Racing for the past six years. (Because they can't play at their own card rooms, it's pretty common for dealers at the pari-mutuels to play at the Seminoles, and for Seminole dealers to play at pari-mutuels. The business is pretty tight that way.)
He earned $62,150, after declining to chop, because he had not won ever won a tournament this large outright. He chopped the final table table of the $64 Andy Slater Tournament (earning $2,324), chopped the $75K guarantee last Friday five ways at the Seminole Hard Rock (getting $8,600) and made the final eight in the head-up WPT last week at Coconut Creek ($672).
"But the cards really cooperated with me in this tournament," said Gonzalo, who was all-in only once, and that time he had the best hand. "People say I deserve this, but I'm not sure I believe it."
Gonzalo, who goes by the motto "Thankful, humble, hungry," is a popular dealer at the Isle, and a group of friends cheered him on at Coconut Creek. Because his father is Spanish, Gonzalo's hero is tennis player Rafael Nadal, and his rooting section shouted "Vamos, Raffa!" when he won a hand. As Nadal does after winning a trophy, Gonzalo posed taking a bite of his prize.
He says he has two good friends who he respects in poker: fellow Isle dealer Michael Laake, who was one of the big winners in the recent Deep Stacks event at the Seminole Hard Rock, and Barry Hutter, who won the main event in the same series.
"I'm not even close to being the player that they are, but I'm really trying to learn more," Gonzalo said.
Guillermo Reyes finished second ($36,000), followed by Brock Laramee ($23,875), Michael Marks ($16,000), John Nguyen ($11,125), Jonathan Marks ($8,625) in the $350 buy-in event, which drew about 800 entries.
Chase Lalani won the other big tournament in the series, a $125 buy-in that drew 1,288 entries. He earned $15,900.