Interview: Derek Gomez wins WSOP Main Event seat in satellite

Kat Martin Author Photo
Kat Martin
Posted on: September 06, 2021 19:02 PDT

As reported previously by, the September satellites offered by into this year's live WSOP Main Event have been struggling to attract players. Today, the dam finally broke, with 57 entrants competing in Sunday's $215 satellite for a $10k seat.

Derek Gomez of Las Vegas began the final table last in chips. But with a 25bb stack and considerable experience in such spots, Gomez patiently added to his pile while others hit the rail. Gomez entered the heads-up battle at a 168k to 241k disadvantage to fellow Las Vegas resident Robert "thebullet" Sanchez, but soon pulled out a healthy lead.

A typical all-in preflop scenario ensued, with both players picking up pocket pairs. Gomez had the wrong end of the deal with 66 versus Sanchez's 99. The board runout of 5KQA6 was a brutal one for Sanchez and gave Gomez the $10k seat. Sanchez second place paid $6.4k; a reasonable consolation for less than 4.5 hours work.

From an Orange County home game to Vegas reg

One of the earliest steps on Gomez's poker path was a home game in Orange County, California. It was there around 2005 that he met Mike Connors, an East Coast transplant who subsequently moved to Vegas to follow the poker player/dealer career path.

Gomez credits Connors with his own decision to make the move to Sin City.

"Mike Connors was the reason I got the [dealing] job at Harrah's," Gomez told "Probably wouldn't have made the leap if he wasn't already living here."

We asked Connors about his recollection of events. He told

"I lived here, he came out to play for a summer... 2012 I think? He put in a full schedule playing, then came home and had me ask him if he wanted to talk about any interesting hands he played. I think my presence out here, already established as a dealer who was making extra playing, helped facilitate."

From dealer box to stable

The story is a common one in Las Vegas. Poker players who succeed invariably have a network of other strong players with whom they can interact.

Gomez moved out of the dealer box several years ago to focus more on playing. Both his online and live results indicate that the switch has been a great success. His total live earnings as reported by the Hendon Mob database are over half a million dollars. In July of this year he took second in a DeepStack event at the Venetian for $45k and had a couple of cashes in the summer's WSOP Online bracelet series.

Gomez credits much of his recent poker success to being part of a poker stable. He told us:

"I've been part of a stable for over a year now and I've been able to put in volume. Jesse Sylvia, Scott Hempel, and Mike Del Vecchio have added a lot to my game. Shout out to FLOPTIMAL as well. It's the nuts."

In addition to playing poker, Gomez works as technical director for a poker production company.

No Saturday satellite? Blame Gomez!

Could Gomez be at fault for the lack of a Saturday WSOP satellite this week?

As we reported yesterday, Saturday's $215 satellite failed to run when it attracted seven entrants instead of the mandatory minimum of eight.

Gomez told he was planning on playing Saturday's satellite, but simply forgot to register in time.

Featured image source: F acebook