Firova, who is now 42, scraped together the $10,000 entry fee for the World Series of Poker tournament at Rio Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., which began Friday, July 13.
“I knew that unless my health improved, this would be the last time I could play so we took the chance and I entered,” Alfred said.
Firova won $88,000 for an 80th place finish out of 6,598 players who competed. Nobody short of 666th place won any money. The last nine standing will finish the tournament in October.
“This was a dream come true for me,” Alfred said.
His wife, Lisa, was too nervous to sit through the games.
“Lisa kept texting me from Las Vegas, telling me how many people were left,” said Ida Cisneros of Refugio, Firova’s sister.
People from around the globe participate in the tournament which is alleged to be the largest in the world.
“I kept leaving and when I got back, I looked to see if his green cap was still on the table,” Lisa Firova said. “It was very exciting.”
Alfred’s became acquainted with the game during his pre-school days in Victoria where his father, Richard “Hito” Firova, cooked for the players in the big tournaments at Riverside Park.
“Whoever was hosting the games would hire him to provide the food,” Alfred said. “My father never played poker.”
Firova says the new kids coming up use more strategy than he does.
“When my health was better, I played in Louisiana and Mississippi,” he said.
But playing poker in tournaments for 10 hours a day, with 20-minute breaks every two hours can be grueling.
With amputations on both his feet, this could possibly be his last tournament. But he says a win of this magnitude is a nice way to end his hobby... at least until his health gets better.
The tournament will be shown on ESPN but as yet, no date has been set.