Spanish Poker Player’s Yacht Goes Up in Flames With 17 on Board

Posted on: August 14, 2023, 03:07h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2023, 02:44h.

A yacht that, according to local sources, belongs to Spanish poker player Diego Gomez Gonzalez, met a tragic fate on Saturday. It caught fire and subsequently sank off the Spanish island of Formentera. The incident unfolded as a distress call was made to maritime authorities in the late afternoon, reporting a massive blaze aboard the opulent vessel.

Flames burn out of control on the yacht Irmao off the coast of the Spanish island of Formentera
Flames burn out of control on the yacht Irmao off the coast of the Spanish island of Formentera. The yacht was reportedly owned by a Spanish poker pro. (Image: FleetMon)

At the time of the fire, the 98-foot vessel “Irmao” was carrying 12 passengers and five crew. All 17 escaped without major injury, although one crewmember had to be treated for minor burns at a local hospital.

Gonzalez wasn’t on board the yacht at the time. The city council of Formentera lists him as the owner, according to local media outlets. But the vessel is used as a charter that costs $58,101 a week to rent.

Afternoon Show

The incident took place in the Cavall d’en Borràs area, a popular location in Formentera that’s home to the Tiburón restaurant and Beso Beach. Both were busy with customers this weekend, as tourists enjoyed the sun and island atmosphere.

As is normal at this point in summer, there were dozens of other boats around the burning yacht. Several participated in the rescue of the passengers and crew, all of whom jumped off the ship after the fire began.

As Spain’s Maritime Safety and Rescue Society (MSRS) reported, the flames could have started in the cockpit area of ​​the yacht at the stern. The cause is still unknown and may likely never be determined.

MSRS vessels immediately moved from the port of Ibiza, and around seven in the evening, began towing the wrecked yacht away from nearby vessels. In addition to the obvious complications of trying to tow a burning ship, the damage breached the hull’s integrity, and it sank.

On Sunday, a maritime salvage company arrived to remove any contaminants and determine if there had been any environmental damage. It conducted an inspection together with the MSRS and although there was some floating residue, they didn’t find any significant contamination.

Over the next few days, they will continue to monitor the area to see if there are spills and to clean up any remains of the boat that appear. The MSRS added that the yacht’s owner is responsible for refloating it and taking it to port.

The Lion in Hibernation

Gonzalez, also known by his nickname “The Lion,” is a professional poker player from Madrid, Spain. He earned his nickname by attending the final table of the 2012 European Poker Tour (EPT) in Prague, Czech Republic, wearing a full-body lion costume.

The 35-year-old began playing poker in high school and then moved to online poker. He ultimately became a regular on the Spanish poker circuit, enjoying an off-and-on adventure at the tables.

Gonzalez’s first cash purse in a live game came in August 2011, according to The Hendon Mob. He placed 12th in an event in the Estrellas Poker Tour in Spain, winning $5,400.

His biggest claim to fame was the 2012 EPT Main Event, the same event that led to his nickname. In it, he made it all the way to fifth place and a prize of $256,189.

The Lion hasn’t been as active in tournaments lately. Or if he is, he’s not making it to the money. The Hendon Mob lists his last cash in June 2021. It was a min-cash of $1,966 for finishing in 66th place in 888poker’s Spanish National Poker Circuit Main Event.