June 05, 2011 - 11:38:17 PM EST  | 


Allen Bari Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet

New Jersey Poker Pro Earns Biggest WSOP Payout To Date-- $874,116

“I’m the Best,” Bari Says – and Then Proves It.

Maria Ho Finishes as Runner Up – Good for $540,020

Event Increases 8 Percent Over 2010 – Overall WSOP Attendance Still Up 

Four Gold Bracelets Won – 55 More to Go! 


It’s been said that if you can back something up, it’s not bragging. 
“I’m the best,” Allen Bari barked out just moments after his thrilling World Series of Poker victory at the Rio in Las Vegas.  
“I do not think my swagger is undeserved.  I’ve been playing poker a long time and have been working hard at it.  I’ve been putting in the hours and learning.  I am not arrogant in terms of everything. Just poker, because – I’m really good at poker.  I do not lie.  I am just better than most people.”
Allen Bari sure backed up his braggadocios bravado at the poker table.  He won the biggest cash prize of any poker champion so far in 2011, by overcoming a huge field size in the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Championship.
Bari earned a whopping $874,116 in first-place prize money.  The 26-year-old New Jersey poker pro was also presented with the ultimate symbol of achievement in the game of poker, the WSOP gold bracelet.  This marked his first WSOP victory.

The top prize surpassed the winner’s share of the $25,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship, which concluded three days earlier.  Jake Cody, the winner of that prize, collected $851,192.

This was the third No-Limit Hold’em tournament on this year’s WSOP schedule.  The tournament attracted 865 entries – which was up significantly from last year’s attendance of 792 entrants.  The top 81 finishers collected prize money.  Among those who cashed were former gold bracelet winners Farzad Bonyadi, Brian Lemke (winner of this event in 2009), Carlos Mortensen, J.C. Tran, Scott Montgomery, and Mike Wattel. 

Anyone who watched the closing stages of the tournament would likely agree that Bari dominated play.  He was never in any danger of going bust at the final table.  When play became four-handed, Bari had possession of two-thirds of the total chips in play.  Indeed, if the final table were a city, Bari’s chip stack resembled an iron skyscraper surrounded by three wooden shacks.
Although he made things look easy, the reality was that Bari earned this victory through commitment and dedication.  He cashed five times at last year’s WSOP.  Bari now has 11 WSOP cashes and more than $1 million in earnings.  Bari’s first major tournament victory took place on the WSOP Circuit in 2008.  He won the Main Event Championship, held at Caesars Atlantic City.
The runner up was Maria Ho, who enjoyed her best career WSOP finish.  The popular poker pro from Los Angeles collected a nice consolation prize amounting to $540,020.      

“This is my sixth year as a professional poker player.  I am getting kind of choked up here,” Ho stated afterward.  “You visualize moments like these and all you want to do is win.  It’s a disappointment and I feel bad for saying that, because I won a lot of money and I should be proud.  But there is a point in every poker player’s career where you want that bracelet.  It’s so tough to get here.”
For the tournament portal page for this tournament, including all RESULTS , click HERE.


The 2011 World Series of Poker $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion is Allen Bari, from West Orange, NJ.

Bari is a 26-year-old professional poker player.

Bari’s last name is pronounced, “berry.”

Bari was born in Jersey City, NJ.  He is single. 

Bari attended and graduated from Rutgers University.

Prior to playing poker for a living, Bari worked on Wall Street, in New York.  He spent two years with two well-known companies – Morgan-Stanley and A.I.G.  Bari became unemployed during the economic downturn.  By that time he had already begun to make more money playing poker, so he decided to pursue the vocation full-time.

Bari started out playing poker while in high school and later in college.  He mostly play stud and draw games.  He still prefers to play in Mixed Games, rather than Hold’em.  In fact, Bari expected that his first WSOP title would come in one of the split games but instead he captured a Hold’em victory.

Bari’s first breakthrough tournament victory took place in the 2008 WSOP Circuit Main Event Championship, at Caesars Atlantic City. 

This was the sixth time Bari has attended the WSOP.  

Bari collected $874,116 for first place.  He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Bari now has 1 win, 3 final table appearances, and 11 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Bari currently has $1,089,653 in WSOP winnings.

Despite his victory, Bari is not a big fan of poker tournaments.  He prefers to play in cash games, insisting there is simply too much variance in tournaments.

Bari is to be regarded as a professional poker player, since works and plays poker full time successfully.


On his expectation coming into this year’s WSOP:  “I was expecting to win a bracelet.  Seriously, I thought that if I did not win a bracelet it would like be a joke.”

On his confidence and swagger.  “I do not think my swagger is undeserved.  I’ve been playing poker a long time and have been working hard at it.  I’ve been putting in the hours and learning.  I am not arrogant in terms of everything.  Just poker, because – I’m really good at poker.  I do not lie.  I am just better than most people.  Everyone else thinks they are good, but they’re not.  They all stink (laughing).  I’m the best.”

On variance:  “I would say if you play 150 tournaments over eight years, you are going to win a bracelet.  The variance is absurd.  I have come close to winning a million dollars four times in the past year.  So, to get this is the best feeling in the world.”

On momentum and the possibility if winning more WSOP titles this year:  “I definitely think it’s a confidence thing.  Also, other people start to realize that you’re running good.  And poker players, including me, are silly.  They let it affect how they play.”

On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet:  “The bracelet means a lot, but I do not really think the bracelet should validate you as a player.  For example, Eugene Katchalov just won a bracelet ($1,500 Seven-Card Stud).  He should probably have four, because he’s the ill-est.  And, I’m the ill-est because I should have four.  But I only have one.  And stinkers like Phil Hellmuth have eleven.  So, it’s all meaningless.  All that matters is that good players know you are good and when you sit at a table, they are like scared of you.  And they respect your game.  That’s the most important thing.”

On his future plans in poker:  “I would like to stop playing as much.  I do not like to travel as much.  I am not going to quit poker.  I do not think I will ever quit poker in my life.  I would like to cut down on the traveling.  I have a girlfriend and I am getting older.  I would eventually like to settle down.”


On finishing second:  “This is my sixth year as a professional poker player.  I am getting kind of choked up here.  You visualize moments like these and all you want to do is win.  It’s a disappointment and I feel bad for saying that, because I won a lot of money and I should be proud but there is a point in every poker player’s career where you want that bracelet.  It’s so tough to get here.”

On her cheering section which packed the ESPN main stage during the final table:  “Honestly, the most amazing thing out of all of this and every deep run I have ever had is the tremendous outpouring of support I have from people in the community, and my friends, and poker players that I respect – that I love inside and outside of this game.  That is going to stay with me forever.  The $500,000 (that I won) is not going to last me a lifetime.  But the fact that all these people came and supported me will.”

On her goal from this point forward:  “When there is only one spot to go at the final table and you do not get there, you are always going to be chasing that from this point forward.  I’m definitely going to be going for first place whenever I play.”

On being female and playing in a competition largely dominated by men:  “I think in terms of my ability as a poker player and when people talk about great poker players, I hope someday to be in there in a gender-neutral way.  But if my finish, and how I do, and any success in poker I have had is something that other females can share and enjoy and that will perhaps bring them into the game, then I feel happy to say I contributed to that.  But at the end of the day, I want to be one of the best, male or female.”


The final table contained only one former gold bracelet winner – Farzad Bonyadi.  

The final table was comprised of players from the three countries – Canada, Russia, and the United States.

Final table participants ranged in age from 23 (youngest) to 51 (oldest).

The runner up was Maria Ho, from Arcadia, CA.  She was the top female finisher in the 2007 WSOP Main Event (38th place).  Ho has since gone on to become one of the game’s most popular ambassadors.  She even appeared as a contestant on a CBS reality show called “The Amazing Race.”  The prize money she received, $540,020, represents the second-highest cash figure ever won by a female player in WSOP history.  Only Annette Obrestad, the WSOP Europe Main Event champion (2007), had a bigger payout.   

The third-place finisher was Sean LeFort, from Bowmanville, Ontario (Canada).  He is a 26-year-old poker pro.  

The fourth-place finisher was Nicholas Blumenthal, from Madison, WI.  He is a 25-year-old poker pro.

The fifth-place finisher was Thomas Ross, from Brooklyn, NY.  He is a 40-year-old craftsman.  

The sixth-place finisher was Ricky Fohrenbach, from Milford, CT.  He is a 24-year-old college student and SAT instructor.

The seventh-place finisher was Jesse Chinni, from Ellicott City, MD.  He is a 25-year-old student and University of Maryland alum.  This was Chinni’s second WSOP final table appearance.

The eighth-place finisher was Mikhail Lakhitov, from Cheboksary, Russia.  This was his second time to make a WSOP final table.  He is a 30-year-old poker pro.

The ninth-place finisher was three-time gold bracelet winner, Farzad Bonyadi, from Beverly Hills, CA.  His previous victories came 1998, 2004, and 2005.

The final table lasted about eight hours.

Bari never came close to losing his chip lead.  He dominated the final eight hours of play.  When Bari got heads-up against Maria Ho, he was ahead about 10 to 1 in chips.

This was one of the few WSOP final tables in history that included a break in the action.  Once play reached four-handed, players stopped play and returned the following day.  This was due to a new WSOP policy this year, which mandates that play end after ten full levels (per day).  The final table began late on Day Three and ended on Day Four.  It was originally scheduled as a four-day tournament.


The defending champion was Jason DeWitt.  He entered this tournament, but did not cash.

Aside from Farzad Bonyadi (9th), several former WSOP gold bracelet winners also cashed in this event.

Brian Lemke, winner of this event in 2009, finished in 14th place.

2001 World Champion Carlos Mortensen finished 17th.

Two-time champ J.C. Tran finished 29th.

Gold bracelet winner Scott Montgomery finished 68th.  He also took fifth place in the 2008 Main Event.

Gold bracelet winner Mike Wattel finished 75th.

19 of the 81 paid positions were comprised of non-American players.


Attendance increased by 8 percent over last-year’s field size, when there were 792 entrants.  The year before, 655 players registered.  Hence, this tournament has grown by 32 percent during the last two years – more than any other event on the schedule.

This is the 897th gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010).

The tournament was played over four consecutive days.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament.  The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played.  The entire presentation is open to the public and media.  Video and photography is permitted by both the public and members of the media.

Bari’s gold bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Monday, June 6th.  The U.S. National Anthem will be played in honor of his victory.

Tournament results are to be included in the WSOP official records.  Results are also to be included in the 2011 WSOP “Player of the Year” race.

This was the WSOP largest prize pool of the year, so far.


No-Limit Hold’em has been the staple game at the WSOP, since its inception in 1970.  More No-Limit Hold’em tournaments have been played than any other form of poker – by far.  The WSOP first began offering multiple No-Limit Hold’em tournaments in 1973.  
The first $5,000 buy-in level No-Limit Hold’em tournament was offered at the 2003 WSOP.  Tournament organizers did not schedule an event at this level prior to that time because there was fear that a “big” buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament added to the schedule could decrease participation in the $10,000 buy-in Main Event championship.

The first $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em gold bracelet event winner was Johnny Chan.

The list of former winners of the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship reads as follows:

Jason DeWitt (2010)
Brian Lemke (2009)
Scott Seiver (2008)
James Mackey (2007)
Jeff Cabanillas (2006)
T.J. Cloutier (2005)
Thomas “Thunder” Keller (2004)
Johnny Chan (2003)


The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 2nd, at 5 pm PST.  The tournament officially ended on Sunday, June 5th at 4:45 pm PST.


Through the conclusion of Event #4, the 2011 WSOP has attracted 2,868 combined total entries.  $9,736,750 in prize money has been awarded to winners, so far.

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the nationality of gold bracelet winners has been:
United States (4)
Great Britain (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:
United States (4)
Great Britain (1)

Through the conclusion of this event, the home-states of winners has been:
Arkansas (1)
California (1)
Illinois (1)
New Jersey (1)

Through the conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (1):  Jake Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Allen Bari

Semi-Pros (1):  Sean R. Drake

Amateurs (1):  Sam Barnhart

Note:  Various categories and statistics will be updated with each gold bracelet event as they are completed.

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Nolan Dalla – Senior Writer

About the author: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.

He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe – where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.
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