THE MEANING OF DANIEL ALAEI’S FIFTH WSOP GOLD BRACELET
LA Poker Pro Wins the Most Prestigious Omaha High-Low Split Tournament of the Year
Alaei Tops $10K World Championship Event and Collects $391,037
Latest Champion Matches Stu Ungar, Berry Johnston, Scotty Nguyen (and 4 Others) in Career Wins
MEET THE LATEST WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION
Name: Daniel Alaei
Birthplace: Millbrea, CA (USA)
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA (USA)
Marital Status: Married
Profession: Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 31
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 7
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 5
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st (2006, 2009, 2010, 2013)
Total WSOP Earnings: $4,178,533
Personal Facts: Alaei is the second-youngest player to reach five WSOP
victories in history, behind Allen Cunningham, who was just a few months
younger with his 5th win in 2007.
the history of the World Series of Poker is ultimately written, and
then re-written again, the name of the champion with the greatest number
of wins might not be who you think.
days after poker legend Phil Hellmuth won his fifth WSOP title (at age
50) here at the 2015 WSOP, another poker player who doesn’t draw nearly
the attention nor accolades did something only one other person has done
in the 46-year history of the most prestigious poker event on the
Wednesday evening here at the Rio in Las Vegas, Daniel Alaei won his
fifth career gold bracelet. The professional poker player from Los
Angeles, CA topped a world-class field of 157 players in the $10,000
buy-in Omaha High-Low Split championship, which was played over a
three-day period. The total prize pool amounted to $1,475,800, with
Alaei taking $391,097 for first place.
makes the win noteworthy, beyond the prestige that goes with any WSOP
win, was Alaei’s resume of accomplishments still at a relatively young
age. At 30, his fifth win means he’s the second-youngest player in
history ever to reach that milestone. Only Allen Cunningham, also with
five wins, reached the lofty plateau faster, and that was by only a few
victory on this date places him into some extraordinary poker company –
including other five-time WSOP winners Stu Ungar, Berry Johnston, John
Juanda, David Chui, Chris Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, Scotty Nguyen, and
Gary “Bones” Berland.
comparison, Hellmuth won his fifth gold bracelet at age 31, which means
his all-time wins mark was padded over the next 21 years (9 more wins
took place between 1993 and present). Assuming Alaei continues at the
current pace, he very well could emerge as the looming challenger to
Hellmuth, although Phil Ivey (10 wins at age 39) hopes to be in that
discussion. Indeed, Alaei’s accomplishments are even more impressive
considering he plays in relatively few tournaments ever year compared to
many of his peers. This was his first WSOP tournament entry of 2015.
this was also the second time Alaei has won the world championship of
Omaha High-Low Split (it’s the highest buy-in such event in the
world). He also won back in 2009.
topped a brutally tough final table which included no less than four
former gold bracelet winners – including Alaei himself, Scott Clements,
Mike Wattel, and Ken Aldridge. In fact, of the 18 players who cashed in
this event, 9 had won WSOP gold in the past.
won the finale by staging a dramatic comeback, arguably the most
improbable of any of his five WSOP victories. He was short-stacked
several times during the final day, and was out-chipped by more than 6
to 1 when playing heads-up against a formidable challenger named Kyle
Maiso, from Scottsdale, AZ. It appeared Maiso would come out on top
during much of the finale’s late stages, but Alaei consistently got his
chips in with the best of it and scooped enough pots to slowly reverse
the chip counts and win the victory, which was streamed live over
victory seemed all in a day’s work to Alaei, who isn’t demonstrative
and rarely makes much of his prodigal talent and natural abilities. Once
the final hand was dealt, Alaei demonstrated the customary
sportsmanship that has defined his career, posed for a few photos, and
then answered the following questions, as follows:
Question: Where does this gold bracelet compare to the others you’ve won?
hadn’t planned on playing that many tournaments this year. This was my
first event to enter, so this was a bit surprising. As far as how this
compares, I think they are all pretty sweet. I did win this event in
2009, so it’s nice to win it again. It was especially nice to win since I
was so low-stacked when we were heads-up. So, it was really nice to
come back and win it.
do you think of your name now being mentioned among some of the true
greats of the game? Is that a conversation we should be having now?
don’t know. I love coming to the World Series. I love playing the
tournaments. I hope to win more, and maybe one day to be in that
conversation. As for now, I just try to play my best and do what I do.
Question: Can you talk about the heads-up match and the comeback against Kyle Miaso?
was a lot of back and forth. I didn’t start out well (going from 1
million down to 500,000). Then, I reversed things and got him where he
was down to 500,000, but then he came back again. I just happened to win
the last pot.
Question: What are your plans the rest of the series?
Alaei: I’m thinking of playing (some other $10K events).
Question: You seem to prefer alternative games, other than No-Limit Hold’em. Any particular reason why this is so?
don’t play any of the No-Limit events. I might play the Main Event or
the $10K Six-Max. But I just feel the players are so advanced. I feel
like they are much better than me, so I don’t even bother playing in
those tournaments. I might play in a few cash games, but that’s it.
The final table was completed in about six hours. Behind Alaei winning, the official order of finish was as follows:
Kyle Miaso, a 31-year-old poker pro from Arizona finished as the
runner up. He dominated play late, that is, until Alaei made his
heads-up comeback. Nonetheless, with the $241,691 payout as a
consolation prize, this was Maiso’s best WSOP finish among his 8 cashes.
Third Place: Jeffrey
Vaughn, a 58-year-old poker pro from Encino, CA cashed for $175,088 for
finishing in third place. He cashed in an event here at the series 19
years ago, finishing in 4th
place, which makes this tournament his best career showing, to
date. Unfortunately, Vaughn couldn’t keep up with the rising chip counts
of either Alaei or Miaso, and went out late on Day Three.
Scott Clements has developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the
game’s top Omaha High-Low Split players. He’s won two gold bracelets
(2006 and 2007, one in this game) and now has 39 WSOP cashes and 11
final table appearances, including a runner-up finish in this same event
back in 2009. Clements, a poker pro from Mount Vernon, WA added
$129,235 to his poker bankroll for finishing 4th. His career WSOP earnings now total nearly $2.5 million.
Fifth Place: Ken Aldridge, known as “Yellow Jacket” buzzed away with 5th-place
prize money, amounting to $97,122. Aldridge, a 67-year-old former
school teacher turned part-time semi-pro from North Carolina, won his
gold bracelet in a Six-Handed NLHE event back in 2009. This was
Aldridge’s best finish since that victory, which moves him over $600,000
in winnings here in Las Vegas.
Sixth Place: Anthony Zinno, an attorney from Boston, MA finished in 6th
place. He enjoyed his best showing at the series following four deep
runs in WSOP Circuit events. Zinno, making his first cash here in 2015,
pocketed $74,262 in prize money.
Mike Wattel was one of four gold bracelet winners at the final
table. He won his title back in 1999, in this same game. Wattel couldn’t
establish any momentum during the finale, and went out with $57,748 in
prize money, which makes for nearly $2 million in career winnings at the
WSOP. Wattel, a longtime poker pro from the Phoenix area has been
playing as a pro for nearly 25 years. This was his 39th in-the-money finish.
Eighth Place: Tobias Hausen, from Ockfen, Germany finished in 8th place. His best WSOP showing was worth $45,661.
Ninth Place: Gold bracelet winner and former November Niner Jeremy Ausmus finished in 9th place, on the crest of the final table. The 2012 Main Event finalists who finished 5th
padded his bankroll with another $36,668 in prize money. This makes for
32 career cashes since 2010, and $3.5 million in career WSOP
earnings. Ausmus is 35-years-old and lives in Las Vegas.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS:
Other players who cashed in this event aside from those who made the final table included – Joe Cassidy (11th), Gary Benson (16th), Eli Elezra (17th), and Erik Seidel (18th).
Omaha High-Low specialist “Prince of Docness” (that’s his real name) cashed in this event, finishing 180h. All six of the Prince’s cashes have been in Omaha-related events.
Half of the players who finished in the money, half -- 9 out of 18 -- had won gold bracelets in the past.
Written by Nolan Dalla (WSOP Media Staff)