Pot-Limit Omaha (with Re-buys) Championship Location:
Rio, Las VegasBuy-in:
$2,000Number of Entries:
212Number of Re-buys and Add-ons:
395Total Prize Money:
All of us have embarrassing moments. But what would you do if your most embarrassing moment took place in front of a room full of television cameras and a viewing audience of millions? That is exactly what happened to Josh Arieh at last year's World Series of Poker. Just as he busted out of the championship event, Arieh committed what seemed to be an unsportsmanlike act when he tried to encourage his friend David Williams (who finished as the runner-up) with a pep talk. Unfortunately, Arieh used language which made it appear that he bore resentment towards the eventual world poker champion, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer.
Viewers who later saw the broadcast of the exchange were (and largely remain) unaware that Arieh approached Raymer afterward, congratulated him for his victory, and apologized for the incident. Arieh admits that he can have a combustible temper, and said that the crushing blow of getting knocked out caused the initial outburst. Those who know Arieh best -- as both as a friend and an adversary at the poker table -- generally believe he got tarred and feathered because of an ill-timed episode which is reflective of neither his true attitude nor his ordinary conduct at the poker table.
The luckiest of men have the chance to redeem themselves. In this case, redemption was all the more fulfilling because it came, yet again, in front of television cameras. With ESPN shooting all the action, Josh Arieh sat down in what was arguably the toughest final table lineup thus far at this year's World Series. His mission was as straightforward as it was challenging - to win his second gold bracelet. He also hoped to emancipate himself from the unflattering portrait painted during those few moments of television at last year's WSOP. He did both.
In 1999, Arieh - then a 23-year-old newly-crowned WSOP winner -- burst upon the poker scene with all the subtlety of John Belushi at a keg party. He was as flamboyant as he was talented, as combative as he was single-minded. Arieh won the $3,000 buy-in Limit Hold'em championship that year, which paid $202,080. The sky seemed to be the limit. Little did he know at the time that it would be six long years before he would get so close to winning another gold bracelet.
The Pot-Limit Omaha championship (Event #12) attracted 212 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $1,180,080. The final table included four former gold bracelet winners - Erik Seidel (with 7 wins); Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (with 5 wins); and Josh Arieh and Ron Graham (with one win each). In addition, WSOP Circuit winner Doug Lee made it to the final table. But it was Arturo Diaz who enjoyed the chip lead when play began. Players were eliminated as follows:
9th Place: Erik Seidel, $23,180
Erik Seidel's bid for an eighth gold bracelet was crushed early. Seidel arrived low on chips and moved his last 56,000 into the pot with multiple straight draws. But Josh Arieh won the pot with a pair of kings and Seidel made his quickest final table exit in history. His previous "worst" final table finish was 7th place (in 1995). This was Seidel's 24th final table appearance during his distinguished WSOP career and his 37th time to cash. He won his seventh gold bracelet only two days ago.
8th Place: Doug Lee, $34,690
Doug Lee knows how to win at the Rio. Three months ago, Lee won the WSOP Circuit event held in the same building and hoped to add a gold bracelet to his gold ring. Lee lasted only an hour on this day as his full house (fours full of aces) was hammered by Chris Ferguson's high full house (nines full of fours).
7th Place: David Colclough, $46,225
The lowest stack from the start was Englishman David Colclough. Nicknamed "El Blondie," Colclough hit trip jacks on the flop, but Arieh made a flush on the turn. Colclouogh had a chance to double up if the board paired, but missed. The 41-year-old was eliminated in 7th place.
6th Place: Arturo Diaz, $57,820
Perhaps no other poker game makes the chip lead so susceptible as pot-limit Omaha. In fact, things change very quickly in this game - as Arturo Diaz found out the hard way. Diaz arrived in comfortable chip position, but was never able to use the size of his stack to his advantage. Diaz missed a straight draw on his final hand of the night and went out a disappointing sixth place.
5th Place: Max Pescatori, $69,385
Max Pescatori's poker nickname is "the Italian Pirate" because, frankly, he looks exactly like one. The bandana-wrapped poker player from Milano set sail with only 62,000 in chips and was blown out of the water about two hours into the finale. "The Pirate" called with his last 26,000 in chips, holding a pocket overpair on the flop (queens). But new chip leader Arieh completed a straight on the turn which left "the Pirate" drawing dead.
4th Place: Tony Sevnsom, $92,510
Tony Sevnsom (a.k.a. "Tekk") from Houston, is no stranger to final tables. He has appeared at WSOP Circuit events this year and hoped to win his first gold bracelet in this event. He came reasonably close to victory, but finally ran out of steam when his 10-7-6-5 missed multiple straight draws. The final board showed 8-5-2-Q-3, which meant Arieh (yet again) won a big pot, this time with two pair (holding 9-8-5-4).
3rd Place: Ron Graham, $115,640
For the second time in two days, the three finalists all were former gold bracelet winners. By this time, Arieh had gobbled up nearly three-quarters of the chips in play. He became so dominant as play became short-handed that, had this been a prize fight, the referee might have stopped the action. But neither Chris Ferguson nor Ron Graham were ready to throw in the towel.
Arieh's chip raiding became so ridiculous (and easy) that he started raising pots blindly, in an effort to pressure either Ferguson or Graham to play a pot. With a difference of $95,000 at stake (between 3rd and 2nd) Arieh could afford to be the bully and watch Ferguson and Graham hopelessly squirm in their seats, hoping to leapfrog the other into 2nd place.
Graham moved all-in for 25,000 with 10-10-8-4. Arieh was dealt A-J-10-3. Ferguson was dealt 8-7-6-5. In a rare three-way pot, Ferguson took the loot when the final board showed 7-7-3-8-A (with a full house). Ron Graham - who won a gold bracelet in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball in 1986 and also finished third in the main event (the same year Chan and Seidel battled for the 1988 WSOP championship) settled for 3rd place.
Runner up: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, $210,460
Despite Arieh's dominance over the first four hours of play, the outcome of the tournament was still very much undecided when heads-up play began. Arieh had the chip lead - 878,000 to 339,000. But all Ferguson needed was one big hand to draw close to even in chips. This made the initial play between the final two competitors very timid.
But as they continued, Ferguson played more aggressively, got called when he had a big hand, and eventually took the chip lead.
If the first 40 minutes of heads-up play was disturbing to Arieh, he certainly didn't show it. Seemingly focused and in control of his emotions the entire time, Arieh watched Ferguson take a 2 to 1 chip lead, then reversed the tide with three big hands which effectively were a flurry of knockout punches. Two hands were not shown (no showdown). In fact, Arieh won 7 of the final 8 hands that were dealt. The closer came as the final table approached the sixth hour.
Arieh was dealt K-9-3-2. Ferguson was dealt K-10-9-3. Neither player had much of a hand, but the flop came 7=5=2 with two hearts. Arieh bet out, Ferguson raised to 200,000 with a lower heart draw