Amateur Poker Player Unplugs Several Pros -- "Doctor Dave" Arsht Diagnosed as the Latest WSOP Champion
Las Vegas, NV (June 7, 2012) – There's an old saying which goes...."Never play poker with a man named 'Doc."
At the World Series of Poker, apparently no one listened.
David Arsht, a.k.a. "Doctor Dave," a 66-year-old physician from the Philadelphia area stunned the poker world late Thursday night by winning his first WSOP gold bracelet. Doc's memorable moment took place at the Rio in Las Vegas. Arsht won the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em title, collecting a $211,921 in prize money.
The semi-retired urologist emptied a poker bladder of 730 entrants, ultimately capturing poker’s most coveted prize late on the third and final day of competition. The runner up was Stephen Hung, who also enjoyed his deepest run ever in a WSOP tournament. The El Cerrito, CA part-time poker player collected second place prize money amounting to $130,921. The urologist's victory was streamed live on WSOP.com.
The top 81 finishers collected prize money. One of the more notable in-the-money finishers included Roland Israelashvili – who is among the leaders in combined WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes over the past five seasons. The Russian-born New Yorker, who took 10th in this tournament, now has 21 WSOP cashes to go along with 26 visit to the pay window in WSOP Circuit events.
Among the former gold bracelet winners in-the-money were Jennifer Harmon-Traniello (18th) who enjoyed her 27th cash (fourth all-time among female players). Humberto Brenes, Costa Rica’s most famous poker player, took 35th place – good for cash number 64 which ranks fifth all-time. Eric Buchman also made a nice run, finishing 42nd.
Men “the Master” Nguyen hit the money for the third time at this year’s WSOP – which means he’s picked up one step on all-time cashes leader Phil Hellmuth (who cashed twice, to date). Nonetheless, Nguyen (with 75 career cashes) is still a heavy underdog to draw even or surpass Hellmuth, now sitting comfortably on 87.
MEET NEW WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION – "DOCTOR DAVE" ARSHT
Name: David Arsht, a.k.a. "Doctor Dave"
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)
Childhood: Grew up in Pennsylvania
Current Residence: Radnor, PA and Margate, NJ
Marital Status: Married (43 years)
Profession: Retired Physician (urologist)
Previous Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Number of WSOP Cashes: 3 (plus 1 WSOP Circuit cash)
Number of WSOP final-table appearances: 1
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 23rd (1500 No-Limit Hold’em 2007)
First-Place Prize Money: $211,921
Total WSOP Earnings: $234,268
WINNER QUOTES (POST-TOURNAMENT INTERVIEW)
QUESTION: Do you still reside in Philadelphia?
DOC: Yeah, and also in a small town called Margate, outside of Atlantic City.
QUESTION: This has become a young person’s game, let’s be quite honest here.
DOC: It has? (Laughter) Are you saying that you think I should be playing stud instead? Is that what you’re saying?
QUESTION: (Laughter) No, but do you ever think – what am I doing here? Do you ever have that feeling?
DOC: Well, I would have to honestly say I don’t think my friends think that I had the capacity to win a WSOP gold bracelet. Because you know, they play this very fast and aggressive game. They think that my game is different from theirs. They think I’m sort of like -- slow.
QUESTION: Where’d you go to medical school?
DOC: I went to medical school in Kansas City. And was an engineer before I went to medical school. I first became a mechanical engineer and then went on to medical school. Then, I had a residency in surgery in Philadelphia and New York. I practiced for 34 years as a urologist and played poker Friday nights. I still play every Friday night. The Parx (casino) is open now, and I play once or twice during the week as well, if I can.
QUESTION: Are you going to wear the gold bracelet when you go into the Parx Casino and see your friends, next time?
DOC: Uh… for a while I sure might. Absolve the non-believers the bracelet….Actually, you know what I am going to do? I’m going to take the picture of the marlin I caught in March off of my screensaver and put one of these pictures on my screensaver. That’s what I’m going to do.
QUESTION: You had some family and friends here with you. Do you want to call out anybody by name?
DOC: Yes. My wife is my best friend in the world. We had arranged to go on a trip to a spa resort in Utah. We were supposed to go today -- if I wasn’t at the final today. And my son Jordan is here. We were going to visit him in Utah. He came down because he knew we were down to 15 players on the final day. Actually we haven’t spoken about what we’re doing next. We don’t have a room for tonight. We checked out yesterday.
QUESTION: Do you think the Motel 6 has a $19 room?
DOC: Maybe that’s what I need. But seriously, I don’t know how these other guys feel, but my wife certainly believed that I could do it. I believed it, my son believed it. My daughter at home believes it. And, I did it.
During the 1990s, Limit Hold’em tournaments routinely attracted the largest fields of any tournaments played anywhere in the world. This was also true at the WSOP. Several years, this tournament had twice number of entrants as the Main Event Championship. It was traditionally offered as the kick-off event over the first weekend of the WSOP. The schedule placement was designed to attract casual poker players to the WSOP, since No-Limit Hold’em was played in very few casinos and cardrooms prior to 2003.
Limit Hold’em made its debut at the 1983 WSOP. The first Limit Hold’em world champion was Tom McEvoy. He went on to win the WSOP Main Event that same year.
The start of Limit Hold’em’s popularity can be traced back to California’s legalization of flop games (including Texas Hold’em) in 1988. Prior to the late 1980s, Limit Hold’em was spread in only a few small Las Vegas casinos and underground poker games, located mostly in the American South.
Limit Hold’em was the king of all games during most of the 1990s, except in the Northeastern United States, where Seven-Card Stud was the dominant form of poker that was played. In fact, finding a No-Limit Hold'em game was next to impossible anywhere – except at the most prestigious events such as the WSOP and the Hall of Fame Tournament (now defunct). In 2003, things started to change. No-Limit Hold'em quickly became the most popular form of poker played -- not only in the United States – but worldwide. Today, Limit Hold'em tournaments are relatively uncommon except in the biggest poker markets.
This year’s turnout was the largest in four years for the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em event. The 2006 tournament attracted 1,069 entries. In 2007, the number declined to 910 players. In 2008, the tally was 883. There were 643 entries in 2009. The final number in 2010 was 625. The increase from 675 in 2011 up to 730 this year represents one of the biggest increases for any event this year, so far.
The list of former Limit Hold’em champions at this level is quite an illustrious group. Former Limit Hold’em champions include – Tom McEvoy, Berry Johnston, Humberto Brenes, Johnny Chan, Mickey Appleman, David Chiu, Jay Heimowitz, and Farzad Bonyadi.
-- by Nolan Dalla