Friedman Overcomes Beastly Foe Todd Brunson in Heads-Up Finale
Heads-Up Showdown Lasts Nearly Four Hours -- Ending at 5 am
Las Vegas, NV (June 9, 2012) – Everyone who remembers watching the 2005 World Series of Poker on television can probably recall a red-headed 23-year-old college graduate who ultimately became the "Agony of Defeat" poster child for that year's entire series.
Adam Friedman, playing in his first major poker tournament ever that year, not only managed to outlast several thousand players in the Main Event Championship, he also made it into the money in what was his first-taste of what it's like to compete at the very highest level.
The experience was utterly intoxicating. But as riveting as was the emotional high when Friedman exploded from out of nowhere to make a serious run at poker's world championship, once he was eliminated in 43rd place, the cliff-dive off the mountaintop was devastating.
Friedman was seen weeping afterward, collapsing into the arms of his parents, emotionally drained and utterly disappointed. Of course, the actuality that he posted a remarkable achievement was completely lost. What mattered most was that Friedman thought he had not played as well as he could in the tournament's final stages, which cost him a chance to finish higher and perhaps even become that year's version of poker Cinderella.
Fortunately, just as in life, poker sometimes grants the most deserving a second chance.
Early this Saturday morning, Friedman enjoyed the thrill of jubilation he achieved with his first WSOP gold bracelet victory and the title of 2012 Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Champion.
Instantly, the past was forgotten. Memories of previous miseries were erased. Odd how winning a WSOP gold bracelet is the magical cure for all poker pain.
Adam Friedman a 30-year-old professional poker player originally from Ohio (and now living in Las Vegas), won his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet. The thrilling moment of triumph took place early this morning at the Rio, in Las Vegas. Friedman won the $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Championship, collecting $269,037 in prize money.
Friedman prevailed amongst a stacked field totaling 212 entrants -- including many of the world's best tournament players. He ultimately won poker’s most coveted prize later than anyone could have expected, on what turned out to be a fourth day of competition.
The runner up was former gold bracelet winner Todd Brunson, who showed absolutely no satisfaction with his consolation prize amounting to $166,269. Brunson's disappointment was amplified by having the chip lead during much of the heads-up showdown against Friedman..
Friedman was raised in the Columbus, Ohio area. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in business and marketing. Oddly enough, Friedman stumbled into poker as a profession quite accidentally. He won a seat playing online poker into the 2005 WSOP Main Event Championship,where he finished in 43rd place. Little did he know that his life would change from that instant forward.
After winning nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars on what many may have considered a fluke, Friedman decided to take several months off and test himself at the tables in order to see if he really could make something out of poker. For the next seven years, Friedman managed to grind out a decent living. He took the game seriously and treated it as a business. He moved to Las Vegas. He also continued to improve his game.
Friedman now says he is "light years" ahead of where his poker skills were seven years ago. He also conveyed that poker requires an everlasting commitment to improvement.
Like many professional and amateur players alike who arrive with high expectations at the WSOP, Friedman hoped to make a major breakthrough this year. Now, he has done precisely that. He has not only won a WSOP gold bracelet. He has not only earned a huge six-figure score. He has proven to himself and the world that he can indeed compete among the very best -- and even beat them.
In a sense, there is nothing more satisfying than that.
MEET NEW WSOP GOLD BRACELET CHAMPION – ADAM FRIEDMAN
Name: Adam Friedman
Birthplace: Ohio (USA)
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Professional Poker Player (for seven years)
Previous Occupation: Student
Education: B.A. Marketing – University of Indiana (2004)
Number of WSOP Cashes: 7 (plus 5 WSOP Circuit cashes)
Number of WSOP final-table appearances: 2
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 3rd (1500 HORSE 2011)
First-Place Prize Money: $269,037
Total WSOP Earnings: $503,305
WINNER QUOTES (POST-TOURNAMENT INTERVIEW)
QUESTION: Talk about the extra sweetness in beating Brunson heads-up tonight and having to really work for the victory.
FRIEDMAN: Todd’s a great player. He just didn’t make a mistake. I caught one pretty fortunate seventh-street card in one hand. Towards probably the last 45 minutes or so, the cards just favored me more than him. Just fortunate where I was in a spot where I could just pick them in one or two spots. Very similar to the last hand where he started with split tens and I had wired jacks. I check-raised him on fifth street and decided to get it all in. I was a decent favorite, at least at that point on fifth street. When I made jacks up, he was drawing to a two outer. And, I was just fortunate that he didn’t make trips on the river.
QUESTION: A lot of people will remember the moment when you burst onto the scene, when you busted out in the Main Event in 2005, and you were very emotional at the time. It took you seven years. Talk about the interim and the build-up of getting here.
FRIEDMAN: It’s taken a long time. Back in 2005, looking back -- I guess No-Limit has evolved over the last couple of years. Back in 2005, people weren’t really sure what to do. I thought I had a really good shot seven years ago. But my game has improved immensely over the years. I can’t even recognize my No-Limit Hold’em game from seven years ago when I made a deep run in the Main Event. I’ve tried really hard. I’ve gotten close on a lot of occasions, including last year when I was the chip leader going into the final table of the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event. I wasn’t able to come out then, even though I was super happy that Aaron won because he is a super nice guy. I was just fortunate that the cards came my way tonight. There were other occasions throughout the years where I was chip leader going into the final day, and the cards just basically laughed at me. I mean, it happens from time to time. You know, it took seven years. It could have taken 17 years, or longer. And I’m very happy, at least in some sort of way, to get the monkey off my back.
QUESTION: Was there anything you were doing during the match to keep your mind off the fatigue?
FRIEDMAN: Honestly, I was just thinking, ‘Don’t fall asleep.’ I was playing ABC poker. Maybe one or two hands I would’ve played slightly different if I was 100 percent aware of what was going on. But I was 99.5 percent aware of what was going on the entire time. I just thought I was going to play tonight. I probably should have waited until tomorrow, but I just wanted to have tomorrow off no matter what happens. Honestly, there was nothing in particular I did to stay awake. I just focused and essentially had to match his ‘intensity,’ so to speak. I really don’t like to use that word in poker. I’m just glad the match didn’t go on another six hours.
QUESTION: You seem to have a lot of dedicated supporters on the rail. Did that make your victory any sweeter?
FRIEDMAN: It’s awesome. Last year when I made the final table, I think I had about 30 or 40 people watching me the entire time and another 15 or 20 people going back-and-forth. I had about 15 people watching me the whole time and another 15 or 20 people going back-and-forth today. It’s nice to know that I’ve got a lot of friends who really care about me. And they know I’d do the same for them, as well. Friends from back home, friends that I’ve met over the years from all over the country -- Boulder, St. Louis, Los Angeles and a few other cities, as well. But it’s nice to know that I have a lot of friends that I’d like to think that they think well of me and that my intentions are well and that they’re willing to stick it out and watch me win this tournament today.
QUESTION: Tell us the quick Adam Friedman story about how you got into poker.
FRIEDMAN: Poker was almost an accident, so to speak. You know, I went to Indiana University. I majored in marketing and operations management. And, honestly, it was a choice where I wasn’t really 100 percent sold that that was what I really wanted to do. It was a way to keep going to school at the moment. Actually, after I graduated in 2004, I took the year off. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. It wasn’t even necessarily poker. I discovered poker my senior year in college. I was winning money on the side, and I actually fell in love with the game my senior year. There was no intention of playing full time. The first year after I graduated I was playing three days a week or so, and I qualified for the Main Event about four or five months prior to 2005. Actually, I had about four or five job interviews lined up for right after the World Series ended with the intentions of entering the real world. But when I made a deep run in the Main Event in 2005, I decided that if I was ever going to have a shot at playing poker full-time…you know, take one year off; see what you can do. If you do well, I’d reevaluated in a year from now, and if I didn’t, then I could always enter the real world, so to speak. I was just fortunate the next year; I was running well in about everything. I won two tournaments in about a four or five day stretch, and that basically set me up to keep playing for awhile. And five years later, here I am.
QUESTION: You think you’ll be doing this ten years from now?
FRIEDMAN: Full time? I don’t think so. It’s possible I will be in the game. But I’d like to do other things eventually in my life.
QUESTION: Such as?
FRIEDMAN: I don’t know yet. That’s what I’m still trying to figure out. I’ve been trying to figure that out for the last five or six years. If I can figure out something…the problem is -- I don’t think I can work for anybody any more. I wish that weren’t the case. If I could figure out something that I wanted, I could work 80 hours a week, without any problems for something that was mine and I was passionate about. The minute I can figure out what that is, I will be starting it instantly, but that’s one of the few things that I’ve really struggled with, figuring out what to do. But until that happens, I got to try to make a living playing poker. And it’s led to a pretty good life in the last six or seven years for me. I’m fortunate with, I guess, the results and more importantly, the money I’ve been able to make and more importantly, a lot of the friendships I’ve made along the way.
The official report of this tournament, with much more news and official data, will be posted soon to WSOP.com.
-- by Nolan Dalla