Christopher Tryba Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet

Tryba Wins Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No-Limit) -- Event #35

Las Vegas Poker Pro and WSOP Circuit Grinder Collects $210,107 in Prize Money

Tryba Wins Final Hand with Straight Flush -- Former Gold Bracelet Winner Erik Cajelais Finishes Second


When poker players fantasize about winning a coveted World Series of Poker gold bracelet, the dream sequence usually goes something like this.

Hero gets dealt a big hand. 

Villain gets dealt a big hand also, but not quite as good a hand as the hero.

Hero makes a straight flush. But first, it’s the villain’s turn to act. Villain pushes all-in. The crowd rises to its feet. Hero seems to be pondering his decision. Holding the stone-cold nuts, the hero milks the moment for full dramatic effect and then calls for a WSOP title.

Fists pump into the air. Screams of joy are heard. Crowd goes wild.

Only in a dream, right?

Well, this dream actually came true for Chris Tryba, who has been one of poker’s consummate grinders over the past three years. The always talkative and occasionally bombastic touring pro earned his biggest career victory to date on Wednesday night, topping the $2,500 Mixed Hold’em event, which combined both Limit and No-Limit Hold’em.

Tryba earned $210,107 in prize money. But dollar figures were the last thing on Tryba’s mind as he held up the cylinder of gold and beamed for cameras, photographers, reporters, and poker fans gathered on the ESPN Main Stage. 

Indeed, the poker player known for his trademark white t-shirt and worn out baseball cap more than earned this victory. His dues were paid the hard way, the old-fashioned way, and the way poker rounders used to hustle to make a living, bouncing from town to town looking for the next possible score. 

Prior to this WSOP, most of Tryba's previous tournament experience consisted of traveling around the United States, playing at each of the 17 WSOP Circuit stops that run from September through May. During the last two years, he's spent nearly half his time in hotel rooms (150 days a year, according to his estimate), although he somehow called Las Vegas his "home."

This is not to say however, that Tryba lacks big-time tournament experience. He’s played in dozens of gold bracelet events over the past four years and has posted ten cashes. In fact, this was Tryba’s third cash at this WSOP, following 10th- and 17th-place showings over the past two weeks. Tryba has also cashed 24 times on the WSOP Circuit, making him one of the top 25 of all-time.

Despite the six-figure payout and some pretty impressive jewelry, don’t expect Tryba to change much, if at all. To get some perspective of exactly who this new poker champion is and how obsessively practical he has become, consider the revealing explanation of why he chooses to wear white t-shirts every single day, at virtually every poker tournament.

Tryba explained that some time ago he was shopping at a discount store. He noticed that white 100-percent cotton t-shirts (Size XXX-L) were on sale for three bucks each. So, in one massive swoop -- like a big grizzly bear pawing at a school of salmon -- Tryba emptied out the store's entire rack and stacked a shopping cart full of white t-shirts. He says that he hasn’t had to buy a single shirt since.

Next time Tryba visits the discount store, he may want to add one more item to his shopping list -- and that's some gold jewelry polish.

Of course, knowing Tryba, once he eyes the gold polish -- he'll swipe off the entire shelf once again, confident that he's going to have more jewelry to clean for many more years to come. 


Las Vegas, NV (June 20, 2012) -- Chris Tryba may have started the final table of the $2,500 Mixed Limit Hold'em event in the middle of the pack and flying under the radar, but by the time the last card was dealt, no one in the Amazon Room had to question who had won the latest WSOP gold bracelet.

Tryba defeated a man who already had a gold bracelet to his credit, Erik Cajelais, with a straight flush. The event came to an abrupt halt when Cajelais shoved all-in on the river holding the nut straight only to have Tryba give a smile and a nod before calling, screaming out to his fans on the rail, "Straight flush, baby!"

Tryba collects $210,107 and his first gold bracelet for the victory at a fast-paced final table that saw the field cut from nine to a winner in the span of just over five hours. The Las Vegas poker pro has been a presence at the WSOP since 2003. This was his third career WSOP final table. His previous final table appearances were both in Stud events. 


Name: Christopher Tryba

Birthplace: Boston, MA 

Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV (but also calls Massachusetts his home)

Profession: Professional Poker Player (10 years)

Previous Occupation: Real Estate, Consultant to a non-profit organization

Marital Status: Single 

Children: None

Number of WSOP Cashes: 10 (plus 24 WSOP Circuit cashes)

Number of WSOP final table appearances: 3

Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1

Best Previous WSOP finish: 7th 

Total WSOP Earnings: $344,757 ($552,008 when combined with WSOP Circuit earnings)

Other Interesting Things: Known for his trademark white t-shirts and baseball cap


Question: You’ve been around tournament poker for a long time. How does it feel to break through and get a win?

Tryba: It feels really good. It just feels really good… It’s some validation. It just feels really good.

Question: The winning hand was a straight flush. Talk about how it felt that moment when Cajelais moved all-in.

Tryba: I was looking over at my buddy and I knew (Cajelais) was going to raise. I was looking at him and I knew he wasn’t looking at me. I was like, ‘This is it. It’s all going in right here and I know he can’t beat me. This is awesome. This is unbelievable that this is going to happen.’ Erik played great. They all played great. It was an unbelievable final table. I just had to keep on keepin’ on. Sometimes it went well. Sometimes it went poorly. It just ended up really good.

Question: Talk about the final table and working your way through so many tough competitors.

Tryba: You just make the next right decisions and just try to do what you can do and hopefully it all turns out okay. Today it turned out okay.

Question: What’s your take on the Limit/No-Limit mixed format?

Tryba: I really got all my chips in the Limit structure only because (the limits) were probably a little bit too high. Although I heard they’re going to do something to adjust that -- obviously I can’t complain too much. I just won the tournament. It was awesome. I enjoyed it.

Question: What was your immediate reaction when you got the straight flush?

Tryba: I flopped a pair. Then I turned a straight-flush draw. Then I hit the straight flush on the river. I lead into him and I was hoping he was just going to let loose. I was hoping he had a big enough hand -- a full house, or three nines. I was really hoping he had a big enough hand to come over the top. If I check-raise him it looks way stronger and he might get away from the king-high straight he had. He had a really big hand, too. You can’t really fault Erik for getting all his chips in there. It’s just crazy that I had a straight flush. I could have a flush, I could have a full house, but when I lead it probably looked a lot weaker and I was really hoping he would take the bait. It’s the only time this whole tournament I lead into a river like that. It was just the right move at the right time. I think the reason why I exploded like I did was because I was sitting there for three minutes trying not to show anything and hoping he was going to light it up. When he lit it up I just exploded. It felt great, man.

Question: What does the rest of the WSOP look like for you?

Tryba: Keep my nose to the grindstone. I’m not going to change anything. I had some early mild success -- a 10th, a 17th. Things just didn’t go my way. I’ve been doing this healthy thing. I’ve lost 60 pounds or so and I’ve been trying to keep my nose to the grindstone. I’ve been really busy and I started yoga, which is really cool. I’ve wanted to go for the last four days but I just couldn’t fit it in. Sleep is more important. I can’t fit everything in. Unfortunately as much as I like this new Bikram yoga, I’ve had to put that on the back burner for a few days and sleep. I leave here at three in the morning, I don’t fall asleep until 5:30 a.m. and I have to be back at 2 p.m. There’s not that many hours between 6 a.m. and two in the afternoon. I knew coming into this World Series, I was really hoping something special was going to happen. I qualified for the (WSOP Circuit) freeroll really early this year and I went and I spent time with my folks. I’m juiced. I lost 60 pounds. If a person hasn’t played these tournaments for the whole summer, you can’t really explain it. It’s so mentally and physically exhausting that you have to be ready for it. This year I was going to try to put my best foot forward and be ready -- and I think I’m ready.

Question: Was the decision to get healthier and lose some weight poker related?

Tryba: It was triggered to a specific event three or four years ago. I had got up to 310 pounds and I had really bad back issues. I was at a table with Shaun Deeb and when you’re miserable, you’re just miserable. You’re not in a good mood and something very minor happened at the table with a dealer and I (got out of line). Shaun Deeb said something. He had the courage to say something and I’ve never forgotten that. It’s a really stressful game at times. Emotions are right there. They’re raw and sometimes I act as a person in ways I don’t want to act. But I never forgot that and I always knew that in order for me to take another step forward I would have to do something about being 310 pounds and having really bad back issues. You just can’t sit here day in and day and be miserable and do well. I can’t do it. I knew I couldn’t do it. That’s a very specific thing and I never forgot (Shaun) saying something and I still haven’t thanked him. I still owe him a thank you. I thought about that for a long time and that’s not how I want to be remembered in this community -- as a (expletive deleted). Things happen at the poker table. Emotions ride high and sometimes people are jerks. It can be a high-stress situation. There’s a lot of money on the line. But I don’t want to be remembered as a (expletive deleted). I’m sure I’m going to be an (expletive deleted) again, in the future, it’s just part of my nature. But I try not to be and I’ll never forget (Shaun) having the courage to say something and it was the spark that made me want to change what was going on with me that made me miserable. Thanks, Shaun Deeb.


This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #35, since it’s the thirty-fifth gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas. The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting on Monday at 5 pm and concluded on Wednesday night at 7:45 pm.

The total duration of the final table was about four hours.

The final table included three former gold bracelet winners – Erik Cajelais, Michael Gathy, and Phil Ivey.

The runner up was Erik Cajelais, from Terrebonne, QB (Canada). He ran into a nightmare scenario on the final hand of the tournament making a straight, which lost to Tryba’s straight flush.

With his fifth-place finish, Michael Gathy is now making a run in the “WSOP Player of the Year” race. He moved up into contention, nearing the big two from this year’s WSOP, so far. Phil Ivey and John Monnette have been atop the leaderboard since the first week of the race.

Phil Ivey finished eighth. The eight-time former gold bracelet winner now has five final table appearances at this year’s WSOP -- which is one off the all-time record of six, set by An “The Boss” Tran, in 1992. Only six players have accomplished the feat of five final table appearances at a Series. Remarkably, this was the second time Ivey has posted five finales. He also hit the mark in 2002, the year he won three gold bracelet victories (tying the all-time number in that category, as well).

Among the notable players who finished in the money were former gold bracelet winners James Dempsey (11th), Andre Akkari (15th), Huck Seed (19th), Konstantin Puchkov (20th), David Williams (30th), Jeffrey Lisandro (38th), and Dan Harrington (35th).

This was Konstantin Puchkov’s sixth time to cash this year. He’s now one off the mark from current leader -- Terrance Chan with seven cashes.

Two former world champions cashed in this event -- Huck Seed and Dan Harrington.

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 Brasilia. 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 public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both public and members of the media. 

-- by Nolan Dalla