Listen to this amazing story.

Four days ago, poker pro Daniel Alaei was playing in a high-stakes cash games, which is his usual routine.  Alaei has been concentrating mostly on big cash cash this summer, opting to go for the green instead of the glory.  Alaei has played in five WSOP gold bracelet events at this series.  However, he had pretty much resigned himself to spending most of his poker time in the high-limit cash games around Las Vegas.

Alaei was in such a game last Thursday.  Unfortunately, he was stuck in the game, which made him even more determined to play as long as necessary to turn things around.  That's when a certain player (who shall remain nameless) decided to leave the cash game in order to play in a small freeroll event being held at a local casino.  The absurdity of playing for huge stakes and then participating in what amounts to a one-day turbo event for casino VIPs was obvious, leaving Alaei even more steamed about the situation.

The game broke, and Alaei pretty much had nothing to do poker-wise.  Event 61 was a tournament he had no ambition playing, even though he managed to win this same event back in 2010.

And so faced with the prospect of trying to hunt for another cash game or coming to the Rio and playing his favorite poker game, Alaei chose to pay the $10,000 entry fee into the Pot-Limit Omaha championship and cards flew in the air.

Remarkably, Alaei doubled up almost immediately.  He later stated that the positive feelings he got back from winning that big early pot caused him to refocus his attention and play this tournament with the same gusto that had won him three gold bracelets previously

Three days and nights later, Alaei won gold bracelet number four.  The victory paid a whopping $852,692.

The field of 386 players was the largest ever for the $10,000 PLO event.This was also Alaei's biggest cash ever at the WSOP.  With this victory, Alaei now has nearly $3.8 million in career earnings in gold bracelet events.  Remarkably, his four final table appearances resulted in four wins.

For his victory, Alaei can thank an odd sequence of events, starting with one player leaving a cash game to play in a small freeroll tournament that will have virtually no lasting impact other than what it triggered here at the Rio in Las Vegas.  Who knows?  Had that player not left the game, Alaei might still be there playing for high stakes.  He would have had to drag a lot of pots to match this $853K bonanza.

Alaei is a 28-year-old professional poker player from Los Angeles.  Although he takes great pride in his reputation as a high-stakes cash game specialist, his record in WSOP for a part-timer is pretty staggering.  Each of his four gold bracelets have been shared with family members.  His first was given to his father, who passed away earlier this year.  His mother received his second gold bracelet.  The third went to Alaei's brother.  Now, he says he will give gold bracelet number four to his wife, who was at table side cheering the victory.

When asked what's his greatest accomplishment of all, Alaei said, “being a proud husband and father.”

Alaei's three previous wins came in $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha (2010), $10,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split (2009), $5,000 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball Draw (2006).


Name:  Daniel Alaei
Current Residence:  Los Angeles, CA (USA)
Birthplace:  Greenbrae, CA (USA)
Age:  28
Marital Status:  Married
Children:  2
Occupation:  Professional Poker Player
Speciality:  High-Stakes Cash Games
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  28
First WSOP Cash (year):  2004
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  6
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  4
WSOP Career Earnings:  $3,756,953


WSOP:  How does it feel to win your fourth WSOP gold bracelet?
Alaei:  It feels great to win.  It's been a few years.  It's nice to get this one, especially since I do not play as many as I used to.

WSOP:  Can you tell us what you have done with your gold bracelets?
Alaei:  I gave the first one I won to my father.  He passed away in December of last year.  So I have that one at home.  The second one is with my mom.  The third one is with my brother.  And this one's going to my wife.  I promised her one two years ago and was finally able to fulfill that promise.

WSOP:  You are now entering some elite company, with four wins.  Do you take added pride in that and you legacy in the game?
Alaei:  Absolutely.  That's what we play these tournaments for, we play to win.  The bracelets have a lot of prestige to them.  I feel very fortunate to have been in a position to win as many times as I have.  I think I have been very fortunate and lucky to come away at final table as a winner, than not.

WSOP:  You came into this tournament not in the best of shape.  What happened?
Alaei:  I was steamed after losing in a high stakes cash games.  I had already decided not to play this tournament, but when [another player] left, I came here.  I was all-in on my first hand and doubled up, and then I got into it.  It's my favorite tournament.

WSOP:  Why didn't you play as many events this year as in the past?
Alaei:  This year, they lowered the buy-ins on a lot of tournaments and that didn't capture my interest.  I wasn't chasing bracelets the last few years.  I think I played seven events last year and four or five this year.  I would love to win more bracelets, but what I would really like to see is the championship events back up to $10,000 (buy-in) and then add a $25,000 buy-in PLO event.  This event got almost 400 players.  It would be nice to see something bigger, maybe even a $100K buy in.  I think it would get a lot of players.  Going forward, I am just going to play the bigger events.  I've made bracelet bets in the past, but playing so many just wears me out.  I feel like a slave to the tournaments when I do that, so now I quit doing that and just play the ones I want to play.

WSOP:  This was the biggest attendance for this event ever.  Any thoughts about that?
Alaei:  You just play with the players at your table and worry about that.  I didn't even know.  It shrinks on its own.  

WSOP:  Are these events getting tougher than years ago when you first started playing?
Alaei:  I'm not really sure.  It all depends on where your skills are and how hungry you are.  To win a tournament you have to be really hungry.  There are some really hungry people who play every day.  I just don't have that for tournaments any more.  I would not want to put myself through the full schedule anymore.  They are tough.  You can make final tables, but a lot of things have to go right to win.  It's not easy.  There are definitely a lot more great players now than in the past.


Tony Cousineau cashed again, the 57th time for his career.  Cousineau added to his legacy as the player with the most cashes in WSOP history without a win.