Durant, Oklahoma (14 Nov 2022) - It was another successful return to Choctaw Durant for the World Series of Poker's 2022/2023 Circuit season, its second of three, as a field of 1,076 entries were recorded through two starting flights generating a $1,630,140 prize pool.
After the numbers were finalized, 161 players were able to take a piece of it, but it was Sami Bechahed who walked away with the lion's share, as he claimed the $1,700 Main Event title that came with a $274,916 top prize, a seat into the 2023 Tournament of Champions, and his picture hung up in the Grand Theatre.
"It's pretty surreal, to be honest," Bechahed stated, "there were a ton of good players here and I can say this was one of the toughest fields I've ever played in."
Poker isn't anything new to Bechahed, as he has playing online for the past ten years, but he just recently started playing live last December.
"I used to play online all the time in France on the website called Winamanx, but never really took it seriously as I was just buying into $50 and $100 tournaments," said Bechahed.
"I moved to the U.S. seven years ago and started working at Live at the Bike as a poker dealer, and now I deal at Huster Live." Bechahed continued, "I've met some really good players from doing this and it has really improved my game."
After putting in the work as a dealer and learning from some of the best, Bechahed decided to try out live poker for himself.
"So, I started by taking a few thousand dollars out of my savings account," said Bechahed, "The first tournament I played in at the Bike I won, and then just a week later I won my first ring there as well.
Bechahed continued, "Two weeks later I scored my biggest cash of $60,000 and followed that up by cashing the WSOP Main Event during the summer. A month after that I played again at the Bike and improved on my biggest score by taking second place for $194,000."
Bechahed has built up an impressive resume since he started playing live tournaments last December, and after today's win, he has yet again improved his largest score to date.
"It's been pretty awesome," said Bechahed, "everything has been working out so great and so far, I really haven't seen the bad side of the variance yet."
While Bechahed's success has been uncanny, poker wasn't the reason why he moved to the U.S.
"I met my wife Nicole on a dating app, Tinder, and we had been dating long distance for a year before I decided to make the move here," Bechahed added, "she's my biggest supporter and without her, this wouldn't be possible."
He continued, "I came with just a few thousand dollars to my name, and it has honestly been the best decision of my life, I'm definitely living the American Dream."
Winning poker tournaments isn't an easy feat, and every poker player will attest that you not only need luck but skill in to do so, but even in victory Bechahed stays humble.
"I'm not really sure what's been going on, I think I'm an okay player but even in this field, I could name probably a hundred players I think are better than me, but somehow I'm always here so I guess I must be somewhat okay."
With over $650K in live tournament earnings in the last year, Bechahed has done quite well for himself but still plans on sticking his bread and butter, dealing.
I'm not going to quit my job or anything, "said Bechahed after his quarter-of-a-million-dollar finish, "I'm going to keep dealing and stay humble, but this win will definitely improve my lifestyle."
Final Table Results
1st Place: Sami Bechahed - $274,916
2nd Place: Arthur Morris - $169,906
3rd Place: Rami Jradeh - $127,513
4th Place: Angela Jordison - $96,595
5th Place: Chad Hicks - $73,867
6th Place: Nate Kogel - $57,027
7th Place: Jackson Holtgraves - $44,451
8th Place: William Wolf - $34,986
9th Place: Daniel Lowery - $27,808
Day 3 Action
The final day of the Main Event saw 11 players return from Day 2, each guaranteed at least a $22,322 payday.
The action kicked right into gear off the bat as Cedrric Trevino failed to win a race against Bechahed as he was the first player to exit on the final day while Derek Gadberry fell shortly after, setting the stage for the final table.
Final Table Action
The first final table elimination came after ten-time Circuit ring winner Daniel Lowery's pocket queens were set up by Bechahed's pocket fours.
Shortly after Lowery's departure, 2019 Choctaw Main Event Champ Nate Kogel eliminated William Wolf and Jackson Holtgraves back-to-back and positioned himself well in hopes of capturing another Main Event title at Choctaw.
Unfortunately for Kogel, his good fortune wouldn't last. Kogel got his chips in the middle with pocket queens and was set up by inferior pocket pairs both times sending him home in sixth place.
With five players remaining, it would normally take a while for each to make their exit but in this case, it took less than one full level.
Chad Hicks would be the first to go in the mass of eliminations after his ace-queen was dominated by Rami Jradeh's ace-king, sending him home in fifth place ($73,867).
Finishing in fourth place ($96,595) was Angela Jordison, who called off her short stack with ace-five suited but couldn't crack Bechahed's pocket jacks. With this finish, Jordison may have solidified the top spot for the woman's GPI Player of the Year.
Following Jordison's exit was ring winner Rami Jradeh, whose pocket sixes failed to hold against Tunica Main Event Champ Arthur Morris' ace-queen, and his run ended in third place for $127,513.
When the heads-up battle started, both Bechaed and Morris were expecting a long night, but instead only lasted a few short hands after Beached won a race with big slick to beat Morris’ pocket jacks as he finished runner-up for $169,906.
That wraps up Main Event coverage on the tail end of an exciting and eventful WSOP Circuit stop a Choctaw Durant! Make sure to tune in for our coverage of the Grand Victoria Main Event November 17th-21st!
Main Event Full Results