Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:11 AM Local Time
Ari Engel Wins Event #7 and Eighth Gold Ring ($17,221)
Ari Engel is the champion of Event #7 at Harrah’s, defeating a field of 123 entries to win his eighth career gold ring. That moves him back into a tie with Chris Reslock for second place on the all-time list, both men now just one behind current leader Alex Masek. In addition to the jewelry, Engel collected the top prize of $17,221 and 50 points toward the race for seats in the WSOP Global Casino Championship.
The champ is an accomplished professional poker player who lives in Las Vegas. He learned the game from his college roommate, Andrew Brown, who is himself a bracelet winner with an impressive list of poker accomplishments. In this case, the student has become the master to some extent, as Engel’s results easily rival those of his mentor.
“I just overall ran like god,” Engel reflected on this most recent in a long list of tournament wins. “Won all the flips, you know the way it goes.”
Engel absolutely dominated Day 1, entering the final table with more than 100 big blinds and 40% of the total chips in play. The nine finalists returned to the ballroom on Tuesday to play it out, though Day 2 seemed like a formality at times. “There was a lot of pressure because I started with huge chips,” Engel said. “I was getting congratulations messages before it even started. And I always put a lot of pressure on myself not to mess up.”
He did not mess up. There were a few small setbacks along the way, but Engel picked his way through the final table, taking an insurmountable lead into the head-up match against David Hom. The duel only lasted a few hands before Engel collected the last of his opponent's chips.
As was the case with Reslock after his own eighth win, Engel mentioned how much the race for rings means to him. “There’s a lot of added motivation because of the rings,” he said. “There’s a lot of heated competition to accumulate them, and there’s been a little drought for me lately.” After a moment, he caught himself, adding, “In rings, that is…”
Fresh off a massive seven-figure victory earlier this year in Australia, the rings still provide Engel plenty of motivation to play these Circuit events, which are admittedly a bit lower than he might otherwise play. “If I sit down, I’m going to treat it seriously,” he said. “I know that I want to play some higher buy-ins and some lower buy-ins. Every tournament I play, I want to treat it seriously and be professional.”
Engel made his name as one of the original heroes of online poker, but he’s adapting well to the current legal climate in his home country. “Things have changed a lot,” he said, thinking back to his first Circuit win nearly a decade ago. “I used to be an online player, but now I feel like I’m more of a live specialist,” he said. “Poker has completely changed.”