This is the first World Series of Poker title for Deeb, who came to the United States from his native Lebanon in 1975. "It gives you a good high in life to win one like this, even more so since I wasn't planning to play," Deeb said. "I was supposed to leave town today for my swearing in ceremony tomorrow in Los Angeles to become an American citizen. Now I'll stay up all night and catch the first plane out."
A poker player for 15 years, Deeb now has seven in the money finishes at the World Series of Poker and also has cashed in several other major competitions.
Placing second in the no limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Draw event and winning $81,250 was Mickey Appleman, a 50 year old professional player from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Formerly the coordinator of a drug and alcohol treatment program in Harlem, Appleman won this same event during the 1992 World Series and also has to his credit several other major poker tournament titles.
Gabe Kaplan, a 49 year old actor and investor from Los Angeles, captured third place and $48,750. A recreational player, Kaplan has finished in the money in numerous major poker competitions, but he is perhaps best known for his starring role in Welcome Back Kotter, a television comedy that ran four years on ABC.
The 1996 World Series of Poker continues at the Horseshoe through May 16. The $2,500 buyin limit Omaha High Low Split (Eight or Better) competition begins today at noon, followed by the $1,500 buyin limit Ace to Five Draw (with Joker) event and the $5,000 buyin Chinese Poker event, both on May 4.
More than 4,000 entrants -- representing at least 20 countries -- are expected to participate in this years World Series, and the total money distributed is anticipated to be in excess of $11 million.