This was Farha's first foray into the poker tournament arena. "I never expected to win until I made the final table," he said. "I feel so good and I'm so excited. It's something special to beat the great players here. It's like graduating from school - getting a diploma from Las Vegas."
Farha came to the United States from Beirut in 1977 and has been playing poker for just five years.
Placing second in the Omaha event and winning $83,375 was Brent Carter, a 47-year-old retired businessman from Oak Park, Illinois. A regular on the poker tournament circuit, Carter holds two World Series of Poker titles, as well as numerous titles from other major competitions. With total World Series earnings of $814,229, he currently ranks 20th on the tournament roster of all-time money winners.
Phil Mazzella, a 50-year-old retired realtor from Lafayette, Louisiana, won third place and $43,500. Mazella was the runner-up in this same event during last year's World Series and finished seventh in 1994.
The $2,500 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event attracted prize money of $362,500, and with this amount, the total money awarded since 1970 in the Horseshoe's annual poker tournament has now passed the $100 million mark.
The 1996 World Series of Poker continues at the Horseshoe through May 16. The $2,500 buy-in pot-limit Texas Hold'em event begins today at noon, followed by the $5,000 buy-in limit Seven Card Stud competition on May 9.
More than 4,000 entrants - representing at least 20 countries - are expected to participate in this year's World Series, and the total money distributed is anticipated to be in excess of $11 million.