Event #10 Results
|1. Josh Arieh||$202,800|
|2. Hubert Brenes||101,400|
|Miami Beach FL|
|3. Jack Fox||52,700|
|4. Tom Franklin||30,420|
|5. Howard Lederer||22,815|
|Las Vegas NV|
|6. Steve Pestal||17,745|
|Costa Mesa CA|
|7. John Juanda||12,675|
|8. Kevin Song||10,140|
|Hacienda Hts CA|
|9. Freddy Bonyadi||8,115|
|Granada Hills CA|
|10. John Spadavecchia||6,085|
|11. Men Nguyen||6,085|
|12. Annie Duke||6,085|
|13. Linda Drucker||5,575|
|14. Timotin Hmielewski||5,575|
|15. Eli Balas||5,575|
|16. David Chiu||5,575|
|17. Antony Cousineau||5,575|
|18. Brett Ehart||5,575|
"I don't feel I was anywhere as good as the other players," he said modestly. But Jack Fox, a Reno lawyer with several tournament wins under his belt, disagreed. "He was strong and aggressive, had heart when he needed it, and knew when to back off," said Fox, who finished third. "He put a play on Howard (Lederer) with nothing."
Fox himself had amazing ups and downs in the tournament. Starting in last place with but $8,000, he got very lucky, surged into a strong chip lead, then got just as unlucky and went down like the Titanic. Fox's streak started on the second hand when he went all in with pocket aces to beat Arieh's kings. A little later he picked up a $50,000 pot when the board showed tens and sixes. Kevin Song bet out on the end with useless pocket fours, and Fox picked off his bluff with an ace-king.
Arieh is next to show aces, this time to Farzad Bonyadi, a professional from California. Seriously short-chipped, Bonyadi next puts in his last $4,500 with pocket tens and is eliminated in three-way action when Steve Pestal, another full-time player, makes eights full. Kevin Song, a successful pro, is also crippled in this pot and left with only $8,000. The fat lady sings for Song on the next hand. He raises all in with an A-4. Lederer calls with just a 6-4. The flop gives each player a paired four, but a six on the turn gives Lederer, another pro, two pair.
Fox, meanwhile, is catching everything but the flu. After getting runner-runner to make an ace-high straight against Pestal, his puny $8,000 has grown to a robust chip lead of about $160,000.
Indonesian-born John Juanda, who had a great tournament record in 1998, is next to depart. In a three-bet pot, he puts his hopes on a K-Q, but sees he's a huge dog when Brenes turns over a pair of kings. The board of 9-6-3/8-4 helps neither, and the table has another empty spot. It get even emptier a moment later when Pestal, who has already survived four all-in episodes, gets involved in a big pot with Fox. He has pocket eights, but they can't overcome Fox's pocket queens, much less the third lady he gets on the turn.
Captain Tom Franklin, winner of the limit Omaha event two days ago, begins to dip low after he mucks his hand a couple of times on the river. Then all his chips go in when Lederer check-raises him after two spades flop and he raises back with pocket tens. Lederer had A-J of spades but fails to hit his flush and the captain picks up a sizeable pot. Later, Lederer again tries to push a come hand, but again his flush doesn't come, and Arieh, who had all his chips in the middle, stays alive when two aces flop to his A-10. Lederer then runs into Franklin's flush, makes a good laydown when Fox flops trip fours and finally gets put all in by Arieh. His 10-9 can't outrun Arieh's sixes, and he settles for $22,815.
At the break, Fox still holds a lead. But now the Reno attorney begins to run out of steam. He flops a bike, but when he hits a flush on the end. Then Josh, all in, makes a bicycle and jubiliantly shouts, "Send it boys, I'm alive!" Now Arieh goes on a rush. He outruns Fox's set of tens with a diamond flush, makes queens full against Franklin and then forces the captain to fold when he puts the heat on him on the turn in another hand. "How's the game, Josh?" Jack asks.
The captain finally is gunned down when he goes in with sixes against Brenes' A-K and an ace flops. Not too much later, it's Fox's turn to get skinned. He goes in with a J-8 against Brenes' pair of tens. The flop comes A-Q-9. Brenes doesn't want a ten because that would give Fox a straight. An innocent five and seven come, and now it's heads up with blinds of $10,000 and $20,000. Arieh still has momentum, and hauls in a $180,000 pot when he makes yet another wheel.
A couple of times he has Brenes' head underwater and all in, but the Costa Rican native manages to come up for air and escape. Finally, Arieh, holding A-J, gets him all in with J-9. The board helps nobody, and Arieh is $202,800 richer.
When the five remaining players in today's $3,000 entry fee Limit Hold 'em event took a break, all the handicappers at the rail were picking the same horses. Sitting in the six seat and owning a big pile of chips was the fearsome Howard Lederer, and if Howard were somehow halted, surely "Captain" Tom Franklin, who also had a big pile and who had already taken down the bracelet in the May 3 Limit Omaha event, would triumph. Okay, you also had to give Humberto Brenes and his two bracelets a chance, but Humberto was short on chips.
Those seeking a modest longshot might have tabbed Jack Fox, a Reno attorney, who had some chips and a few non-World Series wins, as well as an all-around title at the Peppermill. Nobody except a small gallery of friends gave any thought to Josh Arieh, a virtually unknown 25-year old from that poker hotbed, Atlanta, Georgia.
Well, actually, one person was giving Josh some thought. When play resumed, Howard started firing away at him, trying to run over the one player left who seemed overmatched. What Howard didn't know was Josh had spent a sleepless night thinking about his opponents in general and Howard in particular.
"I told my roommate last night, 'if he (Howard) is in the blind, and you raise him before the flop, he check raises you on the flop every time," Arieh said. "I was ready for him to play fast at me."
Although Howard's play wasn't quite that predictable, Josh wasn't going to back down, and his cards held up in several head-on collisions. Lederer, whose aggressive style was geared towards maximizing his chances for first place and not for gradually moving up the ladder, lost a lot of chips to Arieh (as well as one tough hand to Brenes) and went out fifth.
Now four-handed and minus Lederer's imposing presence, the Final Four took an extended break. The chips were relatively evenly distributed, and apparently the knowledge that each had locked up at least fourth place money of $30,420 lightened the tension. The pace speeded up remarkably, led mainly by Arieh.
"I've already made as much in one day as I do in a year back home," he said. "No more 10-20 games for me. Let's gamble, boys."
Gamble they did.
Bang, zoom, raise, re-raise, re-re-raise, the chips were flying fast and furious. Only Brenes seemed immune to the temptation to play at the dazzling new speed. Arieh has spun out of control, it seems; he's almost out of chips when he pushes hard at a pot with Ad-5d before the flop, and keeps pushing when the flop comes Q-2-4. His last few go in when a 3 comes on the turn, giving him a wheel, and when the river fails to let anyone catch up, he triumphantly flips his cards onto the table and shouts "send it boys, I'm alive!"
Alive, and having a lot of fun. He's 25 years old and in his third-ever poker tournament, sitting at a final table at the World Series. That kind of situation generally either scares a kid silly or puts a big grin on his face, and Arieh clearly falls into category #2.
Fast and loose got Arieh here and he wasn't about to slow down. He pushes hard at the very next pot, another multi-way action hand, betting before the flop, on the flop, on the turn, and on the river. He shows down a flush, which he's made on the river. Before the river, all he'd had was a draw, optimism and aggression, but now he's the chip leader.
Watching this display from the rail, Arieh friend and fellow Atlantan David Bach shakes his head. "I want to buy into this game, the way they're playing!" he says.
Josh keeps playing fast and loose, and as so often happens, the fast and loose guy gets huge action when he finally picks up a real hand. Dealt Q-Q, he pushes hard at a flop of 6-6-4, gets two callers, and then turns a Queen. When the dust settles, he has two-thirds of the chips.
"Like the game, Josh?" asks Jack Fox with a smile and a shake of his head. The rhetorical question gets the gallery laughing.
Still trying to stack all the chips he's collected in the last few hands, Arieh looks like he's going to call without even looking at his cards, but actually he's just reaching over his mountain of jumbled chips to reach the cards the dealer has tucked underneath. "You got to at least look!" Fox says, and Arieh looks and folds. Spectators guess he's folded just to give himself a chance to stack the chips that have been pouring in so fast.
Although Arieh has run over all three opponents during his stunning rush, Captain Tom is the first casualty, when his pocket sixes lose to a flopped Ace. Josh has about $360,000, Fox about $90,000, and Brenes about $55,000.
Josh takes care of a good number of Fox's chips and chances when he fires repeatedly at a pot with Ah-7h, and flops 9h-7s-2h. Fox hangs in through the flop action, but when an unsuited six hits the turn and Josh fires another $16,000, Fox folds. Josh flashes his hand, showing that at least this once he was firing with real bullets in his gun, 2nd pair with top kicker and a nut flush draw.
Left with little ammunition, Fox pushes hard pre-flop at the next hand, but Humberto has pocket 10s and isn't going anywhere. All the money goes in before the flop, and Fox turns over J-8. The A-Q-9-5-7 board helps neither player, and Fox is gone, but in departing has given a player with two bracelets at least a few chips to fight against Kid Speed. Josh leads $377,000-$130,000, and the depth of his inexperience becomes clear (unless he's trying to play a role to get Humberto overconfident), when Josh doesn't understand how the blinds work when the game becomes two-handed. The dealer explains that Josh's $5,000 small blind will go on the button and that as a result, Josh must act first before the flop, even though he's the button, but will act second after the flop. Standard stuff for tournament and short-handed veterans, but (it appears) new territory for Josh.
The game has switched from four-handed to two-handed in a matter of minutes, and a change comes over Josh. While it was four-handed, he was laughing and joking with the other guys. But one-on-one with Humberto, this won't work: Humberto is all business. Josh no longer has an audience for his running line of patter and has time to look around and see the gallery, and see that his situation has changed. Nothing was expected of him when the finals began, and little was expected of him even as the game got short. But now he has a big chip lead, and even given his lack of experience, he faces pressure and expectations. If he loses after having this big lead, he'll know a big opportunity has slipped away, and who knows if he'll ever get another chance?
The result? Kid Speed slows down. A lot. Holding one heart, he checks a three-heart flop and a turned heart, and checks again on the river. "A flush, I think," he announces when he turns his cards over.
Perhaps realizing he has slowed down too much, Josh picks up the pace. He bets pre- flop, gets called, and bets into a flop of Qh-7h-8c, checks when the 2s hits on the turn but calls a $20,000 bet from Humberto. The perfect scare card, the 3h, arrives on the river, and both players check. Josh turns over 4c-5s, the worst possible showdown hand and one with only four outs when he called the $20,000. His call on the turn seems inconceivable unless he was planning to make a play at the pot on the river, and even with the scare card arriving, he checked. Perhaps he'd been planning a check-raise, but whatever the plan, Humberto now has $200,000 in chips, Josh $307,000, and a spectator tries to offer bets on Humberto at even money. He gets no takers.
Two key hands decide the tournament. Seeing a flop of 6s-7h-8c, Humberto leads out and Josh raises. Josh bets and Humberto calls again on the turn and river. Humberto had flopped top pair with a good kicker, K-8, but Josh turns over 6-8, and suddenly Kid Speed has a big lead again.
A few hands later, with noted poker web presence Razzo (Darryl Phillips) dealing, Humberto leads out at a flop of 5-2-4 and Josh calls. A three hits on the turn, and Humberto leads again. Josh calls fairly quickly, and Humberto leads out again on the river. When Josh calls, Humberto shakes his head, as if to say, "you got me." Josh turns over A-2, having turned a wheel, and Humberto is ace-less. It takes a few hand for Josh to finish off Humberto's final $20,000, but when his A-J holds up against Humberto's J- 9, this World Series has its most unlikely winner to date.
"The sun just shined on the same dog all day," Josh drawls. "I understand that I got very lucky, especially catching that late rush when the limits were so high. I play fast back home in the 10-20 games and wasn't going to change my style here."
What about the year's pay in one day? "It changes a lot of things, I'm just not sure exactly how," Josh says. "I'm sure not going to jump into the pot limit game right now. I'll probably play a little higher but I'm not going to become a professional poker player. I understand that I don't play near the level these players do. I just always wanted a World Series bracelet, and I got one really quick."
Poker veterans everywhere might envy Josh's quick success, but fulfilling this kind of dream is what brings so many hopefuls to the Series. Mere mortals can't win the Masters in golf, can't dunk on Michael Jordan, and can't hope to beat Big Blue or Gary Kasparov in chess. But in poker, for all the skill involved, the sun can shine on the same dog just long enough for a lifelong memory.