Josh Arieh tied Shaun Deeb at five career World Series of Poker bracelets on Sunday afternoon by winning the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. That lasted for all of two days, at which time Deeb promptly untied Arieh and joined the pack currently at 6 bracelets by taking down the $1,500 8 Game event on Tuesday.
That group of 6 includes Daniel Negreanu, Brian Hastings, John Hennigan, Chris Ferguson, TJ Cloutier, Jeff Lisandro, Ted Forrest, Layne Flack and Jay Heimowitz, and they’re all tied for ninth-best all-time.
On the way to a monumental career accomplishment, Negreanu and Arieh were both on the rail to watch Deeb pull it off.
“I had an all-star rail – Josh, Daniel Negreanu, and Mike Matusow,” Deeb said. “I had the slowroll with Matusow, Daniel had our quarrels many years ago. But it just shows you how inclusive this community is. Even if you have an issue with someone, we eventually grow and mature and we get past that. We realize we’re all in the same industry. We’re all gonna see each other for many decades.”
Negreanu and Arieh had both been celebrating for a few hours already, celebrating the Las Vegas Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup earlier in the evening. There was a lot of banter back and forth, and some friendly chirps and barbs thrown back and forth between Deeb and the rail as the final table played out.
“It was awesome. Josh was drunk. The Knights winning tonight obviously made the rail a little bit looser. Probably one of the biggest, rowdiest rails you’ll have for $1,500 mixed game event. It was just a great experience. I love it. I feel so relaxed up there when they’re all hyped up and you have all the support and so many friends, and it was just great to be able to celebrate the win with so many people.”
There’s been a lot for Deeb to celebrate thus far in 2023. Tuesday’s win was Deeb’s third final table of this WSOP, following a fifth-place result in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud and second in a $1,000 online event. Deeb also won a WSOP Circuit Main Event ring at his longtime hometown casino, Turning Stone, in March. During that particular win, Deeb also finalized a potentially lucrative body fat loss bet with Bill Perkins, from which he stands to make $1 million if he’s successful.
Bracelet No. 6 came pretty quickly, considering the circumstances, but it didn’t come easily. Deeb held a considerable chip lead when the field combined to a single table of 7 players, but everything started to fall apart in a hurry.
“Everything started off terribly. I had almost 8 million chips, I lost every single pot and then I only had 3.5 [million],” said Deeb. “I just locked in and said, ‘I’m not going to put in a bet bad.”
And from that point, Deeb didn’t lose many pots. WPT Champions Club member Daniel Strelitz had the chiplead five-handed, but Deeb flipped the script with two key pots at Strelitz’s expense – flopped tripped threes in Limit Hold’em, and then a wheel drawn on the third draw in 2-7 Triple Draw. Deeb and Brazilian Aloisio Dourado kept chipping up, and traded the lead a couple of times until they eventually reached heads-up play against one another.
On the final hand, Deeb got a great runout in what had, to that point, been a relatively small pot. His rivered full house bested Dourado’s pocket queens, and the tournament was brought to a swift and sudden end.
“They all played really f—ing well at the final table – better than I thought they would,” Deeb said. “I just got very fortunate, and in all the big pots, I had the best hand and I was able to show it down a bunch. Then I rivered the nuts a few times, and that’s how you win tournaments.”
With a win and two other final tables, Deeb is directly in the hunt for 2023 WSOP POY. He previously won that award in 2018, and was the runner-up in 2019 in a close three-headed race against Negreanu and eventual winner Robert Campbell. This time around, in the midst of his body fat bet and some physical training that wasn’t part of his routine in the past, it stands to reason that Deeb could appreciate some additional positive effects as the grind of the WSOP goes on.
That was apparent in the playdown to his win on Tuesday, as he was able to run in and be part of a winner’s photo with his friend Ben Lamb, and then run back without missing a hand. More directly, his physical fitness set him on a path early in the tournament that ultimately took him to victory.
“I’ve always had great stamina when it comes to the World Series,” said Deeb. “But specifically in this tournament, I bought in as a max late reg. I dropped my stack, as I was still in the $600 Deep Stack that was approaching the money and I was running back and forth. I actually went a while without missing a hand at either table. So my running ability, I’m not nearly as out of breath and my legs don’t hurt as much. So even though I don’t run as cardio, you know, losing 40 pounds has definitely made it a little bit easier.”