Josh Arieh won his first WSOP bracelet a full five years before his first television appearance, the ESPN cameras capturing him in a few less-than-stellar moments of spicy trash talk en route to his third-place finish in the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event. In reality, Arieh is far kinder and gentler than he appeared during those broadcasts, a father of three from Atlanta who is more at home swinging a golf club or playing with his kids than living a Vegas lifestyle. With over $4.6 million in career tournament winnings and two WSOP bracelets, Arieh is a dangerous presence at any tournament table, especially at his preferred game, pot-limit Omaha.
Josh Arieh was born on September 26, 1974 in Rochester, New York. At age 10, his family moved south to Atlanta, a place he calls home to this day. Arieh excelled on the baseball field during his high school years, but once he reached his late teens, his passion turned to pool. It was though his pool buddies that he first learned to play poker, as informal games would come together in hotel rooms after the pool halls closed down. Arieh was a winner in those games and was soon using his older brother’s ID to play in $10/20 limit hold’em games in Biloxi. It was nearly a six-hour drive to the casinos on the Mississippi gulf coast and Arieh soon began organizing a private $20/40 hold’em game in Atlanta.
In the spring of 1999 friend convinced Arieh to head out to Vegas and give the WSOP a shot. Arieh ended up returning to Atlanta with his first gold bracelet on his wrist after overcoming a stacked final table (Howard Lederer, Farzad Bonyadi, Humberto Brenes and John Juanda to name a few) to win the $3,000 Limit Hold’em event and $202,800. Arieh returned to the WSOP and came within a whisper of his second, making a runner-up finish to Johnny Chan in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event. From there he began playing in more tournaments, making countless final tables in Atlantic City, Tunica and Las Vegas.
It was in 2004, however, with the poker boom in full force, when Josh Arieh became a household name. Before his final table appearance in the Main Event that earned him $2.5 million and loads of TV face time, he cashed in two more WSOP events, including a 16th-place finish in the $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo event. Four months later, he made his first World Poker Tour final table, finishing third at the Borgata Poker Open, good for a nearly $287,000 haul. Then, only one year after his Main Event run, Josh Arieh won his second WSOP bracelet, beating out a field of 212 in the $2,000 Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys event. Again, Arieh overcame a deadly final table lineup, this one featuring Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Erik Seidel, Dave Colclough, and Max Pescatori.
After a relatively lean 2006 in terms of big tournament scores, Arieh roared back in 2007, making a ninth-place finish in the $2,500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 event and a runner-up finish at the WSOP-Circuit event in New Orleans. At the 2008 WSOP, he made three deep runs, finishing 24th in the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event, 12th in the $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha event, and 33rd in the £10,000 buy-in Main Event at the WSOP-Europe. Arieh has already earned one cash at the 2009 series, finishing 31st in Event #5, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha.
Arieh is an avid golfer and still picks up a pool cue now and then. He is a sponsored pro with Full Tilt Poker and can often be found playing pot-limit Omaha cash games on the site at the $25/50 level and up. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife, Angela and their three children.