Ben Zamani Washes Away the Sour Taste of Second Place by Winning First WSOP Bracelet
Not everyone playing at the World Series of Poker does it for the fame and fortune that come with winning the most coveted prize in poker.
Not everyone looks to get something out of it besides what it already provides, but even though Ben Zamani tried to not show much after he won Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em for $460,640, he showed a lot by trying not to.
Event #20 Final Table Results
Zamani beat Natasha Barbour heads up after picking off what will possibly stand as the biggest bluff of the summer with a bracelet on the line. On the final hand, Barbour limp-raised from the button and Zamani four-bet to 2.9 million. The flop brought out with two clubs, and Barbour called Zamani's bet.
The turn brought another , and Barbour moved all in after Zamani had checked. Zamani called right away, holding , and Barbour was drawing dead with her off suit.
The river was a meaningless , and while friends consoled Barbour, it was Zamani who headed for the exit.
The man known online as "xthesteinx" in the online poker world wasn't interested in posing for a winner's photo, neither did he want to comment on what the victory meant to him.
"Good," was the only thing Zamani said after agreeing to answer one question in response to how it felt to win his first WSOP gold bracelet.
Zamani's entire rail, mostly close friends and fellow poker players, burst out in laughter and the newly-crowned bracelet winner beelined for the exit.
"The man has spoken!" one of his friends yelled, as they celebrated loudly inside the Amazon Room of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Right after winning before getting his official photo taken, Zamani left the Amazon Room. A member of his rail joked, "He's got an important ping-pong match to play."
Zamani ultimately returned to the scene of the biggest victory of his live poker career, but after three photos and a one-word answer to our question, he walked out.
Andy Philachack laughed as well, but he was one of the few of Zamani's good friends that stuck around to answer a few questions.
The 28-year-old Floridian finished second in Event #14: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout just four days ago for $174,771, but Zamani's emotional state could not have been further from the return on his investment in that event.
"Getting first is more important to him than the money; he doesn't care about the money," Philachack said. He was so devastated after his second place that he didn't even pick up his money for like three days. He just didn't care about it. He was devastated. He was almost in tears."
Philachack consoled and offered his support to Zamani, as any good friend would.
"I told him that he would get there again, because he's a great player — and bam he makes the final table of the next tournament he plays and wins it!" Philachack excitedly said. "This means the world to him, he just doesn't like to show it."
Another friend of Zamani, Jarred Jaffe, joined the conversation to reiterate just how good of a player they all think Zamani is.
"He's a great player, he's one of the best," Jaffe said.
He then added, "He's been due for a big win for quite some time. He won a million at the 2010 PCA, and came so close to winning. He just came second in the last event he played, and he's had so many close calls over the years. I'm so happy for him. Anyone you would ask will tell you that he was way ahead of the curve with playing online. He was doing things that nobody knew back then. He's just one of the greats and he deserves it. I'm surprised it took this long, and I'm sure there will be another one soon."
Zamani's approach to leaving the stage right after winning would've left his story untold if it weren't for Philachack and Jaffe, and the latter explains the champ's reason for walking away.
"He's not interested in any of [the media attention]," Jaffee said with a smile. "That's just not for him. He loves to play poker. He doesn't want to be famous, he doesn't want anyone to give him credit, he doesn't want his picture hanging up anywhere, so good luck getting one when he wins Player of the Year, there's no chance."
It's clear that Zamani loves his friends and the game of poker more than anything, and Jaffe continued on.
"He's literally the most generous person in all of poker, and that’s why everyone's so happy for him," Jaffe finished.
Zamani's silence says little about his personality; he's here to play poker and he's very successful at it. With a long list of results, and a reputation as a top player, it's only going to be a matter of time before the Zamani picks off another big bluff to take down a WSOP event.