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Where Are They Now: Ali Eslami Returns to WSOP After Five-Year Hiatus

Ali Eslami

In the early 2000s, Ali Eslami was a familiar face at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). In 2011, he had a career-year with $509,932 in earnings and followed that up in 2012 with a $423,257 year. However, Eslami really hadn’t been seen since 2014 after he finished 81st in the WSOP Main Event for $85,812.

That’s why it was so surprising to not only see him firing Day 1 of Event #67: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship, but also finish the 68 survivors as the chip leader.

“I haven’t been playing a lot of poker,” Eslami told PokerNews on a Day 2 break. “I’ve been traveling around, doing some investing, and doing other sorts of stuff. It’s good to get back into the swing of things.”

Nowadays when a poker player talks about investing they’re referring to crypto-currency.

"Coming back and playing a is a lot of fun. Sitting down, feeling the felt, and seeing all the same players."

“Yeah, I’ve been kind of involved in that,” he admitted. “Obviously now is not the time to be in there. Well, it’s getting back to being great I guess.”

So, what was to account for the sudden reemergence of a former pro with nearly $1.35 million in lifetime earnings?

“I only got here a couple of days ago. I played two other events,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played.”

When asked when the last time he did play the WSOP Eslami thought back to 2014.

“That’s pretty much when I last played,” he said without much confidence. “I haven’t played an event in quite a while. I think I may have played the Main Event a couple of years ago but that’s about it.”

He continued: “I play a little bit in L.A., once every couple months. It hasn’t been much. Coming back and playing a is a lot of fun. Sitting down, feeling the felt, and seeing all the same players. In the $10K I know a lot of the guys. I played some other events and didn’t know anybody, which is kind of fun too. That means they don’t know me. I thought that might be an advantage, that they don’t know I can play a little bit, but I’m, not sure I can play anymore. It’s been a while. A little rusty. I’m trying to get the rust off.”

Ali Eslami
Ali Eslami in action at the 2019 WSOP.

So, has Eslami, a once prominent high-stakes cash game player who once appeared in the web-based TV show Bullets, been able to keep up with the ever-changing game.

“They’re playing a lot differently this year as far as no-limit hold’em from when I used to play. These little micro-bet things never existed, it was always 2/3 pot. Now it’s 1/5, 1/6 pot, which is really interesting. I guess it’s something new. I don’t know much about it. If I was going to play more I’d probably look into it more, see what it’s all about. I guess it’s some Game Theory Optimal thing.”

So, what’s in store for the man who topped a field of 98 entrants to win the 2011 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Rincon $10,000 Regional Championship for $282,242 and a seat into the National Championship that year? Is a poker comeback in the cards or is he happy with the balance he’s found?

“I think [what I have now is] is nice. It makes it a lot more enjoyable,” he said. “I’m definitely going to play the Main, so I’m pretty excited about that.”

Be sure to follow PokerNews’ coverage of Event #67: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship to see how Eslami fares in his return to the WSOP.

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  • Where Are They Now? PokerNews catches up with former high-stakes cash game player Ali Eslami.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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