If you follow poker at all, Josh Arieh should be a familiar name. He is best known for his third-place finish in the 2004 Main Event, but with seven World Series of Poker final tables and two bracelets on his résumé, he makes no it secret that the WSOP is his favorite time of year.
We caught up with Arieh as the players were heading to break.
Congratulations on the final table. In an interview a few years ago you talked about how the young kids are just getting so good at the game. Yet here you are at another final table. What’s your secret?
Thank you. I guess it's run-good. I mean I don’t know. I stayed really positive through my tables. I had some ups and downs. I was short at both of my previous tables and I just stayed positive.
One thing I keep telling myself when I am in a hand is that it’s in the cards. If I do the right thing or what I think is right, then I’m fine with that and I don’t care about the outcome. I just stuck with that and it kept me real even-keeled.
I didn’t have many highs and lows and it let me continue to keep my thought process going. I don’t know. I just try to improve every time I play. And I’m running good.
Any key hands that got you here?
There was a big pot yesterday when I was short. A guy in late position raised and Joe Cheong reraised from the small blind. I had two jacks in the big blind and the hand pretty much plays itself. I moved all in. The other guy called with ace-king and Joe called with aces. I caught a jack and I won.
That pot gave me a lot of confidence because I knocked out an amazing player that’s going to be tough on any table. Other than that, I have been real fortunate with how the tables have come down. I feel like if I could have picked an opponent to get help with it would have been Joe. Not that the others aren’t good players, but the great players got knocked out. My draws so far have been pretty fortunate.
You mentioned staying positive and making the right choices, but you do like to gamble?
I do. I love gambling.
How does gambling lend itself to this tournament?
Well, now it’s a little different and it’s more like a regular tournament. Each place pays money. But in the shootout earlier, it’s winner-take-all. You have to take more risks. The guy that comes in second makes the same money as the guy that comes in 10th. So you have to gamble a bit more and I am comfortable doing that.
I won a lot of flips and I could have lost my first one on day one and I would be out. I would still be happy with the way I played. I have no regrets so far.
You 've talked about how you lost your bracelets during a move. It made you sick to think they were stolen. Then you were so happy to have found them. What would a third bracelet mean?
It would mean a lot.
Are you thinking about it?
No. I am thinking about every hand. It’s hard not to think about it. I catch myself looking ahead seeing who I might play head up and picturing myself with the bracelet. I snap myself out of it immediately because it is all about the hand I am playing right now. I can’t think about anything else. And if I am thinking about anything else, then I am way behind.