Ihrahim, Professional Poker Player from
Long Beach, CA Wins $2,000 Limit Hold'em
at 2003 World Series of Poker
going to show you how to win this tournament
the hardest way possible,"
Mohamed Ihrahim (the newest World Series
of Poker champion to a friend,
when down to just a couple of chips on
the first day)
Mohamed Ihrahim, a professional poker
player now living Long Beach, California
won the $2,000 buy-in Limit Texas Hold'em
event at the 2003 World Series of Poker,
which was held at Binion's Horseshoe in
Downtown Las Vegas. Ihrahim, outlasted
an extremely competitive field of 422
players to capture his first-ever World
Series of Poker gold bracelet. He also
collected a colossal stack of cash piled
up high on the final table, amounting
to $290,420. Not bad for two days of work.
this one didn't come easy. "Early in the
tournament I was down to just two chips
($200) once, and four chips ($400) a couple
of times," explained a thrilled, but obviously
exhausted Ihrahim following the 9-hour
marathon finale. "A lot of players usually
give up in that spot when they get really
down low on chips. But I hung in there
early on and clawed my way back. Then,
I made the money, and ended up making
it to the final table. Finally, look what
happened. I'm sitting here with a gold
key early hand came for Ihrahim when he
was down perilously low on chips at the
second level, and made a flush draw on
the river against an opponent's pocket
nines. That critical pot lit a fuse which
catapulted Ihrahim into a late first-day
chip lead -- which he took into the final
table on day two. Ihrahim arrived at the
final table with a 9 to 5 chip advantage
over his closest competitor.
final table provided an interesting mix
of poker personalities and backgrounds:
The finalists ranged from experienced
poker professinals like Mohamed Ihrahim
and Farzad Bontadi; to two casino dealers
-- Todd Ostrow and Tuan Nguyen; two businessmen
-- Joseph Cordi and Jay Helfert (a former
billiards pro); a consultant -- Adam Scwartz;
an equity trader -- Jon Brody; and finally,
a gambler -- Richard Brendel.
no point during the final table -- which
lasted from 2 in the afternoon until close
to midnight -- was Ihrahim in serious
danger of getting busted. However, there
were many dramatic moments for the packed
gallery in attendance and a live feed
broadcast over the Internet, including
one of the most phenomenal up and down
swings in recent poker history.
This was Todd Ostrow's first time to ever
play in an event at the World Series of
Poker. Incredibly, with six players remaining,
Ostrow was down to just two chips ($2,000)
-- an almost insignificant number of chips
given Ihrahim's massive stack (over $200,000
at the time). It looked as if Ostrow would
be the next player to hit the rail. Amazingly,
Ostrow then went on an astounding roll
which lasted nearly three full hours.
He went from $2,000 in chips to around
quarter of a million at one point (nearly
a third of the total chips in play!).
But the rush finally ended and Ostrow
could not maintain his momentum. When
the action became three-handed (versus
Ihrahim and Jon Brody), Ostrow was gradually
worn down -- despite surviving two all-ins
and making another slight comeback --
and ended up departing in third place,
good for $74,560.
left Ihrahim heads-up with a 5 to 1 chip
advantage against Jon Brody, an experienced
tournament player who also "gambles" full
time as a stock trader in Florida. Brody
made a move on Ihrahim during one stage
and drew to within 3 to 1 in chips. But
in the end -- Ihrahim prevailed in the
duel by virtue of a lethal combination
of forces at any poker table…..an aggressive
"attack" mode, and a favorable rush of
devastating cards which pummeled the opposing
stack to the felt -- one chip at a time.
final hand came when Brody was dealt A-Q
versus Ihrahim's 9-9. The flop came 3-
K - 10, with two clubs. Ihrahim still
had the lead, but Bordy had outs. The
turned was the 4 of clubs. That put three
clubs on board and Brody held the ace
of clubs -- potentially good for the nut
flush if he could catch another club.
Brody could also catch either an ace or
a queen to make a higher pair. The crowd
rose to it's feet. The dealer flipped
over a card. It was a harmless 10 -- which
amputated Brody from the final table in
second place with $149,140 and jettisoned
Ihrahim into part of World Series history.
definitely has more final table experience,"
explained Brody afterwards. "I'm more
of a cash-game player. The fact of the
matter is -- I lost to a very good opponent.
Fortunately, there are also 27 more events
(at this year's World Series)," a clear
indication that Brody took the loss in
stride and expects to do very well at
this year's championship.
is married, with five children. He has
won several other major events on the
tournament trail over the last 16 years,
when he first turned pro. However, "nothing
is close to the prestige and prize money
of the World Series of Poker," he said.
Ihrahim was cheered on by many friends,
family, and well-wishers in the crowd.
When asked what he plans to do aside from
poker, he truly seemed to have his priorities
straight. "I want to spend more time with
my kids and my family," he said.
started playing poker at the Bicycle Club
in Los Angeles in 1987," Ihrahim said.
"From the first time I played poker, I
really enjoyed it. The challenge of it
is really that thing that motivates me
the most to become a better player. That
-- and the money."
it comes to playing poker tournaments
-- Ihrahim is a firm believer in both
mental and physical preparation. "Many
players think that they can start preparing
for the World Series of Poker a few weeks
earlier, and some don't even bother to
prepare," explained Ihrahim. "But I believe
in getting yourself ready three to four
months in advance. This year, I quit smoking,
and stopped my leaks one at a time. Now,
I feel much better and it all paid off
to Ihrahim, we can expect to see more
success from him at this year's World
Series. In fact, if at least one prediction
comes true -- the next world poker champion
may already be a foregone conclusion.
good friend Billy Gazes (another top Los
Angeles area-based pro) told me he thinks
I'm going to win a title at the World
Series this year. That gave me a lot of
encouragement -- especially coming from
it comes to joining the elite class of
poker players with World Series of Poker
gold bracelets, Mohamed Ihrahim, is a
most deserving champion. He has paid his
dues for many years playing in tournaments
and cash games. He prepared himself mentally
and physically. And, he fought and triumphed
in an event which has traditionally been
one of the toughest to win.
-- by Nolan Dalla