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2003 World Series Of Poker
Sun - Mon April. 20-21, 2003
Event #6
Pot Limit Hold'em
$1,500 BUY-IN

Players: 212
Prize Pool: $295,740

1. Prahlad Freidman Richmond, CA $109,400

2. Bernie Tygol Germany 56,200
3. Hov Ung Westminster, CA 28,100
4. Dennis Waterman Myrtle Beach OR 17,740
5. Paul Vinci Pismo Beach, CA 13,300
6. Brent Carter Oak Park, IL 10,340
7. Hans "Tuna" Lund Sparks, NV 7,400
8. Mel Judah London, England 5,920
9. Mark Wilds Biloxi, MS 4,740
10. John Juanda Marina Del Rey, CA 3,540
11. David Plastik Las Vegas, NV 3,540
12. Marcel Luske Netherlands 3,540
13. Tony Cousineau Daytona Beach, FL 2,960
14. James Karamanis Barrington, IL 2,960
15. Luis Santoni Pembrooke Pines FL 2,960
16. Jeff Rothstein New York, NY 2,360
17. Bill Gazes Marina Del Rey, CA 2,360
18. Dan Heimiller Las Vegas, NV 2,360
19. Tom Duncker Brooklyn, NY 1,780
20. Stephen Mills Santa Fe, NM 1,780
21. Tom McCormick Fargo, ND 1,780
22. Chris Bjorin England 1,780
23. Richard Pipe England 1,780
24. Stephen Rydel Las Vegas, NV 1,780
25. Bryan Davidson Southfield, MI 1,780
26. Roger Brestak Norton, MA 1,780
27. Paul Westley London, England 1,780

Prahlad Friedman, From Richmond, CA Wins
$1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em Event at 2003
World Series of Poker

Prahlad Friedman is not your average 24-year-old poker player. One might assume this young man is relatively inexperienced in tournament play and that the amount of prize money ($109,400 for first place) would be intimidating. What most people watching the final table of the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold'em event probably didn't realize was that Friedman is a high-stakes poker player (he plays as high as $400-800 limit) with great confidence, and is blessed with an immense amount of talent which suggests we can expect to see his name come up more often as the winner at major poker tournaments.

Friedman came into the final table with an impressive chip lead ($85K in chips versus his closest rival, who had $55K). From the start, Friedman was the most aggressive player at the final table, winning the overwhelming majority of pots with a barrage of pot-sized raises and re-raises. At one point Friedman lost the chip lead, but showed remarkable composure and seized it back again. In the end, Friedman had all the chips and clearly deserved to win the title.

But things did not go as smoothly for Friedman on Day One. "I was down to just $300 at one point" explained Friedman. Many players give up at that point. But I stayed focused and caught a few hands where I doubled-up. Then, I was right back in the tournament."

After John Juanda busted out in 10th place, the final table was comprised of three former gold bracelet winners -- Mel Judah, Hans "Tuna" Lund, and Brent Carter -- with two victories each at the World Series of Poker. But one by one they made their exit, until each former champion had finally been eliminated and the final table was down to just four players. With Friedman sitting atop a sizable chip advantage ($160K to his closest threat, Hov Ung who had $60K) and the experienced tournament pros gone, Friedman was now on the verge of winning his first major tournament.

But as we have seen in previous events, a sizable chip advantage does not guarantee victory. As demonstrated on the previous day, even an "insurmountable" chip lead can dissolve and turn around very quickly -- especially in pot-limit play. Friedman was clearly the favorite, but had to be careful not to double up his opponents.

Next, Dennnis "the Swami" Waterman went out in fourth place when he moved all-in with A-Q and was called by Hov Ung with 6-6. The small pocket pair held up and Ung suddenly appeared to be the biggest danger to Friedman's chip lead.

Down to three players, Bernie Rygol, from Germany, survived two "all-ins" with ace-high. The two big pots put the three finalists very close in chip counts, where any big hand could conceivably swing the momentum. Then without warning, Hov Ung took a devastating beat and crumbled. Freidman tried to take the blinds with a pre-flop raise, holding K-J. Ung, with A-Q, came over the top with an "all-in" re-raise, and Freidman called. The board brought Friedman a very welcome king, which effectively put Ung out on the rail in third-place. The big pot catapulted Friedman into a 4 to 1 chip advantage, as heads-up play began between Friedman and Rygol.

A few minutes later, Rygol (who was getting low on chips) doubled-up with Q-J versus Friedman's K-6. Neither one of those hands are very strong in pot-limit games, but when the blinds are racing around quickly and wearing down stacks, in heads-up play, they become playable sometimes. Holding Q-J -- Rygol hit a queen on the turn and survived. The two finalists would play for another hour.

Another key hand took place when Rygol doubled-up again with 10-10 versus Friedman's A-J. Friedman failed to hit his overcard, and the pocket 10s held up. Incredibly, the big pot gave Rygol a slight chip advantage, as he became the chip leader for the first time in the tournament. But the glory would be short-lived.

The end came out of nowhere. After a few pots where Friedman took back the chip lead, Rygol's stack was hit with a sledgehammer when Friedman was given a chance to see a flop cheaply (holding 10-4 of hearts). The flop come with all hearts, giving Friedman a flush. With the board showing 7-6-3, Rygol made a bold pot-sized bet with J-7 (good for top pair). Friedman quickly raised "all-in" and Rygol called the bet. When Rygol saw the heart flush on the flop, he knew he was in trouble, needing to catch two perfect running cards to stay alive. It wouldn't happen. With the crowd standing, and many in the audience cheering, Friedman was presented with the gold bracelet (his first) and $109,400 in $100 bills piled up high on the table.

As the event came to a close, Friedman was given an opportunity to make a public statement, which stirred some controversy. Normally, poker champions thank relatives, or cite other poker players when reflecting upon a victory. Friedman, however, chose to do something a different. He made a bold statement about being opposed to war in general, and particularly the war in Iraq. He also used the occasion to criticize the policies of President Bush.

It is debatable as to whether a poker tournament is the proper forum to voice political views. There are reasonable arguments for both sides -- pro and con. However, anyone who wins a gold bracelet at the World Series of Poker is entitled to shine in the spotlight, at least temporarily. How one chooses to use that platform is entirely up to them.

Prahland Friedman's political views and willingness to express them publicly should hardly be surprising given his background and commitment to social causes. He is a part-time student at the University of California -- Berkley and is currently majoring in Ethnic Studies. He is interested in attending law school someday and is deeply committed to civil rights and labor issues -- where he hopes to focus on a career in the future.

Friedman's political views may, in fact, be controversial and will be viewed as inappropriate by many -- given the boos and hostile response of the crowd when he was permitted to make his statement. However, there is little controversy as to the poker talent of this young man. Regardless of one's views about the important issues of the day, the majority opinion is that Prahlad Friedman is a terrific poker player who will be heard from again, and again.

-- by Nolan Dalla

2003 World Series of Poker

Event 1 Event 2 Event 3 Event 4
Event 5 Event 6 Event 7 Event 8
Event 9 Event 10 Event 11 Event 12
Event 13 Event 14 Event 15 Event 16
Event 17 Event 18 Event 19 Event 20
Event 21 Event 22 Event 23 Event 24
Event 25 Event 26 Event 27 Event 28
Event 29 Event 30 Event 31 Event 32
Event 33 Event 34 Event 35 Event 36
Event 37 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 4 Final Table    




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