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Last South Florida hope in final 22 at World Series of Poker

The good news: South Florida has been represented at the last three final tables of the World Series of Poker, with David "Chino" Rheem, Kevin Schaffel and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi.

The average news: We still have a player left in 2011, but he's a huge underdog when the cards fly today at the Rio All-Suites Hotel in Las Vegas.

He's Badih Bounahra, 49, a part-time Fort Lauderdale resident and Belize businessman. He sits in 21st place out of 22 remaining, with 3.8 million chips. (The leader has more than 20 million.)

Bounahra says he goes by "Bob," and the World Series site for a while had his first and last names reversed. He's been playing short-stacked for days.

"The first few days, it was day by day," he said. "Today it'll be hand by hand."

He plays "a little" in South Florida, but loves the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure tournament and on Nov. 4, 2008, won $30,054 in the second chance Latin American Poker Tour tournament in San Jose.

He's cashed a couple of times at the WSOP, he said, and on Oct. 8, 2009, finished second in the UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic in Palm Beach, earning $11,000, according to Hendon Mob poker database.

Badih owns a wholesaler and grocery business. He's married with two boys and a girl, and plays online under the name "LEB_BEL" (that's Belize abbreviation backward and forward).

ESPN says he runs a poker room in Belize City.

Action starts at noon Vegas time, and makes TV tonight.

More later; I finally got ahold of him and wanted to get something up quickly.

Update: Now Bounahra has moved up to 16th, winning a 1.5 million hand as two players were knocked out. And he's changed his hometown listing from "Fort Lauderdale" to "Belize." But if he wins, I'm claiming him.

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Maybe you've made the right play, maybe you haven't. Your heart speeds up, your stomach rumbles.

That's why it's called gambling.

ACTION is a view of the numbers, the psychology and the flavor of gambling here in South Florida, through our lens.

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NICK SORTAL began playing 3-card "gut" and "Indian poker" on high school band trips, moved on to "night baseball" and "pass the trash" during a Dr. Pepper-infused midnight game in the 1980s at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and now play in a regular neighborhood Hold 'Em game in Plantation. I have been given the assignment of writing about the gambling life in South Florida casinos for the Sun-Sentinel...which means sitting around watching poker on TV now counts as research.
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