A part-time Fort Lauderdale resident has come out of nowhere to have a shot at poker immortality.
Badih "Bob" Bounahra, 49, survived eight days of poker to make the final table at the World Series of Poker main event early Wednesday morning. The final nine players will now take a break and gather in November to play for first place -- worth $8.7 million.
Bounahra, reached by phone before play on Tuesday, said he lives in a Fort Lauderdale condo, and is "a businessman." At least one son attends college at Florida Atlantic University and records show other family members have lived here for about 10 years. He has played "a little" at local poker rooms, he said.
On July 7, 6,865 players, including Bounahra, put down $10,000 to play in the World Series main event. Bounahra said he took the tournament "day by day," and entered Wednesday's play at noon Vegas time as No. 21 of the 22 players left.
But the cards fell his way Tuesday at the Rio All-Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, and player after player around him was eliminated, the final one coming at 2:21 a.m. today Vegas time.
This is by far Bounahra's biggest poker score. The web site Hendon Mob, which tracks player's successes, had his previous biggest win as $11,000 in October 2009. Even if he finishes ninth in November, he'll earn $782,115.
For the first seven days the WSOP was confused about his name, reversing his first and last names. He also had "Fort Lauderdale" listed as his hometown on the web site, but that changed to Belize on the final day. He wore a cap that said "Belize" on it throughout the televised play on Tuesday. (Obviously, I'll try to reach him later today, but figure I should let the guy sleep a little.)
Martin Staszko of Trinec, Czech Republic, leads with 40,175,000 chips. Bounahra has 19,700,000. ESPN profiled the November Nine already. (They're in Vegas; I'm not. Just sayin' ...)
It's the fourth consecutive year that a poker player with Broward ties has made the final table: Previously, David "Chino" Rheem, Kevin Schaffel and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi have made the November Nine.
None have won.
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