He’s known throughout the poker community. He finished in third place in the 2004 WSOP, making the final table with his aggressive, relentless style. His performance at that tournament has been the subject of many an online forum. So what exactly makes this guy tick? We decided to find out…
PokerLizard: Congratulations on your 3rd place finish in this year’s WSOP (World Series of Poker) Main Event. How did you first get interested in poker and what got you interested in poker as a career?
Josh: I first started playing poker over 10 years ago when a buncha guys at the poolroom still wanted to gamble after the poolroom closed. We would rent a hotel room and basically play until one person had all the money. Very frequently that person would be me 🙂 As far as a career in poker, it just sorta happens, it’s not something you wake up and say “I’m gonna be a poker player.” I remember times when Iwas looking for a normal job to go along with the poker, and a friend told me “a regular job will just cost you money.” And that statement sure has come true – having a normal job would have taken away from my focus in poker and I wouldn’t be what I am today.
PokerLizard: What advice would you give to any aspiring pros? Any pitfalls to avoid?
Josh: If a person came to me and asked for advice on being a pro poker player I would definitely tell them two things: 1. Learn tunnel vision in the casino. There are so many vices that break poker players in the casino. Once you learn tunnel vision in a casino, you can be successful, otherwise the casino games will win all your poker winnings. The second thing I would tell them is take the game more seriously than your opponents do. Good things always happen to those that work hard. I wasn’t just given what I have today; it was hard work learning the knowledge that I know now. I have spent thousands of hours learning the game on the internet as well as in live action.
PokerLizard: I’ve noticed that you give poker classes at www.josharieh.com. What are the classes like, and who would benefit the most from these classes?
Josh: I have recently postponed my poker school because of the new PPT tournaments that are given to certain people. I was lucky enough to be considered in the top 200 players, and the dates were conflicting with my class. I am planning on rescheduling the class for sometime in Febuary. My class is for experienced players that have had a hard time getting to that next level of playing and understanding the game of No-Limit Holdem.
PokerLizard: With all the pressure of the WSOP, how were you able to handle the news that your wife was ill? How seriously did you think about leaving the tourney and what convinced you to stay?
Josh: Well when I found out the news that she was sick, the pressure really hadn’t begun to mount up yet. There were still over 1,000 players in and you really don’t get the sense that the end is near. I was lucky to call her on the first break of day 3 and she told me that she was fine and home from the hospital, and I was able to get my focus back on playing.
PokerLizard: Were there any interesting hands or behind-the-scenes happenings that the viewers at home missed out on?
Josh: I don’t know where to begin on the interesting hands. There were tons of em!!! I must say that ESPN was caught in a weird spot. They wanted to portray me as the bad guy and didn’t want to show me play well. They cut the final show from 2 hours to one hour, with their excuse being “there were not enough hands”… I second that… I played at least 5 interesting hands that could have been showed… but they didn’t want to make me look good… oh well!!!!
PokerLizard: You also have a WSOP title from 1999, winning over $200k in the $3,000 buy-in Limit Holdem event, stating “I don’t feel I was anywhere as good as the other players.” How has your game and confidence grown since that first win?
Josh: Well when I won my first bracelet I knew how to play poker, [but] I didn’t “understand” the game… now I understand it. I recognize situations and I feel like I know what to do when certain things come up. I must have had a great rush of cards in order to win that tournament back then. Man did you happen to look at the competition from that table??? It’s pretty crazy. (Pokerlizard note: That Final Table was a murderer’s row and included Humberto Brenes, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, and Capt. Tom Franklin).
PokerLizard: How has your life changed since your big payday? Are you getting recognized on the street much?
Josh: I get recognized a lot while I am playing and I hear “there’s Josh Arieh”, but I dont get noticed much outside of the casino. My wife and I are having a lot of fun with this. Angela has quit her job and has decided to help me manage my life. So far, so good…we have put money away for the kids and have secured a nice future for them.
PokerLizard: How much do you play online? What do you like about the online games?
Josh: I used to play over 50 hrs. a week online. I used online tournaments to improve my poker game and tournament strategy. The internet is a great way for people of all ages to learn and recognize situations that come up in poker touranments.
PokerLizard: How does your strategy online vary from live games?
Josh: I haven’t played much live lately. I think that in this day and age of poker, that it is much more profitable to do good in tournaments, so I don’t want to spend my time that I could be using resting, playing in a live game.
PokerLizard: Which do you enjoy more: live or tournament games?
Josh: It’s no comparison to me. Nothing compares to the rush that I get when I am late in a tournament.
PokerLizard: You have certainly taken a beating on the poker forums on the net about some of the comments you made during the WSOP (ie the “bust this MF’er” and chastising Harry Demetriou for his play). Is there anything you would like to clear up about those comments?
Josh: I have already publicly apologized to Harry, and I am sorry that it happened to him. I am not sorry that it happened though. After that occured, I sent a message to all the other players… Was it unsportsmanlike?? Kinda… did I get penalized? No… but yes, I apologized to Harry. He is a super nice guy and didn’t deserve to be made an example of. If I had done it to Mike Matesow or Phil Helmuth, I would have been praised. It didn’t help that the announcer was a little jealous and didn’t like me.
PokerLizard: Do you think it will be more difficult to be successful now that your are “famous” and people will be “gunning” to knock you out of tournaments now?
Josh: No… I just have to come up with the right strategy to make it work against people… but no, I think it is a good thing
PokerLizard: You reportedly stayed with Erick Lindgren during the WSOP. How important to your success was that “base” of support in Vegas?
Josh: Staying with Erick during the series gave me a sense of a home life. I was able to get away from the casino and make poker seem like more of a job… I wasnt stranded at the casino with all the vices around me. I was also able to swim and play basketball everyday at his house.. getting that fresh air was amazingly refreshing on a daily basis.
PokerLizard: How has Erick’s friendship helped your game and his?
Josh: Erick and I are different in a way… there are many players that ponder on bad beats or talk about poker nonstop. When we would talk poker, it is extremely helpful for both of us. We wouldn’t be talking about bad beats, we would always talk about good things that happen to us… it makes for a good mindset.
PokerLizard: How would you describe your poker “style”?
Josh: I prey on the weak. I pick out spots that I think are easy and I take advantage of those spots.
PokerLizard: Which future tournaments are you planning on playing?
Josh: I am playing all the 10k events around the states, and I am going to make a run at the best all-around award at this coming WSOP.
PokerLizard: What is your favorite game to play and why?
Josh: No-Limit Holdem… I get to bet all my money all at once!!!!!!!
PokerLizard: Obligatory PokerLizard question: If you were Matt Damon in “Rounders”, how long would it have taken you to kick your girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
Josh: LOL, I’ve been fortunate to have my wife by my side through the ups and downs… she has always been there to support me and when i saw his girlfriend in that movie i couldn’t believe he didn’t kick her to the curb earlier…..
Thanks for your time and good luck at the tables!
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