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Josh Arieh

By Paul McGuire

Josh Arieh has the reputation of being one of the bad boys of poker. Although he is an excellent player, he likes to talk smack and trash at the tables. Unfortunately, the trash talking is what gets recognized and discussed the most when you mention the name Josh Arieh. In the 2004 World Series of Poker, Arieh finished in 3rd place and was portrayed poorly by ESPN as their villain. Although Arieh can be brash and arrogant, what you see on television and at the poker tables does not fully indicate the type of person he is outside of poker. He’s a devoted husband and father, and the prototypical family man. It’s hard to overcome a reputation of being a bad boy when ESPN replays some of your worst moments.

Josh Arieh
Josh Arieh - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

Love him or hate him, Josh Arieh is one of the best No Limit Hold’em tournament players around. With over $3.6 million in career tournament winnings, Arieh has two gold bracelets and has made one final table on the World Poker Tour. The 2004 WSOP champion Greg Raymer admitted that Josh Arieh was the only player he fears at the main event final table. Even the poker pundit Andy Glazer once wrote that “Josh plays a very aggressive, wide-open, pedal-to-the-metal kind of poker. He likes to put a lot of pressure on his opponents and really put them to the decision.”

Josh Arieh grew up in Rochester, NY and moved to Atlanta in 1984 with his family. He attended North Druid Hills High School where he excelled at baseball. One of his favorite hobbies was playing pool. Before he turned the legal gambling age of 21, he often used his older brother’s ID to play in poker tournaments in Biloxi, Mississippi. That was the closest casino to Atlanta, a mere six hour drive from his home. He eventually started playing $10/20 Hold’em and developed his poker skills against some of the toughest players in Biloxi.

In 1999, Josh Arieh played in his first World Series of Poker events. He went to Las Vegas after a friend of his convinced him to give it a shot. Only in his early 20s, Arieh ended up winning his first bracelet at a final table of the $3,000 Limit Hold’em event that featured some of the top names in poker such as Farzad Bonyadi, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, Humberto Brenes, and Capt. Tom Franklin. Men “the Master” Nguyen and Annie Duke finished in 11th and 12th that year, which added more top names to the impressive list of pros that Arieh had to outlast in order to win. Arieh also managed to beat the always difficult Humberto Brenes heads up for his first WSOP cash and his first WSOP bracelet.

In 2000, Josh Arieh took second place in a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event, when he lost to Johnny Chan heads up. In his first two years of playing in the WSOP, he made two final tables and had a first and second place win under his belt. That was impressive for the newcomer. Unfortunately, Arieh would go on a drought after that initial great start. He would cash in one event in 2001, but it wouldn’t be until 2004 before he made another significant run. He cashed in three events including a $2,000 NL, $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo, and the $10,000 main event, where he finished 3rd behind David Williams and Greg Raymer. Arieh capped off 2004 with a final table appearance at the WPT Borgata Open. He took third at a final table that featured Phil Ivey, David Williams, and eventual champion Daniel Negreanu.

The 2004 WSOP main event is where Josh Arieh became a household name. ESPN camera caught him cursing at Greg Raymer and telling David Williams to take him down after he was eliminated in 3rd place. Arieh’s 9-9 lost to Raymer’s A-Q when Raymer flopped trips. Earlier in that tournament, Arieh admitted he played the best hand of his life. With Kh-4h, he made a flush on the river against John Murphy who flopped a set with 2-2, then rivered a full house. Many experts would agree that Murphy made the mistake of moving all in on the river, instead of letting Arieh bet out with his flush. The all-in move made Arieh consider folding even though he though he had the best hand. Arieh decided to fold because he didn’t want to lose most of his stack and become crippled. He wisely folded and made his way to the final table. He ended up in 3rd place and took $2.5 million back home to Atlanta.

At the 2005 WSOP, Josh Arieh ended up winning his first tournament in a couple of years along with his second gold bracelet. With his wife in the crowd, he beat Chris “Jesus” Ferguson heads up to win the $2,000 Pot Limit Omaha event at a final table that included Erik Seidel, Max Pescatori, and David Colclough.

Josh Arieh is great friends with Erick Lindgren and you can often find the two rooting each other on from the sidelines. Josh Arieh currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two children. He is sponsored by BoDog.com and can be found playing online at their site. Arieh is also is the head of the Atlanta Poker School, where you can take lessons to become a better player. You can stop by his website, http://josharieh.com/, where you can read his poker journal.

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