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Sam Farha

By Paul McGuire

Sam Farha exemplifies cool. He looks like an old school gambler sporting slicked back hair, a dress shirt, and dinner jacket while an unlit cigarette dangles from his mouth. And he also backs up his appearance with an excellent poker game. If Chris Moneymaker didn’t bluff him out of a pot at the final table, the cash game specialist and gambler might have been the 2003 WSOP Champion. Although Sam Farha only took home second place, he gained the respect of all of his peers and ended up making a name for himself along the way.

Sam Farha
Sam Farha - Source: Las Vegas & Poker

Sam Farha was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Like any teenager, he developed his competitive edge playing video games and other games of skill. He was well versed in pool, pinball, and Pac-Man. His pinball wizardry skills made him a local celebrity. He even appeared on the cover of a magazine for his pinball prowess. Farha started gambling on games where he knew he could make a lot of money. He cleaned up betting on pool and even won $5,000 on a single game of Pac-Man.

Sam Farha’s father wasn’t pleased with his choices to make money through gambling. He insisted that Sam pursue higher education. Farha ended up in Lawrence, Kansas and attended the University of Kansas where he graduated with a degree in business. He relocated to Houston, Texas where he worked a variety of jobs. He started playing poker with his friends, which reminded Farha how much he missed gambling and playing skill games. Eventually the stakes increased and Farha’s poker skills improved. When he took his first trip to Las Vegas, he tripled his money at the poker tables. At that moment, he knew that he was a lot better than he thought and considered turning pro.

For years Sam Farha played in big cash games on the Texas circuit both Omaha and No Limit Hold’em. He cashed in his first major tournament during the 1996 World Series of Poker. He won the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event and had to beat out Erik Seidel at his final table to win his first WSOP bracelet. Sam Farha is considered one of the best Pot Limit Omaha cash game players in the world. His aggressive style, along with his willingness to gamble and take big risks is why he’s tough to beat in Pot Limit Omaha, which is often considered a gambler’s game. At the 2002 WSOP, he made a final table of a Pot Limit Omaha event and finished in 3rd place. It was a tough final table that featured Humberto Brenes, Barny Boatman, and Steve Zolotow.

Sam Farha became a household name after he made the final table of the 2003 WSOP main event that also featured Dan Harrington and Amir Vahedi. When he got heads up with amateur Chris Moneymaker, everyone in Benny’s Bullpen at Binion’s Horseshoe figured it was a matter of time before Farha won the championship. But Chris Moneymaker made some great plays including one bluff. Sammy had only a pair, but Moneymaker had absolutely nothing. He bluffed all in on the river and represented a flush. Farha knew Moneymaker didn’t have the flush, but hesitated. He didn’t think his hand was good enough to win and reluctantly folded. Moneymaker exhaled as he scooped the pot. Moneymaker was holding his breath because if Farha had made that call, he’d end up becoming the WSOP Champion.

Sam Farha likes to gamble, not just at poker. During the 2005 WSOP, Farha engaged in random prop bets with his tablemates. He pulled high card out of the muck for $1,000 and he also bet on coin flips where he ended up losing close to $25,000. Farha was also involved in one of the most memorable hands of the 2005 WSOP main event. On the first hand of the first day (technically it occurred on Day 1B), he knocked out actor Oliver Hudson on the first hand. Hudson is the brother of actress Kate Hudson and the son of Academy Award winning actress Goldie Hawn. With A-10, Farha flopped a full house when A-A-10 hit the board. Hudson had 10-10 and ended up going broke when his full house lost to Farha’s higher full house.

Although he’s won over $1.5 million playing in tournaments, Sam Farha is primarily a cash game player and sometimes sits in The Big Game at the Bellagio with Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein, and Bobby Baldwin. You can visit his site at http://samfarha.net where you can purchase official Sam Farha merchandise like photos and t-shirts.

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