As has been the case the past few years, there's a South Florida rooting interest as the World Series of Poker plays down to the final table today.
This time, it's Amir Lehavot, 38, who sits in 11th place as the final 27 players narrow it down to nine at the Rio All-Suites Hotel in Las Vegas.
Lehavot spends time in Weston -- his parents live there -- but officially lists his home country as Israel. He was a junior chess champion in Texas.
"Actually I use my Weston address, but I asked the WSOP to play the Israeli anthem if I win. I chose to do that to both honor my country of birth, and protest the unaviliability of online poker in the US," he said via email when we first communicated a few years ago.
When online poker was being played in the U.S., Lehavot was among the top players, under the name "AmirSF." He also has run an online poker training site, PokerWit.com, but since online poker dried up he has been playing live games more, living the typical nomandic poker life -- except with a nice bankroll from online play.
Lehavot was born in Israel and arrived in the United States at age 16. Before playing poker for a living, Lehavot worked as an engineer, specializing in design, he told WSOP officials. He lived in San Francisco before moving to Weston, thus the online poker handle of AmirSF.
His biggest live win was at the WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha in 2011, when he got a bracelet and $573,456. He led the main event in 2009, before finishing 226th.
Since going to the November Nine format in 2008, David "Chino" Rheem, Kevin Schaffel, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Bob Bounhara -- all with some kind of South Florida connection, have earned a spot in the final table. (Last year was the first blank.) None have won.
Lehavot has 7.3 million chips and the bottom eight or so look like they're playing short-stacked. The $10,000 buy-in event drew 6,352 players.
South Floridians who cashed: Noah Schwartz of Sunny Isle Beach, 52nd ($151,063), Ryan Fair of Fort Lauderdale, 264th ($37,019), Raj Vohra of Lake Worth, 285th ($37,019), Michael Mizrachi of Miramar 473rd ($24,480) and Harry Thomas Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, 617th ($19,106); 648 players overall cashed.
I'll have a Final Table report tomorrow but for faster results go to WSOP.com.