Amir Lehavot of Weston scrapped and scrambled, but still was eliminated Tuesday morning at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Lehavot wins $3.7 million. Jay Farber and Ryan Riess battle it out tonight for the $8.3 million first prize (ESPN, 9 p.m.)
Lehavot entered Monday's final table in second place, and for a while was the chip leader. But he ran into some bad luck when he raised with ace-king and a king and two small cards hit the flop. Marc-Etienne McLaughlin called his raise, then came a jack on the flop and a king on the turn. Lehavot had three kings with an ace kicker, but McLaughlin's full house pretty much crippled Lehavot, whose fans continually shouted "Fear Amir" when he won a hand.
But it wasn't all bad from there. Lehavot was in sixth place for most of the night, starting at about 9:30 Vegas time until he was eliminated at 1:15 a.m. their time. So he hung in there at the bottom for almost four hours -- enough to see three other players eliminated, and his payday rise from $1.7 million for sixth to his $3.7 million. (I'm trying to reach him for his comments and will update, but one poker blogger said "Lehavot put on a clinic in how to move up the pay ladder.")
The end came with Lehavot was all-in with 7s against Riess' 10s. At the time Farber had 105 million chips, Riess 64 million and Lehavot only 21 million, so he had to make a play sometime.
The tournament started on July 6, and the field of 6,352 dwindled to nine by July 15. Since then, ESPN has been showing the action leading up to the final table.
Lehavot was born in Israel, and arrived in the United States at age 16 an accomplished chess player, a pursuit he continued by becoming a junior champion in Texas. He earned a degree from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as an engineer, specializing in design. Along the way, he learned poker. Lehavot and his wife, Idil, moved to Weston five years ago from San Francisco to be closer to his parents. Better details here from an ESPN profile.
Since the WSOP switched to the November Nine format in 2008, four other South Floridians have earned a spot in the final table: David “Chino” Rheem, Kevin Schaffel, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi and Badih “Bob” Bounahra. None won, or even reached the final three -- until Lehavot.