Bracelet Winner

Just over a month ago I posted an item about Tomer Berda, the DirectXtras developer who’s turned poker pro and who took fifth place (and $117K) in one of the early tournaments of the 2010 World Series of Poker, which has been running since Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas.

After emailing congratulations to him, Tomer was gracious enough to offer me some time to talk over poker, so I flew down to have lunch with him a week or so after his win. We sat for four hours in his favorite Thai restaurant a mile from the din of the Rio, I watched him eat a couple of lunches, he gave me more tips about playing poker than I can remember, and he told me about his life as a professional poker player and expressed his hope that he could win a bracelet at this year’s WSOP (the bracelet being the award given to first-place finishers in addition to a hefty sum of money).

After his early win, it wqas a frustrating series for Tomer. There are about twenty general No Limit Hold’em tournaments during the series, and Tomer entered most of them, not making it past the first day of competition after his showing in Event 5 (the events tend to run three to five days depending on the number of entrants, which varies with the buy-ins of $1,000 to $5,000). The last tournament before the Main Event had a $2,500 buy-in, and 1,941 entrants. Big-name players like Daniel Negranu, Chris Moneymaker, and Phil Ivey fell by the wayside in the first day; an extra day had to be added to the schedule because of a late start, computer glitches, and a larger-than-expected field.

This event went better for Tomer, though, and just about midnight, after three hours of wild back-and-forth with Vladimir Kochelaevskiy over the chip lead, Tomer finally shut him down, winning his first WSOP bracelet and nearly $826,000. I would have loved to have seen it in person myself, but Tomer had some family there rooting for him, including his father (in the picture with Tomer).

WSOP Event 56 bracelet winner Tomer Berda and his father