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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Bloch wins Seven-Card Stud event to capture first WSOP gold bracelet

4 June 2012

Poker standout Andy Bloch won his first World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelet Saturday night at the Rio, and in the process, removed a label from his name.

"Now, no one can say, 'Andy Bloch is the best player to never win a gold bracelet," Bloch said moments after the victory. "That is really annoying because there are so many great other players too, who have not won. I've been coming here for 18 years now. I never thought it would have taken so long."

Bloch, 43, topped a field of 367 players to win the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud tournament. Bloch earned $126,363 for the victory, which was added to the more than $2.4 million he has earned at the World Series of Poker.

To date, Bloch has cashed in 28 events and eight final table appearances.

Bloch’s most famous final table was in 2006, when he finished runner-up to the late David “Chip” Reese in the inaugural $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, which was nationally televised on ESPN. Bloch and Reese played heads-up for more than seven hours — the longest heads-up match in tournament history. He earned more than $1 million for second place.

Bloch, who lives in Las Vegas, had to defeat Barry Greenstein, a 2011 inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame, for the championship. But he came away with the victory quickly, surrounded by a small circle of intimate friends.

Bloch graduated from MIT with two electrical engineering degrees in 1992 and he graduated from Harvard Law School. He is best known for teaming up with several of his MIT classmates in the 1990s and took casinos in Las Vegas and around the country for millions of dollars through a systematic card-counting operation.

The team's exploits were detailed in the book, "Bringing Down the House," a 2002 New York Times best-seller by Ben Mezrich. The story reached the big screen in 2008 as "21," which was based on the book and starred two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal prior to the movie’s release, Bloch said he wasn't involved in the making of the movie or the book. He said most of the characters in the book are composites of several different people.

"You can't pick me out," he said.

Bloch said he only plays poker.

"I don't play blackjack anymore because I don't want to get into trouble where I play poker," Bloch said in 2008. "I get recognized pretty easily. The first time I went to Wynn Las Vegas after the casino opened, one of the managers saw me and said, 'Andy, the poker room is that way. You're welcome to play here, just not blackjack.' "

Bloch’s achievement topped the first week of the 43rd World Series of Poker.

Earlier in the week Leif Force of Tallahassee, Fla., who made a run toward the final table of the tournament’s Main Event in 2006, won his first championship bracelet, taking the $3,000 buy-in Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha event.

Force collected $207,708 for defeating a field of 317 players.

In 2006, in his first year ever at the World Series of Poker, Force missed out on the final table of nine players the Main Event by two spots, but he earned more than $1.1 million.

Also last week, 2010 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Mike Sexton, the lead announcer on the World Poker Tour’s televised event, earned what some believed to be a first in poker history — cashing in two events on the same day.

Sexton earned $9,644 for finishing 16th in the $3,000 buy-in Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em/ Pot-Limit Omaha event won by Force. Later, Sexton earned $6,532 for 15th in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better event.
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