November 22, 2006

Strong Finish for Rubenstein EH Resident Takes Fifth in World Poker Finals

East Hampton's David Rubenstein is one of the premier poker players in the state so it came as no surprise to see the veteran pocket a cool $17,000 in winnings after finishing fifth in the finals of the Limit Texas Hold'em World Poker Tour's #9 event that was held on November 5 at Foxwoods.

"I don't get a chance to play that much anymore, so it was really nice to finish in the top five," said Rubenstein who won the exact same event at Foxwoods 10 years ago. Rubenstein also edged Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, an ESPN celebrity who is the top ranked poker player in the world.

Rubenstein emerged into the final five from a pool of 135 players and showed great determination throughout the finals, at one time appearing to have the advantage on the tournament winning hand, betting all-in with his last $60,000 with a Jack-4. Mark Awalt, the eventual winner, called with King-4. The flop was Jack-9-8, which gave Rubenstein two pair before a 4 on the turn card and another on the river handed Awalt trips for the win.

"There was $129,000 left in the prize pool and all five of us agreed to take $17,000 a piece," Rubenstein said. "We stopped the game for about five minutes, negotiated the deal and we all decided that we would all take $17,000, which was better than the third place money. After the flop, I was about a 77% favorite, so I was very pleased. I went out and bought my son a plasma television and an Xbox."

In 1988, Rubenstein finished 22nd in the $10,000 World Series of Poker before pocketing $26,000 in the finals in 1996. He has since seen the sport skyrocket in popularity as the tournaments continue to grow larger and the prizes swell to often absurd amounts.

"I'm shocked that over 35 million people in the United States alone play poker right now. When I was playing in the mid-eighties, first place [in the biggest tournament] was $1 million. This year's winner won $12 million!"

Rubenstein has also won several tournaments in California over the years although he doesn't get the chance to play nearly as much as he'd like to. "This was a nice opportunity and I had a lot of fun. The nice thing was that we made that deal. We all had about the same amount of chips and the limits were so high that you could get knocked out if you lost one hand. $17,000, that's a good payday for half a day's work."

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