Josh Arieh is having one of the best World Series of Poker runs of his two-decade-long career. In fact, perhaps there’s no hotter player on the planet over the past two weeks as Arieh picked up his third career gold bracelet in the $1,500 PLO for $204,766 and then bounced right into the $50,000 Poker Players Championship where he made the final table for the second year running, finishing in sixth place for $161,422.
The moment he busted out of the PPC, he snap-registered for the $10,000 PLO and four days later he was celebrating his second bracelet of the series, fourth of his career, and another $484,791 payday – a top 5 score of his career. Additionally, Arieh is getting it done online as well, finishing in fourth place in the WSOP.com $3,200 Online High Roller for another $96,049 and enough Player of the Year points that he’s expected to take the lead when it’s next updated.
But in addition to his poker career, Arieh recently took on a big role at PocketFives that included launching the new staking platform. He’s been a central figure to its success both off the felt and through offering pieces of his deep runs throughout the WSOP and giving fans an old-school sweat and piece of the action.
Seeing as how he works for this site, it wasn’t tough to catch him on break during Day 1c of the Main Event to ask him a few questions about his past two weeks.
You’ve been in plenty of huge spots in your career: second in the $50K PPC in 2019, third in the Main Event in 2004. Where does the 2021 WSOP rank in your career so far and could you have imagined that you’d be where you are right now?
I mean, we talked before we came out and I was coming out with intentions of working a lot. I was going to deal with players and getting people up on the site [PocketFives Staking] and everything. But as the fall progressed, it made more sense to play because I was playing so free. My thoughts were flowing, which is really important to me. I mean, yes, I’m surprised because there is so much variance in whether you finish in certain spots…but I’m not surprised that I’m doing well. I’m surprised that I do have two bracelets [this year]. But my life is in an amazing place, even without the bracelets. My headspace is better than it’s ever been and the results are showing it.
You’ve talked about the challenges of staying mentally tough, so where is your own confidence right now and how do you maintain your own mental toughness in tournaments?
Yeah, it’s really big for me. It’s really big for me to stay engaged and focused. I’m always trying to think of creative ways to win hands and I always want to have an extra out to where I don’t have to catch the cards. I’m always thinking about a lot of extra things in a hand that a lot of people aren’t thinking about because I just like to make it tough on myself.
But I am as mentally here as I’ve ever been, it’s the backbone of everything. And it’s just that my life is in a good place which allows me to not think about anything other than the task at hand. I’m able to stay completely engaged and completely focused and…I’m having fun.
I don’t want people to think that “Oh, Josh is winning. He’s having fun,” because maybe everybody is…but I was having fun at the beginning when I only had three min cashes. I went home for four days and was excited to come back and play a $1,500 event. And then, I won that. But I’m enjoying my time at the table. In years past, I’ve always worn headphones or something would irritate me. I haven’t put headphones in once. Nothing’s irritating me. I’m just staying focused and it’s really doing good, obviously.
When you won that $1,500 you tweeted that you “knew the assignment”, is going for the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year the new “assignment?”
Yea, a banner on the wall would be fucking cool, but Shaun [Deeb] comes out wanting to win Player of the Year every year and I just want to finish higher than Shaun [laughs]. That’s all, I just want to finish higher than Shaun so I can needle him. Finishing higher than him in a tournament is a really fucking good accomplishment.
Player of the year would be cool but I’m going to take it day by day. As of right now, yes, I’m going to try to get some more points and win Player of the Year. But I’m not going to make myself miserable and play when I don’t want to play. Because I’m having a lot of fun and this is going to be a series that I always remember for the rest of my life. I don’t want to tarnish it by beating my head against the table, trying to win POY when I don’t want to be playing.
Switching gears a little, you are also in charge of Staking on PocketFives which has also been a huge success. How does your new role at P5s plus the successful launch of staking fit into everything that’s going on in your world?
It’s just everything in my life is really lining up like I never imagined. And with Daniel’s [Negreanu] help. Daniel is just one of the great people in the world. I mean, not just poker. You can call him a good guy in poker, but he’s just a good human being and the things that he’s done to help us succeed at PocketFives. The way that it’s actually thriving and people are making money and enjoying sweating updates more than ever before.
My messages are full of all my friends outside of poker: “When’s the next package going up? When’s the next thing going up?” It’s really bringing people a lot of fun. Plus, we’re capping it, so people aren’t losing a lot of money that they can’t afford. I’ve said it a million times that it’s like people will enjoy a football game more because they get to bet $10 on it. Now, they get to invest at really fair rates.
I don’t know. I forever my tag on my Twitter was, “I’m the luckiest man alive.” But I’ve always felt that way and somehow now it’s even better. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love playing poker. I don’t know. I’m just, my relationships at home, my girlfriend, everything, life’s just coming together.
This is a bonus question, I wasn’t originally going to ask this but…have you ever thought about maybe letting someone you work with, maybe a content creator for the site, know a minute or two before you decide to post? You know, so maybe that person could get a piece of the current sun run?
No, no…[laughs] it’s for everybody. It wouldn’t be fair…it just wouldn’t be fair.
Fair enough. Seriously though, you’ve won two bracelets and a lot of money this autumn, can you flex a little and let people know what you’ve done to celebrate these wins?
Ah, dude, that’s not my style. I’m so excited to be here. There are so many poker players that have contributed. I mean, my support system is full of fucking amazing players. It’s not all me. It’s Shaun and Matt Glantz and Daniel Negreanu and Daniel Weinman…there are so many, I hate to leave anybody out. But they’re my boys and I always bounce hands off of them.
We did go to Nobu for dinner…but I haven’t even cashed out. It’s all just sitting in the thing.