Kassem Ibrahim ‘Freddy’ Deeb

Kassem Ibrahim ‘Freddy’ Deeb has a poker CV which most players can only ever dream of in a stellar career which had an unusual beginning.

Kassem Ibrahim ‘Freddy’ Deeb has a poker CV which most players can only ever dream of, having won over $8.5million in tournament play and 2 much-coveted WSOP gold bracelets in a stellar career which had an unusual beginning.

The Lebanon-born maestro might never have become a poker pro at all were it not for one of those quirks of fate which are impossible to predict. As a student at Utah State University, war erupted in his home country and he found himself cut-off from the funding his studies required, not to mention being separated from his family.

Being forced to quit school just shy of earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering, and unable to work legally owing to visa restrictions, Deeb out of necessity headed for Vegas with a small bankroll – and thus began a fantastic poker career which would see the popular pro rise to take on the world’s best.

His first major 6-figure cash came at the 1990 WSOP, a $130,000 payday for coming 2nd in the $2.5K NLHE event, and the WSOP would prove to be a happy hunting ground in the years to come.

1996 brought him his long-awaited first WSOP gold bracelet, when he outplayed the likes of Doyle Brunson and Gabe Kaplan at the final table of the $5K Deuce to Seven Lowball event, taking home $146,250 for his win.

Deeb’s massive win in the 2005 WPT Ultimate Poker Classic in Palm Beach saw his first $million cash, a victory which he would follow up two years later with the crowning glory of his career, the $50K H.O.R.S.E. title at the 2007 WSOP.

One of the games most sought-after crowns, Deeb’s H.O.R.S.E. win also gained him $2,276,832 and solidified his position as one of the world’s leading players in all formats. He explained that his first bracelet didn’t really mean so much to him as he didn’t understand its worth, “But this one – it means everything to me. These are the toughest players in the world. It has the highest buy-in. Except for the $10,000 buy-in (Main Event), this is the bracelet that means the most of any of them.”

His playing style is generally considered to be aggressive, but he told PokerListings.com during the event "I can be playing very fast or very tight - it all depends on the table - I adjust to the people that are playing."

Deeb has been a regular on High Stakes Poker over the years, usually attired in his ‘signature’ mind-bendingly-coloured shirts, and feels at home in the company of players such as fellow-high stakes pro Eli Elezra, perhaps his closest friend at the tables.

Away from the green felt Deeb is a happily-married man with 4 children – and his situation is as far removed from his humble poker beginnings as can be imagined. Poker has the ability to transform lives, and Deeb has made full use of it.

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