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WSOP Tournament Report Event 41

“It’s the Karma, Man!”


Paul “Tashi” Kobel wins his first WSOP gold bracelet


Holistic Practitioner expresses tearful gratitude after winning it all



Las Vegas, NV.- It’s a story that would make most poker theorists cringe. For everyone else however, the tale of Paul Kobel’s quest to win a bracelet at event #41 of the World Series of Poker presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light is something that is hard not to smile about.


For Kobel, the $225 that won him 1st place at an Oaks Card Club poker tournament in his hometown of Oakland, California was a strain on his tight budget. This was not so because of poor money management or any other derelictions, but due to his passion for helping people. As director of a “bed and therapy,” an establishment that helps treat anyone from weary travelers to persons suffering from ailments such as cerebral palsy, Kobel does not rake in the big bucks. “I pay into my business,” he explained. “It’s not at all profitable, but I get to help people who seriously need it.” Kobel claims that his “Watsu” (Water Shiatsu) therapy has helped people with cerebral palsy move limbs that they have not been able to utilize in years. “We try not to turn anyone away,” he said.


The 36-year old’s win at Oaks was validation enough for his wife to allow him
to bring his winnings to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and compete in the World Series of Poker, which was already one month into its progression.


Wearing long scruffy hair and even scruffier facial hair, Korbel’s poker play was as unorthodox as his appearance. “I’ve never read a book about poker man,” he said. “It’s about playing from your heart. Ever since I got here, people criticized almost every hand I played. We live by our karmas, and sometimes you have to take chances as long as you make the right considerations.”


Call it karma, call it good play or call it just a fluke. Korbel beat out 999 competitors including poker greats Phil Helmuth, Steve Dannenman and Mike Matasow, (who Korbel himself knocked-out earlier in the tournament) to make it to the final table:




Tyler Andrews
Las Vegas, NV
Paul Kobel
Oakland, CA
Rafael Perry
Las Vegas, NV
James Henson
Lake Jackson, TX
Christopher Solomon
Richmond, IL
Eric Deregt

  Shreeniwas Kelkar              Kirkland, WA           7

  Shyam Srinivasan              Toronto, Canada        8

  Jonathan Stamm                 Glenview, IL           9


James Henson was the first to be eliminated. Short-stacked, the 48-year old orthodontist found himself all-in in the midst of four-way action. After numerous checks, top pair was shown, but it didn’t belong to him. Henson walked away with $30,927 and a ninth place finish.


Next out was Jonathan Stamm. Shreeniwas Kelkar raised pre-flop to 18k. Stamm called while Tyler Andrews re-raised to 50k. After a fold by Kelkar, Stamm moved all-in while Andrews called. Andrews turned over Ah, Kd, and Stamm showed Ad, Qd. After an uneventful flop of 2d-3c-3s, the turn and river failed to improve either player’s hand giving Andrews the king-high kicker. Stamm hit the rails in eighth place.


After a flop of 5d-9s-Qd, Srinivasan moved all-in. After long consideration, Tyler called. Srinivasan turned over 6c,6h, but Tyler had pocket jacks. The deuce and eight of diamonds on the turn and river sealed the deal and busted-out Srinivasan in seventh.


Sixth place belonged to Christopher Solomon. After Perry’s raise to 24k, Solomon went all-in with 5s, Ks which was little match for Perry’s As, Jc. A benign flop, turn and river
gave Perry the ace-high, eliminating Solomon.


Eric Deregt was next to hit the rails. After Kobel raised to 55k, Deregt went all-in for 225k. Kobel called to Dereget’s dismay. After Kobel showed Jc,Ks , Dereget exclaimed, “You called with that?!” and turned over Ac,Qc. Dismay turned into utter disgust for Deregt as Kobel flopped a set when the board showed Kc,2d,Kh. A Qh turn and 10s river sent the 21-year college student from Stanford out in fifth.


Srinivasan went out in fourth after moving all-in low stacked. Hoping to catch Kobel at an opportune time, the 24-year old turned over 6d, Qs. However, Kobel called showing another Kd, Js, a hand that the spectators began to jokingly coin the “nut pocket.” Kobel flopped a pair of kings while a harmless turn and river sent Srinivasan to the rails.


In third place was poker pro Rafael Perry. The 2002 WSOP main event third place finisher and 2006 WSOP event #26 bracelet winner raised to 30k while Andrews re-raised to 100k. Perry re-raised again all-in while Tyler called. Tyler’s pocket 6’s held-up against Perry’s A,Q off-suit with Tyler catching a set on the river.


Heads-up action was between Tyler and Kobel. Tyler limped-in while Kobel raised to 20k. Tyler moved all-in showing another pair of 6’s. Kobel turned over Ad,9c. It appeared that Kobel’s luck ran out when a flop of Js-Qc-Qd hit the board, but incredibly, the turn showed Jd, giving Kobel the two pair ace-high kicker and the victory.


“I can’t believe it man!” Kobel screamed while throwing his hands up, before breaking down into tears. A number of spectators and dealers shared in his profound joy as they hugged Kobel and shook his hand. “I can pay the mortgage off on my house!” he exclaimed minutes later, tears still streaming down his face.


That night, Kobel shrugged off every misfortune he ever encountered in his life, every hardship. “This is a wonderful life!” he exclaimed. For some reason, his words did not seem to be simply a result of his victory. The expressions on the faces of many of the spectators appeared to second that sentiment.


By Alan Fowler

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