WSOP Event #17: Jon "pokertrip" Friedberg wins WSOP bracelet

W$ WSOP entry turns into half million dollar win and gold WSOP bracelet

Jon Friedberg is a man of ambition. It's set hard in his eyes and sweats out of every pore in his hands as they grasp the back of his head. He has no tells at the table, but when he steps away, the ambition screams from his every action.

Before the poker boom, the man who is now known as "pokertrip" saw green in the world of interactivity. Friedberg is the co-founder of Reactrix, an interactive media display company. With a background in advertising, entertainment, and financial planning, the still-young man is a poker player with the mind of a businessman. He's served as an advisor to start-up internet companies and has an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Prior to today, Friedberg's best WSOP finish was 12th place in a 2004 $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. He's cashed in several other WSOP events and poker tournaments. Today, it appeared as though pokertrip's trip would be a short one. He was near the bottom in chips and didn't have the final table experience of some of his fellow final tablemates.

However, the action would move so fast and with such fury, it seemed Friedberg's trip was one he couldn't have planned even with the help of Triple-A. When PokerStars' team member Humberto Brenes suffered a beat (his AK vs. AQ pre-flop), it was left to Friedberg to bring a bracelet home for PokerStars. Before he knew it, play was four-handed. Then it was three handed. Finally, he was heads up with John Phan, a player proven to have serious game. (WSOP Event #17 final table updates)

pokertrip, all-in

Friedberg began heads-up play with a better than 3-1 chip advantage and didn't look back.

"I think I needed a 4-1 chip lead to beat John," he said.

Phan, seemingly frustrated by Friedberg's stack and aggressiveness, couldn't seem to gain a foothold in heads-up play. Even when Friedberg held nothing in his hand, he used his chips to knock Phan around.

"John is not going to be happy when he sees the TV footage," Friedberg said.

Finally, card dead for an hour, Phan could wait no more. He pushed in his chips with Q5s. Friedberg made the call with A7s. Phan never improved and Friedberg won his first WSOP bracelet. Tears welled in his eyes. His knees seemed to buckle. He collapsed on the stage, then jumped to his feat and grabbed the wads of cash on the table. He pulled out his cell phone and said, "I just won a bracelet."

"Nothing in the world compares to this experience," he said.

Photo copyright Rob Gracie -- IMPDI

Thoughts must swim like giant tadpoles in the head of a bracelet winner. The articulate young man seemed at a loss when asked what he would do with the money.

"If there is a $500,000 event tomorrow, I might play in it," he said with a smile.

Ambition comes in many forms. Tonight it realized itself in the mind and cardsense of a businessman turned WSOP title-holder. It dripped from his eyes and soaked into the bricks of cash. It put a gold bracelet on his wrist and immortalized him in a way that few people will ever know.

People talk a lot about long, strange trips. For pokertrip, this is one that may never end.

Photo copyright Rob Gracie -- IMPDI

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker