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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Amir Vahedi

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

This is a particularly tough bio to do because just this week the poker world lost Amir Vahedi, who succumbed to what at present time is believed to be complications resulting from a nearly life long battle with diabetes.  While his life was tragically cut short, his poker career was no less exciting.  Starting over 15 years ago, it seemed Vahedi was always among the top chip stacks in a tournament, most of those in some of the highest buy-ins the game had to offer.  In addition to being a top tournament player he was also a top poker tutor, teaching many Hollywood stars.  As the sympathy notes and messages continue to flow in from around the poker world, and people within the poker world continue to cope with the news, it’s my hope I can do his story justice.

The start of Amir Vahedi’s very interesting life began in 1961 in Iran.  Very little is known about his childhood, other than poker wasn’t a very big part of his life, if at all.  As a young man Vahedi served as a soldier in the Iranian Army during the Iran-Iraq war which lasted from 1980-1988.  During the years of battle it is believed that up to half a million soldiers and citizens lost their lives.  Luckily Vahedi left the war, and when it was over he was ready to leave.  

Vahedi left Iran as a war refugee in the early 1990’s, and settled in Los Angeles, California.  Unsure of what to do with his life, he took a number of jobs when he first got to the States, but nothing really met his fancy.  Towards the end of the decade he walked into a poker room, and like every other bio in our “Where Are They Now,” series, his life was never the same.  

From the start Vahedi enjoyed playing in tournaments, and was a fixture at all the casinos in the Los Angeles area.  Even after he made big scores he continued to play in Los Angeles.  After he became well known in the poker world he would still play in lower buy-in tournaments like he did at the start of his career, and everyone said that he was easily approachable, and genuinely enjoyed talking to all level of poker players.

Almost from the start Vahedi found success in poker tournaments, in just the fifth tournament he ever cashed in he both won it and made five figures, winning $16,480 in the 1997 Holiday Bonus Tournament in November of 1997.  In May of 1998 he won $28,060, winning a limit hold’em tournament at the $100,000 Poker Challenge Weekend, in Compton, CA.

Throughout the rest of the 90’s and the first few years of the 2000’s, Vahedi had countless good showings, making over five figures dozens of times in a tournament.  In May of 2001 he cashed in his first World Series of Poker tournament, finishing 22nd in a $3,000 no limit hold’em event.  One year later, in May of 2002, he cashed in his first World Poker Tour event, finishing 12th in a $10,000 buy-in tournament at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic.  While these results weren’t breathtaking, they were indeed a sign of good things to come for Vahedi in both the WSOP and WPT.  

Although Vahedi claims he was not a very good tournament player and also says he was never the best player in any tournament he ever entered, the poker media thought otherwise.  In 2001 he was named No Limit Player of the Year, and in 2003 he was runner-up for player of the year for Card Player Magazine.  In fact, 2003 would be his best year, although none of his years were really ever bad by any stretch of the imagination.  In 2003 he won his lone WSOP bracelet, winning the $1,500 No Limit Event for $270,000.  He also had a cash for $250,000 in the same year, finishing 6th in the Main Event the year Chris Moneymaker won it all and changed the landscape of poker forever.  All in all that year, Vahedi cashed in four events that year, three of them being final tables.

On February 12, 2005, Vahedi made his career best cash of $446,292 when he took down the L.A. Poker Classic’s $2,000 buy-in limit hold’em event.  In May of that year he had another huge score, this time winning $181,390 at the $10,000 Main Event of the Ultimate Poker Challenge in Las Vegas.  While maintaining a residence in Los Angeles, which he considered home, Vahedi also bought a home in Las Vegas because there was no way he could stay away from this kind of action, especially when he kept having these results at a very good pace.

Vahedi finished 7th in the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em World Poker Tour Event in April of 2007, winning $237,435 for his efforts.  Unfortunately that would be the last major cash he would have, as his health problems began taking their toll on him soon after.  Vahedi would cash in a few more tournaments in 2008 and 2009, but would never again capture the glory he had just a few years prior.  For his career he finished with 1 WSOP Bracelet, 9 finishes in the money at the WSOP, 7 money finishes in the WPT, and earnings of over 3.5 million dollars.  

When discussing his success at the poker table, Vahedi often times uttered the quote “In order to live, you must be willing to die.”  If you take that quote away from the poker table, you can see he also applied that to his everyday life.  He fought for his country in one of the deadliest wars in world history because he believed it would help his family which included two brothers and a sister, live a better life.  He also took a chance coming to America as a refugee, but was able to build a happy life for his two daughters and his son by taking a chance.  

By all accounts, Vahedi was one of the truly good guys in the world of poker, and he will be missed.  What friends of Vahedi have shared about him once they learned about his untimely death can be viewed here.

*Read Billy Monroe’s Blog*

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