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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Freddy Deeb

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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.

Not many stories in the “Where Are They Now” series have as many elements as the story of Freddy Deeb - from missing parents in a war-torn country, to having to play low-stakes poker because he had no other way to make money, to winning arguably the toughest poker tournament in the world, Deeb has truly seen and done it all.  Deeb has also been involved in his fair share of controversies, some of which have been proven true, and others that have been proven unequivocally false.  There is excitement surrounding every poker table Deeb sits at, and that has helped him grow into one of the most recognizable faces in the game.

Kassem Ibrahim Deeb was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1955.  The first 20 years or so of Deeb’s life are relatively unknown in terms of what his interests were and when he began to play poker.  One can assume by his decision to head to Utah State University in the United States to study mechanical engineering that he had an early love for mathematics.  

Things were going smoothly for Deeb at Utah State University.  It was 1975 and Deeb was only 12 credits away from getting his degree.  His parents had been sending him money to complete college, as needed, so he didn’t have a lot of money, but he never really needed it either.  However, tragedy struck when Civil War broke out in Lebanon.  Deeb heard of the news and tried desperately to get in contact with his parents, but was unable to get in touch with them.  Because he was unable to contact them, he was also unable to get any money; therefore, he had to drop out of school and was unable to graduate.  Thankfully Deeb finally got in touch with his parents two long years after the war first broke out, but by then Deeb was already well into his new profession.

Deeb was unable to obtain a job in the United States as he only had a student visa and not a work permit.  Unable to head home because of the war, and because of lack of money, his options for earning money, especially legal, were limited.  Deeb was determined to use his math skills one way or another, so he headed across the state line to Reno, Nevada and started playing low stakes poker.  

Almost from the beginning Deeb was able to make a living on the game.  The first couple years he tried out a number of strategies to try to figure out which one would work at best for him.  Being Deeb has a big personality, it made sense that he would settle on an aggressive strategy, one that continues to bode well for him today.  Deeb became very confident in his game, especially after he learned that his parents were doing well after the two year period without contact.  Deeb progressed to the bigger games, where he also held his own over the next ten years or so.  Eventually, while traveling around to different casinos, he was introduced to tournament poker, and naturally took to that pretty quickly as well.  

Deeb cashed in his first World Series of Poker tournament - close to winning it - finishing 2nd in the 1990 $2500 No Limit Holdem Event, adding a cool $130,000 jump to his bankroll.  In 1992 he cashed in two more WSOP events, also both final tables, for a combined payout of almost $75,000.  In the years between 1993 and 1995 Deeb cashed in three more events, including a 17th place finish in the Main Event.  In 1996 Deeb joined the list of tournament greats by winning his first bracelet in the $5,000 Deuce to Seven Draw event, earning $146,250.  

Deeb continued to cash in the WSOP at a rapid pace, racking up 28 money finishes in his career, but despite coming close time and time again, was never able to add a bracelet to his other wrist.  That all changed in 2007, when he took down what is arguably the toughest tournament in all of poker, the $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E event.  Traditionally the event brings the world’s toughest players, and because it involved five forms of poker, many people consider this event to be the true championship of poker.  The final table lasted an amazing 14.5 hours, with Deeb having to survive an all-in when play was four handed, but at the end of the long day, and night, Deeb was victorious, walking away with $2,276,832 to add to his bankroll.

In addition to two WSOP bracelets, Deeb has found success on the World Poker Tour.  Two times he has won WPT championships.  The first one came in 2005 at the Ultimate Poker Classic in Aruba, where he won $1,000,000 in the $5k buy-in championship event.  His second WPT came in February 2009, when he knocked out every celebrity and poker professional en route to winning the Celebrity Invitational event in Los Angeles.  For his career, Deeb has amassed an amazing $6,300,000 in tournament winnings.

As mentioned, with his success has come some scandal.  Deeb was thought to be well aware of the “SuperUser” scandal that rocked UltimateBet in 2008, and was thought to even be a beneficiary of it.  It was believed that Deeb’s online name was shown to have been involved in transactions with a proven SuperUser account that was used by Russ Hamilton.  Barry Greenstein came to the defense of Deeb, saying that his account was only transferred money because it was money he intended on paying back to the account he got it from.  Greenstein stated that online players do this all the time, asking for money from all the players.  Because of Greenstein’s high standing in the poker world, this appeared to help Deeb’s case, and he has been able to move on relatively unscathed from the events.

On a lighter note, while generally fun and easy going, he has shown that he can tilt with the best of them, and usually when he does it, comes out in a cussing tirade.  A well known YouTube video has circulated from the 2009 WSOP H.O.R.S.E championship, in which Deeb directs a verbal assault on a player, with the “F” Bomb being the choice of word, over and over.  It lasted for a number of minutes, despite a member of the tournament staff eventually yelling in Deeb’s face for him to stop, or he would be penalized.
Away from the poker table, Deeb lives in Las Vegas Nevada.  He is married, and has four children. 

*Read Billy Monroe's Blog*

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