Ari Engel Captures Second Canadian WSOP Gold in 2019

In the last few days, Ari Engel claimed his first WSOP victory in Event 48, a No Limit Hold’em tournament. Engel now becomes the second Canadian pro to win gold at the 2019 WSOP at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. Just last week, former professional hockey player and longtime poker pro Greg Mueller won his third WSOP gold bracelet, though it was the Canadian’s first one in 10 years.

At the 50th Annual World Series of Poker, Americans may be still dominating the wins, capturing titles in the vast majority of the 50 tournaments that have played out thus far. Nevertheless, Canadian poker players are now beginning to make its mark.

Long Time Coming

Ari Engel has been playing poker for most of his adult life. Even so, he didn’t have a World Series of Poker bracelet…until Saturday, June 22.

The event started on Thursday of last week, a four-day NLHE tournament with a $2,500 buy-in. It drew 996 entries to create a prize pool of $2,241,000, out of which the top 150 finishers would be paid.

When the first day of play ended, Engel was in the top 20 players on the leaderboard. He then kept his momentum strong and finished Day 2 with 815K chips, good for sixth place of the remaining 26 players.

Engel returned on Saturday to climb even higher. He soared into the chip lead as the final table approached. However, he lost it to Wilbern Hoffman as a 10th place finisher was ousted. But Engel eliminated Ryan Olisar in eighth place, Truyen Nguyen in seventh, and David Baker in fifth. Pablo Melogno of Uruguay soon busted Hoffman in third place and took chips from Engel in the same hand.

Melogno took a massive 11,195,000 stack of chips into heads-up against the 3,745,000 of Engel. Nevertheless, Engel won two pots in a row and then doubled up in a massive hand of A-Q against K-9 on a K-10-4-8-J board. That left Mologno with seven big blinds, and he busted on the next hand.

Engel won $427,399 in cash to go with his shiny new WSOP gold bracelet.

Ari Engel No Stranger to Winning

Ari Engel has had his share of victories at the poker tables. At just 35 years old, he has cashed in 43 WSOP tournaments and won nine WSOP Circuit gold rings.

The young Canadian’s first poker scores came in 2006 with his first win happening in 2007. That’s when he claimed his first WSOP Circuit victory in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He then won an event at the Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas. He subsequently went on win more WSOPC events in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, etc.

Meanwhile, Engel was winning elsewhere. He played the Asian Poker Tour High Roller in 2012 and won it, just before winning the Asia Pacific Poker Tour High Roller. Soon after and back in the United States, he won the Empire State Poker Championship Main Event.

Engel won a Borgata Spring Poker Open event the following year and the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event in St. Louis later in 2013. One year after, he won the Punta Cana Poker Classic Main Event.

His biggest win to date, however, came in 2016. Engel did well in the Aussie Millions Poker Championship series in Melbourne that January, but it was the Main Event that he won for $1.12 million.

Since then, Engel has won events at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Florida, PokerStars Championship in Panama, Mid-States Poker Tour in Wisconsin, and Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Florida. Earlier in 2019, he won an event at the Aussie Millions. He has also had multiple final tables around the US throughout the year.

At the 2019 WSOP, Engel started strong, cashing in three tournaments before winning the $2,500 NLHE.

Loving the Grind

There is something about the competition, the challenge of poker that keeps the longtime pro coming back and continuing to grind.

“I’m very competitive,” Engel said after his WSOP win, “and poker’s a game of losing a lot. I lose my confidence very easily, so I should be good to go for tomorrow at least.”

And as for those who said he was “due” for a bracelet because of all of his previous successes, he said that’s not true for “huge-field no-limit players.” He continued. “You play these, you expect to win one in a lifetime, maybe. I expect to f**k it up somewhere along the line and just blow it up. I did that, I’m sure, a few times, and I got lucky instead of losing the tournament. It’s a relief to not mess it up whenever I win a tournament.”

Self-deprecation aside, Ari Engel has now surpassed the $6.6 million mark of live poker tournament earnings, which does not include his online poker earnings. But no matter the numbers, Engel will push forward and continue grinding.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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