Josh Arieh's journey from winning his first WSOP bracelet to his most recent win on Sunday night saw the five-time WSOP title holder bookend his career with Limit Hold'em glory. Now he wants to help lesser known players build up their fanbase.
The 2021 World Series of Poker was a fun one for many, but for Josh Arieh, it was the culmination of twenty years of hard work into a game that he has now become a legend in. Winning Player of the Year two years ago has set him on a path not only to his most recent bracelet win on Sunday night, where he took down the Limit Hold’em Championship for over $316,000. It has shown him that helping others along the road is his true motivation.
Now running the popular player staking site PokerStake, Arieh blends his time between handing out lessons at the live felt and helping others buy and sell their action to grow their own personal poker brands. Watch the video below for our exclusive in-person interview with Josh as he dives deeper into this subject and more:
Shaun Deeb’s Weight Loss Bet and Living Healthily
The man previously known as ‘Golfer Josh’ is taking a swing at some very large targets. He still feels like a kid on Christmas Day when it comes to the World Series of Poker.
“I still love it,” he says. “Getting out here is cool because I have no responsibilities. I wake up, I got the gym in the morning, come here and play poker all day. It’s the only place where I’m supposed to be a degenerate.”
As Arieh eluded to, his routine is a lot healthier than it used to be. Previously heavily dependent on caffeine and diet sodas, he’s now quit the wake-up juice in a bid to lose weight, so far successful, losing over 30 pounds in weight.
“It’s all built around Shaun Deeb’s million-dollar weight loss bet,” he says. “He gave me a piece of that, but I also have to get to 17% body fat. It’s helped me so far. I feel alert, I’m happy to be playing. Usually after two weeks of getting my head kicked in, I’m a miserable wreck. Not carrying around the extra 30 pounds is helping!”
After such a long time sharing time at the felt, Arieh admits he is ‘super grateful’ for the friendship he shares not only with Deeb, but other friends who are helping him stay motivated… and trim!
“It’s cool to see [Shaun] motivated for the first time to get healthy. We have a chat with me, Daniel Weinman, Matt Glantz and Shaun in and I’m not letting Shaun be the skinniest person in the chat. I have to get there!”
Staking the Summer
This summer is the 24th since Arieh won his first bracelet and there has been a sense of serendipity to his success, with 8th-placed Kevin Song also finishing in the same spot all those years ago in the same Limit Hold’em format. Arieh is keen on what’s new for him this World Series, the staking element to the PokerStake site he runs. The feedback and growth so far in the poker industry has been phenomenal.
“It’s been really cool. I don’t own PokerStake, I run it, but when I thought about the biggest hurdles, it was getting good, well-known famous players to post publicly. There’s this perception that if you’re selling pieces publicly, you’re broke. People don’t want to be seen to be broke.”
As Arieh explains, that is the very opposite of the many superstars who use the site to buy or sell action. Arieh had help overcoming that challenge from perhaps the most famous poker player alive.
“I spoke to Daniel Negreanu and overcame that hurdle,” he says. “Some of the richest poker players post on my site.”
Building Your Own Brand
Arieh’s motivation to grow the PokerStake brand is wrapped up in players themselves and how he can help them grow.
“I want to be able to let unknown players build their own brand and provide an exciting service,” he tells us. “Even though they don’t have a big poker name, they can engage with their backers and shoot some video, letting people sweat their piece. If you give someone a good sweat you’re going to be able to play whatever you want.”
Fans who have invested so far have already enjoyed plenty of success in the first dozen bracelet events.
“We’ve had big scores already this summer. Dutch Boyd came in second in the Dealer’s Choice and our players won over $130,000. Chance [Kornuth]’s result helped people win a 30x return on their investment. It’s important for the poker ecosystem to bring more money in.”
As Arieh explains, the key factor in growing a brand that relies on staking is helping players and fans who aren’t actually at the event feel like they are.
“There are fans that will never come to the casino, but they’re huge poker fans and they love watching.”
The Class System
Poker is packed with millions of players, and over the course of the 2023 WSOP, many different players will arrive in Las Vegas with the same dream of winning gold. To Arieh, however, there are three different classes of poker players.
“There are the fish, they have jobs and they feed the games, they’re going to play because they love it, and they don’t care really about winning. There are the crushers, who continue to take money out of poker; it doesn’t matter what the rake is, the crushers are going to win. Then there’s this middle class who can’t go up in limits and aren’t good enough to get to that next level.”
Arieh clearly cares about what happens to this vital part of the poker population.
“That class is dying fast, and the more money we bring into that middle level, that’s what going to help poker thrive over the next decade. The fields are huge, poker is booming. The average player is better than they’ve ever been in the past because of learning tools.”
PokerStake themselves provide some of those tools, but Arieh admits his ambitions for the company’s growth are huge.
“We want to go get big,” he says. “We think we have a product and an idea that can continue to grow poker.”
As Arieh describes, poker is looking great. For a long time, he thinks, ‘poker players only cared about themselves’. The landscape is very different today.
“What I’m seeing a lot here [at the WSOP] is less slow play, less tanking, people are realizing that to keep growing poker, they have to give back. They’re making sure that others’ experience at the table is fun. There are huge tournaments going on up and down the Strip.”
Poker is booming, and if the past four years are anything to go by, Josh Arieh will be at the front and center of that continued growth.
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