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Final Table Takedown: Bradley Ruben Earns Fourth Bracelet In Dealer’s Choice Event

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Jul 13, 2022


Bradley Ruben graduated from the University of Florida in 2010 with an MBA, then moved to South Florida for a job in financial sales. He wasn’t passionate at all about the work, however, and was having far more fun playing poker on the side. In 2012 Ruben decided to play full-time and never looked back.

He decided early on to play pot-limit Omaha the majority of the time, as he enjoyed the game more and felt that there were too many good players playing hold’em, so he wanted to specialize in this variant. The decision paid off, and Ruben’s career took off.

In 2018, his life was changed forever after finding himself at fault in a tragic car accident. He was left feeling guilt and shame, and struggled with self-worth issues. The ordeal was extremely isolating for him, and if it wasn’t for the support of his family and close friends, he doesn’t think he would have made it through.

The only positive that came from the incident was that it crystalized Ruben’s passion for mental health and PTSD recovery, crediting a psychiatrist and cognitive behavioral therapist to help him process and slowly recover. Now he works to bring more awareness to PTSD and mental health issues alongside organizations like Shields and Stripes which help veterans. He hopes to be an example to others that things can and will turn around with the right support, a good mindset, and hard work.

In 2020, Ruben started working with coaches to regain his focus and confidence so he could return to the felt. Later that year, he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet in the online series, taking down the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha event for $220,160.

The next year, he once again scored gold in an online event, banking $69,148 in the $600 buy-in PLO six-max event. Then when the series finally returned to the live felt in October, Ruben won the $1,500 razz tournament for another $99,188.

This year, with the series now on the Las Vegas Strip, Ruben picked up bracelet no. 4. The 36-year-old denied Jaswinder Lally back-to-back titles in the $1,500 dealer’s choice event, coming out on top for $126,288. He became just the 65th player in history to win four or more bracelets at the WSOP.

Card Player caught up with Ruben to break down a couple of hands from his latest victory.

Event: 2022 WSOP Event #4: $1,500 Dealer’s Choice
Buy-In: $1,500
Entrants: 430
Prize Pool: $575,050
First Place Prize: $126,288
Game: Pot-Limit Omaha

Stacks: Bradley Ruben – 1,280,000 (16 BB) Naoya Kihara – 2,100,000 (26 BB)
Ben Yu – 1,900,000 (24 BB)
Blinds: 40,000-80,000
Players Remaining: 4

Craig Tapscott: Congratulations on the big win. You’ve now won four bracelets in the last three years, two live and two online. What do you attribute the growth in your poker game over the last three years?

Bradley Ruben: These last few years, I’ve had some amazing coaches who have helped me get into top form. There are so many players who are smarter and work harder than me technically, so my edge comes from preparing my mind and body as optimally as possible, and in playing mixed games that I enjoy more and have a larger edge.

CT: This is an event where the player on the dealer button chooses the game. Why choose pot-limit Omaha when the button came around to you?

BR: I chose this game because I knew the large stack to my left wouldn’t put much pressure on me in this game, and I had direct position on the one player who I felt would. Also, I was the short stack at this point, and PLO is a great game that nullifies several advantages of having a bigger stack.

Naoya Kihara raised to 225,000 from the button, and Ben Yu called from the small blind.

BR: I’m the short stack with 16 big blinds. I look down at the beautiful 10Diamond Suit 9Spade Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit double suited. The vast majority of the time, this is an easy flat call. However, in this spot I felt my best play was to pot it. I was up against the second and third chip stacks, and both players are ICM (Independent Chip Model) aware, so I felt that they would be less likely to take a marginal spot in hopes of laddering up.

Reuben raised pot to 810,000. Both Kihara and Yu folded.

BR: The button folded relatively quickly, and the small blind tanked for a few minutes before folding. Taking down these chips without a showdown was a big boost to my stack and I was able to close the gap between myself and these two players.

Ruben won the pot of 810,000.

Game: Seven Card Stud
Stacks: Bradley Ruben – 2,400,000 (8 Big Bets) Naoya Kihara – 3,200,000 (11 Big Bets) Jaswinder Lally – 4,900,000 (16 Big Bets)
Blinds: 50,000 Bring-In 150,000-300,000 with a 30,000 ante
Players Remaining: 3

BR: I didn’t choose the game. The player to my left brought it in…

Lally brought it in for 50,000, and Kihara raised with a king up. Ruben called with 2Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit in the hole and an AHeart Suit showing.

CT: Did you think about raising with the ace showing?

BR: I thought about putting pressure with a three-bet and represent aces, however, I didn’t want to inflate the pot as I felt my edge was bigger in other games.

Lally called with the 5Diamond Suit up.
On fourth street, Kihara got the 4Club Suit, Lally got the 8Club Suit, and Ruben got the 2Heart Suit.

Kihara – X X / KDiamond Suit 4Club Suit
Lally – X X / 5Diamond Suit 8Club Suit
Ruben – 2Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit / AHeart Suit 2Heart Suit

BR: To my delight, I catch trips right away and it also matches the suit of my ace.

Ruben bet 150,000.

CT: Your thoughts on this street?

BR: I bet out, as it is the standard play in stud to bet with the strongest-looking board, and checking would look too suspicious.

Kihara and Lally both called.

On fifth street, Kihara got the 6Heart Suit, Lally got the 9Club Suit, and Ruben got the 8Diamond Suit.

Kihara – X X / KDiamond Suit 4Club Suit 6Heart Suit
Lally – X X / 5Diamond Suit 8Club Suit 9Club Suit
Ruben – 2Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit / AHeart Suit 2Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit

BR: I’m happy to see both players call. I catch the 8Diamond Suit on fifth street, a card that doesn’t help my board, so…

Ruben checked. Lally bet 300,000, and Kihara called.

CT: It’s nice to see so much action with disguised trips. What did you decide to do?

BR: I felt that this was the key decision-point in the hand and that raising here would look far too strong, so I decided to give my opponents more rope and flat-call. Trips are obviously very strong and can take on more action.

Ruben called.
On sixth street, Kihara got the 5Club Suit, Lally got the JDiamond Suit, and Ruben got the 10Club Suit.

Kihara – X X / KDiamond Suit 4Club Suit 6Heart Suit 5Club Suit
Lally – X X / 5Diamond Suit 8Club Suit 9Club Suit JDiamond Suit
Ruben – 2Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit / AHeart Suit 2Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit 10Club Suit

Once again, Ruben checked, and Lally checked behind. Now Kihara bet 300,000, and Reuben raised.

CT: Why did you decide to raise this street?

BR: I decided to raise here, to charge what looked to be a pair plus straight draw.
Lally folded. Kihara called.

On seventh street, Kihara caught an unknown card, and Ruben got the 10Spade Suit.

Kihara – X X / KDiamond Suit 4Club Suit 6Heart Suit 5Club Suit / X
Ruben – 2Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit / AHeart Suit 2Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit 10Club Suit / 10Spade Suit

BR: On seventh, I catch the beautiful 10Spade Suit and…

Ruben bet, and Kihara raised.

BR: I was surprised and excited to see my opponent raise. I thought for a bit, then put in a three-bet with my super well-disguised boat.

Ruben raised.

BR: My opponent was dejected, and stared at my board saying, “Really? You have a boat?” After some contemplation, he called, and I showed him the bad news.

Kihara called. Ruben flipped over deuces full of tens and won the pot.

CT: Nice hand. This was a huge pot, nearly half the chips in play.

BR: Thanks. I was very lucky this hand hitting a boat versus a straight, but also feel that I got maximum value with my play on each street. So late in the tournament, every extra bet one can eke out in value is crucial. This pot propelled me to the chip lead, and I never looked back on the path to victory.

CT: I’m curious how much tournament poker you play each year. And do you supplement your travel with cash games?

BR: I play about three or four series every year. I have supplemented with cash games in the past, primarily PLO. However, recently I’ve found it to be more advantageous to just focus on tournaments during a series. The rare days and hours that are open are invaluable to rest and reset. I have found this to be more profitable than chasing EV at all times. ♠