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Tale of a Player Popping the Bubble

"The whole table was cheering me on."


Here at, we tend to focus our attention on the big names, the professionals, and the familiar faces from TV. But in a tournament the size of the World Series of Poker main event, there are of course a lot of amateur players, and we talked with one young player from Boston, Massachusetts, just minutes after the money bubble was breached.

Mike Zakarian was down to $7,500 chips when the announcement came over the public address system in the Rio. "I feel pretty happy," he said about making the money, which had to be significant to a 21-year-old who qualified online in a $20 tournament at PokerStars. But, he admitted, "I would have liked to make a little more noise at the WSOP."

The smile on his face was genuine, and what made it even better was the fact that in this cutthroat game of poker, in which the explicit objective is to take the other person's money, his tablemates seemed equally happy that he was among those who cashed.

"The whole table was cheering me on," he said. Zakarian finished in 818 and took home $15,504. The main event was his first live tournament; we suspect it won't be his last.