If there is one player who embodies the word “shark,” it is Josh Arieh. He can smell blood in the water and has a sixth sense when it comes to finding the weak and wounded and then attacking without mercy.
And he wouldn’t care less how many opponents he’s facing.
“My strategy in poker is to attack the sucker. Find the weak link at the table and attack him. And in the World Series there are more of them. There are more soft spots and weak links, so I don’t have to dodge the Phil Iveys, Daniel Negreanus and Doyle Brunsons so frequently,” he says.
Lions don’t attack lions. Lions attack the weakest wildebeest they can find.
“I survey the table, and I’ve always had a pretty good knack at finding the weak link, someone who looks uncomfortable, and then going after his chip stack. In my mind their chips belong to me.”
Josh, a Rochester, New York, native now living in Atlanta with his wife and two kids, says there’s no sixth sense involved. “I do this every day. I know the way the game is played, I know the way the game is supposed to flow and when I see someone do something that doesn’t flow right, that’s the first step in me marking him as a sucker.”
Swimming with sharks is just plain foolish.
“I just get in there and play my game and I’m going to take a few gambles early so I have a chance to play with the bad players. If my table is tough, I might not play a hand, but my table could break soon and I could be at a table with nine people who’ve never played before. So my strategy in the Main Event really depends on my table.”
“I might get in there and gamble with some weaker players because their chips are easier to get. But if I’ve got four pros sitting on my left I literally might not play one hand. I’m going to wait and see what my next table draw is going to be.”
“What people don’t understand about poker tournaments is that table draw is hugely important. If there are pros on my left who are putting handcuffs on me, I might not be able to accomplish what I want to accomplish as the table bully playing with amateurs.”
Josh would rather go out in a blaze of glory than turn weak at the table.
“I’m definitely an aggressive player. I want to be the one the action revolves around. I want to be the most present person at the table. I want to reek of confidence. I want everybody to know I am where I belong. I don’t want to be the target. I play an aggressive in-your-face style.”
Aggression means doing whatever is necessary.
“If I think that it’s the right time and I can hurt someone’s confidence by some snide remark or something, if I can gain an edge by making some sarcastic or dry remark, it’s not above me. Poker is war, man. You go at it and there’s a lot of money on the line and a lot of great players out there. You do what it takes to win.”
Arieh, 31, says the Main Event isn’t for the faint of heart.
“I’ve competed my whole life, and I love putting pressure on people. I look into people’s eyes and to just see the difference in their psyches when there is so much at stake, it’s what I look for. It’s the heart of competition and people don’t understand that it’s all about being able to perform under pressure.”