Who said gambling was against the Torah? Screenshot from Youtube via JTA

This Jewish player won the World Series of Poker’s $8.15 million with a pair of 2’s


Scott Blumstein admits it: He never expected to get the card he needed to become the World Series of Poker champion.

Blumstein, 25, of Brigantine, New Jersey, pulled a deuce on the river — the final card of a poker round — to win with a pair of twos in a dramatic finish Sunday to poker’s most prestigious event.

The Temple University graduate — with a degree in accounting — took home the $8.15 million prize in the Texas Hold ‘Em tournament at the Rio in Las Vegas, as well as the coveted WSOP bracelet.

The odds of Blumstein, a Jewish player making his debut in the event, getting the needed deuce? About 93 percent against.

“I’m going to be honest, I was probably not as positive as I wish I was,” Blumstein was quoted as saying byESPN following his victory. “My mental coach is going to be mad at me that I wasn’t expecting a deuce.”

Blumstein topped a field of 7,221 players, the third largest in history, and dominated much of the final table. He grabbed the chip lead on Thursday and never relinquished it.

This wasn’t his first major victory: Last year Blumstein won nearly $200,000 at a tournament in Atlantic City, near where he lives.

Blumstein has been described in poker magazines and on television as a “grinder” — one who plays a lot of poker and considers it a career. It looks like that won’t change for the foreseeable future.

“A normally inconsequential [card] — the deuce — changes my life,” he said on ESPN, which televised the tournament.

His pair of deuces knocked out Dan Ott, a Pennsylvania, who picked up $4.7 million for finishing second. Frenchman Benjamin Pollak was third and won $3.5 million.

At World Series of Poker, two Jews in final three


Two Jewish-Americans are among the three players remaining at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event.

[Meet the Jews dominating the finale]

Neil Blumenfield of San Francisco and Josh Beckley of New Jersey are battling with chip leader Joe McKeehen of Pennsylvania in a bid to reach the finals Tuesday night at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The tournament started with 6,420 players.

Four Jews will be among the tournament’s top five finishers. Max Steinberg of Las Vegas finished fourth and an Israeli, Ofer Zvi Stern, was fifth. Both were eliminated Monday.

Stern, 36, of Herzliya, was the second Israeli player to make the final. Amir Lehavot finished third in the 2013 tournament.

Stern was criticized for taking too long to make decisions during the final rounds.

“I do realize sometimes it may seem like it takes too long. But if you need to take a moment to make the right decision, you should take it,” he told The Associated Press. “You have a lot at stake.”

Yom HaAtzmaut special: California on Hebrew [VIDEO]


California on Purim [VIDEO]


Jewish grandfather wins Australian poker tourney


A Jewish grandfather from Melbourne won the world’s second-largest poker tournament.

David Gorr, 68, took the nearly $2 million prize Sunday in the Crown Aussie Millions Main Event 2011 tournament, beating 721 competitors, including the top poker players from around the world.

The prize also included a diamond-encrusted bracelet.

Gorr said he was first exposed to poker as a child in the 1940s when his parents would organize charity fundraisers. He hasn’t missed a day’s work since 1976, and although he played poker 12 hours a day for the last week, he turned up at his job as a computer technician at a major insurance company on Monday as usual.

Gorr said he would use his winnings to help his five grandchildren.

Last year’s tournament was won by Tyron Krost, who also is Jewish.

Calendar Girls picks and clicks for June 14-20


SAT | JUNE 14

(CONCERT)

If you could create the perfect Father’s Day event, it would probably include action movies, sports and live entertainment, right? The Golden State Pops ” target=”_blank”>http://www.gspo.com.

(POKER TOURNAMENT)

Young professionals in their 20s and 30s are revving up for a Texas Hold ‘Em-style world poker tournament hosted by Stephen S. Wise Temple’s “W” group. The stakes include a six-month Westside Sports Club L.A. membership; Botox treatments or a lip augmentation; a one-week lift ticket at Vail, Breckinridge or Keystone Mountain ski resorts; sporting event tickets/concert tickets; and Krav Maga adult and child memberships. The high-energy evening, which includes a dinner buffet, will raise money for Atidim, an Israeli organization designed to build a stronger Israel through the potential of its adolescents. Sat. 7 p.m. $20 (non-players), $80 (early registration), $120 (at the door, with buy-backs available). Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jspsa.com.

SUN | JUNE 15

(FILM)

” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>many of them from Los Angeles, united in a common goal to give all women the right to pray at the Western Wall. Their journey was captured on film by Yael Katzir in “Praying In Her Own Voice.” The documentary follows Women of the Wall as they challenge the Israeli government and the entire Jewish world by raising questions and stirring up media attention through protests and public appearances. They also embark on a long legal battle that leads them all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court. Top L.A. Rabbis Naomi Levy and Denise Eger and executive producers Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus will participate in a panel discussion at the sneak preview of the film, showcased in the Israeli Film Festival. Sun. 3 p.m. $11. Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 848-3500. jewishoutdoor@yahoo.com. ” target=”_blank”>http://jewishla.org.

(THEATER)

Check your XX chromosomes and head over to the women-only performance of “Miri Poppins Dance and Musical Production,” presented by A Time For Dance, a studio catering to the creative needs of the Orthodox community. Bringing back childhood memories of the charismatic chimney sweep and the nanny with the magical purse, the exuberant all-female cast of the performance will have you singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” Nina Kleinman, the show’s assistant director said, “It’s a fantastic opportunity for young Orthodox girls to be part of a big production. It’s an outlet that they wouldn’t get in their schools and the only chance they have to perform.” So come and watch as a group of talented girls does Walt Disney proud! Sun. 11 a.m. $12-$18 (discount with advanced purchase). Beverly Vista Auditorium, 200 S. Elm Drive, Beverly Hills. (323) 404-0827. Atimefordance@sbcglobal.net.

MON | JUNE 16

(DOCUMENTARY)

Filmed in 1972, “Ben-Gurion Remembers” is a documentary that offers a unique look at the founding of Israel from the perspective of a still-young nation and its very first prime minister. The film was made by Simon Hesera to commemorate Israel’s 25th anniversary and is now being screened for the first time in the United States as part of an Israel at 60 celebration hosted by American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Israel Film Festival. Interviews with Golda Meir, Abba Eban, Moshe Dayan and a young Ariel Sharon, along with footage of Ben-Gurion with Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Charles de Gaulle depict an ardent Zionist, a champion of the Negev and a brilliant leader. The special screening will be preceded by a cocktail reception with Israeli film directors and producers. Mon. 6 p.m. (reception), 7:15 p.m. (screening). $36. Laemmle Royal Theater, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 552-3300. pgomperts@aabgu.org.

A chai roller rakes in the chips in Gardena and Vegas


Except for the Victorian-style chandeliers, Hustler Casino in Gardena looks like an oversized neighborhood card room, with its round indoor arena filled with dozens of poker and blackjack tables. Several hundred people fill the room at any hour of the day, all of them playing cards, or waiting to get a seat. There are no looky-loos.

Those who come to Hustler are there to gamble, at whatever level they choose, from Easy Poker in a glass-encased room in the middle of the floor to games that run into the many thousands of dollars.

In spite of its name, Hustler Casino does not feature busty, scantily clad women. Employees dress conservatively, and those who come here to gamble don’t even notice them. The gamblers here are a varied lot, all ages and races, many of them risking paychecks or pensions. But there are also some high rollers. Some very high rollers.

At the farthest reaches of the casino is the main table. And, one day last fall, sitting there, facing the room, was one of the highest rollers of them all: publisher Larry Flynt, best known for his Hustler magazine and stores, whose early struggles were portrayed in the movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” Flynt owns the casino, so he’s king of this table, and he likes to compete with some of the world’s best poker players. To Flynt’s right is Phil Ivey, known to television viewers as the “Tiger Woods of poker,” a brilliant, relentless player who pounces on weakness as if he were indeed a tiger going after wounded prey.

Across from Flynt, sitting with his back to the room, is Barry Greenstein, a man in his early 50s, whose beard, receding hairline, deep-set eyes, and slim frame give him a serious aura. Greenstein is also a poker superstar. And yet … he seems out of place at this casino, as if he were a middle-aged yeshiva bocher who has suddenly found himself in an alien, sinful environment. Perhaps to distance himself from his surroundings, he maintains the unemotional, detached air of a researcher studying the native habits of big-time poker players.

Greenstein is a passionate student of the game, a man who’s made a lifelong study of poker and has written a book about it, “Ace on the River” (Last Knight Publishing Co., 2005), aimed at professionals, or would-be ones.

He’s well-educated and articulate, and he’s also generous, having given millions to charities: $1.5 million to Children, Inc., which provides food, medicine and clothing to needy children in 21 countries, including the United States; plus another $1.5 million to a dozen other worthy beneficiaries, including the high school he attended in Chicago.

Because of all this, he represents the transition that poker has been making from smoky, disreputable card rooms to glittery tournaments showcased on ESPN and other national TV networks.

And like more than a few of the big names of the poker world, Greenstein is Jewish. Actually, he says that he’s “of Jewish heritage” and is aware of the traditions, but that he doesn’t “practice the religion.” Still, he acknowledges that “the morals and ethics of Judaism are a part of me.” Is his giving so much to the needy an example of that?

“It’s a mitzvah,” he said. “It makes me happy to have the opportunity to do the right thing.”

Greenstein is not the only Jew at poker’s highest levels. There’s Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, who wears a chai necklace and is known for his nonstop chatter and emotional outbursts. And Eli Elezra, an Israeli.

“When Eli plays poker,” Greenstein notes on his Federation may face lawsuit over fundraiser Prizant’s firing