A square, white box sat under Eric Afriat’s (pictured) chair throughout Day 4 at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. After ending the day as one of those at the final table, he finally pulled out the box and opened it up. Inside was his trophy from when he won the event in Season XII for more than $1 million.
Seminole Hard Rock Tournament Director Tony Burns handed him the box as the action got underway. He wasn’t able to pick it up back then and it’s now in the right hands. Exactly five years to the day from originally winning that trophy, Afriat made the same final table on Tuesday.
Afriat now has a unique opportunity when the final table resumes in Las Vegas. He could make WPT history and become the first player in tour history to win the same event twice. Coming into the final table fourth in chips with 4.425 million, Afriat will have some extra incentive five years after that win.
Other players have won different events at the same property, but none have ever won the exact same twice. A win would also put his name in the three-time champion club.
“Really it’s surreal,” he says. “This morning I told my wife, ‘Everyone’s going to come in a little nervous, but whatever happens I’m going to come in and shoot.’ The minute I came in Tony delivers me my trophy. Look at the coincidence. I said to myself, ‘I think it’s meant to be.”
This year’s Showdown will have a bit of a different ending than his first win. Afriat will play out the final table at HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel and Casino on May 30.
What are his plans for Sin City? Afriat says his crew won’t be huge, but there should be a few friends and family railing him.
A real estate developer, Afriat divides his time between his hometown of Montreal and South Florida, where he has commercial projects underway. He also worked in the clothing import and export business for 25 years and as a clothing designer.
Afriat took to poker at an early age, winning regularly in games like Seven Card Stud and Five Card Draw in high school. He remains a recreational player and doesn’t plan on changing that.
Winning the Showdown once, much less twice, is no easy feat. He accomplished both big runs facing massive numbers of players. In 2014, Afriat bested a field 1,795 to take the title, and now is among the final six after 1,360 entries.
“I think I’m blessed,” he says. “As of today, I think I’m blessed.”
In an earlier interview with WPT.com, Afriat said if he were able to win it might be time to quit the game while he was on top. That idea definitely wasn’t in the plans after Day 4’s action.
“Never,” he says. “For me, it’s like golf. I’m planning to golf until I’m 80 and planning to play poker until I’m 80. I’m never going to quit the game. I need that extra excitement in my life.”
A win in Las Vegas would certainly be exciting.