Poker pro Sammy Farha is a prolific tournament player with three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets who is quite well known as the runner up to “every man” Chris Moneymaker in the 2003 WSOP Main Event. He is also a familiar face on GSN’s popular program High Stakes Poker.
Farha is truly one-of-a-kind. His expensive fashion sense and entertaining personality compliment an unpredictable and aggressive poker style, and Farha is quite adept at reading and intimidating his opponents.
Take a look at Farha’s rise to world-class poker player, his playing style and personality, and epic fashion sense. Afterwards enjoy seven hands that truly define this pro.
Ihsan “Sam” Farha was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1959. The Lebanese Civil War erupted while Farha was just a teenager, so his family emigrated to Wichita, Kansas. Farha eventually graduated from the University of Kansas with a business administration degree. Following graduation, he moved to Houston, Texas, to work with his brother.
One year after relocating to Houston, Farha played his first poker game—and won. This is not surprising as Farha was fond of strategy games. He once won $5,000 on a single game of Pac-Man. He’s also a skilled pool player and huge pinball aficionado. In fact, his pinball skills once earned him the cover of a Lebanese magazine.
His passion for poker ignited, Farha increased his playing time. During his first trip to Las Vegas, he turned $2,000 into $7,000.
In 1990, Farha quit his day job to become a full time poker player.
Sammy Farha at the WSOP
Sammy Farha’s largest tournament finish was in the 2003 WSOP Main Event, where he was the runner up to Chris Moneymaker. Interestingly, on Day 2, Farha lost a huge pot to fellow pro Barry Greenstein, leaving Farha with only about 10% of the average stack. At that point, Farha considered leaving the tournament; however, Greenstein convinced him to stay, and Farha would go on to finish in second place and win a hefty $1.3 million.
Check out these famous final two hands of the event:
A few months later, PokerStars showcased a rematch between Farha and Moneymaker. This time, Farha won. Then, during the 2011 WSOP, the two men played another special grudge match. This time, Moneymaker beat Farha. Check out this sick hand from that event.
Before that fateful WSOP, Sammy Farha had already achieved poker success winning three coveted WSOP bracelets: the 1996 $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event, the 2006 $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo (8 or better) event, and the 2010 $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship.
Farha also cashed in the 2005 Main Event, placing 316th and pocketing $21,070, the 2010 Main Event, placing 452nd for $31,647, and he finished 12th in the 2012 WSOP $10,000 Omaha event, winning just over $43,000.
Other notable accomplishments
Farha cashed twice in the National Heads-Up Poker Championship (NHPC) and has three WPT money finishes, earning roughly $300,000 for all five events.
Sammy Farha’s current live cash winnings are just shy of a whopping $3 million.
In 2007, Farha co-authored a book with Storms Reback entitled Farha on Omaha: Expert Strategy for Beating Cash Games and Tournaments. The book details basic Omaha strategies along with personal anecdotes from Farha’s own experiences at the WSOP.
Along with several other poker pros, Sammy Farha had a cameo in the 2007 movie Lucky You which starred Eric Bana, Robert Duvall, and Drew Barrymore. In this clip, Farha looks like he’s resisting the urge to erupt into laughter—probably due to the dialogue and lousy acting.
Farha is also currently a spokesperson for Harrah’s Entertainment.
At the table
And now, seven hands that are totally Sammy.
7. Three Strikes and you’re out
Every superhero has a nemesis. In the 2008 NHPC, Farha’s was Doyle Brunson. While not demonstrating spectacular poker skills, this clip is nonetheless quite entertaining and it showcases Farha’s personality perfectly.
6. Tilt much?
In this High Stakes Poker hand, Farha takes on an apparently tilted Kid Poker.
5. Tilt, rinse, repeat
Farha gets the best of Daniel Negreanu (again) in this hand from the 2005 WSOP Main Event:
4. Showboat Sammy
Farha gets under Jamie Gold’s skin and enjoys every minute of it in this entertaining High Stakes Poker hand:
3. All we need is a black cat
Whoever said poker players aren’t superstitious obviously doesn’t play. Here’s an amusing hand between Farha and Patrick Antonius, again from High Stakes Poker:
2. Ego much?
It doesn’t happen often, but Farha is outplayed by David Benyamine in another High Stakes Poker hand.
This is the very first hand of the 2005 WSOP Main Event. There are no words. Just watch.
One can’t help but like Sammy Farha. He’s the ultimate poker player: stylish and aggressive with an uncanny ability to read opponents, a cool demeanor, a big personality, and a broad smile.
Until next time.
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- Jeff Gross: Poker Pro and Social Media Sensation
- Best Poker Tournaments in Las Vegas
- Mirage Poker Room: Are the New Digs Worth the Trip?
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.