Players Uncover Invisible String Connection After WPT Heads-Up Duel
The aftermath of a major poker tournament is an atmosphere that welcomes celebration. Foes who have been at each others throats for the better part of a week become fast friends and share in their spoils with friends and family amidst the relief from facing a barrage of big money decisions.
Thats exactly what Istvan Briski and Rayan Chamas got up to after finishing first and second, respectively, in the WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open in Hollywood, Florida in November. They had chopped up the top two prizes, with Briski claiming $647,300 (including a seat to the WPT World Championship) and Chamas banking $600,000 even.
With each having a group of friends in tow, they set out to have a few drinks. As they reached deeper into the night, Briski and Chamas started getting deeper into their chat, discussing their lives and how things were going.
We were just having drinks pretty late, like 3 a.m., recalled Chamas. And we were just sharing a bit of our backgrounds, how we got into poker. Istvan brought up that he’s been struggling with a few things, and that there was a time early in his career where he really struggled, and a friend helped him.
He mentioned the name, and its one that I know, said Chamas. It’s a person I know very well, that also inspired me to play poker. It’s Samuel Vousden, who’s also known as uropan online.
Vousden has enjoyed some prolific results over the last few years, including a WSOP bracelet, a $1.1 million cash in the WSOP Online Main Event in 2022, and a single Sunday in which he won two online majors for over $620,000 amidst his prolific resume.
The reason why that name piqued Chamas interest is that Vousden also had a significant impact on his own poker career.
I was like, Oh, how do you know this guy? He’s like, Oh, he put me in a strategy group 12 years ago, Chamas said. Instantly I was like, No way! I was in that strategy group. We were seven people. And we all spoke regularly for two years. We all switched from playing Sit & Gos to tournaments, and Istvan was one of the guys.
Both Briski and Chamas were astounded by the revelation and laughed at the unlikeliness of their meeting in such a circumstance, on a major poker stage. There was some curiosity, especially from Chamas, as to how neither had previously made the connection that they were in the same Skype group and had had numerous conversations over those years.
His name in that group was Steve, so I never connected it, said Chamas. At one point we both looked at each other and said each other’s nicknames, because we realized everything, like Oh shit! It turns out, for two years we talked weekly, shared a lot of strategy, and it’s just crazy that we didn’t realize this until after the score. I’ve met all the other guys. He’s the only one that I’ve never met, which makes it even crazier.
We actually studied how to beat $2 games together, 12 years ago, said Briski.
It appears that the discussion and training in that group had an outsized effect on each of those players lives as theyve moved up the ranks, especially considering the successes that have been enjoyed by Chamas, Briski, and Vousden.
It’s been 12 years, and everyones still playing, said Briski. Some people play PLO cash, but everyones still playing poker from that group.
Since the revelation, Briski and Chamas have remained in contact. In the aftermath of his big score, Briski set out to take his good fortune and share it.
I decided to donate $50,000 from the win and 25% of my winnings until the end of next year, said Briski. Additionally, that will go up $50 a day I dont drink, and $1000 a day every time I do.
Briski will split the money half going to a Hungarian charity that focuses on efforts to help children in need and 50% towards childhood mental health services. Chamas boosted the message on social media. Both men made Day 2 of the 2023 WPT World Championship, so that might become a significant donation if Briski makes another deep run here at Wynn Las Vegas.
No matter how this tournament and the next 12 months play out, Briski and Chamas stumbling onto the invisible string that has tied their careers together for over a decade is a heartwarming story by any measure. While neither mentioned immediate plans to return to studying together, their connection helped reignite some old chat messages over the last month.
While we didn’t revive the group, we reconnected it and I started talking with some of the guys again, said Chamas. That’s been really fun.