Chino Rheem won his third WPT title on Thursday night, joining a select group of just three other players who have achieved this milestone.
Rheem defeated Aditya Prasetyo heads-up at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Finale after outlasting 342 players, and now joins Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Anthony Zinno in the exclusive club of three-time winners.
He picked up $705,855 for the win, taking his gross career earnings to over $8 million. He also wins $10,000 buy-in to the Tournament of Champions, which kicked off on Friday.
Rheem entered the final table second in chips but quickly vaulted into the chip lead. Following his elimination of Richard Ledger in third place, he entered the final heads-up battle with a 2:1 chip lead against Prasetyo.
Thirty-seven hands later it was all over when Rheem shoved pre-flop with 6♦7♦ and Prasetyo dwelled before making the call with K-9 off-suit. The flop missed both players but two running sevens on the turn and river sealed the deal for Rheem.
“The ones I owe money to are coming out of the woodwork, but these are good problems to have,” he told PokerNews in his post-match interview, a reference to the accusations of soliciting loans and then failing to pay up that have dogged his career.
Despite the success he has enjoyed, Rheem has been vilified on poker forums for his untrustworthiness with other people’s money, an accusation he has owned up to.
“I’ve done some things I’m not proud of,” he said in an interview with PokerListings in 2013. “I man up to it. I admit it. I try to live each day and make the best of it.
“The things people say online are not necessarily all true but there is some truth in what they say,” he added.
Rheem said back then that he was trying to change and that his ambition was just to get out of debt and “get on in with my life.” Hopefully, for him and his creditors, his victory this week will help him along that road.
Speaking after the event on Thursday Rheem said he just wanted to be accepted as a good player among his peers.
“That’s good enough for me. You’ll never hear me say I’m the best, and I know I’m not, but if my peers can say, ‘You know, Chino can play,’ then that’s good enough for me.”
He’ll get the chance to prove his stuff over the weekend when he takes his seat at the WPT Tournament of Champions.