The player, David Saab, appeared in court last week, and will be going back in May. Sounds like at least one of the others arrested is a poker player, too, part of the so-called “Saab Squad” of Australian players of which Saab is the best known.
Saab has had a few notable results over the last few years, his biggest cashes both coming in 2008. That’s the year he won an Asian Poker Tour event in Manila for $280,000, then finished 46th in the World Series of Poker Main Event where he earned $135,100.
I remember Saab quite well from that 2008 WSOP ME, both for his boisterous personality and for the blue Superman t-shirt he wore. When I heard the story of his arrest last week, I thought specifically of two hands I saw him play during his Main Event run that year.
One of the hands came on Day 4 when there were perhaps 250 players left in the event. Saab was way up there, among the leaders with 1.8 million chips. Jason Su, who was also sitting very comfortably with about 1.2 million, opened with a raise from the cutoff, and Saab three-bet from the button. The blinds got out, Su reraised, Saab unhesitatingly shoved all in, and Su just as quickly called.
The blinds were just 4,000/8,000 at the time, meaning the players had committed around 150 big blinds each, with Su putting his tourney life at risk. As it happened, both had A-K and ended up splitting the pot.
I remember Saab being utterly unfazed throughout. Su had on the hand, while Saab’s cards were unsuited. “Hey, I can make a flush two ways!” he cracked before the community cards were dealt. I also remember him yelling out something -- after the hand concluded, I think -- about having to be willing to gamble to win.
The other hand I remember involving Saab came from Day 5 when the field had shrunk to 150 or so. This one began with Phil Hellmuth (who’d go on to finish 45th that year, one spot ahead of Saab) limping from under the gun. Saab raised from the cutoff, the button called, and Hellmuth called as well.
The flop came , and all three players checked. The turn brought the , pairing the board. This time Hellmuth fired a pot-sized bet. Saab quickly called, and the third player got out.
The river was the . The Poker Brat checked. Saab, again acting without any delay, pushed out a decent-sized bet, about two-thirds of the pot. Hellmuth let it go, and a grinning Saab showed as he collected the chips.
As you might imagine, Hellmuth was Not Amused.
A lengthy tirade followed which included the 11-time bracelet winner characterizing all of his opponents as “these idiots.” In my post on the hand -- titled “Believe It, Phil” -- I couldn’t resist referring to Jack Buck’s memorable call of Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 homer in the 1988 World Series when reporting Hellmuth’s post-hand declaration: “I can’t believe what I just saw.”
That post also refers to Saab calling himself “the luckiest player” and claiming that he was color blind, the latter a not-necessarily-serious suggestion that he was perhaps not fully aware of what the chips were worth.
Saab clearly had his opponents on their heels that day, his seemingly fearless play (combined with some good fortune, one imagines) certainly helping him make that deep run.
It appears, however, such a willingness to gamble might’ve caught up with Saab. Will be curious to see what happens when this one reaches the showdown -- most specifically whether or not Superman will be able to avoid being sent up the river.