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Friedman grabs WPT Legends title
While he could be found periodically playing high-stakes cash games online, Prahlad Friedman all but disappeared from poker's live-tournament scene after a deep run in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.
Early Thursday morning at the WPT Legends of Poker final table in his hometown of L.A., he returned in a big way, taking down the title and the $1 million first-place prize that came with it.
"The titles and having certain things doesn't really mean anything to me," he said. "I was just trying to get this million and I did it and that's what I'm happy about, not the title or anything, just winning that million."
Friedman's triumphant return to live tournaments actually began this summer with another deep run at the Main Event, where he finished 64th.
He said the experience of that, coupled with his 20th-place finish in 2006, a WSOP bracelet in 2003, making runner-up at WSOPC Rincon in 2005 and a deep run in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star in 2004, certainly paid off here.
"More experience will always help you and because I've had a couple of deep runs, I kind of know how to survive a little bit," he said.
The story coming into the final six at Legends was all about the player Friedman beat heads-up to take the title.
November Niner Kevin Schaffel proved the spot he secured at the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table this summer was no fluke, entering the final table Wednesday afternoon with the chip lead.
Despite the obvious sting of taking $471,670 for second instead of the $1,009,000 for first, Schaffel said the experience of his first televised final table should prove invaluable heading into the Main Event final Nov. 7.
"You can't simulate the difference in chip counts, but this was absolutely a great experience heading into November," he said. "I felt very comfortable out there, very calm and I think that's the way I'll be at the World Series.
"Maybe a little more nervous, because it's a bigger stage, but not by a lot."
Todd Terry came into the final table with a stack just shy of Schaffel's, but could manage no better than a third-place finish while the most experienced player at the table, Full Tilt Pro Toto Leonidas, was short most of the way and bowed out fourth.
In just the first hand of play at the final table, Sam Stein, who finished ninth at the WPT Bellagio Cup one month ago, crippled two-time WSOP Stud final-tablist Mike Krescanko with a massive runner-runner flush suckout.
Krescanko busted sixth immediately after, but Stein was the next to go grabbing fifth.
After a long playdown from 24 to six Tuesday, Friedman said he came into the final table feeling confident and never really looked back.
"I felt like I was a favorite," he said. "Not a big favorite or anything, but I felt like a little bit of a favorite.
"Just seeing the way they played, I had a lot of information. I know how they played and going into the final table and I just had a good feeling."
With a WPT title under his belt now, Friedman said the poker world could be seeing a lot more of him in the future.
"I might play a few more tournaments," he said. "I'm not going to play millions of them like these guys do, but I'll play a few more.
"I'm not tripping about the title or the bracelets or anything like that. I don't need any real fame or anything; I'm just trying to provide for the fam."