Israeli Army Volunteer Wins WSOP Bracelet

Clifford Goldkind
Cliff Goldkind

Just months from finishing his service with the Israeli Defense Force, Cliff Goldkind is the new owner of a WSOP bracelet and $559,514 in cash.

The 24 year old outlasted a field of 2,302 and a final table that included noted pro Barry Shulman to win Event 19 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em.

“It’s huge, obviously,” said Goldkind after winning. “This is why everyone comes here.”

Goldkind grew up in Potomoc, Maryland, but always felt that he owed something to Israel for providing a safety net to fellow Jews around the world.

“Every 18-year-old man and 19-year-old woman in Israel serves and I felt I had a responsibility to do that also,” he said.

After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a business degree in game theory application Goldkind decided he would go to Israel and volunteer with the army.

The problem was that he would have to wait one year until he was actually drafted by the Israeli army.

“I played poker during that time,” he said. “It was my income.”

Eventually Goldkind went on to serve in the Israeli army for several years before being honorably discharged this February.

The one year of poker between University and serving in the Israeli army apparently paid off for Goldkind on Monday.

This year marked the first time Goldkind had played the WSOP and after four complete whiffs in earlier events he went all the way in Event 17.

“I didn’t even make a dinner break in any of the other events I played,” laughed Goldkind.

Despite the potentially life-changing amount of money Goldkind won, he still plans on attending graduate school at Tufts in Boston this fall.

“It’s still what I want to do,” he said. “I’d also like to keep playing poker. I want to go to more tournaments but there are other things I want to do as a career.”

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