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WSOP Main Champ Daniel Weinman: A Journey to Victory with the Help of Friends

WSOP Main Event, poker tournament, Daniel Weinman

Daniel Weinman stands with his back against the rail, surrounded by friends and family. Longtime friends and six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winners Josh Arieh and Shaun Deeb are front and center in a crowd that included Weinman’s parents, Weinman’s girlfriend, Sarah, and a large contingent of friends, family, and Poker players.

Weinman’s just made a call with $5.6 million in consequences, and it was the right one. He’s fading three cards that stand between him, a $12.1 million payday and the title of 2023 WSOP Main Event champion. 

The last card hits the felt, and it’s over. Weinman celebrates winning the world’s most famous Poker Tournament , surrounded by the people who matter most to him in the world. 

With a record-breaking field of 10,043 players, there were many points along the way that could’ve cut Weinman’s run to history short. You could certainly point to a key hand on Day 8, when Weinman’s pocket jacks were up against pocket queens and pocket kings in a three-way all-in, just a turn and river away from sending him out with 14 players left.

Weinman may have never been in that spot in the first place, were it not for a little bit of coaxing. A month ago, after cashing in four tournaments in the first week of the 2023 WSOP and making a pair of deep runs, Weinman was already feeling the wear and tear. He decided at that point that he’d mail it in for the rest of the summer.

“This is either my 15th or 16th World Series,” Weinman said. “Every year before this. I’ve been here from Event 1 to the last event, and by the time the main event comes around, I’m burned out. About two weeks into the Series this year, I told my girlfriend Sarah how I was feeling and she said, ‘Come home.’ So I did. I went to work, we played golf. Life kind of went back to normal.”

Weinman, now 35, has been in Poker for more than 15 years. He’s enjoyed success in both high-stakes cash Games and prominent tournaments including a World Poker Tour title and another WSOP bracelet. Along the way, he’s lived a parallel, overlapping experience in Atlanta, where he’s spent most of his life. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2009.

He was all too happy to spend his summer at home in Atlanta, away from the grind of the WSOP . And as June turned into July, Weinman felt content to sit out the rest of the Series. The thought of coming out and playing a tournament that stretches on for 15 days, after escaping the summer grind, didn’t sound particularly compelling.

“I’ve said to many people, I don’t like this tournament,” Weinman said of the WSOP Main Event . “The structure is too good. And I was kind of over it for the summer.

“I was honestly on the fence about even coming back and playing this tournament. Shaun Deeb was pivotal in convincing me to come out,” Weinman said.

Weinman ultimately flew back out to Las Vegas to take his shot, alongside more than 10,000 other hopefuls. He wanted to manage expectations with his girlfriend, who was largely unfamiliar with the poker world. It was a tournament that had never really gone well for Weinman.

“With Sarah, I’m trying to explain to her because she’s very new to all of this,” said Weinman. “I’m trying to explain that I’m gonna go, but I’m never gonna win. I’d cashed this tournament one out of 15 times – most likely, I’m just gonna go lose $10,000 and fly home.

“But she was behind me. And you’d just never dream this [result].”

Daniel Weinman (@notontilt09) is your 2023 @ WSOP Main Event Champion.

In the final hand, Weinman and Steven Jones both flop top pair, and when Jones moves in on the turn, Weinman calls.

Weinman walks away with $12,100,000 after conquering the largest Main Event field ever.

— PokerGO (@PokerGO) July 17, 2023

Weinman was clearly elated in the moments after his victory. But there was also a sense, especially among the last three potential 2023 WSOP Main Event champions, that he’s keeping a level head despite the potentially life-changing elements of winning this tournament. Part of that has to do with how long he’s been around poker and gigantic sums of money. The other is the inner circle of friends and family that Weinman has surrounded himself with – Arieh and Deeb among them.

“I have been friends with these guys for so long,” said Weinman. “Josh Arieh and I have been friends for 15 years. Shaun and I met at a final table 11 years ago, and we’ve been friendly ever since. Just two guys that like to have a lot of fun at the table.”

Deeb and Weinman first met when they both made the final table of the WSOP $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em Championship in 2012. The first impression that Deeb got of Weinman led to them becoming fast friends.

“I love telling the story,” said Deeb. “Andy Frankenberger beat Phil Ivey heads-up. It was a legendary final table. They’re doing the bio sheets, and Dan’s to my right. We haven’t played together all tournament, never heard of him, never seen him. He’s a young kid. And they announce him as a‘ former lumberjack…’ and he’s got this trucker hat and his long hair. And I looked at him, and I said, ‘You tried that bluff? You’re a fucking funny guy.’”

They’d cross paths a lot in the years that followed, including another shared final table in the $1,500 Razz event at the 2016 WSOP. But the thing that brought them together most was a game both of them had a strong hand in building – Open Face Chinese Poker, otherwise known as OFC.

“We played a lot of Open Face Chinese together,” said Weinman.

“Many people don’t realize this, but he created Fantasyland,” Deeb said, speaking of one of the key Bonus elements of OFC. “And now he’s the fucking Main Event champion. This guy’s been one of my closest friends for so many years.”

There’s no telling exactly how much of an influence Deeb, Arieh, or anyone else on Weinman’s rail helped him to win the WSOP Main Event. But it’s clear that the person and poker player that Weinman has become has been influenced a great deal by the relationships he’s built in this world.

“Having some of the best in the world on my side, having my back, and telling me that I belong in this class of player is just incredible,” Weinman said.

Weinman’s credentials as a poker player, which have now been bolstered by a $12.1 million payday and a second WSOP bracelet, are strong. But when he wraps up his celebrations in Las Vegas, he’ll hop on a plane back to Atlanta and dig back into a project that’s become a major focus in his life.

These days, spending hours and days as a poker player is often a secondary pursuit for Weinman.

“When I moved back to Atlanta eight months ago, I met a kid by the name of Maanit Madan, who had started an RFID poker company called RF Poker,” said Weinman. “We make live stream tables like you see on live streams all over the place, with the distinction that we try to take the human element out of it. There’s been a lot of uncertainty with streams, about if cards can be intercepted. We’ve built it in a way that an onboard computer on the table can handle all of that.

“We’re also trying to build a kind of social experience for poker that is in the beta stages now, and we’ll probably end up launching nationwide later this year,” continued Weinman. “It’s a lot of fun. I would say I enjoy writing Software more than I do playing poker. So to combine those two things is really a dream job for me.”

Then there are the inevitable questions that come up when you win $12.1 million. Don’t expect to see him in a bunch of high roller tournaments, nosebleed live streamed cash Games . After all of the things that fell the right way for Weinman to win the 2023 WSOP Main Event, Weinman feels comfortable with continuing on his current path in life.

“I’ll probably invest it,” said Weinman. “Probably not the best answer that everybody wants to hear. But I’m fairly cautious with it away from the table, even though I like to gamble pretty hard out here.

“I don’t think life is going to change very much for me. I’m a very happy person. I enjoy very simple things back home. I will be at work next week. Maybe I’ll play a little more golf, maybe travel a little bit more. But life is gonna be very similar – just with a few extra dollars in the bank.”

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