Plenty of emerging stars on the poker circuit have been put forward as potentially the greatest player of their generation. But “Ozzy 87” seems to be the one name that crops up with unerring regularity.
The 19-year-old from Staten Island – yes, he’s not even old enough to play in Vegas yet, folks – is by most estimated already to be a millionaire. What sets him apart from his peers is the ease with which he appears to have mastered the online game and the remarkable impact he’s made from scratch in offline tournaments.
Ozzy 87 – real name Aurangzeb Sheikh – left high school in summer 2005 and spent a year off before starting his studies at the University of Houston to “player poker, travel, party and experience life”. We certainly know how the first quarter of that particular deal turned out – over the past 18 months Ozzy87, who used to play under the name “bigslick789”, has become a dominant force in the game.
It is difficult not to feel envious when you look at his poker stats. As bigslick789 he started playing in August 2004, playing in $1 NLH tournaments. He leaned fast and by October of that year he was regularly playing in the $20 rebuys on PokerStars, winning his first one on the 19th and taking down his first significant prize of nearly $5k.
By February 2005 he was motoring in the bigger games he was playing in: on the 9th of that month he won the $100 rebuys on Stars, won a $30 MTT and topped it off with a 4th in a $100 freezeout. Not a bad day as Ozzy trousered over $11k.
Then he hit the big time. In the middle of February 2005 he won the 968-runner $10 rebuys on Stars, good for $9k, then soon after took 3rd in the $100 rebuys ($8,500) and won the $10 rebuys again in March (for $11,115).
At the end of 2005 he had two more big cashes, one for nearly $15k and the other for just over $14k. Perhaps he was worried that too many people knew his game because at the end of 2005 he changed his name to Ozzy 87. Re-inventing himself certainly worked because as soon as he had come back with a new screen name he took down tournament winnings of over $30k in November ’05 alone.
Throughout 2006 he had some more decent cashes but played fewer tournaments. With a big bankroll he started to play in the biggest cash games you can find online, enduring massive swings, and often sitting with over $150k in front of him.
These days he can make or lose over $120k a day, putting him in the same kind of high volume league as the top traders on Wall Street, who are plying their trade just over the water in Manhattan.
In 2006 he stepped offline and made a huge impact. In his first ever major tournament, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, he became the youngest player ever to make the final table of a WPT event. He ended up coming 6th (good for $177k).
It took a bad beat to knock him out too – as the short stack he pushed in with A-A, but was outflopped by eventual winner Steve Paul-Ambrose’s pocket 7s.
In the cash games he now favours he is competing as an equal with the likes of Phil Ivey (see a recent pot both played below) and Gus Hansen. It’s little surprise he has the respect of his peers.
Justin Bonomo, aka ZeeJustin, says of him: “Of all the opponents I’ve faced I’d have to say I’ve learned the most from playing bigslick789, aka Ozzy87, heads up.” High praise indeed.
Certainly the youngster has a competitive streak demanding an outlet. At high school he was a wrestler who won city championships.
“I’ve always been the competitive type and don’t just do things solely for fun,” he says.
Obviously money plays a big part too.
A big pot where Ozzy came out on top
Below is a recent hand involving Ozzy 87 and Phil Ivey from November 2006. In this particular hand Ozzy 87 got the best of Ivey, as he often does.
$200/400 NL Hold’em Action
There was some interesting 4-handed no-limit action going on Monday night among which included the likes of Phil Ivey and Aurangzeb “Ozzy 87″ Sheikh. It seemed as though Ozzy 87 left the table as the big winner while Ivey suffered most of the table’s losses.
Those results can be attributed to one big hand which involved an attempt at a very big bluff by Ivey. After a button raise by Ivey to $1200, Ozzy 87 made it $3600 to go from the big blind. Ivey calls the raise and they take a rainbow fop of 6-7-3. Ozzy 87 fired a half-pot sized continuation bet that was called by Ivey. Ozzy 87 then checked the 5 turn and Ivey fired about 7k into the pot that was called after some deliberation by Ozzy 87. The river 4 put a 7-high straight on the board. Ozzy 87 checked to Ivey who proceeded to bet 24k into a pot of around 30k leaving about 8k behind him. Ozzy 87 pulled the check-raise all-in on the river and force Ivey to a decision. After some thought, Ivey reluctantly folded, saving his 8k in what was a huge attempt at stealing the pot.
Ozzy 87 took down the pot worth around almost 80k and was able to leave the table the big winner
And here’s one that didn’t go Ozzy’s way…
Full Tilt Poker Game #1523582259: Table Canfield (6 max) – $200/$400 – No Limit Hold’em – 3:39:26 ET – 2007/01/03
Seat 2: Ozzy 87 ($74,974)
Seat 4: magicpitch1 ($101,761.50)
Seat 5: CaseyAtTheBat ($0), is sitting out
Seat 6: Purdue80 ($44,594)
magicpitch1 posts the small blind of $200
Purdue80 posts the big blind of $400
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Ozzy 87 raises to $1,400
magicpitch1 raises to $5,200
Ozzy 87 calls $3,800
*** FLOP *** [5d 9s 7c]
magicpitch1 bets $8,400
Ozzy 87 raises to $16,800
magicpitch1 has 15 seconds left to act
magicpitch1 raises to $25,200
Ozzy 87 has 15 seconds left to act
Ozzy 87 raises to $69,774, and is all in
magicpitch1 calls $44,574
Ozzy 87 shows [9c Jd]
magicpitch1 shows [Kc Kh]
*** TURN *** [5d 9s 7c] [5h]
*** RIVER *** [5d 9s 7c 5h] [8h]
Ozzy 87 shows two pair, Nines and Fives
magicpitch1 shows two pair, Kings and Fives
magicpitch1 wins the pot ($150,347) with two pair, Kings and Fives
Ozzy 87 adds $40,000
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $150,348 | Rake $1
Board: [5d 9s 7c 5h 8h]
Seat 2: Ozzy 87 (button) showed [9c Jd] and lost with two pair, Nines and Fives
Seat 4: magicpitch1 (small blind) showed [Kc Kh] and won ($150,347) with two pair, Kings and Fives
Seat 5: CaseyAtTheBat is sitting out
Seat 6: Purdue80 (big blind) folded before the Flop