2018 Review – January: Selbst Quits, PCA Returns, Platinum Passes

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As always, the poker action in January 2018 was highlighted by a trip to the Bahamas. (Photos courtesy WPT, PokerStars)

As 2018 winds down, PocketFives is taking you a trip down memory lane with a month-by-month year in review. We get things started with January and a trip the Bahamas.

Vanessa Selbst Calls It Quits

Word actually broke in the closing hours of 2017, but the talk around Vanessa Selbst retiring from poker carried on into the early days of 2018. Selbst, the all-time leading female money winner, announced her decision to retire via a Facebook post. In that post, she explained that she had taken a job with a New York-based hedge fund and had already been working there for a few months. Selbst did indicate that she wasn’t done entirely with the game though.

“To me, the opportunity to work hard and learn something totally new and get to keep poker in my arsenal of fun go-to hobbies feels like the right approach,” Selbst wrote.

Selbst lived up to her word, showing up to play the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open in late January.

READ: Vanessa Selbst Retires From Poker

Maria Lampropulos Wins PCA Main Event; Cary Katz Tops $100K High Roller

The first major poker tournament of 2018 was the return of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The PCA was brought back after PokerStars’ failed rebranding of all of their live events as PokerStars Live Championships. The PCA Main Event brought out 582 players for a total prize pool of $5,645,400. The final table included Adrian Mateos, Koray Aldamir, Shawn Buchanan and Maria Lampropulos.

The tournament came down to an epic heads-up battle between Buchanan and Lampropulos with the Argentinian pro taking it down for her second major title in a 10-month span.

READ: PCA: Maria Lampropulos Wins Main Event, $1.08M, Platinum Pass

At a final table that included the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Isaac Haxton, Bryn Kenney and Sam Greenwood, PokerGO founder Cary Katz managed to outlast all of them to win the $100,000 buy-in Super High Roller for the first major title of his career.

READ: PCA: Cary Katz Wins $100K Super High Roller

Platinum Passes Galore in the Bahamas

The PCA was also the launching for what would become PokerStars’ year-long campaign to award nearly 300 Platinum Passes worth $30,000 each that give the pass holder entry into the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship. Lampropulos picked one up for her victory in the PCA Main Event, author Maria Konnikova also grabbed one for taking down the PCA National Championship and David Peters won his via a random draw.

Pennsylvania-based grinder Thai Ha was the fortunate winner of a Platinum Pass on Day 2 of the Main Event, but he almost missed it after oversleeping.

READ: Thai Ha Almost Misses Out on Platinum Pass Winning Moment

While Lampropulos, Konnikova, and Peters are all established players who may have played the PSPC anyways, Steven-John Jost is the polar opposite. The Swiss amateur qualified for the 2018 PCA Main Event on PokerStars for $27 and ended up cashing for $17,500. By finishing in the money, Jost was also given a raffle ticket for a Platinum Pass and he ended up having his name drawn.

“I was really shaking. Now I’m calm. I had to go for a drink and now I’m relaxed, just enjoying it,” Jost said after learning he’d won the $30,000 package.

READ: Steven-John Jost’s ‘Dream Come True’ Topped Off with Platinum Pass

Ole Schemion and Darryll Fish Pick Up WPT Titles

The World Poker Tour added two well-known names to the WPT Champions Cup in January. Germany’s Ole Schemion beat out 338 other players to win the €3,300 WPT European Championship at Spielbank Berlin. The win earned Schemion $260,858 and he finished 2018 within spitting distance of $15,000,000 in career earnings.

READ: Ole Schemion Wins WPT European Championship

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, one of poker’s most well-respected grinders finally picked up a major title. Darryll Fish topped the 911-player field to win the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open for $511,604. It was a career-best cash for Fish at the time, only to be eclipsed a few months later when he finished second in the partypoker MILLIONS North America Main Event for $ 937,221.

READ: Darryll Fish Wins Lucky Hearts Open for First WPT Title, $511K

partypoker Adds Isaac Haxton as Ambassador

To say that Isaac Haxton’s departure from Team PokerStars was messy, might be an understatement. Haxton left PokerStars in the wake of the changes the online poker giant made to its player rewards system and took special joy in being a thorn in their side via social media ever since. That thorn got a little bit bigger when Haxton signed on as an ambassador with partypoker.

Haxton noted that partypoker’s growth, both online and live, was a big part of his decision to sign with them.

“I’ve been very impressed with their growth over the last year or so. From expanding their online cash game and tournament offerings, to improving their software, and most of all rolling out their ambitions and innovative live events program, their commitment to growing the game and providing a great product for their players has been clear,” Haxton said.

READ: Isaac Haxton Joins partypoker as Brand Ambassador

Sweden’s ‘lena900’ Tops January PLB Race

Anybody who follows the PocketFives Rankings will know that the Swedish players have dominated them for years. So it’s no surprise to learn that one of the most successful Swedish players started 2018 off with a bang.

‘lena900’ topped the January PLB thanks ‘lena900’ to eight five-figure scores and a win in the partypoker Powerfest Event #5 for $26,899 and 328.63 PLB points.

READ: Swedish Crusher ‘lena900’ Wins January PLB Title