Team USA Ready To Tackle The PokerStars Players Championship

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The United States will send over 30 Platinum Pass winners to the PSPC.

When PokerStars first announced the creation of the PokerStars Players Championship and began giving away the coveted Platinum Passes, it was unclear how the Americans would be included. With PokerStars only real U.S. presence in New Jersey, it looked like there may be limited opportunities for U.S. based players to win their way into what will very likely be the largest $25K buy-in tournament of all time.

However, after plenty of creative ways to include the U.S. player base, including the popular Moneymaker PSPC tour, PokerStars has now accumulated quite a number of Americans with Platinum Passes in hand. The PCA’s Team USA consists of recreational players, grinders, top-tier pros and even a few celebrities.

Some of poker’s more notable names found their way to receiving a platinum pass. Super high roller David Peters was one of the first to win his way in when he picked up his pass through a random draw at the 2018 PCA. Other well-known poker names from the U.S. include vlogger Andrew Neeme, the First Lady of Poker Linda Johnson, author turned poker pro Maria Konnikova and poker’s minister of information Kevin Mathers.

Longtime pro Kenny Tran won one through the Moneymaker PSPC Tour in Los Angeles. Luke Vrabel picked one up at Foxwoods and Joey Ingram’s pass was part of a feel-good PokerStars promotion.

So, while those players will garner plenty of attention there are plenty of other players on Team USA that have the potential to make some noise at the PSPC.

New Jersey’s Anthony ’tonydatiger’ Maio has spent some time in the spotlight, having made the final table of a World Poker Tour Borgata event on more than one occasion. In the midst of a red-hot 2018, Maio closed out the year by picking up his Platinum Pass during NJCOOP. Maio’s online prowess was never in doubt. With $3.4 million in online earnings, he’s one of NJ’s most prolific grinders. A strong showing in the PSPC could really take his career to the next level. A deep run could push him up over the $1 million in live career earnings mark.

Thai ‘thaiha91’ Ha may have lucked out to win his Platinum Pass, but he certainly hasn’t luckboxed his way to over $900,000 in live earnings. At the PCA in 2018, one of the first passes was determined by an all-in flip at a random table. Everyone at the table was seated, except for Ha. Running just a bit late, Ha got to the table just in time to see his seat win the pass on the river. Since picking up his pass, Ha has spent the better part of 2018 playing a ton of poker. He finished in second place in the Big Stax 1500 for over $78,000. He also had a final table finish this summer at the Planet Hollywood 2018 Goliath $2,200 Main Event for over $75,000.

Perhaps the player on Team USA who fought the hardest for their pass was Brookyln’s Nathan Manuel. Dedicated to winning his way into the PSPC, Manuel took shots whenever he could. He flew to London to compete, followed the Moneymaker PSPC tour in the U.S. and even tried to learn a new language in order to win a pass. In the end, he defeated a field of 825 players in October’s Run It Up Reno event to book his trip to the Bahamas. Manuel has a live earnings total of roughly $170,000 and he is no stranger to traveling to play poker. In addition to his globetrotting for the Platinum Pass, Manuel has recorded cashes in the UK, Bahamas, Canada, and Australia – where he picked up a career-high cash of over $33,000 at the Aussie Millions.

One member of Team USA that everyone will be keeping close tabs on is Jeremy Hilsercop. Hlisercop’s heartwarming story of a gift to the WSOP which turned into a trip to the Bahamas was the talk of poker community during the holiday season. What was once just a dream is turning into a reality for the man who’s largest tournament buy-in to date is $170. He and his wife Randi will be hoping to turn this Christmas gift into a life-changing sum of money.

In addition to the 28 players that picked up a pass through a victory or promotion. PokerStars has handed out a number of passes to U.S. based celebrities. UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, NBA great Paul Pierce, comedians Norm MacDonald and Clayton Fletcher, reality star Tyson Apostle and legendary skater Tony Hawk will all be in attendance.

Keep tabs on the entire slate of U.S. based players when PSPC play gets underway on January 6.

PokerStars PSPC Team USA

PLAYERS
Jacqueline Burkhart
Andrew Canfield
Tenzin Chakdor
Tom Chiarella
Clifford Ellefson
Damon Ferrante
Thai Ha
Jeremy Hilsercop
Joey Ingram (not on the website)
Linda Johnson
Matt Keifer
Maria Konnikova
Derik Li
Anthony Maio
Nathan Manuel
Kevin Mathers
Ronald Mici
Jahngir (John) Mokhtari
Andrew Neeme
Michael Page
David Peters
Andres (Andy) Risquez
Kenny Tran
Nitis Udornpim
Luke Vrabel
Brandon Welter
Arthur White
Alice Zheng
Tyson Apostol
Bruce Buffer
Clayton Fletcher
Tony Hawk
Norm Macdonald
Paul Pierce