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  1. [caption width="640"] Vlad Darie now has his name on the WPT Champions cup after emerging victorious in Vienna.[/caption] When the final table of the World Poker Tour Vienna stop got underway on Sunday evening, all eyes were on Dietrich Fast. The German poker pro was second in chips behind Zoltan Gal and looking for his second WPT title in a little over two weeks after taking down the L.A. Poker Classic. Fast’s run at that second title was cut short, though, as Vlad Darie went on to win WPT Vienna for his first WPT title and $192,496 after beating Gal in a nearly four-hour-long heads-up battle. The first elimination didn’t come for nearly 90 minutes. Darie opened for 60,000 from the button and Georgios Zisimopoulos moved all in from the small blind for 427,000. Darie called and showed [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"], while Zisimopoulos tabled [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"]. The board ran out [poker card="as"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5s"][poker card="qs"][poker card="qh"] to eliminate Zisimopoulos in sixth place. On the very hext hand, Dominik Bosnjak called from UTG before Fast raised to 70,000 from the cutoff. The blinds both folded and Bosnjak moved all in for 354,000. Fast called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] and was racing against the [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] of Bosnjak. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8d"] flop put Fast in front and neither the [poker card="jd"] turn nor [poker card="5d"] river was able to save Bosnjak from a fifth place finish. Despite starting the day second in chips, Fast was unable to maintain the momentum, even after sending Bosnjak packing. With blinds at 20,000/40,000, Gal raised to 100,000 and Fast moved all in for 910,000. Gal called with [poker card="as"][poker card="kh"] and Fast tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Fast a nut-flush draw, but the [poker card="js"] turn and [poker card="6h"] river failed to complete his hand and he was out in fourth place. Left with just over four big blinds, Matt Davenport raised all in to 175,000 from the button and both Darie and Gal defended their blinds. The board ran out [poker card="qs"][poker card="8d"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6h"] and Davenport showed [poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"], Gal showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="9d"] for ace-high, but Darie flipped up [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"] for a rivered straight to win the pot and eliminate Davenport. Even with Davenport’s chips now in his stack, Darie started heads-up play down 2-1 to Gal and quickly found himself in an even bigger hole, down nearly 3-1 after just five hands of play. The sixth hand, however, saw both players make a pair on a [poker card="th"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5h"] flop. Gal made two pair when the [poker card="3s"] fell on the turn and all the chips went in. Darie, who held [poker card="7s"][poker card="6h"], made a better two pair when the [poker card="6s"] hit the river and doubled into the chip lead. Even though the two players played another two-and-a-half hours, Gal never regained the lead. On the final hand of the tournament with blinds at 75,000/150,000, Darie moved all in from the button and Gal called. Gal was ahead with [poker card="ah"][poker card="2h"] against Darie’s [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"]. The [poker card="9s"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"] flop changed everything, though, with Darie pairing his six. The [poker card="8h"] turn and [poker card="2c"] river did nothing for Gal and Darie eliminated him in second place to claim the title. The €3,300 buy-in event had 234 entrants for a €702,000 prizepool. The WPT now heads back to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida for three events including the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and the WPT Tournament of Champions. Final Table Payouts Vlad Darie - $192,496 Zoltan Gal - $123,554 Matthew Davenport - $80,004 Dietrich Fast - $59,269 Dominik Bosnjak - $44,477 Georgios Zisimopoulos - $35,595
  2. [caption width="640"] The WPT Champions Challenge pits some of poker's biggest stars up against each other[/caption] Sure, everybody at your workplace is focused on just how awesome their NCAA March Madness bracket is. Paul from accounting is convinced that the six-seed he’s got going to the Elite Eight is his key to victory. You’ve got a bracket too – everybody does – but thanks to the World Poker Tour you’re also looking at another bracket. That’s what the WPT is hoping for anyway with their launch of the WPT Champions Challenge, a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other. The contest is interactive, with each match-up decided by a fan vote. The 64-player field was determined using WPT titles, final table and earnings as criteria. Given that, it should be no surprise to see four players who have taken turns dominating the WPT over the years as the top seeds in each “region“: Clubs bracket: Daniel Negreanu Diamonds bracket: Anthony Zinno Heart bracket: Carlos Mortensen Spades bracket: Gus Hansen Just like the NCAA bracket, the WPT Champions Challenge goes from 64 down to 32, down to 16, down to eight, down to four and then down to two before a winner is determined. Voting opened on WPT.com on Friday and continues until a winner is announced on Monday, April 11. The WPT Champions Challenge Schedule Round of 64: March 11 - 16 Round of 32: March 16 -21 Sweet 16: March 21 - 25 Elite 8: March 25 - March 29 Final Four: March 29 - April 1 The Championship: April 1 - 8 The winner will be announced on April 11. Check out the complete WPT Champions Challenge bracket. FIRST ROUND MATCH UPS TO WATCH Spades Region #7 Howard Lederer vs #10 Tony Dunst It’s hard to argue that Howard Lederer wasn’t one of the most successful players on the World Poker Tour in the early days. He won two events in the inaugural season and has cashed a total of seven times. Meanwhile Tony Dunst represents the online player generation that was most victimized by Lederer’s mismanagement of Full Tilt Poker and could easily pull the upset here with the support of his fellow former online grinders. Hearts Region #8 Erik Seidel vs. #9 Shawn Buchanan Each year one of the more intriguing first round matchups of March Madness pits the #8 seed vs. the #9 seed. That’s certainly carrying over to the WPT Champions Challenge as Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel is up against Shawn Buchanan. Seidel has 22 WPT cashes, seven WPT final tables and won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6. Buchanan is no slouch either. The Canadian poker pro goes 16-4-1 in WPT events with his win coming at a stacked Mandalay Bay Poker Championship in Season 6. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #15 Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier Each player in the field was chosen based on their success at World Poker Tour events. JC Tran has multiple WPT titles to his credit while Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier has just one, but both players have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success outside of the WPT and that may sway some voters based on their loyalties. Tran has over $12 million in lifetime earnings with just under $4 million coming at WPT stops. Grospellier has nearly $11 million in lifetime earnings with $2.2 million coming via the World Poker Tour. Clubs Region #5 Chino Rheem vs #12 Keven Stammen If the Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan matches of the 1990s left you disappointed, maybe seeing one WPT World Champion up against another WPT World Champion can satisfy your appetite. That’s what we have in the Clubs region as Season 11 champ Chino Rheem takes on Season 12 champ Keven Stammen. Rheem, who also won the Five Diamond Classic in Season 7, is the higher seed but Stammen has 15 cashes to Rheem’s four, three final tables to Rheem’s two. If you’re looking for a more traditional NCAA bracket to fill out, check out PocketFives' free-to-enter March Madness contest with $500 in prizes from FanDuel.
  3. [caption width="640"] The Bay 101 Shooting Star event is one of the most unique WPT events on the schedule[/caption] Some of the biggest stars in poker - most of them in fact - are on their way to San Jose, California to play in one of the longest-running World Poker Tour events. This isn’t just some standard WPT event, though. The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star is the closest thing poker has to an all-star game. That is, if any basketball player that wanted to could just show up and play in the NBA all-star game or if every beer league hockey player could pull a John Scott and play in the NHL all-star game. The Shooting Star concept is simple. A group of players, dubbed the “Shooting Stars”, are bounties in the $7,500 buy-in event and busting one of them is worth $2,500 to whomever eliminates them. This year’s group of "Shooting Stars" includes WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen, Anthony Zinno, Kelly Minkin, Mike Leah and Erik Seidel. The man at the center of choosing the Shooting Stars each year is WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. While his highest profile gig is with WPT, he’s been the Bay 101 Tournament Director for 13 years. With some 50 "Stars" each year, selecting the players can be a little bit of a challenge - especially with players campaigning for spots. “It usually starts sometime around November going into December. And then when the calendar turns to the next year, people are texting me and emailing me and tweeting me with requests that they want to be a part of the shooting star program,” said Savage. “It’s strange because some people are a little more active about it, some people that you might not expect are pretty much in my year round about why they’re not a shooting star.” Due to his role with WPT, Savage is as in tune with the poker industry as anybody, and that makes putting together a shortlist of possible Shooting Stars easy. Throughout the year, he’s on the road talking to players, talking to fans to determine who should make the final cut. “I do polls and stuff like that on Twitter and TwoPlusTwo to figure out who they think belongs and who doesn’t, just to get the talk going, and it always seems to work,” said Savage. “People always want to bring it up and complain who got snubbed and who got in and stuff like that. So it makes it interesting.” Players with great results - even great recent results - aren’t necessarily guaranteed to get an invite. Being a Shooting Star has more to do with being a superstar in the eyes of fans than any ranking system could ever handle. “We have such good fans (at Bay 101) that I want it to be people that, if you were a fan of poker, you’d want to come and see. So, in addition to those names, you get a lot of the old timers and the bigger names,” said Savage. “Then you have the new guys; the young up-and-coming stars and the WSOP Champion. I try to also include people that really support the WPT and Bay 101. It’s kind of a mixture of all of those things, but for the most part it’s a popularity contest really. Savage begins sending out invitations early in the year and always leaves a few spots open right up until the week before the tournament. But not every player who is asked to be a Shooting Star is ready to accept the challenge. Savage gets a few players each year that turn down the invite. “I do get people that reject it from time to time because some of them don’t actually want the pressure of having the shooting star on them. They feel like they play better if it’s not,” said Savage. “Like Nam Le, he’s turned it down, Ted Forrest at one point turned it down. He thought he’d have a better chance by not having it.” Though Le and Forrest are among a handful of players who have said “no thanks” to the Shooting Star honor, Savage says there’s far more players clamoring for spots than those who aren’t interested. “The opposite is far and away much more people saying they want to be a Shooting Star. They want to be recognized, they want to have that and sometimes they’re even saying, ‘Why am I not a shooting star? I’ve done this or that’. There’s a lot of those guys too,” said Savage. Being a bounty does have some perks. Each Shooting Star is given $1,000 for each time they enter (all players are allowed one re-entry) as well as some Bay 101 or WPT merchandise. There is a bit of a strategic advantage too. While you’re likely going to be the target of other players at your table, you’re assured that no other Shooting Stars will be at your starting table. The number of poker superstars that come out for the event, combined with the fact that this is the longest-running WPT event in Northern California, leads to a very different atmosphere from an event in Las Vegas or even Los Angeles. From Day 1 of the tournament, the rail is four or five deep with poker fans snapping pictures of Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey. Fans eagerly wait for breaks to ask a player for an autograph or a selfie. Savage admits that the players who get into it love it. “You get a guy like Antonio, Phil Laak, Daniel, they never miss the tournament because I think they really like that kinda thing. It’s kinda cool, when they walk in there are people standing there with photographs and autographs cards,” said Savage. “I think in some respect there was a point in poker where they may have not liked that as much, but I think over time they’ve realized it’s not going to be around forever. That’s kind of something that comes and goes so I think that those guys like that stuff, the fandom.” While the notoriety is nice and the $1,000 comes in handy, the pros also love coming to the Bay 101 event because it’s full of satellite qualifiers. Savage estimates that each year they qualify between 250 and 300 players via satellites at the host property. “Our satellite program is the best in the country. There’s not a place in the country where you could run satellites almost three months in advance and get 300 players to come in and play. And we were able to do that at Bay 101. You couldn’t even do that for the World Series of Poker Main Event to be honest. So I think people really look forward to that event on the calendar, for those guys, because it’s more of a locals' event,” said Savage. [caption width="640"] Fans pack the Bay 101 casino in San Jose every year to get a glimpse of their poker heroes[/caption] Over the years, Savage feels like he’s had every pro poker player he’s ever wanted as a Shooting Star. Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, Vanessa Selbst, Chris Moorman and Doyle Brunson have all been part of the program. There is, however, one potential Shooting Star that has eluded him. “I always want to get the celebrities to come out and play. So, I’ve always wished that Tobey Maguire would come out and play to be honest,” said Savage. “Because I thought not only is (Maguire) a good actor, he is also a really good poker player and a lot of people don’t know that he’s one of the biggest winning players in the game.” The tournament also has a unique structure. The chip leaders at the end of Day 1A and 1B are given $10,000 and when there are just 36 players left, the tournament goes six-handed until it finishes.
  4. [CAPTION=100%]Dietrich Fast added a WPT title to his resume Thursday night in L.A.[/CAPTION] Dietrch Fast denied Mike Shariati a chance at World Poker Tour History Thursday night at the Commerce Casino and captured the L.A. Poker Classic Main Event title for just over $1 million. Shariati, who won the Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino last August, was looking to become the first player to win both Los Angeles-based WPT events. It wasn't meant to be, though. Fast, who started the final table fifth in chips, eliminated the final three players to claim the title. Anthony Spinella, winner of the online WSOP bracelet event last summer, started the final table with the chip lead, but was actually the first player eliminated. The downhill slide for Spinella began on just the fifth hand when he dropped nearly 1 million chips to Fast. Seven hands later, he dropped another million to Sam Soverel and before 20 hands had been played, Spinella doubled Alex Keating up as well. The 27th hand spelled the end for Spinella. Left with just 550,000, Spinella moved all in from the cutoff and Fast and Soverel called from the blinds. Fast and Soverel checked the [poker card="6c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"] flop. After the [poker card="qs"] turn, Fast checked and Soverel bet 475,000, forcing Fast to fold. Spinella turned over [poker card="kc"][poker card="jh"] and Soverel showed [poker card="as"][poker card="td"]. The [poker card="tc"] river was no help for Spinella and he was out in sixth. It took 31 more hands for the next elimination. After Keating raised to 195,000 from the cutoff, Farid Jattin moved all in from the big blind. Keating called instantly and tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"]. Jattin showed [poker card="9d"][poker card="8s"]. The board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"][poker card="8h"][poker card="jh"][poker card="2c"] and Jattin was out in fifth. With just four players left, Fast went to work. His first victim was Soverel in a blind vs blind battle. Action folded to Fast in the small blind. He called and Soverel checked. After the [poker card="8c"][poker card="4c"][poker card="4d"] flop, Fast bet 110,000 and Soverel called. After the [poker card="6h"] turn, Fast bet 225,000 and Soverel called. The [poker card="ad"] river got Fast to bet 450,000 before Soverel tanked for nearly a minute. He moved all in for 2,750,000 and Fast took his time in the tank. After nearly four minutes, Fast called and after Soverel showed [poker card="5h"][poker card="3d"] for a busted straight, Fast turned over [poker card="jd"][poker card="js"] to take the pot, eliminate Soverel in fourth, and assume the chip lead for the first time. Fast didn't wait long to bust somebody else. On the very next hand, Keating raised from the cutoff to 250,000, Fast re-raised from the button to 675,000. Keating announced he was all in for 4,885,000 and Fast called. Keating turned up [poker card="ah"][poker card="qh"], but found himself behind Fast, who held [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"]. Keating found no help on the [poker card="8d"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4h"][poker card="8h"][poker card="jd"] board and was out in third. Thanks to those two eliminations, Fast held 11,975,000 of the 15,445,000 chips in play. It took only two hours for Fast to end the tournament. Despite a small double-up from Shariati, Fast held control for the entire heads-up battle. On the final hand of the night, Fast opened with a raise to 450,000 before Shariati moved all in for 4,850,000. Fast took his time before calling and tabling [poker card="ac"][poker card="9h"]. Shariati showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="8d"]. The [poker card="as"][poker card="js"][poker card="4c"] flop changed little, but the [poker card="8c"] turn put Shariati ahead, but the [poker card="jh"] river counterfeited Shariati's second pair and gave the title to Fast. Fast, who won the €550 Oktoberfest event at WSOP Europe in October 2015, pocketed $1,000,800 for the victory. He also gets a pair of gold Monster 24K headphones, a Hublot King watch, and a seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions next month in Florida. Final Table Payouts Dietrich Fast – $1,000,800 Mike Shariati – $656,540 Alex Keating – $423,890 Sam Soverel – $316,440 Farid Jatten – $238,070 Anthony Spinella – $191,250
  5. [caption width="640"] Mustapha Kanit was the first player selected in the Global Poker League draft[/caption] Mustapha Kanit is one helluva poker player. As of Thursday afternoon, he’s also the answer to a future trivia question. Who was the first player selected to play in the Global Poker League? Kanit went first overall to the Rome Emperors on Thursday as the GPL held their inaugural draft at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Kanit was one of 48 players chosen by the 12 GPL team managers on Thursday. The second overall pick went to the Montreal Nationals, managed by Marc-Andre Ladouceur. While most observers expected the Nationals to draft fellow French-Canadian Jonathan Duhamel, Ladouceur took a different approach and instead chose Mike McDonald. Other players chosen in the first round include Jason Mercier, Phil Galfond and Fedor Holz. Mercier was one of few draftees in attendance and was quick to thank his new manager, Bryn Kenney, and the GPL. “Being a professional poker player is a great honor and we need to be great ambassadors to the game and this is a great opportunity for all of us,” said Mercier. Complete First Round Selections Rome Emperors: Mustapha Kanit Montreal Nationals: Mike McDonald New York Rounders: Jason Mercier San Francisco Rush: Phil Galfond Las Vegas Moneymakers: Anthony Zinno Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Darren Elias London Royals: Igor Kurganov Moscow Wolverines: Dzmitry Urbanovich L.A. Sunset: Fedor Holz Berlin Bears: Brian Rast Paris Aviators: Bertrand Grospellier Hong Kong Stars: Weiyi Zhang The second round began with Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Lin drafting Hong Kong pro Raiden Kan. All four of Lin’s picks were players with strong ties to the Chinese or Hong Kong poker community. While managers were encouraged to draft players with connections to their city, Lin was the only manager to do so. The London Royals drafted Vanessa Selbst 18th overall and 2014 WSOP Main Event champion Martin Jacobson went 23rd overall to the Nationals. The Emperors closed the round by drafting another Italian, Dario Sammartino. Complete Second Round Selections Hong Kong Stars: Raiden Kan Paris Aviators: Davidi Kitai Berlin Bears: Sorel Mizzi L.A. Sunset: Olivier Busquet Moscow Wolverines: Vladimir Troyanovskiy London Royals: Vanessa Selbst Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Byron Kaverman Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jonathan Duhamel San Francisco Rush: Anthony Gregg New York Rounders: Thomas Marchese Montreal Nationals: Martin Jacobson Rome Emperors: Dario Sammartino After drafting Italian pros with his first two picks, Pescatori went a different direction with the first pick of the third round. Pescatori added Canadian pro Timothy Adams to his roster. Rounders manager Bryn Kenney was able to add one of his good friends to his team with the 27th overall pick, Kevin MacPhee. Online poker’s all-time leading money winner, Chris Moorman, also heard his name called in the third round. London Royals manager Liv Boeree drafted Moorman 31st overall. Complete Third Round Selections Rome Emperors: Timothy Adams Montreal Nationals: Pascal Lafrancois New York Rounders: Kevin MacPhee San Francisco Rush: Kitty Kuo Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jake Cody Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Thiago Nishijima London Royals: Chris Moorman Moscow Wolverines: Andrey Pateychuk L.A. Sunset: Eugene Katchalov Berlin Bears: Dominik Nitsche Paris Aviators: George Danzer Hong Kong Stars: Dong Guo The fourth and final round started with a quick change in the formalities. Managers were originally told they could defer their fourth pick and instead be given an extra Wildcard selection to use in Season 1. After a meeting with all managers, it was determined that all teams would draft a fourth player to fill out their initial roster. After Lin finished her team by drafting Bryan Huang, the Paris Aviators took Canadian Mike Leah and the Berlin Bears drafted Jeff Gross. Other big names added to teams in the fourth round include Chance Kornuth, Justin Bonomo, Joao Pires Simao and Jonathan Little. Complete Fourth Round Selections Hong Kong Stars: Bryan Huang Paris Aviators: Mike Leah Berlin Bears: Jeff Gross L.A. Sunset: Chance Kornuth Moscow Wolverines: Sergey Lebedev London Royals: Justin Bonomo Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Joao Pires Simao Las Vegas Moneymakers: Jonathan Little San Francisco Rush: Anton Wigg New York Rounders: Jason Wheeler Montreal Nationals: Xuan Liu Rome Emperors: Walter Treccarichi
  6. Most High Roller final tables involve a level of conflict. Chip leads go back and forth and eventually one player rises above the rest to win an insane amount of money. That's not quite what happened Thursday night at the final table of the $25,000 High Roller event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Nick 'FU_15' Maimone started the final table fourth in chips and, over the course of nine hours of play, eliminated nearly every single player who stood between him and the title to walk away nearly $1 million richer. "My plan was just be really solid and tight going in and hope a couple of the short stacks would bust. All the ladders were huge," said Maimone. Short stacks did indeed bust early on, but rather than sitting back and watching others do the work, Maimone took on the role of executioner. From early position, Maimone raised to 110,000 and Ben Heath moved all-in from the cutoff for 570,000. Action folded to Maimone, who called and tabled [poker card="ad"] [poker card="8d"]. Heath was ahead with [poker card="7d"] [poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="as"] [poker card="jd"] [poker card="5s"] flop put Maimone ahead and the [poker card="9d"] turn and [poker card="8c"] river kept him there, sending Heath to the rail in eighth place. From UTG, Chance 'Chances Cards' Kornuthmoved all-in for 495,000 and Brian Yoon moved all-in over the top from the cutoff. Maimone called from the small blind. Kornuth showed [poker card="ad"] [poker card="9s"], Yoon had [poker card="ah"] [poker card="jh"], and Maimone had [poker card="4c"] [poker card="4s"]. The [poker card="td"] [poker card="8s"] [poker card="7c"] flop gave Kornuth and Yoon straight draws but left Maimone in front. The [poker card="9c"] turn gave Yoon a straight. The [poker card="5d"] river changed nothing for Kornuth and he was out in seventh. Working with a relatively short stack, Andrey 'Zaya' Zaichenko moved all-in from the small blind for 830,000 and Maimone called from the big blind. Zaichenko showed [poker card="as"] [poker card="7c"], but found himself trailing Maimone, who showed [poker card="ah"] [poker card="jd"]. The [poker card="ks"] [poker card="6c"] [poker card="3d"] [poker card="9c"] [poker card="th"] runout did nothing for Zaichenko and he was eliminated in sixth. After Maimone raised to 140,000 from UTG, Yoon moved all-in from the big blind for just over 1,000,000. Maimone called and tabled [poker card="ks"] [poker card="qh"], while Yoon showed [poker card="5h"] [poker card="5s"]. The [poker card="ah"] [poker card="ts"] [poker card="9h"] flop kept Yoon ahead but gave Maimone a straight draw. The [poker card="qs"] turn put Maimone ahead and the [poker card="kh"] river sealed Yoon's fate with a fifth place finish. November Niner Josh 'asdf26' Beckley was the next to go and his run ended in frustrating fashion. Winter raised to 180,000 from UTG, Maimone called from the button, and Beckley called from the small blind. The flop came [poker card="ad"] [poker card="ks"] [poker card="8s"] and all three players checked. After the [poker card="qs"] turn, Winter and Beckley checked before Maimone bet 300,000. Winter folded, but Beckley called. The [poker card="ts"] river got Beckley to check again. Maimone bet 525,000 before Beckley check-raised all-in for his last 1,225,000. Maimone called and watched as Beckley tabled [poker card="as"] [poker card="5s"] for what he assumed was the nut flush, but Maimone - after taking some time - flipped over [poker card="js"] [poker card="9s"] for a straight flush to send Beckley home in fourth. "I'm not an asshole, but (Beckley) just kind of bothered me a couple of times with his demeanour. He really just rubbed me the wrong way," said Maimone. "This was a dream spot to not slow roll. So I said, 'This is a tough one.' I think I asked him how many chips he had - like a jerk and he called and confidently tabled his ace-five of spades and I was like, 'I have a straight flush, sorry.'" With three players remaining, Dario Sammartino moved all-in for 1,130,000 over Maimone's initial raise to 225,000. Maimone called and turned up [poker card="7h"] [poker card="7s"], while Sammartino needed help with [poker card="kc"] [poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="ah"] [poker card="8s"] [poker card="2h"] [poker card="2d"] [poker card="jc"] board did nothing for Sammartino and he was out in third, leaving Maimone and Winter to play for the title. When heads-up play began, Maimone held 6,495,000 chips to Winter's 4,855,000. The two made a deal that left both with $900,000+ cash and left $30,000 to play for. It didn't take long for Maimone to claim his sixth final table victim. Maimone raised his button to 250,000 and Winter followed that by moving all-in. Maimone snap-called and tabled [poker card="ac"] [poker card="kc"], while Winter was way behind with [poker card="kd"] [poker card="tc"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"] [poker card="3d"] [poker card="3c"] [poker card="qc"] [poker card="9c"] to give Maimone his first live win. Final Table Payouts Nick Maimone - $996,480 Sean Winter - $914,580 Dario Sammartino - $542,160 Josh Beckley - $439,560 Brian Yoon - $347,760 Andrey Zaichenko - $264,060 Chance Kornuth - $192,780 Ben Heath - $140,940
  7. The 2016 Aussie Millions gets underway Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne. Fitting this premier event into an already tight poker calendar gets harder and harder ever year, but the great hosts at Crown Casino have figured it out and are ready to roll. For most of the next 2.5 weeks, the attention of the poker world will be on Melbourne as the world's poker elite make their to Crown to play alongside the best players a poker-crazed Australia has. With that in mind, here are ten things to know about the 2016 Aussie Millions. Nineteen Years and Running This is the 19th Aussie Millions. Held annually at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, the tournament was actually originally called the Australian Poker Champions, but officially became the Aussie Millions in 2003. That first year, 1998, the Main Event was a $1,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em event won by Alex Horowitz. He beat 73 other players and walked away with $25,900. Jam-Packed Schedule This year's schedule includes a total of 24 events with buy-ins ranging from $1,150 all the way up to $250,000. There are 18 events on the schedule that are some form of No Limit Hold'em. The opening event, the $1,150 Repechage, comes with a $1,000,000 guarantee and allows players who bust out of any of the four starting flights to re-enter the event the following day (up to a total of four entries). Other NLHE variants on the schedule include three events with a shot clock and the Accumulator event. Crown will also spread Pot Limit Omaha ($1,150, $2,500, $5,000), Eight-Game Mixed ($2,500), and HORSE ($2,500). There are satellites running each day through January 16 with buy-ins as low as $65. The full schedule is available here. Twitching with Jason Somerville Just last month, Crown announced it had partnered with Jason Somerville and his Run It Up Twitch channel to live stream the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event. Somerville will be live on his Twitch channel from January 24 to February 1. "I am eager to help pioneer a modern poker broadcast that will not only showcase Crown Melboune as the premier poker destination that it is, but also highlight live streaming, an unparalleled platform in delivering engaging and compelling content to fans of the game we love," said Somerville. The Main Event Since the "poker boom," the field sizes at the Aussie Millions Main Event have been some of the most consistent for a $10,000 buy-in. In 2005, Jamil Dia beat out a 263-player field, becoming the first Aussie Millions champ to score at least $1,000,000 AU. The next year, the field size jumped more than 50% to 418. That's when things got crazy. In 2007, Gus Hansen beat out 746 other players to win $1,500,000 AU. The next year, Russian sensation Alex Kostritsyn came out on top of the 780-player field – still the largest Main Event field ever - to win $1,650,000 AU. Since Hansen’s big win, the Aussie Millions Main Event has averaged 698 players per year. Last year, Australian Manny Stavropoulos won $1,385,000 for beating out 647 other players. The Main Event hasn't always been won by Australians, though. Going all the way back to the first incarnation of this event in 1998, Australian players have won ten Main Event titles. Two Brits (Peter Costa and Tony Bloom), two Kiwis (Dia and Lee Nelson), a Dane (Hansen), a Russian (Alex Kostritsyn), a Canadian (Ami Barer), and a Malaysian (Mervin Chan) have taken home the Aussie Millions Main Event. An American has never walked away with the Main Event title. The Birthplace of High Roller Tournaments [caption width="320" align="alignleft"] Richard Yong made his first tournament appearance at the Aussie Millions in 2011[/caption] The first stop on a poker tour to ever host regular six-figure buy-in events was the Aussie Millions. The $100,000 Challenge debuted in 2006 and, at the time, was the biggest buy-in poker tournament ever. Ten players entered that first year, with John Juanda taking home the winner-take-all $1,000,000 AU first place prize. Other winners of the event include Howard Lederer (2008), Dan Shak (2010) and Sam Trickett (2011). In 2011, Crown did the unthinkable (at the time) and added the LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge. The inaugural event drew 20 players, most notably the debut of the "Macau Businessmen": Richard Yong, Paul Phua, and Wang Qiang. Erik Seidel won the first year, but Phil Ivey won in 2012, 2014, and 2015 for over $6.25 million US in earnings. From Independent to the APPT Until 2014, the Aussie Millions was the biggest unaffiliated poker tournament in the world. That's when it joined forces with the PokerStars-backed Asia-Pacific Poker Tour for the first time. Prior to that, the Aussie Millions had been courted by the biggest tours running including the World Poker Tour and even the short-lived Epic Poker League. Given the size of the Aussie Million and Crown's place in the Asia-Pacific gaming market, the APPT marriage just made sense. "The Aussie Millions is regarded as one of the marquee poker events globally. Aligning with the biggest poker tour in the region, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, will further guarantee the event's success in the coming years," said APPT President Danny McDonagh. Another World-Class Event: The Australian Open Nobody ever plans to bust out of a $10,000 buy-in poker tournament, but if things don't go well, the Aussie Millions has a world-class sporting event just a short boat ride away. The Australian Open tennis championship is the first of four tennis majors on the schedule and it attracts the best tennis players in the world. This year, the event runs for two weeks and actually wraps up a day before the Aussie Millions Main Event. Getting to the event is relatively easy and inexpensive if you're okay getting on a water taxi. The short ride up the Yarra River starts just outside Crown and drops you off at the Rod Laver Arena, where the Australian Open is played. Water taxis will also get you back to the casino once the matches are over. From Five Star to Take Away, Dining Options Are Abound There might not be a casino anywhere in the world that is better prepared than Crown to host poker players and their various dining requirements. The ballers of the poker world – or those who aspire to be seen as one – will find a number of high-end restaurants on property just a short walk from the poker room. Included here is the world-renowned NOBU, featuring all of the Japanese culinary delights you'd expect, and Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar, which features Australian-inspired cuisine. For those on a tighter budget, there is the Sho Noodle Bar, which specializes in, you guessed it, noodles and Dim Sum. Those looking for possibly the best hamburgers in the Southern Hemisphere should try The Merrywell and their signature burger, The Merrywell. If you're feeling adventurous, maybe give the Oz Burger a shot – it comes with pickled beets. And lastly, if you're in an absolute hurry and hoping for cheap eats, the food court at Crown has something for everybody: noodles, sushi, curries, sandwiches, pizza. It's all there and just two short escalator rides from the poker room. It's Summer Time There While the Northern Hemisphere is locked down in the doldrums of winter, Melbourne is in the middle of summer. Temperatures outside can get as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if you bust out of any tournament or otherwise get a day off, you can head into Downtown Melbourne and seek out some of the things that are best enjoyed during nice days. The Queen Victoria Night Market runs every Wednesday from 5:00 pm and has handcrafted items from local artists as well as some of the more unique (and inexpensive) food around. If you're looking to enjoy a sporting event with more local flair, check out the Big Bash League. It's professional cricket with a few rules twists meant to speed up the game. The BBL playoffs are right around the corner, with the semifinals running January 21 and 22 and the Big Final running January 24. Mariah Carey Might Be There. Might Not. Celebrity sighting at the Aussie Millions is nothing new, but things could go to a new level this year. It seems that Mariah Carey is dating James Packer, the billionaire owner of Crown Resorts. The pair have only been an item for six months, but if 1990s divas are your thing, keep an eye out.
  8. [caption width="640"] After two third place finishes, Bryn Kenney finally got his hands on the PCA SHR Championship trophy Friday[/caption] Before the final table of the $100,000 buy-in PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller began on Friday afternoon there were a number of storylines in play. Joe McKeehen, just two months from winning the WSOP Main Event was third in chips. Isaac Haxton, just weeks after leaving Team PokerStars Online, was fifth in chips at PokerStars’ marquee live event. Mustapha Kanit, who won the €50,000 buy-in Super High Roller at the EPT Grand Final last May, was looking for another title and seven figure score to add to his impressive resume. And then there was Bryn Kenney. Five years ago Kenney finished third in this event. He did that again in 2015, finishing third behind runner-up Roger Sippl and champion Steve O’Dwyer. But on Friday Kenney exorcised the demons and came through with a victory - and a $1,687,800 payday - against the stacked field. McKeehen got the party started in all in preflop confrontation with Haxton. With just over 14 big blinds left, Haxton moved all-in with [poker card="ts"] [poker card="9s"] on the button and McKeehen called from the big blind with [poker card="as"] [poker card="ks"]. The board ran out [poker card="ac"] [poker card="jd"] [poker card="4h"] [poker card="td"] [poker card="5s"] to give McKeehen top pair and eliminate Haxton in sixth place. Almost 90 minutes later David Peters was shown the door. Working with just over 10 big blinds, Peters moved all-in holding [poker card="ad"] [poker card="9s"], Kenney called from the big blind with [poker card="as"] [poker card="td"]. The [poker card="ks"] [poker card="qd"] [poker card="3c"] flop was no help for Peters but the [poker card="qh"] turn gave Peters some chops outs. The [poker card="ts"] river however sealed Peters’ fate with a fifth place finish. Ankush Mandavia completed from the small blind before Mustapha Kanit raised to 290,000 from the big blind. Mandavia responded by moving all-in and Kanit called. Mandavia was racing with his [poker card="ah"] [poker card="jh"] against Kanti’s [poker card="7c"] [poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="td"] [poker card="9h"] [poker card="8d"] flop gave both players straight draws. The [poker card="4h"] turn changed nothing the but the [poker card="qs"] river completed Mandavia’s straight and sent Kanit to the rail in fourth. Despite the chips he picked up by busting Kanit, Mandavia’s run ended not long after that hand. Mandavia moved all-in from the small blind for 2,135,000 and Kenney called from the big blind. Mandavia had kicker issues after turning over [poker card="ks"] [poker card="4h"] and seeing Kenney held [poker card="kd"] [poker card="9d"]. After the [poker card="jc"] [poker card="th"] [poker card="6s"] [poker card="3d"] [poker card="7d"] board Mandavia was out in third and Kenney was left to play heads-up with reigning WSOP Main Event champ McKeehen. When heads-up play began Kenney had the chip lead, holding 7,945,000 chips to McKeehen’s 6,550,000. The two played 46 hands of heads-up poker with both players taking turns with an overwhelming chip lead. On the final hand of the night McKeehen raised his button to 480,000 before Kenney moved all-in. McKeehen called and tabled [poker card="5d"] [poker card="5h"] while Kenney turned up [poker card="kh"] [poker card="7c"]. The [poker card="7d"] [poker card="7h"] [poker card="4c"] flop put Kenney ahead with trips and when the [poker card="3s"] turn and [poker card="js"] river failed to give McKeehen a full house, he was out in second place leaving Kenney as the champion. The event attracted a total of 58 entries - down slightly from the 66 that played last year. Final Table Payouts Bryn Kenney - $1,687,800 Joe McKeehen - $1,220,480 Ankush Mandavia - $787,640 Mustapha Kanit - $596,360 David Peters - $461,340 Isaac Haxton - $360,060 Daniel Dvoress - $286,920 Kathy Lehne- $225,040
  9. [CAPTION=90%]Isaac Haxton has decided not to renew his Team PokerStars Online contract[/CAPTION] Just a few minutes before boarding a flight to Manila to play the $200,000 buy-in Triton Super High Roller Cali Cup in the Philpines, Isaac Haxton dropped a bombshell – he was leaving Team PokerStars Online. “As of today, I am sad to report that my PokerStars Team Pro Online contract has expired and I have made the decision not to renew it,” Haxton wrote Friday in a post on TwoPlusTwo. Haxton’s decision to walk away from guaranteed money comes after PokerStars made the decision to drastically alter their VIP player rewards program for 2016 and Haxton admitted that was at the crux of his decision to not renew his contract with the online poker giant. “In the past, when I have disagreed with a PokerStars decision, it has been on practical matters of which goals are most important and which policies most effectively advance those goals,” Haxton wrote. “This time my disagreement is simpler, and deeper. I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.” Haxton’s decision comes just weeks after Alex Millar, another member of Team PokerStars Online, made the same announcement after finding the recent VIP program changes hard to support. Having been a SuperNova Elite himself, Haxton empathized with those who put in the hours to gain the status – and the rewards that came with it. “For most of the players who do it, it is an all-consuming commitment more intense than most full time jobs. Many of them have relocated far from their homes and families to pursue it,” Haxton wrote. “Finding out, just as you approach the finish line, that your efforts will not be rewarded as you expected them to be is brutal.” PokerStars announced in November that there would be no SuperNova Elite rewards for 2016 – meaning players who had been putting in the hours throughout 2015 had been doing so in vain. “I cannot in good conscience continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way,” he wrote. Haxton was first signed to Team PokerStars Online in October, 2012 in what he described as one of the “proudest moments” of his poker career. During his time with PokerStars, Haxton was featured in a mini-documentary, The Isaac Haxton Story, chronicling his rise in the online poker world.
  10. A few scant hours are all that's left of 2015. As the countdown to 2016 begins, many of you will spend time reminiscing about 2015 and making big plans for 2016. The last 12 months in the poker world have produced controversy, countless victories, feuds, and even some tragedy. While these might not be the most important stories of the year, here's a look at the ten most-read stories of 2015 on PocketFives.com. 10. Nevada Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Could Have Limited Tournament Backing Poker players backing other players in tournaments is pretty common, even if it's not reported all that often, but in early January, the Nevada State Senate almost made it illegal to buy a piece of another player. The bill, which was amended to only apply to sports betting, eventually passed, but not before putting a scare into players who piece themselves out to the play WSOP events. STORY: WSOP Staking Could Be in Danger 9. Lex Veldhuis Said, "What About Antonio Esfandiari?" Feuds in the poker world are fairly common - even predictable - but in early January Lex Veldhuis introduced poker fans to a new feud that seemed to come out of nowhere. Appearing on Joe Ingram's 'Poker Life Podcast', Veldhuis somehow started talking about Antonio Esfandiari and let Ingram know exactly how he felt about the former Big One for One Drop champion, calling him "worthless" and relaying a story about their first interaction. STORY: Lex Veldhuis: Antonio Esfandiari is "Worthless" 8. Twitch Audience Gets an Unexpected Surprise One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the emergence of Twitch as a streaming platform for poker players and tournaments. While Jason Somerville and Jaime Staples were building big audiences with their poker play and personalities, Casey ' bigdogpckt5s' Jarzabek found himself in the headlines for leaving his stream running during some "personal time." STORY: bigdogpckt5s Banned from Twitch After Mistakenly Streaming Porn 7. Ivan Demidov Claims His Backer Never Paid Him His WSOP Winnings When Ivan Demidov finished runner-up to Peter Eastgate in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, he won what should have been life-changing money. Instead of walking away $5.8 million richer, however, Demidov never saw a cent. Or so he claims. In an interview with ALL IN, Demidov casually mentioned that his backer never paid him his share of the winnings. STORY: Ivan Demidov on 2008 WSOP Main Event Cash: "My Backer Did Not Pay Me" 6. Aria Poker Room Theft Investigation Leads to Staff Changes Poker room management and dealers found themselves unemployed following reports of widespread theft at the Aria Poker Room in Las Vegas. While the matter never went the legal route, Aria management spoke to numerous employees and concluded that changes needed to be made. STORY: Report: Theft Results in Major Shakeup at Aria Poker Room 5. The Merge Poker Network Struggles to Make Payouts Since Black Friday, poker players in the United States have had limited options for playing online poker. One company that was still accepting U.S. players was the Merge Gaming network. Unfortunately, the company struggled to pay players throughout 2015, as was first reported by PocketFives in April. STORY: Poker Players Troubled by Merge Gaming Withdrawal Issues 4. Online Poker Loses a Legend Chad Batista was outspoken and many would consider him brash, but to deny that he was a talented poker player would be a massive mistake. In August, Batista passed away following what was described as a period of declining health. After his passing, a number of poker players took to Twitter to offer their condolences and own stories about Batista, the person. STORY: Chad Batista (M8kingmoves) Passes Away 3. Bank of America Won't Do Business with Poker's Biggest Winner Daniel Negreanu is a wealthy man. Between his poker winnings (he is the all-time leading in money earned from tournaments), his PokerStars endorsement contract, and other marketing opportunities he has, Negreanu does just fine. That's not good enough for the Bank of America though. In late December, Negreanu had his bank accounts closed by Bank of America as part of 'Operation Chokepoint'. STORY: Bank of America Closes Daniel Negreanu's Bank Accounts 2. In the Midst of WSOP Success, Brian Hastings Called Out for Multi-Accounting on PokerStars In many ways, Brian 'Stinger88' Hastings had a year to remember. He cashed seven times at the 2015 WSOP, including two bracelet wins, and found himself in contention for WSOP Player of the Year. There was a dark cloud, however, as David 'Bakes' Baker brought to light some accusations that Hastings had played on PokerStars under an account other than his own during a deep SCOOP run. STORY: Allegations of Brian Hastings Multi-Accounting Surface 1. PokerStars VIP Changes Lead to Player Boycott Things at PokerStars have been, for the lack of a better word, different since Amaya acquired the site in mid-2014. Small changes here and there were met with mild disdain from players, but things got heated in November when the company announced it was essentially axing the SuperNova Elite VIP program for 2016 - even if players had done enough in 2015 to qualify. The changes got players fired up enough to organize a protest aimed at the company's bottom line. STORY: Players Organizing Boycott of PokerStars from December 1 to 3
  11. It would appear that Jason Somerville’s quest for poker world domination is taking him - and his ever popular Twitch stream - Down Under. Somerville, the most popular poker player on Twitch, has partnered with Crown Melbourne to stream the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event on RunItUp.tv from January 24 – February 1. “‘I’m extremely excited to be teaming up with Crown Melbourne and PokerStars to bring the 2016 Aussie Millions to poker fans around the globe,” said Somerville. “The Aussie Millions is a marquee event on the international poker calendar and this year. I am honored to play a part in showcasing the action as the Aussie Millions transitions exclusively into a live-streamed online broadcast.” The 2016 Aussie Millions schedule has 24 events including the AU$10,600 Main Event. As part of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, players can qualify for the Main Event on PokerStars.com. In an effort to put the Aussie Millions brand in front of as many poker players as possible, Crown Melbourne sought an established partner for an online broadcast. “We are committed to providing the most dynamic, compelling and relevant coverage possible, and it was crucial to extend the digital footprint to a new phase whilst including new channels in the social media space, namely Twitch.tv, allowing the world to enjoy the action as it happens,” said Xavier Walsh, Crown Melbourne’s Chief Operating Officer. While the Main Event draws one of the biggest $10,000 buy-in fields of the year, the highlight of the schedule each year are the high roller events, the AU$100,000 AU Challenge and the LK Boutique AU$250,000 Challenge. Phil Ivey has won the $250,000 Challenge three of the last four years and he is expected to be in attendance this year along with John Juanda, Sam Trickett and Erik Seidel. Even though big buy-in events are the marquee events, there is still a number of Championship events for players with a smaller-than-Phil-Ivey bankroll. Eleven of the 24 events on the schedule have a buy-in of AU$1,150. Along with a full slate of No Limit Hold’em events, the schedule also includes Pot Limit Omaha, HORSE and 8-Game Mixed events.
  12. [caption width="640"] Chino Rheem is now one of just four players to win three World Poker Tour titles. (WPT/Joe Giron photo)[/caption] When the final table of the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Finale began, there were a couple of storylines in play. Spain’s Adrian Mateos was hoping to become the youngest player to win poker’s Triple Crown and Chino Rheem, with two previous WPT titles under his belt, was looking to become just the fourth player with three. Mateos saw his run ended early, but Rheem, with a rail of friends, family and supporters that kept growing as the final table wore on, came through in the end, beating Aditya Prasetyo heads-up to win the title and the accompanying $705,885. He also earned an automatic seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions that starts Friday at Seminole Hard Rock Casino. “This one feels real good. It’s been a couple of years since I got to see anything substantial in any kind of tournament,” said Rheem, 36. “When you have a shot, and you’re close and you’ve been there before and you already know the process of what you’ve got to do. It just feels good to zig and zag and get there.” Bryan Piccioli, the shortest stack at the start of the final table, was also the first player eliminated. Piccioli moved all in from under the gun, Richard Leger called from his left and Prasetyo called from the small blind. The flop came [poker card="6d"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4h"] and Leger and Prasetyo checked. The [poker card="qh"] turn got Prasetyo to check again, only to have Leger bet 600,000. Prasetyo folded. Leger tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"], which left Piccioli drawing dead after he showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="2s"] hit the river and Piccioli was out in sixth. It took another hour of play before another player hit the rail. William Benson moved all in for 695,000 from UTG and Leger called from the small blind. Benson flipped over [poker card="ah"][poker card="9h"] and found himself racing against Leger’s [poker card="7h"][poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="8h"][poker card="7d"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Leger top set, but left Benson with the nut flush draw. The [poker card="ks"] turn and [poker card="as"] river were both blanks, though, and Benson was out in fifth place. Mateos’s run at becoming the youngest winner of poker’s Triple Crown (EPT, WSOP and WPT title winner) was cut short. Prasetyo raised to 150,000 from UTG and Mateos defended his big blind. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="jh"][poker card="3h"] flop got checks from both players. The [poker card="ks"] turn got Mateos to bet 150,000 and Prasetyo called. Mateos moved all in after the [poker card="2d"] river and Prasetyo quickly called. Mateos showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="3d"] for a flopped two pair, but Prasetyo turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="tc"] for a turned straight, eliminating Mateos in fourth place. The pace of play slowed with three players left as Rheem and Prasetyo each took turns with the lead while Leger continued to look for a spot to double up. Rheem opened to 215,000 from the button and Leger responded by moving all in for 1,785,000 - just under 18 big blinds. Rheem called and tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="ts"], much to the chagrin of Leger who held [poker card="ad"][poker card="3d"]. The [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"] flop gave Leger some chop outs, but the [poker card="ks"] turn and [poker card="6s"] river completed an unneeded flush for Rheem and sent Leger packing in third place. Rheem started heads-up play with an 8-5 lead over Prasetyo. The two played 39 hands with Rheem never surrendering the lead. After increasing his lead to nearly 13-1, Rheem moved all in and Prasetyo called. Rheem held [poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"] while Prasetyo was slightly ahead with [poker card="kc"][poker card="9h"]. The board ran out [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"][poker card="4s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="7h"] to give Rheem trip sevens and eliminate Prasetyo. With the win, Rheem joins Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Anthony Zinno as the only players to have won three WPT titles. “For the years that I’ve been playing, I have created an image that is priceless. The good thing is I can, for the most part, take advantage of that image,” said Rheem. Final Table Payouts Chino Rheem - $705,885 Aditya Prasetyo - $484,130 Richard Leger - $311,305 Adrian Mateos - $200,510 William Benson - $154,585 Bryan Piccioli - $127,905
  13. [caption width="640"] California Assemblyman Adam Gray's online poker bill is on its way to the Assembly[/caption] It's probably a little too early to get super excited just yet, but Wednesday afternoon saw a California legislative committee pass a bill that would regulate online poker in the Golden State with some suggesting the law could pass in 2016. The Assembly Governmental Organization Committee passed the bill unanimously on Wednesday. The bill - AB 2863 - came with two important caveats that could signal progress as the state deals with multiple stakeholders all looking for their piece of the regulated online poker pie. “We know unequivocally that Californians are playing these games online every single day on websites that provide zero consumer protections,” said Adam Gray, the California assemblyman responsible for the bill. “After countless revisions and meetings with stakeholders and consumer advocates, there remained two key issues raised by opponents: horse racing and suitability. Today we put forward language that settles the horse racing component, and negotiations over suitability continue.” The horse racing industry now appears to support AB 2863, largely thanks to a $60 million subsidy that the legislation provides. Suitability is referring to the “bad actor” language that has been present in previous bills in California that could limit the presence of companies that took customers from California prior to legislation being passed - most notably PokerStars. While there are still some California tribes that oppose any inclusion of PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians are fully on board. They are part of a coalition that includes The Commerce, The Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens and Amaya. “After eight years of analysis and discussion, today’s milestone vote marks the strongest step forward by California to create a regulated iPoker market that establishes vital consumer protections,” said Robert Martin, Morongo Tribal Chairman. During Wednesday’s hearing John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, showed committee members the number of offshore sites that currently accept players from California. For the bill to become law, it would need to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the next step - the California Assembly. Should that happen the bill would then head to the Senate for approval. “While we still have more work to do, I am confident that this legislation and this method can serve as a model for the rest of the nation,” finished Gray. “California needs a strong law that puts a stop to illegal online gambling, and that is what we have crafted.” Should the bill become law, California would be the fourth state to regulate online poker, joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
  14. [caption width="640"] Farid Yachou now has a Corvette and a few hundred thousand dollars after winning the WPT Tournament of Champions[/caption] Farid Yachou seems to know how to make his tournament appearances count. Last May the Dutch amateur outlasted 340 other players to win WPT Amsterdam and $225,073. Part of that prize pool was a seat to the $15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions. He didn’t want to fly to Florida to play and he almost didn’t get Visa paperwork handled in time. Yet Sunday night it all came together for him again as he beat Vlad Darie to win the WPT Tournament of Champions for $381,600 - just his second career score. "It’s something I cannot believe," Yachou said after the win, smiling. "I am seated with only champions. I said to myself, ‘I will be glad if I finish 30th.’ Then, day by day and hand by hand it came altogether, and everything came to me." Darren Elias started the final table fourth in chips, but thanks to the early work of Darie, he found himself as one of the shorter stacks early on. Elias jammed from the cutoff for 261,000 and Yachou reraised all in from the button to 694,000. Everybody else folded and Elias tabled [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"] while Yachou was well ahead with [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3h"] to eliminate Elias in sixth place and move Yachou into the lead. Just two hands later Noah Schwartz joined Elias on the rail. Michael Mizrachi raised to 40,000 from the cutoff and Schwartz moved the last of his 229,000 all in from the small blind. Mizrachi called and tabled [poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"] and Schwartz showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="5d"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="7s"][poker card="2s"] flop was relatively safe for Schwartz but the [poker card="3h"] turn gave Mizrachi flush outs. The river though was the [poker card="jc"] to give Mizrachi a pair of jacks and send Schwartz out in fifth. Darie opened from the button for 40,000 before Jonathan Jaffe took his time in making his decision. So much time in fact that he he had to use one of his remaining “time chips” to give himself and additional 30 seconds to act. Before his time expired he moved all in for 349,000 and Darie called instantly. Jaffe showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="tc"] while Darie tabled [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"]. Jaffe was unable to connect on the [poker card="jd"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="td"][poker card="8s"] board and his run ended in fourth. When three-handed play began Mizrachi held over 50% of the chips in play with Yachou and Darie each working with 25% each. That turned out to be as close as ‘The Grinder’ would get to the win though. Yachou was the first to take some of Mizrachi’s stack and then Darie took enough to push Mizrachi to third in chips. Darie and Yachou took turns swapping the lead until Mizrachi made his final stand. After Mizrachi opened to 50,000 from the button, Darie folded before Yachou moved all in from the big blind. Mizrachi called with [poker card="kc"][poker card="9d"] and found himself needing help against Yachou’s [poker card="4c"][poker card="4d"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="4h"] flop gave Mizrachi top pair but bottom set to Yachou. Mizrachi was unable to improve on the [poker card="6s"] turn or [poker card="8d"] flop. Yachou began heads up play with a small lead over Darie. The pair played heads up for just over 30 minutes before Yachou emerged with the title. Darie raised to 50,000 and Yachou called. After the [poker card="8h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2c"] flop Yachou check-raised Darie’s bet of 50,000 to 250,000. Darie called that bet and the 200,000 Yachou bet after the [poker card="tc"] turn. The river was the [poker card="8d"] and Yachou shoved all in for 1,585,000. Darie called and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="7d"] for two pair with his king playing kicker, but Yachou showed [poker card="as"][poker card="2d"] for a full house to eliminate Darie in second and win the second poker tournament of his career. Along with the $381,600 first place prize money including a $15,000 seat to the Season XV WPT Tournament of Champions, a 2016 Corvette provided by Monster Products, a Hublot watch, Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard, Monster 24K headphones, a custom poker table from BBO Poker Tables and a seat to Tiger’s Poker Night next week in Las Vegas. "The Corvette is something I have never seen a tournament give away, it’s amazing," Yachou said. "I took my Monster Headphones from WPT Amsterdam because I like to hear the sound it has. It’s not like the others." Payouts Farid Yachou - $381,600 Vlad Darie - $224,190 Michael Mizrachi - $140,450 Jonathan Jaffe - $95,400 Noah Schwartz - $74,200 Darren Elias - $58,300
  15. [caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour could be using the Protection Poker Action Clock regularly next season.(WPT photo)[/caption] Matt Savage thought Mike Sexton was crazy. Sexton, World Poker Tour commentator and Poker Hall of Famer, had been pushing Savage, Executive Tour Director of the WPT, to introduce a shot clock to WPT events to speed up the game and prevent players from tanking unnecessarily. On Friday, the WPT debuted the Protection Poker Action Clock for the first time in the $15,000 buy-in Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. The Action Clock allows players 30 seconds to act on their hand. If time expires, the hand is dead. Players are also given four time buttons that can be used to give themselves another 30 seconds. Each table has been outfitted with a tablet with the Action Clock app on it. Dealers push one of four buttons depending on what’s happening in the hand. Most players were pleased with the concept and Savage, once a skeptic, seems to have changed his mind. “Seeing this in motion, seeing how easy it is for the dealers to use, how much more of a different dynamic it creates for the game, I’m excited and I think this is something we can probably use at other events in the future,” said Savage. As the clock winds down during a hand, the app beeps when a player has ten seconds left to act and then a more distinct buzz when there are just three seconds remaining. “I love it. Absolutely love it. For me, it’s not much of a hindrance because I don’t take more than 30 seconds,” said Season XIII WPT Championship winner Asher Conniff. “I have 3 of my 4 time banks left through eight levels. Some of the other guys, they need the time, and I appreciate the edge on some of these guys, they’re great players.” Savage admits it is going to take some players some time to adjust to the concept, but as more and more players see the concept and play with it, they’ll learn to adapt. “I think that we saw early on in the day people were timing out when they didn’t want to be. But I think as people get more and more used to it, it becomes easier and becomes second nature, people just play faster,” said Savage. “Jordan Cristos and Marvin Rettenmaier and Yevgeniy Timoshenko, they’re all dealing with it, they’re all adjusting.” [caption width="640"] Each player is allotted four "time" chips at the start of each day. (WPT photo)[/caption] In 2014, the WPT polled players at the LA Poker Classic to gauge their feelings on the shot clock and 80% of those that responded were in favor of limiting players' time to act on each hand. Dan Smith thinks the clock brings some of the fun back to tournament poker just by getting rid of hands that take too long to play. “I think in terms of quality of play it’s not quite as high, but maybe it’s like 90% as high,” said Smith. "From an enjoyment standpoint, not having to sit there for six minutes while somebody makes a decision - that’s just brutal.” Smith also pointed out that it makes the game more exciting for those at the table with an added element of drama. “There’s something exciting about it, it goes to the river and it’s like 5, 4, 3, 2, - it’s exciting,” said Smith. Not all players were fans of the clock, though. A number of players continue to express concern over how it changes the game. "I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I actually didn’t think it was going to go as well as it does. But I think 30 seconds is just not enough time. There are so many situations that come up," said Marvin Rettenmaier. "I’ve definitely made some folds that I may have tended the other way if I had a minute or something." While the WPT TOC had a field of just 64 accomplished players, Rettenmaier worries about the way recreational players might react to the added pressure. "I think it’s way worse for them than it is for us because we should kind of have a feel for what we’re going to do,” said Rettenmaier. “I think it’s actually not amateur-friendly at all even though people are saying that’s why they want to do it, but it really isn’t." Given the relative success of the first use of the Action Clock, it’s likely to find its way to another couple of tour events next season. “We’ll definitely be using it for the (2017) Tournament of Champions,” said Savage. “I think that it’s going to take one of our casino partners to step up and say ‘Hey, we want to give this a try.’”
  16. [caption width="640"] Justin Young celebrates his first WPT title with his wife Morgan and close friends including Eric Baldwin, David Peters and Jonathan Little (Joe Giron/WPT Photo)[/caption] More than eight years ago, Justin Young found himself at the final table of the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio. After outlasting a final table that included Hoyt Corkins, Amonn Filippi and Steve Sung, Young was heads-up with Chino Rheem for the title and just over $1.5 million. It ended with Rheem in the winner's photo and Young settling for second place. Wednesday night in Hollywood, Florida, Young again found himself heads-up for a WPT title, but this time the outcome was different. Young beat out a final table that included Cate Hall, Tim Reilly, Matt Haugen and eventual runner-up Garrett Greer to win the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. “This makes it all worth it. I promise you it really does. Unbelievable feeling,” said Young. “It makes the last seven years just completely worth it.” The day began with 10 players remaining in the hunt. Once the six-handed WPT final table was reached, it took almost another 50 hands for the first player to be eliminated. Chae limped from UTG and Ben Tarzia moved all-in from middle position for 1.275 million. Chae called and tabled [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"] and found himself racing against Tarzia’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"][poker card="9h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="jc"][poker card="4c"] and Tarzia was out in sixth place. It was just five hands later that a Chae UTG open led to another elimination. Chae raised to 350,000 and Haugen called from the cutoff before Tim Reilly raised to 2,600,000. Chae called and Haugen folded. The flop came [poker card="kd"][poker card="qc"][poker card="3c"] and both players checked. After the [poker card="4d"], Reilly moved all-in and Chae called. Reilly was behind with [poker card="7c"][poker card="7d"] against Chae’s [poker card="jc"][poker card="js"]. The river was the [poker card="9s"] and Reilly was eliminated in fifth. After starting the WPT final table with the chip lead, Haugen was unable to muster much else throughout the evening. With blinds at 125,000/250,000 (25,000 ante), Young raised to 525,000 from UTG and the action folded to Haugen in the big blind who moved all-in for 4,975,000. Young called and tabled [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"] and Haugen showed [poker card="as"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="td"][poker card="7c"] flop gave Haugen some Broadway outs, but the [poker card="7s"] turn and [poker card="3d"] river were no help and he was sent to the rail in fourth place. Even though Chae picked up the first two eliminations, his run at a WPT title ended in a third place finish. Down to just over 600,000, Chae moved all-in from the button. Young raised behind him, forcing Greer to fold, and tabled [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"]. Chae turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] and watched as the board ran out [poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4h"] and sent him home in third place. Heads-up play began with Greer holding a 3-2 chip lead that stretched to as high as 3-1 before Young began climbing back to eventually overtake Greer. After just 24 hands of heads-up play, Young and Greer found themselves all-in pre-flop with Greer holding [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"] and Young behind with [poker card="kh"][poker card="qc"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"][poker card="4c"] flop paired both players but left Greer in the lead. The [poker card="jd"] turn was a blank, but the [poker card="qh"] river gave Young two pair and the title. Final Table Payouts Justin Young - $669,161 Garrett Greer - $458,722 Hyoung Chae - $297,336 Matthew Haugen - $220,207 Tim Reilly - $164,113 Ben Tarzia - $132,560
  17. [caption width="640"] Jason Somerville is giving PokerStarsNJ a chance to get up close and personal with him and his Team PokerStars Pro friends. (Neil Stoddart photo)[/caption] Jason Somerville is ready to rumble. The Team PokerStars Pro will be hosting a special Run It Up event at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City on May 14 and he’s bringing along a bunch of his Team Pro friends. Run It Up, Somerville’s Twitch stream, is the most popular poker channel on the streaming site and regularly draws 10,000+ viewers. Somerville has been streaming from New Jersey for the past 31 days. Vanessa Selbst, Barry Greenstein, Jen Shahade, Chris Moneymakerand Liv Boeree will all be on-hand for the Run It Up Resorts Rumble that includes a breakfast, meet-and-greet sessions, online tournaments and a party. "I'm incredibly excited to host our first one-day Run it Up festival on the East Coast with two great partners in PokerStars and Resorts," said Somerville. "It's been so much fun playing and streaming on PokerStars New Jersey this month and I can't wait to hang out with all of our awesome Run it Up fans in person. It'll totally be worth putting on pants." Somerville will be live streaming on his Twitch channel throughout the day. Players on site will be able to participate in an exclusive $30 buy-in event on PokerStarsNJ. Garden State players not in attendance can play a $10 buy-in event as part of the festivities. The final table of the $30 event will be played "battleship style" with the final nine players positioned at a poker table with their laptop or mobile device. In the afternoon, attendees will have a Q&A with Somerville before the festivities move to Landshark Bar & Grill for a party that includes an open bar, food and live music. PokerStarsNJ is hosting a special freeroll event on May 1 that awards 50 pairs of tickets to the Rumble, including five VIP packages which come with two nights’ accommodation at Resorts Hotel & Casino, a pair of entry tickets to the VIP party and $200 spending money. Tickets can also be earned by simply completing one of two challenges on the PokerStarsNJ client before midnight on April 30. The first is to play a single real money hand in a cash game at any stake level. The second is to enter any real money tournament. Players that don’t qualify via the freeroll or challenges can make a minimum $10 deposit using the bonus code ‘VIPCLUBNJ’ before midnight on April 30 to claim a free ticket. Tickets can also be purchased on site for just $10, with all proceeds going to Autism Speaks. For more information on the Run It Up Rumble, visit pokerstarsnj.com/vip/live/.
  18. It's a hot, humid April Sunday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia. Millions of people from around the world are tuned in to their televisions to watch the final round of the Masters. As the final pairing head to the 18th green, thousands of fans in attendance are in an all-out sprint to get to a spot where they can see the final, championship-winning putt. A three-foot tap-in putt should be the final stroke of the tournament. Up by two strokes, the leader just needs to tap the ball just right to earn the green jacket that comes with one of golf's majors. The ball is struck and rolls gently, eventually dropping out of sight and into the hole. Jim Nantz, the voice of the Masters known for his over-the-top witticisms as the tournament ends and a new champion stands tall, is prepared for the moment. "A New Staple of golf's elite. Jaime Staples, Masters Champion.” That's the world a 14-year-old Jaime Staples imagined for himself growing up in a family that loved the game of golf. * * * It's a rainy Friday night in November in a random major metropolitan city. Thousands of people are sitting in a concert hall waiting for the evening's entertainment to take the stage. As the lights go down and the velvet curtains begin to open they see a Steinway grand piano sitting alone in the center of the stage. The silence is broken as the audience applauds politely as the Canadian pianist they've paid to see walks from stage left toward the piano before a soft-spoken voice over the loudspeaker introduces the man. "Ladies and gentlemen, Jaime Staples”. Staples takes his seat and smiles at the crowd as he begins to play the opening notes to Beethoven's "Für Elise”. The crowd falls silent again. That's the world Susie Staples imagined for her teenage son who was growing up as the offspring of two people who had dedicated their professional lives to teaching music to the world. * * * Today, Jaime Staples is not in contention for the Masters – or any other pro golf event for that matter – and while he can still play a bit of piano, he's not filling concert halls with fans of his ivory tickling. But he's does have fans around the world - tens of thousands of them in fact. The 24-year-old has had what can only be described as a meteoric rise from relative obscurity in the online poker world to one of its most beloved stars. Today, Staples is one of the most popular and successful poker players on Twitch, the live streaming service that puts poker players onto the monitors, tablets and phones of poker enthusiasts around the world as they play. "I think it's just the most connected community I've ever been a part of. It really feels like you all share this common interest, which is poker or gaming or streaming or whatever it is, and you get to hang around and interact with like-minded people,” said Staples. "You get to do that from the comfort of your home. It's a great feeling to have that many people gathered in one place, and with live chat it's like something completely different than we've seen before.” The Twitch community has readily accepted Staples and helped him become a star. He recently crossed the 3 million views milestone. * * * Susie Staples is proud of her son and what he's managed to accomplish so far but when he was a little kid running around the house, he was doing so only after having put in the practice hours on the piano. "He was a really nice pianist. Both his Dad and I are musicians. I teach music at a high school and my husband is a retired university professor that taught music,” said Susie. "So he was certainly raised in a musical environment and he played in the school band and he took piano lessons and he did some writing as well.” While music was important to the Staples family, they also played golf. Not just Jaime and his parents and siblings though. The passion for the links came from the top. Grandma loved the game. Mention that the Staples grew up in a Southern Alberta city and most will picture a snow-covered tundra and not an ideal place to play a game best suited for warmer climates. The truth is though that Lethbridge, Alberta has some of the best golf courses in Western Canada. The entire family played the game, but it was his cousin Mike Mezei who introduced Staples to the game and the possibilities it presented. Staples was young and Mezei was making a real run at becoming a professional golfer. The impressionable Staples was fascinated and after getting out for just a couple of rounds with cousin Mike, Staples decided knew where he wanted his life to go. "My cousin was a professional golfer for around 10 years, with moderate success. He took me out to the course when I was a kid, really loved it, and decided yeah, that's about it,” said Staples. "I'd say maybe nine, ten years old is when I sort of said, ‘Okay, let's do this'." His interest wasn't just some pre-teen phase though; Staples got into golf in a big way. While his parents made sure school was still the priority, he was golfing nearly every day, working with private coaches and doing everything he could to get better at the game. "I think (Mike) was a really large influence on him. Also, most of the people in our family golf, and his grandmother was an avid lover of golf. So he was raised in an atmosphere where that was something we did. He really liked it actually. That was what he did before poker,” said Susie. Even as hard as we was pursuing the pro golf career, there eventually came a time where Staples recognized that it probably wasn't going to be where he ended up. He was working a part-time job and taking some university courses when he found poker and made a life-changing decision to drop golf and turn all of his dedication to poker. "Golf was pretty stagnant, and it was becoming a reality that I wasn't going to make it. I was sort of losing some of that naivety and was like ‘Okay, this isn't going to happen',” said Staples. "I watched some poker TV shows and thought it was really cool. I thought being a poker pro would be amazing. Compete with your mind and live this glamorous lifestyle as a card player.” The highly edited TV poker shows he was watching made the game look easy and flying around the world to play for millions of dollars looked exciting. Like nearly every other player his age, Staples jumped online in search of poker. First he found play money sites and then started entering freerolls and eventually started playing for real money. "Well, when I first saw the game, I was like, ‘Wow, I can do this', just because I was really arrogant,” said Staples. "I guess the first thing that made it a little bit real was I got fifth place in the $3 rebuy on PokerStars.” That finish was worth $2,700 and at the time that was more money that Staples was making in a month at his part-time job. Which, unsurprisingly, was at one of the local golf courses where Staples had made enough connections to get a job. But Staples wasn't fitting guys for new spikes in the pro shop or driving the cart picking up the balls duffers had launched on the driving range. "At the time, I was working as a cart girl at a golf course. Typically a female job, for whatever reason, in the golf industry, and I somehow got the job,” said Staples. "(The golfers) weren't expecting me, but I'd play into it. I'd drop a button (on my shirt) and then play it up and do my best.” Despite his ability to make the duffers laugh, the wages and tips didn't add up to a lot of money and even though he was living at home with his parents and siblings, he still had bills to pay. "I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was in debt a little bit to my brother for golf training that he paid for,” said Staples. "So yeah, I quit my job when I won that $2,700.” The golf cart gig wasn't the only thing Staples stopped doing. Whatever energy he had been directing towards his pursuit of a pro golf career, he turned towards online poker, but it meant he'd have to drop out of school, something not exactly music to his parents' ears. "I remember a few years ago when he said ‘mom, this university thing is not me' and, of course, my reaction is what you'd expect any high school teacher to have,” remembered Susie. "Our whole life has been based on education and setting our kids up for their future, so I said ‘I never want you to come back and tell me that you shouldn't have let me do that or whatever'.” Momma Staples wasn't going to stand in the way of one of her adult kids making a decision to pursue something they were so passionate about. She knew she'd have come across as a bit of a hypocrite had she put up any real resistance. "The thing is we've always told our kids to be passionate, so I have to follow through with what I've said. I say it in my classroom every day ‘you find that thing you love',” said Susie. "I still remember Jaime saying ‘I want to work, I want to do this, mom. School might be there later in my life but right now this is what I want to do'.” Parents have a way of giving approval while also being cautious and concerned as they watch their offspring venture out into the real world and take risks. Staples knew his parents were okay with the transition, but also understood there was still some concern as he ventured off into a world completely foreign to them. "They didn't know anything about poker, so there was no difference between poker and blackjack originally to them. They were quite concerned in the beginning,” said Staples. "I think as I started to not have a job and eventually not need a job, to be able to buy whatever I want and pay whatever measly bills I ended up having, living at home, they were like, ‘Okay, we'll live with this,' and as I continued to make a little bit more every year, they were okay with it.” Staples was resolute in the path he was taking and now had a bankroll big enough to make some things happen. "I knew what I wanted to do, and that I wanted to chase the dream and it didn't really matter if I failed,” said Staples. "I just had to do it, school was just a placeholder, and I finally took the plunge." Around the same time that Staples was "going pro” another newcomer appeared on the poker scene, one that again altered the path that Staples was on. "Twitch just appeared, and it was just like a perfect fit," said Staples. Staples saw Jason Somerville stream a couple of times and read through a few posts on TwoPlusTwo about other players who were streaming on Twitch. "I knew I wanted to participate in the industry around poker and give back to the game if I was going to dedicate my life to it for at least the time being. I was like, ‘all right, I'm going to give this a go',” said Staples. "I didn't really expect anything, maybe I'll make an extra $10,000 a year or something, and it'll be a lot of fun, and I'll play better, and it grew to be a lot more than that.” Even an extra $10,000 a year seems like a lot considering that Staples didn't really have any idea how to make Twitch work. Rather than sit down and plan out how to build a following and ramp up his audience, Staples basically just turned the camera on and went to work playing, while letting the few that tuned in early get a glimpse of his personality. "Going back to the dreamer part of my personality, I had stars in my eyes very quickly, but from day one, day two, day three, I had no plans,” said Staples. "I really didn't think of it as a business or as something that needed to be managed when I got into it. I saw it as just people sitting down and playing their games and talking. I didn't really realize that there was more to it than that as the channel grows.” Staples, really an unknown commodity in the online poker world with limited big scores to his name at this point, started modestly. But things escalated quickly and he broke through the 100-viewer benchmark within the first week. "I sort of realized it was going to extrapolate into something bigger. I was taking it seriously then, but it wasn't the production that we have going now,” said Staples. "It's been a slow progression, but like I said, I like to project those things early and dream about them. This one was, I guess, attainable.” To the outsider, a Twitch stream looks easy enough. Fire up some tables, turn on the webcam and off you go. That's how Staples started, but as his audience and his chances to make money off of it grew, he knew he needed help. Staples now employs a handful of people to manage his stream and all of the ancillary products that go with it. "I have four people working for me full time doing various stuff, and that takes a lot of managing, but they're doing jobs that I, at one point, was doing all myself, and that time I now have back to produce more content,” said Staples. "There's a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes to try and grow the stream, to connect with the community and continue to grow the community.” That level of dedication to the product is a big reason why Staples was able to grow his audience so quickly. With so many eyeballs tuning in to watch him play, it was only a matter of time before sponsors came calling. In early 2015 that's exactly what happened – and it wasn't some small time company offering free gear or energy drinks – it was the biggest online poker company in the world. "It was the day after I won the Big $109 in March, which was my biggest score ever for $19,700,” said Staples. "(PokerStars) called me. I was in bed getting ready to stream and actually knew who it was on the phone. It was a guy that goes on the TwoPlusTwo Pokercast a lot, Steve Day.” Day was the manager of Team PokerStars Online at the time and it was part of his responsibility to recruit new members. Staples had a pretty good idea as to why Day was calling. Even though it came quickly, the call was the culmination of a lot of hard work and started the ball rolling on Staples completing what he thought would be a lifelong goal. "At the end of 2014, I was like, ‘Okay. This is going to happen one day. I'm going to be sponsored by PokerStars.' That's the dream. That's what I had wanted forever. That was the end goal for me when I got into poker,” said Staples. "I thought it would be a year later, not three months. I was totally unprepared and nervous. I hadn't really had very much sponsorship opportunity before that. I wasn't ready.” Staples had very little live experience so a spot on Team PokerStars Pro wasn't likely and Day wasn't ready to offer full Team Online status to Staples right away. He was made a ‘Friend of PokerStars' and told that if he could make Supernova Elite status – a requirement for Team Online members - he'd most likely be asked to join Team Online full time. "It was clear they wanted to work with me and they recognized me as a poker professional, but I sort of needed to prove myself to one of those teams to make that happen,” said Staples. "I set out with goal to make supernova status and made it on the last day that I set for myself, and then they accepted me to Team Online.” Even though he didn't have much live experience, his exposure on Twitch and as a member of Team PokerStars Online, opened up some opportunities for him that weren't there before. Last summer, Poker Night in America came calling and invited him to be part of a cast that included some of the biggest names in poker including Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Randy ‘nanonoko' Lew. The opportunity was something he cherished. "I wasn't nervous to play poker at all. I was a little bit nervous to meet some of those guys in that they're the ones, a couple years ago, that I really looked up to,” said Staples. "I remember going to the 2013 World Series of Poker, I believe, and seeing ‘nanonoko' in the halls and being afraid to shake his hand, like being afraid to approach him, and now I was playing in a game with him.” Opportunities to play live are a perk of the job, but Staples understands a bulk of his energy needs to go to his core product, the live stream and the supporting content. While many young players simply bury themselves in poker; playing, hand review, session study and Skype chat, Staples devotes a lot of his free time to making sure he's improving his product. "I only think about poker when I'm actively studying or playing. Other than that, it's 100% the stream, because it's new - it's like 2003 of Twitch poker right now,” said Staples. "It isn't a very efficient game yet, and it's just the Wild West. It's a rush to grow, to be better. So that's where almost all of my thinking goes throughout the day.” Being good at poker, winning tournaments and having deep runs is an integral part of the formula for success, but it's certainly not the most important piece. While Staples' early foray into golf prepared him for the competitive side of poker, his music lessons and performances taught him about the value of connecting with his audience, something Staples knows will be the foundation his career is built on. "It has to come down to caring about the people that are investing their time in you. Interacting with them on a real basis, trying to connect with them on social media and keep up with what's going on in their lives and answering their questions in chat and answering their emails and doing everything you can to be a good person, be a valuable person to them,” said Staples. Growing as a poker player and as a streamer are the two focuses of Staples' life right now, but he knows that if he continues to have success in those two areas, other doors will open for him. He's just not sure what those opportunities might be. "Streamer does not define it anymore. I would like to do a lot. I'd like to keep climbing the mountain, basically, keep improving in my life, and that's really sort of all I know right now,” said Staples. "Right now I'm focused on poker, hardcore streaming, YouTube, community. Where will that be in three years? I don't know, but somewhere where hopefully I'm continuing to improve and work towards my goals.” While his audience continues to grow by leaps and bounds as more and more poker players discover Twitch and more of the core Twitch audience finds poker, Staples has one viewer who's always going to be tuning in, no matter what. "I probably go in every day and listen to him talk just a little bit because he's in Calgary and we're (in Lethbridge) so we don't see Jaime that often,” said Susie. "So I have watched him, but I have to be truthful - I don't know how to play poker.” She doesn't play the game, but checks out the stream as a show of support and to watch her son put his passion for the game for the world to see. When something happens on the stream that she doesn't quite understand she relies on friends and colleagues to explain it to her. "Somebody who understands poker will tell me, ‘no, he didn't have a choice there, that wasn't bad play, those are the cards, he didn't do anything wrong',” said Susie. "Oh okay. As long as he didn't do anything stupid, that's all I want to know.” Even if he had made a bad play, she knows that Staples is making his own decisions now. The golf thing turned out to be a bit of a phase and the musician's life just wasn't meant to be for Staples, but Susie has known since her son was born that his destiny was really up to him. "The day he was born I remember his dad saying, he owns himself we just get to raise him,” said Susie. "And I still remember that day, the day he was born, and it really is true.”
  19. [caption width="640"] Mike Shariati has gone from low-stakes grinder to WPT Player of the Year. (Joe Giron/WPT photo)[/caption] This time last year, Mike Shariati was just another poker player dreaming of a big break while grinding away in the low-stakes dailies at the Commerce or the Bike or Hawaiian Gardens in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, as the World Poker Tour season was winding down, 42-year-old Shariati locked up WPT Player of the Year honors after the last player with a shot at catching him, Cate Hall, busted the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in ninth place. Along with having his name run alongside previous winners like JC Tran, Betrand Grospellier and Daniel Negreanu, Shariati also gets a prize package that includes a one-of-a-kind Hublot watch, hotel accommodation and ground transportation for all WPT main tour stops and a trophy. Shariati’s amazing run from low-stakes grinder to POY started with a win in the $130 buy-in Mega Millions at the Bicycle Casino worth a whopping $275,000. "Last year, the Mega Millions at the Bike, it was over 4,500 players. It took a whole ten days and I made the final table,” said Shariati. “I was down 6-1 heads-up, I came back and won it and that gave me good confidence." It wasn't a WPT event, but it gave Shariati with a bankroll and the belief that he could play. From there, he won a WSOP Main Event satellite and headed to Las Vegas. He didn’t cash, but in true grinder fashion, he found himself in a Daily Deepstack at the Rio that he found a small score in. That would be the last of his small scores for a while. In August, Shariati played a satellite at the Bike for the WPT Legends of Poker and won his way into the $3,700 buy-in event. His run good continued as he outlasted 785 other players and beat Freddy Deeb heads-up to win the event and $675,942 first place prize money. Rather than jump onto a plane and start playing more big buy-in events around the country, Shariati went right back to playing the dailies. His next cash came in a $130 buy-in event and earned him $250. He cashed six more times over the next four months leading up to the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, but Shariati wasn’t ready to put up that $10,000 buy-in himself. “The same day (LAPC) started, they had this satellite, the last satellite. The (LAPC Main Event) started at 12 o’clock and the satellite started at 5 o’clock. So I played the last satellite,” said Shariati. “So at 12:30 that night I got qualified. I entered the LAPC on Day 2 with 30,000 - lower than average - and I got down to two chips - a 1,000 and a 5,000 - at the end of the second day and came back and finished second.” That runner-up finish earned him $656,540 and put him into the lead for WPT POY. There were still a few events left on the schedule and although his lead was anything but safe, Shariati held off all comers thanks to a 21st place finish in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown to wrap up the POY award on the second-to-last day of the WPT season. “A few people were on my heels for the Player of the Year, so I was fortunate enough to finish up as Player of the Year,” said Shariati, who didn’t call himself a professional poker player until recently. “I’m a biochemist. I also invented a medical device that I’m putting a lot of time into, to patent it. So probably 6-7 months into it. So hopefully that works out, that would be great,” said Shariati. “I’m getting my partner more involved so I can travel more (to play).” Shariati wants to take his shot as a poker pro now and still find time to run his business. He knows that finding a repeat of this season is a near impossibility, but he just wants to enjoy the ride. “I don’t think I can ever have the same year, but I’m grateful,” said Shariati.
  20. [caption width="640"] Dominik Nitsche dominated Week 2 action of the Global Poker League. (PokerStars photo)[/caption] Don’t call it a comeback just yet, but Week 2 of the Global Poker League’s inaugural season saw the Berlin Bears recover from a disastrous Week 1 with 15 points, good enough to move them out of the Eurasian Conference basement. The Bears were lead by their first round pick, Dominik Nitsche, who put together a much better performance in the two Six Max matches than teammate Dan Cates did in Week 1 when he finished sixth in both matches. In the Americas Conference, the Montreal Nationals passed the New York Rounders on the combination of Xuan Liu's Six Max performance and the zero points earned by the Rounders in those same matches. Those waiting for former Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul to make his GPL debut will have to keep waiting. Paul's team, the L.A. Sunset, kept Paul on the sidelines for Week 2. Day 1 Nitsche got things started in the first Six Max match of the week. The Bears star beat Mike Leah of the Paris Aviators heads-up for the win and the seven points that came with it. The match also included the debut of #1 overall pick of the Rome Emperors, Mustapha Kanit, who finished third. Bryan Huang, Vladimir Troyanovskiy and Justin Bonomo rounded out the field in the opening match. Only the Hong Kong Stars made a change in the second match, having Dong Guo play. Nitsche managed a runner-up finish to Troyanovskiy to earn five points. Leah finished third to give the Montreal Nationals eight points on the day. While the Bears were the story in the Eurasian Conference Six Max matches, the Americas Conference was all about the ladies. San Francisco Rush wildcard Kitty Kuo took down the opening Six Max match, beating Sao Paulo Metropolitans’ Joao Simao heads-up. The second match went to Xuan Liu of the Nationals. She outlasted eventual runner-up Chance Kornuth to score seven points. Kuo finished fourth. Meanwhile, Kevin MacPhee earned zero points for the New York Rounders with two sixth place finishes. Day 2 With the Six Max matches out of the way, the schedule turned to Heads Up. Day 2 was all about the Eurasian Conference and each of the three matches finished 2-1. London Royals’ Sam Trickett beat Randy Lew of the Stars, Paris Aviators’ Alex Luneau beat Dario Sammartino of the Rome Emperors and in a match-up of the only two players to play every Week 2 match for their respective team, the Moscow Wolverines’ Troyanovskiy beat the Bears’ Nitsche. Day 3 The Heads Up matches give poker fans a chance to see some of the best players in the world go head-to-head with their peers. The most highly anticipated Week 2 match had New York Rounders’ Jason Mercier playing against Phil Galfond of the San Francisco Rush. Mercier swept all three matches to earn the maximum nine points for the Rounders. In the other two matches, Pascal Lefrancois of the Aviators beat Thiago Nishijima of the Metropolitans 3-0 and L.A. Sunset heads-up specialist Olivier Busquet beat Las Vegas Moneymakers’ Jonathan Duhamel 2-1. Week 2 MVP Dominik Nitsche may have single-handedly rescued the Berlin Bears’ season. The team had just three points coming into Week 2, but Nitsche finished first and second in the two Six Max matches and won one of three Heads Up matches to earn a total of 15 points for the Bears. Standings Week 3 Schedule Tuesday, April 19 12:00 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 1:40 pm ET Six Max: Eurasia Conference 3:30 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference 5:10 pm ET Six Max: Americas Conference Wednesday, April 20 12:00 pm ET Heads Up: Berlin Bears vs. Hong Kong Stars 2:30 pm ET Heads Up: London Royals vs. Paris Aviators 5:00 pm ET Heads Up: Rome Emperors vs. Moscow Wolverines Thursday, April 21 1:00 pm ET Heads Up: Sao Paulo Metropolitans vs. Las Vegas Moneymakers 3:30 pm ET Heads Up: L.A. Sunset vs. San Francisco Rush vs. New York Rounders 6:00 pm ET Heads Up: New York Rounders vs. Montreal Nationals All matches are streamed live on Twitch.tv/GPL.
  21. Five years ago the online poker world changed forever. In the early afternoon of April 15, 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments against executives from the three largest online poker operators in the world, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker/UB, and some of the payment processors that served them. Within minutes of the indictments being unsealed the poker world learned the news as DOJ seizure notices appeared on all three websites. Word spread quickly throughout the poker community on Twitter. Today, on the fifth anniversary of Black Friday, PocketFives looks back at some of the tweets from that day. Just one week before April 15, Howard Lederer, one of the top Full Tilt Poker executives, was getting ready to head overseas to spend time with U.S. troops. He was on that trip when news broke about the indictments. Sebok was ultimately proven to be wrong about UB - on many fronts - and quietly left the poker world later in 2011 and now works in Silicon Valley. Black Friday changed online poker in the United States forever. The optimism that once ruled the day for federal regulation of the game in the United States is all but gone and players are left hoping that their state regulates the game. So far, only three states have done so; Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. While other states appear to be considering the idea, many hurdles remain. After leaving the U.S. market on April 15, 2011, PokerStars returned to the U.S. - in just New Jersey - on March 21, 2016.
  22. [caption width="640"] John Hennigan was one of three WSOP bracelet winners on Wednesday. (WSOP photo)[/caption] Three players found their way into the winner's circle on Wednesday at the 2016 World Series of Poker. John Hennigan won his fourth career WSOP bracelet, taking down the $10,000 Triple Draw Championship. Hennigan admitted after his win that he only played the event to get himself away from the cash games where he'd been losing recently. Jason Mercier didn't win a bracelet on Wednesday, but he did advance to Day 2 of the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship. He was one of a handful of former bracelet winners to advance. Event #44: Steven Wolansky Wins Second Bracelet in $1K No Limit Hold'em [caption width="640"] Steven Wolansky now has two WSOP bracelets after his victory on Wednesday (WSOP photo)[/caption] Two years ago Steven Wolansky won his first WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 No Limit Deuce to Seven event. On Wednesday he grabbed his second one, beating Wenlong Jin heads-up to win the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event and nearly $300,000. “This win is just as meaningful, if not more,” Wolansky said. “The first one I won was more about me wanting to avenge my second place finish the previous year. I lost heads-up and that motivated me to prove to myself I could do it. But this time, it was a lot more money and plus the odds I had to overcome.” Wolansky and Jin were the only two players to return on Wednesday afternoon after the tournament was stopped Tuesday night after playing the maximum number of levels. When heads-up play began, Jin had Wolansky down 3-1 in chips. Final Table Payouts Steven Wolansky - $298,849 Wenlong Jin - $184,631 Bradley Myers - $133,955 Young Sik Eum - $98,150 Justin Zaki - $72,634 Dejan Boskovic - $54,294 Walter Rodriguez - $40,999 Zaher Sayegh - $31,278 Danny Illingworth - $24,111 Event #46: Kristen Bicknell Looking for Second Bracelet in $1500 Bounty Event So far this summer no female player has managed to win a bracelet. There have been close calls, Kerryjane Craigie finished runner-up in the Casino Employees event, and kindergarten teacher Lisa Meredith finished third in the Millionaire Maker. Former Ladies Event champ Kristen Bicknell is hoping to do one better than both of those finishes. Bicknell bagged up the chip lead with just three players remaining in the $1,500 Bounty event. Action was haulted on Wednesday night after playing down from 36 players over 10 levels of play. Bicknell finished Day 3 with 7,080,000, ahead of Norbert Szecsi's 5,600,000 and John Myung's 3,550,000. Among the 33 players who were eliminated on Wednesday were Calvin Anderson (31st - $7,550), Matt Stout (17th - $11,557), Jared Hamby (13th - $14,52) and Steve Gee (7th - $$40,203). Action resumes Thursday at Noon PT. Final Three Chip Counts Kristen Bicknell - 7,080,000 Norbert Szecsi - 5,600,000 John Myung - 3,550,000 Event #47: John Hennigan Wins $10,000 Triple Draw Championship John Hennigan won the fourth WSOP bracelet of his career, overcoming a final table full of bracelet winners and one of the players considered to be amongst the best without one. Hennigan outlasted the eight combined bracelets of Abe Mosseri, Viacheslav Zhukov, JC Tran, Michael Gathy and Chris Klodnicki. By his own estimation, Hennigan feels he didn't play all that well. "What was really striking to me is, I didn’t play that well. I got very lucky in this tournament. I didn’t really have it. But I got lucky at the right times," said Hennigan. "I bluffed and then caught, and I made so many hands. I normally think I played pretty well. But not this time. I played like shit." Hennigan admitted that he's been playing in the normally lucrative high stakes cash games that happen in Las Vegas during the WSOP, but was candid about how they've been going for him. "I’ve just been playing in the cash games this summer. But I’ve been losing. I was out of gas in the cash games, so I came over here to kill time," said Hennigan. "Those games are so big that it’s hard to concentrate on tournaments. So, I registered late at midnight - which is foolish. I gave up so many so many levels, but that’s what I did – and I’m glad I did." Klodnicki came into the final way with the chip lead and a shot at removing his name from the best-players-without-a-bracelet list that he's been a mainstay on for some time now. It didn't quite pan out for Klodnicki and he had to settle for a fourth place finish. Final Table Payouts Ankush Mandavia - $548,139 Daniel Strelitz - $338,774 Christian Nilles - $232,934 Thiago Macedo - $162,924 Pedro Oliveira $115,957 Sean Getzwiller $84,004 Sergey Lebedev - $61,964 Phil Hellmuth - $46,553 Kyle Julius - $35,636 Event #49: Eugene Katchalov Leads $1,500 Seven Card Stud Final Table Six of the final eight players in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud have already won a WSOP bracelet while the other two players have combined for one previous WSOP cash between them. Eugene Katchalov finished Day 2 with 521,000 and the chip lead over the likes of bracelet winners Shaun Deeb and Adam Friedman. Yaniv Birman has just one previous WSOP result, a 78th place finish in a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event in 2011, and Katherine Fleck has never cashed in a WSOP event before. Max Pescatori, John Monnette and Cory Zeidman round out the rest of the final table. Action resumes at 2 PM PT Thursday and will play down to a winner. Final Table Chip Counts Eugene Katchalov - 521,000 Shaun Deeb - 485,000 Adam Friedman - 396,000 Yaniv Birman - 386,000 Max Pescatori - 315,000 Katherine Fleck - 256,000 John Monnette - 85,000 Cory Zeidman - 44,000 Event #50: Selbst, Hastings, Farrell Advance to Day 2of $1,500 Shootout Day 1 of the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em shootout event saw 1,050 players enter hoping to win three straight sit n gos to win a WSOP bracelet. Among the group of players to win their first round match were Niall Farrell, Vanessa Selbst, Brian Hastings, Jeff Kimber, Sofia Lovgren, Tobias Reinkemeier and Konstantin Puchkov. The 120 players who advanced to Day 2 will play ten-handed tables on Thursday beginning at Noon Pt. Event #51: Steven McCuller Bags Huge Day 1 Chip Lead in $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship Germany's Steven McCuller finished Day 1 of the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship with nearly 500,000 chips - more than 50% more than any other player. McCuller finished with 498,600 while the second biggest stack, 330,200, belongs to Hokyiu Lee. Rep Porter and Michael Mizrachi also finished with top 10 stacks on Thursday. The event drew exactly 400 players including most of the biggest names in poker. Right now there is no bigger name than Jason Mercier. Seeking his third bracelet of the summer - and a massive prop bet for doing so - Mercier finished Day 1 with 218,800, a top 20 stack. Phil Hellmuth, fresh off of busting the $5,000 Turbo final table, Scott Clements, Joe Hachem and Antonio Esfandiari are among the players who entered but didn't make it to Day 2. Top 10 Chip Counts Steven Mcculler - 498,600 Hokyiu Lee - 330,200 Rep Porter - 293,700 Arie Miller - 292,000 Bobby Oboodi - 282,600 Michael Mizrachi - 276,900 Ivan Naumov - 271,000 Taylor McFarland - 264,700 Christopher Kruk - 263,800 Peter Park - 259,100
  23. [caption width="640"] George Danzer won the ,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event on Monday (WSOP photo)[/caption] George Danzer beat a stacked final table on Monday night at the 2016 World Series of Poker to win the fourth WSOP bracelet of his career and first since 2014. Danzer now has more bracelets than any other German players after breaking the tie with Dominik Nitsche. “Everybody always tries to race for bracelets. But (Germans) do not have a rivalry among our players. We all try to help each other out and are cheering for each other, but we also try to be the best we can," said Danzer. ".I hope Dominik wins his fourth soon, so I can then go out and win my fifth.” While Danzer was busy cementing his own legacy, the Monster Stack field featured a number of players who have already done great things in poker including David Pham and TJ Cloutier. Event #41: David Pham Leads Monster Stack, TJ Cloutier in Top 10 After three complete days of play, the Monster Stack has a dragon on top. David 'the Dragon' Pham leads the final 26 players with 8,895,000 - almost 600,000 more than his closest competitor. Pham, who last won a WSOP bracelet in 2006, isn't the only old-school player still chasing down the $1,120,196 first place prize money. Six-time WSOP bracelet winner TJ Cloutier bagged up 4,600,000 for the eighth biggest stack. Right behind Pham is Cody Pack with 8,330,000. Irish poker legend Donnacha O'Dea is also still in the mix. O'Dea finished Day 3 with 2,900,000. The final 26 players return at 11 AM PT and will play another 10 levels - or down to a winner. Top 10 Chip Counts David Pham - 8,895,000 Cody Pack - 8,330,000 Gina Stagnitto - 6,955,000 Dorian Rios - 6,600,000 Marshall White - 6,505,000 Mitchell Towner - 6,155,000 Rafael Da Silva Moraes - 5,770,000 TJ Cloutier - 4,600,000 Michael Lang - 4,555,000 Andrew Moreno - 3,860,000 Event #43: George Danzer Wins $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Two years ago German poker pro George Danzer had no WSOP bracelets to his credit and just a few close calls at final tables. On Monday night he won his fourth bracelet, beating out a final table that included David Grey, Scott Clements, Todd Brunson and Justin Bonomo to win the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event. “It’s not like you win three (bracelets) every year. That’s tough to do,” Danzer said. “Last year was a brick year for me, so this is becoming a much better year, so far.” Danzer won three bracelets, and WSOP Player of the Year, but cashed just four times last year, making only one final table. Three weeks ago Danzer finished third in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud championship. Randy Ohel finished second for his fifth cash of the 2016 WSOP. Brunson, who began Day 3 with the chip lead, was unable to continue his momentum from Day 2 and ended up finsihed fifth. Mike Leah, who sold pieces for this event on YouStake, finished 11th for $23,665. Final Table Payouts George Danzer - $338,646 Randy Ohel - $209,302 Justin Bonomo - $148,601 Esther Taylor-Brady - $107,551 Todd Brunson - $79,381 Eli Elezra - $59,773 Scott Clements - $45,935 David Grey - $36,044 Event #44: Just 19 Remain in $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em; Young Sik Eum Leads Young Sik Eum is one of just two players to finish Day 2 of the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event with over 1,000,000 chips in their bag. Eum finished with 1,400,000 and the overnight chip lead. Right behind him is Michael Shanahan with 1,079,000. Just 19 players remain in the hunt for the bracelet and $298,849 first place prize money. No matter who wins this tourney they will be a first-time bracelet winner as none of the remaining 19 have ever tasted a WSOP victory before. The most accomplished tournament player remaining is Justin Zaki. With over $1.6 million in lifetime earnings, including $218,771 from a fourth place finish at the 2013 WSOP, Zaki's accomplishments dwarf the rest of the final 19 combined. Action resumes at Noon PT and will play down to a winner. Top 10 Chip Counts Young Sik Eum - 1,400,000 Michael Shanahan - 1,079,000 Dejan Boskovic - 898,000 Julien Martini - 710,000 Steven Wolansky - 708,000 Brad Myers - 670,000 Niel Mittelman - 670,000 Danny Illingworth - 668,000 Todd Hayes - 620,000 Sven Reichardt - 600,000 Event #45: Loren Klein Leads $1,500 NLHE/PLO into Day 3 Finishing Day 1 with a chip lead rarely means much at the WSOP, but Loren Klein took his Day 1 chip lead and carried it over to Day 2 in the $1,500 Mixed No Limit Hold'em/Pot Limit Omaha event. Klein finished Day 2 with 1,079,00 and that puts him on top with just 15 players remaining. Right behind Klein is Steven Gagliano with 957,000. Former WPT500 winner Craig Varnell finished with the fourth biggest stack with 689,000. Varnell already has one final table appearance at the 2016 WSOP, finishing seventh in the $2,00 No Limit Hold'em event two weeks ago. Among the players who busted on Monday but still managed to find a cash out of it were Ashton Griffin (16th - $8,367), Jason DeWitt (17th - $8,367), John Racener (19th - $6,820), Niall Farrell (21st - $6,820) and Taylor Paur (56th - $3,550). Top 10 Chip Counts Loren Klein - 1,079,000 Steven Gagliano - 957,000 Dmitry Savelyev - 760,000 Craig Varnell - 689,000 Matthew Humphrey - 504,000 Rick Alvarado - 394,000 Sergio Fretes - 363,000 Chris Back - 355,000 Kyle Bowker - 324,000 Eric Penner - 320,000 Event #46: Jonathan Dimmig Leads $1,500 Event The $1,500 Bounty No Limit Hold'em event brought out 2,158 players on Monday with just 308 advancing to Day 2. Jonathan Dimmig finished Day 1 with the biggest stack after putting 270,800 in his bag at the end of the opening 10 levels. Joao Vieira sitsthird with 187,000 and Kitty Kuo finished fifth with 168,200. Other notables still in the field include Martin Jacobson (110,100), Matt Stout (98,500), Chris Moorman (86,600) and Ryan Riess (58,600). The $1,500 event is the only Bounty event on the WSOP schedule this year but some players are already campaigning for bigger events for 2017. Top 10 Chip Counts Abe Mosseri - 334,000 Paul Volpe - 333,500 Dan Shak - 311,500 Erik Sagstrom - 302,000 JC Tran - 286,500 Brandon Delnano - 270,000 Danny Wong - 232,000 Scott Abrams - 228,500 Brant Hale - 220,000 Viacheslav Zhukov - 219,500
  24. [caption width="640"] Jason Mercier has turned the ,000 Championship events at the WSOP into his own personal playground.[/caption] By finishing first, second and first in three consecutive $10,000 buy-in Championship events at the 2016 World Series of Poker events, Jason Mercier etched himself into the poker history books, but a deeper dive into the numbers shows just how special Mercier’s current run really is. These big buy-in, small field events usually feature some of the less popular poker variants like Razz, No Limit Deuce to Seven and Eight Game Mix and tend to bring out only the best players in the world and Mercier is certainly at or near the top of that list. The numbers prove it. Since 2008, when a 21-year-old Mercier was first able to play at the WSOP, there have been a total of 84 $10,000 “Championship” events (including the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, but not counting the Main Event, which has a field size roughly 60X the size, or any High Roller event) and over that time frame Mercier has performed at a level only two or three others have been able to match. 15Number of times Mercier has cashed in the $10,000 Championship events. That puts him alone at the top for number of cashes, one ahead of Nick Schulman and three ahead of Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel and Matt Glantz. 2Mercier’s two wins in $10,000 Championship events this year are the first two of his career, but it ties him for the second most of all-time with Schulman, George Danzer, Brian Hastings, Michael Mizrachi and David 'Bakes' Baker. The only player with more is Daniel Alaei with four different Championship wins. 4Mercier is tied with Alaei for the most Top 2 finishes in the Championship events with four. While Alaei has never lost a heads-up battle for one of the $10,000 Championship bracelets, Mercier is actually 2-2. His two wins this summer (in No Limit Deuce to Seven and HORSE) are offset against being unable to get the better of Alexander Peterson in the 2015 $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship or Ray Dehkharghani in the $10,000 Razz event earlier this summer. Four players –Schulman, Baker, Paul Volpe and Phil Hellmuth – are tied with three top two finishes. 5Mercier is also tied for third for most top-five finishes with five. He’s part of a group of five players that are just one behind Schulman and Danzer. While two of these are wins, and two more are runner-up finishes, his fifth result came in 2014 when he finished third behind Volpe and Negreanu respectively in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven event. $2,011,952Mercier is one of just four players to have grossed more than $2,000,000 Championship events. The only players to have won more in these events are Michael Mizrachi ($3,527,357), Alaei ($3,028,263) and Scotty Nguyen ($2,011,952) and both Mizrachi and Nguyen have won the $50,000 Poker Players Championsip at least once to boost their earnings. Mercier’s total earnings of $2,011,952 represent 44.6% of his WSOP earnings. 4Mercier’s four cashes in 2016 $10,000 Championship events puts him just one behind Ville Wahlbeck for the most in one summer. In 2009, Wahlbeck cashed five times including a win, a second, a third and a sixth place finish. Mercier is tied with six other players with four $10,000 cashes in a single summer. There are still four more Championship events on the 2016 schedule. Most WSOP Championship Cashes in a Single Year 2009 - Ville Wahlbeck (5) 2008 - Alexander Kostritsyn (4) 2014 - Nick Schulman (4) 2014 - Daniel Negreanu (4) 2014 - George Danzer (4) 2014 - Todd Brunson (4) 2015 - Paul Volpe (4) 2016 - Jason Mercier (4) 2Mercier’s two bracelets in $10,000 Championship events this year marked only the second time that a player has done that in a single year. In 2014, Danzer won the $10,000 Razz and $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo events. (Note: Greg Merson won the $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em and Main Event in 2012, but given the relative field sizes, the Main Event was not considered for this data).
  25. On Tuesday, Jason Mercier found himself at yet another final table of a $10,000 buy-in event, but this time he wasn't able to seal deal and had to settle for an eighth place finish in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event. Three players, including Benny Glaser, had to bag up at the end of another ten levels and will return on Wednesday to finish. While that event didn't quite reach a conclusion, two more did, including the Super Seniors event and another $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event. Event #29: Alexander Ziskin Wins $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em [CAPTION=100%]Alexander Ziskin managed to overcome Jens Grieme's comeback to win the first WSOP bracelet of his career[/CAPTION] Alexander Ziskin managed to avoid being the answer to a WSOP trivia question Tuesday night and in the process won the first gold bracelet of his career. Ziskin beat out Jens Grieme heads-up after action resumed for an unscheduled fourth day. Ziskin and Grieme were originally scheduled to finish up on Monday night, but over 200 hands of heads-up play resolved nothing and the two players bagged up and returned Tuesday. During Monday night's heads-up play, Ziskin had Grieme down to just one big blind and his victory seemed inevitable but Grieme actually battled back from that and entered Tuesday with a chip lead of 7,790,000 - 5,690,000. It took 91 hands On Tuesday for Ziskin to turn the tide and win the bracelet, earning $401,494 in the process. Had Grieme come back from just one big blind, it would have been the first time that a player had done that heads-up. Final Table Payouts Alexander Ziskin - $401,494 Jens Grieme - $248,067 Kam Low - $179,187 Patrick Powers - $130,780 Severin Schleser - $96,452 Craig Mason - $71,891 Marino Mura - $54,160 David Juenemann - $41,244 Aaron Kweskin - $31,754 Event #31: James Moore Wins Super Seniors [CAPTION=100%]James Moore was barely old enough to enter the Super Seniors event, but he did manage to outlast the field to capture his first WSOP bracelet.[/CAPTION] James Moore topped a field of 1,476 players to win the $1,000 buy-in Super Seniors event for $230,626. The 65-year-old radiologist from New Hope, PA barely meets the 65 years or older age requirement for the event but was thrilled to have accomplished something every poker player desires. "This is an unbelievable thrill for me," Moore said. "I had absolutely no expectations. It's every poker player’s dream, and mine just came true." Moore beat our Charles Barker heads-up for the win. Barker earned $142,461. Final Table Payouts James Moore - $230,626 Charles Barker - $142,461 Steven Krupnick - $102,052 Charles Rinn - $73,943 Eugene Spinner - $54,197 Fred Berger - $40,191 Arthur Loring - $30,159 James Parrott - $22,902 Vern Soeldner - $17,604 Event #32: Glaser Leads Final Three of $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship Once again all eyes were on Jason Mercier on Monday as he was at yet another final table of a $10,000 buy-in Championship event - his fourth straight. Mercier was eventually eliminated in eighth place and as the night wrapped up there were still three players remaining including another player going for his second bracelet of the summer. Benny Glaser, who won the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event just three days ago, finished up Day 3 with the chip lead over the other two remaining players, Douglas Lorgeree and Matt Glantz. Glaser ended the day with 3,225,000. The day started with 16 players still in contention for the win. Former bracelet winners Andrew Brown, Eli Elezra, Shaun Deeb and Daniel Alaei - the defending champion in this event - were all eliminated before the final table. Mercier was eliminated by Greg Trelski. The event drew 384 players leading to a $896,250 prize pool and $213,186 first place prize. Top Ten Chip Counts Yen Wu = 114,200 Denny Axel - 105,600 Gleb Kovtunov - 97,700 Josh Arieh - 96,500 Hani Awad - 93,600 Bruce Walters - 93,100 Chip Jett - 85,700 Eric Rodawig - 76,600 Jack Duong - 76,500 Dzmitry Urbanovich - 76,000

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