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  1. [caption width="640"] Jason Lawhun's career as a scientist allows him to see poker from a unique point of view[/caption] Most of the players that comprise the New Jersey online player pool are longtime residents of the state or have moved there to further expand their poker horizons. Jason ‘JLaw’ Lawhun hails from Ohio but moved to New Jersey in 2013 as part of his career as a scientist in a consumer products company. Since then, he has been a force at the online tables with over $235,000 in tournament winnings to his name. Like many others before him, Lawhun got his start playing poker with friends but gradually moved his way toward the online scene once he entered college. Lawhun says he “lucked out” as his job required him to move to a state with regulated online gaming since where he lived in Ohio did not provide local access to a casino. “If I didn’t happen to move to New Jersey, I think poker would have fallen off into something that I only did very rarely, although it is a game I love to play. It’s a shame more people don’t have the opportunity to compete in this great game because of the current legislation,” said Lawhun. In his life as a scientist, Lawhun says there is a lot in common between the way he solves problems in the lab and that thought process carries over to the poker table. “As a scientist, you need to have a very logical mindset that is able to analyze situations and come up with data-driven conclusions based on your experiments. It’s the same in poker. You analyze the hand (situation) you’re in, and come up with plays (conclusions) based on previous hands (data points from previous experiments) which help you determine likely hand ranges of your opponent and come up with the correct play,” said Lawhun. While the analytical mindset he uses has obviously paid dividends, Lawhun also says he uses an out of the box approach to finding solutions in both science and poker. In fact, he claims that he is at his best when he’s “experimenting” with new betting lines in order to make him harder to read. Lawhun spends roughly 70 hours each week between his day job and poker which forces him to have a familiar routine so he can have the as much success as possible in both ventures. In order to achieve a quality balance in his life, Lawhun usually takes Saturday and Monday off from playing to spend time with his girlfriend, her two kids, and his dog. “A typical day for me now is to get up, go to work, come home and meditate or take a quick nap, exercise, take the dog for a walk and then play poker until I bust out of my last tournament. Then, I try to get a few hours of sleep and start the process all over again the next day," said Lawhun. "I’m grateful my family is very understanding of the passion/goals I have for poker and support me in my poker endeavors.” With such a condensed schedule, Lawhun says he doesn’t allocate much time to studying the game but believes he would be a much superior player versus where he is now. Lawhun played his first major live tournament in September when he played in the World Poker Tour Main Event at the Borgata. He is currently unsure whether or not he will play in the WPT Winter Poker Open in January but is planning to play the World Series of Poker Main Event in July 2017. Being a well-rounded thinker has helped Lawhun to excel in poker and with that success has come an understanding of how to succeed in the game even when things are going poorly in the short-term. “Poker will piss you off, it will make you feel bad about yourself and feel like you’re dumb and the poker gods are out to punish you," said Lawhun. "You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get unlucky. If you can keep in perspective [that] it’s just part of the game and the game is meant to be played and enjoyed, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.” Above all else, Lawhun uses his “experimental mindset” to continue improving and to learn from his mistakes. “It’s hard not to beat yourself up over mistakes in poker. But if you try to look at mistakes as a learning experience it really helps your mindset. I’ve made plenty of bad plays at the table, but I try to learn from my mistakes and get a little better every time I play,” said Lawhun.
  2. [caption width="640"] Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott wrapped up 2016 NJCOOP by winning the Main Event, his second win of the series (Borgata photo)[/caption] The first ever PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker finished up this week after over two weeks of exciting action. In total, 43 events were played with over $1,200,000 in guarantees up for grabs. The action culminated on October 31 when Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott took down the $500 buy-in, $200,000 Guarantee No Limit Hold‘em Main Event for $38,380. Elliott earned the title after defeating a final table that included Darren ‘oldmoneyD’ Elias and PokerStars Team Pro Victor Ramdin. The event drew 425 players, leaving a slight overlay to the guarantee. That win marked Elliot’s second of NJCOOP as he shipped the Event 21 $350 No Limit Hold'em “Sunday Special.” After agreeing to a deal with PokerStars Team Pro Chris Moneymaker, Elliot walked away with $17,817.72 while Moneymaker took home $15,942,72 The highest buy-in event of NJCOOP saw 115 players enter the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em High Roller. ‘babooshk’ found his way to the top of the final table mountain and $25,011.89 richer after beating ‘HoodP0PE’ to ship the event. While most of the mixed game events took place during the first week of the series, the $100 No Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha Six Max started the second week off strong with 210 entries creating a prizepool of just under $20,000. In the end it was ‘icrackstick’ winning the event along with $4,434.05 Following five starting flights, Day 2 of the $150 No Limit Hold‘em Six Max kicked off on Thursday, October 27 with 32 players remaining from the 307 who entered across the opening flights. It was a “Who’s who” of PocketFivers at the final table as Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger, Fred ‘ScoobyD0O’ Ferrell, Matt ‘el binko’ Iles and Joshua ‘YogaGrandma’ Berardi were among those who made it to the final six. In the end, Danger defeated Ferrell heads-up to win the title and the $9,467.40 first place prize. The $300 No Limit Hold‘em Four Max drew a field of 179 players that ended in a three-way deal. Kevin ‘sofcknsickk’ Campbell and Steve ‘7douche’ Madara were among those in the deal with Madara winning first place and $9,322.18 while Campbell took second and $9,329.53. ‘HoodP0PE’ took third place and $11,352.65. The final event of NJCOOP was a $150 No Limit Hold’em Hyper-Turbo Six Max which drew 164 entries. First place was $5,420, which was won by ‘Three6Latvia.’ With this series now in the books, the official leaderboard has been netted out. Players battled it out looking to earn their share of a $10,000 prize pool. Finishing on top and the recipient of $T2,000 is ‘Ken Kratz’ who finished just a few points ahead of Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger. For his finish, Danger earns $T1,500. A listing of the top five finishers on the NJCOOP series leaderboard is below. Ken Kratz - 595 Points - $T2,000 Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger - 545 Points - $T1,500 David ‘supadphat’ Cheng - 485 Points - $T1,000 Daniel ‘AvaGray’ Lupo - 455 Points - $T900 loxonbagel - 440 Points - $T800 Event #20: $100 Mixed No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha ($15,000 Guaranteed) 123 entries (87 re-entries), $22,674.60 paying 36 places icrackstick - $4,434.05 GUUUULP - $3,084.48 SlaynEryDay - $3,084.48 HowieWelper - $1,542.24 BBQBill7 - $1,156.68 Gay4Tray - $790.39 Event #21 : $350 No Limit Hold'em “Sunday Special” ($75,000 Guaranteed) 194 entries (111 re-entries), $99,735 paying 45 places Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott - $17,872.72 Chris ‘Money800NJ’ Moneymaker - $15,942.72 Skrelnick - $10,970.85 HowieWelper - $8,228.13 skeemer1 - $5,684.89 Matt ‘el binko’ Iles - $4,388.34 (papamat25) David ‘coles93’ Coleman - $3,390.93 (dehhhhh) Hangman4444 - $2,393.64 WoAtSnJoEs11 - $1,745.36 Event #24: $150 No Limit Hold’em Six Max ($35,000 Guaranteed) 309 entries, $42,549.30 paying 32 places Jeremy ‘FunkyJesus’ Danger - $9,467.40 Fred ‘ScoobyD0O’ Ferrell - $6,807.88 CiceBru - $5,156.97 Matt ‘El binko’ Iles - $3,510,31 Joshua ‘YogaGrandma’ Berardi - $$2,680.60 3betsolight - $1,808.34 Event #25: $300 No Limit Hold‘em Four Max ($30,000 guaranteed) 97 entries (82 re-entries), $50,100 paid to 24 places Steve ‘FadeOrHolz’ Madara - $9,322.18 Kevin ‘T1111111111M’ Campbell - $9329.50 HoodP0PE - $11,352.65 MacheteSpray - $3,181.11 Event #28: $1,000 No Limit Hold‘em Highroller ($100,000 Guaranteed) 68 entries (47 re-entries), $109,250 paying 18 places Babooshk - $25,011.89 HoodP0PE - $22,511.89 Rimmer27 - $14,202.50 7Mickey - $9,826.25 TheChosen175 - $7,101.25 Craig ‘YourPetCat’ Rubinstein - $4,916.25 (craigruby) Event #40: $500 No Limit Hold‘em Main Event, ($200,000 Guaranteed) 314 entries, (111 re-entries) $200,000 paying to 54 places Jesse ‘Rou$ey’ Elliott - $38,380 (No_Xcape) LookAtMyDabx - $28,500 TheBurrSir - $21,000 WoAtSnJoEs11 - $16,000 AnteUpPlease - $11,200 BOnEheAd109 - $8,500 jimmyk99 - $6,500 VRamdinNJ - $4,500 Darren ‘oldmoneyD’ Elias - $3,320 Event #43: $150 No Limit Hold’em Hyper-Turbo Six Max ($15,000 Guaranteed) 68 entries (53 re-entries), $22,582.80 paying to 24 places Three6Latvia - $5420.00 theman_mot - $3737.45 Mr.A.Iverson3 - $2,822.85 finest021 - $1919.53 1234 fifffff - $1467.80 BOnEheAd109 - $1016.22
  3. [caption width="640"] Jason Somerville is bringing the Run It Up show back to Atlantic City as part of the PokerStars Live Festival.[/caption] The world’s largest poker site is back with a live tournament series on United States soil for the first time in years. Starting on October 29, PokerStars Festival New Jersey kicks off with 40 events to be played in a weeklong span at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. As part of this series, PokerStars is partnering with Team Pro Jason Somerville and Run It Up for what will be an exciting collection of tournaments that are aiming to build off of his previous Run It Up series held in Reno, NV. One of the elements that separates Somerville and his Run It Up events from other festivals is the availability of mixed game events that are not usually as prominently featured at other tournament series. Known for his popular Twitch stream, Somerville has leveraged that viewership into promoting non-Hold‘em games on his stream and in the live setting. “I’ve been playing poker for a decade and after a while, Hold‘em can get boring. There’s a fun in playing many different games,” Somerville said about his interest in new forms of poker. Somerville said he first noticed that playing mixed games appealed to a large audience when 27,000 viewers tuned in to watch him compete in a PokerStars WCOOP Stud Hi-Lo event in September 2015, one of the largest totals at that time in the history of Twitch. Since then, Somerville has incorporated a variety of mixed game events into his Run It Up series and is now bringing that atmosphere to New Jersey. “Mixed games tend to elicit more conversation at the table and elicits a camaraderie among players. They draw a different type of crowd that is there to have more fun and to create a fun atmosphere,” Somerville said. In addition to the mixed game events, there will be some celebrities in attendance at the festival highlighted by Tyson Apostol and ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano, both of Survivor fame. Somerville has come to know both quite well over the years and notes, “fans like hanging out with them and they are the perfect people to bring to New Jersey.” When planning the inaugural “Run It Up Reno” series, Somerville envisioned the series being centered on the best possible playing experience for those attending. Survivor was in season at that time, which worked out well for Somerville’s design. “Who better to watch Survivor with than actual survivors?” Somerville exclaimed. Despite his reality show fandom, Somerville has no intention to step into the wilderness in the near future. “There’s not really time for adventure in my life. I’m happy to be on the couch, for the most part. I’ve spent almost 1,100 hours streaming this year and am focused on that for now,” said Somerville. With his nightly stream still going strong as ever, Somerville doesn’t plan on putting the brakes on anytime soon and perhaps venture toward more live poker. “I love streaming, it’s easy for me to do. Every day I wake up and I go to bed and satisfied. Live events are way more tiring. [They] are major party gatherings that build the community and personal relationships that we can’t do more of online,” said Somerville. The PokerStars Festival New Jersey will be an especially busy one for Somerville as he plans on playing live events while also streaming with a few special guests scheduled to appear. Somerville says he will be streaming PokerStars team pros Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier all individually during the weeklong festival. On Saturday, November 5, Somerville will host “Run It Up Day” which is set to include events like a poker seminar to be presented by Somerville, a Q&A and the $300 buy-in Run It Up 8 Game Championship. Somerville says he loves interacting with his fans and doing Q&As noting how much enjoys the open conversation element. With a laugh, Somerville said, “I must answer more questions than anyone on the planet.” With a full week of great events and activities lined up, PokerStars Festival New Jersey will look to set the pace for future PokerStars events to be held in the United States. “People are going to be there to have a good time and will have the chance to meet PokerStars pros. This is an experience rather than just a normal poker tournament,” said Somerville.
  4. Since New Jersey first welcomed fully regulated online poker to its borders in November 2013, the player pool has produced prominent talents who have seen their tournament earnings grow over the years. Fred ‘BiggDaddy’ Ferrell has made a new career out of playing online poker in the Garden State and is in the midst of climbing the New Jersey Rankings and sits second only to Jeremy ‘Jermz’ Danger. [caption width="320" align="alignright"] Fred 'BiggDaddy' Ferrell is ranked #3 in New Jersey[/caption] Only a month after online poker became available in New Jersey, Ferrell left his job in a glass-manufacturing warehouse to pursue online poker full-time. Ferrell says he achieved a few quality results that gave him the initial inclination to leave his job and noted that if poker didn’t work out, he felt comfortable being able to find other work if he needed to. “I made good money (at the warehouse) but definitely prefer this luxury,” Ferrell said about his career change. Safe to say, with over $550,000 in earnings to his name, Ferrell will not be looking for alternative employment anytime soon. It takes a lot of confidence and an innate talent to make great decisions in a short time span to leave a job to pursue a full-time poker career, and it is exactly those skills that separate Ferrell from his competitors. When asked what sets him apart from his opponents he is constantly battling against, Ferrell credits his sharp memory and multitasking capability that gives him an edge. Using his 50-inch monitor, Ferrell says he can play “30 tables on autopilot as good as someone who is playing nine tables.” Ferrell says that quick wit and a sharp rapid-fire decision making process are what allow him to make great decisions late in tournaments when he is solely focusing on one or two tables as a result of not succumbing to cognitive burnout. Someone who has that many tables running at once might use a HUD (Heads Up Display) to track a player’s tendencies to help make those fast decisions but Ferrell claims he doesn’t use one. “I don’t really see a need for it since I have a pretty good idea of what people are going to do anyway,” Ferrell said. The competency to ratchet up the focus when it matters most that Ferrell speaks of is backed up on a few occasions with the highlight coming when Ferrell notched two of the largest scores of his career over the course of a single day on WSOP.com in August. Ferrell took home the bronze medal in the “Big Deal” for about $4,900 and then eclipsed that finish with a runner-up effort in the “Ultimate Warrior” for nearly $8,500 more. The ability to move from one task to the next that Ferrell demonstrates allows for him to shake off and absorb the inevitable bad beats and downswings that come with tournament poker. According to Ferrell, “the beats are going to come, [but] eventually the variance is going to work in your favor.” As the end of the year nears, the race for number one on the New Jersey leaderboard is competitive but Ferrell isn’t setting any long-term goals for himself just yet. Despite having a prop bet with Daniel ‘Centerfieldr’ Lupo (currently ranked number three in New Jersey) over who finishes the year higher on the rankings list, Ferrell is more focused on his daily goal of netting at least $300 a day and being able to provide for his three daughters. Despite having a few quality results in live tournaments including a recent cash in September’s Borgata Poker Open WPT Championship, Ferrell doesn’t plan to participate in many more live events before in the near future noting they are “too time consuming.” Ferrell has already qualified for the PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event to be held at Resorts in November but says that will likely be the last live event he plays for the rest of this year. With the Borgata Garden State Super Series and the PokerStars NJCOOP currently in full swing, expect to see Ferrell mixing it up in as many events as possible. As Ferrell puts it, “I’m going to grind everyday and crush souls.”
  5. [caption width="640"] Dan Sewnig has had a solid set of live results in 2016[/caption] Among the more scrutinized transitions in poker is carrying over success from the online world into the live arena. While the game is still effectively the same, the surrounding elements are different when playing live and there are players who struggle figuring out how to reconnect all the pieces. If there is a face that represents the young and talented crop of young players that have grown from the seed planted by New Jersey’s online poker regulation, Dan ‘redsoxnets5’ Sewnig might be it. The 25-year-old has been profiled in numerous publications as he has honed his craft in the online streets for the last few years. He may always be an online grinder at heart, but 2016 marks Sewnig’s highest grossing year playing live tournament poker. Sewnig’s career year includes cashes in the Borgata Summer Poker Open and Parx Big Stax XVII main events but the one score that stands above the rest is his final table run in the Borgata Poker Open Six Max event. In one of the toughest fields assembled at the Borgata all year, Sewnig put together two stellar days of poker to finish fourth and notch a career-high score of over $27,000. The Six Max final table was live streamed and Sewnig exuded a cool demeanor that he says gives him an edge when playing live. "I almost always feel calm in live tourneys and enjoy talking to the people at my tables, mainly because I like the social interaction. I really enjoy live poker and that final table was one of the more exciting experiences I've had yet. I thought I might feel nervous on that stage but when I sat down it was just another tournament. I didn't really even fear making mistakes; if people disagreed with something I did then I figured I would just chalk it up to a learning experience and use it to improve." Sewnig has learned a lot about what it means to be a professional in his couple of years of playing for a living and realizes even if you put yourself in a position to succeed, the cards may not cooperate but there is always another day. "You simply cannot control your results in a game like poker. Hoping to achieve a certain level of profit is a bit ridiculous; you can't will yourself into winning a flip with seven left in the biggest MTT you play all year. But you can will yourself into making sure you play as much as possible to get yourself back into that position later on." There is a lot that Sewnig says he has learned in 2016, including better bankroll management skills and when to take some time away from the game. As he has started to expand his horizons in live tournaments, Sewnig has also developed a keen eye for game selection as to which formats best suit his style of play. “I've played more tournaments, put myself out there and sold off a bunch to bigger, better structured events. I often play on the nitty side, which lends itself quite nicely to the championship structures of the bigger buy-in events. This year is the first time I've played anything bigger than a $1K and having those tournaments with 90-minute levels really allows players to go card dead for a few hours and not be in desperate shape.” As the calendar nears the start of the new year, Sewnig says his only goals at this point are volume-based for both live and online. There are plenty of live tournament series that will be at Sewnig’s disposal in the coming months and we may soon see him step into the winner’s circle during that time.
  6. [caption width="640"] Craig 'craigruby' Rubinstein found time away from the virtual felt re-energized his passion for the game.[/caption] Craig 'craigruby' Rubinstein is not what you first envision as the prototypical New Jersey online tournament grinder. The 41-year-old father of two has only been playing full-time for less than a year but has come on strong over the last few months and recently cracked the top 10 of the PocketFives New Jersey Rankings. Rubinstein comes from a live cash game background but decided to take advantage of the availability of online poker in his home state after leaving his job as the assistant director of a sleep-away camp. “It was not a conscious decision (to start playing online), but I had more time on my hands to play. My kids were in bed by 8:00 and I needed something to do with my night and poker tournaments filled that void.” Rubinstein found initial success in his new venture when he won the PokerStars $50,000 guarantee “Sunday Special Big Game” for over $13,000 in April. Even after his big score, Rubinstein realized there was a distance to go for him to remain competitive long term. “I didn’t know what I was doing in terms of tournament strategies, bankroll strategies and game selection. I played all tournaments on different sites and just wanted the experience of playing tournament poker.” As part of that process of remaining competitive, Rubinstein sought out a coach and found one in Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano, a fellow member of the PocketFives top 10. Rubinstein says one of the things he looked for in a coach was a player who looked at the game differently than he did, and Gagliano perfectly fit the bill. “Our coaching relationship has turned into a good friendship. I am able to go into our sessions with a plan and attack challenges that have come up. Just being able to text him questions over the summer (while Gagliano was in Las Vegas) was beneficial.” Even with the added boost of having a great poker mind like Gagliano at this side, it wasn’t until a Labor Day trip to Delaware that really kick started Rubinstein’s recent run. Rubinstein was coming off of a subpar summer and in the midst of a downswing. He soon discovered that time away from the game was exactly what he needed. “Five days away from poker was the longest I’ve spent without playing in months. I had a different mentality when I came back from the vacation and saw immediate results,” Rubinstein said. At this point in his life, Rubinstein wants to continue playing poker for a living for as long as possible and more importantly, have his kids be proud of the work he’s doing. In that spirit, Rubinstein has started to play more live tournaments and has a primary goal of winning a title. “I’m not doing this for the time being. I want to be able to make this a career and make enough money to support my family and my lifestyle. The number goal is to win a live tournament. I haven’t been able to finish despite being close. I want to put the trophy on the mantle and have my kids walk in and see that daddy won.” Rubinstein recently traveled to St. Maartens for the World Series of Poker Circuit stop there after qualifying via online satellite. While he didn’t come home with his sought after victory, he will continue to be a familiar face on the live circuit for the foreseeable future. “There is no competition I can get these days like I can with poker. I like the fact that if I succeed, it’s going to be because of me. When the pressure is on, I’ve always risen to the occasion.”
  7. [caption width="640"] Eduards Kudrjavcevs won the 2016 Punta Cana Poker Classic, 3,675.[/caption] After coming close to wins across the globe, Eduards Kudrjavcevs finally has his first career live recorded poker title. With $194,000 in tournament earnings to his name coming into this event, Kudrjavcevs was an accomplished player in his own right but is now the owner of the Punta Cana Poker Classic officially making his venture to the Dominican Republic a successful one. Kudrjavcevs has final table appearances in countries such as Cyprus, The Bahamas, and his native Latvia. Given his previous tournament experience, it seemed like only a matter of time before Kudrjavcevs earned his breakthrough victory. Eight players came into the final day of play and it would take over two full levels to score the first elimination of the day as it was Fernando Gordo would be the initial player to hit the rail. Gordo moved all-in with [poker card="kd"][poker card="qc"] and found a call from Kudrjavcevs, who held [poker card="jc"][10c]. The flop was clean for Gordo, but the [poker card="jd"] surged Kudrjavcevs ahead and Gordo would hit the rail earning $18,005 for his final table run. Two eliminations occurred during the next level bringing the field down to five players. First to exit was Jorge de Oliveira. Manuel Minaya was the player who sent de Oliveira to the rail as he flopped two kings with [poker card="kd"][poker card="5h"] to send de Oliveira and his [poker card="as"][poker card="4h"] to the rail earning $22,855. The next to go was Enrique Sikaria who shoved with [poker card="ac"][poker card="6d"] and found a call from Kudrjavcevs, who held [10s][poker card="8c"]. The [poker card="8h"] flopped for Kudrjavcevs and Sikiaria was eliminated in sixth place for a $27,705 score. Kudrjavcevs would continue his streak of eliminations in the next level as he sent John Curcury out in fifth place. Curcury was all-in with [poker card="kh"][poker card="7d"] and needed help against the two eights of Kudrjavcevs. A king would not come for Curcury and he headed to the payout cage to collect his $34,360 prize. Carlos Sobenes would take his leave in fourth place after running pocket fives into the pocket aces of Chris Cotton. Once down to three-handed play, the tournament ended in a span of only three hands. Cotton was felted first when he got all-in with [poker card="kh"][poker card="9c"] and was up against the [poker card="js"][poker card="7s"] of Kudrjavcevs. The flop netted Cotton the [poker card="kc"] but the board run out a flush for Kudrjavcevs to send Cotton out as he earned $60,600. Heads-up play did not last much longer as Minaya was all-in the next hand with [poker card="kd"][10c] against the [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"] of Kudrjavcevs. The board ran out dry for Minaya as he took second place for $88,895. It was a dominating final table performance for Kudrjavcevs as he was responsible for all but two of the eliminations on the last day of play. With the victory, Kudrjavcevs is now over $335,000 in career tournament earnings. Final Table Payouts Eduards Kudrjavcevs - $143,675 Manuel Minaya - $88,985 Chris Cotton - $60,600 Carlos Sobenes - $46,405 John Curcury - $34,630 Enrique Sikaria - $27,705 Jorge de Oliveira - $22,855 Fernando Gordo - $18,005 Jeffrey Cormier - $13,850
  8. [caption width="640"] Jasper Meijer van Putten outlasted a field of 1,192 to win the final European Poker Tour Main Event title (PokerStars photo)[/caption] There was a lot on the line coming into the final European Poker Tour Main Event. After 13 seasons, the PokerStars tour was making its final stop before the site-sponsored Championships and Festivals commence at the start of 2017. Headlining the storylines were David Peters and Sam Cohen. Peters was looking to capture his second leg of poker’s Triple Crown in 2016 after winning a World Series of Poker bracelet in June. Additionally, Peters could overtake Fedor Holz for the number one position on the GPI list with the end of 2016 right around the corner. For Cohen, she had a chance to become the first America women to win an EPT Main Event title. Despite the marquee names, it was Dutchman Jasper Meijer van Putten who stole the show on his way to victory. Cohen had her run at history cut down in only the third hand of play as Peters showed her to the rail in a huge pot. Marton Czuczor opened the action with [poker card="th"][poker card="tc"] to 280,000 and Peters called in the cutoff with [poker card="9d"][poker card="9c"]. Cohen defended her big blind with [poker card="qc"][poker card="8h"] and the three players saw a [poker card="qh"][poker card="8s"][poker card="2h"] flop. Action checked to Peters, who bet 350,000. Cohen stuck in a raise to an even 1,000,000, which induced Czuczor into folding. Peters called and caught a third nine on the [poker card="9h"] turn. Cohen shoved all in for about 3,000,000 and Peters called immediately. Needing a queen or a heart, Cohen found neither on the [poker card="7s"] river and collected €145,900 for her final table finish. 19 hands passed after Cohen’s elimination beforeMarius Gierse was eliminated by Czuczor. The start of final table chip leader opened to 280,000 from the cutoff with [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"] and called the all in shove of 2,940,000 from Gierse, who was on the button. Holding an inferior pair [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"], Gierse had his work cut out for him heading to the flop. The board ran out [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="4c"] and Gierse took his leave. Meijer van Putten was quiet for the earlier portion of the final table but made a major statement via his bustout of Sergei Petrushevskii. With the blinds at 80,000/160,000, Meijer van Putten opened under the gun for 400,000 with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"]. Czuczor then stuck in a three-bet for 1,150,000 on the button with [poker card="kh"][poker card="jd"]. From the small blind, Pertushevskii moved all in for 3,770,000 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="7c"] which prompted Meijer van Putten to reshove for about 8,000,000 total. Czuczor folded a crucial pot at the final table was up for grabs. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="td"][poker card="9s"] flop gave Pertushevskii some backdoor equity but the [poker card="8s"] on the turn left him needing a queen on the river to chop. The two outer did not come and Meijer van Putten took the chip lead heading into three-handed play. Meijer van Putten, Czuczor and Peters were tightly bunched together and tried negotiating an ICM deal. After 40 minutes of discussion, the trio could not come to a final agreement and play resumed. Play went for about two full 90-minute levels as Meijer van Putten grew his chip lead over his opponents. It was Peters who was the short stack for the majority of play and eventually met his end at the hands of Czuczor. From the small blind, Czuczor raised all in with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qc"] having Peters covered. Following a few moments of thought, Peters called with [poker card="qs"][poker card="7d"] for his last 12 big blinds. The [poker card="ts"][poker card="7c"][poker card="2c"] flop paired Peters to put him in the lead. The [poker card="4h"] was safe for Peters but the [poker card="ac"] on the river gave Czuczor the higher pair to send the new GPI number one to the rail. Meijer van Putten started heads up play with a nearly 3-1 chip advantage over Czuczor. The two went back and forth for 15 hands as Czuczor pulled nearly even with Meijer van Putten. A deal was struck between the finalists with Meijer van Putten taking €649,300 and Czuczor receiving €630,000, leaving €50,000 left to play for. On the 164th hand of the last EPT Main Event final table, Meijer van Putten finished Czuczor off to claim the title. With the blinds at 150,000/300,000, Meijer van Putten opened to 700,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="jc"] on the button and faced a shove of 8,025,000 from Czuczor [poker card="2c"][poker card="2d"]. Meijer van Putten called and was a flip away from the title. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="js"][poker card="3c"] flop gave Meijer van Putten the lead and left Czuczor needing a two, and a two only. The turn and river were blanks and Meijer van Putten clinched the title and his first career major title. Peters locked up the GPI number one spot with his third place finish and has all but sealed his place on top before the end of the year. Final Table Payouts Jasper Meijer van Putten - €699,300 Marton Czuczor - €630,000 David Peters - €397,300 Sergei Petrushevskii€284,550 Marius Gierse - €203,800 Sam Cohen - €145,900
  9. There is only one month left in 2016 and [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/jermz/"]Jeremy ‘Jermz’ Danger[/EXTERNALURL] is on the verge of closing out his spectacular streak to end the year strong. Danger has been on top of the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings for four consecutive months now and is showing zero signs of slowing down. Danger continued to play many events across New Jersey’s website sites and totaled a whopping 16 victories for the month.With all of his victories, the highest score for Danger was actually a second place finish in the WSOP $200 buy-in $50,000 guaranteed Ultimate Warrior. That cash was worth $7,875 to Danger as he nears the $1,000,000 in career online earnings. There was a slight power shift at the top as [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/centrfieldr/"]Dan ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo[/EXTERNALURL] overtook [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/biggdaddy/"]Fred ‘BiggDaddy’ Ferrell[/EXTERNALURL] for second place on the leaderboard as Ferrell dropped to third place. Lupo closed out his November strong, winning the Ultimate Warrior for $13,500 on November 28 to go along with four other victories this past month. Ferrell had nine wins himself, including two gold medals in the WSOP $10,000 guaranteed nightly event. For the third straight month, [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/ykwon17/"]Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon[/EXTERNALURL] and [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/donnysack/"]Keith ‘donnysack’ Donovan[/EXTERNALURL] held their spots at fourth and fifth place, respectively. Kwon had one of the most winning months for New Jerseyans as he won 11 different tournaments in November. The hardest charge up the leaderboard came from [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/craigruby/"]Craig ‘craigruby’ Rubinstein[/EXTERNALURL], who climbed from 12th place all the way up to 6th. Rubinstein won six titles in November with the biggest score coming on November 21 when he shipped the PartyPoker $40,000 guaranteed tournament for $9,400. Joining Rubinstein as a fresh face in the rankings is [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/dehhhhh/"]David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman[/EXTERNALURL]. Coleman was not on the radar of the rankings when they were last published but quickly changed that with five wins including a victory in the PartyPoker $50,000 guaranteed Half Price Sunday Special for $10,390. As a result, Coleman finds himself ranked 8th in all of New Jersey. Falling a few spots but still holding strong in the rankings are [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/gags30/"]Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano[/EXTERNALURL] and [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/johnnnydrama/"]Michael ‘Johnnnydrama’ Haberman[/EXTERNALURL], who come in at 10th and 7th, respectively. [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/no_xcape/"]Jesse ‘No_Xcape’ Elliott[/EXTERNALURL] moved up his ranking in the top 10 as he continued his strong play from the fall to go from 10th to 9th. The only two players to fall out of the top 10 are [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/jtsnakes/"]Jacob ‘jtsnakes’ Perry[/EXTERNALURL] and [EXTERNALURL="http://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/7douche/"]Steve ‘7douche’ Madara[/EXTERNALURL]. New Jersey Online Poker Ranking Top 10 1. Jermz – 3,834.11 (-) 2. centrfieldr – 3,735.11 (+1) 3. Biggdaddy – 3,367.43 (-1) 4. ykwon17 – 3,280.71 (-) 5. donnysack – 3,178.41 (-) 6. craigruby – 3,142.01 (NR) 7. Johnnny Drama – 3,057.00 (-1) 8. dehhhhh – 2,995.01 (NR) 9. No_Xcape – 2,783.02 (+1) 10. Gags30 – 2,689.41 (-1) Dropped Out of Top 10 – jtsnakes, 7douche Just Missed – Mergulas (11th), JLaw (12th), jtsnakes (13th)
  10. Following months of buildup and nearly eight months of play, the first Global Poker League champion was crowned Thursday night inside The Cube in Las Vegas. In a best-of-11 heads up format, the Montreal Nationals overcame a furious rally by the Berlin Bears to take down the trophy along with the $100,000 team prize. Led by manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur, the Nationals, who had the best regular season record, came into the match as a slight betting favorite over the Bears. Ladouceur elected to sit the match out and started Mike McDonald, Pascal Lefrancois, and Jason Lavallee. The Bears countered with a trio comprised of Sorel Mizzi, Bill Perkins, and Brian Rast. The first match of the 11 would be the longest one of them all as Mizzi and McDonald traded blows for nearly an hour. McDonald held the early lead but it was Mizzi who would come away as the victor of the match after 61 hands to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Despite being in an early hole, the Nationals fought back and won three straight matches to surge ahead. Lefrancois, who went 3-1 in the finals, took down the initial victory as he held off Perkins to tie up the series. Lavallee came in after Lefrancois and kept the momentum going as he dealt Rast his first loss in six career matches inside The Cube. McDonald completed the mini-sweep as he defeated Perkins to avenge his earlier loss against Mizzi. The Nationals may have held the early lead, but the Bears would not give up easily in their hunt for GPL supremacy. Next up was a rematch of Rast versus Lavallee. Rast took down a few sizable pots early on against Lavallee and the Canadian was not able to recover before Rast closed out the match. After Lefrancois bested Mizzi to put the Nationals up 4-2, a lot was riding on the shoulders of Perkins heading into his match against McDonald. A win by McDonald would give the Nationals a nearly insurmountable lead with Lavallee on deck to close the series out. In his final match of the series, Perkins stood tall against the challenge in front of him and pulled the Bears within a single match. Rast and Lavallee squared off next for the third time in the series and it was Lavallee taking the rubber match between the two to put the Nationals only a single victory away from closing the Bears out. Lefrancois stepped in next against Mizzi and for the first time in three matches in the series, Lefrancois would leave The Cube with a loss as Mizzi bested him to stave off elimination. Mizzi stayed in The Cube to face off against McDonald with the Bears down 5-4 and needing another victory to stay alive. Mizzi surged ahead early against McDonald and never looked back on his way to a consecutive win to pull the series even. Everything was on the line in the final match between Lefrancois and Rast. The Bears had staged a fierce rally to force the 11th match but would not see their efforts pay out in full. Lefrancois finished his GPL finals on a high note as he took down Rast in 43 hands to claim victory for his team. Below is a table of all individual matches held in the GPL final with the winners of each match emboldened. Berlin BearsMontreal Nationals Sorel MizziMike McDonald Bill PerkinsPascal Lefrancois Brian RastJason Lavallee Bill PerkinsMike McDonald Brian RastJason Lavallee Sorel MizziPascal Lefrancois Bill PerkinsMike McDonald Brian RastJason Lavallee Sorel MizziPascal Lefrancois Sorel MizziMike McDonald Brian RastPascal Lefrancois
  11. [caption width="640"] Mike 'MikeyCasino' Azzaro is a top 20 player in New Jersey (Borgata photo)[/caption] The closeknit community of New Jersey online poker has allowed for players to connect and grow their games through another. Most of the bonds developed have been player-to-player but Mike 'MikeyCasino' Azzaro has found a special kinship of a different kind. Azzaro and his roommate Chris 'Hort336' Horter met in 2014 through a mutual friend in Asher Conniff. Horter and Azzaro live together in Brigantine and do most of their online grinding from there. Horter has come into his own this year after winning the Parx Big Stax 300 title in August and taking third in the Borgata Spring Poker Open $1,000,000 guaranteed event in April. Living with a poker mind as sharp as Horter’s would be a tremendous asset for anyone but it is their dog, Crouton, that separates their New Jersey home from other grind lairs. Crouton has become a niche online phenomenon in 2016 thanks in part to the Twitter account, @CroutonSays. The Galapagos Boonwiddle has been a positive addition for all in the poker community but Azzaro has developed a special kinship with the dog. Azzaro says he spends time talking over hands with Horter and finds himself relieving tilt by playing with the dog. A European study published in 2012 in Frontiers of Psychology notes the specific correlation between interacting with animals and the influence of behaviors such as trust, empathy, and a positive mood. The impact of the dog is certainly with merits as Azzaro has achieved some of the best results of his career in 2016. Azzaro made it to Day 5 of this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event, eventually finishing 182nd for a career-best $42,285 score. The impact shows on the virtual felt as well, as Azzaro is currently 19th in the PocketFives NJ Online rankings. Growing up in Yonkers, NY, Azzaro says he had dreams of becoming a football player but eventually decided to make poker his career. Azzaro is not entirely sure he’ll be playing poker for the rest of his life but is taking his time to decide what his next step might be. “When I was a teenager I wanted to play football or poker but I wasn't good at football so I went with poker. For now poker is what I want to do but I see investing in my future,” Azzaro said. When Azzaro was younger, he learned the basics of the game from his brother and then grew his career toward the professional level as online poker became regulated in New Jersey. “When I was 14, my older brother taught me the basics of Hold’em and we would play all the time. I started playing professionally at 26 and for the first year I was losing until online poker got legalized and it couldn't have come at a better time.” Indeed it did for Azzaro, as he has racked up over $430,000 in online cashes across the finest sites New Jersey has to offer. Outside of the positive influence of Horter and Crouton, Azzaro credits his recent success to eating healthier, additional studying and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Azzaro certainly isn’t the first player in poker to credit the calming influence of a dog on improved results. Considering how big of a part playing online is for Azzaro’s career and for other players across the state, a new trend may be on the horizon. Azzaro notes how he enjoys the stability of online poker and it may now only be a matter of time before he makes an appearance in the PocketFives New Jersey top-10 rankings.
  12. [caption width="640"] Niall ‘firaldo’ Farrell now has a WPT title to go along with his EPT win (WPT photo)[/caption] Niall ‘firaldo’ Farrell is one step closer to being a part of poker’s Triple Crown after taking down the partypoker World Poker Tour Caribbean title for $330,000. 323 entrants took part in the $5,000 buy-in event and after starting the final table among the short stacks, Farrell wound up taking the lion’s share of the over $1,450,000 prize pool. Farrell won the European Poker Tour Malta Main Event in October 2015 for the first leg of the Triple Crown and this victory adds to his already sizable $2,936,820 in live tournament earnings. The final table marked Farrell’s first in a WPT main event and he certainly made the most of the opportunity. This TV final table was an international affair with six different countries represented. Additionally, all the final tablists were making their first WPT final table appearance. Stephen Woodhead started the final table as the short stack and it took 24 hands before he met his end. It was Farrell who did the deed knocking out Woodhead as the two battled for Woodhead’s last 15 big blinds in a preflop confrontation. Farrell opened for 105,000 from the hijack and Woodhead moved all in for 750,000 from the big blind. Farrell called having Woodhead dominated with [poker card="ac"][poker card="jh"] against the short stack’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"]. The [poker card="4h"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2d"][poker card="8s"] runout was no assistance to Woodhead as he took home $66,000 for his finish. The next to go was Yiannis Liperis, who has also hamstrung with a short stack coming into the final table. With just over six blinds left, Liperis jammed for 375,000 on the button and got a call from Anthony Augustino out of the big blind. Like Woodhead, Liperis had an inferior ace as he showed [poker card="as"][poker card="3s"] against Augustino's [poker card="as"][poker card="9s"]. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4d"] flop left Liperis needing running cards to double up, as well as a three. The [poker card="7h"] turn gave him a gutshot straight draw but the [poker card="4h"] would seal his fate as the fifth place finisher. Farrell picked up his second elimination of the final table as he took downColin Moffatt 17 hands after Liperis departed. With the blinds still at 30,000/60,000, Farrell raised to 105,000 on the button and Moffatt moved all in for 1,180,000 from the big blind. Farrell called and was in a flip with [poker card="6d"][poker card="6c"] against the [poker card="as"][poker card="7h"] of Moffatt. The [poker card="ad"][10s][poker card="7s"] flop surged Moffatt ahead as he flopped two pair. Farrell regained the lead on the turn, though, with the [poker card="6h"] giving him a set. Needing to fill up on the river, Moffatt did not as the [poker card="jc"] and he exited in fourth place. It would only take Farrell 10 more hands to earn the championship as he dispatched his next two opponents in short order. Farrell caught a double at an opportune time which fully charged his late run to the title. In one of the biggest pots of the tournament, Farrell chased down Troy Quenneville in the hand that effectively sealed the title for Farrell. With the blinds still at the same level, Quenneville opened to 135,000 from the button and was three-bet by Farrell to 375,000. Quenneville pumped it up to 890,000 and Farrell jammed for 3,380,000 total with Quenneville calling with [poker card="as"][poker card="ks"]. Farrell needed to come from far behind with his [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"] to stay alive. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="8d"][poker card="6h"] surged Farrell into the lead and he held on the [poker card="6d"] turn and [poker card="ah"] river. The pot put Farrell into the chip lead with 6,850,000 (114 big blinds) and left Quenneville with 840,000 (14 big blinds). Despite being the short stack, Quenneville doubled through Augustino a few hands later to put him as the low man on the totem pole as Augustino was eliminated in third place. In Hand 73 of the final table, Farrell moved all in from the small blind and Augustino called for his last 1,160,000 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"] from the big blind. Farrell was behind, but live, with [poker card="qh"][poker card="9s"] and promptly flopped a straight draw on the [poker card="ks"][10s][poker card="8h"] board. The [poker card="8s"] changed little but the [poker card="jc"] on the river filled Farrell’s straight to send Augustino out with the bronze medal earning $140,000. Heads up play didn’t last long as Farrell knocked out Quenneville in the first hand of their match. Farrell moved all in from the small blind to put Quenneville at risk for his last 1,540,000 and Quenneville called. Farrell had the slight lead with [poker card="ac"][poker card="5d"] but Quenneville had a lot to work with holding [poker card="ks"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="kh"][poker card="7s"] flop gave both players a pair but Quenneville still needed help to double. The [poker card="qd"] on the turn gave Quenneville a straight draw but the [poker card="6d"] on the river would eliminate him just short of first place. The $330,000 first place prize marks the fourth largest of Farrell’s career as he adds to his already sterling poker resume. Farrell also earns his place in the WPT Tournament of Champions for his victory. Final Table Payouts Niall Farrell - $330,000 Troy Quenneville - $220,000 Anthony Augustino - $140,000 Colin Moffatt - $105,392 Yiannis Liperis - $80,000 Stephen Woodhead - $66,000
  13. Two months on top of the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings is a great accomplishment in itself, but Jeremy ‘Jermz’ Danger is soaring to new heights, as he has been number one for three consecutive months now. Danger was active throughout the whole month and put together many quality results in the BorgataPoker Garden State Series and the PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker. Danger finished second on the NJCOOP leaderboard and totaled an incredible 12 victories across New Jersey’s websites. Danger’s biggest score amongst those victories was when he took down the NJCOOP $150 Six Max for $9,467. Following behind Danger for the second month in a row is Fred ‘BiggDaddy’ Ferrell. Like Danger, Ferrell had a successful month of grinding the October series with his most notable result coming when he won the BorgataPoker “Mega Tuesday 500” for $8,280. Another player whose ranking stayed the same this month is Dan ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo. After charging up the rankings over the last couple of months, Lupo further solidified his position. The highlight of his October came when he won the PartyPoker High Roller Six Max for $12,784. Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon and Keith ‘donnysack’ Donovan maintained their respective fourth and fifth place positions. Kwon had the bigger score between the two as he won the NJCOOP Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller for $10,630. After a few strong months, Andrew ‘Mergulas’ Glauberg dropped out of the top 10. In his stead, a new player climbed into the upper echelon of the rankings. Steve ‘7douche’ Madara was on the cusp of cracking the top 10 in September, but is now all the way up to 7th place. Joining Madara in moving into the top 10 is Jesse ‘No_Xcape’ Elliott, who capped off his month but winning the NJCOOP Main Event to go along with another NJCOOP victory. In total, those two scores earned Elliott just over $56,000. The top five have remained the same since last month, but there has been plenty of movement on the relative bottom with Madara and Elliott joining the rankings. Another player who had a strong NJCOOP and is now on the verge of breaking into the top tier of New Jersey online is Craig ‘craigruby’ Rubinstein. Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano and Michael ‘Johnnnydrama’ Haberman effectively switched spots on the list while Jacob ‘jtsnakes’ Perry held strong in ninth. After joining the rankings last month, Jason ‘JLaw’ Lawhun dropped out and is now in 11th. New Jersey Online Poker Ranking Top 10 Jermz – 3,651.30 (-) BiggDaddy – 3,540.00 (-) centrfieldr – 3,520.36 (-) ykwon17 – 3,341.89 (-) donnysack – 3,144.65 (-) Johnnnydrama – 2,928.16 (+2) 7douche – 2,839.21 (NR) Gags30 – 2,825.12 (-2) jtsnakes – 2,783.88 (-) No_Xcape – 2,741.68 (NR) Dropped Out of Top 10 – JLaw, Mergulas Just Missed – JLaw (11th), craigruby (12th), Mergulas (13th)
  14. [caption width="640"] Michael Haberman is showing no sign of slowing down after years on top of the New Jersey online rankings.[/caption] The competition at the top of the PocketFives New Jersey online poker rankings becomes tougher with each passing month. The top of the ranks has remained relatively consistent for the larger part of 2016 with Michael 'JohnnnyDrama' Haberman among those prominently featured in the top-10 at the end of each month. Haberman has been playing online in New Jersey since the state regulated online play in 2013 and has put together over $670,000 in tournament cashes in that span. Haberman’s online monicker comes from a character in the HBO show Entourage, who was known to be excitable with the potential for unpredictability. Despite the associations that might come with choosing that specific avatar, Haberman’s results have been remarkably consistent. Haberman was ranked number one in the Pocket Fives NJ rankings toward the start of the year and achieved the elusive Triple Crown in June when he won three unique tournaments tracked by PocketFives with at least 100 players and at least a $10,000 prize pool on three different networks within seven days. In accomplishing the feat, Haberman became the first player in New Jersey history to do so. One of Haberman’s strengths that he attributes to his constant track record is an ability to do well in a variety of different tournament structures. “I'm not so sure there is a specific format or structure that caters well to my game, and I certainly don't mind playing most tournaments that are on the NJ sites.I do like some of the longer structures as it gives you more room to maneuver, but people sometimes play a little too cautious in turbos and I enjoy the fast paced play.” The preference to play nearly anything on New Jersey’s sites paid off immensely for Haberman as he won the WSOP Ultimate Warrior $50,000 guaranteed in November for a career-high score of $13,500. Due primarily to buy in size, live tournament cashes generally top those of the online realm. That is not the case for Haberman, though, who does not play many live tournaments but thinks that could change in the new year. “I had other commitments in 2016 that kept me from playing as much as I would have liked live, so I definitely see myself getting out to some more high-value tournaments, how many more, we'll see, It's a good change of pace, and you never know what kind of characters will be at your table.” The clash for NJ online supremacy remains fierce and although he has been among the top players for a few years now, Haberman is looking for new ways to improve his game in order to keep his edge sharp. “I'll be working on keeping distractions to a minimum, it can be pretty easy to lose focus while playing, and it can make a world of difference to be in the zone when you play. An extension of that is to close the gap between my 'A game' and 'B game' as some people would say.” With a multi-year sample size already in play, it is clear that Haberman’s “A game” is among the best in the entire state. Given his already immense accomplishments, an even more improved Haberman is plenty for the rest of New Jersey to look out for.
  15. [caption width="640"] PokerStars Championship and Festival events are coming to the Bahamas, Panama, Rozvadov and other locations in 2017 (Neil Stoddart / PokerStars)[/caption] When PokerStars announced changes to their long-standing European Poker Tour, Asia-Pacific Poker Tour and Latin American Poker Tour series earlier this year, shockwaves were sent through the poker community. PokerStars initially announced that in lieu of their regular stops across the globe, certain events would be categorized into “Championships” or “Festivals” with 2017 dates soon to follow. As December approaches, PokerStars has released those key dates. The always popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas, has been renamed the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, and will run from January 6-14. Many of the events from PCAs of the past will remain on the schedule, including the $5,000 Main Event, $25,750 High Roller and the $100,000 Super High Roller. Following PokerStars Championship Bahamas will be the two major Festival stops announced thus far. The first Festival will be in London, from January 22-29. The highlight of the London Festival is the £990 Main Event with a £2,200 High Roller preceding it. Similar to London, Rozvadov, Czech Republic will hold a high roller at the €2,200 price point with the Main Event buy-in set at €1,100. The Festival takes place March 2-13. In place of a spring LAPT stop, PokerStars Championship Panama will take place from March 10-20. This stop includes a $5,300 Main Event, $10,300 High Roller and a $50,000 Super High Roller. The PokerStars event in Panama marks the only visit to South America on the 2017 schedule. After its trip to Panama, PokerStars will head east to Macau for another Championship event from March 30-April 9. Four major events are in store for this series including a HKD 82,400 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller. The other three on the docket are the HKD 42,400 Main Event, HKD 103,000 High Roller and the HKD 400,000 Super High Roller. The last of the announced events will take place at Monte Carlo, the home of the former EPT Grand Final. This Championship series will is scheduled for April 25-May 5. Among the events set to take place includes a €5,300 Main Event, €25,750 High Roller, a €100,000 Super High Roller along with a €50,000 Single day No Limit Hold’em event. Regarding the changes for 2017 and PokerStars’ vision for the future, Director of Live Events, Edgar Stuchly said, “PokerStars has an incredibly rich live events heritage, having hosted more than 560 tournament series, attracted more than 800,000 entries and awarded more than $1.5 billion in prize money. The PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events are an enhancement of the existing PokerStars sponsored live events, helping to take our vision for live poker to a whole new level.”
  16. [caption width="640"] Ryan 'hags021' Hagerty put a journalism career on hold to chase down the pro poker dream (Borgata photo)[/caption] The regulation of online poker in New Jersey has allowed for players who may not have otherwise had a chance to pursue the game of poker the opportunity to play the game they love. New Jersey has shown time and time again whether you are a longtime professional or a family man looking to make some money on the side, there is a chance to succeed in the Garden State. Ryan ‘hags021’ Hagerty fits another demographic of players making their living in New Jersey as the 24-year-old’s love for the game was too much to put aside as he is now chasing his dreams in Brigantine. Hagerty graduated from Rowan University with a degree in Journalism but soon put the pen down and decided to pursue what stokes the fire within him. “For a while, I’ve just really wanted to be a pro poker player. It’s my passion and I’m not playing just to play or just for the money. I love it when I'm losing and love it when I'm playing. People don’t understand how much I love it. ” Hagerty said his love for the game first ignited when a friend in high school invited him to play in a small house game. From there, Hagerty says he enjoyed the social aspect of it and over time learned to improve his game from using a wealth of study resources. “I had fun but kept on losing $20 at a time. After a while, I figured out that it’s a skill game. I started reading stuff online and pushed myself to get better,” Hagerty said. Hagerty notes that even when he is not playing online, he is spending a lot of his time studying and trying to get better every day. Most players around Hagerty’s age were not playing online before “Black Friday” and Hagerty himself acknowledges that he faces an uphill climb to be among the best players in New Jersey. “I know that I’m a rare breed. New Jersey sites are great, but it’s kind of dead compared to what it once was. There aren’t a lot of kids my age who are trying to do what I’m doing.” Despite being relatively young, Hagerty understands the complexities and challenges that come with being a professional poker player. While some may fully believe in the “hard way to make an easy living” adage, Hagerty knows there’s a chance that one day he may no longer be able to play the game he loves. “Bankroll management is super important and I have to figure it out. My goal is for this not to end and I don’t want to face the day where [poker] is not going to work anymore. I’ll find a way, whatever it takes to make it work. You can become broke in a second and I won’t let that happen,” Hagerty said. Currently, Hagerty is ranked 21st in the PocketFives New Jersey Online Rankings but has his eyes set on much bigger long-term goals with the immediate one being able to travel out to Las Vegas to play in tournaments next summer. Based on his passion and drive for poker, Hagerty is willing to lay it all on the line in his pursuit of being able to play poker professionally for years to come. The drive to be great is something not easily taught and as Hagerty’s career continues to grow, that “love for the game” should carry him a long way.
  17. [caption width="450"] Keith 'donnysack' Donovan didn't have to leave home after Black Friday[/caption] There is something to be said for online tournament grinders who have withstood the relative test of time. The game has changed quite a bit from the immediate post-Moneymaker boom years to what it is now and the players who can still make a living grinding online MTTs have found a way to adjust accordingly with the times. As one of those long-time grinders, Keith 'donnysack' Donovan has been around online poker for nearly a decade and is one of the elite tournament players in the state of New Jersey. Currently, Donovan is ranked fifth in the PocketFives New Jersey online rankings. Donovan started his professional poker career at the ripe age of 19 and struck gold early, winning the PokerStars Sunday Second Chance in September 2008 for a score of over $73,000. That score jumpstarted Donovan’s career and he hasn’t looked back since. With years of experience under his belt, Donovan has collected nearly $1,500,000 in online tournament earnings in that time. The road to his current standing in the poker world wasn’t always a smooth one but Donovan looks back at his mistakes as a younger player as a solid building ground for where he is today. “At the time I first started playing, I was living with my parents and didn’t really understand the value of a dollar. I burned through a lot of money back then [but] I don’t beat myself up over it,” said Donovan. Donovan credits a sizable portion to his growth in the game to his friends Shankar Pillai and Shaun Ruane, brother of 2016 World Series of Poker November Niner, Michael Ruane. “The best way to get better is to go over hands and try to get their perspective,” said Donovan. Of course, for many players like Donovan who made their living playing online, Black Friday was as Donovan says, “a dagger.” Once Black Friday hit, Donovan received backing from Pillai to play more live events and played on unregulated online sites as well. Despite having the option to move out of the country to continue his online career, Donovan hung around his home state of New Jersey long enough to be there when the state opened its doors to regulated online poker. “It was like Christmas Day, when it actually did happen. It was music to my ears to [and] it allowed me to get back to living my life.” With New Jersey online poker continuing to grow, Donovan sees a bright future ahead for the game in his state and specifically sees PokerStars as an important catalyst to growing online poker both in New Jersey and the United States. “PokerStars has been a massive addition to New Jersey. I like how they are trying to promote their brand in the US. The live events are great and the PokerStars brand will be seen more. I hope that can be translated to other states.” Donovan plays a select schedule of live events that consists primarily of Borgata tournament series and a full summer out in Las Vegas. Should he notch a major score, Donovan says he will consider putting the money toward opening a sports bar and look at potentially buying a house with his girlfriend, Emily. Theory and strategy is always changing in the poker world and Donovan plans to stay with all of the latest trends in order to remain successful. “Everyone is so much better and the game is at another level right now. The game is always evolving and you can’t have an ego that you can be better than anyone. If you’re not trying to improve, [your success] is going to change.”
  18. [caption width="650"] Dominik Nitsche was one of many 888poker ambassadors who put together a great year on the live tournament circuit.[/caption] The last 12 months have been prosperous ones for 888poker ambassadors. With a healthy roster of World Series of Poker bracelet winners and World Poker Tour champions, it is no surprise to see the team of professionals put together a combined total of over $2,100,000 in tournament earnings. With 2016 drawing to a close here is a look back at just how well the likes of Chris Moorman, Dominik Nitsche and Sofia Lövgren did. Dominik Nitsche 2016 cashes: 19 2016 total earnings: $1,491,914 It was another stellar year for Dominik ‘bounatirouIMO’ Nitsche, who put together his second consecutive year of over $1,000,000 in earnings. Nitsche picked up a win in the UKIPT High Roller at EPT Dublin in February and then followed that up with a runner-up finish in a $50,000 Super High Roller at the Aria. All told, those cashes earned Nitsche nearly over $800,000 alone. Chris Moorman 2016 cashes: 10 2016 total earnings: $423,247 Former PocketFives #1 ranked player, Chris ‘moorman1’ Moorman, put together another stellar campaign in 2016. Moorman made five final tables with his biggest score coming in the final EPT Barcelona where he took home $271,187 for his third place finish in the Estrellas Main Event. Bruno Kawauti 2016 cashes: 18 2016 total earnings: $151,639 Headlining the Brazilian contingent of the 888poker team was Bruno Kawauti. Most of Kawauti’s damage was done in his native country as he racked up cash after cash. His biggest cash came as a result of his second place finish in July’s BSOP Main Event, which earned him a little over $92,000 Bruno Politano 2016 cashes: 15 2016 total earnings: $101,581 Two years after his November Nine appearance, Bruno Politano continued to put up solid results. The highlight of Politano’s year came in April when his final tabled the 888 Poker Festival Main Event, finishing fifth for a $38,618 score. 888poker and FlowEsports Form PartnershipSofia Lövgren 2016 cashes: 9 2016 total earnings: $100,503 Sofia Lovgren put together her finest year yet with over $100,000 in live earnings. Lovgren navigated her way through one of the largest fields of this year, when she finished 12th out of 7,190 in the World Series of Poker ‘Millionaire Maker’ event for a $75,109 score. Nicolau Villa-Lobos 2016 cashes: 7 2016 total earnings: $37,123 Nicolau Villa-Lobos continued his string of consistent results with a solid 2016 as he added to his over $1,000,000 in live tournament earnings. Villa-Lobos notched two final tables and made his second career cash in the World Series of Poker Main Event. Kara Scott 2016 cashes: 2 2016 total earnings: $18,040 One of the more familiar faces in all of poker put in another stellar year on ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage along with her other hosting responsibilities. In her limited time spent on the felt, Scott put together a final table run at the 888 Live Local Series London Festival.
  19. [caption width="640"] Steve Madara captured his first major live title in September following years of dedication to his craft.[/caption] At the tender age of 24, Steve ‘7douche’ Madara has endured a lifetime of accomplishment and hardship from poker. Only three months ago, Madara won the Almighty Stack event at the Borgata Poker Open for a $169,000 score that despite Madara’s young age, was years in the making. For as long as he can remember, Madara has been surrounded by the world of gambling. Madara accompanied his family on trips to Atlantic City and says he always felt like he would eventually work or do something similar in a casino. Prior to becoming a teenager, Madara witnessed Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series of Poker Main Event on television and his interest in the game only grew. Madara himself admits he made the firm decision to make poker his current full-time career path at the worst possible time but has found success despite the adversity he has faced. “My main issue was that I couldn’t even put in the work, since online wasn’t an option and I was only 20-years-old with a [limited] net worth,” said Madara. Madara says he ran up $500 to $7,500 on Lock Poker, only to have the website shut down and his funds incinerated along with it. From there, Madara rebuilt his bankroll by taking on landscaping jobs and playing in small home games. In one of these home games, Madara noticed a player winning at what he thought was an unsustainable rate. As it turns out, the player in question was cheating but Madara says the drive to win in this game made him work harder than ever to become better. “I’ve always [been] naturally lazy so there’s a good chance that losing [during] that summer made me study more than if I was winning,” said Madara. Upon turning 21, Madara received backing and coaching to play online, after the completion of two years of college, in order to pursue poker on a more serious basis. During that time, Madara claims to have been deceived by his backer at the time for a few tournament buy-ins that were never fully reimbursed. Deciding that was the breaking point, Madara deposited $1,000 online on New Jersey sites and built his own bankroll. A few months later, Madara hit his first major five-figure online score and hasn’t looked back on his way to over $300,000 in career online earnings. Madara has remained a consistent face among the New Jersey online player pool since starting play in the state with the many lessons he has learned over the years culminating in his September victory. While still in the relatively early stages of his poker career, Madara already has plans laid out to grow the game and bring more newcomers in. He is set to launch the website, PokerOnSlot, within the next few months with the intention of the site being to “grow the game of poker to its full potential.” “It’s absurd to me how many people you see go to casinos but rarely will ever step into the poker room. My vision is to change the games in the poker room to bring more gamblers over to our tables. Live poker has gotten far too boring and slow for anyone to find it interesting anymore.” In order to promote his new venture, Madara says he will begin streaming on YouTube and Twitch at the start of the new year. Madara has learned plenty about the game of poker in his time as a professional and how to navigate the sometimes seedy nature that lies on the underbelly of it. With his unique perspective, Madara’s ambition to expand the game makes him an intriguing figure to keep an eye on as 2017 arrives.
  20. [caption width="640"] Oleg Vasylchenko outlasted a field of 167 to win the WPT partypoker Prague event (WPT photo)[/caption] The poker world may have its eye currently set on Las Vegas and the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic, but over in the Czech Republic, the partypoker WPT Prague event drew a field of 167 to the Hotel Grandior. It took four days of play for the final table to be reached and 122 hands for Oleg Vasylchenko to put the seal on his first career WPT title. Vasylchenko started the final table as the chip leader and kept his edge throughout to take down the title and the €132,200 first place prize. The final table was an accomplished one that included WSOP circuit ring winner and EPT Champion, Martin Khabrel. It took 21 hands to find the first elimination and it was Preben Stokkan who earned that distinction. Stokkan started the final table as the second shortest stack and met his end with Romain Lewis finishing him off. Tonio Roder raised to 55,000 and Stokkan came over the top all in, as did Lewis. Stokkan was on the short end of the hand with [poker card="th"][poker card="9h"] as Roder showed [poker card="jd"][poker card="js"] with Lewis [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"] having them both dominated. The [poker card="5c"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="qd"][poker card="qh"] board was good for Lewis to ship the pot. Stokkan took home €23,520 for his finish. Next out was Khabrel, who was felted by Lewis. Khabrel shoved for 265,000 and was called by Lewis in the big blind with pocket queens. Khabrel held a single overcard [poker card="kd"][poker card="8d"] but the [poker card="ad"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3c"][poker card="th"][poker card="qh"] runout provided barely a sweat and he hit the rail. Four-handed play ensued for 20 hands and it was Lewis who was the next man out. Roder raised to 80,000 and big blind 30,000, and Lewis defended his big blind with about 300,000 behind. Lewis checked the [poker card="qc"][poker card="7h"][poker card="3d"] flop over to Roder and found himself check-raising all in. Roder called with [poker card="ah"][poker card="7s"] and would need to hold against the [poker card="6c"][poker card="3c"] of Lewis. The [poker card="ts"] turn failed to increase Lewis’s outs and the [poker card="ac"] on the river gave Roder the pot and the knockout. Three-handed play was a lengthy affair that lasted for over 50 hands. Roder was neck-and-neck with Anton Petrovbut saw his stock drop with Vasylchenko picking up most of the slack. It would be Vasylchenko who eliminated Roder, marking his first victim of the final table. With the blinds at 25,000/50,000, Vasylchenko limped in from the small blind and called a raise from Roder. The two saw a flop of [poker card="8h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4d"] and Vasylchenko check-called an all in from Roder. Roder held [poker card="ad"][poker card="8c"] but would have to dodge Vasylchenko’s [poker card="8d"][poker card="6d"] web of outs. The turn was the [poker card="kd"] leaving Roder needing the fourth diamond on the river to hit a higher flush. Only the [poker card="5h"] could be mustered and Roder left the final table €52,500 to show for his days of play. Vasylchenko started heads up play against Petrov with about 60 percent of the chips in play and wasted little time finishing his last opponent off. Petrov raised to 115,000 and Vasylchenko called from the big blind to see a [poker card="ts"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4c"] flop. The [poker card="jc"] hit the turn and Vasylchenko bet 315,000. Petrov raised all-in and Vasylchenko called with [poker card="td"][poker card="7d"] for a flopped two pair. Petrov and his [poker card="jd"][poker card="3d"] would need help going to the river but the [poker card="9s"] would wrap up the win for Vasylchenko. Vasylchenko’s career earnings now eclipsed the $200,000 and more importantly, he has clinched a spot in the WPT Tournament of Champions. Final Table Payouts Oleg Vasylchenko - €132,200 Anton Petrov - €82,000 Tonio Roder - €52,500 Romain Lewis - €39,120 Martin Kabrhel - €29,410 Preben Stokkan €23,520
  21. The holiday season is officially upon us and PokerStars New Jersey is ready to brighten everyone’s spirits with the PokerStarsNJ Christmas Festival including freerolls, deposit bonuses and a $100,000 guaranteed main event. $60,000 is in play as part of the All-in Shootout Freerolls, which are running every Sunday this month. Players are able to qualify for these shootouts by completing a poker challenge that can be found in the Challenges window of the PokerStarsNJ client. $15,000 will be awarded each week in these freerolls. Additionally, any player who deposits $30 using the promo code ‘CASHMEGA’ is eligible for a prize up to $10,000 starting the week of November 28. In order to win the top prize, players are encouraged to deposit each week to give themselves the best chance. PokerStarsNJ will also be giving away $30 to all players participating in every 5,000th or Milestone hand. There is no limit on the amount of Milestone hands dealt so players are eligible to play and win as many as possible. Sign-up now for PokerStarsNJ.com and you'll receive a lifetime license of PokerTracker 4 (Hold'em or Omaha) and a PocketFives T-Shirt, a combined value of over $100. Details here. The highlight of the PokerStarsNJ December promotions is the Carnival of Tournaments that will be running from December 5-18. The Carnival Variety tournaments include a selection of games not usually found on the PokerStarsNJ schedule. The Carnival culminates with a $200 buy-in $100,000 guaranteed main event that will take place on Sunday, December 18. Finally, with the Christmas holiday falling on Sunday, December 25, all Sunday Major tournaments have been moved to Monday, December 26. The Monday Majors will have a 20 percent increase in all of the guarantees. The upcoming promotions should be an exciting time for PokerStarsNJ as its players. As Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker put it, “Playing online at PokerStars has led to one of the best experiences of my life. Who knows, one of the Christmas Festival tournaments or games could be the start of an epic ride for another talented new player.” Anyone looking for additional information should go to the Christmas Festival page.
  22. [caption width="640"] Daniel Lupo holds down a full-time job as well as a top-five ranking in New Jersey (Borgata photo)[/caption] In the competitive world that is New Jersey online poker, most of the names and faces at the top of the PocketFives rankings are players who make their primary living from playing poker. In the case of Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo, the full-time architect has been making his mark on the New Jersey scene from the time online poker became regulated in the state and continues to dominate despite playing a limited schedule. With only a few months left in 2016, Lupo sits currently third in the PocketFives New Jersey rankings. Lupo credits his full-time job for giving him a sense a balance along with not having a sense of financial security unrelated to poker. "For me, having a full-time job that can support my family allows me to enjoy poker a lot more and not feel overwhelmed or overburdened by the game and feeling the need to profit every session," said Lupo. Additionally, Lupo says that his brain being wired for the abstract nature of the architecture world to helping him when he plays. "I guess my creative design way of thinking allows me to think outside of the box at times in poker, which can be a good and a bad thing [laughs]. I have been called everything from a nit to a maniac and I think that's great," said Lupo. Even with all of his success, Lupo has been through a lot over the last 12 months. Lupo became a father to twins in late 2015 and was expecting another child before tragedy struck and the pregnancy was lost this summer. Lupo says the ups and downs of the past year have given him a new outlook on poker and life in general. "Within the past 12 months I've had more emotional highs and lows than I ever thought possible. I learned [a lot] this past year about myself and about what's truly important in life. Poker isn't life; there are far more important things out there. But while I'm playing poker, and it's taking time away from me with my family I'm going to give it 100% focus and do my best to provide for my family." With his busy schedule of working as an architect and helping his wife Laura take care of their kids, Lupo still manages to make the most out of the time he is able to play which is usually only a few nights a week. "I'm only playing full MTT sessions twice a week, Sundays and Tuesdays. My weeknight sessions normally start after I help put the kids to bed, while Sundays I spend my 5-minute breaks cramming as much baby time in as I can. I'm very fortunate to have a wife who is understanding with poker and all that it can entail at times," said Lupo. In his online career, Lupo has amassed over $630,000 in total tournament cashes, but has no plans to put a stop to his day job anytime soon. In fact, Lupo hopes to further his career in the architecture world and use that advancement to increase his poker ventures. Lupo says that in a "perfect world" he will eventually open his own firm and possibly move into property development. As part of the reward for accomplishing that goal, Lupo would have more freedom to travel and play events with family vacations scheduled around the venues. For now, Lupo is doing what he can to make a mark in the major online series going on this month across New Jersey. In a single week span last month, Lupo took down a PartyPoker GSSS event and a PokerStars NJCOOP event for over $20,000 combined. In a few days, Lupo will be making a return trip to the live felt for the first time in what he says is a "while" to play the PokerStars Festival New Jersey Main Event. He may not have any current long-term goals for poker, but for the time being Lupo wants to “keep playing, having fun and making money to help my family.”
  23. [caption width="640"] Fedor Holz's first project outside of poker is the mindset app Primed Mind. (WPT photo)[/caption] Fedor Holz put together one of the best year’s in modern poker history in 2016. The 23-year-old wunderkind accumulated over $16,000,000 in tournament earnings and left every peer in his wake as he racked up victory after victory. Then, he was gone. Holz announced after his World Series of Poker bracelet victory last summer that he was “retiring” from poker to focus on other opportunities outside of the game he had made a fortune playing. No one outside of Holz’s inner circle knew for sure what exactly what those opportunities would entail but everyone found out when Primed Mind hit the market. The mindset app is designed to enhance mental efficiency through “immersive mindset coaching.” Assisting Holz with the development of this project is famed mindset coach, Elliot Roe. With the team of Holz and Roe working to design an optimal product that would appeal to the largest consumer base, Holz believes Primed Mind will be able to produce for customers when it matters most. “The target audience of our first product Primed Mind is everyone who wants to improve his mental game and approach. If you feel like you can get more out of yourself, especially in these high-pressure situations where it matters. They can expect the highest-quality content and a team that is working non-stop on improving the product and experience.” The relationship between Holz and Roe goes back to before they were officially business partners. Holz says he started working with Roe to improve his own mental game about one and a half years ago. The literal “voice” behind Primed Mind, Roe narrates the sessions on the app as he helps users develop their own strong mindset. For most of his adult life, Holz has devoted his time to poker. The studying part of the profession carried over for Holz as he’s taken the first step in his new journey. Working with professionals he was already familiar with gave Holz the comfort to fully develop Primed Mind and allowed him to be energized toward engaging with them. “It's a great feeling to devote most of my time to Primed. The people I work with inspire me and it's 100% what I can identify myself with. The transition from poker to business is very fluid. Generally, there are lots of similarities - the biggest difference is that it's more of a team game and the ceiling is a lot higher.” The “ceiling” that Holz refers to is ostensibly not a monetary one considering the many millions he has won playing poker. Instead, Holz wants to create value. Holz speaks often about the power that positive thinking has had on his own career and he wants to spread that message to the users of Primed Mind. “The initial motivation was to create value - it still is. We want to reach as many people as we can to share the things we think can have the most positive influence on their daily life. We at Primed strive to have as much of a positive impact as we can.” The “retirement” that Holz said he was taking from poker has been more of an intermittent hiatus at this stage. Holz can be spotted playing in High Rollers around the world and recently participated in Super High Roller Bowl and the World Series of Poker One Drop event earlier this month. That might be all the poker Holz plays this summer as his other interests start to take up more time in his life. Holz’s Twitter bio lists him as an “investor” and he says he has future projects on the horizon as he further walls himself off from the poker world. “We have lots of ideas and we will launch other projects in the next months. Mainly we are looking for driven and inspiring people that want to create and give people a new perspective on how to perceive 'work' - as something without restrictions and without pressure.” Only Fedor Holz knows what the next step in his life is. With the early success of Primed Mind, Holz’s alternative life is off to a promising start and if the other projects manage to get off the ground, Holz’s goal of reaching as many people as possible will be well within reach.
  24. [caption width="640"] Christoph Vogelsang put together a comeback effort to win the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl. (PokerCentral photo)[/caption] The biggest event in poker reached a final table after nearly a week of play as the Super High Roller Bowl played to its conclusion over the course of Wednesday and Thursday. The $300,000 buy in event brought out the biggest and brightest stars in poker and it was Christoph Vogelsang who managed to top the field of 56 to claim the first place prize of $6,000,000. Jake Schindler came into the final table as the chip leader as the largest bubble of the year was in play. Only seven players would reach the min-cash of $600,000 while one unlucky entrant would have to settle for a $60,000 rebate. Jason Koon started the final table as the short stack and managed to stay alive for a few hours but ultimately succumbed to Schindler. Schindler opened to 90,000 and Koon called out of the big blind. Koon checked the [poker card="kc"][poker card="ts"][poker card="8d"] flop and Schindler continued for 75,000. Koon moved all in for 470,000 and Schindler called. Schindler had flopped a set [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"] and Koon had a straight draw [poker card="9h"][poker card="7h"]. The [poker card="5d"] turn changed nothing and the [poker card="2s"] wrapped up Koon’s run. A few hours passed before the next victim fell and that was Justin Bonomo, who started Day 3 with the chip lead. Vogelsang limped the small blind and Bonomo raised to 175,000. Vogelsang called and checked the [poker card="9h"][poker card="2d"][poker card="2s"] flop. Bonomo bet 100,000 and Vogelsang called to the [poker card="jc"] turn. The two players checked and the [poker card="qh"] came on the river. Vogelsang checked once more and Bonomo bet 700,000. His bet was met by an all in raise from Vogelsang. Bonomo called and showed [poker card="4s"][poker card="2h"] but was bested by the [poker card="ks"][poker card="tc"] of Vogelsang. The turning point of the final table came shortly after Bonomo’s elimination as Schindler and Pratyush Buddiga clashed in a pot worth almost half of the chips in play. Vogelsang opened for a raise to 90,000 and Schindler called on the button. Buddiga three-bet to 400,000 in the big blind and only Schindler called. Buddiga checked the [poker card="qh"][poker card="8h"][poker card="7c"] flop and called a bet of 400,000 from Schindler. Buddiga check-called for 750,000 more on the [poker card="3s"] turn and checked the [poker card="3c"] river. Schindler moved all in for about 2,000,000 and Buddiga called with [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"] only to be shown [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] by Schindler. Buddiga was cut down to 15 big blinds and was eliminated a short while later by Leon Tsoukernik when his [poker card="ac"][poker card="9h"] got in on a [poker card="ad"][poker card="jd"][poker card="7s"] flop against Tsoukernik’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="qs"] but failed to come from behind. Byron Kaverman was the next player to exit the final table stage as Schindler added to this chip lead. Schindler held [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"] against Kaverman’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] for the latter’s final 895,000. The board ran out clean for Schindler and he moved his stack over 10,000,000 at that point. The final elimination of the night was Tsoukernik as the King’s Casino owner and the lone recreational player left in the field met his end. Vogelsang opened to 130,000 and Tsoukernik moved all in for 2,200,000. Vogelsang called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"] and the [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"] of Tsoukernik was drawing dead after a [poker card="kh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="2s"][poker card="kd"][poker card="3s"] run out. Play resumed on Thursday as three-handed play commenced between Stefan Schillhabel, Schindler and Vogelsang. Schillhabel started the day with less than 20 big blinds and was shown the door by Schindler. Schillhabel opened the button to 130,000 and Schindler called with [poker card="td"][poker card="9d"]. Vogelsang put in a raise to 400,000 with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"] and Schillhabel moved all in for 1,500,000 with Vogelsang calling behind. Schillhabel picked up a pair on the [poker card="js"][poker card="6s"][poker card="3c"] flop but improved no further. Schindler started heads up play with the chip lead over Vogelsang but Vogelsang refused to go quietly and doubled up a few hours into heads up play to put the match on ice. Vogelsang limped in and Schindler raised to 400,000 with the blinds at 50,000/100,000 with [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"]. Vogelsang called with [poker card="ah"][poker card="5s"] and the flop came down [poker card="8c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2h"]. Schindler be 275,000 and Vogelsang called to the [poker card="qh"] turn. Schindler bet 900,000 and Vogelsang called once more. Schinlder checked the [poker card="4d"] river and Vogelsang moved all in for 3,200,000 and Schindler called to see Vogelsang’s rivered straight. Vogelsang finished the job a few hands later and wrapped up his victory. Schinlder limped in with [poker card="jh"][poker card="8h"] and Vogelsang checked with [10s][poker card="7c"]. Vogelsang checked the [poker card="tc"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2d"] flop and Schindler bet 100,000. The bet was met with a call by Vogelsang and he checked the [poker card="7h"] turn. Schindler bet 500,000 and Vogelsang raised to 1,500,000. Schindler called and the [poker card="2c"] came on the river. Vogelsang bet 2,300,000 and Schindler moved all in for 6,200,000. Vogelsang found the right call at the right time and was rewarded with the first place prize of $6,000,000. Final Table Payouts Christoph Vogelsang - $6,000,000 Jake Schindler - $3,600,000 Stefan Schillhabel - $2,400,000 Leon Tsoukernik - $1,800,000 Byron Kaverman - $1,400,000 Pratyush Buddiga - $1,000,000 Justin Bonomo - $600,000 Jason Koon - $60,000
  25. King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic has become a pretty enticing destination for poker’s largest events. World Series of Poker Europe is coming to King’s in the fall and partypokerLIVE is making a stop there next month for the partypoker Million Germany series. Owned and operated by Leon Tsoukernik, King’s Casino sits just on the edge of the Czech Republic/Germany border. The property boasts over 150 poker tables, making it prime real estate for any tour looking to make a splash with a massive guarantee. The partypokerLive Million series is comprised of multiple events with the €1,100 €1,000,000 guaranteed main event serving as the primary attraction. As with all partypokerLive events, Day 1 is available to be played either online or live with King’s Casino playing host to the live flights with the next opening session kicking off on May 28. All players who choose to enter a live Day 1 session will start their main event journey with 100,000 chips and 12 45-minute levels to get through before arriving at Day 2. One re-entry is available for each player per starting flight with late registration also available through the first six levels. Entrants who opt to play Day 1 online have the same structure with the exception of level length, which is 18 minutes. Day 1E offers a turbo flight with 15-minute levels and all tables playing Six Max poker. That flight starts at 12:00 pm local time on Sunday, June 4. Day 2 starts at June 4 at 3:30 pm local time with 12 more 45-minute levels scheduled to be played. The third and final day runs on Monday, June 5 starting at 2:00 pm local time. Levels on Day 3 increase to 60 minutes before reducing down to 30 minutes for heads up play. RELATED:Just One Penny Could Send You to partypoker LIVE GermanySide events are running on either side of the main event with a High Roller and an Eight Max both available. The High Roller event is a €2,200 buy in with a €200,000 guarantee. This event starts on Thursday, June 1 and offers unlimited re-entry. All players start with 100,000 chips and levels are 45 minutes for both Day 1 and Day 2 on June 2. The €1,100 €100,000 guaranteed Eight Max event gets started on June 4 for the first of two Day 1s. Day 1A carries 45-minute levels and 45-minute levels. Day 1B starts on June 5 at 12:00 pm local time and has a turbo structure with levels only 15 minutes long. All players who emerge from Day 1A and Day 1B will combine at 3:30 pm local time for Day 2 to play down to a winner. The partnership between partypokerLive and King’s Casino is sure to be a great one and partypokerLive President John Duthie is confident about the future of his tour in conjunction with the largest poker room in Europe. “Our primary focus is to make a tour that listens to players. We are happy to have done a deal with King’s - their growth recently has been one of the biggest stories in poker and we hope to match that by bringing both the Grand Prix and partypoker Million to their impressive poker arena! Roll in May!” Sign-up now for partypoker.com to start yourself on your way to playing in a partypoker LIVE MILLION event.
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