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Hustler Casino Live, with the help of the World Poker Tour, stole the spotlight from the 2021 World Series of Poker for 48 hours this past weekend by bringing in poker legends Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan to take a seat and battle in their high-stakes broadcast. The livestream was incredibly compelling. But what made it great was not necessarily the reasons one might think when sitting down to watch a pair of poker legends zero in on a high-stakes cash game. Certainly, the poker was exciting, with players needing a minimum of $100,000 just to lock up a seat, but it was some of the unexpected moments that made these broadcasts into hours of entertainment. Mikki Mase Is Must See TV In the early action of Day 1, the hype was around the arrival of Ivey but all the action surrounded “Professional Gambler” Mikki Mase. Mikki, may have needed no introduction for loyal viewers of the program, but with Hustler Casino Live drawing in plenty of new eyeballs (breaking viewership records across the two days), this was many fans' first interaction with the wildcard. “We plan on seeing a lot of action out of him, a lot of hands being played. He is not shy to mix it up,” said co-commentator Nick Vertucci. Vertucci was 100% correct. Mikki was immediately in the mix calling raises, overcalling, and applying pressure. There’s a chance that with players like Ivey, Garrett Adelstein, Matt Berkey, and Gal Yifrach in the lineup that Mikki was actually brought in as a V.I.P. of sorts. However, it didn’t take long for the hunted to become the hunter as Mikki was seemingly putting everyone in the blender. The hand of the night for Mikki came against Adelstein when both players were sitting with roughly $300,000 in their stack. Adelstein raised to $300 from under the gun with [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] and from the small blind, Mikki put in a three-bet to $4,000 holding the [poker card="5c"][poker card="4s"]. When the action came back to Adelstein, he four-bet to $15,000 and Mikki literally snap-called. The flop came [poker card="kh"][poker card="th"][poker card="9h"] and Mikki took a few seconds, rechecked his cards, and led out for $15,000. “I mean, I love Mikki, but in a four-bet pot against an aggressive player, this is a suicide mission,” Vertucci said. Adelstein made the call. The turn was the [poker card="qd"] and Mikki fired again, this time for $20,000. Adelstein, shot Mikki a glance and made the call, sending the pot to just over $100,000. The dealer put out the [poker card="6d"] on the river leaving Mikki with 5-high. Undeterred, Mikki slid out a final bet of $60,000 which sent Adelstein in the tank. “So many tough decisions against you, I’ve been wrong every time,” Adelstein said, working through the hand. As Adelstein winced, Mikki, looking relaxed, grabbed his vape and took a hit. “He’s going to try and vape his way to a fold…” Vertucci said. Eventually, Adelstein again made the wrong decision and tossed his cards in the muck. The torture for him continued when Mikki showed the big bluff as the massive pot was shipped his way. And it wasn’t just this one hand. Mikki proved to be great for the game, ready to enter almost any pot, and not satisfied to lock up a win. On Day 1, viewers tuned in for Ivey but instead, they got the Mikki Mase show. The Age of Adelstein No one would dispute that Garrett Adelstein is a cash game beast as he's widely recognized as one of the very best in the game today. He’s fearless at the table and one of the most fascinating modern-day players to watch on any livestream. It feels like the importance of Adelstein doesn't even need to be stated. But when he was featured in the same game as Ivey and Dwan, it showcased just how much Adelstein actually needs to be appreciated. Over the course of two days that Ivey sat in the game he looked wholeheartedly...bored. He didn't get very good card distribution, had his phone taken away for RFID security reasons, and just couldn't get much going. You never know with Ivey, as he's got one of the best poker faces in the game, but it just looked like the whole thing was a chore for him. An assignment even. And as the minutes turned to hours the notions of having “The Phil Ivey” we really wanted to see in this high-stakes cash game dwindled. It wasn’t his fault exactly, he couldn’t find spots, was unwilling to flippantly make them, and eventually, on both days, he made an early exit. But while waiting for Ivey to be Ivey, we were entertained by watching Adelstein do what he does. He played big pots fearlessly, made incredible plays, and when he took a big hit, he went into his bankroll and added on for more, unwilling to play with anything less than the biggest stack at the table. Of course, we want more Ivey. We want him at the WSOP. We want him on TV. We want to see the man behind the mystique. But it may be fair to say that we want what we remember about him and that's rarely as we see him. It's a crapshoot. But Adelstein is right here, right now giving us everything we want to see out of a high-stakes beast. Unlike Ivey where we only get glimpses, Adelstein is featured on a near-weekly basis either on Hustler Casino Live or Live at the Bike. He consistently plays like we’re hoping to see Ivey or Dwan play. This is the Adelstein Era and if you didn't know, he’s already achieved GOAT status. One day, we’re going to look back, when, perhaps, like Ivey, he’s taken a step away from being in the spotlight, and we’re going to wish for just a glimpse of Garrett as he is today. But until then, if you weren’t already, it’s time to enjoy what he brings to the table right now. Watch Day 1 right here: Table Talk Made For the Most Interesting Moments There was a small, innocent, moment at the beginning of Day 1 that took many by surprise. Soon after Ivey sat down, Adelstein leaned into the table and looked at Ivey and said “I’m Garrett, Phil.” and gave a small wave. Phil simply nodded in reply. “That is quite the moment right here," said Bart Hanson. "Garrett to Phil Ivey, meeting each other for the first time.” It was a bit of a shock. Was this really the first time these two heavyweights had met in person? One would only assume that two players with such huge reputations in poker would have crossed paths in the past. Especially, with Adelstein being very open about his affinity for Ivey. That was just the beginning of many captivating snippets of conversation that kept the game feeling fresh, proving, yet again, that one of the best parts of poker is the social aspect. Sure, there were some big pots being played but it was equally fascinating to hear Ivey talk about the Paris casino robbery and how the robbers stuck a machine gun in his gut. Mikki Mase getting candid about how he’s been having his tattoos removed and the judgment he goes through on a daily basis. Dwan helping himself to some of Ivey's chips while complaining about how many times he lost his passport and how he couldn’t go to play in Dubai (where Ivey had recently traveled). There were times that the cross-talk was just as engaging as the thousands of dollars at stake. It made it so if you just fast-forwarded to the big hands, or read a recap, you missed the full flavor of the game. The two-day Ivey and Dwan cash games are on-demand on YouTube, but the Hustler’s live-stream grind continues with daily shows Monday-Friday at 5 pm Pacific. Watch Day 2 right here:
The World Series of Poker’s $50,000 Poker Players Championship is heralded by many top-flight players in the poker world as the real championship event of the series. In order to lay claim to the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, a player not only needs to have an expert-level mastery of the entire mix of games, but also needs to face down the "best of the best" in terms of competition. In short, it takes a well-rounded, complete player in order to win. The truth is, making picks for the $50K is a tough task - especially this year. Everything needs to be considered from a player’s history in the event to the momentum they have when it gets started. Plus, it's hard to know if some of the top talents that normally would never miss the PPC will even show up (ex. Phil Ivey). So, taking all of that into consideration, we’re shooting our shot and dropping the latest edition of First-Round Picks with the names and ranks of the players we think are most likely to not only run deep in 2021 but hoist the trophy when the last chip has been collected. These players are first-rounders for the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. #1. Shaun Deeb Unlike the Super High Roller Bowl, where Michael Addamo was sun running headed into the event, there’s no clear top pick when it comes to the Poker Players Championship. The field attracts an absolutely elite field of players who are proficient in all the games. Honestly, an argument can be made for a multitude of grinders to be ranked #1. Here’s why it’s Shaun Deeb. In the past five years of the $50K Poker Players Championship, only one player has made the money three times - Shaun Deeb. In 2017 he finished in seventh place for $164,286, in 2018 a 10th place finish brought him $111,447, and then in 2019, he made the final table falling in fifth for $232,058. History shows Deeb loves to compete in the PPC and the PPC has loved him back. An undeniable master of mixed games, Deeb has proven time and time again that he knows how to close. He’s a four-time WSOP bracelet winner with more than $5 million in earnings at the series alone and each of his bracelets has come in different disciplines. Impressive, but that's not all he brings to the table. To back that up take a look at what he’s done online. He holds five PokerStars SCOOP titles, all in mixed games and, even more impressively eight World Championship of Online Poker titles, only two of which are in NLHE. In summary, Deeb is dangerous in any tournament against any opponent. The 2018 WSOP Player of the Year is off to a fast start in terms of cashes in 2021, with nine at the time of this writing (tied for third overall), including a final table in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud. If there’s one thing going against him it's that while he’s racking up scores, he’s not really breaking through into the deepest parts of the tournaments yet. It’s unlikely he’s even close to satisfied right now. His goal of earning the 2021 Player of the Year title is going to require some stronger second-half results and the PPC could do just the trick to get him back in the thick of things. #2. Michael Mizrachi It feels silly to not have Mizrachi, the only player to win this event three times, as the top pick…after all, like we just said, he’s won it THREE TIMES. But one has to wonder just how lucky can one guy be. He first took the PPC down in 2010, earning a massive $1,559,046 payday. He did it again just two years later for another $1.4 million. Finally, in 2018, Mizrachi completed the hat trick and earned his third spot on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy for more than $1.2 million. In addition, he also scored fourth place in the event in 2016 for another $380,942. He has a knack for owning this event and just last week he made an appearance at the 2021 series, finishing in 11th place in the Eight Game Mix. One should expect Mizrachi to find his way into this $50K and shouldn’t be surprised if he makes a deep run. But Mizrachi is also a high-risk, high-reward play because in addition to being one of the toughest players he’s also a blowtorch, and had been known to burn bright but flame out early. All eyes will be on the 3x champ to see what happens this year. #3. Brian Rast No matter how long Brian Rast is away from the poker tables, when he returns to them he’s as dangerous an opponent as you will find. A two-time winner of the PPC, Rast took it down in 2011 for $1,720,328 and then again in 2016 for $1,296,097. Rast also went deep in 2018 where he finished in 8th place for over $144,000. Additionally, he’s already found himself deep in a pair of Championship Events already. First, he finished in 15th place in the $10K Omaha 8 Championship for $18,750, and then just three days later, Rast nearly made the final table in the $10K Limit Hold’em Championship where he fell in 11th place for another $18,506. Add to that a cash in the NL 2-7 Lowball event and it feels like Rast is simply getting warm before making a big splash in the PPC. For Rast, the real question is - will he be in the field? The fact that he’s been playing in the series already is a good indication that he will, but with career earnings of more than $21 million (and we gotta assume a ton of BTC for as often as he tweets about it), perhaps he just wakes up and says “not today.” #4. Benny Glaser The UK’s young mixed game phenom Benny Glaser has all the makings of a PPC champion. The three-time WSOP bracelet winner almost exclusively plays non-NLHE variants with his WSOP wins coming in Omaha 8 and Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw. In addition, Glaser has come very close in a number of other WSOP mixed game events including a runner-up finish this year in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. bringing him a $341,274 payday. His WSOP resume reads of a player who excels at any game that involves any number of cards. The warning signs in picking a crusher like Glaser are that his last bracelet win was back in 2016, however his 2018 fifth-place finish in the PPC shows he’s more than capable of getting to the end. #5. Phil Hellmuth After capturing his record-extending 16th WSOP gold bracelet in Deuce to Seven Hellmuth declared that the $50K PPC title is what he wanted next. The truth is, in previous years Hellmuth wouldn’t be in the top 10 first-round picks, much less the top 5. But this is 2021 and The Poker Brat is on a mixed game sun run that no one could have predicted. You’ve already heard the stats: five final tables, all in mixed games, with a bracelet in hand. He’s off to the best start to a WSOP in his lengthy career and is currently sitting atop the Player of the Year race at the halfway point in the series. Sure, he has his doubters and they would be quick to point out that Hellmuth’s only cash in this event came back in 2011 (when he finished in 2nd place for more than $1 million) and that this field will be the elite of the elite. But isn’t that who he’s been playing in the series so far? So, it may be risky picking Hellmuth this high, but in 2021 it’s an even riskier proposition not to. #6. Dan Zack Dan Zack may be the savvy pick at number six. He’s another one of the crop of young crushers who consistently proves he has a mastery of all the games. He also hasn’t kept it a secret how much he’d love to win Player of the Year, for which he currently is sitting in 12th place. He's just one big score away from being in the thick of it. At the time of this writing, Zack leads all cashes in 2021 with 11 total, including a final table in the $1,500 Eight Game Mix and a (soft) final table bubble in the $10K Stud where he finished in 10th place. He won his first gold bracelet in 2019 in the $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw, but doesn’t have a history in the PPC. Expect that to change. #7. Daniel Negreanu There’s nothing Daniel Negreanu would love more than to win a bracelet and the trophy in this particular event. He’s stated it so many times that, along with the Player of the Year title, this is the tournament he consistently looks forward to the most. There’s no need to expand on the six-time WSOP bracelet winner’s resume except to note that in the past five years, Negreanu has made the money twice (including a final table in 2017) for a total of just under $400,000. The real reason “Kid Poker” is so high on this list is, in addition to his skill of course, is his momentum. He has plenty of it headed into this event. Negreanu has cashed ten times in the series (thus far) including a final table in the $3K H.O.R.S.E. and a final table bubble in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. The question will be if with everything he has going on being one of the game’s biggest ambassadors, can he let everything else fall to the wayside and zero in on what he really wants. If he’s feeling it, and he wants it - he’s a legit threat to win it all. #8. Anthony Zinno What a year it’s been already for Anthony Zinno who is currently the only two-time bracelet winner of the series. In back-to-back fashion, Zinno famously earned gold in the $10K Stud for $182,872 after being the subject of a classic Hellmuth rant. Then he came right back and took down $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. for another $160,636. In non-mixed game news, Zinno reminded people that’s he’s also a No Limit Hold’em crusher with a 12th place finish in the $50,000 High Roller for another $80,000, making it six cashes for the series. And if you hadn’t heard, Zinno created a club of which he’s the only member. With four WSOP bracelets and three World Poker Tour titles, he proved he’s one of the best in the game today and he heads into the PPC with a massive wave of momentum. Looking for action in the $50K PPC? Check out PocketFives Stakingwhere we will be selling pieces for Daniel Negreanu, Josh Arieh, Felipe Ramos, Matt Glantz, Daniel Weinman, and more. Sign up today and get in the action (many at no markup!) Sleeper Picks Julien Martini France’s mixed game master may be well-known for his runner-up finish at the PokerStars PSPC, but he’s also one of the more coveted players for WSOP $25K fantasy due to his ability to grind the entire schedule. While he’s off to a slow start at this year’s WSOP (3 cashes so far), don’t be surprised to see him turn it around in the PPC. David ‘ODB’ Baker Baker just got off a deep run in the $1,500 Razz where he finished in fifth place for $20,732. A two-time bracelet winner, one for a $2,500 8-Game Mix, Baker’s big question mark is if he’ll come out to play or prefer to sweat college or pro football with the tournament starting on the weekend. Ben Yu Three-time bracelet winner Ben Yu has been racking up cashes this year, with a total of 9 as of this writing. He finished in 7th place in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. for more than $75,000 and busted in 20th in the $5K Six-Max for another $21,838. He’s been making the money consistently, now it’s just time for him to break through and capture bracelet number four. The $50K Poker Players Championship gets underway on Sunday, October 31 and the final table will be played out live PokerGO on Friday, November 5.
It was a familiar scene on the set of the 2021 World Series of Poker $50,000 High Roller. With four players left and over $1.1 million up top, Australian sensation Michael Addamo held a massive chip lead over his final three opponents and looked to be cruising to yet another seven-figure victory. But Erik Seidel had other plans. With 40 big blinds and pocket eights in the small blind, he completed, perhaps anticipating some aggression from Addamo in the big blind. “If you’re a balanced player like Seidel, then you will have some limps from the small blind with strong hands,” said Maria Ho, who was calling the action. Addamo indeed did put in a raise, a hefty one. And after a few moments, Seidel three-bet shipped his remaining 40 big blinds only to be snap-called by Addamo holding ace-king. Seidel was ahead. Winning this hand would put the nine-time WSOP bracelet winner in the chip lead and in a position to make a little history. But Addamo is not simply running hot. He’s on a high-stakes sun run few have enjoyed and overcoming that has proven to be a tall task. “Seidel has 55%, but if I were Seidel I would feel like I have 20% against the way Addamo’s been running,” Ho said with a laugh. Almost as soon as she finished talking the dealer put a king on the flop with little-to-no help for Seidel. Even behind his mask, Seidel looked visibly annoyed. With just two outs left and headed to the river, Seidel began sliding his stack into the middle, resigned that today wasn’t his day. Once again this year, it was Addamo’s day. As Seidel grabbed his jacket and walked away, perhaps somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered when those looks of annoyment were directed at him. When it was he who was the high-stakes sun runner, on a seemingly unstoppable rampage through some of the biggest tournaments on the circuit. It was January 2011 and Seidel made the trip to the Aussie Millions in Melbourne. It was just months before Black Friday, and the Aussie Millions was preparing to run some of the biggest nosebleed tournaments ever held. Seidel, coming off a fourth-place finish in the PokerStars PCA $25K High Roller, hit a string of results that took the poker world by storm. First, he finished in third place in the Aussie Million A$100,000 for a $618,139 payday. Less than a week later he defeated a 20-runner field and took down the A$250,000 Super High Roller for $2,472,555, a win that remains his career-high score. From there, Seidel took down the 2011 LAPC High Roller, the $25,000 NBC Heads-Up Championship for $750,000, and, in May, bested another $100,000 Super High Roller in Las Vegas for another seven-figure score. Already a Poker Hall of Fame member, Seidel’s high-stakes dominance during this time captivated the poker public, it was called “The Year of Seidel” by PokerNews and it earned him more than $6.5 million - second only to WSOP Main Event winner Pius Heinz that year. In fact, it was such a phenomenon that in April of that year, there was a music video made in ‘Seiborg’s honor. Many thought we’d never see a high-stakes heater like that again. But, of course, we did. And a decade-long passing of the sun run crown began. A young, 23-year old seemingly serious media-shy Daniel Colman came out from behind his online grind in 2014 to shock the poker world. First with a win in the PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 High Roller for $2.1 million and months later defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up at the final table of the WSOP’s $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop for another $15 million victory. That was just the start for Colman. In August of that year, he grabbed back-to-back seven-figure scores with a runner-up finish in the EPT Barcelona €50,000 High Roller and then a signature big-field win in the $5,300 SHRPO Main Event. At the time Colman appeared to be the king of the high rollers desperate to abdicate, conflicted about the complexities of playing a game that meant when you win, someone loses. But by the end of the year, Coleman cashed in for an astounding $22,389,481, which, at the time, pushed him into the top 10 on the All-Time Money List. While Colman continued to crush, proving himself to be one of the all-time best, another young grinder began to turn heads as well. At the end of 2015, 22-year old Fedor Holz announced the start of his sun-running reign with a victory in the World Poker Tour $100,000 Alpha8 at the Five Diamond Classic in Las Vegas. The $1.5 million score was the first seven-figure win of his career and from that launch point, Holz went on a seemingly unstoppable tear through the high stakes. Weeks later Holz won again, this time in the 2016 Triton Super High Roller Series for just over $3 million. He took second in that year’s Super High Roller Bowl, won three high rollers at the Aria, and then picked up a gold bracelet in the 2016 $111,111 High Roller For One Drop for another $4.9 million. The massive scores were seemingly neverending. Months later he won again at EPT Barcelona. Even when he didn’t win, Holz was making final tables at nearly every stop he attended, ending the year with astounding $16 million in earnings and an article about him in Forbes Magazine to go with it. The rise of the German contingency, led by Holz, felt like a new era in poker, one that perhaps couldn’t be stopped or topped. However, in 2018, Justin Bonomo, who has long been considered one of the game’s best, with his origins in the online streets, emerged from the lab on an entirely different level. Prior to that year, Bonomo had always been successful and even had one seven-figure win in his career, back in 2012 - a resume-topping win for him. But in 2018 everything changed as Bonomo earned four million-dollar scores, all in spectacular fashion. A runner-up finish in January at the PokerStars PCA $100,000 for $1 million was just the start. In March he took down the Super High Roller Bowl China for a massive $4.8 million, a new career-high at the time. Two months later he repeated the feat, winning the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas for $5 million - another new high. Even that was eclipsed by his win in the 2018 WSOP $1M buy-in Big One For One Drop for a massive $10 million score. Staggering results from an inconceivable run. But Bonomo’s heater wasn’t limited to million-dollar scores, he outright won 10 different events that year, all high rollers, all for six figures or more. Bonomo, virtually unrivaled, earned more than $25.4 million that year alone as he took over the All-Time Money List lead from Daniel Negreanu. Bonomo’s stoic table demeanor and spot-on decisions were in stark contrast to the flash brought about by Bryn Kenney. In 2019, Kenney picked up the high-stakes heater torch and ran wild. Always a tough contender, Kenney hit a string of results at the right time when the stakes were at their highest. Between March and May of that year, Kenney lit up the Triton Poker Series. He scored a fourth and second-place finish in a pair of tournaments in Jeju for more than $3.5 million total. Then in May, he went back-to-back in Montenegro for a total of more than $4.1 million. Of course, Kenney’s streak peaked in August of that year when he posted the €1,050,000 buy-in for the Triton Million for Charity in London and ended up winning it all for a record $20,563,324 payday, more than enough to lift him to the top of the All-Time Money List. Kenney ended that year with more than $30 million in tournament earnings, accepting his newfound GOAT status. — In 2019, Michael Addamo already racked up a number of impressive scores, including a WSOP bracelet win. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t yet on a recreational player’s radar, he was more like an up-and-coming elite player poised for a breakout. In early 2020, at the Australian Poker Open, Addamo took down a pair of high rollers for a total of $1.5 million. He also picked up a pair of Super High Roller Bowl Online wins and a runner-up finish in the $100K Main Event for $1.187 million. To go with it, Addamo was (and still is) regularly killing the GGPoker Super MILLION$ online where he became the first player to win it all twice, then three times, then four. Now it’s late 2021 and Addamo has ascended. The new recipient of the high roller hot streak. An amazing barrage of wins that started just days after arriving in Las Vegas to play in the Super High Roller Bowl. Addamo first won the Poker Masters $50K for $680,000 and the subsequent $100K for another $1.16 million. Two days, $1.8 million in earnings. While waiting for the Super High Roller Bowl, Addamo scored a runner-up finish in an Aria High Roller for $322K and then, remarkably, dominated this year’s Super High Roller Bowl IV and defeated three-time SHRB champ, Bonomo, for a career-best $3.4 million score. He’s earned more than $7.2 of his live career $15.5 million in cashes in roughly one month. Like Seidel before him, Bonomo knows what’s it like when talent, preparation, and a little good fortune shines on you. And like Seidel just an hour earlier, Bonomo found himself all-in against a player who seemingly can do no wrong. Bonomo moved all-in with ten-nine off suit, likely hoping for a fold. But Addamo called with his king-jack suited and a massive pot with all the chips in this bracelet event was in the middle. When the turn hit, Bonomo's hand improved to trips and he simply needed to fade six outs on the river. But this is Addamo and this is now. So when an ace ripped off on the river to give Addamo the straight, the win, his third gold bracelet, and another seven-figure score Bonomo could only sigh, nod his head and congratulate his opponent. Afterward, when asked by reporters how all this success is coming to him, Addamo replied “I guess mostly luck. Obviously, there is some skill involved but winning this much, you can only really attribute it to luck in the end. So I’m very fortunate.” And there’s no telling just when (or if) that incredible good fortune will subside. So for now, Addamo, like others before him, enjoys the ride and will see where his talents, hard work, and good luck will take him. But whether Addamo leaves it, or it leaves Addamo, history has proven that a sun run will shine upon another high stakes player out there - as yet known or unknown - and the poker world will again be amazed by the results.
Less than one month ago, Michael Addamo and Justin Bonomo, two of the most respected nosebleed tournament players in the game today, faced off heads-up at the end of Super High Roller Bowl VI. On that day, Addamo walked away with the win and the $3.4 million prize. On Thursday at the 2021 World Series of Poker, the two heavyweights made it to the end of Event #38, the $50,000 High Roller, and faced off again for a high-stakes rematch - this time with a WSOP bracelet at stake. And once again, it was Addamo who came out on top, besting Bonomo and the 81 player field to walk away with another seven-figure score of $1,132,968. For the better part of two days, Addamo dominated the event. He held a healthy chip lead at the end of Day 1, aggressively extended it into Day 2, and started the final table with nearly 50% of the total chips in play at his disposal. Although Addamo did not go wire-to-wire at the final table, losing the chip lead to Bonomo for a brief period, he did ultimately eliminate all four of his final table opponents in order to take home the third gold bracelet of his career. Chris Hunichen started the final table as the short stack but managed to find a double against Justin Bonomo in the early goings and then again against Addamo. However, he was unable to keep the momentum when he squared off again against the chip-leading Addamo. With the blinds at 60,000/120,000 (120,000 bb ante). Addamo put in a raise to 200,000 on the button with [poker card="jh"][poker card="tc"] and with roughly 12 big blinds Hunichen defended his big blind holding [poker card="qh"][poker card="9h"]. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6s"] giving Addamo top pair and Hunichen an over and backdoor draws. Hunichen checked and Addamo continued for a small bet which Hunichen called. When the [poker card="8h"] fell on the turn, Hunichen open-shipped for his final 10 bigs and Addamo made the call. Hunichen was looking for a heart, a ten, or a queen to survive, however, the river was the [poker card="jd"] giving Addamo trips and sending ‘Big Huni’ out in fifth place for $266,031. A big clash between Addamo and 9-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Erik Seidel took place just 40 minutes later. The action folded to Seidel in the small blind who just completed holding [poker card="8h"][poker card="8d"]. Addamo, in the big blind, made it 480,000 with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"]. Seidel then shipped his last 40 big blinds and Addamo made the call. The flop came [poker card="kh"][poker card="js"][poker card="3s"] giving Addamo a huge lead in the hand. Seidel needed an eight and an eight only to survive. The turn came the [poker card="2h"] and before the [poker card="qs"] even completed the board Seidel was shipping his chips into the middle for Addamo. Seidel’s quest for bracelet #10 ended in fourth place for which he collected $358,655. Addamo held a massive chip lead but then something a little unexpected took place. Bonomo doubled through Addamo, and moments later Gal Yifrach did as well and for the first time in days, Addamo lost his chip lead as Bonomo became the big stack. However, that didn’t last long. Shortly after the three players returned from a break, with the blinds up to 80,000/160,000 (160,000 bb ante) Yifrach and Addmo played yet another big pot only this time, Addamo came out on top. After Bonomo folded his button, Yifrach limped in from the small blind with [poker card="ad"][poker card="7c"]. Addamo, holding [poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"], put in a raise to 520,000 in the big blind. Just like Seidel did in his bustout hand, Yifrach three-bet shipped his final 23 bigs and Addamo made the call with his pocket pair. The flop came [poker card="6s"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3s"] keeping Addamo’s eights in the lead but giving Yifrach a gutshot straight draw to go along with his one overcard. The turn was the [poker card="ks"] and Yifrach was left looking for an ace. The river was an ace, but it was the [poker card="as"] bringing in a flush for Addamo and ending Yifrach’s run in third place for $495,305. This set up what many people were hoping for, a rematch of the Super High Roller Bowl heads-up finale between Addamo and Bonomo, this time with a bracelet on the line. Addamo’s elimination of Yifrach helped him take back the chip lead, however, the difference in chips between the two was just four big blinds. Heads-up play wasn’t nearly as extensive as it could have been with both players sitting with more than 70 big blinds each. Bonomo grabbed an early lead and Addamo closed the gap. Addamo took a small lead before the final hand took place. On the button, Bonomo raised to 450,000 holding the [poker card="td"][poker card="9s"] and Addamo three-bet to 1.8 million from the big blind with his [poker card="kh"][poker card="jh"]. Bonomo then three-bet shipped for more than 11 million and Addamo, after a brief time in the tank, Addamo called for it all. "This is a big hand," Bonomo said as an understatement. "It's for all the chips basically," Addamo replied with a smile on his face. "How many bracelets do you have?" Bonomo asked. "Two. You?" "Three." "Get it even? Three each?" Addamo said. "I don't know if I agree to those terms," Bonomo joked right before the dealer fanned the flop. The flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="jc"][poker card="th"] bringing Bonomo bottom pair and a straight draw and giving Addamo middle pair and a straight draw as well. The turn was the [poker card="ts"] giving Bonomo trips and a chance to cripple Addamo. However, the river was the [poker card="ac"] bringing in Broadway for Addamo and eliminating Bonomo as the runner-up for a $700,228 score. Addamo picked up a career-high WSOP score of $1,132,968 (the 4th largest of his career) and his second WSOP gold bracelet. WSOP $50K High Roller Final Table Payouts Michael Addamo - $1,132,968 Justin Bonomo - $700,228 Gal Yifrach - $495,305 Erik Seidel - $358,665 Chris Hunichen - $266,031
The World Series of Poker’s Poker Hall of Fame announced the list of 10 finalists that will be considered for induction in 2021. The 32 living members of the Poker Hall of Fame will cast their vote from the shortlist, with just one earning the honor of induction on November 17. This year’s shortlist includes (in alphabetical order): Eli Elezra A businessman and four-time WSOP bracelet winner, Elezra has proven himself to be a world-class competitor in both high-stakes tournaments and cash games. He has more than $4.1 million in total live tournament earnings as well as a World Poker Tour title to his name. Additionally, Elezra built a reputation in the Las Vegas cash games and made appearances on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. Antonio Esfandiari Nicknamed “The Magician”, Esfandiari became one of the more popular personalities of the poker boom (along with his then partner-in-crime Phil Laak). He has three WSOP gold bracelets, two World Poker Tour titles, and is also well-known as the winner of the first-ever $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop for which he earned more than $18 million, helping push his lifetime earnings to more than $27 million. Chris Ferguson As a six-time WSOP bracelet winner (including the 2000 Main Event), the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year, and with a total of 142 WSOP cashes for more than $6.8 million Ferguson has one of the best resumes in WSOP history. However, his reputation off the felt took a critical blow in the aftermath of Black Friday as one of the primary parties of Full Tilt Poker and the debacle that followed when players were unable to get paid. Layne Flack Six-time WSOP bracelet winner Layne Flack is receiving a posthumous nomination after his sudden passing away in July of 2021. Flack was given the nickname “back-to-back” after winning two consecutive events in the 1999 Legends of Poker, and then picked up two bracelets in 2002 and again in 2003. Flack earned more than $5 million in lifetime tournament earnings as well as a World Poker Tour title. Ted Forrest The third six-time bracelet winner on this list is Ted Forrest who has 39 WSOP cashes for just over $2 million. Additionally, Forrest has a World Poker Tour title and a reputation as being an important personality in the early poker boom as well as a member of The Corporation, who took on billionaire Andy Beal made poker famous as The Suicide King in Michael Craig’s book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside The Richest Poker Game of All Time. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier One of the original online poker celebrities, Grospellier currently sits 47th on the All-Time Money List. With two WSOP bracelets and a WPT Championship victory in 2008, ‘ElkY’ has amassed more than $14 million in live earnings. However, with just one person making it into the Hall of Fame each year, Grospellier may be a long shot to get inducted in 2021. Mike Matusow Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow is one of poker’s most colorful characters but in addition to his polarizing personality, he boasts a decades-long resume of accomplishments. He’s a four-time bracelet winner with just under $10 million in career live earnings and he’s still ever-present at the WSOP today. Matusow’s strength is the impression he left and continues to leave on poker fans worldwide. Michael Mizrachi The top line of Mizrachi’s poker resume reads “Three-time $50,000 Poker Players Champion.” It’s an incredible feat and ’The Grinder’ is the only player to have pulled it off thus far. He’s a five-time WSOP bracelet winner, two-time WPT champion, and has accumulated over $17 million in live earnings and, at just 40 years old, is nominated in his first year of eligibility. Matt Savage The Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour, Savage is the most well-known TD in the game today. Nominated as a builder, Savage has been integral to the Tournament Directors Association helping shape the way that tournaments are played today. Isai Scheinberg PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg is one of the most influential businessmen from the poker boom era, getting much of the credit for helping drive the success of online poker both through marketing and the development of his platform. Also nominated as a builder, Scheinberg was key in helping U.S. players get refunded from a defunct Full Tilt Poker and now, with his legal troubles vs. the U.S. government behind him, he’s nominated for the second year in a row. The criteria for nomination into the Poker Hall of Fame remains that players must be 40 years of age, player for high stakes against acknowledged top competition while gaining the respect of their peers. They also need to have stood the test of time. In the builder category, they are judged on the overall growth and success of the game while providing indelible positive and lasting results. The enshrinement ceremony will be held on November 17 to coincide with the final table of the 2021 WSOP Main Event.
The robust crowd cheered as Phil Hellmuth rose from his seat and raised his arms in victory. He had finally done it, Hellmuth just won his record-extending 16th World Series of Poker gold bracelet after taking down Event #31 ($1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw) for $84,851. But when it was all said and done, the money was the last thing on his mind. “I’ve wanted a Deuce To Seven bracelet ever since the 1980’s since it was the coolest bracelet to win because it’s the one tournament that Chip [Reese] and Doyle [Brunson] showed up for. All the big-name poker players, Billy Baxter, all the champions showed up for that,” he said. “And I wanted that bracelet so badly.” “And so I’ve been fighting so ****ing hard for this bracelet for so long in the Deuce to Seven…but yeah, it feels really good.” Hellmuth weaved his way through the 272-entry field, to make his fourth final table of the series. He started the day second in chips and battled through an up-and-down day in the chip counts. Once the final table of eight players was set, he outlasted the likes of Dario Sammartino, Rep Porter, and Chris Vitch until he was finally heads-up with Jake Schwartz, who was playing for his first bracelet. Hellmuth started heads-up at a slight chip deficit but quickly managed to turn the tide and grab a commanding four-to-one chip lead. The two agreed to take a 45-minute break and when they returned Hellmuth went to work, chipping away at Schwartz's stack and, roughly 20 minutes later, ended Schwartz's run in second place. Hellmuth then stood and lifted two fists in the air, made his way over to the rail where his wife and longtime friend Mike Matusow were waiting to congratulate him. Nearly two dozen fans snapped photos and cheered as Hellmuth basked in the victory. He then returned to the poker table, and as he prepared to take a barrage of winners photos, it looked as if a wave of emotion came over him. He sat center stage and held his head in his hands. “I told myself if I ever won a Deuce bracelet, I thought maybe I’d cry afterward,” he said, reflecting on that moment. “Because I wanted this Deuce bracelet so badly and because of the extreme effort I’ve put in this year.” It was a week of roller-coaster emotions for Hellmuth, one that started out with him making a deep run in the $10K Stud. But after a pivotal hand against Anthony Zinno, Hellmuth lost his temper, and his alter-ego, “The Poker Brat”, burst onto the stage. Hellmuth’s extended tirade, one of the most explosive of his career, made the rounds on social media and had players talking at the tables in the Rio for days. Hellmuth then spent the better part of the next 24 hours tweeting apologies, making amends, and insisting he could do better. And he did do better. It didn’t take long for Hellmuth to regroup from that chaos and get back to work with a renewed focus on his mantra of positivity. “I told myself no swearing tirades, no threats…now I swore a little bit and I’m sure the camera caught it but it was a lot mellower because I went too far the other day.” When reflecting on what took place over the past week, Hellmuth likened the uproar to his 2018 feature table clash with James Campbell. In that, an angry Hellmuth “folded kinda out of turn” and it cost Campbell an important hand. To make up for it, Hellmuth bought Campbell into the Main Event for the next year. “There were like 2000 negative tweets about what an asshole I was,” he said. “It was a record. And then four days later I won a bracelet and there were 3000 positive tweets. So I told my wife, I said ‘Honey, all this negative press it feels like 2018' where I’m just going to pop a bracelet and turn most the stuff back to positivity.” “And that’s what happened…but I think it’s kind of weird.” With Hellmuth finally breaking through for number 16, he insists that he’s going to spend very little time before working on what’s next. He’s planning on taking a day off, showing up for a bracelet ceremony, and then getting back to the bracelet chase “immediately.” “I’ve always said I’m going to win 24 bracelets. I started saying that in 1993 and then [Phil] Ivey said he might win 30. I just have this weird sense that I’ll win at least 24 bracelets…but they’re not that easy to win in the mixed games." Hellmuth throws out Ivey’s name as, maybe, the one player with a shot to catch his WSOP gold bracelet record. However, it will likely take a great deal of time before any player even makes a credible push in that arena, if ever. Of course, Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, and Johnny Chan each have 10 bracelets, but Brunson is effectively retired from playing WSOP events and Chan is not as active as he once was. There was speculation that Ivey might (and still may) show up to this World Series of Poker now that his legal troubles in the U.S. are behind him - but he has yet to make an appearance. Those factors make Hellmuth’s 16th an even bigger gap for those who would have an eye on catching him. With five cashes, four final tables, and a bracelet in hand, Hellmuth states that this “has to be” the best start to a series in his career. And, that in addition to getting to work on number 17, he’s going to take aim at the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. It’s something he thinks is well within reach, especially with his recent success in mixed games. “I think because I don’t have enough mixed game bracelets, I haven’t really been getting my due in these games,” he said. “You know, I’ve just kind of exploded in the last 10 tournaments.” “I’m showing everybody, hey, I’m pretty good.”
Daniel ‘SmilleThHero’ Smiljkovic enjoyed some of the biggest scores of his career in the month of September. His success in the month not only helped him break into the Online Poker Rankings top 5 for the first time in his career, but it also clinched his second career Online Player of the Month honors in less than a year. Smiljkovic racked up 4,241 leaderboard points in September thanks to a handful of key victories in some of online poker’s biggest series. At the end of the first week, on September 7, he took down the GGPoker WSOP Online $525 Bounty Hunter High Roller for $16,960 and 435.23 points. The very next day, he was in the winner’s circle again, this time during the 2021 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker, earning another $61,090 (his largest cash of the month) and 591.61 by winning Event #75 ($530 NLHE). September 9 was a key date for him as he made several deep runs at the same time, earning five-figure scores and heaps of leaderboard points. It started off with a runner-up finish in the GGPoker WSOP Online $525 Bounty Hunter where he picked up $14,607. The heat continued with a fourth-place result in WCOOP Event #80-L ($019 NLHE PKO Mini Thursday Thrill) for $15,418. At the same time, Smiljkovic was battling at the final table of WCOOP Event #82-H ($2,100 NLHE) where he ended up falling in fifth place for $28,771. In total, Smiljkovic finished in the money 55 times for a total of $308,708. Not the most volume by any means, but his deep runs in large fields events was enough to help propel him to a career-high ranking of #3 in the world, as well as lift him to the top of the leaderboard. Lucio ‘Llima92’ Lima (3,866 points) also thrived in the month of September, finishing in second place while climbing to new heights on the Online Poker Rankings. Lima, currently grinding the mid-to-high stakes, put in a ton of volume last month. He amassed more than 170 in-the-money finishes, seven of which were for five figures, for a total earn of just over $394,000. His largest score came on September 16 when he took down the GGPoker $1,050 Wednesday Double Stack for $58,148 and 531.04 leaderboard points. That barely eclipsed his fifth-place finish in the GGPoker $777 Lucky Sevens on September 5 in which he earned $53,331 and 464.22 points. He also did damage during the 2021 PokerStars WCOOP. First, on September 10, he final tabled Event #85-H ($2,100 NLHE PKO) for more than $18,000 and 212.32 points. He was back at a WCOOP final table in Event #101-H ($1,050 PLO 6-Max) where he finished in fourth place for $20,090 and another 218.94 points. By the end of the month, Lima hit as high as #16 in the world, just one spot higher than his current rank of #17. Russian superstar Anatoly ‘nl_profit’ Filatov rounds out the top 3 for September with 3,565 leaderboard points. In an online career that spans nearly a decade, September was a career month for Filatov which included the largest win of his life. READ: Career Year of Online Success Takes Anatoly Filatov To $10 Million On September 21, Filatov won the GGPoker WSOP Circuit Super MILLION$ for $1.2 million, far-and-away the most money he ever won online. However, the tournament didn’t qualify for leaderboard points, missing the cut-off by a single entry. However, that wasn’t the only score that made Filatov’s fall amazing. Out of his 27 in-the-money finishes, seven were for five figures or more. Although his Super MILLION$ win was likely the highlight of his career, it’s unlikely Filatov ever had another day like September 7. On that day he finished as the runner-up in the GGPoker WSOP High Rollers for $63,252 while at the same time wrapping up a third-place result in WCOOP Event #71 High ($2,100 NHLE) for another $76,538. During both of those tournaments, he was playing on the GGPoker live stream in that week’s Super MILLION$ where he finished in third place for $250,053. All told, Filatov earned more than $1.7 million of his $12.6 million lifetime online earnings in September. September 2021 Online Player of the Month Results [table id=265 /]
This article is an op-ed. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. I was surprised, but not shocked, on Monday when I saw on social media that a man decided to play in this year's World Series of Poker Ladies Event. Minnesota-based poker player Tom Hammers paid the $10,000 entry fee (rather than the discounted $1,000 buy-in available to women) to take a seat so he could, in his words, play for charity and “help women in general.” However, even if Hammers had good intentions by circumventing the obvious will of the WSOP and entering the Ladies Event, his misguided action reeks of condescension, bringing negative attention to an otherwise traditionally fun event, and leaves him as an outlier sucking up the spotlight. While one can’t be certain, it’s safe to say that if the law would allow, the World Series of Poker would restrict the Ladies Event to women and those who identify as such. The law in Nevada prohibits the WSOP from exclusion based on gender so in order to try and de-incentivize men from playing, a few years back they raised the buy-in to $10,000 and give women a discount to $1,000. As if the fact that it’s called the Ladies Event weren’t enough, the 10x buy-in for men should be a clear signal that, like the Seniors Event, the series would like to have this event be a special one for a specific group. I have yet to hear of a compelling reason to have a male enter the Ladies Event. Prop bet? Unfunny. Sexist? Sad. Nothing else to play that day? Lazy. Now, charity. Who doesn’t love charity? Charity sounds great. And Hammers laid out a plan in which he would play to raise money with any potential winnings for two unspecified woman’s charities “One for a battered women’s shelter, and maybe a homeless women’s type thing..”. No guarantees. As if a surefire $10,000 donation wouldn’t be enough. Hammers, who has Hendon Mob results dating back to 2004 and is a longtime member of the poker community, must have thought that his entering the Ladies Event was worth so much more than the $10,000 he had in hand. He must have thought that he should spend the $10k to enter the event - being well aware of how it would be perceived and the headlines it would bring - in order to make even more (which would require him to make the final table, finishing in at least 8th) which he would then donate. He was the guy to do this. He must have thought that disrupting the event, even disrupting the experience in the slightest for the women who played it, was going to be worth it. Or maybe he didn't think about any of that. Many on social media vouch for Hammers as being one of poker’s good guys. He’s called a “super nice guy”, “literally one of the best possible humans anyone could meet”, and a “true gentleman.” And perhaps he is. Which would make his decision even more confounding. Is that why he thought it was ok? He’s so well-known, well-liked that women - who are expecting that in just one tournament in the entire 98 bracelet event schedule, they could have a single event to themselves - would grant him the exception and be so stoked to have him. Is it a win-win because of the $10,000 juicing of the prize pool? Was that a donation? If so, he could have bought in and blinded off. Just walked away and thanked the women for being a part of the poker community. He could have offered a cash prize to the winner or an extra $1,000 to the final ten. He never had to play a hand. Am I wrong? I’m happy to be wrong here. Help me understand where the selflessness comes in. Help me understand how there are not five different ways Hammers could have chosen the platform of the Ladies Event to contribute or bring awareness to women’s causes without being a disturbance to the event. Without having to play. The notion that “not everyone was thrilled” or that him playing for charity brought "different vibes" is downplaying the insult that some of these women must feel whenever a man ignores the title of Ladies Event and opts to put themselves above that community just because they can - even if it’s “all in the name of charity.” https://twitter.com/KatieStonePoker/status/1447786587199348737?s=20 In the end, Hammers busted. Sorry charity, no winnings this year. But I have hope that Hammers is the good guy that his friends vehemently support and that when all is said and done he will find another way, perhaps while the event is still going on, to research the women’s charities “type things” he’s passionate about and make an actual donation in the name of the Ladies Event.
The World Series of Poker’s debut of the popular GGPoker Flip and Go format took place this weekend and, love it or hate it, the tournament and its opening flights brought some old-school action back to the players in the Rio. For the uninitiated, Event #20 ($1,000 FLIP & GO) worked like this: eight players at a table are each dealt three hole cards. Next, the dealer puts out the flop. After seeing the flop, every player chooses one card to throw away, leaving themselves with the two cards they think will have the best chance of surviving to the end. Once discarded, most players turned their hands face up as the dealer delivered the turn and the river. The best hand of the eight wins and that player advances into the money. If there’s a chopped pot, those players run it back until there is a single winner. From there, the tournament is played like a traditional event. Some call the quick-paced prelims the ultimate rec-friendly tournament, removing all of the time-intensive early play hurdles while delivering the thrill of late-stage play and the promise of a payday within minutes. Others, however, call it “flipping for a bracelet." Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to deny that the Flip & Go brought a buzz to the Pavilion. At first glance, many thought that players had just a couple of shots at winning their flips. The two flights of the tournament on the official starting day, Sunday, October 10. But in reality, the Flip and Go played more like a Phase Tournament - whenever eight players were interested in flipping, they could get together in the single table satellite area of the Pavilion and hold their own opening stage. In fact, these on-demand flights were offered very early on in the series - as early as October 1. However, the word didn’t really get around until GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu rallied the troops and decided to spend some time taking shots in them. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1446339035169886209?s=20 Like many other online Phase tournaments, where players are able to fire in as many opening flights as they’d like in order to bag chips for a Day 2, bankroll is a big consideration here. The consistent firing of on-demand tables had the look of the old school bracelet rebuys of years ago, back when Negreanu - with a virtually unlimited bankroll - would fire, take thin (or even -EV spots), and just to go broke so he could snap rebuy in order to get more chips on the table to win back later. It’s not apples-to-apples here. Once you advance you start equal to everyone else, but there is a bankroll threshold in this particular Flip and Go of just how many times will it take before you win that 8-handed all-in. And, for a recreational player, how many flips can you lose before they can no longer take any more shots. Once Negreanu sat down, the action heated up as captured by WSOP Social Media guru Kevin Mathers. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446606036027117569?s=20 It was clear that once people got going, they were having a good time. Enough to want to take more shots. The fast-paced action is packed with adrenaline, knowing that if you win this one flip you are already in the money. But trying to get to the money phase turned out to be costly for a number of high-profile pros who found themselves on the negative side of variance and ended up being too long to be wrong. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446620888816750597?s=20 https://twitter.com/KevinRobMartin/status/1446614893877084164?s=20 The criticism of bringing Flip & Go’s to the WSOP was not unexpected and, for traditionalists, understandable. For some, removing the skill edge and nuances of navigating the early stages of large-field tournaments and leaving it up to luck may feel like a betrayal of the game. However, to say that strategy is out the window in the first phase of a Flip & Go wouldn’t be accurate. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1447078276569055232?s=20 When all was said and done on Sunday, 155 players advanced. With a total of 1232 entries at $1,000 a pop, the prize pool swelled to just over $1.1 million. An impossible number without having run the on-demand single tables for days in advance. Estimates have it that in the two scheduled Sunday flights roughly 50 people advanced as compared to over 100 who advanced by grinding the single tables between Thursday through Sunday. https://twitter.com/dwpoker/status/1447343223844728832?s=20 The min-cash was $2,000, double your money. But for some, that’s barely going to make a dent in the damage it took to get there. For a player like David Williams, who, as noted above fired 19 times, nothing less than the final table in the Flip & Go was going to get him even. Unfortunately for him, while it goes down on record as a cash, a 117th place finish for $2,155, Williams will have to rely on his second-place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud for $50,842 to get him out of the flippin’ hole. At the end of Day 1, just 23 players remained in the Flip & Go Event. The remaining runners will play down to a winner on Monday, October 11 with a first-place prize of more than $180,000. https://youtu.be/EVxoBPCGNP8
We’re only a week into the 2021 World Series of Poker and it’s clear that this year Phil Hellmuth means business. There’s no indulging his inner Colonel Kurtz on a celebrity-fueled trip in the jungle or any other early-series shenanigans. Instead, Hellmuth has been at the Rio, in his seat, at the tables, and off to one of the best WSOP starts of his career. At stake for him, a record-extending bracelet #16 and yet another chance to give his doubters a lesson in #POSITIVITY and White Magic. Just take a look at his early receipts. In the first seven days, Hellmuth has made a deep run in three different events. None of which are a No Limit Hold’em tournament, the format that he won 12 of his 15 bracelets in. The smallest of his cashes came in Event #7 ($1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed) where he made the final three tables and finished in 18th place for (a paltry) $4,429. In the first days of the series, Hellmuth tackled the $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. (Event #2) in which he made the final table. He fell just short of taking it down when he busted in sixth place for $95,329. His latest feat is his effort in Event #9 ($10,000 Omaha 8 Championship) in which he grinded a short stack to the live-streamed final table but ultimately fell in fifth place for another $80,894. Hellmuth’s results are not only good for a person’s fantasy team, but it’s an indication that Hellmuth is playing at the peak of his poker powers. It’s important to have momentum, which is an undeniable force in the game - just ask Michael Addamo. Hellmuth's coming so close that should the stars align, he could be taking another winner’s photo soon enough. At the same time though, you can see “The Poker Brat” lurking in the background. Like Dexter’s "Dark Passenger", Hellmuth is seemingly always just a trigger (or bad beat) away from unleashing the beast. And we’ve already seen it once in this series, in Event #2. In a hand against the eventual winner, businessman Jesse Klein, Hellmuth fired on multiple streets of a Razz hand but couldn’t shake Klein. In the end, Hellmuth lost the hand and lost his temper. PokerNews described it that he “walked away from the table with plenty of swear words to be heard.” A big of a badge of honor for Klein who said that he enjoyed the outburst and it made him laugh. But in the aftermath, Hellmuth posted a bit of an emo photo and expressed his disappointment at missing out. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1444470919204769803?s=20 With as much confidence and momentum that Hellmuth is likely feeling, he’s also been peppering his fans with the notion that his #POSITIVITY is being tested by the fact that he’s falling short after getting so close. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1445332610905886723?s=20 After his elimination in fifth place in the $10K Omaha 8, Hellmuth walked over his longtime friend Mike Matusow on the rail, understandably visibly frustrated. “What the ****, I never caught a break,” he said. “I watched Ari [Engel] win every hand for hours. I can’t wait until I play against him next time. I let him steal, steal, steal…he plays so fast. It’s so frustrating.” “I deserve better,” he continued. “But it doesn’t matter….deserve is a bad word, right? Because I mean I have 15 bracelets…let’s not get too negative, let’s stay positive. They don’t really play the game that well, it’s very frustrating.” Of course, every poker player knows how it feels to finish in any position other than first. It’s not a good feeling. But for Hellmuth, his frustration isn’t about not winning more money. It’s not about the money at all. He has pulled in a nice haul of more than $180,000 in seven days, but that amount is likely negligible to Hellmuth. His real bread and butter is in the clout. Everything that comes to him by chasing - and winning - bracelets. It’s what his reputation is built on, it’s how he gets his Brain-Food-Altcoin sponsorships, and it’s what gets him invited into the (presumably) soft Silicon Valley cash games. It's brought him legions of fans, put him on beer cans, and, ultimately, is part of his identity. It’s an understatement to say that winning bracelets is hard. It’s difficult to even have the opportunity - let alone two in a week. And when winning a bracelet, literally means more advantages will come your way than can be bought with the money, there's even more pressure. The kind of run Hellmuth is on would overwhelm mere mortals with joy. But Hellmuth’s playing an entirely different game. “I have the biggest deal of my life…I’m going to be meeting with a guy today,” he told Matusow. “I was hoping to have a bracelet on my wrist when I met with him.” Hellmuth’s on a heater right now and for those following his WSOP journey closely, it feels like it’s just a matter of time. A matter of time before he breaks through and wins another historic bracelet or breaks down for another historic tantrum. Both would be preferable. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1444479029478768645?s=20
Gary Gulman is great. If you’ve seen him perform you likely think so too. An incredibly funny comedian with years in the game and a loyal fan base. If you haven’t seen him, or don’t know by name, he’s got highlights galore on YouTube - well worth going down the rabbit hole to check out. Some might call Gulman, a “comic’s comic” - a guy who has been in the industry for years, respected by his peers for being a real pro and enjoyed by those that know him. He's a guy who likely deserves even more notoriety than he gets. And what he gets is pretty good. In poker, Connor Drinan is a lot like that. A long-time established pro, well-known and respected by those who play the game at the highest level. But even with all his success and accolades, he’s still underrated. He’s not the guy you see on old ESPN broadcasts or a new young gun high-roller featured on the current slate of PokerGO programming, but Connor Drinan has his poker resume to the point where he should be considered one of the best American grinders in the game today - not just by his peers but by the public at large. So when this past week at the World Series of Poker Drinan took the chip lead into the final table of Event #5 ($1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better), few inside the industry were surprised that he came out the other side with the win, the $163,252 first-place prize, and the second gold bracelet of his career. Few were surprised because this is what Drinan does, he just wins. It’s been seven years since Drinan seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Then, a 25-year old poker pro who survived the star-studded $25,000 satellite to win his seat in the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament at the WSOP. Drinan didn’t initially make an impression by simply earning his way into one of the biggest tournaments of all time, he did it by being on the losing end of what is still considered one of the worst beats in WSOP history. PokerGO founder Cary Katz and Drinan were both all-in, both holding pocket aces. But Katz held the ace of hearts - and when the board brought a four-flush of hearts, Drinan hit the rail. But that was by no means the end of him, of course. In fact, it was just the beginning of him putting up years of impressive online and live scores. That same year he traveled to Macau to play in the APPT Super High Roller, grabbing a (then) career-high score of more than $657,000. Six figure-scores soon followed. He recorded three in 2015 before he went on to finish in third place in the inaugural Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas for his current career-best $3.2 million. For the better part of the next two years, Drinan remained a part of the nosebleed tournament scene hauling in cashes, many of which make up a large part of him more than $11 million in career live earnings, currently good for 78th on the All-Time Money List. At the same time, Drinan was absolutely crushing online poker and still does to this day. He reached as high as #4 in the world back in 2014, having moved to Canada from Chicago post-Black Friday in order to grind. He has more than $9 million in online earnings and a slew of impressive titles. According to data found on the PokerStars blog, Drinan holds three WCOOP titles dating back to 20016. His biggest score is a victory in the 2018 $10K High Roller for $385,762. In the 2020 PokerStars SCOOP he really triumphed. Playing from Mexico, Drinan broke Shaun Deeb’s single series victory record by taking down six SCOOP titles. Five of those victories came in a nine-day span where he collected more than $550,000. That same year, Drinan earned his first WSOP gold bracelet during the GGPoker 2020 WSOP Online Series, handing business in the $10K Super MILLION$ bracelet event for a massive $1.4 million score. You get it, right? Drinan is absolutely elite. So why doesn’t he get that elite treatment from poker fans? There’s no doubt that within the tight-knit “poker community” (and "Poker Twitter") Drinan is top-tier. Respected and adored. Just take a look at those players congratulating him on his recent bracelet victory - Tony Dunst, Chris Moorman, Martin Jacobson, and 2019 WSOP Player of the Year Robert Campbell among others. For daily grinders and top pros, Drinan is a very big deal. But that hasn’t trickled down to poker enthusiasts. Despite being in the game for 14 years and accomplishing all he’s accomplished Drinan, for the most part in the eyes of fans, remains that guy who lost “aces to aces for a million dollars”. Perhaps Drinan prefers it that way. It’s hard to find much media featuring him - a short interview or two, no podcasts to speak of. He just goes about his business, dominating tournaments and, when they are done, giving short quotes and never taking too much credit. When asked by PokerNews reporters about his Omaha 8 win, Drinan simply replied “I just played my normal game and ran good.” That was basically it. Drinan shouldn’t need to say very much for fans to take notice. He’s earned his impressive poker resume and that should speak for him with those who follow the game taking note. But since that’s easier said than done, here’s another piece reminding fans about the greatness of Connor Drinan - a pro’s pro who, with yet another major win, has earned himself a little more shine.
It’s incredibly difficult to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Even in an era where more than 160 will be added to poker resumes this calendar year, it still takes being one among tens of thousands of players who take their shot at winning one of the most coveted trophies in the game. But as hard as it is to win a bracelet, it’s perhaps just as (if not even more) difficult to win the title of WSOP Player of the Year. There are maybe two dozen players at most that can be considered frontrunners with a realistic shot at being immortalized on a POY banner. The reasons it’s so difficult are many - from the mental fortitude of the time, as well as having a bankroll big enough to compete. And over the years, it’s only become more difficult. The award was first introduced in 2004, with only 15 players yet to earn the honor. Daniel Negreanu is the only player to have won it twice and, without a live series in 2020, Robert Campbell was, famously, the last to win the award in 2019. Here at the start of the 2021 WSOP, a number of players will once again have designs on winning the award. Five of the 15 took the time to talk about what it takes to compete for the WSOP Player of the Year race and what will get it done here in 2021. “It's just playing your A-game all day, every day,” said Shaun Deeb, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2018 Player of the Year. “You have to play 50-some-odd days straight. That's a real grind. From my online background, I play every day. I'm good at that. “And make sure you play everything. You can't just play Mixed Games, you can’t just play No Limit. To win Player of the Year, someone's going to play 50-plus events or 70% of the total events out there, whatever it ends up being.” Daniel Negreanu agrees. The two-time Player of the Year (2004, 2013) says that no matter how many events you are willing to play, someone out there is likely looking to take even more shots. “I think, if someone's actually trying to chase Player of the Year, the most important advice is that if you're serious about it, you really need to be willing to put in a ton of volume,” Negreanu said. “There's no week off or two weeks off. To give yourself the best chance, you want to play the maximum number of events based on [the points system] and most importantly, one of your best chances to win, is going to be to learn Mixed Games. “If you don't play mixed games, it's going to be tough for you to accrue really big amounts of points,” he continued. “Because in these big field No Limits, you can min-cash a lot but they're also incredibly hard to make the final table and win. Whereas, if you play mixed games, sometimes you're playing against a field of a hundred. So, if you make the final table or win you can include some pretty big numbers.” Mixed games have become an important component of the Player of the Year. It’s been rare to have a POY that doesn’t accumulate crucial points through the variety of poker variants. But it has happened. Jeff Madsen did it in 2006 by winning a pair of NLHE events. In 2012, Greg Merson accomplished it was well after taking down the $10,000 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em Championship followed by becoming the Main Event champion. However, as the points system has evolved, mixed games have become a more prominent factor. Winners have needed to be able to balance a schedule that includes whatever tournament is running on any given day. “The Player of the Year was really, originally, established to help encourage the participation in all the events that weren't No Limit Texas Hold'em. Specifically, to have a counterbalance to the WSOP main event,” said Frank Kassela, 2010 Player of the Year and three-time bracelet winner. Kassela, who grabbed gold in the $2,500 Razz and the $10K Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship that year, notes that competing in every event isn’t just a matter of having the knowledge of how to play those games well, but having the means to do it. “I mean the most challenging thing right now for anybody that wants to try to win Player of the Year is the amount of expense they’ve added to being competitive because of all of the rebuys,” Kassela said. “Like when I did it, the year I won, was one of the first years that they were allowing even double rebuys in some of the events like No Limit Deuce and PLO. “I feel like it got so crazy the end of the last year between Sean and Daniel. I mean, whoever could afford it was the one most likely to win it.” Of course, last year, neither Deeb nor Negreanu won it. It was Robert Campbell who officially walked away with the title but only after it was awarded to Negreanu. An error in the points awarded was discovered and the title was “taken back” from Kid Poker and correctly assigned to Campbell. “I think probably the most important part nowadays is to understand the point system, which I really didn't focus on that when I won,” said 2007 Player of the Year Tom Schneider. “In 2013, I had a good chance of winning it had the rules been the same as they were before. I don't even know what the rules are this year, to be honest. So understanding of the point system, determining how valuable cashes are versus winning.” Knowledge of all the games. Check. Understanding the points system and what’s more valuable. Check. Having the resources to play as many events as possible. Check. But while all of those are important items to keep in mind, 2015 WSOP Player of the Year Mike Gorodinsky says it’s keeping the totality of the grind in check in order to be at your best is what’s really needed. “My biggest piece of advice would be to simply not put yourself into a position where you're likely to burn out,” Gorodinsky said. “Outside of a very small handful of guys who have the bankroll, skill-set, and love of the game to show up at the Rio every day and just blast through whatever tournaments happen to be that day, there aren't many people that I've met over the years, myself included, who can spend 12+ hours at the Rio every day and come out at the end of the summer not feeling like they've aged 10 years. “Remember that poker is supposed to be fun! Setting up a 40 tournament schedule may seem exciting and optimal a few months out before the series starts up, but the reality of that day-to-day grind, especially if you're not making frequent deep runs, is pretty grim. So just pace yourself, play what you're excited about/good at, and let the results come as they will.” When Gorodinsky won it, he said he didn’t start the series with the intent of winning the title but “as the results started to roll in and the possibility of it actually became attainable, I definitely did play more tournaments than I otherwise would have.” When Schneider went to the WSOP in 2007, he said he had a goal of playing an increased schedule but, more specifically, he wanted “to make three final tables.” The POY wasn’t in his sights at the start. He reached his goal of three final tables, winning two of them, and he said he did it by not getting distracted by the chase. “I know that some people have a strategy of playing, entering three events at the same time, then going over playing a little bit. That was never my strategy,” Schneider said. “My strategy was to focus on the event that I was playing. I think a lot of times you can get distracted. And when you're running really good and you got lots of money, it probably doesn't hurt, but my strategy was more play the events that I felt like I had the best chance of winning.” That mental strain can get to anybody, the feeling that in order to keep pace, you need to play everything. That includes the smaller buy-in, large field No Limit events that take up valuable time and mental energy away from being able to focus on the big-time events like the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (the very event that clinched the award for Gorodinsky in 2015.) “The hardest part for me and the part that really doesn't help me is, it's frankly really easy to cash in these small buy-in events. Like the big, huge field events. You could late regs, you play for a couple of hours, and you're in the money,” Negreanu said. “You get points for that. And, to add that to a schedule of all these big $10,000 and $25,000, that can be really taxing. I wish that wasn't the case. I would prefer an adjustment to this formula where instead of counting, 30 cashes, you count your top 12 and go from there, for example. That way, these little min-cashes don't really make the difference, because they kind of do now. So, that's probably the hardest part is just having to play multiple events in a day and late [registering] and all that sort of stuff.” “The toughest part of the WSOP/POY grind for me personally is always the lifestyle that's required to do it,” Gorodinsky added. “I’m someone who both values their sleep, as well as their time outdoors, so while I definitely love playing tournament poker, doing it day in/day out for two straight months wears pretty heavily on me. Getting into the mindset of playing until 2-3 AM most nights and then coming back to Day 2 restarts 12 hours later or less is always the toughest part of it for me. For Schneider though, any potential problems that took place while he was en route to his banner are pains that have subsided over time. “It didn't feel like a grind,” Schneider said looking back. “I mean, most poker players love poker and at the time I loved poker. The opportunity to sit in another tournament and play a tournament with big fields and big money, it's not a grind. Just like I don't think The Masters golf tournament would be a grind to golfers. I mean, I'm sure they would think that of course is tough and they got to think about every shot and all that, but that's every time they go out and play. But it's more of a privilege than that grind. That's the way I looked at it.” But Schneider, who continues his work as a CFO outside of poker, admits that he won’t be in the running this year, opting out of attending citing the WSOP COVID policies. Gorodinsky also feels like it’s unlikely he’ll take another shot at it this year. He will be in Las Vegas with plans on playing the series this year including the majority of the bigger buy-in mixed game events. But he says he doesn’t want to prioritize playing tournaments when maybe a day spent rock climbing is what he’s in the mood for. “Honestly, it isn't really a goal for me to win it again,” Gorodinsky said. “Would I go for it if I had a strong start to the summer? Absolutely. I love poker and competition in general, so the POY chase with a few other guys sounds pretty fun, but it's not an intention of mine to claim the title again." Kassela says that he’ll be back in town in early October with nearly a quarter-million of buy-ins on his schedule. That may or may not be enough to contend for the POY title but he thinks it would be a bad idea to count him out. “Well, I mean, because of my style of play, I feel like even with an abbreviated schedule compared to other people, that I'm as much of a threat to win Player of the Year as anybody else, because I'm very streaky. When I get in the zone, I've had multiple times over my poker years where I'll hit three or four final tables in a week. And I'll get in those... And if you win a bracelet, win another bracelet, come in third…you just go, bam, bam, bam, a few things like that, you're just kind of leading the pack.” Then there’s the rivalry between Negreanu and Deeb. There was a time it was personal, but Negreanu has been public about how the pair have buried the hatchet. But in no uncertain terms, both players, once again, have their sights set on taking the POY in 2021. “Yeah, I'll be in the running,” said Negreanu. “I’m not going to be as insane about it, where I'm playing every $400 event or whatever. I'm going to see how the first half goes, but really my focus is actually to win some bracelets as well. And usually, when that happens, you have a good chance to win Player of the Year. But I'll be grinding all the big, high roller events and big stuff like that. So, that bodes well for my chances, for sure.” “I pretty much go out there and my goal is to win Player of the Year,” Deeb said. “I got second in 2019, got first in 2018, but I really want to win it again. And basically, that's my goal. Try to be like Johnny Chan a little bit.” But when it comes to winning Player of the Year, there’s really only so much one can control. “The only other thing I was going to add, being just generally more open advice, is it's important to get a fast start,” Kasella added. “I know the years I feel like I've got a shot at Player of the Year have those moments when you win your first bracelet in the first week or two. I think it was the sixth or seventh day in 2010 when I won $10K Stud 8-or-Better. And then I won the Razz bracelet six days later. “When you get a ‘Bam-bam’…when lightning strikes early, makes it much easier.”
The Rio is absolutely packed and the energy has been electric as players have found their way back to the World Series of Poker. To chase bracelets, maybe win some cash, and to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of bad beats. But also, to be a small part of something bigger. The Reunion, the first massive field event of the fall, is capturing all of that nicely. The idea was to have a coming together of poker players to reignite the fire of live tournament poker and to, essentially, enjoy making moments in one of the most prestigious series in poker. For the most part, the players have embraced it. Lively table talk and laughs can be heard while taking laps through Brasilia. Hand histories between friends fill the hallway and while, yes, there are some formidable lines to get into The Reunion, many of those would-be bracelet winners are demonstrating the kind of patience that is praised as a profitable trait in the game. But as much as The Reunion is a time to celebrate, it’s also a good time to remember. It’s been more than 800 days since the last hand of the 2019 WSOP was dealt and in that time poker has lost a number of notable figures in the community that has made the WSOP great. Players who have made a lasting impact on and off the felt with their play and personalities. Players who are no longer able to join us to enjoy the final WSOP at the Rio. Mike Sexton is one of those players. The legendary voice of the World Poker Tour was an avid player at the WSOP. There’s simply no doubt that if he could be at the start of the 2021 series, he would. Sexton’s charm could light up a table and his $2.6 million in earnings let you know he could also take it down. His passing in September 2020 was a massive loss to the poker world and there’s a bit of a void for a high-profile, old-school player who is willing to mix it up at all levels of buy-ins. His last time at the series was in 2019, in the final event, the $1,500 Closer where he finished 61st for more than $8K. Layne Flack got his “Back-To-Back” nickname at the WSOP. A Las Vegas resident and six-time bracelet winner, Flack’s outgoing personality helped define the early ESPN poker boom broadcasts. Flack played all the games and locked up two of his six wins in 2003, first in a $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo and then six days later in a $1,500 Limit Shootout. After Flack’s sudden passing, at 52, the poker world remembered him for his sense of humor and quick wit. Undoubtedly, he’d have a biting quip about the state of the WSOP, but it’d be great to hear it. Unlike Sexton and Flack, Darvin Moon doesn’t have a long storied history with the WSOP, but it’s no less memorable. He was the logger who won a satellite to the Main Event battled Joe Cada for the 2009 title. He told a fib to his wife on national TV about what he had in a hand and became another poker icon for the everyman, maybe the biggest since Moneymaker himself. He left the WSOP with $5.1 million before disappearing back into the woods from which he first emerged but you mention Darvin Moon at the WSOP and everyone knows who you are talking about. Moon passed away in September 2020, his runner-up finish was his only WSOP cash. Sam Grizzle’s first WSOP recorded cash was in 1990, bubbling the final table of the $1,500 Razz for roughly $4,000. While he never took home a bracelet, he splashed around in a mixed game event or three nearly every year for the better part of two decades and played as recently as 2019. Grizzle carried the reputation of pre-boom, old-school poker. A man who wasn’t afraid to say what is on his mind and even take it outside if pushed. Ask any longtime veteran about Sam Grizzle and surely a story will follow. Norm MacDonald, long-time Bay Area player and two-time bracelet winner Howard ‘Tahoe’ Andrew, and another two-timer Rod Pardey are among them as well. Plus, all of those grinders who have taken a shot over the years, enjoyed the chase and were a part of this community. This crop would likely shudder at the thought of being remembered with a black and white photo slideshow with “Tears In Heaven” playing in the background. They’d rather you check-raise bluff the turn. Double-tap the table when you've been beat. Take a photo in front of the WSOP sign. Don’t shed a tear, raise a glass and, maybe, make some memories and maybe a bit of history while you’re at it. But most importantly: enjoy. It’s a Reunion after all.
It’s been 806 days since the last hand of the World Series of Poker was dealt. And for those who love the WSOP, it’s been an excruciating long 806 days. That’s a lot of waiting. I am one of those people and, like many out there, I simply couldn’t wait. But finally, we’re back! Truth be told, writing in first-person singular isn’t really my style, it makes me uncomfortable. But if I’m to do my job on this one, it’s what has to be done. So, forgive my tangents and poorly thought out poker strategy, I’m here to bring you into the very First* Table of the 2021 WSOP. I’ve had this idea for some time. You see, typically, in years past, on the opening day of the WSOP, there’d be nine or so over-eager players looking for action right off the bat. Then a single-table satellite would spring into action. It's the first official table of the series. This year, I’d be one of those beavers - first in line, vaxxed and masked, ready to play for a lamer. No matter the buy-in, I was all-in. “Just don’t be the first person out,” Josh Arieh said to me. “Then you’d have to stand by and take notes on your little pad.” No little pad for me. I’m going to be freerolling The Reunion by 9:30 am. But getting into the "First Table" was going to take some doing. I arrived in Las Vegas the day before, to settle in and get the lay of the land. The prep looked good, the WSOP looked ready. And, after a day of writing, watching the SHRB, and grabbing a very unhealthy bite to eat at the All American Grill, I retired to the room with the intent of getting up early and being ready to roll. CUT TO: 8 AM PACIFIC, OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOORS OF THE PAVILION. I’m here...far too early. Currently uncredentialed and getting eyeballed by security as to why I keep popping my head in. What can I say, my mother raised a worrier and I wanted to be certain. I hover around, snap a photo or two and wait. And wait some more. It’s really early. One man shows up asking about a 9 am mega satellite, another wants to know where to buy in for the Employee Event. As 9 am approached, there was a small, unassuming group of people looking to get things started. This is great, some of these players will obviously want to be a part of the very First Table of 2021. My future opponents perhaps? [caption id="attachment_636450" align="alignright" width="200"] Just a couple of legends, hanging around.[/caption] Like a small herd of slow-moving sheep, this group broke through the now non-existent security detail and spread out looking for whatever it was that motivated them. For me, I looked for the single table satellite section, which, it should be noted, has moved from what I would call the front of the Pavilion, to the center by the middle cage. Instantly, it’s on. There is one guy looking to sign up and he says he wants to play for $125. Good-by-me, my friend, let’s go. It’s 9:15 am and the floor announces, “we’re going to get a $125 single table satellite going, sign up at the cage.” A brief but important aside: at the same time, a scheduled 9 am $180 mutli-table satellite was brewing. Most hadn’t been able to buy tickets yet, and the dealers weren’t in position. All of this bode very well for me, possibly, getting dealt the very first hand of the autumn. I hop in line and very quickly it’s 10 people deep. It’s moving slowly because there’s vaccination verification going on, people without ID, and...what’s this - the system doesn’t have single table satellites available yet. You can’t sign up. And no one really seems to know why. Then, unprompted, the guy ahead of me starts in on a bad beat story…from 2005. This is bad and getting worse. What?? You had aces!? The guy hit a straight?! Say it isn’t so. I was polite but it’s common knowledge - no one wants to hear a bad beat story. The WSOP is having some first-day, early morning hiccups and it’s completely understandable. It’s been roughly 26 months since the last series and everyone from the cashiers to the floor to the dealers are looking to shake off the rust and get to the grind. However, right now all of them are in fine form and it’s the computer system that isn’t cooperating. Time to take a seat. It’s 10 am now, and the $180 satellite has cards in the air. They won, they’re first. I’m sitting alone at a table trying to decide if I should just scrap this idea. My friend and former colleague Donnie Peters stopped by, we talk about Addamo’s run in the Super High Roller Bowl. Then Kevin Mathers (aka Kevmath) takes a seat, it’s early but it’s clear he’s already had a day. Arieh swings by: is this thing going to happen? "I don’t know," I tell him, but if it does, his prior advice is duly noted. By this time there are three of us who seem committed to getting this single table off the ground. A nice guy with an interesting decision to go with the under-the-chin face shield (hadn’t seen that yet), his friend who got in early to register for the Millionaire Maker and randomly bumped into him and decided to take a seat, and me, your intrepid reporter, still wondering what I’m doing here 2.5 hours after making my way down from the room. Then, some random grabs a seat and flings his receipt at Benyam, the dealer. He announced the system was up and it’s time to go get those seats. So, I hop back in line, again 10-15 people deep with people registering for all sorts of events now. The mood in line lightens up a little, people are slowly moving up and that’s when I decided I’m committed. I can’t let you, the reader, down. Finally, it’s my turn and I hand Susan my Total Rewards card, state-issued ID, and buck-twenty-five. And the system goes down. Again. Only this time, I’m not going to pull the rookie maneuver of taking a seat. Susan and I are going to get to know one another as I keep my spot at the cage. (Susan, by the way - an absolute delight). It’s 10:45 am, we continue to wait. Mike, the guy who was behind me in line and was also buying a seat, was at another window, looks at me and says something to the effect of “This is taking forever,” to which I replied, “Yea, a long way to go to bust on the first hand.” By 11:00 am the $180 satellite is on another break and Jack Effel was on the mic welcoming everyone - in an actual bracelet event - to the World Series of Poker. After a short, warm welcome, he said the words everyone waited all those days to hear: “Shuffle Up and Deal!” At 11:19, a minor miracle took place - a receipt with my name on it printed out and I was officially in the First* Table of the 2021 World Series of Poker. I made my way to the table and grabbed a seat card, seat number 6. “Lucky number 6,” I said. As I sat down, Seat 2 and Seat 4 were talking about how Bezos isn’t the richest person in the world - the richest person in the world is “off the grid” but we'll never know who. I struck up a conversation with Will from Arizona in Seat 9. He came to town with a friend who is playing in the Casino Employees Event and said how nice it was to be back and to also have an actual lighthearted conversation. We discussed how poker is on an uptick with many live players taking last year off. “I usually come to the Series, go broke, and have to go home and rebuild,” he said. “I didn’t do that last year.” Mike from the line pulled Seat 3 and eventually nine of the 10 seats were ready to go. That's when Maurice Hawkins walked up into the tables and said “I’ll get my feet wet, let’s go.” He began to sit down and I start thinking about how besting Hawk heads-up for the lamer would make for a nice end to this story. Hawkins, the 14-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner (most all-time) was ready for action. However, the action wasn’t ready for him. Hawkins just saw the table and was looking to fly - he never hopped in line and bought a ticket and wasn’t about to for a $125 table. Will in Seat 9 suggests a $20 last longer and nearly everyone pitches in. For the uninitiated, often at these single-table satellites, someone will offer a side bet of a last longer and the last person or players collect that amount on top of the lamers. This crew had a tidy $180 as a little extra side action with only one player opting out. When the final player of the First* Table of 2021 took their seat, it was 11:47 am. I’d been waiting 806 days 3 hours and 47 minutes for this moment. Benyam shuffled and the table which was once “the chattiest table” Seat 5 had ever been a part of…went silent. Blinds 50/100. 15-minute levels. 1,000 chip starting stack. Button on Seat 8. First hand: Seat 2 makes it 100. Seat 5 calls. I look down at [poker card="kh"][poker card="kd"]. Our hero raises to 400. Seat 7 wants more - he moves all-in for 1K. Both blinds fold. Seat 2 commits his stack and I simply stick it in. Again, first hand. Seat 2 proudly turns up with the [poker card="8d"][poker card="9d"]. Seat 7 shoved holding the [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"]. My pocket kings are on their back. Benyam rips off the flop. The [poker card="9c"] is in the window. The [poker card="5c"] is the door. But there it is, the [poker card="as"] in between. The [poker card="4d"] hits the turn. It’s looking grim. And when the [poker card="7d"] completed the board it was 11:49 am. Fortunately for me, I left my “little pad” elsewhere. I grabbed my backpack and wished everyone luck and future good games. You see, I like to be polite, and even though I know that no one wants to hear a bad beat story - that just happens to be the true story of the First* Table of 2021. But at least we’re back. * not the first.
After taking the final two events of the 2021 Poker Masters to claim the Purple Jacket, Michael Addamo followed that performance up by besting the 21-entry Super High Roller Bowl VI for a resume-topping cash of $3,402,000. After three days of high-stakes tournament action in the PokerGO Studio, Addamo was, once again, the last player standing. “It’s been an incredible week,” Addamo said after the win. “I’ve been running very fortunate in a lot of spots…it’s unreal to be honest.” After Bill Klein and Michael Addamo clashed at the end of Day 2, Klein hit the rail setting the stage for the final five players to return to crown the champion. Addamo held a commanding chip lead with Justin Bonomo also sitting on a healthy stack, while Alex Foxen, Chris Brewer, and Sean Winter were searching for ways to climb up over the million chip mark. Foxen, who ended Day 1 with the chip lead, was the first to hit the rail. After an hour of play, Foxen’s stack had dwindled down to roughly eight big blinds. With the blinds at 15,000/25,000 (25,000 bb ante) the action folded to Foxen in the small blind with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="5c"]. After taking a few moments he moved all in only to be snap-called by Bonomo in the big blind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"]. The flop came [poker card="jh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="3h"] keeping Foxen’s ace-high in the lead. That quickly changed with the [poker card="td"] hit the turn, giving Bonomo a pair and leaving Foxen looking for an ace on the river. Instead, it was the [poker card="qh"] on the river, bringing in a straight for Bonomo and sending Foxen out in fifth place, leaving the final four to battle on the stone bubble. After the elimination of Foxen, Bonomo and Addamo had plenty of separation from Brewer and Winter, both of the short stacks sitting on roughly 20 big blinds. Another hour passed and Brewer’s stack fell to roughly 10 big blinds and he was looking for a spot to double. The blinds climbed up to 15,000/30,000 and Bonomo applied pressure from the button with his [poker card="th"][poker card="4h"], raising enough to force Winter or Brewer all-in should they call. Winter let go of the small blind, but Brewer looked down at [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] and instantly called. Brewer stood and leaned over the table as the flop came out [poker card="qd"][poker card="7h"][poker card="5h"] giving Brewer top pair but bringing in a flush draw and backdoor straight outs for Bonomo. Brewer looked pained as a smile appeared on Bonomo’s face and the [poker card="js"] appeared on the turn. Brewer just needed to fade a heart, but the [poker card="kh"] hit the river, bursting the million-dollar bubble and sending Brewer out in fourth place. After the bubble burst, Winter picked up some chips and climbed to just under 30 big blinds. During the same level, Addamo put in a raise on the button to 65,000 with his [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"] and after Bonomo let go of the small blind, Winter picked up the [poker card="th"][poker card="td"] and moved all-in. Addamo made the quick call and Winter was at risk. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="qs"][poker card="5s"] flop kept Winter in the lead but brought Addamo some additional gutshot and backdoor flush outs. The [poker card="ts"] on the turn send Addamo into the lead with a straight, but Winter improved to a set but needed to pair the board to stay alive. The river was the [poker card="7c"] and Winter congratulated Bonomo and Addamo saying ‘good game, good luck guys” as he made his exit in third place for $1,008,000. After a quick break, Addamo and Bonomo returned to play down heads-up with Addamo holding a 35 big blind chip lead. Over the course of roughly an hour, Bonomo’s chip stack fluctuated up and down but he was never able to wrestle the chip lead away from Addamo. With the blinds still at 15,000/30,000, Bonomo, with 2.4 million in his stack, opened the button to 80,000 and Addamo made the call with the [poker card="7d"][poker card="2d"]. The [poker card="4d"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2h"] flop brought Addamo a flush draw and bottom pair, which he checked over to Bonomo who checked back. The turn was the [poker card="qd"], bringing Addamo the flush while giving Bonomo top pair. Addamo overbet the pot for 250,000 and Bonomo opted for a call. The [poker card="tc"] completed the board and Bonomo improved to a second-best two pair. Addamo went for it all - moving all-in. Bonomo took his time, used nearly all his time banks while glaring at Addamo. In the end, Bonomo sat up and said “I call” and it was all over. Bonomo and Addamo shook hands as Bonomo falls just one spot short of a fourth SHRB title, settling for second place and his $1,890,000 payday. Addamo completed the hat trick, winning the final two events of the 2021 Poker Masters and his first Super High Roller Bowl championship for a career-high score of $3,402,000.
Niklas Astedt has done it yet again. Sweden’s former worldwide #1-ranked online poker legend, won his record-tying fourth GGPoker Super MILLION$ title on Tuesday, this time for $315,882. Astedt has no shortage of ways he can win a tournament, but when he’s on a heater it’s almost unfair. Astedt knocked out six of his final eight opponents, the majority of which he had dominated by picking up premium hands in key spots. That said, it wasn’t all just rungood for Astedt who, after starting the day eighth in chips, made all the right moves to put himself in a position to win against a tough final table that included Damian Salas, Chris Puetz, Christian Rudolph, Rui Ferreira, and Artur Martirosian. Nearly thirty minutes into the final hand, one of Russia’s premier players, Artur Martirosian, hit the rail. After his [poker card="as"][poker card="ac"] was cracked by China’s ‘d7777’s [poker card="9c"][poker card="8h"], Martirosian was sitting on the short stack. With the blinds at 25,000/50,000 (6,000 ante), chip leader ‘0asis’ made it 100,000 to go holding [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] and when it folded to Martirosian in the big blind, the Russian defended holding the [poker card="9d"][poker card="4d"]. The flop came [poker card="8d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="2h"] giving ‘0asis’ a set. Martirosian checked it over to ‘0asis’ who checked it back. The river was the [poker card="9c"], giving Martirosian top pair. Martirosian led for just over 117,000 and ‘0asis’ shoved. Martirosian called and found himself drawing dead to the [poker card="as"] river. Martirosian exited in ninth place for $49,109. Two hands later, Astedt opened from early position to 275,000 with his [poker card="ad"][poker card="ac"]. It folded around to Chris Puetz in the big blind with [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"] and the Austrian shoved for nearly 1.4 million. Astedt called instantly and the board ran out [poker card="4s"][poker card="qs"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="kh"] keeping Astedt’s pocket aces ahead the entire time and ending Puetz’s run in eighth place for $61,974. Astedt did double duty just minutes later when ‘RRomashka’ opened to 100,000 from middle position with [poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"]. When the action reached Astedt in the small blind, he just called with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"]. Then from the big blind, Rui Ferreira three-bet shoved more than 1.2 million holding [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. ‘RRomashka’, with fewer chips called for his tournament and when it was back to Astedt, who had both covered, he stuck it all-in as well. A three-way all-in with three pocket pairs. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="qd"][poker card="jc"] leaving ‘RRomashka’ looking for a nine or running cards. Ferreira picked up a gutshot straight draw if he could find one of the final two kings and Astedt held a healthy lead. The turn was the [poker card="5s"], leaving both Ferreira and ‘RRomashka’ with a less than 5% shot at hitting their hand. Both missed when the [poker card="qc"] completed the board. ‘RRomashka’, with fewer chips, is the seventh-place finisher for $78,209 and Ferreira settled for sixth and its $98,696 payday. Five-handed play lasted for over an hour, and the blinds had climbed to 70,000/140,000 (17,500 ante) when Astedt used another big hand to take out another dangerous opponent. This time it was 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Damian Salas. From under the gun, Astedt opened to 280,00 holding [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"] and when it reached Salas on the button, he shipped his final 15 big blinds. Astedt, again, snap-called with a dominating hand and the pair watched as the board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="9h"][poker card="6s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="jh"]. Astedt dragged another big pot and Salas was out in fifth place for $124,550. Christian Rudolph, who started the day fourth in chips, was slowly slipping in the chip counts with just four left. Eventually, after Rudolph lost an important pot to Astedt, he was left with just fewer than five big blinds. It all came to a head when Astedt put in a raise to 400,000 on the button with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8c"] and Rudolph, in the big blind defend with [poker card="kd"][poker card="2c"], leaving himself just over one big blind behind. The flop came [poker card="6h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="4h"] and Rudolph committed the last of his stack. Astedt called, leaving Rudolph looking to hit his gutshot straight draw or his overcard. The turn was the [poker card="7d"], bringing in a straight for Astedt and the best Rudolph could hope for was to hit one of the two remaining eights for a chop. The river was the [poker card="2s"] and Rudolph was out in fourth place for $157,177. Astedt built a substantial chip lead over his final two opponents. But after ‘0asis’ bested ‘d7777’ in a big hand where ‘0asis’s [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] dominated ‘d7777’s [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"], ‘0asis’ got healthy and ‘d7777’ was left with just four big blinds. ‘0asis’ completed the elimination just a couple of hands later when they got it all-in preflop holding [poker card="as"][poker card="8s"] against ‘d7777’s [poker card="qh"][poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="8c"][poker card="5s"]3c] flop kept ‘0asis’ in the lead with ace high. The turn came the [poker card="2h"], leaving ‘d7777’ looking for a queen or a ten to stay alive. However, the river was the [poker card="ah"], giving ‘0asis’ top pair and sending ‘d7777’ out in third with a career-high $198,351 score. After the elimination, ‘0asis’ held a slim chip lead over Astedt when heads-up began. It was a short back-and-forth affair with the chip counts of both remaining tight. However, after the next break, with the blinds up to 125,000/250,000 (30,000 ante) ‘0asis’ pulled way ahead, grabbing a three-to-one chip lead. But Astedt isn’t considered one of the best of all time for nothing. The Swede battled back and brought the stacks back to even. Then the deciding hand of heads-up took place. The blinds had climbed to 175,000/350,000 (45,000 ante) when Astedt called on the button holding [poker card="td"][poker card="tc"]. ‘0asis’ raised to just over 1 million in the big blind with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="qs"]. Astedt shoved for 7.8 million and ‘0asis’ called leaving themselves with less than a small blind behind. The flop came [poker card="8c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4s"], leaving ‘0asis’ needing some help. The [poker card="9h"] turn changed nothing and when the [poker card="4h"] hit the river, the massive pot was shipped to Astedt. ‘0asis’ was all-in the very next hand with [poker card="8h"][poker card="5h"] and Astedt held [poker card="qh"][poker card="jc"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"][poker card="3c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3d"] and ‘0asis’, the start of day chip leader, ended up as the runner-up which was good for $250,311. Once again, Niklas Astedt took down the GGPoker Super MILLION$, this time for $315,882, and became one of just three players to have won an event in both Season One and Season Two. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (9/28) Niklas Astedt - $315,882 ‘0asis’ - $250,311 ‘d7777’ - $198,351 Chris Rudolph - $157,177 Damian Salas - $124,550 Rui Ferreira - $98,696 ‘RRomashka’ - $78,209 Chris Puetz - $61,974 Artur Martirosian - $49,109
The 2021 Super High Roller Bowl kicks off in Las Vegas at the PokerGO Studio on Monday, September 27 with some of the biggest names in tournament poker vying for a piece that will be, undoubtedly, a hefty seven-figure prize pool with multiple millions of dollars being shipped to the winner. With the $300,000 buy-in bringing out poker's best and brightest you might be thinking about getting a sweat going while watching the action unfold online. So, whether you are drafting a team with a few friends or playing a little fantasy poker these are the names you should be targeting to make sure they are on your SHRB Squad. These guys are the first-round picks for the 2021 Super High Roller Bowl. #1. Michael Addamo The dominance of Michael Addamo cannot be denied. And when you run as good as he is running right now, you top the list of SHRB draft picks. His high-roller credentials have been more than checked out - in addition to going back-to-back at the end of the 2021 Poker Masters to claim the Purple Jacket (and $1.84 million in 48-hours), Addamo is also the all-time leader in victories of the GGPoker Super MILLION$ where he’s amassed more than $1 million in profit. Add to that, he's also a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and Aussie Poker Open Main Event champ (among other accolades.) While others on this list may have more past SHRB success, Addamo is a player you simply can’t pass up. #2. Stephen Chidwick But...if one were to pass up Addamo and his sun run, they’d be a fool to pass up UK crusher Stephen Chidwick. With more than $35 million in total live earnings, Chidwick - a former #1 GPI ranked player and 2019 European Player of the Year - is both the 2018 U.S. Poker Open champion and 2020 Australian Poker Open winner. As an aside, he was voted, by his peers, at the Global Poker Awards as the Players Choice for Toughest Opponent. Like Addamo, he enters the SHRB with momentum, cashing in three events of the 2021 Poker Masters, including a victory in Event #7 for $183,600. Plus, he’s cashed in three previous Super High Roller Bowls, all in 2018, including the last one that took place in Las Vegas where he finished in third place for $1.5 million. #3. David Peters David Peters may not be a trendy pick at #3, but there may be no more reliable player in the field. Sitting fifth on the All-Time Money List, Peters simply knows how to win. He’s proven that yet again this year by taking home the Golden Eagle trophy in the 2021 U.S. Poker Open after winning three of the four events he cashed in. Plus, he’s had plenty of SHRB success, including a fifth-place finish in this year’s SHRB Europe for $820,000 and a final table finish in the inaugural event back in 2015. Simply put, Peters is the kind of player who can win it all on any given day. #4 Ali Imsirovic Critics might say that fourth is a little high for young Ali Imsirovic, after all, there are SHRB champions that are ranked underneath him. But there are only a few players who have spent as much time in the PokerGO Studio grinding high rollers in the past 24 months as Imsirovic. This gives him a huge home-field advantage. And you don’t have to look too hard to see how hard (and often) Imsirovic crushes high rollers. The 2018 Poker Masters champion currently only has one seven-figure cash on his ever-growing resume however that was a runner-up finish to Cary Katz in the 2019 Super High Roller Bowl London. Imsirovic just seems destined to add more million-dollar scores in the very near future. While he didn’t have a standout performance in this year’s Poker Masters, he should find a way to bounce back here in the Main Event. #5. Justin Bonomo No one loves the Super High Roller Bowl more than Justin Bonomo. According to PokerGO, no one has won more money from Super High Roller Bowl events than Bonomo, who has reaped $12,706,516 worth of cashes thanks to back-to-back SHRB title in 2018. Hell, even in the midst of COVID, Bonomo took down the Super High Roller Bowl $100K Online Event for $1.775 million. So, why is Bonomo only fifth? It’s not a comment on his talent against the field obviously, it’s simply a question of if he will actually be in the field? And if so, without a live result for the better part of two years, how will he perform? Even not knowing the answer to either question, you still gotta put respect on his name and include him in the top 5 picks. #6. Mikita Badziakouski Belarusian nosebleed crusher Mikita Badziakouski has proven himself time and time again to be one of the best tournament players on the planet. With more than $29 million in live earning, Badziakouski seems to have a way of always making a deep run in the most critical of events. Like Addamo, Badziakouski showed up a little early in Las Vegas to warm up before the SHRB. He promptly took down a Poker Masters event and made the final table of the Main Event. That was coming off of two third-place finishes in the prelims of the SHRB Europe. In 2018, Badziakouski took third in May’s SHRB event for $1.6 million, and then in 2020, he did the same in the event in the Bahamas for another $1.6 million. If it’s Badziakouski walking away with the win in 2021, there won’t be a single surprised person in the PokerGO Studio. #7. Jake Schindler You’d best not sleep on Jake Schindler in any event, especially one in the PokerGO Studio. Schindler rolls into the SHRB with three recent results from the 2021 Poker Masters, a pair of cashes in the prelims of the SHRB Europe, and a PokerGO cup event win. He’s generally considered one of the very best tournament players on the planet and that was on full display in 2017 when he finished second to Christoph Vogelsang in the SHRB for a career-high $3.6 million payday. Although he’s seventh on this list, any person betting on Schindler should feel confident that they have an absolute top-tier player on in their corner. #8. Jason Koon One of the nicest guys on the high-roller scene is also one of the most dangerous. Jason Koon, currently seventh on the All-Time Money List, has enjoyed plenty of success in the SHRB over the years, cashing in four SHRB live events. Because the 2018 heads-up between Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu was so memorable, it often gets forgotten that Koon had a shot at winning the title that year, but he fell in third place for $2.1 million score. However, history aside, Koon has been putting in work at the PokerGO Studio over the summer, including taking down a PokerGO cup event for $324,000. Like Schindler ahead of him on the list, Koon isn’t flashy at the table - he just produces results. If he gets close here in 2021, it wouldn't be a shocker to see him finally take one down. #9. Daniel Negreanu Daniel Negreanu’s infamous “second-place streak” has come to an end and "Kid Poker" is back to his winning ways. This includes locking up the overall leaderboard in the 2021 PokerGO Cup and a victory in the 2021 Poker Masters, where he was in the running for the Purple Jacket right up until the start of the final event. Negreanu is one of those “old school” players that polarizes fans when it comes to the biggest events in the world. However, where others of his era have been unable to compete with the young crop of crushers, Negreanu constantly provides receipts. It should be noted that one of those second-place finishes that people point to was his runner-up finish in the 2018 SHRB to Bonomo - good for a cool $3 million. In the interest of transparency, Daniel Negreanu is selling a piece of his 2021 Super High Roller Bowl action here on PocketFives. #10. Sam Soverel Another player that thrives in the PokerGO Studio is Sam Soverel. Soverel, the 2019 Poker Masters overall champion, currently sits in third place on PokerGO’s high-roller leaderboard by thoroughly dominating a string of $10K tournaments throughout 2021. There are a number of players who could be considered right here, but it’s Soverel’s undeniable success in this atmosphere plus incredible momentum that puts him as the final player in round one. The only downside of taking him here, as opposed to a player like two-time champion Tim Adams, fan-favorite Nick Petrangelo, or up-and-comer Chris Brewer, is his lack of previous SHRB results. But this may be the year that changes. The 2021 Super High Roller Bowl is available to stream from Sept. 27-29 on PokerGO. A recap of the final table will be available here on PocketFives.
It’s a rare day for Yuri Dzivielevski, one in which he isn’t making his presence felt deep in an online high roller. Here, in late September, as the live 2021 World Series of Poker approaches, the #1-ranked online player in the world is taking a few days off from his grind to adjust to his temporary accommodations in Costa Rica where he will be spending the next two weeks before making his way to Las Vegas for a series-long gold bracelet grind. “I have to stay quarantined fourteen days in a country authorized by the USA,” Dzivielevski said just days into his stay. “This makes things very difficult, as my family does not have the option to come and go whenever they want so they’ll have to spend 70 days traveling with me. I know this will not be easy for them, so I will do my best to honor that effort.” What Dzivielevski means is that he is planning on furthering his fantastic 2021 campaign, a standout year that has come in the midst of a career renaissance that can be traced back to the 2019 WSOP. It was during that series that Dzivielevski randomly found himself in the poker spotlight. As he entered the Amazon Room and took his seat in the Main Event, he discovered that he would be sitting at the ESPN Main Event featured table with none other than Daniel Negreanu. And while Negreanu may have been the intended target of the broadcast, it was Dzivielevski’s play and charisma that shined the brightest as he drew the attention of the poker world for his tough, smart style of play. “I was randomly chosen to play at that table and it was really good, really fun. I managed to dominate the game well and still have fun with those tablemates. It was a good time and I also had the benefit of getting used to that environment and then making the deep run in a place I was familiar with.” The Brazilian ended up spending hours on the featured table as the Main Event field thinned out. He eventually finished in 28th for more than $261,000. A great experience that only added to the headlines he made earlier in the summer when he captured his first career gold bracelet in the $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better event for over $213,000. But the truth is, for online poker fans, Dzivielevski was already a known crusher. In 2014, Dzivielevski took his first turn at the top of the online poker rankings, spending three weeks at #1. Two months later, he did it again, upending then #1-ranked Fedor Holz to claim the crown for another five weeks. It was January 2015 when fellow countryman Joao Simao took the top spot for himself. After that, Dzivielevski wouldn’t see the top of the rankings again for the better part of six years. However during that time, he never let go of the idea of being number one again. “I always wanted and want to be on top. What happened is that for a long period in my career I moved away from MTTs to play PLO cash games and Mixed Games. Because of that, I couldn’t be at the top of the MTTs. After a while, I was invited to be a coach and partner at bitBBrazil, which made me study tournaments again and automatically want to play them again. Since then, I have given my best and had the best years of my career.” Dzivielevski’s resume speaks for itself. More specifically, his results in 2021 point to the longtime grinder enjoying the peak of his career. Of his top-20 lifetime online scores, 15 have taken place this year. This includes a win in the GGPoker Super MILLION$ for more than $408,000, a WSOP Circuit ring on Natural8 for over $179,000, a win in PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker for $107,949 (one of two WCOOP wins in the same week), and a runner-up finish in the $8M GTD Venom on ACR for nearly $850,000. Dzivielevski has soared up the All-Time Online Money list amassing more than $14 million in earnings where he sits at 16th all-time. All of those results have been in service to Dzivielevski scaling back up the online rankings and earning the #1 spot again, six years after his last reign. Only this time, no one has been able to catch him so quickly. He’s held #1 for 26 straight weeks and counting, the fifth-longest single stint since the rankings began in 2005. It’s something he credits to the confidence one gets when their dedication to studying the game leads to success. “I’m really happy to be ranked #1 for so long. I believe there was a big change in my mentality after winning some titles. I started to play with more freedom, not wanting to prove anything to anyone. At the same time, I evolved a lot technically with my study group. I don’t think I’ve evolved this much in any time of my career and I’ve never been so happy playing poker. The combination of this, and other things, helped me get there.” One of those “other things” is the fervent poker community that continues to emerge from Brazil. It’s been undeniable that Brazilian online pros have excelled in some of the biggest online series this year. Names like Bruno Volkmann, Bruno Botteon, Renan Carlos Bruschi, Pedro Padilha, and Dalton Hobold have made headlines for taking home major titles during SCOOP, WCOOP, GGSF, and the international WSOP Online. Of the top 100 ranked players in the world 37 hail from Brazil, and for over half a year it’s been Dzivielevski who has led them all. “Brazilians are very passionate about poker and very competitive. I believe that the combination of these two things makes us work hard. Poker also gives us the opportunity to have a good life, with comfort and freedom,” he said. “This is what makes young Brazilians fall in love with the game and work hard to be good. We cannot forget that we are a huge country, so we have more players than any other country probably.” But with so many players emerging from Brazil, one might think that the community is tight-knit, with top pros sharing information with up-and-comers as is thought to be the case in the past with top-tier German pros and the elite online community in Sweden. But Dzivielevski says that the competitive nature of Brazilians makes it so that’s not always the case. “Brazilians generally have small study groups and do not pass information on to people outside of those groups. Outside of the tables, we are friends. I know almost all of the high-stakes regs and like them, but at the table things are different…” With two weeks to wait before he and his family can complete their journey to Las Vegas, the newly signed Team partypoker ambassador will be back grinding online soon enough. He’ll be adding to his totals, vying for titles, and preparing to see what this autumn at the WSOP will have in store. However, during that time at the Rio, the current #1 will likely see his grip on the rankings slip. With no ability to play in the worldwide market, those that would look to have their turn at the top may find their window of opportunity open. But for Dzivielevski, that will just motivate him more. After over a decade in the game, he still finds excitement in the grind and challenge. “I never loved playing tournaments as much as I do these days. Nowadays, I just play for performance, thinking about making the best decisions on every street and dominating my stakes as much as possible. I like to go further and take my opponents out of their comfort zone…because I’m a competitive person, that’s very exciting. If I feel like I’m not dominating my stake, I study hard until I can do it again,” he said. “This quest is endless and I love it. I don’t see myself doing anything else.”
Poker pros from all over the world are currently making their way to Las Vegas for an autumn of non-stop action in the 2021 World Series of Poker…and you’re making a PowerPoint presentation. Or a sandwich or something. That’s because you have responsibilities to a family or a job and setting aside eight weeks out of your life to chase the poker dream is not only not practical, it’s completely off the table. For many serious recreational players that sounds like the dream: grinding day-in and day-out, feeling the high and lows of an eight-week schedule at the Rio while battling with the world’s best in the game we love. But if you’re lucky, you get to pick a weekend where you can book your flight, post up in a hotel, and take a shot in the great bracelet chase. So if, as a weekend warrior, you only get one chance - you best choose wisely. This might help. Here's a breakdown of all the marquee events that highlight all eight weekends of the 2021 WSOP. The pros, the cons, and the little things to consider in each event so that you can maximize your gold bracelet shot. The REUNION $5,000,000 Guaranteed Buy-in: $500 (1 Re-Entry per flight) Duration: Up to 5 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 1 thru Sunday, October 3 Start Time: 10 AM If you simply can’t wait to get back into the action at The World Series of Poker, the Reunion is the perfect event for you. Kicking off on the opening weekend of the series, it’s the low buy-in, high-guaranteed tournament that is certain to have one of the softest fields of the entire schedule. But while the $5 million guaranteed event sounds like the perfect tournament to test your mettle (and in many ways it is) there are a few items to consider before purchasing your ticket to this get-together. The same reason that makes it exciting - it's the first major NLHE tournament of the fall - is the same that might cause some headaches. In 2019, The BIG 50 was absolutely massive. But so were the lines. Registration, bathroom, poker kitchen…you name it you were waiting your turn. The Rio was smashed with people. This year, there’s the added process of vaccination verification and it will be the first time series officials will be dealing with that. So, there could be some unforeseen hiccups meaning some additional patience might be needed. Secondly, with 30-minute levels on the three opening flights (which is good for a local daily tournament, but fast for a bracelet event) simply means that play will be brisk. If you want that extended WSOP experience, this might not be it. To that end, each flight allows for a single re-entry so decisions need to be made - will you hop back in line? How many times? There are three flights so someone firing maximum bullets would need to allow for $3,000 in buy-ins. Despite all of that, The Reunion should be considered a top pick for any weekend warrior. The vibe will be electric with it being the first WSOP weekend in a year-and-a-half. And, even if you have to fire a couple of bullets, a shot at the bare minimum $5 million prize pool comes at a reasonable price. Plus, payouts start by the end of Day 1’s so you don't have to wait if you're going to get paid. Note that the final table plays out on Tuesday, October 5 so you might have to find an excuse for the boss on why you won’t be back at your desk until Thursday. MILLIONAIRE MAKER $1,000,000 guaranteed for 1st Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 8 & Saturday, October 9 Start Time: 10:00 AM In some ways, the $1,500 Millionaire Maker is like The Reunion turned inside out. Whereas The Reunion is small buy-in, fast levels (30 minutes), and 50,000 in chips. The Millionaire Maker triples the buy-in, doubles the level time (60 minutes), and gives you half the starting chips at 25,000. Both tournaments are going about accomplishing the same goal from a different angle - giving the winner a million bucks. So what’s the upside of The Millionaire Maker? Smaller fields. Don’t get it wrong, it’s still going to be big, but there will likely be 25% of the entries of The Reunion (bigger buy-ins have a way of doing that). But also, the structure on the Millionaire Maker is subtly slower up top. An extra level to start and another extra level at Level 5 helps make up for the shallower starting chip stack, allowing for some extra play. Those hour levels also give some weight to the event you might not feel in The Reunion. Finally, it should be noted that the event is slated for 5 Days, but that’s five including a starting flight, one of which is on Saturday, October 9. So the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 13…six days after the start of the opening flight. But if you make it to the end, as John Gorsuch did in 2019 - for which he won more than $1.3 million - you’re probably not terribly concerned with an extra 24 hours. PLAN B: This weekend offers the $1,000 Flip & Go NLHE Presented by GGPoker. Looking for a lightning-fast way to make the money? This event which takes place on Sunday, October 10 has everyone going all-in on the first hand and the winner of the first table is instantly in the money. The upside - the adrenaline! The downside - flipping for a thousand bucks! MONSTER STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (freezeout) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 15 & Saturday, October 16 Start Time: 10 AM Take the starting chips from The Reunion, the levels of the Millionaire Maker, make it a freezeout and you’ve got one of the best weekend tournaments on the schedule - the Monster Stack. It might be the closest event on the schedule to mimic the feel of playing in The Main Event (even more so than the tournament dubbed the Mini Main Event) as there’s tons of play throughout Day 1 and, because it plays so deep, it’s one bullet and you're done. No re-entry in any flight and, if you play and bust Day 1A, you cannot enter Day 1B. It’s good like that. The downside for those who are looking to absolutely max out every buy-in dollar with time on the felt is that in 2021, they eliminated two hours of play right off the bat from what was in the structure in 2019. Missing are the 100-100 (no ante) and 100-200 (no ante) levels. But the other side of that coin is when the tournament starts at 100-200 (100 ante) you’ll be involved in meaningful pots from jump street. In 2019, this event drew 6,035 over the two starting flights with the top 8 players walking with six-figure scores, and the winner, Kainalu McCue-Unciano from Hawaii, flew home with more than $1 million added to his bankroll. Again, with a tournament so deep, you may need to budget a little more than the weekend as the final table will play out on Wednesday, October 20. But to experience one of the best starting stacks to buy-in ratios - go big in the Monster Stack. PLAN B: Bust out of the Monster Stack but still want to get some deep-stacked play in? The WSOP knows you do and so on Sunday, October 17 the $800 8-Handed No Limit Hold’em takes place. Smaller buy-in, 40,000 chips, 30 minutes levels and it’ll award a bracelet before the Monster Stack final table begins. It’s a second chance for the time you budgeted anyway. DOUBLE STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,000 (single re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 22 & Saturday, October 23 Start Time: 10 AM The Double Stack is the younger sibling of the Monster Stack. Not quite as deep (40,000 starting stack) and with 2/3 of the price tag. That’s where its value lies. The structure and level duration are identical so if you want the feel of the Monster Stack just on the cheaper side this may be for you. Practically, players are getting more starting stack value. If the Double Stack was equitable with the Monster in terms of chips-to-entry fee ratio, it would start with 33,333 chips. But that’s silly, so it’s rounded to 40K and players can simply enjoy the extra chips to splash around with. That’s not the only difference. The Monster Stack is an old-school freezeout, but the Double Stack is back to the single re-entry per flight giving you multiple bullets in case you want to double-stack off. This one also runs six days (with a day off) if you play Day 1A on October 22 as the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 27. Sounds good? In 2019 it did to fan-favorite Joseph Cheong who bested a field of 6,214 to earn $687,782 and his first gold bracelet. PLAN B: There’s another $800 8-Handed No Limit Deepstack with a single re-entry taking place on Sunday, October 24. COLOSSUS No guarantee Buy-in: $400 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 4 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 29 & Saturday, October 30 Start Time: 10 AM Perhaps the ultimate pick for weekend warriors would be the Colossus. It’s has everything: it’s the cheapest bracelet event on the schedule, it crowns a winner in time to be back at work on a Tuesday, and payouts start the same day as the starting flights. It starts plenty deep with 40,000 chips and slightly longer levels than the Reunion (40 minutes). And like The Reunion, one should expect the Rio to be a madhouse during the Colossus with long lines of players looking to fire on both starting flights. There’s a single re-entry per flight and with such an affordable price tag, players may find themselves needing to hit the cage four times in order to build a stack and get a piece of what, in 2019, was a prize pool of over $4 million. All of that should sound great but there’s a big-time caveat this year. The Colossus plays through Halloween. For some, that’s no problem. But for anyone with kids (or non-poker playing friends) a tournament on Halloween might just be a non-starter. This is one of the tournaments to keep an eye on to see how the fall schedule affects an event. In 2019, the Colossus saw 13,109 runners. It will likely be less this year, but also, for some, it’s the perfect weekend to scare up a bracelet. PLAN B: Travel to Las Vegas to play the Colossus with a buddy? Both hit the rail? Team up and jump into the Tag Team event on October 31. There’s always a rail in the Tag Team event giving it. The MAIN EVENT No guarantee - but, it’s the Main Event so someone’s going to get rich. Buy-in: $10,000 Duration: Up to 13 days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 4 - Sunday, November 7 Start Time: 11 AM The Main Event may be the best live tournament of any given calendar year but truth be told, it simply doesn’t qualify for a weekend warrior trip. It’s too long, too expensive, and requires too much planning. For many, playing in the Main Event is the pinnacle of live tournament poker but for the sake of this report, the Main Event isn’t something that people with responsibilities just hop on a plane for in order to test their luck. That said, the Main Event comes with the highest recommendation. Anytime you can clear your calendar and either satellite in or afford it without it being a strain on a life roll, this is the one to take a shot in. No applicable Warrior Head rating. CRAZY EIGHTS $888,888 first-place guarantee Buy-in: $888 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 11- Sunday, November 14 Start Time: 12 noon Crazy Eights has been a staple on the live (and online) WSOP since 2016 when online sponsor 888poker had it added to the schedule. It’s always brought a lot of weekenders out because of the happy medium it strikes on being a fast-paced tournament with a big-time payout at the end for a mid-stakes price point. It’s also, in a way, the last hurrah for a massive multi-flight battle at a very affordable price point. Four starting flights, re-entry for each, will make for a hefty prize pool - one that climbed to over $8 million in 2019. In fact, all of the players at the final table that year turned their $888 into six-figure scores, so a nice ROI is waiting for those who make it to the final day. The only real downside, for those looking for longer levels, is how fast those Day 1’s play with 30-minute levels. But that allows them to start paying people at the end of the night and, should you go deep, hit a score, and bust before bagging…well you “go crazy” can hop in the next starting flight and try it all over again. Plus this one kicks off on a Thursday and has starting flights through Sunday, so there’s more flexibility on when you decide to enter. The CLOSER No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: up to 3 Days Starting Dates: Friday, November 19 & Saturday, November 20 Start Time: 11 AM There’s nothing wrong with The Closer. It’s fast-paced with 25,000 starting stack and 30-minute levels and a great way to close the series. But this is not recommended for a weekend warrior because - what were you waiting for all fall? The Rio is closing up shop, turning off the lights, and the electricity of the 2021 WSOP has been replaced with last-chance grinders looking for a tournament score to serve as a series saver. If you can avoid it, don’t make The Closer your only 2021 WSOP experience there are so many others that bring you excitement, value, and massive paydays for the winners. If this is the only time you can make it - fine. But if you are plotting and planning your getaway to Sin City to chase a bracelet you best scroll back up this page and choose another event. You want memories of a packed house and the real thrill of playing in the WSOP, not one where you roll up on the party just as the music has stopped and the stragglers are pouring into the street. Here's the exception: If you have to get one final tournament in before the Rio ceases to play host to the WSOP, this may be the play. The Closer is a fine tournament but, generally, one you hope you don’t find yourself in as the only one you play. World Series of Poker action kicks off on September 30.
It was just two months ago that Anatoly Filatov celebrated a results surge that lifted him to more than $10 million in career online earnings. Since that time, the Russian poker superstar’s heater has continued and it all culminated with a victory in the massive $10,300 GGPoker Super MILLION$ Main Event where he bested a field of 748 runners to collect a career-high online cash of $1,193,332 and a WSOP Circuit ring. READ: Career Year of Online Success Takes Anatoly Filatov To $10 Million For Filatov, the past two months have brought him some of the best results of his career. In addition to this week’s seven-figure score, he picked up a fourth-place finish in the GGPoker $25K SHR Championship for $558,512 on August 30 and then followed it up a week later with a third-place result in the September 7 edition of the Super MILLION$ for another $250,053 - both top 5 career results prior to this current win. His success has pushed him into worldwide top 10 rankings where he currently sits at a career-high of #7 in the world. Although he didn’t start the day with the chip lead, he was sitting just a couple of big blinds off the lead. He quickly took control of the final table, amassed a top stack that he only lost for a short time during heads-up. In the end, Filatov sealed the deal and now has more than $12.2 million in online earnings. Roughly 15 minutes into the start of play, with the blinds at 80,000/160,000 (20,000 ante), the action folded to the short-stacked ‘Graf Tekkel’ on the button who picked up [poker card="js"][poker card="jh"]. After ‘Graf Tekkel’ moved all-in for his final ten big blinds, it was folded to Filatov in the big blind who looked at [poker card="ac"][poker card="8d"] and decided to make the call. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"][poker card="4h"] put Filatov’s top pair in the lead which he held through the [poker card="9c"] turn and the [poker card="td"] river. Russia’s ‘Graf Tekkel’ bowed out in ninth place for $149,166. Just ten minutes later, as the blinds moved to 100,000/200,000 (25,000 ante), Ole Schemion was under the gun with just under ten big blinds when he open-shoved holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"]. In the cut off, Markus Leikkonen held [poker card="9d"][poker card="9c"] and made the call. The rest of the table got out of the way and pair were flipping for a 22 big blind pot. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="8d"] keeping Leikkonen’s pocket nines in front the entire time and ending Schemion’s day in eighth place for $193,445. Seven-handed play lasted the better part of 45 minutes as the blinds moved to 150,000/300,000 (35,000 ante). From the button, online poker legend Isaac Baron pushed his final 15 bigs in with his [poker card="kc"][poker card="8c"] prompting Austria’s Marius Gierse to move all-in as well with his [poker card="9s"][poker card="9d"] from the small blind. Leikkonen folded in the big blind and the cards were turned up with Baron’s tournament at risk. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="7s"][poker card="3s"] offered Baron little help. When the turn came the [poker card="3d"], Baron was left looking for a king, but instead, it was the [poker card="5d"] and Baron hit the rail in seventh place for $250,867. Three hands later, a clash of huge hands took out the start-of-the-day chip leader Mark Radoja. From middle position, Gierse raised to 660,000 with the [poker card="5s"][poker card="5c"]. On the button, Filatov elected to just call holding [poker card="tc"][poker card="td"]. Then, in the small blind, Christian Rudolph also elected to just flat with his [poker card="js"][poker card="jc"]. When the action reached Radoja in the big blind, he made a move. He three-bet shipped all-in for just over 10 million. After Gierse folded, Filatov went into the tank and eventually shipped as well. Then it was Rudolph’s turn with pocket jacks, but he made a rather quick fold and Radoja was flipping against Filatov. The flop came [poker card="kh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"] and Radoja had his overcards as outs plus backdoor straight possibilities (blocked by Filatov). The [poker card="3h"] turn was a brick and Radoja was down to six outs. But the [poker card="4c"] hit the river and Radoja was eliminated in sixth for $325,334. Filatov soared to an overwhelming chip lead with five left as once again the play slowed down. Nearly two levels passed when at 200,000/400,000 (50,000 ante) Filatov felted another player. Brazil’s Pedro Garagnani picked up [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"] in the cutoff and raised it up to 2.4 million, leaving himself just four big blind behind. When it folded to Filatov in the big blind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"], he raised enough that a call by Garagnani would put the Brazilian’s tournament life at risk. He did just that and the board ran out [poker card="ah"][poker card="jd"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="kd"] giving Filatov an unnecessary set to send Garagnani home in fifth place for $421,906. With the blinds as high as 250,000/500,000 (60,000 ante), Rudolph picked up [poker card="ah"][poker card="qd"] under the gun and opened it up to 3.5 million. Right behind him, on the button, Gierse picked up [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] and moved all-in for slightly more than Rudolph’s entire stack. Both blinds folded and Rudolph committed the rest of his chips. The flop came [poker card="kd"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5s"], giving Gierse top set and leaving Rudolph looking for runner-runner outs. The [poker card="qc"] was not one of them, and Rudolph was drawing dead to the [poker card="jd"] river. Rudolph walked with $547,145 for fourth place. Leikkonen and Gierse both had roughly 20 big blinds to Filatov’s massive stack of nearly 70 bigs. After taking a pot off Filatov, Gierse climbed to over 22 million putting him in position to deliver the final blow to Leikkonen. At 300,000/600,000 (75,000 ante) Filatov opened the button to 1.2 million with his [poker card="qs"][poker card="js"] and Gierse flat called from the small blind holding [poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"]. Leikkonen looked at [poker card="4h"][poker card="4c"] and moved all-in for just over 11 million. After a short trip into the tank, Filatov decided to fold and Gierse quickly called. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="6h"][poker card="2s"] offered Leikkonen little help, but it was the [poker card="9d"] turn that closed the door. The [poker card="7h"] was a meaningless river and Leikkonen, who started the day as the short stack, laddered to a third-place finish and a $709,559 payday. The knockout was huge for Gierse who has battled back to start heads-up play against Filatov in a near dead heat in chips. The pair battled back and forth and were nearly even once again, with Filatov holding a slight lead when the tournament ended on a setup. Filatov picked up [poker card="as"][poker card="ah"] on the button and raised it up to 1.4 million. Gierse, in the big blind, raised it up to 5.25 million with the [poker card="qs"][poker card="js"]. Filatov flatted his pocket aces and the flop came [poker card="qh"][poker card="8h"][poker card="6c"], providing all the action needed to bring an end to the tournament. Gierse led out for 3.5 million and Filatov called. The turn came the [poker card="3d"] and Gierse led again, this time for 9.4 million, leaving himself 18 million behind. A few seconds passed and Filatov shipped for 29 million and Gierse took just a few seconds before making the call for it all. The river came the [poker card="9s"], shipping the pot - and the tournament - to Filatov. Gierse ended up as the runner-up and walked with a stellar score of $920,184 while Anatoly Filatov collected a career-high online score of $1,193,332. Super MILLION$ WSOP Circuit Final Table Results Anatoly Filatov - $1,193,332 Marius Gierse - $920,184 Markus Leikkonen - $709, 559 Christian Rudolph - $547,145 Pedro Garagnani - $421,906 Mark Radoja - $325,334 Isaac Baron - $250,867 Ole Schemion - $193,445 ‘Graf Tekkel’ - $149,166
In back-to-back final tables, going wire-to-wire with the chip lead in both, Michael Addamo took down the finale of the 2021 Poker Masters, Event #12 ($100,000 NLH), for a career-high live score of $1,160,000 as well as the Purple Jacket and $50,000 leaderboard prize. Addamo somehow makes taking on some of the toughest competition in the world look easy. The Australian came in late to the series, played in just the final three events, and in 48 hours won two of them. He earned $1.84 million, was rewarded as the player of the series, and on this particular day, wrapped up the final table in a little under an hour. “It’s insane, I’m incredibly tired, I’m looking forward to getting some sleep,” Addamo said right after the win. “It’s been an amazing run and I’m grateful the cards turned my way I guess.” In the early action of the final table, Addamo continually leveraged his enormous chip lead to apply constant pressure on his opponents as Mikita Badziakouski, Alex Foxen, and Stanly Tang all had stacks of less than 15 big blinds and with significant pay jumps ahead. Twenty-five minutes in, with the blinds at 15,000/30,000 (30,000 bb ante), Addamo raised from the button to 265,000 holding the [poker card="jc"][poker card="ts"]. After Tang released his small blind, Badziakouski looked down at the [poker card="6s"][poker card="6d"] and called off the rest of his short stack. The [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"][poker card="2s"] kept Badziakouski in the lead but offered Addamo gutshot straight outs to go with his overcards. That’s exactly what came in with the [poker card="qc"] turn, giving Addamo a straight and leaving Badziakouski drawing dead to the [poker card="3s"] river. Badziakouski fell in fifth place and picked up a score of $203,000. The very next hand, Addamo was back at it. He raised to 420,000 from the cutoff holding [poker card="js"][poker card="9c"] and Tang, with exactly 420,000 in his stack, quickly pushed all-in on the button with his [poker card="ks"][poker card="qh"]. Foxen and Nick Petrangelo folded in the blinds the two live hands were turned up, with Tang as a two-to-one favorite. The flop came [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"][poker card="8d"] keeping Tang in the lead but bringing Addamo open-ended straight outs to go with his nine. Yet again, Addamo spiked the card he was looking for on the turn when [poker card="9h"] hit. Addamo picked up a pair and then it was Tang looking for help. The [poker card="6c"], however, was a brick, and Addamo sent Tang to the rail in fourth place for $319,000. With the elimination of Tang, Foxen laddered the pay scale for more than $200,000, but his stack continued to slip. Minutes later, it was the two-time GPI Player of the Year’s turn to get it in. And this time, it wasn’t Addamo who he was up against. From the small blind, Foxen shoved his final eight big blinds with the [poker card="kh"][poker card="4d"] and Petrangelo, in the big blind, quickly made the call with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="7d"]. The [poker card="7h"][poker card="6c"][poker card="2d"] put Foxen in jail, leaving him looking for runner-runner outs to a straight or trip fours. When the [poker card="9c"] hit the turn, it was all over. Foxen was already pushing his chips into Petrangelo’s stack when the [poker card="jd"] completed the board. Foxen grabbed his backpack and headed to the cashiers to collect his $464,000 third-place prize. Once Foxen was eliminated, the race for the Poker Masters Purple Jacket was over. Thanks to his victory in Event #11 and the prize money he’d secured in the finale, Addamo had a future date to be fitted for the Poker Masters trophy as well as claim the additional $50,000 that goes along with it. “I’m surprised it fits actually,” Addamo said as a break in the action allowed him to slip on the jacket for the first time. “It’s really amazing. I actually didn’t even there’d be a chance. I only came for three events. I didn’t know the points system would give me a chance, but yea, that’s amazing.” “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence, but I guess there’s also a lot of luck in these tournaments. A lot of the players are very strong players I respect a lot. I’m very fortunate the cards went my way as well.” But before any real celebrating could be done, Addamo and Petrangelo had a heads-up battle to finish. After a short break the two sat back down with Addamo having a four-to-one chip lead. Unlike some of the early final tables of the Poker Masters, where the heads-up portion took an extended time to complete, the finale was over in roughly 15 minutes. The blinds were still at 15,000/30,000 when Petrangelo raised to 70,000 with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="8d"] on the button and Addamo defended the big blind with the [poker card="7h"][poker card="3c"]. The flop came [poker card="7c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="2h"] and Addamo checked it over to Petrangelo who bet 50,000. Addamo then check-raised to 165,000 and Petrangelo opted for a call. The turn was the [poker card="th"] and Addamo checked it to Petrangelo who made it 250,000 to go, leaving himself with roughly 15 bigs behind. Addamo made the call and the river came the [poker card="5c"]. Addamo checked it again and Petrangelo stuck the rest of his chips in the middle with his king-high. Addamo instantly looked uncomfortable, uttered an audible expletive, and went into the tank. “I know I’m supposed to fold but I don’t like it.” He tossed in a time extension and then, suddenly, tossed in a single chip and called for it all. Petrangelo finished up in second place, good for $754,000 while Michael Addamo won a career-high live cash of $1,160,000 and the aforementioned Poker Masters Purple Jacket. 2021 Poker Masters Event #12 Final Table Results Michael Addamo - $1,160,000 Nick Petrangelo - $754,000 Alex Foxen - $464,000 Stanley Tang - $319,000 Mikita Badziakouski - $203,000
It was a dominant wire-to-wire final table performance by Australian high stakes tournament crusher Michael Addamo in Event #11 ($50,000 No Limit Hold’em) of the 2021 Poker Masters. A short two-hour affair that saw Addamo enter with the chip lead, eliminated all four of his final table opponents, and walk away with the $680,000 first-place prize. “It’s pretty nice, of course,” Addamo said about adding a Poker Masters win to his long list of poker accomplishments. “I’m pretty happy.” “I had such a great stretch of hands and I pretty much had it the whole time on the final table,” he told PokerGO. “So I can’t credit it to any good bluffing skills. Just good fortune.” That good fortune started on the second hand of the final table. With blinds at 15,000/30,000 (30,000 bb ante), PokerGO boss Cary Katz ran right into Addamo when he raised to 95,000 from under the gun holding [poker card="jd"][poker card="jc"]. When it was Addamo’s turn to act in the small blind, he three-bet to 250,000 with his [poker card="kh"][poker card="kd"]. The action was back on Katz, who four-bet shipped his 26 big blind stack only to be snap-called by Addamo. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="9h"][poker card="6d"] providing no help to Katz who needed to hit a jack to stay alive. The [poker card="5d"] turn and [poker card="td"] river ended Katz’s day early in fifth place. “That was fun,” Katz quipped as he packed up his belongings and headed to the cage to pick up his $119,000 score. Addamo went back to work. Twenty minutes later, he opened to 60,000 from the button with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"]. In the small blind, Alex Foxen three-bet to 500,000, leaving himself with less than ten big blinds behind. David Coleman in the big blind let go of his [poker card="as"][poker card="td"] and Addamo wasted no time in four-betting enough to force Foxen all-in. Foxen obliged and saw his hand was dominated. The [poker card="as"][poker card="6s"][poker card="3d"] flop didn’t change much, keeping Addamo’s ace-high ahead and giving both backdoor straight possibilities, if they can hit each other’s kicker. The [poker card="3h"] eliminated any straight potential and, like Katz, Foxen was left looking for a river jack to survive. The river came the [poker card="7h"] and Foxen found himself on the rail in fourth place, collecting $187,000. The brisk pace of play continued as Addamo continued to leverage his chip lead to apply pressure on his opponents. During the same level, Coleman raised the button to 60,000 with the [poker card="th"][poker card="td"] and after Jason Koon let go of his [poker card="qh"][poker card="jc"] in the small blind, Addamo decided to defend his big blind with the [poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"]. The flop came [poker card="as"][poker card="7d"][poker card="6h"] keeping Coleman’s pocket tens ahead but offering Addamo a gutshot straight draw. Addamo checked it over to Coleman bet 55,000 off his 700k stack. Addamo took a few moments and opted for a call. The [poker card="8c"] spiked on the turn and Addamo’s straight came in. Addamo then took the lead and bet out for 75,000, which Coleman called. The [poker card="ad"] hit the river and after taking a few more moments, Addamo shoved and a visibly irritated Coleman was put to the test. With just under 20 big blinds left, Coleman went into the tank and eventually made the fold. The blinds went up to 20,000/40,000 (40,000 bb ante) and Addamo continued to chip up. Both Koon and Coleman slipped under 20 big blinds and Addamo was taking every spot to force the two short stacks into uncomfortable spots. Another hour passed and the blinds climbed again to 25,000/50,000 (50,000 bb ante) and by this time Addamo had 75% of the chips in play. Coleman’s time came when Addamo open-shoved from the small blind with his [poker card="4s"][poker card="4c"] and Coleman, down to roughly five big blinds, looked down at the [poker card="qd"][poker card="js"] and went with it, calling all-in. It was a flip for Coleman’s tournament life and the flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="th"][poker card="6s"], giving Coleman some additional outs. The [poker card="8d"] hit the turn, and Coleman added even more outs - 14 in total, one time. But Addamo was running too good and when the [poker card="8s"] fell on the turn, Coleman stood, shook Addamo’s hand, said “good luck guys” and made his exit in third place, good for $272,000. With a four-to-one chip lead, Addamo went to work on closing out the tournament. Koon hung around, looking for spots to turn the tide but he was never able to build a chip stack over 1 million at the end. The final hand had Koon ship a stack of just under 20 big blinds with [poker card="kc"][poker card="6d"] from the button and Addamo, after asking for a count, made the casual call holding [poker card="kd"][poker card="jh"]. The [poker card="8h"][poker card="5s"][poker card="4s"] flop gave Koon some additional gutshot straight outs. However, the turn came the [poker card="4c"] and the river was the [poker card="kh"], keeping kickers in play and forcing Koon to settle as the runner-up which was good for $442,000. For his dominating performance, Addamo earned $680,000 and climbs to more than $9 million in career live earnings. 2021 Poker Masters Event #11 Final Table Results Michael Addamo - $680,000 Jason Koon - $442,000 David Coleman - $272,000 Alex Foxen - $187,000 Cary Katz - $119,000
Belarusian high-stakes tournament crusher Mikita Badziakouski touched down a little early in Las Vegas in order to play the upcoming Super High Roller Bowl and decided to warm up with an entry into the 2021 Poker Masters Event #10 ($25,000 NLHE). By the end, he had toppled a star-studded final table that included Jason Koon, Ali Imsirovic, Seth Davies, and Daniel Negreanu to collect the $342,000 first-place prize and the first Poker Masters victory of his career. Just a few minutes into the final table, Seth Davies found a way to pick up chips and climb up from the short stack - even if he had to get a little lucky to do it. The blinds were at 10,000/20,000 (20,000 bb ante) when Davies make it 45,000 to go from the button holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"]. On the button, Jason Koon picked up [poker card="qh"][poker card="qd"] and made it 115,000 to go. The blinds both got out of the way and Davies opted to move all-in for 30 big blinds total. Koon quickly called, putting Davies at risk. The danger for Davies didn’t last long as the flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"][poker card="6d"], putting Davies on the verge of a big double up. Koon, with just two outs, watched as the turn came the [poker card="kh"] and the river came the [poker card="jd"], crippling his already short stack. Davies chipped up to second place while Koon was left with just six big blinds. Over the next two orbits, Koon tried to find a spot to double, but 10 minutes later he was out when his [poker card="kd"][poker card="5d"] couldn’t catch up to Daniel Negreanu’s [poker card="ts"][poker card="th"]. Koon’s early fifth-place exit was good for $76,000. Ali Imsirovic has had plenty of noted success inside the PokerGO studio. But at the 2021 Poker Masters, it took until Event #10 before he made a final table appearance - one that was cut short in a clash of huge hands. With the blinds at 15,000/25,000 (25,000 bb ante), Imsirovic raised to 75,000 on the button with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kh"]. After Negreanu folded his small blind, Badziakouski looked down at the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"]. Badziakouski, having Imsirovic covered by roughly 15 big blinds, three-bet to 275,000. The action was back on Imsirovic. With 50 big blinds total, Imsirovic four-bet to 475,000 after which Badziakouski took some time and five-bet shoved. Imsirovic snap-called and the cards were on their backs when the flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"][poker card="ts"]. Imsirovic’s pocket kings were well ahead but Badziakouski had three aces and a gutshot straight draw as outs. The [poker card="js"] spiked on the turn, bringing in Badziakouski’s straight but giving Imsirovic additional flush out to go with his full house draw. But an innocent [poker card="4c"] completed the board and with kings cracked, Imsirovic made his exit to collect his $104,500 payday. Three-handed play between Badziakouski, Davies, and Negreanu wore on. Over two hours later, Badziakouski had lost his chip lead with Davies taking over while Negreanu deftly navigated the short stack. Negreanu made a series of critical pre-flop shoves to stay alive, and after a gutty hand in which he check-shoved a turn on Badziakouski with king-high (it happened to be good), Negreanu finally climbed out of the cellar. But just as Kid Poker was gaining momentum he ran into a roadblock. With the blinds at 25,000/50,000 (50,000 bb ante) Davies called in the small blind holding [poker card="8h"][poker card="5h"]. In the big blind Negreanu raised to 175,000 with his [poker card="ks"][poker card="kh"] and Davies opted for a call. The flop came [poker card="kc"][poker card="qh"][poker card="9c"] giving Negreanu top set and a 94% advantage in the hand. Davies checked and Negreanu checked back. The turn came the [poker card="th"], opening the door with flush outs for Davies. Davies checked again and Negreanu followed suit once again. The river was the [poker card="7h"] bringing the runner-runner flush for Davies. Davies led for 400,000, roughly half of what Negreanu had left. Negreanu couldn’t get away and flipped in a single chip for a call and ended up back on a ten big blind stack. It was all over for Negreanu a few minutes later when, on the button, Badziakouski limped in with his [poker card="ad"][poker card="ac"] and Negreanu picked up [poker card="6s"][poker card="6d"] in the big blind. Negreanu shoved, Badziakouski called and the board ran out [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"][poker card="jh"][poker card="5c"][poker card="js"] giving Badziakouski a full house and eliminating Negreanu in third place for $152,000. After a short break, heads-up began with Davies holding a roughly two-to-one chip lead. Davies continued to apply pressure on Badziakouski, at times widening the chip gap only to have Badziakouski battle back. But at 40,000/80,000 (80,000 bb ante), Badziakouski decided to risk it all in an effort to flip the script. On the button, Davies moved all-in with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="6h"] and Badziakouski looked down at the [poker card="jc"][poker card="9c"]. Badziakouski took a moment, counted his chips, and suddenly said “Yea, why am I thinking? Easy.” and stuck his 22 big blind stack in the middle. The flop came [poker card="kd"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"] missing both and keeping Davies ace-high ahead. The [poker card="7s"] turn did nothing for either player and Badziakouski was down to six outs one time. But the [poker card="9h"] came on the river and just like that Badziakouski soared to a hefty chip advantage that he never surrendered. On the final hand of the event, with the blinds at 50,000/100,000 (100,000 bb ante) Badziakouski called on the button holding [poker card="qh"][poker card="ts"] and Davies checked his option with his [poker card="js"][poker card="4h"]. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="8h"][poker card="6c"] gave Davies top pair and he quickly checked it over to Badziakouski who bet 100,000. Davis, with just over 600,000 behind, check-raised to 225,000. Badziakouski opted to put Davies all-in and Davies stuck his stack in as a 70% favorite. The [poker card="7h"] didn’t change much, but the [poker card="9s"] on the river gave Badziakouski the straight and ended the hard-fought heads-up battle. Davies falls in second place and collected $228,000 while Badziakouski picked up the win and the $342,000 first-place prize. 2021 Poker Masters Event #10 Final Table Results Mikita Badziakouski - $342,000 Seth Davies - $228,000 Daniel Negreanu - $152,000 Ali Imsirovic - $104,500 Jason Koon - $76,000
On the second-to-last day of the month, when Greek grinder Alex ‘Alexyo’ Theologis capped off a career win by taking down the WSOP Online Event #21 ($25,000 Super High Roller Championship) he not only earned a career-high score of more than $1.2 million and his first WSOP gold bracelet but he also earned enough leaderboard points to secure himself the Online Player of the Month award for August. Theologis’ gold bracelet win was arguably the most difficult of the entire series. It came in the biggest buy-in event of the WSOP Online against one of the toughest fields of the month. With 255 entries and a prize pool of $6.2 million, Theologis outlasted the likes of Adrian Mateos, Rui Ferreira, Anatoly Filatov, and Kahle Burns at the final table and walked away with $1,218,123. He also picked up 2,499.50 leaderboard points, an enormous sum in any month. But one win alone won’t lock up the Online Player of the Month and leading up to his seven-figure score, Theologis was enjoying plenty of success in August. Just one week earlier, he took third place in the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker Event #14-H ($10,300 8-Max High Roller) for $137,191 (his fourth-highest career cash) and 519.86 points. Prior to that, there were three five-figure scores including a fourth-place finish in the August 22 edition of the PokerStars $1,050 High Roller for $21,398. In total, Theologis scored more than $1.52 million in total earnings and 5,464 total leaderboard points in August and rose to hit a career-high ranking of #11 in the world (he currently sits at #12). And it appears that his August heater has continued into September as, in the final days of WCOOP, he took home a title in Event #95-H ($530 NLHE 8-Max Freezeout) for $56,520. If it weren’t for Theologis pulling out the victory in the final days of August, Dan ‘SmilleThHero’ Smiljkovic would have captured his second career OPOM title with 5,063 total points. Having won it back in October of 2020, Smiljkovic has seemingly been on a trajectory of “up only” ever since and, as of this week, the Austrian at an all-time high ranking of #4 in the world, sitting inside the top 5 for the very first time. Smiljkovic earned over $979,000 over the course of 152 in-the-money finishes with his top score coming on August 11 when he defeated a field of 479 entries to win the GGPoker WSOP Online Event #8 ($5,000 6-Handed NLH Championship) for a career-high first-place prize of $425,553 (1,508.39 leaderboard points) as well as his first gold bracelet. That wasn’t his only six-figure score of the month as he nearly paired his bracelet with a WCOOP win on August 31 when he finished as the runner-up in Event #42-H ($5,200 NLHE 8-Max) for another $113,745 (551.99). Add to that six five-figure scores, including a final table appearance at the GGPoker Super Millions on August 10 for $73,948 (381.05) and Smiljkovic had one of the most successful months of his online career. Brazil’s #8-ranked pro Lucia ‘Llima92’ Lima rounded out the top three with 4,779 leaderboard points after picking up the top three scores of his career in August. Lima went on a sun run at the end of the month, first when bested the 2,137-entry field on August 8 in the WSOP Online GIANT for $87,425 (856.27), his online poker top score. Two weeks later, he finished fourth in the $1,050 WSOP High Rollers Sunday Main Event on GGPoker for another $70,114 (429.58), and then, just four days later, he grabbed a PokerStars WCOOP title with a victory in Event #30-H ($2,100 8-Max Turbo) for $63,304 (506.36). In total, those three events alone earned Lima $220,844. While Lima earned the bulk of his more than $579,000 in results in those three tournaments, he has proven himself to be a non-stop grinder. The Brazilian put in work, racking up 228 total results and playing everything in sight nearly every day of the month. The end result was Lima cracking the top 20 in the rankings, topping out at 17, and currently resting this week at #19. At the pace he’s going, Lima will crack the $5 million career earnings mark by the end of 2021. August Player of the Month Results [table id=263 /]
There was a new face in the PokerGO studio for 2021 Poker Masters Event #9 ($25,000 Pot Limit Omaha) and that was California-based entrepreneur Miles Rampel. Rampel, who decided to made his Poker Masters debut in a $25K PLO event, walked away with what was, reportedly, his first-ever tournament cash of $365,500. As told to PokerGO, Rampel, who does play cash games, started playing PLO this year but had never bought into any tournament for more than $100. When his buddies brought him out to Las Vegas he thought “You know what, I’ll take a shot.” And what a shot it was, besting some of the game’s top high rollers and making his first Hendon Mob entry a victory at the Poker Masters. "It hasn't hit me yet, but I feel great, I feel great," Rampel told PokerGO after the win. Five-handed play lasted through the first break, nearly an hour forty-five minutes into the final table. At 20,000/40,000 (40,000 bb ante) Jeremy Ausmus, with 10 bigs, opened from the button to 140,000 holding [poker card="as"][poker card="qs"][poker card="jd"][poker card="7s"]. In the big blind, Rampel looked down at [poker card="ad"][poker card="qh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="2d"]. Rampel, who had assumed the chip lead, quickly three-bet to 440,000. Ausmus took some time, and decided to call, leaving himself with just 15,000 behind. The flop came [poker card="6d"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2d"] giving Rampel bottom pair and missing Ausmus entirely. Rampel checked it over to Ausmus who checked back. The turn was the [poker card="4d"] giving Rample diamond flush outs. He led out enough to cover Ausmus’ final few chips. Ausmus took one more look at his hand before tossing them in. The [poker card="8s"] river was no help to Ausmus who tapped the table and went to collect his $86,000 for fifth place. It didn’t take long before another player hit the rail. Ten minutes later, Ben Lamb found himself with just 10 big blinds when he opened from the button to 140,000 holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"][poker card="8h"][poker card="3c"]. From the small blind, Rampel made the call with his [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2h"]. The [poker card="9s"][poker card="7d"][poker card="2s"] flop gave Lamb a wrap and, once again, brought a pair of deuces for Rampel. Rampel checked it over to Lamb who moved the rest of his 290,000 stack all-in. It wasn’t enough to take Rampel off his hand, and the chip leader made the call. Although technically behind in the hand, with 17 outs twice Lamb was the statistical favorite to win. That changed when the [poker card="qh"] hit, nothing changed except Rampel’s chance of fading Lamb’s outs. He did just that on the [poker card="9d"] river, letting Rampel’s pair of twos hold and sending Lamb out in fourth place for $118,250. The final three players grinded for roughly another hour, passing chips back and forth. Lou Garza, who started the day with the chip lead, took it back, but Rampel stayed close. Sean Winter found his stack dwindling, unable to pick up the key hand that would allow him to get back in the thick of it. His time finally came at the 30,000/60,000 (60,000 bb ante) level. After taking a number of hits to his already short stack, Winter was sitting on just over two big blinds. He raised to 120,000 from the button holding [poker card="qd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="9d"][poker card="8h"] and was called by Garza in the small blind with his [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"][poker card="qs"][poker card="8c"] and Rampel in the big blind holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4c"]. The [poker card="8d"][poker card="4d"][poker card="4s"] gave Rampel trip fours, a pair and a flush draw for Winter, and a pair for Garza. It was checked to Winter on the button and he tossed in his final 20,000. Both Garza and Rampel called. The turn was the [poker card="5h"] improving Rampel to a full house and leaving both other players drawing dead to the [poker card="9c"] river. Winter walked with $161,250 for third place. The start of head-up play had Garza holding a slim lead over Rampel, both with more than 40 big blinds. It didn’t take long for Rampel to take the chip lead away from Garza once again, this time he didn’t give it back. He extended his lead to a roughly five-to-one advantage when the final hand went down. Blinds were up to 40,000/80,000 (80,000 bb ante) when Garza raised it up to 240,000 holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="kh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="7s"]. Rampel made the call from the big blind with his [poker card="jc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2h"]. The flop came [poker card="jh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] giving Garza the nut flush draw as well as a straight draw while Rampel hit top pair. Rampel checked it over to Garza who bet full pot, only to be shoved on by Rampel. Garza stuck the rest of his chips in the middle as a favorite. The [poker card="4d"] came on the turn and Rampel needed to once again fade a multitude of outs, this time to win the tournament. And again, he did that when the [poker card="qd"] completed the board. In his third straight final table, Garza again falls just short of his first Poker Masters victory, this time as the runner-up for $236,500. After Garza made his exit, Rampel was mobbed by a few friends on set as they celebrated his victory and $365,500 first-place payday. 2021 Poker Masters Event #9 Final Table Results Miles Rampel - $365,500 Lou Garza - $236,500 Sean Winter - $161,250 Ben Lamb - $118,250 Jeremy Ausmus - $86,000
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