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  1. Issac Haxton earned his second career GGPoker $10,300 Super MILLION$ title this week after topping the 222-entry field and collecting the $448,842 first-place prize. It was the tenth time Haxton reached a GGPoker Super MILLION$ final table in the history of the tournament and his 13th cash of the current season. The high-rolling reg entered the day in the middle of the pack, fifth in chips. But Haxton leveraged his extensive experience (and some good fortune) to climb to the top of the chip counts and assume a commanding chip lead that he never relinquished. In addition to Haxton, this week’s final table field was packed with star power including Wiktor ‘Limitless’ Malinowski, last week’s runner-up Pablo Brito Silva, and Mikita Badziakouski, who started the day as the overall chip leader. On the very first hand of the final table, with the blinds at 30,000/60,000 (7,500 ante), Andras Nasman opened to 138,000 holding [poker card="ks"][poker card="js"] and was instantly three-bet by Russia’s ‘VSMPZD’ with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="tc"]. When it folded to the short-stacked ‘bill2021’, they committed their final 280,000 holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="jh"]. The action was back on Nasman, who eventually let his hand go and ‘bill2021’ was heads-up with ‘VSMPZD’ but at risk. The board ran out [poker card="ts"][poker card="5s"][poker card="4c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="kc"] bringing ‘bill2021’ top pair on the river, however, it was the king of clubs which brought in the backdoor flush for ‘VSMPZD’. ‘bill2021’ called it a day in ninth place and collected $56,105. Roughly 20 minutes later, Pablo Brito Silva opened from under the gun to 120,000 holding the [poker card="ah"][poker card="3h"] and Haxton, in the cutoff, looked down at the [poker card="kh"][poker card="ks"] and opted just to call. In the small blind ‘VSMPZD’ picked up [poker card="ac"][poker card="qc"] and moved all-in for just over $1.2 million. Silva got out of the way and Haxton snap-called with his kings. The [poker card="5d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="8d"][poker card="jd"] never gave Haxton’s pocket kings a sweat as he took down the 2.7 million chip pot and ‘VSMPZD’ was eliminated in eighth place for $72,759. With the blinds at 35,000/70,000 (8,500 ante) Wiktor ‘Limitless’ Malinowski was one of the two shortest stacks. From the cutoff he opened to 560,000 holding [poker card="as"][poker card="jh"], leaving himself just over 1 big blind behind. In the small blind, Mikita Badziakouski shipped all-in with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] to isolate and when Konstantin Maslak folded their big blind, Malinowski committed the last of his stack. The flop came [poker card="7c"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4h"] giving no help to Malinowski save for a potential backdoor flush. The turn was the [poker card="qc"], effectively ending the hand and leaving ‘Limitless’ drawing dead to the [poker card="2h"] river. Malinowski hit the rail in seventh place for $94,357. Maslak opened the button to 480,000 holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="3s"], with the blinds at 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante), leaving himself with fewer than 10 big blinds behind. In the big blind, Haxton raised to more than 1.5 million with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"], more than enough to put Maslak all-in. Maslak took just a couple of seconds and made the call with his tournament on the line. The flop came [poker card="kd"][poker card="jc"][poker card="3h"] bringing Haxton middle pair and Maslak bottom pair, leaving him with just two outs to survive. However, the turn came the [poker card="4c"] and the river was the [poker card="9d"] sending Maslak off in sixth place for $122,366. Right after the first break, ‘joyeux’ who had been nursing a short stack for the better part of an hour, took his shot to get back in the game. Nasman opened from middle position to 176,000 with the [poker card="kh"][poker card="qc"] and Badziakouski called from the small blind with the [poker card="as"][poker card="4s"]. Then ‘joyeux’ clicked all-in for just over 1 million with his [poker card="2h"][poker card="2c"]. Nasman took some time but eventually made the call which forced Badziakouski out of the pot. Nasman and ‘joyeux’ saw a flop of [poker card="7s"][poker card="6h"][poker card="3d"], keeping the deuces ahead. But the turn came the [poker card="kc"] and all of a sudden ‘joyeux’ was searching for one of the final two deuces in the deck. The river came the [poker card="3s"] and ‘joyeux’, who started the day eighth in chips, laddered to a fifth-place finish and a $155,689 payday. The final four battled for a number of levels until the blinds reached 70,000/140,000 (17,500 ante). On the button, Badziakouski opened to 294,000 with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"] with 3.2 million behind. Haxton, in the small blind, three-bet ripped his 7.3 million stack with the [poker card="kd"][poker card="td"] and when the action got back to Badziakouski, he made the call, creating a massive pot of 7.2 million. The [poker card="qh"][poker card="tc"][poker card="7h"] flop put Haxton in the lead. The [poker card="6c"] turn changed nothing and when the [poker card="7s"] river fell, Badziakouski was officially done in fourth place and collected $205,795. Haxton started three-handed play with a two-to-one chip advantage over both Nasman and Silva. Twenty-five minutes passed and the blinds crept up to 100,000/200,000 (25,000 ante). After Silva folded the button, Haxton called from the small blind with the [poker card="9s"][poker card="7s"] and Nasman, who in the big blind picked up [poker card="ks"][poker card="kd"], raised to 600,000. Haxton made the call and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="8c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="3s"]. Haxton checked it over to Nasman, who bet 418,750. Haxton quickly check-raised to 937,500 and Nasman made the call. The turn was the [poker card="2s"] keeping Nasman in charge but offering Haxton backdoor flush opportunities. Haxton then open-shoved for more than 9 million and Nasman called for it all, ahead with his kings. Unfortunately, for Nasman, the river came the [poker card="8s"], giving the flush and the hand to Haxton. Nasman finished in third place, which was good for $266,883. Haxton had Silva outchipped three-to-one when heads-up play started. But Silva didn’t give in so easily. The pair fought for nearly 45 minutes and Silva nearly took the chip lead a number of times. But in the end, Haxton wore down the Brazilian. On the final hand, from the button, Haxton shipped his stack with the [poker card="3d"][poker card="3c"] and Silva called for his final 3.1 million with [poker card="ah"][poker card="qc"]. The flop came [poker card="th"][poker card="9d"][poker card="5d"] keeping Haxton’s pocket threes ahead. And that pair held through the [poker card="2h"] turn and [poker card="kd"] river, ending Silva’s comeback bid and sending him home in second place for the second week in a row. Silva collected $346,104 for his efforts and Haxton scored his second career Super MILLION$ victory and $448,842. GGPoker Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (1/18) Isaac Haxton - $448,842 Pablo Brito Silva - $346,104 Andreas Nasman - $266,883 Mikita Badziakouski - $205,795 ‘joyeux’ - $158,689 Konstantin Maslak - $122,366 Wiktor Malinowski - $94,357 ‘VSMPZD’ - $72,759 ‘bill2021’ - $56,105
  2. The Online Player of the Year race went right down to the wire, proving to be one of the closest contests in recent years. In the end, Brazilian online crusher, and current #2-ranked player in the world, Pedro ‘pvigar’ Garagnani did what was necessary to edge out high-stakes legend Sami ‘LarzLuzak’ Kelopuro and took down the PocketFives 2021 Online Player of the Year honors. 2021 proved to be the best of Garagnani’s decade-long career and the story of his year is one of a player who climbed the rungs of the Online Poker Rankings and didn’t stop until he reached the top. Last year saw him dive headfirst into the online high roller waters and emerge with a reputation as one of the game's elite talents plus seven six-figure scores. He found success at almost every stage of the year and in nearly every major online series. Garagnani finished 2021 with a PokerStars WCOOP title, two WPTDeepstacks High Roller titles, a Turbo Series win, a GGPoker WSOP High Roller victory, and a runner-up finish in the GGPoker Super MILLION$. In fact, of his top 20 career scores, 15 took place in 2021. Although he had some fairly notable scores in the first two months, Garagnani’s big year didn’t truly kick off in earnest until March. That’s when he bested the 202 runners in the PokerStars $5,200 High Roller Club Titan Event for $197,646, a career-high score for him at the time. It was a bit of a proving ground for Garagnani as he battled against a stacked final table of online poker talent including Mike Watson, Parker Talbot, and former #1-ranked Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson. His victory in this tournament can be looked back on as the launching point for things to come in 2021. Two weeks later, on April 6, Garagnani, who at the time was ranked #6 in Brazil and approaching the worldwide top 20, would blow his previous high score out of the water. He went on a deep run in the GGPoker’s weekly $10,300 Super MILLION$. His runner-up finish earned him $454,196, a score that stands as his current career-high. It also brought him a massive haul of 1,165.36 Player of the Year leaderboard points, a score that stood as his highest of the year and was instrumental to him clinching Player of the Year honors. By the time summer came around, ‘pvigar’ had climbed to #12 in the world. That’s when he earned his second career PokerStars WCOOP title, outlasting yet another heavyweight final table that included Samuel Vousden, Christian Rudolph, and 2021 U.S. Poker Open champion David Peters in the $5,200 8-Max High Roller. He added $195,689 to his bankroll and another 1,000 leaderboard points in what was a top-3 result for him in the year. Then, just four days after his WCOOP win, he finished as the runner-up in another $5,200 WCOOP event for another $71,712. All of these major scores were adding up for Garagnani. He inserted himself into the Online Poker Rankings Top 10 and became a real threat to those at the top. Then, a late-year heater kicked in for him which propelled him to the top of the rankings. In September, he won a GGPoker WSOP High Rollers event for $31,280, and then in October, he was in the winner’s circle again with a victory in the WPTDeepStacks High Roller on partypoker for $112,079. Finally, at the end of November, Garagnani took down the Winamax Mini WSOP SUPER HIGHROLLER for $47,197 and that’s when he earned enough points to put him over the top. In the first week of December it became official, Garaganai overtook fellow Brazilian Bruno Volkmann and became the #1-ranked player in the world for the first time in his career. He joined the ranks of Volkmann, Yuri Dzivielevski, Brunno Botteon, Joao Mathias, and Joao Simao in the elite club of Brazilians who have reached the top of the rankings. In his first week at #1, Garagnani was back on his WPTDeepStacks grind only this time it was on 888poker. He won event #9 of that series, a $200,000 GTD PKO, for $40,500 and 447.21 leaderboard points, a score that made all the difference in the Player of the Year race. Garagani finished the year with 24,867 leaderboard points, just 343 more than Kelopuro. In contrast, when the UK's Conor Beresford took the Online Player of the Year title in 2020, he finished more than 4000 points above runner-up Brunno Botteon. Garagnani held on to the #1 spot for six weeks before relinquishing it in early January and ended the year with more than $8.4 million in total career earnings. 2021 Online Poker Player of the Year Standings [table id=285 /]
  3. It’s another high roller victory for Michael Addamo’s extensive poker resume as he claimed a record fifth career victory in this week’s GGPoker Super MILLION$, besting the 266-entry field for a $518,640 payday. Addamo entered the final table with the chip lead and held it all the way until heads-up play. He was never really in any danger throughout the day, especially after scooping a massive pot in the early action. From there, he cruised to heads-up play, battled back when he lost the lead, and sealed the deal against a tough opponent in Brazilian powerhouse Pablo Silva. The win breaks the two-way tie with four-time Super MILLION$ champ Niklas Astedt and lifts him into the top 5 on the tournament’s All-Time Money List with more than $3.5 million in Super MILLION$ earnings. At this point, after Addamo’s incredible 2021 campaign, another victory for Addamo shouldn’t be a surprise to poker fans. This week, the surprise was just how fast the victory came. Between Addamo and Silva, they eliminated every other opponent save one and did so in just over ninety minutes. It didn’t take long before Addamo went to work. Less than 10 minutes into the final table, with the blinds at 35,000/70,000 (8,500 ante), Addamo put in a raise to 140,000 under the gun holding [poker card="td"][poker card="ts"]. The action folded to ‘TheRayGuy’ on the button who was sitting second in chips with 4.5 million and the [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"]. ‘TheRayGuy’ three-bet to 462,000 and Addamo made the call. The flop came [poker card="ks"][poker card="tc"][poker card="4c"], giving Addamo a set which was made all the more improbable with one ten having hit the muck preflop. Addamo checked it to ‘TheRayGuy’ who put out a bet of 546,000. Addamo check-raised to 1.2 million and ‘TheRayGuy’ moved all-in. Addamo snap-called having hit his one out and the [poker card="8h"] and [poker card="jd"] completed the board. ‘TheRayGuy’ started the day second in chips but left in ninth place for $64,830 and Addamo soared to more than 10 million in chips, more than enough to apply maximum pressure for the rest of the tournament. The blinds climbed to 40,000/80,000 (10,000 ante) when ‘DollarVig’ opened from under the gun to 160,000 holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"]. In the cutoff, Pablo Silva three-bet to just over 371,000 holding [poker card="js"][poker card="jd"]. When the action returned to ‘DollarVig’ they shipped their remaining 12 big blinds and Silva made the call. The board ran out [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="td"] providing no help to ‘DollarVig’s overcards and sending them home in eighth for $84,074. At 50,000/100,000 (12,500 ante), China’s Huang Wenjie slipped down to 13 big blinds and was in looking for a spot to perhaps double. When Austria’s ‘JukeZonYou’ opened to 200,000 on the button, Wenjie made his move and shipped all-in holding the [poker card="ad"][poker card="5c"]. However, ‘JukeZonYou’ quickly called and turned up with the dominating [poker card="ac"][poker card="kd"]. The flop came [poker card="as"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4d"], pairing both but keeping kickers in play. The turn was the [poker card="4s"] giving Wenjie a couple of additional outs, but the river came the [poker card="6h"], and right before the first break, Wenjie was eliminated in seventh place for $109,030. It would be the only break of the final table and the final table sped to a conclusion. With the blinds at 60,000/120,000 (15,000 ante), Silva opened from the cutoff to 240,000 with [poker card="ah"][poker card="js"] and when it folded to Orpen Kisacikoglu in the big blind, he moved all-in for 2 million holding [poker card="as"][poker card="qh"]. Silva made the call, putting Kisacikoglu at risk. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4d"] bring a pair for both but keeping Kisacikoglu ahead with the queen kicker. The [poker card="jd"] turn changed everything and Silva took a commanding lead which he held through the [poker card="9d"] river. Kisacikoglu, who started the day third in chips, hit the rail in sixth which was good for $141,395. Two hands later, Silva was back at it. ‘JukeZonYou’ opened to 240,000 on the button and Silva, looking to apply pressure on a short stack, open shipped his 7 million stack with [poker card="ac"][poker card="8c"]. ‘JukeZonYou’ insta-called with the best hand, but the flop came out [poker card="ah"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2s"], helping Silva come from behind once again. The [poker card="js"] hit the turn and the river came the [poker card="5s"], ending ‘JukeZonYou’s day in fifth place for $237,797. The very next hand, ‘spaise411’ opened to 240,000 under the gun holding [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"]. When it folded to Addamo in the big blind, just like Silva the hand before, he open-shipped the chip lead holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="2c"]. ‘spaise411’ called looking for the double up however the board ran out [poker card="ah"][poker card="6c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="tc"][poker card="2s"] giving Addamo the pot and finishing off ‘spaise411’ in fourth place for $237,797. Three-handed at 70,000/140,000 (17,500), Silva opened the button to 280,000 holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"] and after Addamo folded the small blind, Mario Mosboeck took a few seconds before three-bet shipping his final 12 big blinds with the [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"]. Silva made the call and the flop came [poker card="qc"][poker card="8h"][poker card="3c"] giving Mosboeck some additional straight outs to survive. The [poker card="3s"] turn was no help to him and the [poker card="ks"] river simply sealed his fate. Mosboeck was eliminated in third place and picked up $399,926 for the deep run. Addamo and Silva were essentially even in chips when heads-up play got underway. Silva jumped out to a lead, but after a big double up for Addamo where he rivered a flush against Silva’s flopped top pair, Addamo quickly finished Silva off. Four hands after Addamo’s double-up, a classic cooler shipped him the win. Silva opened the button to 350,000 with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="js"] and Addamo three-bet to 1.2 million holding the [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"]. Silva didn’t wait, he shipped his final seven million and Addamo made the call. The flop came [poker card="ts"][poker card="td"][poker card="8h"], keeping Silva ahead. However, the turn came the [poker card="as"] giving Addamo top pair. The river was the [poker card="6h"] and Silva finished up and the runner-up for which he collected $399,926. With the victory, Michael Addamo recorded his fifth Super MILLION$ win and took home $518,640. GGPoker Super MILLION$ Final Table (1/11) Michael Addamo - $518,640 Pablo Silva - $399,926 Mario Mosboeck - $308,385 ‘spaise411’ - $237,797 ‘JukeZonYou’ - $183,367 Orpen Kisacikoglu - $141,395 Huang Wenjie - $109,030 ‘DollarVig’ - $84,074 ‘TheRayGuy’ - $64,830
  4. Poker in Austin, Texas just got an injection of star power for 2022 as Doug Polk, Brad Owen, and Andrew Neeme announced that they have teamed up to purchase a majority share of The Lodge Poker Club & Card Room, the largest poker room in the city. “As of today I have officially bought part of the largest card room here in Austin, Texas - The Lodge,” Polk said in his recently released YouTube video. “Other part-owners include Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme, and Jake Abdalla.” The partnership doesn’t end there. Along with the core owners, Polk noted that many of the trusted partners that helped his training site Upswing Poker succeed, including Ryan Fee, Matt Colletta, Mike Brady, and Thomas Keeling are also coming in on the deal. The Lodge is a 24/7 poker room that holds 60 tables and offers live streaming cash games on its own YouTube channel, The Lodge Live, which boasts more than 20,000 subscribers. Polk, who recently moved from Las Vegas to Texas, talked a little bit about how the collaboration came to be. “I didn’t know poker was [in Texas] at all until I got a coffee and looked over and there was a card room next door. From there I went to all the different cad rooms in Austin and realized that this is actually a very large business here in the city and it’s also going on across the state in places like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.” “At this point, it became clear with over 60 rooms in the state and seemingly endless growth it was time to make a move. So I got in contact with two people that I knew would be absolutely essential for the long-term success of any room - Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme.” https://twitter.com/TheBradOwen/status/1478081942377533440?s=20 As three of the most recognizable content creators in the poker space, Polk, Owen, and Neeme recognized that together they may have the means to cross the chasm from playing to the business end of the poker game and are bringing their influence to The Lodge. “I believe in The Lodge so much that I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I’ve made a substantial investment into the room to become a part of it and so have Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme.” It all kicks off later in January with their first-ever Monster Meet Up Week. On January 24, all three of the new co-owners will appear on The Lodge Live. The next day, on January 25, they are planning “The Biggest Meet Up Game in Texas History” as they invite players to splash around with them. From January 26-30 they are also hosting a $600 tournament with a $500,000 guarantee. Poker in Texas is a bit different from other states where poker is offered. Besides Polk’s assertion that “poker strategy went back in time ten years here in Texas”, card rooms are not allowed to take a rake. The room can’t take any money off the table or have any incentive to have large or small pots. Instead, poker is offered as a social club where members pay a fee to play and then are charged a timed rate for having a seat. Polk also states that he hopes his team will not only make The Lodge the premier place to play in Austin but that, down the line, they would look ahead to opening up additional branded poker rooms around the country where poker, either under this model or outright, is legal. And this is a project for which he’s willing to come out of “retirement” in order to make it happen. “We have a few different goals with The Lodge. The first is to continue to make The Lodge the place to play poker in Austin, Texas. It’s already the biggest place and it’s already, in my opinion, the best place poker…but we’re going to do our best to continue to make that a reality with planned trips from both Andrew and Brad and two times a week I’m going to be driving down there on Wednesdays and Fridays to play some poker. Polk acknowledged the recent troubles that took place at the Houston card room previously owned by Johnny Chan, Johnny Chan’s 88 Social where a lack of funding and some allegedly shady dealings left players, at times, locked out and unable to cash in their chips. Johnny Chan’s 88 Social has since been sold and a rebranding has taken place with players promised their money. Polk calls this unacceptable and says “one thing I can absolutely guarantee you of, we’re going to do things right at the Lodge.” Watch the complete announcement below:
  5. It was late December and 32-year-old Florida-based grinder Jake Ferro was making his presence felt at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Main Event at the Bellagio. He was deep his second WPT Main Tour event in as many months, having just come off a runner-up finish at the WPT Seminole Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open in November for a career-high score of $573,605. Things were looking good, he had made the final three tables and was hoping to continue to ride on his recent wave of good fortune. However, when Ferro clashed in a hand against WPT champ Pat Lyons, Ferro ended up hitting the rail in 14th place for more than $80,000. Fourteenth place was good, but not the result Ferro was looking for. He was hoping to punch his ticket into the WPT Champions Club. But what he didn't know at the time was that his 14th place finish was just what he needed to put him over the top in order to clinch the WPT Season XIX Player of the Year. Originally from New York, Ferro first started playing poker when he was 15. Back then it was just small-time cash games with his friends, maybe the occasional $5 tournament. When he turned 18, he started to make trips to Turning Stone Casino in Syracuse. That was when he started taking the game more seriously. He took a break from working at his father’s trucking business to give playing full-time a shot, but the first time around “things didn’t go so well” and Ferro went back to work in the family business. When COVID hit in early 2020, it was an eye-opening moment for Ferro. He knew he didn’t want a nine-to-five. So years after taking his first shot at going pro, he decided to try playing professionally once again. That was two years ago and since that time he’s been on a steep upswing. He finished 2021 with 35 recorded cashes, three six-figure scores, a WPT and PokerGO Tour final table, and the WPT Player of the Year title. We tracked Ferro down to talk about what the POY title means to him, his grinder mentality, and how he plans on elevating his game in 2022. —— First off, you’ve got to be on cloud nine, yea? Yeah, man. It's pretty wild. I never really even thought this. I've always had dreams of making a run like this, but so on cloud nine, really. Still hasn't hit me almost. The story is that it was a bit of a surprise for you to find out that you were the World Poker Tour Season XIX Player of the Year. How did that go down? After the Five Diamond at the Bellagio, my buddy, Jeremy - he plays in Tampa a lot, really good tournament player - was out in Vegas with me. He was like, “Bro, you’re the Player of the Year. They're announcing it on the PokerGO stream.” I'm like, "No way. I think it's just for the beginning of the year, like 2021 to 2022, I think there's another whole year left." He said, "No way, bro… you're the Player of the Year. They're tweeting it. It's everywhere." I'm like - "No way, man." Then [the WPT] called me out of the blue and said, "Yeah, you won World Poker Tour Player of the Year.” It was just really a shock to me, I don't get emotional much, but it was pretty wild to hear that. Speaking of Five Diamond, when you went to the Five Diamond in December, was Player of the Year on your mind? At any point during the year, was that a goal for you? Not at all. I didn't even think it was possible. That's why it's just been kind of a shock. If I knew it was possible, I would've definitely been looking to see if I needed to beat anyone in the Five Diamond, and what I had to do in order to actually win the Player of the Year. It might've even played a little differently. You never know. So it's just really a surprise. What kind of confidence comes along with joining the ranks of players like Negreanu, Altman, and Zinno in being named a WPT Player of the Year? I'm telling everyone - I'm more hungry than ever now. I have to back up what I just did. I can't just be a bum. I can't be a chump. I have to back up my stuff, and it's pretty wild. I looked at all the names of everyone who won World Poker Tour Player of the Year and I was just floored. As you said, all those names you just mentioned…wild, wild. And Altman, I play with all the time. Really amazing tournament player. I played with Negreanu, Faraz…played with all those guys, Really, just unreal players. And for me to be mentioned with them, it floors me. "I'm more hungry than ever now. I have to back up what I just did. I can't just be a bum. I can't be a chump. I have to back up my stuff, and it's pretty wild." For players who win a major award or title sometimes it drives them to want even more. The desire to do it again, or even improve upon that achievement creeps in. Are you having thoughts of investing even more time, more travel in the WPT, or do you have your sights set on anything else now that you've arrived at this point? Yeah. I want to back-to-back this thing. I want to go back-to-back. I will be at every World Poker Tour stop, grinding away, and trying to repeat here. After your 14th place finish in the Five Diamond, you made the final table of the $50K Poker Go Tour championship, which is crazy. But what's even crazier is, just one month prior to that, you cashed for $550 playing in the Hard Rock Weekly $180. What’s the mindset of going from a $180 daily to a $50K? So I played at Hard Rock probably four, five times a week. I played their nightly tournament, and I've done this for the past year or so. They have a good nightly. It's $180 and the winner usually takes home around $4,000. The player field is...not the best. So it's fun to mix it up with more recreational-type players. So yeah, I was playing that. Then I ended up going down to Hollywood, took 20th in their opening event for about $7,000 [$7,361], I think it was. I was going to play the [WPT Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event] regardless, but I'm like...you know what, I'm running pretty good right now and so I decided to play the Main. I basically hit that for the $570K, and then took that out to Vegas and played the Five Diamond - hit that. At that point, my buddy, who I went out there with, is just telling me, "Yo, there's a $50K on Monday!” I'm like, there's no way I would ever play a $50,000 buy-in tournament. But I actually talked with a couple of my buddies who invest in some of my tournaments here and there. They're like, "Bro, whatever you need, we'll throw you some cash. We want a piece of it. You better go play that thing." I was still up in the air about it, but I ended up waking up that morning, feeling really good, been playing my best game, so I decided I want to play with the best in the world. It was a hell of an experience, for sure. What’s the difference in your mentality when you play in a $50K? Do you make adjustments? For sure. With these guys, these guys are world-class. I do my share of studying with the game, and I talk with really good players about the game, but these guys, it's almost like they're on another level. Like Ali [Imsirovic], I sat at his table for the last two tournaments I played, and he is just unreal with what he does at the table. I can't even really even explain it. Just be able to watch a guy like him play, and learn a little bit just by watching him. Just a really, really insane player. But yeah, the mentality in that one was, hey, I'm taking a shot, just go basically balls to the wall. If you go out, you go out, at least you took the shot. It was a fun ride for sure. I'm crazy that I made the final table. Would've liked to take that one down, but you know, it was really fun playing with those guys. You're now the reigning WPT Player of the Year. You said you want to go back-to-back, but what else are you looking forward to in 2022, when it comes to poker? You know what? I've always wanted to go to Australia, ever since I was in little kid watching Steve Irwin on Animal Planet. I've always had a thing with the animals and the wildlife out there. Always wanted to go there. I saw that the World Poker Tour has a series going out there this year. So I think that's what I'm most excited about for this year. Going out there, just having fun playing poker, and experiencing a new place that I've wanted to go to since I was a young kid.
  6. It’s another trip at the top of the Online Poker Rankings for UK online pro Patrick ‘pleno1’ Leonard, who, thanks to a dominant end of 2021 and fast start in the New Year, is now enjoying his fifth reign at #1 in the world. For more than a decade, Leonard has honed his skills to become one of the most respected online grinders in the game. He's amassed more than $15 million in lifetime career online tournament earnings as well as spent the past five years as a vocal ambassador for partypoker. In the closing months of 2021, Leonard soared back up the rankings, breaking back into the top 10, crashing the top 5, and settling into the #2 spot. This week, he completed the journey and unseated Brazil’s Pedro ‘pvigar’ Garagnani for the top spot, ending Garagnani’s six-week stint at #1. Leonard’s first time taking control of the Online Poker Rankings was back in August 2014, when he held the position for a short stay of one week. However, it wasn’t long before he was back on top, overtaking Nicholas Fierro in October 2014 for another two-week run. It was nearly five years later that Leonard battled his way back to the top for a week grabbing the lead in September of 2019, and then made his fourth appearance just two months later. Leonard’s latest surge in results gives him the kind of leaderboard points total that could see him having the longest #1 reign of his career to date. Since the beginning of December 2021, Leonard has produced nearly 200 in-the-money finishes for a total of more than $908,000 in total earnings. This included his victory in the December 27 GGPoker $1,050 GGMasters High Roller in which he outlasted 986 entries for a monthly high score of $141,384, the seventh-largest cash of his online career. Along with the cash he also picked up 1000.00 leaderboard points, the critical score he needed to retake the #1 spot. Among his notable results over the past few weeks was his January 5 win in the GGPoker World Series of Poker Online Series $365 GIANT for $46,427 (576.30 points) and the score that kicked off his recent hot streak, a fourth-place finish in the PokerStars $5,200 Titans Event for $75,469 (383.19). He’s had 15 five-figure scores in the past month and 14 outright victories - an outright win rate of just over 7% every time he makes it into the money over this stretch. Leonard has always been a threat when it comes to the Online Poker Rankings, however, as previously noted, his past stints as the worldwide leader have never exceeded two weeks. This time around, thanks to his four leaderboard-qualifying scores this week, he built up a significant point lead over Garagnani. With 11,006 points, Leonard holds a 547 point lead over the #2 spot and 1,211 point lead over Dan ‘SmilleThHero’ Smijkovic who occupies the #3 spot. Of course, anything can happen, but assuming Leonard continues his persistent grind, this may be the time that he not only takes the top spot but retains that ranking for some time. Additional Top 10 Moves This Week In addition to Leonard and Garagnani swapping places in the #1 and #2 spots, Alex Theologis (#4) jumped over Brazil’s Lucio Lima (#5) by just 4 points on the back of a cash in the Natural8 $400 DOUBLE STACK for $3,302 and 109.69 points. Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson (#8) jumped up six spots this week bouncing back into the Top 10. Watson went one tear at the end of 2021, amassing seven qualifying scores since December 15 including a final table finish in the December 21 edition of the GGPoker Super MILLION$ for $93,080 (544.45) and, more recently, a runner-up finish in the PokerStars Winter Series Event 54-H $1,5050 NLHE for $60,618 (445.03). Watson’s career-high rank is #3 in the world. Ramiro Petrone, recent winner of the partypoker Millions Online Main Event for $859,018, also joined the top 10. It’s not the first time Petrone has entered the top 10, but it’s the first time since leaving and rejoining the rankings earlier in 2021. He jumped 7 spots this week with his most notable cash of the week being his victory in the January 2 Black Chip Poker $200K GTD for $40,449 (590.76). Online Poker Rankings Week of 1/5 [table id=281 /]
  7. Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan are set to renew their rivalry in an all-new $400,000 heads-up High Stakes Duel III (Round 3) set to take place at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas on Wednesday, January 26. Hellmuth, the former champion, had gone 7-0 in the High Stakes Duel heads-up Sit & Go format prior to facing off against Dwan last August. First, he disposed of Antonio Esfandiari three times in a row and shortly after performed the same threepeat against Daniel Negreanu. After a one-and-done vanquishing of Fox Sports commentator Nick Wright, Hellmuth’s next charge was to avenge his 2008 bad beat loss at the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship over fan-favorite high roller Tom Dwan. However, Hellmuth’s HSD streak came to an end during High Stakes Duel III (Round 2) as Dwan played a more measured match, forsaking many of the high-flying moves that showcased him as a young phenom on poker television. He simply “took care of business”, collected the $200,000 prize pool, and eliminated Hellmuth, putting a stop to the streak. READ: Three Takeaways From Tom Dwan’s Victory Over Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel Even though he was defeated, Hellmuth had the option to rechallenge Dwan at double the stakes and that is exactly what he’s done. And now, nearly five months after he surrendered the High Stakes Duel belt, Hellmuth is back to, once again, try to put that beat on Dwan. Here’s what’s at stake: No matter who wins the $400,000, Dwan or Hellmuth, according to current High Stakes Duel rules, they can’t simply walk away with the money. The winner will have to face another challenger at double the stakes. If it’s Dwan, he’ll only need to face (and defeat) one more opponent in order to cash out as a player needs to win three matches in a row before Round 4 in order to put that money in the bank. That opponent could be Hellmuth, who would still have one more option to rematch left. If it’s Hellmuth, he would need to win another three straight, taking this season to a minimum of Round 5. At that point, the buy-in would be $800,000 per player for a total of $1.6 million making it easily one, if not the, largest televised heads-up matches of all time. All of the action can be caught on January 26 on PokerGO at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT). The first hour of the match will be streamed for free on YouTube.
  8. Christian Rudolph is starting the New Year off on the right foot by taking down the first GGPoker Super MILLION$ event of 2022 and picking up this week’s $485,234 first-place prize. It was Rudolph’s sixth trip to a Super MILLION$ final table and his first victory. As it turned out, even headed into the day second in chips, taking it down was no easy task. Pascal Hartmann entered the day as the dominant chip leader, with more than 100 big blinds, and stayed in control almost the entire final table. In addition to trying to overcome Hartmann, Rudolph had plenty of top-notch players to deal with including Mark Radoja, Markku Koplimaa, Samuel Vousden, and GGPoker’s own Jason Koon. A cooler kicked things off when, with the blinds at 35,000/70,000 (8,500 ante), Russia’s ‘spaise411’ raised from under the gun to 140,000 with the [poker card="qd"][poker card="qc"]. It folded around to Markku Koplimaa in the small blind with [poker card="jc"][poker card="js"] with a 22 big blind stack. Koplimaa took a moment and eventually moved all-in. Jason Koon folded his [poker card="ac"][poker card="jd"] in the big blind and ‘spaise411’ made the call after a short trip in the tank. The [poker card="7c"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="7h"][poker card="5h"] board ran out clean for the pocket queens and Koplimaa, who started the day sixth in chips, exited in ninth for $60,654. Four hands later, the very same scenario played out. Pascal Hartmann, still holding the chip lead, opened to 140,000 from the cutoff with the [poker card="qs"][poker card="qd"]. In the small blind, Austria’s ‘Gwriden’ looked down at [poker card="js"][poker card="jh"] and moved all-in for roughly 13 big blinds. Hartmann quickly called and once again the pocket queens held through the [poker card="tc"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4c"][poker card="8d"][poker card="kh"] run out. ‘Gwriden’ was out in eighth and added $78,659 to his bankroll. During the same level, Rudolph picked up the [poker card="as"][poker card="ac"] and put in a raise from the hijack to 140,000. Samuel Vousden, with just under 10 bigs, three-bet shipped his stack with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="tc"]. It quickly folded back to Rudolph who snap-called. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="ts"][poker card="8s"] and while Vousden picked up a pair, and some outs, the addition of the flush draw to Rudolph’s aces made his hand a nine-to-one favorite to hold. The turn came the [poker card="9h"], adding some chop outs for Vousden. However, the river came the [poker card="kh"] sending the pot to Rudolph and sending Vousden out in seventh for $102,008. The final six shipped chips back and forth for the better part of an hour without an elimination, all the while Hartmann extended his overwhelming chip lead. With the blind up to 70,000/140,000 (17,500 ante), Austria’s ‘lechayim’, who started the day third in chips, picked up [poker card="kd"][poker card="kc"] under the gun and moved all-in for 1.5 million. The action folded to Hartmann in the small blind who called with his [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"]. The flop came [poker card="9c"][poker card="5d"]2c] and quickly turned Hartmann’s dominated hand into the favorite with a flopped set. There was no comeback in the cards for ‘lechayim’ with the [poker card="4s"] turn and [poker card="8d"] river, ending his day in sixth place for $132,228. Just a few hands later, Mark Radoja made his move. From the cutoff, he moved all-in for 1.1 million with the [poker card="as"][poker card="3s"]. It folded to Koon in the small blind and, having just two big blinds more than Radoja, made the call with his [poker card="kc"][poker card="qh"]. The big blind folded and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="td"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3h"], keeping Radoja in the lead. However, the [poker card="ks"] hit the turn putting Koon’s top pair way ahead. The [poker card="4d"] river was no help to Radoja who leaves his fifth Super MILLION$ final table in fifth place for $171,566. With four left and the blinds up to 80,000/160,000 (20,000 ante), Hartmann was applying max pressure on all three short stacks. Hartmann opened to 320,000 on the button with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="3s"] and when it folded to Koon in the big blind, he defended his big blind with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="9d"]. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="9s"][poker card="2h"], bringing in a pair for both but giving Hartmann top pair. Koon checked it over to Hartmann, who checked it back. The turn came the [poker card="2c"] and Koon checked again. This time, Hartmann put out a bet of 560,00 which Koon called, leaving himself just 1.5 million behind. The river came the [poker card="td"] and Koon checked for the third time. Hartmann then put out a bet of 1.6 million, just enough to put Koon all-in with a call. Koon took nearly a minute, but decided on a call for it all and was shown Hartmann’s winning hand. Koon, the GGPoker Global Ambassador, finished in fourth and picked up $222,481. At three-handed, ‘spaise411’s stack slipped to 6 big blinds when, with the blinds at 100,000/200,000 (25,000 ante), he made his move to try and find a double. Hartmann folded the button and Rudolph raised the big blind to 1.2 million with [poker card="ad"][poker card="3h"]. The raise was enough to put ‘spaise411’ all-in and so the call with the [poker card="qs"][poker card="9c"] put the Russian at risk. The flop came [poker card="ah"][poker card="kh"][poker card="9c"] giving Rudolph top pair and a flush draw, but ‘spaise411’ picked up bottom pair and four outs to survive. The turn was the [poker card="7s"] and the river came the [poker card="ts"] forcing ‘spaise411’ to settle for third place and a $288,522 score. Despite the knockout, Rudolph was still facing a 4.5-1 deficit to the massive chip lead of Hartmann. But within a matter of hands, Rudolph doubled up and brought the chip counts near even and soon enough took over the lead for the first time all day. The pair traded the lead a number of times in a spirited heads-up back-and-forth. With the stacks about even and the blinds at 175,000/350,000 (45,000 ante) the pair played the biggest pot of the tournament. Rudolph limped the button with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="7d"] and Hartmann, holding a slight chip lead, put in a raise to 1.2 million with the [poker card="6d"][poker card="5d"]. Rudolph called and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="jc"][poker card="td"][poker card="2d"], giving both a flush draw with Rudolph holding the ace. Hartmann led for just over 800,000 and Rudolph raised to 2.6 million. Hartmann made the call and then the [poker card="qd"] hit the turn, ensuring maximum action. Hartmann checked to Rudolph who checked it back. But on the [poker card="9h"] river, Hartmann open shipped for 8.8 million and Rudolph with the nuts and 7.4 million back, made the call, doubled through, and dragged the 22.5 million pot. Hartmann was left with just 4 big blinds. The very next hand, it was all over. Hartmann moved all-in for 1.4 million with his [poker card="qc"][poker card="3d"] and Rudolph snapped holding [poker card="js"][poker card="jc"]. For a moment it looked like Hartmann would live to see another hand on the [poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2h"] flop, but the [poker card="jd"] hit the river, bringing in a full house for Rudolph. The [poker card="7h"] river finished out the board and Hartmann, who had been dominating all day, ended up as the runner-up for $374,167 while Rudolph who started the day second in chips, laddered to the winner’s circle for his first Super MILLION$ title and the $485,234 first-place prize. GGPoker Super MILLION$ Final Table (1/4) Christian Rudolph - $485,234 Pascal Hartmann - $374,167 ‘spaise411’ - $288,522 Jason Koon - $222,481 Mark Radoja - $171,556 ‘lechayim’ - $132,228 Samuel Vousden - $102,008 ‘Gwriden’ - $78,659 Markku Koplimaa - $60,654
  9. After a ten-month hiatus, the live World Poker Tour Main Tour returned to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. After a long day of play and a three-handed deal, Ilyas Muradi took home $605,000, a ticket to the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions, and his first career WPT title. For anyone questioning if live poker players were eager to get back in the action, the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open had the answer. Despite the state of the pandemic, playing behind plexiglass barriers, and the requirement to wear masks the tournament’s 1,573-entry field became the third-largest in the WPT’s eighteen-year history. It wasn’t just an outpouring of local players that made their way to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as players traveled from all parts of the globe to participate in the first WPT Main Tour live event since the conclusion of WPT Rolling Thunder in March 2020. There were plenty of notable names who made a deep run in the event but fell short of the final table. World Poker Tour champions Sam Panzica (189th, $6,150) and Kevin Eyster (167th, $6,300) made Day 3 as did Athanasios Polychronopoulous (125th, $7,025), Will ‘The Thrill’ Failla (103rd, $7,880), and well-known vlogger Johnnie Moreno (93rd, $8,230). Among those joining them in the money were Jerry Wong (90th, $8,230), Alex Keating (77th, $9,885), and worldwide current #2-ranked online pro from Croatia Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic (31st, $23,110). The final three tables included some of the World Poker Tour’s biggest names including WPT winner Aaron Mermelstein (25th, $23,110), Scott Baumstein (24th, $27,660), WPT Deepstack Champion Justin Liberto (22nd, $27,660), and four-time WPT champion Darren Elias who finished in tenth place and earned $79,455 which brought his career WPT total to just under $3.9 million. Day four started with the final seven players grinding for two 90-minute levels before reaching the official final table of six. Andy Hwang, the final WPT Champion Club member left in the field, started the day third in chips, however, a few hours into play he found himself grinding a short stack of fewer than 20 big blinds. After a raise from Francis Margaglione in early position with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"], Hwang three-bet shipped his stack with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"]. Folded back around to Margaglione, he made the call. The board ran out [poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="6d"][poker card="qd"] ensuring that a new WPT champion would be crowned as Hwang exited in seventh place for $115,630. Roughly twenty minutes later, after an early position raise, Tsz Shing shipped his 22 big blind stack holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"] from the button. Ronnie Bardah made the call from the small blind with his [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] and the early position raiser folded. The [poker card="th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="5d"] ran clean for the pocket queens and eliminated Brooklyn’s Shing in sixth place for a career-high recorded live cash of $168,990. At five-handed, Jesse Lonis put in a raise from late position with [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"]. After it folded to Bardah in the big blind, Bardah put in a three-bet with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kc"]. With the action back on Lonis and 30 big blinds behind, Lonis four-bet shipped with Bardah snap-called. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] flop left Lonis looking for one of two outs to save him. The [poker card="3d"] hit the turn and the [poker card="jd"] completed the board and ended Lonis’ tournament in fifth place for $223,895. Margaglione started the day with the chip lead but his stack slowly dwindled during the day. Eventually, he made his move by raising from the button with [poker card="qc"][poker card="9s"] only to be shoved on by the big stack of Bardah in the big blind holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"]. With just over 10 big blinds behind, Margaglione opted to make the call. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"][poker card="7s"] giving Bardah top pair and leaving Margaglione looking for runner-runner help. The [poker card="2h"] was of no use to Margaglione who was drawing dead to the [poker card="jh"] river. Margaglione finished in fourth place for $293,510. During a break, the final three players negotiated a deal for the remaining prize pool. Ilyas Muradi locked up $580,000 as the chip leader and Bardah, sitting in second, agreed to $566,135. Robel Andemichael secured $545,500 and all three agreed to leave $25,000 and a ticket to the WPT Tournament of Champions on the table for the eventual winner. Even though a deal was in place, the pace of play stayed deliberate. After roughly two hours, Andemichael put in a raise on the button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="9d"] and Bardah pushed his final twelve big blinds in the middle with [poker card="as"][poker card="2s"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"] flop gave Bardah the lead, which held through the [poker card="ts"] turn. But the [poker card="9s"] river gave the hand to Andemichael which eliminated Bardah in third place for his agreed-upon career-high score of $566,135. Heads up play started with both Andemichael and Muradi practically even in chips. Another two hours passed without either player holding a significant lead. Finally, Andemichael moved all-in for his final 15 big blinds with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"] and was called by Muradi holding [poker card="4d"][poker card="4h"]. The board ran out [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="qs"] giving Muradi’s pocket fours the pot and his first WPT title. Andemichael finished as the runner-up, taking home the$545,500 he locked up in the deal. Ilyas Muradi added the $25,000 to his $580,000 portion of the deal for a total cash score of $605,000 plus a $15K ticket to the Tournament of Champions, and a date to have his name engraved on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. Final Table Payouts 1. Ilyas Muradi - $605,000* + WPT Tournament of Champions seat 2. Robel Andemichael - $545,000* 3. Ronnie Bardah - $566,135* 4. Francis Margaglione - $293,510 5. Jesse Lonis - $223,895 6. Tsz Shing - $168,990
  10. Phil Galfond has announced that as of January 3, 2022 online poker site Run It Once Poker will be ceasing its Rest of World operations in order to pursue entry into the United States regulated market. According to Galfond in a message posted to the Run It Once Poker site, with traffic on the international site declining to pre-pandemic levels, in order for the company to proceed it would need to “pivot” and the direction will be to compete in the United States. “This has been a dream of mine since well before we first launched. I didn’t initially think it would be an option for us for another half-decade so I’m very excited to be on our way to achieving it,” Galfond wrote. “The very unexciting part of this news is that, in order to head in that direction, we’re shutting down our Rest of World operations and focusing fully on getting our platform complete and prepared to operate in the U.S. regulated environment. Gameplay on Run It Once Poker will stop on January 3, 2022, and players will have until April 3, 2022, to withdraw any remaining account balance. Run It Once customer service will be available before then to help players resolve any issues they may have in logging on or removing balances. It’s been nearly two years since Run It Once Poker has been operational after a long ramp-up that, according to Galfond, featured failures with their technical leadership and initial miscommunication on what they wanted their product to be. He also professes that along the way he learned valuable lessons he intends to bring with him moving forward one of which included predicting player behaviors on dealing with hurtles to play on a site with lower liquidity. “Needless to say, I have learned a lot, and I’d have done a number of things differently if I had it to do over. This is something I’m particularly excited about - getting the chance to start over, in a way, with all of the experience we’ve gained.” In addition to the experience, Galfond hopes to bring some of the innovations that Run It Once Poker brought to market to players in the U.S. including Dynamic Avatars which acts as a built-in HUD and their Splash The Pot rewards system, one that other operators in the market have also adopted for their customers. However, one of the most popular forms of online poker, multi-table tournaments, never became a reality on Run It Once, something that undoubtedly hindered the site’s growth. “Had I not made the mistakes I did, perhaps we’d have been able to grow large enough to stay in Rest of World markets and head towards the U.S. - I’ll never know,” he wrote. “I do have some regrets, but more than anything, now that I can add our experience to everything we already did well, I’m feeling optimistic about what we’ll be able to accomplish this time around.” “We’ve poured our hearts, minds, and souls into Run It Once Poker. We didn’t accomplish everything that we set out to, but we’re far from finished.”
  11. It's going to be a happy holiday season for Dario Sammartino who, in his seventh trip to a GGPoker Super MILLION$ final table, took down this week's $10K tournament for his first Super MILLION$ title, a World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring, and the $740,917 first-place prize. Sammartino started the day third in chips, but there was a massive gap between the top two stacks and the rest of the field. Sammartino simply bided his time, held tough through the early levels, and eventually picked up big hands in key spots to position himself to win. It looked like it could be a tight final table, with only one person busting before the first break, but soon enough the knockouts picked up with Sammartino driving the action and amassing a chip lead he rode to the end. But this holiday edition of the Super MILLION$ was no easy gift for Sammartino who was forced to fight past a number of big-name pros including Mike Watson, Francisco Benitez, and previous Super MILLION$ champ David Miscikowski who started the day as the chip leader. Roughly twenty minutes into play, Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson’s stack evaporated in two consecutive hands. With the blinds at 60,000/120,000 (15,000 ante), Watson and Austria’s ‘Intermecik’ got it all-in with Watson holding the [poker card="ks"][poker card="js"] and ‘Intermecik’ with the [poker card="as"][poker card="qs"]. The board ran out clean for ace-high and Watson was left with just over one big blind. He open-shoved the very next hand with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"] and Michel Dattani woke up with [poker card="as"][poker card="ah"] in the small blind. The board ran out [poker card="7s"][poker card="4s"][poker card="5d"][poker card="9d"][poker card="qc"] to end Watson’s day in ninth place for $92,614. Watson was the only elimination before the first break, but with five of the remaining eight players sitting on 20 big blinds or less, the bustouts were right around the corner. Just a few hands after players returned, with the blinds at 80,000/160,000 (20,000 ante) Dattani raised to 1.175 million with the [poker card="qd"][poker card="8d"], leaving himself just 240,000 behind. David Miscikowski picked up [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"] and shoved over the top pushing Sammartino out of the pot in the big blind. Dattani called off for his remaining chips. The flop came [poker card="ah"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"], providing no help to Dattani. When the turn came the [poker card="9c"], Dattani was drawing dead to the [poker card="jh"] river. Miscikowsk scored a full house and Dattani scored $120,106 for his eighth-place finish. On the very next hand, Miscikowski made it 320,000 to go on the button with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="6h"] and ‘Internecik’ defended the big blind holding the [poker card="jd"][poker card="ts"]. The flop came [poker card="jh"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2s"] giving Miscikowsk top two pair and ‘Internecik’ top pair. ‘Internecik’ checked it over and Miscikowski put out a bet of 160,00 which ‘Internecik’ called. The turn was the [poker card="6s"], and once again Miscikowski hit a full house. ‘Internecik’ checked again and Miscikowski bet 422,200. Again, ‘Internecik’ called. The river was the [poker card="2c"], and ‘Internecik’ checked a third time, this time Miscikowski put it all in the middle and after a short tank, ‘Internecik’ called it off, ending their tournament in seventh place for $155,758. Over the next twenty minutes, Sammartino started climbing the leaderboard and into second place. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘TheRayGuy’ slipped to the bottom of the chip counts. The blinds climbed to 125,000/250,000 (30,000 ante) and from UTG+1, ‘TheRayGuy’ shipped their final 960K in the middle with the [poker card="as"][poker card="2s"] and was called by Russia’s ‘fizoka’ in the big blind holding [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"]. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2c"], giving ‘TheRayGuy’ a couple more outs with the deuce. But the turn was the [poker card="7d"] and the river came the [poker card="3s"] and ‘TheRayGuy’ hit the rail in sixth place for $201,994. The eliminations picked up with five left but it wasn’t the big stacks just picking on the short stacks. A classic cooler took place to speed things along. Russian ‘Topgrek’ opened to 1.875 million from late position with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"], leaving just 1.3 million behind. Then, Miscikowski flat called from the small blind holding the [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"]. In the big blind, Sammartino woke up with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="ac"] and shoved all-in for 12.6 million. ‘Topgrek’ made the quick call putting themselves at risk and Miscikowski, who had Sammartino covered by just 2.5 million also called with his pocket kings. The flop came the [poker card="ts"][poker card="7c"][poker card="3h"], not providing any help to the two underdogs. But it was officially all over when the case ace, the [poker card="as"], hit the turn guaranteeing Sammartino the hand and a huge chip lead. The meaningless river was the [poker card="8c"] and ‘Topgrek’ was out in fifth for $261,954 and Miscikowski went from the big stack to the bottom. Moments after the third break, with the new blinds at 150,000/300,000 (35,000 ante), Sammartino was the beneficiary of another cooler. He raised to 660,000 on the button with [poker card="qh"][poker card="qc"] and ‘fizoka’ three-bet shipped from the small blind with the [poker card="jd"][poker card="jc"]. Once again, no drama for Sammartino as the board ran out [poker card="9h"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2d"] ending the Russian’s run in fourth place, good for $339,712. With three left, Miscikowski was sitting on seven big blinds and needed to make a move. From the small blind, he shipped his 2.1 million with the [poker card="js"][poker card="7h"] into Sammartino in the big blind who snap-called with his [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"]. The [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"][poker card="2h"] flop kept it clean for Sammartino’s eights which held through the [poker card="9c"] turn and [poker card="qd"] river. Miscikowski settled for a third-place finish and a $440,552 payday while Sammartino took a nearly 9-to-1 chip lead into heads up against Francisco Benitez. Although Benitez found a double-up early on, it took only seven hands or so for Sammartino to close it out. Sammartino limped the button with the [poker card="qd"][poker card="jd"] and Benitez shipped just over 7 million from the big blind with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="7d"]. It took about 10 seconds for Sammartino to call and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="td"][poker card="7c"][poker card="2s"], keeping Benitez in the lead with middle pair. However, the turn was the [poker card="js"] putting Sammartino in the lead. The [poker card="9h"] river sealed the deal for Sammartino, sending Benitez home as the runner-up for $571,325 and awarding Sammartino his first-ever Super MILLION$ title and largest Super MILLION$ score of $740,917. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (12/21) Dario Sammartino - $740,917 Franciscio Benitez - $571,325 David Miscikowski - $440,552 ‘fizoka’ - $339,712 ‘Topgrek’ - $261,954 ‘TheRayGuy’ - $201,994 ‘Internecik’ - $155,758 Michel Dattani - $120,106 Michael Watson - $92,614
  12. “I feel good. Physically, I have recovered. I guess from an emotional standpoint, I don’t know that I still quite get what happened yet. Sounds a little weird but it’s still all surreal for me.” It’s been a month since George Holmes played in his second-ever World Series of Poker Main Event, the outcome of which was an experience he could have only dreamed of having. The 49-year-old father of two from Alpharetta, Georgia went on a once-in-a-lifetime run in the $10,000 televised tournament, one that turned him from an anonymous everyday recreational player into the “Home Game Hero”, battling in poker’s bright spotlight against some of the best in the business ended up finishing as the runner-up for an incredible $4,000,000 score. “But I feel good. I finally went back a week ago and kind of watched the stream of the final table. I think, for me, it’s about as good as it’s going to get as far as being able to put everything into perspective…it kind of is what it is,” Holmes said. “I’ve been, probably for the past week and a half, back in the normal swing. I came home, I went back to work the following week. I planned on working just because I enjoy what I do and it just gives me an opportunity to kind of take a step back and take my time and figure out what I want to do with all this money.” Holmes works as an executive for a company that helps merchants process payments. It’s currently offering him a sense of real-world stability as opposed to his whirlwind experience in the Main Event filled with the highs, the lows, the lack of sleep, and the pressure to perform. But Holmes, who presents as level-headed and as even-keel as they come, insists that while he’s still processing what took place, his return to reality took place rather quickly. “To know me, I’m pretty a pretty monotone, mellow person so I don’t get very high. I think coming back to Earth, for me, was a lot easier,” he said. “After the Main Event was over, it was probably eight o’clock. A bunch of my friends were still there from the rail so we went out to celebrate for a few hours. We hung out probably ’til midnight or one…we were all on a flight the next morning at six o’clock a.m. At that point, I wanted out of Vegas. “For me, a perfect stint in Vegas is three or four days. Being there for a week and a half, I mean I’m just spent and I’m ready to go. Especially with the schedule for the World Series. You don’t really get to do anything. It’s poker, sleep, get up, poker, and then sleep again and that’s basically it for a week and a half,” he said. “So, for me to come down, it didn’t take much, probably a couple of days. Physically, I was drained, I was tired. Mentally, I was spent from just sitting at the table, looking at hands nonstop. But after a few days back at home, I was fine. I was still trying to understand what all happened and I told a couple of friends this, I kind of which I could’ve experienced this somewhat from their perspective, just being on the rail. “But I was just playing, cameras in your face. Once you have that for a day or two, it’s normal. But I don’t know that I experienced it the way everyone else did. I mean, I’m hearing all these great stories, all these people that were cheering for me, but I don’t get to see any of the highs or the lows, I’m just kind of living in the moment I guess…kind of weird to explain.” One of those moments he lived in was the final hand of the Main Event, one of the most thrilling WSOP moments for fans in some time. In summary, after spiking top pair on the turn, and being checked to on the river, Holmes moved all-in for his tournament life. However, Koray Aldemir, his affable German heads-up opponent (and eventual 2021 WSOP Main Event champ) had flopped two pair and was deep in thought about whether to make the call that could end the tournament. “The longer he took told me that I did not want a call,” Holmes said. “I’m shoving, thinking I have the best hand. I would have never imagined [Aldemir] had such a miracle flop.” “But the longer he took, I started replaying things in my head like, ‘Well, maybe he has two pair.’ Initially, I thought maybe he has top pair and maybe a flush draw. We had such a great rapport at the table…he looks up at me as he’s thinking and he’s probably halfway through his tank and he’s like ‘This might be it. This might be the hand.’ “ It was the hand, Aldemir did put his chips in the middle and both hands were turned face up. Aldemir read the board instantly and knew he was the new World Champion. He threw his hands in the air, turned to his rail, and the celebration began as Holmes also stood and leaned over the table, taking a long second look at what had just happened. “To be honest, I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time,” Holmes said, reflecting on the moment. “I think I asked, because I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, if he had me covered at that point. I know I asked the dealer if he had me covered and to be honest, at that point, I did not care what happened.” --- Holmes is back home, back spending time with his family and gearing up for what is sure to be a special holiday season for his wife, 13-year old son, and 15-year old daughter. But Holmes is also back playing in the Atlanta home game he made famous on the WSOP coverage. It’s the one he’s been playing in for the better part of a decade. He’s come a long way since first getting into the game back in 1999, before No Limit Hold’em rose to power as the dominant variant of the game. Holmes says although he’s never been a serious student of the game, he’s loved poker since the moment he started playing it with co-workers regularly in 2000. Back then it was a ‘just for fun’ $0.25/0.50 game. But now he plays with a regular group of guys splashing around at $2/5. But Holmes is quick to clarify that “it plays a lot larger than a normal $2/5 game.” It’s the same group of guys who were on the rail rooting Holmes on in the Main Event, the same who are likely looking to see if some of that $4 million end up on the table in their own game, even if it is one small buy-in at a time. But Holmes insists that his newfound poker fame hasn’t changed the game in the least, “It’s a tough crew, man. I get razz no matter what.” One might think that there would be other opportunities for Holmes to flex his popular final table persona, but according to him he hasn’t received any invitations yet for shows like Poker After Dark or live-streamed games like Hustler Casino Live or Live At The Bike, at least not yet. “My phone hasn’t really been blowing up,” he said. Noting that he’s had a couple of promotional opportunities which he’s politely declined. “I get friends that ask me all the time ‘Have you had any sponsors reach out to you?’ and the answer’s been no. It’s been quiet.” But Holmes seems at peace with that quiet. He’s not the type to hit a big score, rearrange his life, and take to the circuit. But when pressed about whether a stint on a PokerGO cash game could entice him to make a trip back to Las Vegas sooner than later, a small smile appears. “That’d be interesting.” People would likely watch as Holmes understands he has fans well beyond the dozen of guys who were on his rail. His “Home Game Hero” storyline not only played well on the broadcast, but it’s the dream for a lot of recreational players who are just like Holmes. Those who were pulling hard for him to take it to the high roller pro, even as likable as Aldemir is. “I had been hearing the whole week, ‘You’re blowing up on Twitter.' And, at the time I didn’t have a Twitter account. But what I did feel, just in the Amazon room, was the love from the folks there…and it was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. Even the [media] that was there, when I busted out one of the camera guys stopped me and said ‘This might sound weird but we know your face. After a week of watching you we know your face better than you do and we just wanted to tell you from all the crew that we loved your game, we were rooting hard for you here in the room and in the trucks.’ And I thought that was pretty amazing. “I ran into a couple of folks at the airport the next morning. And when I tell you I had no regrets after that final hand, I honestly did not. But one regret would be just for the folks who were rooting for me,” he said. “There were so many folks saying ‘We were hoping you win the whole thing. We wanted you to take it down.’ And there was this story of like USA versus Germany and the UK…and that’s the only real regret I have, it’s not winning it for the folks that I didn’t know that had just jumped on and were rooting for me so hard.” In 2019 Holmes entered the Main Event and finished in 213th for over $50,000. His goal in 2021 was simply to beat his 2019 finish, which he clearly did. But where does that leave him moving forward? There’s not a lot of Main Event places he can improve to. “That’s a great question. Naturally, I will continue to play the Main Event and see how I can do. I hadn’t thought about it beyond knowing that I’m going to continue to play the Main and there are a bunch of circuit events that I will probably play one or two but I hadn’t thought much past that. I really haven’t.” “The odds tell me I should quit while I’m ahead…but I love playing the game too much.”
  13. Taylor Black started the final table of the 2021 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event with more than half the chips in play, and, in the end, topped the 716-entry field to claim his first WPT title and a career-high $1,241,430 score. With Black holding such a massive chip advantage, the Five Diamond Main Event had the makings of a rather quick final table. But instead, the deep structure allowed for plenty of play and, by the time the table became four-handed, the chip stacks nearly evened out and Black’s intimidating lead had disappeared. However, Black quickly bounced back into the chip lead, eliminated three of his last five opponents, and survived the tense, drama-filled final table that brought the World Poker Tour’s Season XIX to a close. It took over an hour for the first elimination of the night. David Kim started the final table fourth in chips but never really was able to get much going. After short stack Lorenzo Lavis doubled through Kim when Lavis’ moved all -n with [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"] and held against Kim’s [poker card="ks"][poker card="qc"] on a [poker card="ac"][poker card="5d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="6c"][poker card="tc"] board, Kim was left with just two big blinds. Two hands later, Kim made his last stand. Black, from late position, raised to 200,000 with his [poker card="5h"][poker card="5c"] and Kim called for the rest of his chips with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"] and Gianluca Speranza defended his big blind. The flop came [poker card="6d"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3s"] and after Speranza checked, Black put out a bet of 250,000 and Speranza called to create a side pot. The turn was the [poker card="ks"] and Speranza checked again to Black who fired another 500,000. After a short tank, Speranza folded and the cards were turned up, showing Kim that he was drawing dead to the [poker card="2c"] river. Kim made his exit in sixth place for $261,235. Moshin Charania was navigating the short stack, doubling not once but twice trying to get back into the thick of the final table. But soon after, it was Charania who was being doubled through by Vik Shegal leaving Charania with just five big blinds. With the blinds at 75,000/125,000 (125,000 bb ante) Charania moved all-in from under the gun holding the [poker card="th"][poker card="3h"] and Black called from the small blind with the [poker card="8d"][poker card="6d"]. The flop came [poker card="kc"][poker card="9d"][poker card="5d"] keeping Charania’s ten-high ahead in the hand but Black had straight, flush, and pair outs. The turn was the [poker card="3d"], bringing in the flush for Black and sending Charania home in fifth place for $342,645 before the [poker card="3s"] completed the board. Nearly three hours of four-handed play took place with chips being passed back and forth and the chip lead being claimed by a number of players. Eventually, the blinds climbed to 125,000, 250,000 (250,000 ante), and Lavis was sitting on fewer than 20 big blinds. Folded to Lavis in the small blind, he completed holding the [poker card="kc"][poker card="4c"] and, in the big blind, Black raised to 650,000 with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"] and Lavis called. The flop came [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"][poker card="3c"], giving Black top pair and Lavis a king-high flush draw. Lavis checked the action to Black who bet 600,000, and Lavis check-raised for the rest of his stack, some 3.8 million. With top pair, Black made the call putting Lavis at risk. The turn came the [poker card="7d"], changing nothing, and the river was the [poker card="2d"] ending Lavis’ run in fourth place for $454,590. After all that time between the eliminations of fifth and fourth place, it was unexpected that the next would take place just two hands later. After Black folded the button, Vik Shegal shoved his 7 million chip stack from the small blind with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8c"] into the small stack of Gianluca Speranza. Speranza, with less than 10 big blinds, called the shove and put his tournament life on the line with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="3d"]. The board ran out [poker card="th"][poker card="9c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="kh"][poker card="7h"] keeping Shegal’s pocket eights ahead the entire time and sending Speranza out in third place for $609,960. At the start of heads-up play, Black held roughly a two-to-one chip advantage over Shegal which he quickly extended to three-to-one. It took just 11 hands between Black and Shegal to decide the tournament as on Hand 195, it all came to an end. On the final hand, Black raised to 500,000 with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"] and Shegal three-bet shoved his final 7.5 million in chips with the [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"]. Black called and the pair watched as the board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="6h"][poker card="qd"][poker card="9s"], allowing Black’s top pair to take the hand and the trophy. Shegal ended up as the runner-up and took home a healthy $827,620. Black ended up with a new top line to his poker resume, the second million-dollar score of his career, and a date in the future to have his name added to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. With the conclusion of the Five Diamond Main Event, the World Poker Tour’s season comes to a conclusion with the tour’s 20th Anniversary season kicking off on January 21 with the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. WPT Five Diamond Final Table Results Taylor Black - $1,241,430 Vic Shegal - $827,620 Gianlucj Speranza - $609,960 Lorenzo Lavis - $454,590 Moshin Charania - $342,645 David Kim - $261,235
  14. It was a come-from-behind victory for former worldwide #1-ranked online pro Bert Stevens who started the final table of the GGPoker Super MILLION$ Main Event as the short stack, but found a way to battle back and take the whole tournament down for a $1,125,181 score. This week was a special edition of the Super MILLION$, a multi-flight affair that drew 693 runners and built a prize pool of more than $6.9 million. With just nine left, there were plenty of Super MILLION$ mainstays left in the field including former Super MILLION$ champions Daniel Dvoress, Anatoly Filatov, Joakim Andersson, and Artur Martirosian. Adding in Stevens, more than half of the final table had won it before proving, once again, that taking down the Super MILLION$ is one of the toughest tasks in online poker. Players hoping that Stevens as the short stack would bust out early were disappointed after he scored an early double up against Daniel Dvoress and better inserting himself into the mix. Instead, nearly an hour into the final table there were still nine players left and it took a clash of huge hands held by top-tier pros for the ice to break. With the blinds 125,000/250,000 (30,000 ante) 2020 WSOP Main Event champ Damian Salas opened from the cutoff to 500,000 holding [poker card="jh"][poker card="jd"] and when it folded to Anatoly Filatov in the big blind, he defended with his [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"]. The flop came [poker card="qs"][poker card="jc"][poker card="4c"] giving Salas middle set but also providing Filatov with the nut flush draw. Filatov checked to Salas who put out a small bet of 250,000. Filatov check shoved his 4.3 million chip stack and Salas, who had just 3.7 million behind made the quick call. The turn came the [poker card="kh"], adding a straight draw to Filatov’s outs but it was the [poker card="7c"] river that shipped the pot to Filatov and shipped Salas out in ninth place for $148,900. Stevens continued to climb and shortly after the first break, ‘Giraf’ had moved into the chip lead before the next elimination. After coming from behind to knock out Salas, the deck turned on Filatov. First, he got it all in preflop holding [poker card="kd"][poker card="kc"] against fellow Russian countryman Artur Martirosian’s [poker card="qd"][poker card="qh"]. Filatov covered Martirosian by less than a million and would have surged to the chip lead. However, the board ran out [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"][poker card="ts"][poker card="3h"][poker card="qs"], allowing Martirosian to spike the set on the river and crippling Filatov. The very next hand the pair got it in preflop again, this time Filatov had [poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"] against Martirosian’s [poker card="ad"][poker card="9c"] and the board [poker card="ah"][poker card="qd"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="7d"], giving Martirosian top pair and, in two hands, ending Filatov’s tournament in eighth place for $181,739. Thirty minutes later, Martirosian took out another. With the blinds at 175,000/350,000 (45,000 ante), Martirosian raised from under the gun to 770,000, and then ‘progery81’ three-bet shipped all in for 1.2 million with their [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"]. In the big blind, China’s ‘Jerome001’ made the call. But when the action got back to Martirosian, he four-bet shipped more than enough to cover ‘Jerome001’, who quickly folded leaving it heads up. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="js"][poker card="6d"] flop was safe for ‘progery81’, but the turn came the [poker card="4c"], flipping the script. The river came the [poker card="jc"] and Martirosian dragged another pot while ‘progery81’ was eliminated in seventh for $246,886. Three hands later it was Canada’s ‘DollarVig’s turn to fight for their tournament life. After ‘Jerome001’ opened to 700,000 from early position with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="jh"], it folded to Canada’s ‘DollarVig’ in the big blind with less than 10 big blinds. They three-bet shipped their 2.3 million stack with the [poker card="as"][poker card="qs"] and ‘Jerome001’ made the call. The board ran out [poker card="ks"][poker card="th"][poker card="3s"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3d"], flopping a flush and straight draw for ‘DollarVig’ but bricking out on the turn and river. ‘Jerome001’ scored the knockout and ‘DollarVig’ collected $317,896 for sixth place. Five-handed play lasted through the second break and when the blinds climbed to 250,000/500,000 (60,000 ante) and Joakim Andersson found himself on the short stack with roughly 10 big blinds. Folded to him in the small blind, Andersson open-jammed his [poker card="jd"][poker card="4d"] and was snapped off by Dvoress in the big blind with the [poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"]. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7s"] was no help to Andersson who fell in fifth place for $409,329. With four left, everyone had over 20 big blinds, giving them some room to play. During that play, Martirosian’s chip lead began to slip away. After Dvoress doubled through the Russian, Martirosian went from first to worst on the leaderboard. When the blinds were up to 300,000/600,000 (75,000 ante) it folded to Martirosian in the small blind and he moved all-in for 8.1 million with his [poker card="qs"][poker card="td"] and again, it was Dvoress calling in the big blind, this time with his [poker card="4s"][poker card="4h"]. The flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="2h"], giving Martirosian top two pair and a virtual lock on the hand with Dvoress left with just two outs. The turn was the [poker card="6d"], and Martirosian was 95% to double up. However, when the [poker card="4c"] hit the river, Dvoress’ chip lead soared to over 40 million and Martirosian settled for a fourth-place finish for $527,060. Dvoress held a commanding lead, but before long Stevens doubled through him, twice in fact and the stacks evened out. The blinds were at 500,000/1,000,000 (125,000 ante) when Stevens put in a raise to 2.1 million from the button holding the [poker card="ah"][poker card="qs"] and Dvoress, now the short stack, three-bet shoved his 14 million chip stack with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"]. Stevens quickly called and the pair watched as the flop came [poker card="8c"][poker card="7h"][poker card="3c"], giving Dvoress a flush draw and a backdoor straight draw. The turn was the [poker card="ks"], eliminating any possible straight draws for Dvoress and leaving him needing a club or a six to stay alive. However, the river was the [poker card="kh"] ending his run in third place for $678,652. Heads-up play only took roughly 15 minutes for Stevens to grab a significant chip lead over ‘Jerome001’ and close it out. On the last hand, with a 2.5-1 chip lead, Stevens opened the button to 2.5 million with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="ac"] and ‘Jerome001’ three-bet shipped his final 18 million holding the [poker card="kh"][poker card="4h"]. Stevens snapped and his aces held through the [poker card="8d"][poker card="6h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6c"] board. ‘Jerome001’ scored an impressive $873,846 as the runner-up while Bert Stevens, who started the day as the short stack, claimed his second career Super MILLION$ title and the $1,125,181 first-place prize. Super MILLION$ Final Table Payouts (12/14) Bert Stevens - $1,125,181 ‘Jerome001’ - $873,846 Daniel Dvoress - $678,652 Artur Martirosian - $527,060 Joakim Andersson - $409,329 ‘DollarVig’ - $317,896 ‘progery81’ - $246,886 Anatoly Filatov - $191,739 Damian Salas - $148,909
  15. David Mock was riding the wave. Mock, the 33-year-old Boston-based semi-pro, decided he wanted to take a rare shot in a Bellagio Five Diamond $10,000 No Limit Hold'm High Roller and after selling a little action, buy-in in, and grinding all day, he found himself sitting at a final table surrounded by some of the biggest names in the game. The field was packed with some of the biggest stars of the high roller scene, including the likes of Dominik Nitsche and Nick Petrangelo - both of whom made the final six. And then there was Mock, a largely unknown player to these fields, battling for the biggest score of his life. “In my opinion, anytime you’re playing poker, you can’t worry about anything,” Mock said. “You just have to feel like you’re the best player at all times. I always say I don’t go over hands in my head in the middle of playing, I don’t think about anything other than what’s in front of me. But after it was over, I was like ‘Damn...I was literally the least accomplished player at that final table.’” Mock was in a good spot, playing not only for himself but for and a few supportive backers that joined him after picking up a piece on PocketFives as well. The momentum he had after a deep run in the 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event carried over, and, in the end, Mock finished the night as the runner-up and picked up a $100,800 score, the largest of his career. “You see these guys play all these big tournaments all the time and they’re studs. Obviously, their results speak for themselves…but in the moment you’ve got to feel confident in yourself as well. I’ve played four or five $10k’s and a $25K [the PSPC in 2019] and I’m four-for-five. I’m doing really well when I play big for some reason.” Mock may not be known to the greater poker public, but the Boston resident is a mainstay of the Northeast poker scene. From the time he got started in the New Hampshire charity poker games in his late teens, he found a love for poker. Primarily a tournament player, Mock has a number of healthy scores including a final table in the 2018 Borgata Spring Poker Open Main Event for more than $70K, and an outright win in a Parx Big Stax for his previous high score of $95K. But like many pros, Mock had his ups and downs, including busting a couple of six-figure rolls, something to which he said, “I don’t plan on ever doing that again.” At the start of the pandemic, when the live games dried up, Mock stopped playing full time and took over running a small construction company with a silent partner. Still, he was playing cash games on the side, keeping sharp. But during the fall/winter, his company traditionally takes time off. This left Mock with the opportunity to head to Las Vegas for the WSOP to play in the Main Event. He had a stellar run, finding himself near the top of the chip counts on Day 2 and ultimately finishing on Day 5 in 193rd for a $44,200 payday. “It was really cool, I’m just very lucky with the poker community that I grew up with. It’s all very tight. So, to make a deep run in the Main and waking up to all the hundreds of messages from friends and family…half of them think I could cash out the $600K stack that I had because they don’t know,” he said laughing. [caption id="attachment_637511" align="aligncenter" width="400"] David Mock at the WSOP (photo: WSOP/PokerNews)[/caption] But it was that deep run that give him the idea of taking a shot in a Five Diamond High Roller. He was already planning on playing the WPT Five Diamond Main Event, but Mock, who normally plays in the $500-$3,000 range, thought maybe it was time to “strike while the iron’s hot.” At least in terms of perception. Mock knew that since he had just made a deep run in the biggest tournament of the year, selling extra action to help him take his shot would be easier. He reached out to PocketFives, posted 10%, and watched it sell out quickly allowing him to register for one of the biggest tournaments of his career. “I just figured out of all the ones [during the Bellagio’s Five Diamond], this seemed like it would be the ‘softest one’, just because it’s so close to the Main Event…even though it wasn’t. It was definitely not, but it is what is, I have confidence in myself. “I knew I’d be a dog in it, and I told people that. I don’t think I’m a dog in the Main obviously, but in this one I definitely was,” he said. “And obviously luck is a big part of it, so I ran good.” Mock did run good and so did his investors. Those who were able to grab a piece made 10x on their stake, turning a $100 investment into roughly $1K. So when Mock posted additional action for his Main Event, it sold out lightning fast with investors looking to ride the same wave Mock is on. But despite his recent success, Mock said this isn’t him stepping back into poker’s spotlight full time. He’s definitely “not mad” about his back-to-back $10K results, but he’s happy in his construction business and, he says he’s even working towards becoming a firefighter. Another profession that would afford him time to play on the side. “I love poker and I'll never not play poker,” he said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever play full-time again. There is no crossroads for me, I’m never going to be the full-time high-stakes guy. I just think taking shots when I can but I think I’m just in a good spot in life where when poker’s fun and I’m not counting on it, it’s made things a lot easier.”
  16. When one thinks of the World Poker Tour it’s almost impossible not to think of Darren Elias. His success is nearly synonymous with the brand. Elias, famously, sits alone at the top of the heap when it comes to any number of World Poker Tour categories including Main Event titles (4), final tables (12), and cashes (43). However, Elias’ extensive poker resume is much more than WPT Main Event victories, and at 35 years old, it's something he’s proven year over year. Elias has excelled in 2021, picking up big-time scores in a trio of High Rollers on the PokerGO tour (totaling nearly $1 million in earnings) as well as having a breakout year playing online that saw him grab a prestigious GGPoker Super MILLION$ title for one of the biggest cashes of his career. As the World Poker Tour prepares to wrap up Season XIX with the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event at the Bellagio, Elias is headed to Las Vegas looking to add to his 2021 High Roller totals and, perhaps, pick up title number five. We caught up with him for an extended conversation about his success on the WPT, his aspirations for the World Series of Poker, balancing his home and poker lives, and the pressure he puts on himself to succeed. __ For many fans, when they first hear the name Darren Elias, they probably think of the World Poker Tour. You sit alone with four WPT Main Tour titles and Matt Savage has taken to calling you the “WPT G.O.A.T.”. How have you been so successful on the WPT? What is it about those events that play to your strengths? Yeah. I love the World Poker Tour and that makes up a bulk of my schedule during the year. I play about 50 to 60 tournaments every year, I'm pretty consistent, and World Poker Tour tournaments probably make up a dozen of those - and I do like that most are in America or Canada. I traveled internationally a lot in my early '20s playing EPTs, Macau…basically everywhere in the world, and I kind of found that I liked playing in the [U.S.] and North America. A couple of reasons behind that, and probably linked in with my success is that I like the knowledge of the player pool in these events. Most of the time these WPT events, it's the same group of guys, and each stop has its locals, but I do think knowing the players gives me a bigger edge. I wouldn't say that my results are equal to my edge, where I would say I probably over-performed on the World Poker Tour and under-performed at the World Series, luck-wise or expectation-wise, but I do love the events and I do love that they're all basically in the states. I know you plan on playing the $25K High Roller at the upcoming WPT Five Diamond but didn’t realize how many High Roller cashes you actually have on your resume. How do you differential between playing your normal schedule of events and when you jump into high rollers? Is playing higher something you continue to aspire to or are you just picking the best spots you can? Well, I would say I kind of hand pick the high roller events that I want to play and I try to pick the bigger ones, the ones with the biggest prize pools and most runners. I don't have a ton of interest in traveling internationally to play small field 100Ks or 250Ks. I mean, I've done it in the past, but for me, my biggest value is time. Especially now that I'm home with a family, I really have to pick my events that I want to go to. I probably play five to ten 25K plus events a year - maybe, 25K, 50K, 100K, something like that - and they do play differently than, like, a World Poker Tour Main Event, obviously, and you have to be sharper. I might do more preparation beforehand if I know I'm playing a tough 100K, and you have to be more fundamentally sound in an event like that because you're playing higher tier players, some of the best players in the world are in those events. In the World Poker Tour, that's not always true. When you decide you are going to play higher, do you put in extra study time? Absolutely. Yeah. I think most players would agree, at lower stakes, playing even $1Ks, $2Ks, $3,500, $5Ks, you can probably get away with not studying if you have good instincts and still win. But if you play in bigger events, these $50Ks, $100Ks, and you're playing with the elite players, you really need to put in your practice study work or you're going to find yourself in there guessing a lot, which is not the way to win. [caption id="attachment_637478" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Darren Elias, four-time World Poker Tour Main Event champion.[/caption] You just mentioned that time is one of your most valuable currencies and you’ve decided to take on a role as an ambassador for BetMGM/partypoker U.S. For some players becoming an ambassador is an aspiration, was it one for you? In the past you’ve talked about how public speaking wasn’t really your thing, do you feel any added pressure taking on this new role? I wouldn't say it's added pressure but it is something that's taken me a while to get comfortable with. It's not my natural personality to put my face on something and put it out there. It's taken some time to get used to, and the main reason of my drive behind this is, I felt so terrible for the American online poker players over the last 10 years, and I feel like this is a good opportunity. If there's anything I can do to further our cause and get bigger tournaments online in the US, get more states legalized, linked up, organize tournaments, work on schedules - anything I can do to help get online poker back in the US should be a priority. I think at this point I'm in a position where maybe I can make a little bit of difference, and that's kind of my long-term goal with BetMGM and partypoker. Speaking of online poker, you have a reputation as a live pro but this year you cracked the worldwide PocketFives Top 10 rankings, have more than $8 million in career earnings, and have both a WCOOP and Super MILLION$ title on your online resume. Where does an online grind fit into your schedule right now? I guess most of that took place this year while you were traveling abroad? Yeah. Last year I played a lot on GGPoker during COVID. I feel like I cashed for more last year than I probably did in my whole online career just because the stakes of the tournaments nowadays on the international sites are huge. That may have been kind of a one-off year because of COVID, there weren't any live tournaments and that was just a weird year. I do see myself playing a lot more online in the states, but my international, rest of the world, online career is probably drawing to a close I would say. You talked a little about how maybe variance has been on your side in WPT events, more so than the WSOP. You don’t yet have a WSOP bracelet and I wanted to know if WSOP success, outside of the money, is on your list of things you’d like to achieve? Are you thinking ‘I would like to win a bracelet’? I would like to win a bracelet, but I would say it means less now than it used to, just in how easily they're giving them away nowadays with the online events and these Flip & Gos. You can play a 50 runner, $200 event online and win a World Series of Poker bracelet and that kind of takes some of the prestige away from it. But, sure, when I go to the World Series every year I'm trying to make final tables. I'm trying to win. I don't play the full WSOP schedule where I'm in these $1,500 No Limits, battling ten-handed all day. I'm not in a lot of those, but I do play most of the $5K+. I play Deuce-to-Seven, so some of these events are smaller fields, like under a hundred players, and I am in there and I'm trying to win a bracelet. That would mean something to me, to win one of those events, the high roller 10K Deuce-to-Seven no limit, something like that. I think those events still carry some prestige, and when I'm going out there, I'm trying to win those. Where do you land on mixed games? Do you like them and are those fields you would like to be competing in? Not really. My experience with mixed games is, I don't really like the limit games. I never have. I mean, I played Limit Hold’em when I first started playing poker. I was 17, 18 years old at casinos, and I played a little bit of Stud and 08, that kind of thing, and to be honest, I find them a little boring. I'd gravitate more towards No Limit games, so I like No Limit Deuce-to-Seven. I've played Pot Limit and No Limit Triple Draw online quite a bit. I like those games, and I could see maybe down the line I play more PLO, but I really don't have much interest in limit games, so I'm a bit restricted in that regard. I'm sure if I put in the study and really tried to learn these games, then I could become a winning player, but I don't enjoy them so I'm not really devoting my time there. What are your thoughts on the WSOP moving to the Strip? Are you planning on making the quick turnaround this summer for the World Series of Poker? Yeah, I’ll be there, and I kind of don't know what to expect. I have low expectations. I'm kind of happy to get out of the Rio and erase all my memories of the World Series when I haven't done amazing. So maybe I'll get new mojo here at Ballys or whatever it's going to be called when we're there. I think it's cool that it's on the Strip. I really don't know what to expect, but I will be there and I'll be playing. You have a family with two small kids, how do you strike a balance between grinding the circuit and being present for your family? I’ve learned a lot about it over the last five years, and one important thing I found, is keeping the trips short. I can't go to Las Vegas for a month and play the WSOP and be away from my kids and my family that long. So, kind of breaking it up into shorter trips, which is one of the reasons World Poker Tour's great now. They have a Main Event, maybe a high roller, but it's one or two events. It's a week. I'm there. I'm back. I really like that, and mentally, kind of, when I'm on a poker trip and I'm there competing, battling, I'm thinking about poker and I'm 100% focused. When I'm home, I'm being dad and I'm being a husband and trying to do these duties, and I think keeping them separate has worked well for me. One more, do you put any pressure on yourself to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to WPT titles? There’s a number of heavy hitters with three titles looking to make it four, so just wondering what your state of mind is when you think about that. I put pressure on myself regardless of who's chasing me. Like, I get to these final tables or deep in these events and I feel huge pressure to execute just to do the right thing. I'm in such a good spot, usually deep in these things against weaker players, playing for a lot of money where there are big opportunities and these are kind of what I've trained and prepared for. I always feel pressure to execute at these final tables, and I don't think I'm driven too much by who's on my tail or what other people are doing, because if I mess up in one of these final tables, these big spots that you get once a year or once every other year, that's going to drive me crazy no matter who has three titles, who has four titles. I'm tough on myself in that regard, so I don't think I need any extra motivation.
  17. PokerGO’s revival of High Stakes Poker is set to return in 2022 for Season 9 and over the weekend fans were given a first look at some of poker’s high-powered players that have officially locked up a seat in the game. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1467256348643500035?s=20 After sitting on the sidelines for Season 8, Daniel Negreanu - who played in all of the first seven seasons of the show - confirmed his return to HSP via Twitter. Then, hours later, Jennifer Tilly posted one of the first cast photos, much to the delight of poker fans everywhere. RELATED: Chemistry Lessons: Building The Perfect High Stakes Poker Cast https://twitter.com/JenniferTilly/status/1467576251716018183?s=20 As you can see, some of the biggest names in the game will be in action including cash game legends Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan, both of whom were featured last season. Joining them in a return are Jean-Robert Bellande and Bryn Kenney, who made their High Stakes Poker debut in Season 8. Taking a seat for the first time and pictured to the right of Kenney is Hustler Casino Live regular Krish, who is often introduced as an entrepreneur and collector of rare casino chips. And finally, on the far left, is Garrett Adelstein, one of the most prolific live stream high-stakes cash game players of today. RELATED: Three Takeaways From Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan’s Appearance on Hustler Casino Live It’s Adelstein’s first invitation to High Stakes Poker but not his first encounter with the likes of Ivey and Dwan. Earlier this year, Hustler Casino Live broadcast two days of high-stakes play that featured all three players and captured on camera the first meeting of Adelstein and Ivey. However, that’s not the only members of the cast that were confirmed. Tilly commented on how much fun it was playing with Rail Heaven legend Patrik Antonius... https://twitter.com/JenniferTilly/status/1467173525244891136?s=20 ...and Xuan Liu was sure to snap a selfie with the legend Doyle Brunson. https://twitter.com/xxl23/status/1467208721168154627?s=20 On Monday night, World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Koray Aldemir added some more names to the High Stakes Poker confirmed list when he posted this photo of after his time on set. https://twitter.com/kooraay90/status/1468017193359069186?s=20 Traditionally, High Stakes Poker features minimum stakes of $200/$400 with an $800 straddle or simply $400/$800 blinds, making it one of the highest stakes cash games available for fans to sweat. Of course, all the players are sworn to secrecy on the results of the taping but it was curious that Negreanu, who has admitted in the past to running badly in his seven seasons (roughly a $2 million loser according to some calculations) posted the following: https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1467631154320662530?s=20 No firm date for the airing of High Stakes Poker Season 9 has been announced, but unconfirmed rumors has it dropping in February 2022. We’ll have to wait and see however, whenever it does return, High Stakes Poker Season 9 will be available on subscription site PokerGO. [original article updated 5:10 pm PT 12/6]
  18. Through sheer force of will and a non-stop dedication to the online grinder that Russia’s Aleksandr ‘draxalen’ Shepel captured the top spot of the Online Player of the Month leaderboard for the month of November. It’s the first Online Player of the Month title for Shepel (3,268 points) who put in an incredible amount of volume to simply outwork the competition. He recorded an incredible 236 in-the-money finishes for a total haul of $485,286 in earnings, mostly by playing in the mid-stakes. However, Shepel made the most of his opportunities when he was able to play higher and that included a deep run in GGPoker’s weekly Super MILLION$. The Russian fought his way to a third-place finish in the November 9 edition of the $10K tournament to earn a career-high score of $177,595 and 598.80 leaderboard points. He also managed to pick up five more five-figure scores which helped put him in the top spot - all of which came in a 72-hour window. On November 21, he took the bronze in the GGPoker $1,050 High Roller Main Event for $14,307 and followed it up the very next day with a win in a PokerKing PKO for another $25,910 and 290.34 points. He wasn’t finished, that same day he took down the GGPoker $525 High Roller Wrap-Up for another $13,433 and 240.83 points. While those big-time scores get him the boost he needed, it was really his consistency in the mid-stakes that built him the base. Of his qualifying scores there were 18 of 100 points or more with 19 scores of four figures or more. The side result of his career-high cash and consistency is a new all-time high ranking of #48 in the world. For Shepel, perhaps just as impressive as winning the Online Player of the Month is who Shepel had to deny in order to do it. Brazil’s Lucio ‘Llima92’ Lima (3,045 points) has been making headlines on the online felts over the past few months and now he just narrowly missed out the OPOM title in November, finishing just 223 points behind Shepel. However, things have been trending up in 2021 for Lima who is currently challenging Pedro ‘pvigar’ Garagnani for the worldwide #1 rank, having recently taken over the #2 spot. His rapid rise in the rankings can be traced back to having successful runs as he did in November. He kicked off the month with a win runner-up finish in the GGPoker Sunday High Rollers for $74,474 and 470.70 points. A week later, he took third in the same tournament for $77,172, his high score of the month, and another 365.77 points. He racked up nine five-figure scores, five of which accumulated points for the Online Player of the Month race and two of which he binked on the same day. The first was the November 21 edition of the PokerStars High Roller Club $530 Bounty Builder in which he earned $28,311 and 289.09 points and then, hours later, he scored silver again in the GGPoker $840 Omaholic Hundred Stack for another $20,479 and 217.62 points. In total, Lima earned over $466,000 and finds himself less than $25,000 away from eclipsing $5 million in total lifetime earnings. Another name that has been making waves lately is Enrico ‘whatisL0v3’ Camosci who finished the November race in third place. The worldwide #3-ranked Camosci, like Lima, has been a powerhouse in the online rankings and only solidified his position in the top 5 with a stellar month. However, unlike both Lima and Shepel, Camosci didn’t overwhelm the competition with volume. He racked up 68 in-the-money finishes and made his top scores really count. His most impressive cash came on November 2 when he finished as the runner-up in the GGPoker Sunday MILLION$ for a career-high $247,771 score plus 797.18 leaderboard points. He backed that up with another healthy score on November 8 when he final tabled the GGPoker $1,050 GGMasters High Roller for another $26,749. Then on the 22nd, a runner-up finish in the same event brought him $75,352 and 473.46 points. Those three results make up for more than half of his leaderboard score. Camosci finished the month with more than $520,000 in earnings which put him up over $12 million in career earnings. November 2021 Online Player of the Month Results [table id=280 /]
  19. 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 Lucio ‘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 /]
  20. Justin Bonomo has retaken the top spot on the Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List after his victory in the Bellagio’s Five Diamond $100,000 No Limit High Roller earned him $928,200 and sent his career earnings north of $57 million. https://twitter.com/JustinBonomo/status/1467013552238043136?s=20 It’s been 28 months since the last time Bonomo was last recognized as the worldwide leader in tournament earnings. Back in August 2019, Bryn Kenney and Aaron Zang chopped up the £1,050,000 Triton Million for Charity which allowed to Kenney lock up a massive $20,563,324 prize as the runner-up. The unprecedented score was more than enough to send Kenney to the All-Time Money List lead by roughly seven million. Bonomo responded quickly, taking down the Triton London £100,000 No Limit Short Deck for $3.2 million just days after Kenney’s win. He may have even retaken the lead within the week, had his second-place $4.1 million score in the Triton London £250,000 Short Deck not been a private event. However, just months later, the live circuit came to a standstill in the face of COVID-19 and, like many, Bonomo essentially retreated from playing any live poker for the better part of 21 months. Bonomo made his return to the live felt at the end of September to make a run at a fourth title in PokerGO’s $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl. He showed no sign of rust, finishing in second place, just behind Michael Addamo, for a $1,890,000 score. And that was just the beginning of his current hot streak. Less than a month later, Bonomo was again battling Addamo heads-up for a massive score. This time it was the 2021 WSOP’s $50,000 NLHE High Roller. While Bonomo couldn’t deny Addamo another victory, he did pick up $700,228 for his runner-up finish. Bonomo was back in the mix. He's recently been spending some time at the Aria playing in their regularly running $10Ks. According to the Hendon Mob, he scored a victory on November 6 for $171,000 and a second-place finish 10 days later for another $94,600. Bringing him within striking distance of retaking the ATML title. It should be noted, that during this time Kenney was also playing sparingly. His first result since the beginning of 2020 was last week when he picked up a $503,880 score for his runner-up finish in the Seminole Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open $25,500 High Roller. However, Kenney’s six-figure score just wasn’t enough to hold off Bonomo. On Friday night, Bonomo defeated the small field of 19 runners, which included Kenney, in the Five Diamond $100,000 and with the $928,200 he has eclipsed Kenney by a mere $139,869. https://twitter.com/TheHendonMob/status/1467021120905912323?s=20 At the stakes and in the fields that Bonomo and Kenney regularly play, the All-Time Money List lead may be a two-horse race for quite some time with the pair taking turns at the top depending on which one of the two is in the money more recently. It would take some doing for anyone else in the top 5 to join the party with Daniel Negreanu currently sitting in third place, roughly $12 million behind pace, and Erik Seidel almost $19 million behind Bonomo’s current total.
  21. After weeks of hovering in the top 5 of the worldwide Online Poker Rankings, Brazilian crusher Pedro ‘pvigar’ Garagnani finally made his move and supplanted fellow countryman Bruno ‘brunovolks’ Volkmann as the #1-ranked online player in the world. It’s Garagnani’s first trip to the top spot and he’s reached it with a combination producing impressive results while putting in a massive amount of volume. He has spent the better part of the past six months rising through the online rankings. Garagnani cracked the top 5 in the second half of 2021 and never let up on his schedule. He took full advantage of the fact that the 2021 World Series of Poker took a number of top competitors out of the online pool for weeks at a time and posted big-time results this fall. It was clear when Bruno Volkmann took over the #1 spot in early November that he would eventually have to deal with Garagnani’s persistence. Finally, Garagnani’s put together a string of results that put him over the top. In November, he added on to his late October run where he scored a victory in the WPTDeepStacks High Roller on partypoker for $112,079 and 753.70 leaderboard points. His first significant score took place in the November 15 edition of the GGPoker $1,050 Sunday High Roller Main Event where a final table finish earned him $23,869 and an important 241.32 leaderboard points. From there, a trio of results helped Garagnani get the job done. In the November 21 edition of the same GGPoker High Rollers Main Event, he finished in 4th place for $10,804 and 141.72 points. On the same day came the big score, a victory in the Winamax $1,050 Mini WSOP Super High Roller added $47,197 to his bankroll as well as the 435.52 points that locked up the top spot. He added on the next day with a fifth-place finish in the GGPoker $525 Bounty Hunters High Roller for another $16,956 and 270.89 points. All told, in his second week as #1 Garagnani currently sits with 10,834 leaderboard points - 566 points above Volkmann in second place. That differential is not impossible to overcome in a single week, however, it’s a significant gap for any player to cover especially when one grinds as much as Garagnani. For Volkmann to reclaim the rankings' top spot, he’ll simply need to find more qualifying results than what he’s been bringing in over the last month. Don’t get it wrong, Volkmann still has had some very notable scores over the past 30 days including a bronze finish in the PokerStars $1,050 High Roller Club back on November 7 for $18,998 and 200.34 points. However, in recent weeks, Volkmann’s pulled back on volume a tad and he’s only picked up one other leaderboard qualifying score. He had a final table finish in the PokerStars $530 High Roller Club Bounty Builder for $6,579 and 146.19 points. So while he hadn’t found those big scores that we’re accustomed to seeing from Volkmann, he remains in striking distance and, as one of the best in the world, you just never know when he’s going to win a major high roller or a large field event for heaps. One player that would like to avoid seeing Volkmann bink a big one is Hungary’s #1 online grinder ‘kZhh’ who is currently sitting at a career-high worldwide rank of #3. If that screen name looks familiar it’s because ‘kZhh’ has a habit of showing up big in some of the biggest tournaments of the year. This year alone, he took down the PokerStars SCOOP $10,300 Main Event for $1,130,396 and a massive 1,288.41 point score. He followed that up with a GGPoker Super MILLION$ victory in July for another $258,593 and 818.15 points. Finally, you might have seen him taking down the PokerStars WCOOP $25,000 High Roller in late August for $657,557 and 1,299.04 points. ‘kZhh’ is known for his major victories, but now he’s looking to add the title of online poker's worldwide #1 to his resume. Of course, a massive score like the ones outlined above can help make that happen or he can continue his mid/high-stakes grinder and pick up more results as he did on November 22 when he finished in eighth place in the GGPoker $525 Bounty Hunters Main Event for $6,898 and 204.33 points. Online Poker Rankings (Week of 12/2) [table id=277 /]
  22. Gediminas Uselis displayed off his skills and leveraged his years of experience at the final table of the 2021 World Poker Tour Seminole Rock ’N’ Roll Main Event after starting the day in the middle of the pack in the final table chip counts and weaving his way to his first WPT title and a career-high $778,490 first-place prize. Online grinders might know Uselis as one of Lithuania’s elite players, but he also has an extensive live resume that includes taking down the recent $1,600 MSPT event at the Venetian in Las Vegas for more than $325,000. It’s been a non-stop grind for Uselis as of late, something he acknowledged immediately after his victory. “I came here, and this [the Main Event] was the first tournament I sat down in,” Uselis said to the World Poker Tour in his post-event interview. “I didn’t sleep much, and I just kept going and going. I was playing small pots, big pots, slowly building. Slowly, nothing special.” “There was, for sure, a bunch of action,” he continued. “It was a crazy table, so I just needed to wait. I made a couple of moves because there were a couple of amateurs as well, so I was really lucky to make this final table.” The action kicked off early. With only five big blinds, Anshul Rai knew he was going to have to make a move sooner rather than later. And on the very first hand of the final table, he made his stand. From under the gun, Rai moved all-in for his final 875,000 holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"]. It folded around to Harout Ghazarian in the small blind who put in a raise to 1.5 million with his [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"], and Uselis let go of his big blind. Rai looked in good shape to double up with the dominating hand, however the flop came [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"][poker card="2s"], flipping the script and putting Ghazarian ahead with two pair. The turn came the [poker card="3c"], leaving Rai with just three outs to survive. The [poker card="2d"] river completed the board and just like that Rai was eliminated in sixth place for $170,835 and the table was down to five players. That was just the beginning some fast-paced early final table action. Clayton Maguire, who started the day third in chips, found himself slipping down the chip counts after the elimination of Rai. With the blinds at 100,000/200,000 (200,000 ante), Maguire lost back-to-back pots which led to his eventual elimination. First, he dropped an important pot to Ghazarian where Clayton held the [poker card="ah"][poker card="4c"] but Ghazarian showed down the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"] on a board of [poker card="kh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="ac"] for a pot of nearly 10 million. Then, the very next hand, Maguire completed the small blind with his [poker card="8d"][poker card="8c"] and Selahaddin Bedir jammed his bigger stack all-in holding the [poker card="ad"][poker card="4s"]. Maguire snap-called and was in position to score a quick double up, however the [poker card="ac"][poker card="ks"][poker card="5d"][poker card="jd"][poker card="qh"] board didn’t cooperate leaving Maguire to hit the exit in fifth place for $211,925. Play slowed down until the first break of the day and the chip stacks evened out with everyone holding on to more than 40 big blinds. But soon thereafter, Bedir found himself getting short and with the blinds up to 200,000/400,000 (400,000 ante) he made his final stand. With roughly 15 big blinds, Bedir moved all-in from under the gun holding [poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"] and when it was on Jacob Ferro in the big blind, he quickly called with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"]. The flop came [poker card="qs"][poker card="jd"][poker card="2c"], keeping Ferro’s ace-king in the lead and giving him a gutshot straight draw to the nuts. Bedir was in bad shape looking for a pair or backdoor diamonds to catch up. The turn came the [poker card="5h"] and Bedir was down to his final card. The river was the [poker card="4s"] and made his exit in fourth place for $282,380. Three-handed play saw Ferro holding on to a commanding chip lead but Uselis, steadily adding to his stack. Finally, roughly 45-minutes after the last bustout, another big clash took place. Harout Ghazarian completed the small blind with his [poker card="2c"][poker card="2s"] and Uselis put in a raise to 1.3 million holding the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kc"]. Ghazarian then three-bet all-in for more than 12 million and Uselis snap-called. There was little drama for the pocket kings on the [poker card="js"][poker card="7s"][poker card="7d"][poker card="9d"][poker card="jd"] board and Ghazarian was sent out in third place for $380,000. The knockout pushed Uselis over 30 million in chips and essentially pulled him event with Ferro headed into heads-up play. The heads-up match could have taken some time as both players started with over 75 big blinds. But Uselis quickly leveraged his experience and pulled ahead just before the next break. Immediately after the break, Uselis extended his chip lead to roughly four-to-one. But in the end, it was a cooler that cut short this battle. With the blinds at 300,000/500,000 (500,000 ante) Ferro raised to 1 million holding the [poker card="jd"][poker card="jh"] and Uselis put in a three-bet to 3.3 million with one better, his [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"]. Ferro shipped all-in, Uselis beat him into the pot, and the pair saw the setup. There was a jack in the door, eliciting a gasp from the small crowd watching, but a queen right behind it. The board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"][poker card="js"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2s"] ending Ferro’s run in second place for $573,605 and awarding Gediminas Uselis his first World Poker Tour title and the $778,490 first-place prize. WPT Seminole Rock ’N’ Roll Final Table Results Gediminas Uselis - $778,490 Jacob Ferro - $573,605 Harout Ghazarian - $380,000 Selahaddin Bedir - $282,380 Clayton Maguire - $211,925 Anshul Rai - $170,835
  23. It took some time, but finally, Thomas Muehloecker can call himself a GGPoker Super MILLION$ champion. At his ninth final table of the season, 12th of his career, Muehloecker survived the tough final table to capture his first career Super MILLION$ victory and the $311,933 first-place prize. It had been a bit of a journey for the accomplished Muehloecker, who had made more Super MILLION$ final tables than any other player without taking one down. Even though he hadn't won one prior to this week, he had plenty of accolades to show for his Super MILLION$ persistence. His career 22 in-the-money finishes brought him more than $2.2 million in earnings and landed him in the top 10 on the Super MILLION$ All-Time leaderboard. But now, Muehloecker can rest easy knowing that he’s no longer on the list of the best players in the field without a title. And just like all of those other times when he didn't win, this week's final table was stacked with top-tier talent. Muehloecker started the day with the chip lead but was forced to face down tough competition including the likes of Elio Fox, Ottomar Ladva, Timothy Adams, and four-time Super MILLION$ champ Niklas Astedt. It took nearly thirty minutes for the first player to hit the rail. With the blind at 20,000/40,000 (5,000 ante) a short-stacked Alex Kolonias moved all-in for his final five big blinds holding [poker card="kc"][poker card="js"] and was quickly called by Astedt on the button holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="th"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"][poker card="7s"][poker card="2c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5h"], shipping the pot to Niklas Astedt’s ace-high and ending Kolonias’ bid to mount a comeback in ninth place for $48,496. The very next hand it was ‘Graf Tekkel’ who put himself at risk when he moved all-in from under the gun with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"]. It folded around to Timothy Adams on the button who woke up with [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] and, after a few seconds, shoved his 20 big blind stack. Both of the blinds let go of their hands and ‘Graf Tekkel’ was looking to spike an ace to stick around. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"][poker card="8h"], bringing that ace, but also the case king, improving Adams to a set. The turn was the [poker card="th"], leaving ‘Graf Tekkel’ looking for an ace to improve but the river came the [poker card="qd"] ending the hand and ending the Russian’s run in eighth place for $61,199. The blinds increased to 25,000/50,000 (6,000 ante) and despite earning the previous knockout, Adams remained the short stack at the table. Holding the [poker card="9h"][poker card="9c"], Adams put in a raise to 110,000 from the hijack. When it folded around to ‘MarkyAurelio’ in the big blind, the Brazilian three-bet to 325,250 with the [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"]. With 20 big blinds behind, Adams decided to four-bet ship his stack and was snap-called by ‘MarkyAurelio’. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"] flop put ‘MarkyAurelio’ ahead in the hand and left Adams looking for a nine to survive. However, the turn came the [poker card="3h"] and the river was the [poker card="jh"] eliminating Adams in seventh place for $77,231. With the blinds at 35,000/70,000 (8,500 ante), Muehloecker opened from under the gun to 147,000 holding [poker card="td"][poker card="tc"]. When the action reached Astedt on the button, he three-bet to 412,000 with his [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"]. The blinds got out of the way and Muehloecker made the call. The pair took a flop of [poker card="ts"][poker card="7d"][poker card="3h"], giving Muehloecker top set which he checked over to Astedt. Astedt fired for 540,000 and Muehloecker simply called. The turn came the [poker card="4c"] and Muehloecker checked it to the four-time Super MILLION$ champ again. Astedt, took a moment and went for it all, bluff-shoving his remaining 2 million in chips and was snapped off by Muehloecker’s set. Astedt was drawing dead to the [poker card="9s"] river, finishing in sixth place for $97,462 while Muehloecker built a considerable chip lead with five left. Later in the level it was a battle of two Estonians as Ottomar Ladva, with roughly 15 bigs, opened from middle position to 154,000 with [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"] and when it folded back to his countryman ‘ExVang’ in the small blind with the [poker card="qs"][poker card="ts"], he three-bet shoved his final 1.2 million. Muehloecker let go of his big blind and Ladva made the call, having just 646 in chips behind. The board ran out [poker card="jc"][poker card="3h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="6h"], never really giving Ladva’s pocket nines much of a sweat as ‘ExVang’ fell in fifth for $122,993. Ladva, scored another double up through Meuhloecker when his pocket tens bested Muehloecker’s pocket fours just before he was about to strike again. The blinds rose to 50,000/100,000 (12,500 ante) when ‘MarkyAurelio’ raised to 200,000 on the button with his [poker card="8s"][poker card="8c"]. From the small blind, Ladva shipped his 5.3 million stack holding the [poker card="th"][poker card="9h"] and after Fox folded his big blind, ‘MarkyAurelio’ called for his tournament. The flop came [poker card="jh"][poker card="7h"][poker card="tc"], giving Ladva middle pair along with straight and flush draws to improve while ‘MarkyAurelio’ needed help to survive. The [poker card="2s"] turn changed nothing and when the [poker card="7d"] hit the river, ‘MarkyAurelio’s day was done. The Brazilian finished in fourth place and collected $195,872. Ladva surged to the chip lead with, Muehloecker right behind him. Fox was sitting in a distant third, with a stack of just over 10 big blinds. Three hands after ‘MarkyAurelio’ busted, Fox was looking to double up. Muehloecker opened the button to 250,000 with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="4c"] and after Ladva let go of his small blind, Fox shipped his final 1 million with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="6s"] and Muehloecker quickly called. Fox was ahead preflop but all of that changed when the flop came [poker card="ah"][poker card="jh"][poker card="4s"] bringing Muehloecker bottom pair. Fox needed a six or to pair the jack on the board to stick around. The turn came the [poker card="5d"], changing nothing. Finally, the [poker card="qd"] completed the board, and Fox was forced to settle for third place and a $195,872 payday. At the start of heads-up play, Muehloecker held a slight chip lead over Ladva. From the get-go, Muehloecker ran hot. He picked up key pots and went from a slight lead to extending it to roughly three-to-one. On the final hand, it was a clash of big hands that helped Muehloecker to his first career title. With the blinds at 60,000/120,000 (15,000 ante) Muehloecker raised the button to 252,000 holding the [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] and Ladva quickly three-bet to 888,000 with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="th"]. Muehloecker just called and the pair took a flop of [poker card="8h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="3c"] keeping Muehloecker’s queens in the lead but giving Ladva a number of backdoor draws. Ladva led for 451,500 and Muehloecker put in a raise to 1.1 million. Ladva, with no time remaining, made the call leaving himself with just over 2 million and creating a pot of more than 4 million. The turn was the [poker card="6c"], and Ladva checked it to Muehloecker who put him to a test for the rest of his chips. Ladva decided on a call needing a club or an ace with one card to come. The river was the [poker card="5d"] and Ladva wrapped up as the runner-up, good for $247,182 while Thomas Muehloecker finally added a Super MILLION$ win to his resume and locked up the first-place prize of $311,933. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results - 11/30 Thomas Muehloecker - $311,933 Ottomar Ladva - $247,182 Elio Fox - $195,872 ‘MarkyAurelio’ - $155,213 ‘ExVang’ - $122,993 Niklas Astedt - $97,462 Timothy Adams - $77,231 ‘Gref Tekkel’ - $61,199 Alex Kolonias - $48,496
  24. “I also wanted to say that there are so many deserving nominees who have worked hard to earn a place in the Hall of Fame. More and more great players and builders are starting to turn 40 years old. I really hope that the World Series of Poker begins to induct a couple more nominees each year.” - Eli Elezra, 2021 Poker Hall of Fame inductee. For the second year in a row, just a single person was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. This year, it was Eli Elezra, noted high-stakes cash game pro and four-time WSOP bracelet winner. By all accounts, for his contribution and achievements in the game, Elezra’s inclusion in the Hall is well deserved. But in his brief speech in the Brazilia Room, after thanking his mentors and recounting his journey, Elezra took a moment to acknowledge the other deserving nominees with a hope that they, like him, may also have the opportunity to be so honored. It’s a hope that’s shared by many who follow the Poker Hall of Fame. In 2020, it came a bit of a surprise that the PHOF opted to reduce the already low number of two inductees to a single person, citing a return to the Poker Hall of Fame’s roots and the benefit of time as reasons to keep the election process as elite as it is. “We like tradition,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in 2020. “One per year is the way it was for the majority of the Poker Hall of Fame’s history. A single inductee seems to promote the prestige of the honor. Most of the finalists these past few years are very young men. I would hope and assume they will all get inducted eventually.” What a difference a year makes. Even when the voting process allowed for two persons per year, the thought that the bottleneck of bringing valued figures of poker into the Hall of Fame was not ready for the flood of future poker greats, inspired by the poker boom. Looking ahead, without change, the Poker Hall of Fame may keep its elitist status but will forgo its credibility. A Hall of Fame isn’t about the number of people in it, it’s about accomplishments. And nearly two decades after a poker explosion extended the love for the game around the world, continuing to cut off more-than-deserving players and builders, makes the Hall look and feel like an old-school popularity contest rather than a celebration of those who have made the game great. That point has never been better illustrated than this year at the 2021 World Series of Poker when players, far younger than the 40 year age requirement, have added bracelets to their resume that reflect the numbers that, as of right now, are part of a legitimate Hall of Fame career. Take a look at the accomplishments of Shaun Deeb, Brian Hastings, and Brian Rast, all three of which earned their fifth career bracelet this fall. Rast, who will turn 40 before the next Hall of Fame nomination process, has made it well-known that the Hall of Fame is on his radar as what he expects to be his next accomplishment and will most certainly be considered next year. “Really, the number one thing at this point is kind of just making the Poker Hall of Fame. I mean, I feel like, I think I’ve done enough in my career…” Rast said immediately after his fifth win. And he’s not out of line in that thinking. In addition to collecting bracelets, Rast also has more than $22 million in live career tournament earnings, good for 24th on the All-Time Money List, and has been known to play cash games at some of the highest stakes available. Those three five-time bracelet winners are followed closely by a swarm of top-tier names, all of whom earned their fourth this series. Adrian Mateos, Ben Yu, Anthony Zinno, Brian Yoon, John Monnette, Benny Glaser, Farzad Bonyadi, Adam Friedman, Kevin Gerhart, and 2021 WSOP Player of the Year Josh Arieh all have great cases for future consideration. The four-time bracelet winner club increased by 33% in just one series and, coincidentally, it’s the same number of bracelets that Eli Elezra has to his credit upon induction. Of course, bracelets alone are by no means the only criteria for being inducted, but they do play a big role. Currently, respect at the highest stakes and, honestly, popularity among the 32 living members of the Hall of Fame (or those who have the most influence within that group) is perhaps even more important under the current system. But with that said, it’s clear that not only is there incredible talent on the rise, but the bar for what it’s going to take in the future to not only get nominated but get elected is also climbing higher. With so much talent rising and becoming eligible over the next five years two things are clear: the first is that the time for the Poker Hall of Fame to adapt to how much bigger the game of poker is today is here. In fact, it’s been here. Also, secondly, should the Hall not adapt, people who were once thought to be a lock for the Hall of Fame one day will be frozen out far longer than they deserve to be due to the pressure of escalating poker resume requirements to be considered by the public for the nomination process as well as for the voters themselves. For example, take a look at the case for Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow. Matusow’s resume looks incredibly close to that of Elezra’s in terms of his bracelet count and his time spent on poker television. It wouldn’t be tough to argue that, in terms of notoriety, Matusow’s influence on the game of poker far outshines many of the more recent inductees. His brash, polarizing personality has been ever-present on the poker landscape since the early 2000s, and, like him or not, he’s been an ambassador for the everyman and a persistent presence on poker television. But at 53 years old, Matusow doesn’t appear to be any closer to an induction into the Hall today from the day he became eligible. In 2020, when the votes cast were made public, Matusow received the third-lowest total votes. Perhaps it’s because the mouth he’s so famous for is a turn-off for those casting the votes. But as Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has said many times - the Poker Hall of Fame isn’t designated for just the nice guys. If it were, well Matt Savage wouldn’t still be waiting. But even after his sixth nomination, Savage - one of the most influential tournament directors in the game - is still on the sidelines and, like Matusow, will soon be facing the robust resumes of elite players. But he’s also contending with the perceived notion that, if there’s only one spot open, it’s best not to use it for a “builder” or someone who has simply advanced the game as opposed to someone who crushes in it. To further that point, it seemed like when PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg was first nominated in 2020 he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He, along with his son Mark, took online poker to the masses, helped amplify the Moneymaker effect, and - not for nothing - was the architect to bail out thousands of players from the implosion of Full Tilt Poker (something that likely keeps surefire Hall of Fame member Chris Ferguson on the outside, perhaps never to get in). But Scheinberg, even after clearing up all legal ramifications in regards to Black Friday, is not only not a "first ballot" member, he’s now been passed over twice. It’s easy to see a few of these names and, perhaps, argue that they actually don’t belong. That what they have contributed or achieved doesn’t warrant inclusion. But it’s hard to ignore that the impact of poker on the worldwide community is also not well-reflected in the Hall of Fame. Recent nominees including Chris Bjorn, Thor Hansen, and Bruno Fitoussi all deserve another look for their contributions to poker. The end result is a Poker Hall of Fame that looks trapped in time and out of touch with modern poker. But here’s the hope moving forward: as the World Series of Poker leaves the Rio and begins a new era on the strip, perhaps there is a new era of change for the Poker Hall of Fame on the horizon. Not one that loosens the requirements by any means, but, as Elezra said in his speech, acknowledges that there are many deserving people from both the player and builder category who deserve to have the doors of the Hall open while they still around to enjoy being a part of it.
  25. For the better part of Monday night into Tuesday morning, the poker world celebrated the crowning of Josh Arieh as the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. By all accounts, Arieh clinched it when Phil Hellmuth busted out of the final event of the series, the $5K 8-Handed, leaving Hellmuth as the POY runner-up. Articles, like the one we published Tuesday morning, were written certain of Arieh’s victory. But, like in 2019 when Daniel Negreanu was usurped by Robert Campbell due to a point miscalculation, everyone was wrong. Everyone, except Justin Bonomo: https://twitter.com/JustinBonomo/status/1463258866871779328?s=20 Bonomo had it right. The results from WSOP Online Event #10 (which took place Sunday night) were not yet included in the Player of the Year calculations. So, understandably, when word got around that Arieh had won, well, it was reported he won. But in reality, with the missing point differential, Ben Yu, the chip leader headed into the final day of the $5K 8-Handed, actually had a chance to catch Arieh with an outright victory. And he looked poised to do it. So the sweat for Arieh was back on. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463275661074837505?s=20 The tournament started the day with just 30 left and with Yu in control. But Arieh had some help from the inside with his friend (and fellow POY competitor) Shaun Deeb still in the tournament. Deeb was looking for his second bracelet of the series and, maybe, an eye on not letting history repeat itself. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1463272967777841152?s=20 For the better part of three hours, the updates kept coming and Yu remained in the tournament. But with just two tables in play, Deeb and Yu battled in a hand where Deeb took some very important chips off of Yu and left the four-time bracelet winner short stacked. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1463278563331772419?s=20 Eventually, Deeb busted in 12th place. But the damage was done, Yu couldn’t recover. In the end, the popular Yu ended up finishing in 10th place for $30,286 just narrowly missing out on a last-minute capturing of the POY for himself. After an amazing series with 18 in-the-money finishes and a victory in the $10K Six-Handed Championship, Yu easily earned a 2021 WSOP resume worthy of Player of the Year. But now, finally, the drama came to an end and Arieh can safely celebrate, being officially crowned the 2021 Player of the Year for the 2nd time in 24 hours. https://twitter.com/MattGlantz/status/1463307122909880321?s=20 https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463256060546879490?s=20  

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