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Paul Seaton

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  1. Every year, the World Series of Poker is enormous fun for fans of the game as poker heroes such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Shaun Deeb take each other on for the biggest prizes and bragging rights associated with winning the much-coveted Player of the Year title as well as individual bracelets.   This year sees the return of the $25k Fantasy Draft, where players and fans alike can invest their hard-earned money in the performances of their poker idols. But how does the $25k Fantasy Draft work and who are the best people to ask?   We’ve delved into poker’s biggest sweat in Las Vegas by speaking with Remko Rinkema and Donnie Peters, who this year are the two men behind Team Pocket Fives, as well as chatting to Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks, who both represent Team No Gamble, No Future. For the first time, investors can buy a piece of the action from both teams direct from the Pocket Fives site. Remko Rinkema can see the benefits of following the website to keep track of which players are selling their action.   “There are people who have posted action on Pocket Fives,” he says. “If we can see that a player is playing a big buy-in tournament, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing a full schedule. The staking marketplace on Pocket Fives has brought all that to one platform.”   Jeff Platt couldn’t agree more. The man who made award-winning content at the last World Series of Poker is excited about how easy it is to advertise the package.   “While it’s a thrill for us to run the team, it’s even more exciting to be able to get fans involved with the squad, via the Pocket Fives Staking platform,” he says. His teammate, Brent Hanks, agrees.   “A few years ago, Remko and I did this thing together and it dawned on both of us that we were actually sharp when it comes to the WSOP and determining the value and pricing of players. Fast forward, Jeff and I have been very fortunate to be immersed within the poker industry.”   Making the Best Picks   "Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this." ~ Remko Rinkema   The two teams know all about the process of picking players, but what strategy is the right one? As both teams confess, experience is no guarantee of success.   “Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this. We know better than anyone how it works and haven’t won a thing!” laughs Rinkema, who won a Global Poker Award earlier this year for his spectacular feature on the life of Stu Ungar told through his daughter Stephanie’s memories for PokerGO.   “It’s very different from playing a tournament or cash game,” says Donnie Peters, Rinkema’s right-hand man on Team Pocket Fives. “You’re betting on other players. It’s fantasy football transitioned to poker. They didn’t run the $25k fantasy last year because of the vaccine or mask mandates, but we’ve been doing this $25k for several years.”   As Rinkema explains, knowing that a player will put in the volume no matter what is key to making the right buys on Draft night.   “The first tier is how much are they going to play,” he explains. “Then how likely are they to stick to that schedule based on outside parameters such as cash games and skill level compared to their opponents. Anyone can win a tournament on a given day; Jeff Platt made a final table last year - that says it all.”   This theory applies to the biggest players, as the men who know poker best tell us. Volume is by far the biggest factor and while some stars of the game like Daniel Negreanu will play every game, others such as Phil Ivey might take four or five days off if a juicy cash game kicks off elsewhere on the Strip.   The Origins of the Game   "We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP." ~ Donnie Peters   The notion of playing a $25,000-entry Fantasy Draft for poker started in 2011. At that stage, Daniel Negreanu was the man behind it, but interest in the idea quickly snowballed. Podcasters Quad Jacks, who were huge in 2012 interviewed Rinkema for their show and the latter then discussed the idea with Peters on a PokerNews podcast episode.   “We thought it didn’t seem like they understood draft strategy,” says Peters. “We joked that we’d max the auction on Phil Ivey, spending 193 on Ivey then fill in the rest of our players with $1 players. Some people got wind of it on social media.”   The pair were encouraged to take part the following year, raising the money from several investors. Despite their knowledge and background in the game - both men have lived and breathed poker for well over a decade - they are yet to profit... but believe this is the year.   “The last time it was organized in 2019, I had a team with Poker Central,” says Rinkema. We were a min-cash shy of finishing in the top three [with] probably the best team ever assembled. We had Jeremy Ausmus, Dan Shak, Rob Mizrachi, Jon Turner, Stephen Chidwick, James Obst, Justin Young and Bart Lybaert was our one-dollar player.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft, or rather ‘gambling on gamblers gambling well’ as Rinkema says, is, as all four men admit, the funniest thing imaginable. Investors are betting money on poker players not only showing up with their own money, but finding ways to win. Variance is huge, and Team Pocket Fives are well aware that players ‘grind for years and never make the final table’. The variance is so high that it’s the reason never to give up. Anyone can win it.   “If you’re investing in Team Pocket Fives, you’re investing in Remko and I. We’re the brain trust. Similar to if you’re backing me in a poker tournament, you invest in me and take a leap of faith with your dollars. Remko and I lean on our expertise. We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP, we’re there every single day and have studied these players over the years.”   [caption id="attachment_638190" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Who'll pick the best team when Daniel Negreanu hosts the $25k Fantasy Draft at the PokerGO Studio at ARIA?[/caption] Fireworks Guaranteed   The $25k Fantasy Draft will be presented by Daniel Negreanu on May 30th and looks set to be held on a live stream on PokerGO too, with a live auctioneer of Tim Duckworth and an electric atmosphere in the room. With huge money on the line and poker heroes captaining many teams, Rinkema explains it can be nerve-wracking for debutants.   “It is one thing betting on fantasy football sitting behind your computer, but quite another being in a room where Daniel Negreanu bids $73 for Stephen Chidwick and I raise my hand and shout ‘$75!’ It’s quite the vibe that you’re stepping into.”   Rinkema explains that team cohesion is everything on the night when the lights are on the teams and marginal decisions need to be made. Whatever the team’s spending limit on players before the auction can change in a second if a big name goes for cheap or sleeper picks gather traction.   “It’s a really cool atmosphere,” says Rinkema. “It’s for the true hardcore. If you’re a podcast fan and love the WSOP, it’s the coolest thing ever. If you’re a true fan of the game, it’s ‘can’t miss’ content and provides an amazing sweat during the WSOP.”   Peters admits that every year, walking into the room for the Draft sends a shiver down his spine.   “You’re going up against a lot of people in the industry and you want to do well. You walk in there and its game day you got your stats, you’ve done your research, but every year people are winging it! They want to borrow your computer it’s like ‘No, you should have done your own research!’ If players don’t go for as many dollars as they think they’re worth, they go crazy."   Peters says the pair get messages from players thanking them for being drafted and promising how hard they’ll try. Not everyone ends the draft delighted with proceedings, though.   "One year Phil Hellmuth went for fourth or fifth most expensive player," recalls Peters. "Obviously, he’s the most decorated WSOP player of all time. He lost his mind that he wasn’t the most expensive player drafted that year!”   [caption id="attachment_638191" align="aligncenter" width="857"] Walking through the famous PokerGO studio doors is inspiring and daunting on Draft night.[/caption] Talking Tactics   "We know when well-known players are looking to play." ~ Brent Hanks   When it comes to individual players, how does each team decide who goes for who? In every case, the process is different, only adding to the variance across the board.   “We both have endless contact information for domestic and international players alike,” says Hanks about his and Platt’s tactics. “We know the sort of volume that goes under the radar and when well-known players are looking to play.”   This isn’t always foolproof, as Rinkema reminds us. It’s not always about the quality of the player.   “I would love to have Jeremy Ausmus on our team every year, but I have a feeling he’ll be one of the highest-priced players bid on. He plays a lot of tournaments, he’s extremely good looking; these factors are important.”   Others won’t be playing a full series, as Rinkema reveals to everyone who reads this.   “Darren Elias, I know without asking him, always takes a break to fly back to the East Coast to hang out with his family. We don’t want those family men on our team. We want dedicated grinders who do not leave the parameter of the valleys and lock in to play every single tournament. Jeremy Ausmus, by the way, big time family man.”   Rinkema has already been sharking Twitter for new names and admits to having found ‘a couple of gems’ in the hunt for a great value breakout player.   “Jason Mercier is a really good example,” says Peters. “He was crushing this thing for so long but, from 2018, hasn’t really played, so you have to find the next people who are coming up. Hanks can’t contain his excitement about the next two months on and off the felt.   “The 25k Fantasy Draft is something that Jeff and I absolutely had to be a part of,” he gushes. “It’s the perfect fit for No Gamble, No Future and what we’re trying to create for our show and brand.” “Yeah, Brent and I have been discussing innovative ways to relaunch No Gamble, No Future,” agrees Platt. “Having a $25k WSOP fantasy team is the perfect complementary piece to that puzzle.” A Rowdy Rail is Guaranteed   "Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table." ~ Jeff Platt   Part of the fun for Pocket Fives investors or players on each team is the guaranteed entertainment that either participation or investment in either Team Pocket Fives or Team No Gamble, No Future brings.   “Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table,” laughs Platt in a reference to the last time Hanks and Platt lit up Twitter after the latter ran very deep at the World Series. “We’ll have so many social media updates so that rail can really feel like they have a good sweat. We plan to feature short interviews with our squad, and love looking at our best sweats throughout the course of the WSOP.”   “Players on our team are going to get our undying support for the duration of the WSOP,” says Peters. “We’ll do almost daily podcasts from Bally’s and Paris, the podcast has nine topics going to every show with nine players on our team. It’s going to generate some major content.   Brent Hanks couldn’t agree more and is determined to bring the same party mood that he did last year to every step of the $25k Fantasy Draft.   “Not only do we absolutely love being a part of this experience, we also know our fans will have a blast alongside us. Not only will this be a fun sweat, but we fully expect to win the damn thing! When our horses make a final table, we guarantee a wild rail as we cheer our team on.”   The last word goes to Rinkema before each of the four go back to their spreadsheets, social media messages and other contacts to continue work on building the perfect $25k Fantasy Draft.   “It’s the most fun content to do during the WSOP,” he says. “There are sweats, players going deep, and having a little skin in the game every morning when you wake up to see how your team is doing is a fun way to make the WSOP even more exciting.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft takes place in less than a fortnight. Before then, you can invest in both teams right here:   https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1526657824532701184
  2. The notion of a poker hand representing a poker player is not a new one. For decades, ten-deuce has been known as the ‘Texas Dolly’. So-called after Doyle Brunson, the hand struck notoriety thanks to being the winning hand in back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Events in 1976 and 1977. Last week, Phil Hellmuth’s queen-four call for his tournament life - and subsequent suck-out success - went viral. Playing against Alex Foxen in the 2022 U.S. Poker Open, the so-called ‘Poker Brat’ become associated with the hole cards around the world... but how long will that last? From Will Smith-related memes to Hellmuth’s own reaction to the hand, how has a week in the spotlight given queen-four off the unlikeliest of popularity boosts? The Hand Takes Place Whichever way you look at it, Alex Foxen and Phil Hellmuth played out one of the most virally viewed poker hands in history on PokerGO during the 2022 U.S. Poker Open. With both men in the running for not only the Event title but the leaderboard victory at that stage, Foxen saw Hellmuth’s three-bet and four-bet enough to set the Poker Brat all in with a call. Hellmuth weighed things up as co-commentator Brent Hanks, working alongside Jeff Platt in the PokerGO booth, stated what every viewer was feeling. “This a guy who can dodge bullets but can’t get away from queen-four? I am shocked that he’s taking time making this decision. It is not a decision.” It was, however, and as Hellmuth declared ‘I guess I better play to win.” He put in his remaining chips, deciding not to leave himself with nine big blinds. Of course, a queen came on the flop and to add insult to injury, another queen on the river gave Hellmuth the crucial double-up. No nines arrived across the board left Foxen perplexed, and he shot a look of wonderment slowly around the PokerGO Studio. “What did we just witness? What the heck was that?” said Hanks. The whole world was about to provide a different answer to that question. Poker Twitter Blows Up No sooner had the hand played out were PokerGO themselves sharing what has become one of the most popular poker hands in living memory for people to watch. Quotes, retweets, likes and engagements alone sent the hand around the globe faster than you could locate your push-fold charts to prove the call 'wrong'. https://twitter.com/PokerGO/status/1507474159030321155 Some of the comments on Poker Twitter have predictably been brilliant. “I swear the next time I'm dealt a [queen-four], I am shoving my chips in,” said one Poker Brat fan. “Instead of calling for my 'one time' I will announce ‘For Phil!’”. Many Hellmuth supporters came out in defense not only of their man but the hand itself. “I secretly love [queen-four],” one said. “It's my oddball hand.” Another represented many dozens with their assertion that: “From here on out, the queen-four will be known as ‘The Hellmuth’ or ‘The Brat’ People will be playing it like the [seven-deuce] game. Poker rooms across America will be talking about the hand!” They already were. The Memes Take Over From the moment the clip was shot out of the PokerGO social media cannon, the poker circus that exists online was in raptures. Max Pescatori hinted that an element of jealousy would waft through high roller games everywhere https://twitter.com/maxpescatori/status/1507533575054409733 Hellmuth himself shared the effect that the internet had enjoyed having on queen-four. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1507669423636692997 Plenty of fans were on Hellmuth’s side, and more than happy to show this runaway train of a meme subject would not be stopped by anything in its way. https://twitter.com/FPLFledgling/status/1507831077762736128 When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Poker Twitter moved at speed to appropriate the action to Hellmuth’s hand. https://twitter.com/jsmith84poker/status/1508287597067468804 While intelligent debate was thin on the ground, that didn’t mean the very best couldn’t parody it, and Phil Galfond’s post was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. https://twitter.com/PhilGalfond/status/1507837664216567808 Hellmuth even shared an amended hand ranking chart, giving new power to this craziest of calling hands. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1507667976891166720 Could ‘The Hellmuth’ Stand the Test of Time? One fan’s assertion that Johnny Chan could have prevented Hellmuth winning his iconic WSOP Main Event in 1989 really set the controls of the out of control juggernaut to ‘crazy’. “Your 1989 WSOP win showed up on my YouTube feed today,” they said. “Funny thing is if he played [queen-four] against your [pocket nines] he would have won. I think there's something magical about your hand.” Magical or not, Hellmuth didn’t win either the USPO event or any other event with the hand in question. So can it really stand the test of time? Eager to show that it might, the Poker Brat was on the road to a meet up game later in the week, and what would his first hand be? You’ve guessed it. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1509035404581736452 There’s a 'Queen-Four' Facebook group, and before long, you just know there will be t-shirts. If the hand catches on at the World Series, then the memes will all come out for a second airing. Hellmuth himself, as is so often the case, seems in charge of the hand’s destiny. Doyle Brunson played ten-deuce in not one but two vital spots. Both times he won a WSOP Main Event as a direct result, but while Hellmuth may not have the opportunity to do so, what the Poker Brat has in 2022 is a much more powerful media machine to feed. If Phil Hellmuth makes a final table at the 2022 World Series of Poker, then the Poker Brat will be waiting for two hole cards in particular to go crazy with on a live stream. Setting aside the value he’s stacking up by less experienced hopefuls presuming he is playing queen-four along the way, Hellmuth should absolutely play it under the lights. If queen-four makes it to mainstream television, we might never hear the last of a hand that is living in the moment for far longer than anyone gave it the chance of doing. All in? You'd better believe it.
  3. Today, Daniel Negreanu is known as one of the most popular players in poker, a de facto spokesperson for many in the game. Known as ‘Kid Poker’, Negreanu has appeared in movies, televised poker games, podcasts, radio shows and live streams and played at the top table for over 20 years. With hundreds of thousands of followers on his social media channels alone, Negreanu is perhaps the most popular mainstream player poker has seen. Back in 1999, Negreanu was a comparative unknown. Identified as ‘Kid’ - “not 'The Kid', that was Stu Ungar’s moniker” - the Canadian was a young man who was starting to become successful. Despite this, he had never played poker on television, so when he sat down at the final of the U.S. Poker Championship in Atlantic City, it was his first time playing under the glare of television lighting. Some hands give a poker player the confidence to walk that little bit taller. Heads up with John Bonetti, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu was about to play the hand that would change his life. The Young Buck Rises Through the Herd "I knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time." Back in December 1999, while the world was petrified of Y2K and just a fortnight away from a new millennium, Negreanu was ploughing through the field in the U.S. Poker Championship. A year earlier, Negreanu had played events at Foxwoods, in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas leading up to the WSOP where he won his bracelet. Now was the big one - a first TV appearance at a final table. “I was making a name for myself,” he describes. “In 1999, capping that off with a televised final, I went from the young rookie to the established threat, a real pro on the tour." There wasn’t the wall-to-wall poker coverage in 1999 that there is today. Other than Cardplayer Magazine and the odd ESPN appearance, players only had forums that were in their infancy with which to spread the word about their skills. It made the biggest tournaments all the more important. There were only two $10k buy-ins - the WSOP Main Event and the U.S. Poker Championship. Making it all the way to the final two, Negreanu was taking on someone he considered something of a mentor. “I was 25 years old, a young buck on the scene,” says Negreanu. “I was travelling the poker circuit and knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time. I took a liking to him. He had a mafia vibe, but he was a jokester, always having fun.” It was Negreanu’s first time on television, and he looked the part. Introduced to the poker world on ESPN, he was wearing what he called his ‘Andre Agassi tracksuit’ and topped off the look with an earring and Nike hat. That was very much Negreanu’s self-styled image back in the 20th century. “I always wore a tracksuit for tournaments, and I got a little fanny pack for all my money and stuff. I had my cash, wallet, room keys, poker notes, results - it was before cell phones were a thing! I was oddly really comfortable immediately on camera. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an actor. I didn’t feel nervous. I remember that being strange." The Protégé Takes on The Master “I talked about taking big risks. This was an opportunity [where] I can win - I’m drawing live.” Thanks to his first bracelet win in 1998, Negreanu had made his name among his poker peers already but winning a huge tournament on TV would mark a major breakthrough. The final table went well, Negreanu eliminating third-placed Jason Viriyayuthakorn to send play heads-up. Against Bonetti, however, things weren’t going to plan. “We got heads up and I started to feel like the underdog against him. I felt like he was playing better than I was. Sometimes you can just tell; the guy was winning all the pots in the trenches, digging out these situation shots, I was getting outplayed. I made a strategy shift. I understood that if I wanted to win, I’d have to take some risks.” Pre-flop: Daniel Negreanu: [poker card="Qs"] [poker card="9s"] John Bonetti: [poker card="Ac"] [poker card="Tc"] Negreanu raised the button with his suited cards and Bonetti called with ace-ten. Flop: [poker card="Ts"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3c"] “I bet the flop, he shoved and I relaxed that in that moment.” Negreanu was a 45% shot to win the hand with two cards to come, so it was a huge decision for his stack. But of course, he didn’t know that. It was at that moment that Kid Poker had to have a conversation with himself about that change of strategy. Such alterations are easy in theory, but it always comes down to whether you can commit the chips to the decision. “I talked about taking big risks,” Negreanu smiles. “This was an opportunity that no matter what he has I can win - I’m drawing live. I called. We were basically even in chips, he had three or four big blinds left [over].” Turn: [poker card="Ah"] Suddenly, Negreanu went from near a coinflip to being a worse than 4:1 dog in the hand. It’s easy to presume that any emotions Negreanu felt at the time were heightened due to his age, but that’s not the case. “I have them even more now!” he laughs. “The turn was the ace of hearts [made me] little anxious, like ‘Oh sh**, did I screw up? He turned aces and tens.... then I hit a spade.” River: [poker card="8s"] On seeing the fifth spade to complete his flush slide into the river position on the felt, Negreanu stood quickly, turning to his opponent, whose face fell. In that instant, it is as if the jovial, chatty nature of Bonetti is transferred like a baton between relay runners. The passing of the torch. “I busted him on the very next hand,” says Negreanu. I still have the check (pictured below), it’s on my wall. After I got that money, I jumped right into an $800/$1,600 game. This is before wiring money. I won some more and on the way home, I’m carrying the check, while in my bag was a pile of laundry and under that, all the money. I’m going back to Vegas literally advertising what I’d won.” [caption id="attachment_638113" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Daniel Negreanu's famous winners check for winning the 1999 U.S. Poker Championship still takes pride of place in his home. (courtesy of Daniel Negreanu).[/caption] Life Is Never the Same “I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever.” That hand didn’t just change Negreanu’s life. It changed Negreanu. Unafraid of strolling through the airport with a bag full of dollars for a journey back home, life was never going to be the same again. His old life simply didn’t exist to return to. “It put me front and center in the poker world,” he tells us. “When you win a big buy-in tournament with a $210,000 top prize... that was a lot of money back then. It brought me more into the mainstream. I started to write for Cardplayer as a result and became a voice in the game. I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever. I just enjoyed winning. I’ve always felt, if anyone ever took the money, it would be fine. I’d just win more anyway.” Negreanu says he has 'never thought' about what might have happened if Bonetti's two-pair held and he came second, but the Canadian certainly had his fair share of moments that didn’t go right. "The year Carlos Mortensen won the [WSOP] Main Event, I came 11th and was chipleader with 12 left, losing a key hand. If I’d won that hand, who knows? But everything seemed to work out pretty good.” To say the least, that is an understatement. Daniel Negreanu, the most well-known poker face on the planet for the last two decades sits third on the all-time money list. On losing or painful moments, Negreanu is philosophical. “Any time you have a breakdown in life, it’s an opportunity for a breakthrough. Going broke or having traumatic losses drives me to be better. Just in the last couple of years, I went through - from a luck perspective in all-ins - the worst period in my career. It’s been really difficult. My wife always says I’m resilient.” Winning at Life “I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted.” Negreanu is a major part of poker history but you get the impression that he hasn’t lived in the past for one day in his life. His passion for the game of poker is rooted in tournaments thanks to his formative years. “Cash games are a job; you punch in, punch out, you win money, but there’s no leaderboard, no point to it,” he says. “Ever since I was a child, I created my own tournaments. I created leaderboards with my wrestlers. I’d create a bracket of 16 of them, roll a die and keep track. The guy who won the tournament got 50 points, second place got 40, I’d keep a record. My Mom would be like ‘What are all these papers?’. Today, that love of playing with a leaderboard in mind is part of what brings Negreanu back to the table. “I just played the U.S. Poker Open because there was a Player of the Series award,” he says. “What PokerGO is doing in the studio is really fun; they create a system so that by the last event, which is worth a lot more, a whole bunch of people are in the running. That’s what gets me to go. That’s why the World Series of Poker is the most fun for me.” Negreanu admits that he has changed hugely in the last two decades, not just in how he behaves, but in his own perception of himself, and how much he cares. “In your twenties, you definitely care what other people think. No doubt, it matters. In your thirties, you care but a little bit less. You realise not everyone is going to like you. In my forties, I give zero f***s. I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted. I am the authentic version of myself. I always had a cinematic view of things and how to sell it, but as you get older you realise that what sells is authenticity.” The life and soul of the table in 1999 was a man called John Bonetti, who sadly passed away in 2008. In the penultimate hand of the U.S. Poker Championship, Bonetti’s enthusiasm for the game was infectious and you can see how his flair rubbed off on the ‘Kid’ sitting opposite him at the felt. You can watch the hand that changed Daniel Negreanu’s life right here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_U_lRqEJHI[/embed]  
  4. In the first of a new feature series on Pocket Fives, we look back at a pivotal poker hand during the career of some of the best players on the planet. This week, four-time World Poker Tour Main Event winner Darren Elias casts his eye back on a crucial hand that led to him winning the WPT Borgata Open, where he won a huge pot from the chip leader at the time, Kane Kalas. The hand in question came at a final table that would prove to be the setting for Elias’ first major tournament poker title. Back in September of 2014, Elias was one of 1,226 entries in the $3,500 WPT Borgata Open Championship. With a prize pool guaranteed at $3 million and eventually reaching over $4 million, Elias went into the hand in question behind only Kalas as the top two had a clear lead over the field. It would be a hand between the two that would change the course of poker history and in particular that of Elias. Before the hand took place, Elias was well aware of the threat that Kalas posed. “I’d played with Kane in one other tournament before,” says Elias. “That Borgata Open was a six-day marathon, so I had played with him for a couple of days and recognized him as a competent player and someone who knew what was going on. He’d identified the dynamics with ICM where we’re playing for a lot of money with big pay jumps and he was playing well with the chip lead.” Kalas may have had the lead, but the hand in question was about to change all that. Pre-flop: Darren Elias: [poker card="Qh"][poker card="6h"] Kane Kalas: [poker card="Th"][poker card="4h"] Flushing From the Flop As Elias describes, Kalas, who had entered the final table with 14 million chips, miles clear of Elias in second place with 8 million, had a huge lead over the rest of the field. Starting out with roughly half the chips in play gave Kalas the ability to raise with a very wide range of hands to put pressure on every player. That was going through Elias’ mind when Kalas raised from the small blind with Elias in the big. “There are all kinds of ICM dynamics where he’s trying to pressure me in the blinds and I called pre-flop with my suited hand in position knowing that he’s going to be very wide,” says Elias. Flop: [poker card="Kh"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2h"] That flop gave both players a flush draw, but Kalas had two hearts that were ten-high, with Elias holding a queen-high flush draw, with the king one of two hearts on the flop. At that point, Kalas c-bet a million chips into a pot of 1.35m and Elias just called, making the pot now 3.35m. “I still put him on a very wide range,” says Elias of his thoughts at that point. I think he’s c-betting with almost his entire range.” Both men give each other a long look at this point, but Elias explains that he wasn’t necessarily going for a ‘staredown’. “I’m trying to get all the information I can, but at the highest level, these players are pretty well adjusted at guarding themselves against tells,” he confesses. Despite admitting that ‘I’m always looking to see if there’s something I can pick up’, in reality, the magnitude of the moment was prevalent at that stage. “It’s a big final table; I’m focusing and trying my hardest. It looks like I’m staring intensely, but I’m just trying to play my game.” [caption id="attachment_638090" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Darren Elias (front right) playing for the biggest top prize of his poker career to date.[/caption] Drawing on the Heart "I want to give him the rope to bluff if he has the naked ace of hearts." Turn: [poker card="8h"] When the flush draw came in on the turn, Elias didn’t put his opponent on a flush. “This is going to be great for Darren Elias; I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t double-up here.” Said the late Mike Sexton, legendary former WPT Main Event winner and a cornerstone of the brand’s on-screen coverage for many years. Darren Elias, however, had a lot to do to make sure he got full value on the hand. “I put him on a lot of bluffs that contain one heart, maybe some top pair type hands, but he’d probably slow down. He is most likely bluffing or has a flush or very strong hand when he bets the turn.” Elias remembers the moment on the turn specifically very clearly and says he ‘never’ wants to be bluffing that spot. “It’s an ICM nightmare to shove and I want to give him the rope to bluff if, say, he has the naked ace of hearts. We want to give him that chance to hang himself on the river. If I do shove that turn, I probably always have the nuts and I’m unbalanced. My hand might seem vulnerable if a heart comes, but I still feel pretty safe on the turn with one to come to be trapping.” Kalas bet 1.7 million and Elias called. River: [poker card="Tc"] With the made flush, Elias obviously wanted Kalas to shove the river, which he did. That’s a function of what Elias would want with his range, not just the hand he had. “If I had a king, I should never shove the turn. If I’m to shove the turn with my flushes there, it decapitates my range where I don’t have a lot of strong hands on the river.” Kalas shoved, Elias called and the New Jersey man took the pot and grabbed the lead in the process. With first place worth over $840,000 and second place paying $500,000, it was a vital pot in terms of equity. “You’re a bit handcuffed when there are two big stacks and you’re in second. That flipped the stacks, now I’m in first and there are a lot of other smaller stacks. It really shifts the table dynamics opened up the table, I’m able to open more bet more, pressure more.” The Mistakes That Stay With Champions "When I’ve made an error, it’ll bother me for months or even years." Elias went on to win, of course, and his landmark win at what he considered his home casino was his first major tournament victory. “I had my whole family there which was great,” he tells us. “My fiancée at the time was there, so was my Dad, and we went over to a bar and had a few too many beverages. Something like that gives you confidence in being able to execute on a big stage. That’s always something on my mind, being able to execute in big spots.” Elias clearly enjoyed a mental boost by making his moment in the spotlight count and has gone on to win three more WPT Main Events, a feat that has not been equalled by any player at the time of going to press. Despite that, the now four-time WPT champion confesses that the mistakes he has made in tournaments ‘eat me up’ far more than any victories might linger in the memory. [caption id="attachment_638091" align="alignright" width="650"] Darren Elias stares down Kane Kalas on his way to toppling the overnight chip leader on the home straight.[/caption] “Any time I get to major spots at a big final table, you don’t get the opportunity to play these high stakes games against those sorts of players too often. When I’ve made an error, it’ll bother me for months or even years. To be a professional poker player, you have to be tough on yourself and identify mistakes and make changes going forward, but at some point, you have to forgive yourself and move forward. You walk a fine line.” The win represented a huge return on Elias’ investment at the time. Costing $3,500 to enter the event, the man who was born in Boston and raised in Erie, Pennsylavania had almost all of his own action, so took home the majority of his $843,744 top prize. It didn’t change which tournaments Elias played, but it allowed him to have bigger pieces of himself in $25k and $100k high rollers. “You always want to have a pulse on how you’re doing with your bankroll and adjust your pieces accordingly, taking bigger shots when you’re doing well, so it definitely helped in that regard.” The hand that changed Darren Elias’ life may have been something of a cooler but it was worth a lot of money and propelled him to win that first major title. “It was worth a lot to me in my career,” he admits. “I’m not sitting around thinking about the hand, but I can go back to that vivid memory. I’m always looking forward to the next tournament. Most of the time, it’s the ones where I made mistakes that stick with me more than the flush over flush cooler for all the money!” Elias will continue to play WPT events and says he’ll wait for his career to be over before he even considers his legacy. He has other achievements to accomplish in poker in the years to come, including winning a WSOP bracelet, something he has never done. We wonder if he’s happy being among the best players never to win a bracelet. “I’d like to win a bracelet,” says Elias. “It’s that list you want to be on but don’t want to be on. The World Series can be tough for me with a family, I can’t be out there for two months. I usually go back and forth and play a dozen events, especially the $10,000 2-7 single draw - it’s one of my favourite events. It doesn’t get a ton of players and I’ve got third twice. That’s probably my best shot at a bracelet. Eventually, I’ll break through at the World Series!” It seems like only a matter of time before Darren Elias’ next big victory on the world stage. The man whose mistakes drive him on will always enjoy the memory of that infamous flush over flush cooler that pushed him forward in his career. You can buy some of Darren Elias' action in the $50,000-entry Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 6th. Watch the hand that changed Darren Elias' life right here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8OkgXhxLA0[/embed] You can buy some of Darren Elias' action in the $50,000-entry Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 6th.
  5. Back in 2009, the youngest player to win the World Series of Poker Main Event triumphed on the biggest stage of all. Beating the logger and amateur poker player Darvin Moon to the title, 21-year-old Joe Cada captured the imagination of the poker world as he won over $8.5 million and the title of world champion. It was undoubtedly a monumental moment in the career of the now four-time WSOP bracelet winner, but more than that, it was the hand that changed Joe Cada’s life. The Teenage Busboy A year before the poker world changed and Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, Joe Cada lived back in Michigan, where he was brought up and still resides. Aged 14, he was a bus-boy in restaurants, earning $15 an hour with tips. It gave him an early discipline and as the ‘super shy kid’ grew up, he found poker online. “I had mental health issues growing up as a teenager,” admits Cada. “I was a depressed kid and kept to myself. Poker was my outlet and it really opened me up as a person.” Depositing for the first time, Cada was only allowed to put down $50 on the site. He told his Mom that instead of heading out to parties and drinking, he saw this as his form of entertainment, a budget akin to heading to the cinema. “It was my $50 and I had a job. I'd started working at a really early age. I asked her to have trust in me that this wasn’t going to be a problem. Telling your Mom that you’re going to gamble online at a very young age especially when they’ve seen people go through struggles. I was lucky that my Mom trusted me.” Cada was given the go-ahead to play online and immediately treated poker very seriously. Within six months of that first deposit, he’d turned it into hundreds of thousands. A Piece of the Action “If you’d stayed in the league and won, we would have had a piece of you!” Cada knew he was going to play at the 2009 World Series of Poker when he was 18 years old in 2006 as Jamie Gold scooped up the $12 million top prize. Three years later, the young man had quit his job, moved into his own home and had one question - how much of his own action to take on. “I had a ton of success on Full Tilt Poker, winning almost every major, and was probably in profit by $550,000-$600,000. That gave notice to ‘Johnny Bax’, who went through the numbers.” Cliff Josephy, otherwise known as the aforementioned ‘Johnny Bax’, bought half of Cada’s action, but as Cada tells us, he very nearly gave half of his Main Event action away before he even arrived in Vegas. “My brother’s buddy got me to join this league back in 2009. After the first few tournaments, I was overall first. It was a 50/50 split if you won; you played for half of it and the rest of the league split the other 50%. I stopped going and played bigger, it was more a thing to get together with friends. I didn’t take the league that seriously. I ended up going out there and winning it! They were a little bitter, like ‘If you’d stayed in the league and won, we would have had a piece of you!’” Everyone around his home town knew of Cada’s success at the game and expectations were thought the roof, apart from his own. “I wasn’t as optimistic,” he laughs. “I knew what tournaments were like and thought I may win the Main Event one in 1,000 shots.” Cada travelled to Vegas and felt the responsible thing to do was to give back and accept Josephy’s offer. “At the World Series alone, the variance is a lot. I could afford it, but it would have been a big hit. I felt like if I won, what was the difference between $8m and $4m. It was never a concern to me. I always treated poker with a big responsibility and never put my back against the wall.” During the World Series, Cada went out to eat with Josephy and a bunch of other players. “He singled me out, saying something like ‘Hey Joe, you better win something otherwise we’re in for a bunch of money, I got the most faith in you of anyone here.’ I couldn’t believe he said that out loud. I’d been with him a month leading up to that event. He really is a legend.” The Hand That Made Poker History “I thought he had pocket queens - it was hard to see across the table.” As Cada made his way through to the final table, he took all before him. All except a logger called Darvin Moon. “Before the final started, he said something I’ll never forget. He said he didn’t want to take last place, but he didn’t want to take first place either. He didn’t want the million-dollar sponsorship deal with PokerStars and that resonated me in a way. He didn’t want the attention and it felt like he played the heads up like he didn’t care if he lost.” Cada had played with Darvin for a few days leading up to that final table. His mental notes were to play very fundamentally and let his opponent make mistakes, not getting too tricky or three-betting light. Heading into the final duel, Cada was confident of victory. He puts that down to the fortune he’d enjoyed in reaching that stage, combined with his experience with playing heads-up at the time, and the 2:1 chip lead he began the final battle with. “I couldn’t have been more wrong. I played the heads-up match like it was a cheap sit ‘n’ go and I didn’t make the adjustments I would normally make. Starting our match, he outplayed me, bloating the pots real big and putting me in tough spots. Before I knew it, he was a 2:1 chip leader.” Cada fought his way back into contention and before the final hand took place, felt like he had the momentum, having worked a deficit of 2:1 into a similar chip lead. With all the money piled on the table in bricks of dollars, Cada felt Moon wasn’t in it to play a long game. Pre-flop: Joe Cada: [poker card="9d"][poker card="9c"] Darvin Moon: [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Jd"] “When I opened nines on the button and he re-raised me, I thought it was the aggression factor. Nines is a good hand heads-up. I made it 3 million and he made it 8 million. He’s playing about 60 million effective. I could call, but nines are very exposed and there could be overcards and you could be guessing. If he folds, he chips down a bunch, I chip up. It’s more hand protection.” Darvin Moon was going nowhere and made the call. When he did so, he surprised Cada. “I thought he was going to fold,” he says. “Once he called quickly, I thought he had pocket queens - it was hard to see across the table. It took me a second to realise that he had called with queen-jack. If you wait for a better spot, sometimes you can blind down and never get that shot.” As the famous commentary from Lon McEachern declared: “Phil Hellmuth’s record as youngest Main Event champion stood for 19 years. Peter Eastgate’s record could be wiped out in one.” Flop: [poker card="8c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7s"] As the flop fell, Cada jumped out of his seat, and was enveloped by his support group on the rail, with Josephy front and center. Darvin Moon was the polar opposite, stoic in his seat with his gigantic arms folded across his barrel chest. Josephy told Cada ‘Relax, relax’ as Cada’s supporters chanted ‘Joey, Joey’ around the Thunderdome. Turn: [poker card="Kh"] Cada was one card away and Josephy told him that he was going to be the ‘Main Event champion’. Cada was overwhelmed. “Poker was my career and that spot was a cumulation of the whole build-up, thinking ‘It can be all over, I don’t have to stress any more’. But Moon looked the opposite of bothered. “He didn’t care. He was so happy, we both were. I didn’t like attention but nor did he.” Time seemed to stand still. As Cada’s rail leaned closer to the table, the river card confirmed victory. River: [poker card="7c"] Sharing an exultant moment in the face of Josephy, Cada’s rail jumped towards him, but overcome with relief, Cada pulled away, wanting to speak with Moon instead while his supporters went wild in the stand. [caption id="attachment_638137" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Joe Cada's moment of glory under the lights at the Rio will live in WSOP fans memories forever.[/caption] The Late, Great Darvin Moon “He was a champion in everyone’s eyes.” Approaching Moon, Cada embraced him and congratulated him on how he played. “I felt he deserved to be where he was at.” Says Cada of his heads-up opponent in 2009. “It’s a tough moment for anyone to come that close. I put myself in his shoes for a second and realised the tournament wasn’t all about me or him. I never want to be the person celebrating in someone’s face. It’s hard not to get excited at that time, but that’s not who I was as a person, and I wanted to pay respect to Darvin. “You played a hell of a match, seriously, all the props in the world.” Said Cada to his opponent. Moon hugged him and raised the arm of the new world champion, still the youngest ever to achieve it. Cada let Moon hail his victory, but when his arm was released, grabbed Moon’s arm and raised it aloft too. When we ask him why, there is a moment’s pause. “He was a champion in everyone’s eyes, so he deserved to have his hand raised too.” Says Cada simply. Moon, tragically, passed away in September 2020 after complications following surgery. He was just 56 years old. “It’s super sad,” says Cada. “It’s so tragic. I went out with him a few times after the [Main Event]. We did this thing in Pittsburgh for Poker Night in America and after the streamed session, we went out to a Penguins game, got to go out on the ice and went drinking. He was a super friendly, nice guy. It was hard to hear about the surgery and the complications and how awful it was.” After Moon’s tragic death, Cada admits to feeling lost at what to do, not knowing the right way to reach out to his family or even knowing how to do so. He felt sad about his one-time opponent’s passing and wishes he’d paid his respects at the time. [caption id="attachment_638140" align="aligncenter" width="1158"] Darvin Moon (left) was just as much of a champion in Joe Cada's eyes (right).[/caption] A Lifetime of Change “I didn’t play poker to get rich, I played it to have fun and compete.” After winning the Main Event, Cada felt that it hindered his ability. Before it, he had worked all hours studying and playing the game. That all changed after November 2009. “I was battling every day non-stop. After winning it, though, the greatest thing it gave me was a sense of balance. I realized I didn’t have to play 90-100 hours a week, I wanted to see the world.” If you asked anyone about Joe Cada before the 2009 Main Event, Cada admits they’d have called him ‘The quietest kid in the world’. Now, he is approached by strangers and has spoken about the game on TV. “From when I was 21 compared to now, I’m a much better poker player, but I don’t feel as confident playing the biggest games now. When I was a kid, I was willing to play anyone for any stakes. I don’t have that same mindset now. I don’t want to risk what I have or get in over my head chasing giant buy-ins. I can play the stakes I like and be comfortable the rest of my life.” Cada regularly takes long breaks from poker, a month or two away from anything to do with the game. But then he’ll jump back in and loves the competitive edge the game provides him. While he’s played in high roller events, he prefers the social elements that more accessible tournaments provide. “I love meeting all sorts of different people, and I’ve always had fun with poker. I’ve realized that when it stops being fun, I’m not in the right spot. With the WSOP launching online in Michigan, it’s really become fun again. That’s what poker has always been to me. I didn’t play poker to get rich, I played it to have fun and compete.” Cada achieved both when he won the biggest tournament in poker 13 years ago. The World Series has since left the Rio, and this year, thousands more poker players will take on the greatest Main Event in the world at Bally’s and Paris on the Las Vegas Strip, many of trying to eclipse Cada as the youngest-ever winner. Cada says he hopes to spend time in the broadcasting booth this summer and at WSOP events in the future. This year, as every year, however, he’ll be back in Vegas playing the tournament where he made his name. At multiple stages, a young 21-year-old is bound to tell Cada what he once told Peter Eastgate over a decade ago, that his record as the youngest ever winner is going to be beaten ‘this year’. One day, just like it did for Joe Cada in the hand that changed his life back in 2009, that declaration will be transformed into truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SXTois83Xc        
  6. This weekend, Tony Sinishtaj saw off the challenges of players such as final table chip leader Vanessa Kade, Alex Livingston and Tony Tran to claim the biggest score of his poker career so far, winning $1.65 million by taking down the Wynn Millions Main Event. In the aftermath of Sinsihtaj's stunning victory, however, he was criticized in some quarters for a winners’ photo that showed no emotion, featuring him holding the trophy and staring at the camera without the obligatory posed grin. It was on Twitter that a post by 'Cookie Monster Poker' saw an image of Sinishtaj holding the Wynn Millions trophy on their Twitter page accompanied by the comment: “Why poker is now totally non-marketable can be summed up in one picture of a player who just won 1.6 MILLION dollars.” Shared by many in the industry, some with comment, some without, did they have a point or were they way out of line? Poker Twitter, perhaps predictably, blew up in Sinishtaj's defense. https://twitter.com/3kingme3/status/1503102404018917376 The Winner Weighs In "That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play; I thought I was going to steamroller them." When we spoke to Tony Sinishtaj, he was back in his native New York after arriving home from his lengthy 10-day stint in Las Vegas. He looks back on the final table with pride on the effort he put into what was a tough final table from the first card. “I started the final in a terrible seat compared to other big stacks,” he says. “I was healthy with 75 blinds, but the people to my left had more and I was handcuffed. I was playing pretty tight.” Despite that initial situation, a hand where Sinishtaj turned a full house with jacks over queens against chip leader Vanessa Kade, he showed his rail the hand. He thinks that hand contributed to Kade eventually losing her stack to him. “To the table, I can look like a maniac. On the six-five hand, I flopped the flush draw and turned a flush with the queen of spades. I led out pretty big and she had two red aces. The river pairs the queen and I have about a pot-sized bet behind and put her all-in. I guess she felt like I was getting out of line before that pot and I really wasn’t.” Kade called and busted and the hand gave Sinishtaj 30 million of the 43 million in play. “As the overwhelming chip leader it’s negative pressure to go from chip led to not having it and you can feel like ‘this guy is taking advantage’. I could understand her position and call; it’s a tough spot, especially since she had no idea what I had the previous hand. That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play; I thought I was going to steamroller them. I went from 30 back down to 8 million. We played three-handed for a long time.” At the end of that epic denouement, Sinishtaj had got the better of Alex Livingston and then Isaac Kempton after initially starting the heads-up behind. As he explains, it was an epic period of 10 days for him, and it was finally over. “I played the satellite to get in, I got in. I played 1a on the satellite, I lost. I played 1b, I lost. I played 1c, I made it. There was a day off on 2a, but I literally played 10 days, with 13-hour days here and there. The last thing I want to do is take a picture.” Sinishtaj admits that the photo was not a one-off and that he has had a hard time posing for pictures ‘my whole life, let alone after 10 days of poker’. “My wife always gives me a hard time about pictures,” he says. “I don’t take good pictures, sorry, I just don’t! The person taking the picture was like ‘Smile!’ and I’m sure there are pictures of me smiling, but they picked that one. I read the Twitter stuff, my buddies sent it to me. I deleted Twitter months ago and it’s because of threads like that. Even reading other stuff about other people, I got tired of it and I’m glad I didn’t have it through this whole thing. People want to figure out what my mental state was like at the time and if I was unhappy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life! It doesn’t have to show in my face.” From Goofballs to Gold “There was a big incentive in the past to be a goofball." As Sinishtaj remarks, the life of a modern poker player is all about keeping emotion out of the game. That’s a direct flip from the past in his eyes. “There was a big incentive in the past to be a goofball,” he says. “You got an endorsement deal, you got Full Tilt Poker or PokerStars to throw you half a million dollars just to wear a patch. There were people playing the World Series in 2004 and 2005 who were making animal noises when they won a pot. You don’t see that anymore. They wanted attention, and they made more doing that than playing the tournament. I wouldn’t have done it back then, let alone now when there’s nothing on the line.” When the tournament ended, Sinishtaj says he just wanted to ‘Get outta Vegas’. He hadn’t seen his young family in 10 days and had missed his child’s birthday on the day of the final table. “I have a three-month-old baby,” he says. “My wife is there with the kids alone; obviously she wants me home and I want to get outta there. My job was done. Sometimes, your partner is like ‘It’s over for you now, get home, it’s time to come back’. When I’m at home, I’m a dad first. When I go away, I try to get into that poker mindset. You can’t be a dad and poker player at the same time; you can try, but you’ll do both poorly. We were in the process of buying a house, but this clearly makes it much easier. This is going to change my life for the better. If I could set the family up with a nice place to live and school, then I’m doing my part.” Sinishtaj’s family inspiration is not exclusive to the generation of three young children he is raising with his wife. Just before his first major win on the World Poker Tour in 2017, Sinishtaj lost his father a few months after becoming a father for the first time himself. “He was my biggest fan in poker," Sinishtaj says. "Until then, I really hadn’t won anything. I’d had a second-place to Joe McKeehen and a Circuit Main Event result for $100,000 that was my biggest score, but nothing crazy. He was always there rooting me on. I don’t remember exactly when it started but playing this tournament, I really felt his presence like I’d never felt it before at the table.” Deep into the Wynn Millions Main Event on Day 3, Sinishtaj could hear his father’s voice. It kept him grounded and inspired him to believe he was destined to win, it was a lot to deal with whilst trying to negotiate a tough field. “It was a little overwhelming to deal with while playing, but I really felt like I was going to win. When I was all in with jacks six-handed against ace-king, an ace comes then a jack. I’m all in against Livingston four-handed with king-jack on jack-three-deuce and he has jack-three; the board runs out eight-eight. The third hand of heads-up, I get aces, the kid gets jacks. The whole tournament felt that way. It’s a surreal experience to run so well in one of the biggest tournaments you’ve played.” Sinishtaj tells us ‘I truly played my best’. The day before the final, he confided in a friend that if there was one thing he wanted to make sure of it was that he wasn’t going to ‘let poor play ruin my chances’. Determined to bring his A-game, Sinishtaj felt like his Dad was out there under the lights with him when he achieved his lifelong dream. ‘And then they wanna take pictures, y’know!’ he laughs. Do Poker Players Have a Responsibility to Entertain? “I was right there with the Moneymaker Boom.” One player might occasionally say or do something that initiates a spike in growth or popularity of poker. But watching the old names on High Stakes Poker has to co-habit with looking for new heroes that come from the modern age. Poker is so much bigger than it has ever been and that juxtaposition of welcoming the new while treasuring days gone by exists within the grasp of the media as well as with players and fans. Daniel Negreanu has joined the discussion on Twitter, saying: “Lara Ni Si correctly points to a troubling trend. The no celebration, no emotion, too cool for school culture is tough to sell. That’s just an indisputable fact.” Sinishtaj agrees but says it's not his responsibility to sell the game. “Is it better if a recreational player who looks and acts like he’s a recreational player wins? Probably," agrees Sinishtaj. "It might want to make someone think ‘If that guy can do it, so can I.’ Maybe they look at me and don’t see that, but that’s not my job.” Ironically, Sinishtaj was exactly that guy more than two decades ago. “I was right there with the Moneymaker Boom”, he says. “When he won, I fell in love with the game. In 2003, I was 22 years old. Maybe you needed a Moneymaker to win to get me interested in the game. It really became my dream. I get it and understand where Negreanu is coming from, but I’m sorry that’s not me. I can’t change my personality because it might generate more buy-ins to poker. I’m not gonna be somebody I’m not. I wouldn’t know how to.” Sinishtaj correctly points out that while the Wynn Millions is one of the biggest tournaments around, the event is not televised and there are no hole cards on display to fans. “I know it’s expensive for productions teams, but if you really want to market the game, we could have played the final table at the PokerGO Studio. That’s how you market the game, the game isn’t marketed by the winner’s photo. People want to watch it and see my cards. Could one player really market the game now as Moneymaker once did? Sinishtaj laughs. “It’s definitely not going to be me! The game is not what it used to be, a lot of work needs to be put in. I’m always trying to get better because everyone else is getting better. I don’t play the small field big buy-in high rollers. To play this and win is almost unreal and there wasn’t even a chop made. I would have been happy to make one. When we got four-handed, [Kempton] politely said ‘I don’t chop’, and there was never any talk about it at all. Your opponent has to be someone like that to outright win one of these.” Sinsihtaj agrees that of the many photos taken of him during the game, the ones where he’s actually playing poker look more like the real him, saying ‘I always look better in those pictures’. Perhaps the traditional winner’s photo is a thing of the past. Tony Sinishtaj deserves his moment in the spotlight as much as the next player, whether he is smiling or not.
  7. Every player from Joe Public to Daniel Negreanu has attempted to call poker cards before they are revealed, but it so difficult that to do so consistently invites ridicule. Get it right and you look like a wizard, get it wrong and you can look like the biggest fool at the felt. Doing so may be fraught with danger, but last night on PokerGO’s High Stakes Poker, Jean-Robert Bellande managed to predict his two hole cards, drawing gasps from some of the best poker players in the world. It's time we compare JRB’s moment as some sort of poker clairvoyant to others who have managed to put their opponents on exact hands or called even more unpredictable random cards to come. What Did Bellande Do? Of all the players to take part in Season 9 of High Stakes Poker, Bellande is the easiest to watch purely for the drama and frequency with which he takes on his opponents. No one is safe from JRB until he’s folded his cards, no matter what he has. One of the most experienced cash game players at the purple felt, the Long Islander was in the mood for fun on Episode 8 of the latest season of dollar-brick action continued. As commentators AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan described, what Bellande asked for, he got. Pre-flop, Bellande said that all he wanted was two queens. When he revealed them to the table at the end of the hand, Phil Ivey’s reaction was one of the best ever seen in the history of High Stakes Poker. As Daniel Negreanu said, "That is just creepy." https://twitter.com/PokerGO/status/1513675401893072901 Bellande calling both cards is impressive, but is it the best card-calling in poker history? It turns out that despite the impressive nature of the clip, it’s not even close. Bellande doesn’t call the suits, and although the odds are long, it’s not like he specified the exact cards. We've found even better in the archives. A History of Calling Cards Sticking with pocket queens, picking them to jump out of the pack is one thing, but what about if it’s another player’s cards? Well, there are numerous examples of that, so let’s get our head around one. Daniel Negreanu, who recently told us about the hand that changed his life, calls his opponent’s ladies out of nowhere and saves himself valuable chips by doing so. Kid Poker has enjoyed some highly intuitive moments during his career, but this is right up there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9rZQWYqgWQ Romanello Reaches Deep to Save His Stack Both our previous examples are from cash games, but what about doing it in a tournament? It doesn’t get much bigger than the World Series of Poker Main Event's feature table, where the eventual Triple Crown winner Roberto Romanello made the fold of his lifetime with jacks full. Here’s how it went down, with Mike Matusow watching along the whole time. "As the commentary went at the tie, 'If he lays this down, I'll move to a Franciscan monastery and become head chef.'" https://youtu.be/5I62m9RvvN4?t=414 Seeing Through a WSOP Main Event Champion Both those previous reads necessitate that the opponent has a huge hand, but what if the player whose cards need to be read for this sort of hero fold are more polarized? It doesn’t get much better than this ridiculous fold four years ago from Ian Steinman against former WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen. The hand took place on the World Poker Tour and left the commentary team stunned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InFMhKlDIxU As it was observed at the time, Steinman made the fold of a lifetime. The fold is only correct if McKeehen has either pocket aces or queen-ten, meaning the latter is so well disguised that Steinman’s ability to make the fold qualifies as wizardry. Sadly for him, all that hard work may have been enough to get the better of McKeehen, but Steinman would finish second in the event after leading heads-up by 2:1 in chips. Still, $201,428 and the reputation for possibly the sickest fold ever is a fine consolation prize. https://twitter.com/MattClarkPoker/status/971186130581204993 What Are the Odds? Finally, what about being able to predict all five community cards? Yes, it really has happened, and on a live stream too. Take a look at the amazing powers of American poker player Troy Clogston during The Lone Star Poker Series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH1fq5Eb834 The reactions around the room at Champions Poker Club in Houston from the other players are incredible. They’re justified on the final two cards, due to the specific card and suit, with the [poker card="4s"] and [poker card="2h"] called out just before they land. The huge action pre-flop gives the mystic player the notion that premium cards are already in the players hands who remain interested. Choosing the flop cards, even without calling the suit, is extremely unlikely. Add in the exact turn and river cards, and it’s no surprise to see the other players get out of their seats and head for the nearest cold drink. Bellande choosing both queens to come out of the pack would be likely to happen once in 221 hands. Therefore, if Bellande called out "two queens" each time the dealer shuffled the pack, then playing 30 hands an hour, he’d only have to be at the felt for an average of less than a 9-5 shift to be proven right. There have been well over a hundred episodes of High Stakes Poker to date, so if there were two predictions in each episode, then we should have already seen a player get it right by now. Jean-Robert Bellande managed to get the better of Ivey with the pocket queens he called in pre-flop. Whether he’ll be about to see out the next five episodes of High Stakes Poker Season 9 to stay in profit by the time the curtain comes down is still up for debate, but calling cards for this kind of reaction should really catch on among the elite. Make it a prop bet, but make it happen.  
  8. Accusations of cheating, threats to name and shame parties and the possibility of a poker ‘blacklist’ being made public - the Easter weekend was never going to be a quiet one for poker players. This weekend saw Alex Foxen - himself a controversial figure at times in the past two years - openly state that Ali Imsirovic is a ‘known’ cheater on the high stakes elite circuit. In shocking revelations on Twitter, Foxen went into detail about one specific hand in the recent $250,000-entry Super High Roller Series Europe Main Event in Cyprus, then added details of the Bosnian’s alleged use of RTAs in online games. What Did Alex Foxen Accuse of Ali Imsirovic? In an explosive post that went viral in minutes, Foxen’s words about his fellow poker player have shocked many to the core. Seldom has a current elite poker player been so openly accusatory of another who plays in the same nosebleed tournaments or cash games. As a result, the blowback from what Foxen has said is likely to be felt for months. The Twitter thread put out by Foxen covers a specific hand which Foxen believes is proof that Imsirovic is cheating in live poker games. In it, the Bosnian is accused of looking at or in the direction of Paul Phua’s cards at the recent final table in Cyprus. It also alleges irregularities relating to the Bosnian’s play online, stating that he is banned by GGPoker for multi-accounting and using RTA (Real-Time Assistance) during games. “Ali is known as a cheater to almost all in the high roller community.” Foxen says. That sensational opinion, however, is backed up by others in the industry. Here’s the original thread made by Foxen. https://twitter.com/WAFoxen/status/1515900587522637824 Poker Players Line Up to Comment Foxen’s comments could easily come across as inflammatory, especially given the American’s polarizing opinions on vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic overall. Foxen could be seen as the worst whistleblower to step forward with his reputation among some for being that of a chaos theorist. But his staunch defense of his thoughts on the topic, along with his follow-up that he has 100% proof he is 'unable to release' suggests others agree with him. Ryan Leng said: “I’ve known for a while about high stakes cheating but never been in the position to officially out someone. Long before “Covid” I was hearing rumors of Ali (and others) cheating. These “rumors” were coming from extremely reputable sources.” Jason Wheeler was one player who leapt into the debate to suggest that the time has come for poker to put together an independent ‘advisory board’. “[We] need a group above the sites for it to work. A players council or poker advisory board consisting of players and industry and site exes...almost like a union for the players in a sense. leaving it to each site simply doesn’t work. i.e. [GGPoker] is not one site. It’s a bunch of agents, affiliates and skins. i.e. [you] get banned on one skin under one agent, [you] pop up under new account under another agent/skin. also ban from one site not enough of deterrent to the offenders. still other sites, live venues etc. any framework would need to apply across, so what is realistic?” Wheeler wasn’t the only player who had more questions than answers. Chase Bianchi queried Foxen’s own actions in a final table where he was playing against his then-fiancée and now wife Kristen Foxen (nee Bicknell). Others were happy to put up a popcorn GIF and sit back to watch the fireworks. Ian Simpson, who was a long-term sponsored player for Unibet until recently, expressed his thoughts at agreeing with Foxen. “Nice to be able to agree with someone who I’ve otherwise had some animosity with,” he said. “One potential problem however would be if someone got banned for a nonsense reason, or imagine if someone in poker security had a grudge against someone. They could cause big problems for them.” Radio Silence from Imsirovic While there has, as yet, been no comment at all from the 2021 PGT Player of the Year Ali Imsirovic, others who have been speaking of him for much of the last two years stepped in to comment. PokerGO’s commentary team of Brent Hanks and GPA award winner Jeff Platt have consistently praised Imsirovic for his above the rim plays. But while there is no categorical condemnation of the Bosnian, both men’s replies to the topic do not suggest the claims are entirely baseless. Hanks quipped a reference to his own commentary of Imsirovic in recent years. https://twitter.com/BuffaloHanks/status/1516071518517616648 Jeff Platt credited Foxen for bringing the subject up and announced his disappointment. https://twitter.com/jeffplatt/status/1516087387583045638 He’s not the only one. Justin Bonomo, who has played plenty of High Roller and Super High Roller events over recent years, decided to risk the reactions of poker players by posting a thread on the subject. In it, he says that “someone whose first name starts with the letters ‘Ja’ was the biggest offender online and that he’s been told that “the evidence goes far beyond hand histories and is completely irrefutable.” https://twitter.com/JustinBonomo/status/1516089106987556864   On a subject that clearly has a lot more to it than the surface information already gathered, the initial dive into the murky waters of high stakes poker looks likely to leave few at the rail dry.  
  9. The recent PokerGO Heads-Up Showdown featured 32 of the best poker players on the planet. After three days at the felt, it was Chino Rheem who emerged victorious to claim $400,000 and the title as the end of an important chapter in his chequered poker career was brought to the happiest of conclusions. Daniel Negreanu is in Pre-WSOP Form Though he missed the money, Daniel Negreanu came into the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown with a tough path ahead of him. In the first round, Kid Poker took care of Jared Bleznick on the feature table, building a sizeable lead before finishing off his opponent and progressing to a meeting with Tamon Nakamura. Nakamura provided a stiff challenge, but an early pot for Negreanu when his pocket tens turned top set against the Japanese player’s inside straight draw and flush draw worked the Canadian to almost level in chips and he would eventually prevail at the feature table. He may have lost to Darren Elias, but Negreanu is warming up for the World Series of Poker nicely. [caption id="attachment_638152" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Daniel Negreanu performed well at the felt, looking happy with his form and the game in general.[/caption] Elsewhere on Day 1, in the ‘Spades’ section, there were unexpected defeats for Sam Soverel and Shaun Deeb, who slid out after a dramatic and high-quality defeat to long-time rival, Shannon Shorr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTi3JEAcEuw Darren Elias Knows How to Close The four-time World Poker Tour winner Darren Elias had an excellent run in the event, making it all the way to the final showdown, where he eventually lost out for the runner-up prize of $200,000. It could be argued, however, that Elias’ performance was the strongest in the entire Showdown, with his opponents among some of the best players ever to have looked down at hole cards. In the opening round, Elias took care of Landon Tice in the first match to conclude, with the final hand seeing Elias’s ace-king beat Tice’s dominated ace and ease the former’s progress. The second round didn’t get any easier for Elias, however, as he faced - and beat - Erik Seidel. The former WSOP Main Event runner-up proved a tricky opponent, but Elias again prevailed, only to face Daniel Negreanu in the next round, with his Round of 16 and quarterfinal opponents having won over $85 million in tournaments between them. Elias got the better of Negreanu and then took on the impressive Justin Young, who had beaten two of the favorites for the trophy on his way to the semifinals. Now in profit, Elias once again came out on top, making the final when he had worked himself 3:1 up in chips before winning a flip with ace-queen against Young’s pocket threes. The Big Guns Are Out for Hellmuth "My opponent gave me the double bird, and was out of line [with] his verbal attacks." ~ Phil Hellmuth There was no question about the most dramatic fall-out from the opening round inside the PokerGO Studio at ARIA. Phil Hellmuth was the favorite to progress against Eric Persson in the $25,000 buy-in event. That result didn’t materialize, however, and when Persson won, a disgruntled Hellmuth trudged off complaining of the behaviour of his opponent. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1517361856779759616 While the verbal sparring had been even, Hellmuth perceived Persson’s flipping of the[ ‘double bird’ to be over the line, leading to a small explosion on Poker Twitter. Eventually, however, Hellmuth, ever the bigger man after the event, made a live apology during Persson’s next round victory over Dan Shak. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1517620869693988865 Persson might have triumphed against the Poker Brat and much-fancied Shak, but couldn’t make profit as he lost out to the whirlwind that is Isaac Kempton. Favorites Can Still Lose to Underdogs Many of the PokerGO Heads-Up Showdown games went against the favorite pre-match. Ali Imsirovic came into the Showdown on the back of perhaps his most difficult week in the game and exited immediately after being busted by Jake Daniels in the opening round. Others faced the same fate, with stars of the game such as Alex Foxen losing to Justin Young in the quarterfinals, Scott Seiver falling in the opening round to Isaac Kempton and Jeremy Ausmus losing inside the PokerGO Studio as he became one of Chino Rheem’s many victims on route to the title being decided. By the time the event reached the semifinal stage, it was one where every player was guaranteed a return of $100,000 on their stake of $25,000. Darren Elias was the only player of the four to have put his action on sale on Pocket Fives, once again making huge profit for investors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp2dhO_jn8Y Chino Rheem is on the Redemption Trail "We’re back on the right track. God willing." ~ Chino Rheem Chino Rheem’s victory came with more than a heavy dose of irony in a week overshadowed for many by the cheating allegations that have peppered Twitter all week. Rheem, who openly admitted many of his problems early in his career came down to his reliance on drink or drugs, credited his sponsor and his many supporters in helping him turn his life around. “We’re back on the right track. God willing, thank God, if I can just stay there,” he said after the final victory against Darren Elias. “Honestly, once I made the money, once I won the first three matches, I was like, ‘whatever happens from here it’s all good.’ Things went my way, and I’ll take it, obviously. I can’t complain at all.” In achieving some inner peace, Rheem has proved something of a redemption story in the game and during a period in poker where many are being asked to look for the same sort of redemption by acting in good faith in the here and now, Rheem’s win confirms it can be done. With one of the toughest sets of players to win against, his victory against Darren Elias saw a superb tournament close out in dramatic fashion as four men made the money and in Rheem’s case, win his 14th ranking tournament victory across a rollercoaster poker career. PokerGO Heads Up Showdown Final Results: Chino Rheem - $400,000 Darren Elias - $200,000 Isaac Kempton - $100,000 Justin Young - $100,000
  10. In an age where the perception of poker players has changed markedly, how players look at their own future is changing. There was a time when poker players would have a bankroll and a ‘life-roll’ and would plot out a course of action tailored to improving both. From tournaments to cash games, bricks and mortar to buy-ins, poker players had a much more linear method of reinvesting their hard-earned money. In the modern age, however, poker players who reach a certain level are now far more aware of investment being key to improving their bankroll and improving their lives. One player who has taken it to the next level and improved countless others lives is Dan Smith. His charity initiative, Double Up Drive, has raised over $24.7 million for highly effective charities since 2014. Sitting Down with Smith “If I ever needed it, I’d be able to have it within a couple weeks.” We began our conversation with him by asking about how a poker player who has achieved in the game goes about investing their money outside poker. “I don’t think that it works in such a way where once you get to ‘x’ amount of dollars, you can start investing,” he says. “I think you want as much of your capital working all the time as you can. Money that’s just sitting there in a checking account or in a box is going down in valuation. As time goes on, I would put more and more money aside. I try not to cash it out unless I have a very good reason to.” Smith is mindful of the fact that losing years in gambling don’t carry over and you can’t write off expenses, so ‘ensuring that you unlikely have a losing year is your first concern’. That automatically affects what each player can gamble and then, as a consequence, invest. “Specific financial situations dictate how you manage your bankroll quite a bit,” says the man currently in 7th place on The Hendon Mob’s All Time Money List. “If you were still at $5/$10, the way you should manage your bankroll is very different to being pretty wealthy and trying to grow your wealth further. I have mostly tried to have as much of my money working as possible in liquid [investments]. If I ever needed it, I’d be able to have it within a couple weeks.” As Smith says, no player ever wants to be in a situation where they’re short of money. It can take a psychological toll. “It depends on the games you play, but if you’re a $10/$20 regular, you don’t ever want to think about having enough to be playing if you have a losing day. Generally, if the game in your casino is $10/$20 then gets kicked up to 25/50 on any given day it may well be because the game has got better than usual. Gambling on yourself in a good cash game is likely going to outperform any investments you can make.” [caption id="attachment_638167" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Smith is a former WPT champion and sits in the top 10 of the all-time money list for tournament winnings.[/caption] A Fantasy Made Real “At this moment in time, I don’t think the state of the poker game is stable.” Smith doesn’t see his charity endeavours and the growth of wealth as conflicting things. He apportions so of his money to charitable donations just as does in investments and spending money. The first time he ever made a large charitable donation, it was down to a very different kind of gamble. “I was playing high stakes Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and in this week I was wagering $120k,” he describes. “The big question that week was whether or not to play Jack Doyle, the back-up Tight End of the Colts. The starting Tight End was ruled out, so he was going to get a lot of looks for bargain pricing. I just decided I didn’t see much of a reason to hedge [with another player] and played him in the whole $120,000. I reflected that I could lose the whole $120k which would and objectively nothing would change. That inspired my $175,000 charity donation. If I donated that, I got some degree of tax break, so it got me to that $120k number.” As Smith says, everyone’s situation is going to be quite different and others will have a myriad of alternate paths to both wealth and investment, as well as donating to charity. Smith admits that he bases some of his calculations on tax adjustments, something which is going to be different for poker players around the world given gambling’s nature in some countries as a method of earnings and others, where it is viewed as gambled money which cannot be taxed. “Having an idea of where you are changes based on a lot of factors,” he admits. “For me, one of the bigger things was how big I perceive my edge to be in poker games and how optimistic I was about it going forward. At this moment in time, I don’t think the state of the poker game is stable, reliable income so I’d, in theory, adjust my investments accordingly.” Finance and Variance "It’s easy to make a number of dollars in a month or year and extrapolate that you will continue to make that sort of money." Smith adds that anyone thinking of investing or donating to charity should be ‘mindful of the distribution of resolutions’ and while some investments will reliably tick over at 8% for example, others with multiply your money wildly or go bust. Variance in investments is not dissimilar to that experienced at the poker table, and that synergy between accruing chips through risk and looking at how to maximise your money has obvious similarities for many. “I think it’s easy to make a number of dollars in a month or year and extrapolate that you will continue to make that sort of money. That’s very dangerous; games are constantly changing and variance is a bitch!” Dan Smith looks at investment as an area of skill and says while some will succeed playing it safe, others are naturally better at taking big risks. “Some people will just do their best mostly just buying index funds and not doing anything clever,” he says. “Some people are very skilled gamblers and investors. They should manage their money very differently.” When a poker player decides to invest their money, it is often because they believe themselves to be ready to take that next step in acquiring wealth upon that which they have won in the game. In finance as well as in poker, however, nothing is ever guaranteed.
  11. The recent Hustler Casino Live poker stream made stars of non-poker players and showed that even global legends like Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan were beatable over a short period of time at a lively table. With online legends such as YouTube sensation 'MrBeast', chess superstar Alexandra Botez and cash game player extraordinaire Alan Keating all taking their seats, it would be easy to fade into the background. One player who was never going to do that, however, was video gaming legend Ninja, a.k.a Tyler Blevins. Hitting the Heights in the Hustler Game “It gave me a lot of confidence and I played better throughout the night.” Sitting down in the $100/$200 no limit hold’em game, the Fortnite legend made a neat profit, running up a return of $144,300, including in this dramatic hand. https://twitter.com/Ninja/status/1521188485406740480 After the event, Blevins told us that the reaction to the hand, via Twitter, Tik Tok and other social media outlets has been incredible. “I haven’t been part of a moment like this for a while!” he said. “I got really lucky that I was next to Hellmuth. He was helping me with some decisions I was making. I almost never called on a draw, and I was proud of myself. He was giving me a lot of positive reinforcement after some of my plays. It gave me a lot of confidence and I played better throughout the night.” After the game, Blevins took to Twitter and offered up the most meme-friendly image of the year so far in poker. https://twitter.com/Ninja/status/1521213789307240449 Hellmuth and Blevins got on like a house on fire and the feeling was mutual as we found out when we reached out to Hellmuth this week. The Poker Brat confirmed to us that the two men will meet up again soon. “We got to talking before we started - he told me about his charity events and I thought it was incredible,” says Blevins. “Then he told me what he was known for. I was like ‘Don’t worry about it man, I blow up all the time too!’ It was a match made in heaven being next to each other.” Ninja's Plan Works Out “I’ve found a new passion because win or lose I was having so much fun.” If the other players expected Blevins to arrive simply hoping to have fun, they would have underestimated the gaming legend. “I was going there to not lose,” he says. “I told my friends I was trying not to be the first one out. In the back of my head, I was like ‘I could win this’. There were players who could throw off Phil, and Alexandra was one of those. Every time that happened, I thought I could do well if I got reads on people and played smart.” It turned out that Blevins did exactly that. Winning six figures, he may have fallen slightly short of the $400,000 in profits that both Botez and Jimmy ‘MrBeast’ Donaldson took home, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. “Keating and Mr. Beast were going all-in [a lot]. I was sitting there thinking ‘One of these guys is going to bluff me.’ If I played an elite table of eight or nine other players, I’d probably get torn apart, but it would be a learning experience. I’ve found a new passion because win or lose I was having so much fun that night.” [caption id="attachment_638172" align="aligncenter" width="992"] Ninja always wears a smile at the poker table and his personality seems made for the game.[/caption] Blevins and His Background in... Poker? Blevins may be known by his hot-shot Fortnite nickname Ninja, but he actually played poker long before he picked up a game controller and slayed his way to notoriety. When he was a teenager, poker was on TV all the time. The boy who would become probably the most famous gamer in the world idolised Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson among others. However, his early plans to play the game ran into trouble. “We took apart the ping pong table and bought legitimate poker chips,” he laughs. “We’d have $5 or $10 buy-ins with all of our friends. Back in the day, I’d make stupid calls for a straight or flush draw even if it wasn’t open-ended.” Blevins showed none of that naiveté on the Hustler stream, perhaps because of the memories of his first experience playing poker as a youngster. “There was a year or two when I was paying attention and I was never good at it!” he describes. “I was lucky and would always go for the draws. I’d need one club and call 500 chips - you don’t do that! I won one out of ten matches and thought I was good enough. I played online for a bit and got slammed.” Back in the Game "I don’t consider poker gambling." Over a decade may seem like a long time to take a break from the game, especially as it was during that era that poker experienced its biggest period of growth in poker. During that time, Blevins became ‘Ninja’, crushed Fortnite and changed gaming as an industry. Put simply, Ninja is the most popular streamer in history in the most definitive video game of recent times. It’s his competitive edge that he believes has drawn him back to poker. “I’m well off, but I don’t not like losing money,” he admits. “I don’t like gambling that much. I have fun and don’t consider poker gambling. I’m definitely looking forward to playing more now.” Blevins has a renewed passion for the game he moved away from as a youngster. In fact, he is already playing online, but you won’t be seeing his trademark blue hair and wide Detroit smile on any avatar...yet. “I’m going anonymous for now,” he says with a smile. “I’ve already made an account on a poker website and I’m up like $2,500 right now. I bought in for $1,000 and I’m up to $3,500 playing some $10/$20. It’s so cool.” Which Fortnite Players Could Play Poker? [caption id="attachment_638171" align="alignright" width="400"] Ninja has plenty of offers to get right back into the poker action.[/caption] "He probably plays a little bit like Phil Hellmuth." If you watch Fortnite, then you’ll know that Ninja is great friends with many other players on the hugely popular video game. In sheer numbers, Ninja’s followers are in the millions across YouTube and social media channels. His videos have piled up total 2.49 billion views on YouTube alone. But who else from his world could join the poker party? “I think SypherPK and CouRageJD could play,” he says. “I know CouRage plays poker and Sypher is very analytical, although he might be an overthinker. He probably plays a little bit like Phil Hellmuth. I was watching [Hellmuth] all night and I don’t think he got in unless he was sitting very pretty. He was very methodical in the hands he played, and I could pick out a couple of Fortnite players who are like that.” Blevins has had some great feedback from the poker community, with Hellmuth one of many looking for Blevins to bring his ‘Ninja’ skills back to the felt very soon. It very much sounds as if the gaming legend is just as passionate about doing so as his new poker peers. “I’m very content and able to take the experience. I really felt like I did well because of my experience in gaming. Let’s say I’m very happy right now.” Could Ninja play at the World Series of Poker? We wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen, and whether he wins or loses, one thing is guaranteed. The man known as Ninja will always play with a smile on his face.  
  12. Poker is a game that is enjoyed by millions worldwide. In this series, we’ve featured players who play the game of poker for their profession, have made fortunes by doing so and become legends of the sport. However, poker’s all-encompassing nature appeals to people from all walks of life. One player who has trodden many different paths over two decades of success on national television is Robert Mariano, better known as 'Boston Rob'. Back in 2004, having just appeared on Survivor for the first time, Mariano met his now wife and then-fiancée Amber on the show. They were invited to Hawaii to take part in a charity game to raise money for the U.S. military. Mariano would leave the island with a new found and lifelong passion for poker that has remained ever since. From Penny Games to the Main Event "Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!" Rob Mariano played poker for pennies long before he would do so for thousands of dollars. When he first learned the game, it was at his grandfather’s knee. It immediately got him hooked on the notion of gambling and this quickly led to an understanding of a need to get better. “I’ve always loved action,” says Mariano. “From pitching quarters in the schoolyard to gambling on tennis, I went broke a hundred times as a kid. The first hand that got me hooked [on poker] was a penny game of five card stud that my grandfather taught me how to play. I figured out that the same people always win, and they have an edge. Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!” Flashing forward two decades, Mariano struck fame on the eighth series of the hit television show, Survivor. For the uninitiated, the show centers around contestants who are stranded on a remote island. Mariano made it all the way to the final challenge, where he lost out to Amber, who he proposed to just before the decisive vote. She said yes, of course, and the couple have since become TV legends thanks to the fame they gained during the show and subsequent on-screen appearances together. One year after meeting, the couple were engaged and took what turned out to be an important phone call. “Online poker was all the rage in the States and like a lot of people, I watched Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker Main Event. Since then, we’ve become friends as an ironic side effect of being on television, but what a great guy. Paradise Poker reached out to Amber to see if she wanted to play poker and sponsor her in one of the events.” Amber didn’t play the game, but both Mariano and Amber's father were fans, with the latter teaching his future son-in-law the game. The pair of them were taken to Las Vegas and put into the 2004 WSOP Main Event, the last to be held on the Strip until this coming summer. “I’ll be honest - I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!” laughs Mariano. “I was sitting there with Sammy Farha, Marcel Luske and all these legends at my table. I made two pair, aces up, and I was outclassed, the other guy had a set. My first introduction was on the biggest stage.” Mariano may not have won any money, but the seed had been sown. A short time later, the game was about to truly get him hooked. [caption id="attachment_638178" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Rob Mariano cut his teeth playing poker for the first time in the WSOP Main Event (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Bringing the Party to Hawaii "I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble." After his Main Event exertions, Mariano was on the radar of online poker sites as they popped up everywhere. One of those sites, Bodog, invited both Rob and Amber to Hawaii and an exclusive charity event. “They had comedians, Colin Farrell, Wanda Sykes and Cheryl Hines,” says Mariano. “Josh Arieh was there too. He had just finished third in the WSOP Main Event and David Williams was there too having just finished second.” Mariano’s meeting with Arieh in particular lit a fire that still burns to this day. After watching a concert featuring Snoop Dogg, the party went into the night and the cards came out. “We played $50 Sit N Gos from late night into the early morning,” says Mariano. “Playing all night long until the sun came up, I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble. That’s when I became fascinated with the game.” It was a landmark moment for Mariano, who realized at that moment that the game he’d always sought was right there in front of him. It appealed to his nature as a competitive person who danced between adventurous situations like the light from fires lit during those Hawaii nights. “The original intention of going to Hawaii was to raise money at the concert. The poker was a bonus on top of it all, but I feel like poker has embraced and accepted me into the community for what I want out of it; to play competitively but also recreationally. I love to play but at the end of the day, this is a passion of mine, not my life’s work.” The Competitive Edge of a New Father "I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it." Mariano freely admits that he’s not a good loser. He was born not only to win, but to pursue victory, to adapt, improve, to get the top and be ‘relentless’ in his pursuit of the summit. If he was to play poker, however, it would need to fit in around becoming a Dad. “Survivor aired on television in 2004 and we married in 2005,” says Mariano. “We had four kids in five years. In the beginning, it was madness, but it’s so great and they’re so close... and Daddy’s girls!” The Mariano’s were clearly made for each other and celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary last month, but back in the day, having caught the poker bug, Boston Rob headed online mostly. “I played poker pretty seriously when my kids were really young,” he says. “I started to play cash games and grind, playing the local circuits from Biloxi to Jacksonville [as well as] the World Series.” One of the most important traits Mariano has got is his ability to adapt to any situation. He passes this lesson onto his own children, four girls he adores now aged between eight and 12. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how you get up. Even if you don’t get the desired result, you’re learning what not to do again. I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it. A person living their whole life on a train gets from A to B. I’d rather ride the rollercoaster, but we get to the same place. My wife reels me in when I’m too far and likewise I think I bring a bit of adventure.” [caption id="attachment_638179" align="aligncenter" width="886"] Rob and Amber Mariano have grown up on television as they've built a life together (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Running It Up Mariano’s poker career has run parallel to his record-breaking six appearances on Survivor and presence on other shows such as The Amazing Race, which he entered with his wife. His passion for poker has sustained many gaps in his results purely through children being born or his participation in TV shows. He is a huge fan of tours such as the Run Good series. "I got to be really good friends with Tana Karn, who Runs the Run Good events, a super great guy and what a group of people. I feel like that’s where I fit in best. I want to play five or six different competitive events a year. I love the [WSOP] Main Event." Mariano's experience of Survivor has stood him in great stead for the game of poker, with many skills transferring from the island to the felt. "I’ve played more Survivor than anyone else on the planet, playing six times in 20 years. In that time, the game of Survivor has evolved and changed. In the beginning, your ability to do well in challenges, how you provided around camp and if you were a good teammate mattered a lot. Now the game is more social than anything else; your ability to perceive how you’re perceived by others is paramount.” Mariano can’t wait for the next live poker game these days, and post-pandemic, is excited for an ‘explosion’ of live poker that he assimilates to the poker boom that followed Moneymaker’s legendary success in 2003. “The game is growing again like it was in the early 2000s,” he claims. “There’s a sense of family between not only the Run Good people but among the community at large. Everyone’s going back to a 9-5 on Monday morning but for a weekend, they’re going to do whatever and those are my people.” Adapting to the Game “You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out.” Poker has changed and Mariano has been part of the game for long enough to understand that his ability to adapt and compete has been called upon in multiple eras at the felt. “You used to have a good hand, then it became not what you have but what they have, then they converted to small ball then it became an all-in festival!” laughs Mariano. “It’s changed a lot and you see at the different levels how much its changed. There are similarities between poker and Survivor. You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out. At the same time, you can do everything right and still not win because you get unlucky.” According to the former Survivor winner, you have to be able to fade the variance, maintain your focus and not let it affect your mental wellbeing in both games and it’s that changing dynamic that Mariano loves. “Its constantly changing and so hard - that’s what intrigues me to it. I want to sit down and have a social experience with other people at the table - that’s what I love about poker. We’re getting back to that and away from the hoodies and sunglasses.” Mariano has signed up to host home games for PokerGO and admits the draw of the PokerGO Tour is ‘huge’. He’ll join in with some live events, but don’t expect him to be taking a seat in the nosebleeds. “I’m not going to be playing the super high rollers, but hopefully I can bring another audience to the game. I couldn’t sit down and play a $250,000 tournament, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. But if we grow the game the way the smaller tours are doing it, it will flourish again. When everyone sees poker as I do, it becomes fun for a lot of people!” Mariano may be a household name to many from his work in television but his background before Survivor catapulted him to fame was as a construction worker and stonemason. He remains humble to his roots and with a bunch of friends in poker, is an asset to the game which only now is poker starting to tap. The motto of Survivor is ‘Outwit, outplay, outlast’. ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano has proven that he has been able to adapt to the games presented to him in his life with flair and style. Boston Rob's future in poker looks set to bring even more exciting challenges for his many fans to enjoy.
  13. Nine years ago, a 22-year-old Michigan State graduate called Ryan Riess won the World Series of Poker Main Event for over $8.3 million. At the time, he was six months out of college, having spent the last months of his studies alternating between poker dealer. Just a few weeks later, the final hand of the 2013 WSOP Main Event saw the Riess' life change forever. Between winning a World Series bankroll with the last money to his name and today, a decade of growth, fatherhood and memories have seen ‘Riess the Beast’ become one of the most well-respected poker players on the planet. This is the story of the hand that changed Ryan Riess’ young life. Coming into the WSOP With Momentum “It was all the money I had to my name. I chopped it three ways and won $270,000.” Having momentum in poker is something that is spoken about often, and it was one of the main contributions to Riess’ success at the Rio nine years ago in November. After graduating in business at Michigan State, Riess decided to play a WSOP Circuit event in Hammond in October 2012. The cost was not only out of his usual bankroll, but everything he had. “It was a $1,675 buy-in and it was all the money I had to my name,” the 2013 world champion told us. “I chopped it three ways and won $270,000. That was my first ever live tournament cash and how my poker career started.” Two months earlier, Riess had started playing poker full-time. After winning some small cashes in tournaments around Los Angeles, Riess took that momentum into a World Series where he played everything he could afford. “I had a bunch of smaller cashes and was about breakeven - expenses are high - then played the Main Event. I sold pieces to family and friends and swapped pieces. I had a little over 50%, which was good. I had a lot of momentum but was still relatively new to tournament poker. I was starting to become friends with people on the circuit; we were all young at the time and learning together.” Kicking off his Main Event on Day1a, Riess had players such as Mike Matusow and T.J. Cloutier at his table. Despite this, he bagged up plenty of chips, more than double that which he started with. “I was very naïve, which was a good thing. I put my head down; I wasn’t following the other tables or live updates and never thought about how much money I was playing for, so was never scared.” Believing He Could Win “Looking back, I don’t think I was the best player in the world.” Riess may have been a long way off from winning, but that was all to change. In the middle period of the Main Event, he admits that he sat on less than 30 big blinds for “two or three days” but a pivotal coinflip went his way when his pocket nines survived against Rep Porter’s suited king-jack. “The atmosphere was electric,” laughs Riess. “Others might have thought I was trying to run the table over, but I wasn’t; I kept getting good hands. If I lose that hand, I have nine big blinds left. I won the flip and that propelled me to having 50 big blinds and I had a lot more flexibility with my stack.” After Riess won the Main Event, he would state that he was ‘the best player in the world’, but he concedes this wasn’t actually the truth. It was more about the belief he needed to have in order to accomplish his dream. “I think in order to win something, you have to believe it before and then work tirelessly,” he says. “Looking back, I don’t think I was the best player in the world. I wasn’t even in the top 1,000. But I truly believed I was at the time and I think that gave me a chance to win. If I didn’t believe I was the best, I probably shouldn’t even have registered the tournament in the first place.” Winning that hand against Porter would see Riess make the final table, but he was far from the chip leader, who was JC Tran. A host of other more experienced pros were at the final table. “Tran was really unlucky at the final table after coming in as the chip leader and not being able to get much going. I thought the best player at the table was Marc Etienne McLaughlin,” says Riess. “He was very good, very aggressive and I tried to bluff him in a hand on TV when I turned two jacks into a bluff and fours spades almost counterfeited his two spades. He eventually got coolered and that gave me energy because I found it hard winning pots against him. David Benefield is a world class player and he got short and was handcuffed, too.” Benefield and Riess were the only two not to wear sponsorship patches at the final table. “I’ve never accepted any sponsorship deal or worn patches. I turned down a lot of money, but I didn’t want them to say you have to do this interview at this time, wear this shirt, do this social media post. I didn’t want anything to cloud my judgement. I thought the responsibility of what I’ve have to do would be greater than the value of what they were offering me. Maybe if I’d worn a patch, I’d have had to have done other stuff, wouldn’t have studied as much and not won.” Taking on Farber for the Win “As a poker player, that’s the dream. It’s the Super Bowl of our sport.” Riess had never played against Jay Farber before that year’s Main Event, nor did he feel they’d played any significant pots against each other until they were the only two players left. Suddenly, though, one of them was going to win $5.1 million and the other would take $8.3m and become champion of the world. “We started with around the same chips and I just decided to be aggressive. We played around 90 hands and I was raised all 45 buttons. I was very inexperienced. Looking back, I’d fold or limp some hands, but I wanted to put pressure on him. He was only three-betting me with really good hands.” Riess was forcing the action, but admits that while he wanted to raise in order to see flops in position with almost his entire range, he was also getting the run of the deck. “In heads up poker, so much comes down to hand distribution,” he says. “If Jay had my hands and I had his, if it was switched, he probably would have won.” Pre-flop: Ryan Riess: [Ah][poker card="Kh"] Jay Farber: [poker card="Qs"][poker card="5s"] Before the flop, riess raised his 45th and final button, and almost immediately got raised all-in by Farber. Riess snap-called and one of the fastest final all-in and calls in Main Event history saw the two men on their feet. Riess admits that he was surprised to see what Farber had shoved with. “I was surprised to see that hand specifically. Maybe if the hand happened again, he might just call, but I was raising every button and I just happened to have it. He might have thought he was getting run over at the table, but I was just getting the cards. Heads up, if you’re losing it can be demoralising. I’ve lost to people heads-up, I actually played Koray Aldemir, our newest world champion - and I was losing pots, got frustrated and ended up doing things out of character. It’s emotionally draining to lose hands heads-up.” Headint to the embrace of his friends and family, Riess was ‘pretty confident’ but knew that anything could happen. He was a 65% chance to become the world champion and the moment was catching up with him. Flop: [poker card="4c"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="Td"] “The flop was really good for me,” Riess says. “He couldn’t hit his queen any more, because it would give me a straight so it was the best flop I could have asked for without flopping a pair. After the flop, having all my friends and family around me gave me such good vibes.” Turn: [poker card="3c"] “Tears already in the eyes of Ryan Riess.” Said the commentary team as the moment that would change Riess’ life played out. The emotion of the achievement that he was about to claim was monumental. [caption id="attachment_638157" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Hunched on the floor of the Rio, Ryan Riess is hit by the emotion of what he might be about to achieve.[/caption] “That’s when it really became real for me. It was the weight of having everyone support me. We’re that close and it was a very surreal moment. I’m glad I won, because if the river was a five, it might have been very hard for me mentally for me to sit back at the table and play my best, because in my head I’d already won.” As Jay Farber commiserated with his coaches, two men Riess himself now counts among his poker friends, Shaun Deeb and Chance Kornuth, tie seemed to stand still. “I’m friends with both of them and we talk frequently. They’re both great - he had great coaches and it’s hard to beat someone with those coaches. I just had better cards on the day. River: [poker card="4d"] Riess collapsed to the ground, his poker ambitions coming true in glorious reality. Nine years on, Riess says he doesn’t watch it back as much as he should. “It brings back such great memories. As a poker player, that’s the dream. It’s the Super Bowl of our sport. To reach the pinnacle of the game that you love is the ultimate dream as a poker player.” Pining for the November Nine Amid a wild atmosphere in the Thunderdome, Riess now believes part of that excitement came down to players returning some time after they’d reached the final table to play it down to a winner. “It was the penultimate year of the November Nine. ESPN flew out a camera crew to my home town. I thought the November Nine was awesome. I’m blessed and honored to have taken part in that. Now they don’t give the players any time at all, family doesn’t even time to fly in and players can’t get sponsorship deals or even get their hair cut!” Riess believes that if the WSOP gave players a week between reaching the final table and playing it out, it would be perfect. “I don’t think a week is too much at all. Four months was really cool, but it’s a long time, and someone’s game could do a 180 in that time with coaching and solvers these days.” Apart from the length of time, however, Riess believes that the November Nine is a concept that could do with a comeback. “I think they should give them a week. It’s the biggest event in our game, so the more hype around it the better.” A decade after he graduated, Ryan Riess is now a name synonymous with poker success and in particular, the WSOP Main Event. He came close to winning the WSOP Europe Main Event too, but despite finishing fourth, calls it ‘the tournament that haunts me most’. [caption id="attachment_638158" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Ryan Riess is now one of the most respected former world champions still playing the game. (Photo: King's Casino)[/caption] “I was chip leader with nine and six left. The moment got to me a little bit; I made a lot of mistakes. I wanted to win for the legacy of winning both [Main Events] not the money but I focused too much on how cool that would be, and I let the opportunity slip between my fingertips. If Riess had lost with pocket aces to a pair of tens, he admits he wouldn’t have minded, not being a results-oriented person at all. The fact that it wasn’t luck that he perceives was to blame is what hurt. “I make a mistake, I’m the hardest critic of myself. Martin Jacobson said ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. You almost don’t deserve to win if you’re not trying your hardest.” A Poker Career Without Regret “My focus is my kids and spending as much time with my family as I can.” Nine years after his greatest moment, Riess looks back on his victory as a platform for sustained success and of all the many world champions there have been, few could argue he has been one of the most positive. Aside from that WSOPE near-miss, he has no regrets. His diamond encrusted 2013 WSOP Main Event bracelet sits in a bank in a safety deposit box. “It’s worth a lot of money, so I don’t want it in the house,” Reiss says with a smile. “It’s locked away and I go and look at it now and then. To be honest, I should make a replica of it with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds, but I haven’t got around to it. I have no regrets about my career. I guess I could have grinded harder if I wanted too, but I travelled to a lot of cool places pretty much up to when COVID started and now my focus is my kids and spending as much time with my family as I can.” This year will see the WSOP move from the Rio to Bally’s (soon to be the Horseshoe) and Paris, but Riess holds no fear about the event leaving the venue where he made his name. In fact, quite the opposite. “I won it the first time I played it at the Rio, so maybe it will happen again,” he says. “I’m optimistic about it - I’m sure it’ll be fun. I’ll be playing pretty much all the NLHE tournaments, $25,000 and lower. I don’t feel the need to play the $100,000 buy-ins; the bubbles are stressful, and kids are expensive!” Nine years is a long time in any poker player’s life, but from being a precocious 22-year-old winner of the biggest event on the poker calendar to a family man almost a decade later, it has been some ride for Ryan Riess. Happily, for poker fans, that ride is not finished yet. You can watch the hand that changed Ryan Riess’ life right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MAbaJ9W7Q8    
  14. With a prize pool of $2.34m, the $5,300 buy-in Texas Poker Championship saw former WPT Winner James Carroll win the top prize of $455,860. Carroll, a hugely popular pro, beat Nicholas Howard heads-up to claim the title after an entertaining final table. One element that added to the atmosphere of the occasion was the live staking that was possible throughout the Main Event. Raising the Stakes Taking place in Houston, Texas, the Prime Social Texas Poker Championship Main Event saw ClubGG offer direct satellites to the events through the subscription poker platform. Pocket Fives then provided live staking for players. It was as simple as visiting the cash desk and putting down the money. “The event was great,” says James Bridgeman, Public Relations and Sponsorship Manager for GGAlliance. It ran smoothly, made all the guarantees and there was a really good vibe from players in the room along with all the staff, dealers and servers. I chatted with a lot of local regulars and out of towners. They were all in positive spirits whether they busted with no cash or ran deep.” Bridgeman met several players who were staked live and while they busted before the money, they were appreciative of the experience. “I met someone from a side event who min-cashed and was definitely happy about it,” he said. “From the Main Event, three or four qualifiers made Day 2. On the staking, it was the same attitude. We had five stakers in the Main Event; none cashed, but all enjoyed it and gave a fun sweat to their friends and followers.” There certainly seemed to be a great atmosphere in the room when PokerNews arrived at the venue during the tournament as part of their tour of the Lone Star State. https://twitter.com/PokerNews/status/1508933386311712768 “ClubGG Qualifiers are all excited that we have announced more Prime Social events,” says Bridgeman. “Everyone working at Prime Social made it very easy for qualifiers, they also had chip tracking throughout events and highlighted ClubGG Qualifiers, as well as those who used staking to make an even more memorable experience for them. In regards to PocketFives Staking, players really like the transparency and how easy it is, also no fees compared to competitors is obviously great. Staking worked really smoothly.” Prime Social ‘Very Happy’ With Event From the club’s own perspective, Justin Hammer, Tournament Director at the club, has had a chance to rest and reflect in the three days since the event. He’s delighted to report how pleased the club was with the live staking and how players enjoyed it. “It feels really good to accomplish what we did as an up-and-coming club. I’m very happy about it,” he told us. “Live staking was huge! We only had it for the Main Event, but the ability to sell some action for those who won seats or just wanted less exposure was very beneficial. There’s nothing to lose if they put up a package that doesn’t sell, so everyone had the opportunity to try to play at a discount.” With great communication between the cash desk and staking players, which there was, the whole process proved ‘seamless’ across the event. There was a friendly, fun atmosphere during most of the series, things only getting serious when the Main reached the final table. “Things really tightened up and most players seemed pretty focused. James Carroll won the event of course - a great player. Having a popular player helps draw attention, which is nice. Whoever wins creates a good story somehow though. I’m never really rooting for a particular player, just that things run smoothly. From the feedback I’ve received, it really seems like we accomplished that goal.” The Players Perspective When it came to the event from a player’s perspective, Jason Daly had a great time, finishing in fifth place for $125,350, the first six-figure score to be awarded at the final table. “I thought the event was great,” he said today. “[Justin] Hammer and his staff do a really amazing job. I can’t say enough about how well the staff treat the players from the dealers to the floor staff. I do wish the live stream would have been delayed longer as I felt I was little bit disadvantaged by the short delay and some of the peoples hole cards not reading in some key spots. But overall, it was a nice experience.” Daly rated the players he came up against very highly, declaring it ‘the toughest field ever in Texas’ without question. “The level of competition was outstanding,” he says. “The structure was the best I’ve ever played outside of the [WSOP] Main Event and you could really tell the best players rose to the final 30 or so. I was really happy that James won if I couldn’t; he’s such a nice guy and class act. He really represents poker well.” “James has been around for a long time and I have a lot of respect for his game,” added eighth-placed Justin Saliba. “He’s a strong player and never afraid to go for it in big spots, so it’s always a fun challenge battling with him.” After Daly’s exit in fifth, Jorge Gomez finished fourth before an epic three-handed battle that raged until midnight, when Benjamin Keiley left in third place. That bust-out saw Nicholas Howard go into the final duel with a big chip lead, holding 19.9 million to James Carroll’s 4.5 million. Carroll came back like the professional he is, winning the top prize of $455,860, along with the coveted winners trophy and Exquisite Timepieces watch. With an entertaining event further improved by the live staking element on offer, could Prime Social’s event be a template for many more live staking experiences to come? The days of registering without taking a look at the players you can invest in as well as yourself may soon be a thing of the past if the slick operation in Houston is replicated across America. Prime Social Texas Poker Championship Final Table Results: James Carroll - $455,860 Nicholas Howard - $303,930 Benjamin Keiley - $223,580 Jorge Gomez - $166,420 Jason Daly - $125,350 Andrew Ostapchenko - $95,570 Jeremy Harvey - $73,750 Justin Saliba - $57,620 Viet Vo - $45,590  
  15. An action-packed final table saw Swedish player ‘WhatIfGod’ win the PokerStars 2021 EPT Online Main Event for a top prize of $363,641 as a back-to-back victory was sealed with a superb heads-up victory over the former PSPC champion and overnight chip leader Ramon Colillas. Coming into play third in chips behind both Colillas and German crusher Christian Rudolph, 'WhatIfGod' roared through the field to win the same title he claimed back in 2020 for a remarkable back-to-back victory. The final table action began with a big elimination right off the bat as one of the biggest names of the final table, who began the day with over 50 big blinds, found himself headed to the rail first. Current worldwide #1-ranked Pedro Garagnani has carved out a name for himself in a number of elite high roller events in 2021 and a summer victory in a WCOOP High Roller event saw the Brazilian bank $195,690. However, there wasn't another title to be had today as he crashed out first in the EPT Online Main Event when his five-bet shove with [poker card="Th"][poker card="Td"] was called by Christian Rudolph with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kc"]. The board of [poker card="As"][poker card="3d"][poker card="9h"][poker card="3h"][poker card="4c"] sent Garagnani out for $41,259 and in doing so, handed Rudolph a dream early pot, chipping him up to 29 million and giving him an early lead. Another big name fell when Orpen Kisacikoglu busted in eighth place for $53,763. Daniel Dvoress moved all-in from middle position with [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Td"] and Kisacikoglu called off his stack with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8c"] in the small blind. He was ahead in the hand, but the flop of [poker card="Ts"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] changed all that, giving the Canadian top pair. Kisacikoglu, a Turkish professional who typically plays from London, needed help. He didn’t get it on the [poker card="9h"] turn and when the [poker card="7c"] river fell, so did he. The early eliminations were coming thick and fast and PokerStars ambassador Benjamin Rolle was next to crash out, this time in seventh place for a result worth $70,645. Rolle three-bet all-in for around 21 big blinds pre-flop with [poker card="4c"][poker card="4h"] and he was called by the newest chip leader at the final table, ‘WhatIfGod’. The Swede held [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Qd"] and although the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="9s"][poker card="4d"] gave Rolle bottom set, it also gave 'WhatIfGod' a flush draw. That turned out not to be needed as the [poker card="Ks"] turn and [poker card="Tc"] river gave the Swede a Broadway straight to win the hand and eliminate the dangerous German player. With six players remaining, 'WhatIfGod' led with 34.8 million chips from overnight chip leader Ramon Colillas (26 million) and Rudolph (13.6 million). There were two Brazilians at the final table, but one had to go, and it was Bruno Volkmann who was busted in sixth place for $92,828. Volkmann was another victim of the chip leader as 'WhatIfGod' called the Brazilian’s shove pre-flop. Volkmann had [poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"] and needed to hold against [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Jd"] but couldn’t do so across the board of [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Js"][poker card="4h"][poker card="Kd"][poker card="7d"] as kings and jacks did for Volkmann’s chances of going any further. Eduardo Silva was the only Brazilian left, but he was out in fifth place just a couple of hands after players returned from a scheduled break. Silva defended his big blind with [poker card="Qc"][poker card="7c"] against the opening bet from Colillas with [poker card="Th"][poker card="Ts"] and on the flop of [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="3h"], Silva called a c-bet from the Spaniard. The turn of [poker card="6h"] saw Silva raise all-in when Colillas bet and the former PSPC champion, who won $5.1 million from a freeroll ticket back in 2019 called it off with ease. The meaningless river of [poker card="5s"] ended the hand in Colillas’ favor and he put himself right back into contention at the expense of Silva, who won the first six-figure cash of the event, taking home $121,977. Just five minutes later, Dvoress was on the rail, too. Opening from early position with a min-bet, Dvoress had [poker card="Ah"][poker card="9d"] and Rudolph called with [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Th"]. The flop of [poker card="As"][poker card="Kd"][poker card="9s"] flop gave Dvoress two-pair, and his min-bet was called quickly to a turn of [poker card="Qc"]. This time, Rudolph check-called a bigger bet of 1.3 million chips, having made a straight. The trap was set, and on the [poker card="4d"] river, Dvoress bet 2.8 million, almost all of his stack, calling off the final few chips when Rudolph raised and seeing the bad news as his flopped two pair was trumped by the German’s turned straight. That hand brought Rudolph back into contention on 20 million chips, but the German was still behind Colillas with 24 million and 'WhatIfGod' on 53 million. As he battled to shoot for parity, he put himself in increasing danger with the escalating blinds seeming to chase him every few orbits. Rudolph dropped to 16 million and when he limped in the small blind with [poker card="As"][poker card="7s"] and 'WhatIfGod' raised from the big with [poker card="Th"][poker card="Tc"], the former got it all-in and after a quick call, was at risk for his tournament life with five cards to come. The board of [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Qd"][poker card="6c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2c"] did nothing to help Rudolph and he missed out, busting in third place for $210,608. Heads-up, Colillas was fighting a chip deficit of around 60 million to his 40 million but drifted down to a third of his stack as he held just 14 million chips. A vital double up saved his tournament life when he made a flush on the river with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="5s"] managing to four-flush and beat 'WhatIfGod’s [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kd"] when all the money went in pre-flop. Just a few hands later, Colillas was even more fortunate, all-in and behind on the turn with bottom two-pair against his opponent’s top and bottom pair, but a two-outer seven on the river again save his tournament life, giving him a priceless double when all had seemed lost. Colillas took the lead and even had the chance to close out the victory, calling an all-in holding [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qc"], but 'WhatIfGod' prevailed with [poker card="5d"][poker card="5c"] as he held to double-up to almost parity. The Swedish player pushed hard for the win and ground his opponent down over several hands that didn’t go to showdown. Colillas was down 3:1 when the final hand took place, as he went all the way to the river with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="8h"]. The flop of [poker card="8d"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6c"] put Colillas into the lead against WhatIfGod’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="4d"], but the [poker card="Kd"] on the turn gave the Swede a flush draw and on the [poker card="7d"] river, that flush came in. Colillas bet out 5.2 million, then when 'WhatIfGod' shoved, made the call and saw his top pair and top kicker on the flop beaten by his opponent’s rivered flush. After a final table where the chips went with him, were taken away from him by a two-outer and the chance of a double title nearly went with it, 'WhatIfGod' battled hard and won back-to-back EPT Online Main Event titles in a thrilling climax to a great series. 2021 EPT Online Main Event Final Table Results: ‘WhatIfGod’ - $363,641 Ramon Colillas - $276,741 Christian Rudolph - $210,608 Daniel Dvoress - $160,279 Eduardo Silva - $121,977 Bruno Volkmann - $92,828 Benjamin Rolle - $70,645 Orpen Kisacikoglu - $53,763 Pedro Garagnani - $41,259
  16. The Czech Republic's Josef Gulas Jr. outlasted French high roller Johan Guilbert to win the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event title and €1,276,712 ($1,448,289) first-place prize at King's Casino in Rozvadov on Wednesday Night. Gulas leveraged every bit of his home-court advantage in a rollercoaster of a ride that had the "businessman and car salesman" starting the day as the overwhelming chip leader, slipping down to the short stack, and battling back - multiple times - to eventually take home the biggest payday of his career. "It's an incredible feeling. I am truly thankful and happy," said Gulas after his win. "It was a perfect tournament with a very nice structure in the best casino in Europe. Just incredible!" Although the final table took some time to complete, nearly nine hours and 139 hands, it took just 15 minutes for Thomas Denie's tournament to come to an end in a massive hand that sent him to the rail. Denie found himself all-in pre-flop with [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Qs"], way behind Athanasios Kidas with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"] and that stayed the case through the board of [poker card="Td"][poker card="6d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="3h"][poker card="6s"] to make his way from the table for a result worth €163,434. Aleksandar Trajkovski was the next man to bust. With the blinds at 125,000/250,000 (250,000 bb ante) Guilbert opened to 500,000 under the gun holding the [poker card="ts"][poker card="7s"] and Trajkovski defended his big blind off the short stack with the [poker card="kh"][poker card="9d"]. Trajkovski hit top pair on the [poker card="kc"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"] flop and checked it over to Guilbert who put in a small bet of just 250,000. Trajkovski then check-shipped his remaining five big blinds and was snapped off by Guilbert, looking to hit a flush or running cards. The turn was the [poker card="7h"], bringing Guilbert more outs. But it was the [poker card="9s"] river that sent Trajkovski to the rail in sixth place for €217,854. With five players left, only Stanislav Koleno was short-stacked and under pressure to make something happen. The Slovenian got his remaining chips into the middle on a flop of [poker card="Jd"][poker card="9s"][poker card="3d"] holding [poker card="Jh"][poker card="Td"] but overnight chip leader Josef Gulas made the call with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kd"]. The [poker card="7d"] turn didn’t help Koleno other than adding a gutshot straight draw, but the [poker card="3h"] river ended those hopes, sending him to the cash desk for a fifth-place finish worth €292,862. With four players left, Guilbert doubled through Gulas Jr. (aces vs. kings) to grab a chip lead of 24 million, ahead of Athanasios Kidas with 17.4 million, Alexander Tkatschew (16.9m), and Gulas (10.3m) who slipped to the short stack. And for the best part of an hour, very little changed other than the stacks behind Guilbert evening up a little. That was not the case for the next hour. Tkatschew had the lead while Guilbert fought back. The home country’s hope in Gulas Jr. battled for his tournament life on more than one occasion. And, after an epic see-sawing of the chips, Greek player Kidas found himself on the outside looking in as the short stack. In the battle of the short stacks, Gulas was the aggressor as he shoved pre-flop for 22 big blinds with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Qc"]. Kidas, down to just 13 big blinds, called off his stack with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Js"] and the pair watched as the board of [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Ad"][poker card="3c"][poker card="8h"][poker card="Tc"] sent Kidas out in fourth for a result worth €401,344. Germany's Tkatschew took over the chip lead for a short time until Guilbert was able to lift a big pot off him to reclaim the top of the leaderboard. Then, slowly, Tkatschew's stack began to shrink and for nearly two hours he navigated a stack of under 20 bigs. Eventually, though, Tkatschew could hang on no longer when he ran into Guilbert holding another big hand. With the blinds at 250,000/500,000 (500,000 bb ante) Guilbert put in a raise from the button to 1 million holding the [poker card="ac"][poker card="2c"] and Tkatschew defended his big blind with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="td"]. The flop came [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="2h"], giving Tkatschew top pair and Guilbert the nut flush draw. Guilbert didn't have to wait long for his flush to come in as the turn came the [poker card="4c"] and now Tkatschew led for 1.3 million. Guilbert just called, leaving Tkatschew with roughly a half-pot bet behind. The river came the [poker card="7s"] and when Tkatschew moved all-in, Guilbert insta-called and showed Tkatschew the winning hand. Tkatschew made his way out of the tournament area, finishing in third place for €558,505. Guilbert had a two-to-one chip lead over Gulas Jr. headed into heads-up play but the momentum quickly shifted to Gulas when the pair got involved in an all-in confrontation with Gulas' [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"] holding against Guilbert's [poker card="ks"][poker card="qs"]. After that, both players slowed the pace of play way down as they traded blows back and forth. Guilbert regained the lead when he rivered a flush versus Gulas' turned straight. Then Gulas took it right back when he flopped two pair with his [poker card="ac"][poker card="5s"] against Guilbert's [poker card="ah"][poker card="jh"] on the [poker card="as"][poker card="6s"][poker card="5c"] flop. Eventually, Gulas took control and broke out into a large chip lead headed into what would be the final hand of the tournament. On the button, Gulas open-shipped his massive chip lead holding the [poker card="ad"][poker card="8s"] and Guilbert snap-called it off for just over 10 big blinds with his [poker card="2c"][poker card="2h"]. The flop came [poker card="kc"][poker card="jd"][poker card="3h"], keeping Guilbert in the lead. The [poker card="7d"] turn changed nothing. But the river was the [poker card="8h"], giving Gulas a pair and ending Guilbert's tournament as the runner-up for €789,031. Gulas Jr. gave a fist pump as he secured the win, the WSOP Europe Main Event bracelet, and the €1,276,712 first-place prize. https://twitter.com/PokerroomKings/status/1468886306239307776?s=20 WSOP Europe Main Event Final Table Results Josef Gulas Jr. - €1,276,712 Johan Guibert - €789,031 Alexander Tkatschew - €558,505 Athanasios Kidas - €401,344 Stanislav Koleno - €292,862 Aleksandar Trajkovski - €217,854 Thomas Denie - €163,434
  17. After two more tournaments closed out the 2021 World Series of Poker, there was late drama across the Rio. Michael Addamo claimed the High Roller victory that confirms 2021 as the ‘Year of Addamo’, Boris Kolev won his first-ever bracelet and there was late drama in the WSOP Player of the Year race, which was over, not over, then done for good. Addamo Claims Huge High Roller Win Australian high roller crusher Michael Addamo won his fourth WSOP bracelet after taking down the $100,000-entry Event #87 High Roller after a final table performance that confirmed his greatness in 2021. Addamo has crushed the year, winning more in the past 11 months than many great players have in their entire careers. His quest for his fourth bracelet began looking down from a great height at the top of the leaderboard. Nevertheless, Addamo would have been surprised that his closest challenger when play began, Danish player Henrik Hecklen, busted in fifth place for $434,523. Sam Soverel had chipped up in the early exchanges at the table, and his raise pre-flop saw Hecklen call off his 14 big blind stack with [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Jd"]. Soverel called it off with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="3d"] and managed to ride home his better hand, with the board playing out [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Js"][poker card="5d"][poker card="Td"][poker card="8d"] for a flopped top pair to almost double his stack. Soverel was on a mini heater and doubled through the chip leader Addamo to take the lead when he was all-in and at risk with top pair against the Aussie’s two pair on the turn, only for the river to give him a better two pair and stun the table. If Addamo was running bad, could it be anyone’s tournament? Sean Perry certainly hoped so when he moved all-in with [poker card="6h"][poker card="6s"] against the [poker card="8h"][poker card="8d"] belonging to Kevin Rabichow. The board of [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Td"][poker card="8c"][poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qd"] saw Rabichow make trips and slay Perry’s chances, the result worth $590,344. Down to three players, Rabichow was still the short stack, but over an extended period of play without an elimination, Soverel first spiked as chip leader, but then plummeted in two hands as Addamo delivered him from the tournament in brutal fashion, his [poker card="As"][poker card="Jd"] dominating Soverel’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Td"] on a board of [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="Th"]Ks][poker card="2c"] and sending Soverel home with $830,992. Heads-up, it was that hand that propelled Addamo into a dominant position. With 28 million to Rabichow’s 5 million, the Australian needed no time at all to wrap up the event and claim his fourth WSOP bracelet of an already astounding poker career. Rabichow was all-in pre-flop for his last 12 big blinds with [poker card="As"][poker card="6h"] and although he began the final hand ahead of Addamo’s [poker card="Kc"][poker card="2c"] the board of [poker card="5h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Qs"][poker card="7h"] saw the most successful Australian tournament player in history add yet more glory to a stunning poker CV. Kevin Rabichow won over $1.2 million for a great run to runner-up but it was Michel Addamo who lost the lead yet won it all back and more to take down Event #87 and claim a famous victory worth $1.95m WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 High Roller Final Table Results: Michael Addamo - $1,958,569 Kevin Rabichow - $1,210,487 Sam Soverel - $830,992 Sean Perry - $590,344 Henrik Hecklen - $434,523 Sorel Mizzi - $331,806 Sam Grafton - $263,227 Mikita Badziakouski - $217,274 Bill Klein - $186,909 Fedor Holz - $167,869 Kolev the King as WSOP Closes Rio Events With Maiden Win In the final event of the WSOP 2021, Boris Kolev became the answer to a thousand poker quizzes of the future as he won the last physical bracelet inside the Rio. Kolev had come into play just outside the top 10 chipcounts with 30 players remaining and for some time, the day was about Ben Yu in more ways than one. Yu, who led the field heading into the final day, was actually in the running to win the WSOP Player of the Year as Justin Bonomo of all people revealed. Eventually, thanks in no small part to Shaun Deeb’s amusing asides and general great play, Yu could not prevent Josh Arieh from celebrating - again - the Player of the Year title that was re-confirmed upon Yu’s exit in 10th place, as we wrote about right here in more detail. Yu’s exit in 10th place saw the final table of eight almost there and when Justin Liberto crashed out in ninth place with [poker card="As"][poker card="Jc"] unable to beat Niko Koop’s [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"] across a thrilling run out of [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Js"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="9d"] that gave the latter a full house on the river, the race was on to win the final bracelet of the series. Lee Markholt busted in eighth place for $49,107 when his shove with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] was overtaken by Kolev’s [poker card="Kd"][poker card="3d"] as the board played out [poker card="Ks"][poker card="9c"][poker card="2d"][poker card="Qs"]Kh] to give the eventual winner trips, and George Wolff lost his stack to Huy Nguyen when [poker card="Qh"][poker card="8h"] didn’t hold against Nguyen’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="3d"] as a board of [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="Th"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="Tc"] saw Wolff cash for $64,207. With six players remaining, Koop made his bow in sixth place for $85,411 as his shove with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5s"] ran into the dominating [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] belonging to Uri Reichenstein. The board of [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6d"][poker card="4c"][poker card="Kh"] saw Reichenstein win that important pot to climb the ranks and send the dangerous Koop to the rail. It was the turn of Z Stein to bust in fifth place as his check-call for his stack on the turn of a board showing [poker card="Jd"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6h"][poker card="Qc"] doomed his [poker card="Jh"][poker card="8c"] with Reichenstein holding [poker card="Js"][poker card="9h"]. The river of [poker card="Jc"] confirmed a full house for the Israeli and sent Stein home with a result worth $115,558 his final result of the Autumn WSOP. It was some time before the next elimination, but when it came, it belonged to Ramon Colillas. The PokerStars player busted with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="6h"] when Kolev’s [poker card="9s"][poker card="7c"] got there on a board of [poker card="Tc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="6s"], Colillas cashing for $158,972. It wasn’t long before Huy Nugyen was on the rail too, his short stack of 12 big blinds going into the middle with [poker card="KS"][poker card="Ts"] unable to hold against Reichenstein’s [poker card="Jc"][poker card="8h"]. The board of [poker card="9h"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="8d"] was a killer, too, rivering Nguyen’s chances of a vital double and instead condemning him to a third-place finish worth $222,310. Heads-up, Kolev had a marginal lead over Reichenstein, the Bulgarian’s stack of 13.7 million a little ahead of Israeli Reichenstein’s 12.8 million. Kolev opened up a lead, however, and on a flop of [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"][poker card="As"], check-called to the turn holding [poker card="Jc"][poker card="6c"]. The turn of [poker card="Ks"] saw the same pattern, Kolev check-calling Reichenstein, who held only [poker card="Qd"][poker card="7s"] for a total bluff. Reichenstein ran that bluff for his whole stack on the river, but it was the [poker card="4c"] that came and Kolev called it off, showed his flush and became a first-time winner in the final ever WSOP Event at the Rio, winning the $511,184 top prize and leaving Reichenstein with another consolation prize of a deep run to a final table and $315,936. WSOP 2021 Event #88 $5,000 8-Handed NLHE Final Table Results: Boris Kolev - $511,184 Uri Reichenstein - $315,936 Huy Nguyen - $222,310 Ramon Colillas - $158,972 Z Stein - $115,558 Niko Koop - $85,411 George Wolff - $64,207 Lee Markholt - $49,107 Justin Liberto - $38,222 With the final events playing out at the Rio, most of the players had left the building...but perhaps for some, most importantly, the car park. https://twitter.com/jeffplatt/status/1463271505911947269 Not everyone believes the Rio was the ideal place to play poker, of course, and they were nobly represented by the viral sensation of videos that has fuelled so many Twitter Poker laughs over the last years of the home of the WSOP. https://twitter.com/SrslySirius/status/1463214257772761092 Matt Glantz neatly summed up Josh Arieh’s two-time triumph in the WSOP Player of the Year race. https://twitter.com/MattGlantz/status/1463307122909880321 Legendary WSOP font of all knowledge Kevin Mathers, known to us all as ‘Kevmath’ signed off his look at the old venue with one last short of the Rio’s lights burning bright as the shadows took the building one last time. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1463392728289406978 Finally, how could we close out the series without a glimpse into the bizarre, amazing world of Phil Hellmuth. Answer: we couldn't. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463277999353069568 It’s been an immense end to the World Series of Poker at the Rio and a WSOP never to be forgotten in 2021. The best news of all is that in six months time, the poker world will be ready to do it all over again at Bally’s and Paris... we can’t wait!
  18. [Editor's Note: At the time that this article was written, it had been announced that Josh Arieh had clinched the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. However, an online tournament result had not yet been included, leaving open the possibility for Ben Yu to win the POY on the last day of the series. We are leaving the article as written and today's events will be reflected in tomorrow's recap.] On a dramatic final day of the race to become WSOP Player of the Year, Josh Arieh finally saw off the dogged challenge of Phil Hellmuth as Arieh, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner in 2021 and four-time bracelet holder in his career, earned the coveted title of 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. In additional action, the final high roller of the series found a familiar name at the top of the leaderboard as Michael Addamo took charge of the $100K NLHE headed into the final day of the series. Addamo Adds Up Chip Lead Once Again The final two events of the 2021 World Series of Poker are racing towards the line as Michael Addamo and Ben Yu have put themselves in pole position to win big as they take leads into the last two final tables of the WSOP in Las Vegas. The $100,000-entry Event #87 is a High Roller event that saw players able to late register up until the start of Day 2, and stars such as Brian Rast, Ole Schemion, Elio Fox, Stephen Chidwick, Dominik Nitsche, Mark Herm, Jason Koon, David Szep, Sean Perry, Jeremy Ausmus and Rok Gostisa all got involved before the first deal, with the field confirmed at 64 players in total, with just 39 remaining at the start of play. That number was reduced almost immediately, with Shaun Deeb crashing out to David Coleman and Brian Rast almost on the rail in his first hand as he shoved for 600,000 chips at blinds of 20,000/40,000 with [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"], a hand called by Cary Katz with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"] which held to double up and leave Rast on fumes. Rast, a five-time WSOP bracelet winner after his win earlier this series, would later rally, but still missed out on the money places, as did Phil Hellmuth, who quickly realized that he needed to win or come second in Event #88 to win the Player of the Year race. Hellmuth wasn’t the only one on the rail without money as David Peters, David Coleman, Jason Koon and the aforementioned Cary Katz all missed the money, along with Mark Herm, who was busted on the bubble in 11th place. Arieh wisely chose to give late-regging for $100,000 a miss. Fedor Holz was the first player to make money as he was eliminated in 10th place for $167,869 when his ace-high shove couldn’t hold against Sorel Mizzi’s king-queen, a queen on the river winning the Canadian the pot and sending the German to the rail. Addamo had the lead as the nine-handed final table kicked off, with 9.5 million chips to Sam Sovrel’s closest stack of just over 6 million. Bill Klein was the first player to depart the final nine as he busted with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Jc"] to Addamo’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qc"]. The money all went in on the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="7d"][poker card="2h"] flop, but neither the [poker card="6c"] turn or [poker card="8h"] river could save him and he cashed for $186,909 in ninth place. He won his first-ever WSOP bracelet earlier in the week, but he busted in eighth place for $217,274 when his shove with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="8h"] ran into Addamo’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9s"] to bust on a board of [poker card="Kc"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="Td"][poker card="Ks"]. Sam Grafton was the next player to lose his stack as he busted in seventh place for $263,227. Calling a raise from Henrik Hecklen, Grafton went to a flop of [poker card="Th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4s"] and both players checked it. Grafton checked the [poker card="9s"] turn too, but Hecklen didn’t, firing a bet that the British player called. On the [poker card="6d"] river, Grafton check-called Hecklen’s shove after using several time extension chips, but the Brit’s time was up as he called, showed [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9d"] for a pair of nines and was shown Hecklen’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="8h"] for a rivered straight. After an extended period of play where Addamo used his stack to chip up even more, Mizzi was the player to miss out on the final day as he shoved with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="7c"] and was called by Addamo with [poker card="Qs"][poker card="7s"]. The board ran out [poker card="8h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="9d"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="9s"] as the unfortunate Mizzi saw his dominating hand overtaken on the turn to end play for the night and give Addamo a big lead heading into the final day, holding as many chips on his own as his four opponents do combined. WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 High Roller Final Table Chipcounts: Michael Addamo - 19,620,000 Henrik Hecklen - 5,445,000 Sam Soverel - 5,165,000 Kevin Rabichow - 4,250,000 Sean Perry - 3,920,000 Ben Yu Leads Final Day in $5,000 8-Handed Event #88 The drama was palpable in the $5,000-entry NLHE 8-Handed Event #88, the final live event on this year’s WSOP schedule in Las Vegas. Phil Hellmuth, who could not reach the latter stages of the $50,000 or $100,000 events of the past couple of days, needed a deep run in the event. In fact, once Arieh crashed out, Hellmuth quickly established what he needed to do. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463030770637754368 Arieh was still in the building and as the tension built, the leader of the POY race busted, giving him a chance to join the anti-rail. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463006906285391874 Sadly for Hellmuth and his many fans, the Poker Brat fell short as he called all-in with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="5h"] on a board of [poker card="Ts"][poker card="8h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2d"] against Jason Brazeau’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="4c"] for a pair of eights. Hellmuth’s elimination saw the 16-time record WSOP bracelet winner concede defeat and congratulate Arieh on his victory. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463061249034358784 Arieh replied, “You're always gonna be the goat [Greatest of All Time] buddy! I appreciate you more than you know.”, tweeting a picture of the title celebrations. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463079737480253441 After Hellmuth’s departure, many big names fell, as players such as Faraz Jaka, Romain Lewis, Joao Simao, Andrew Kelsall, Dominik Nitsche, Justin Lapka, Justin Saliba, and Brandon Sheils all missed out on the final day. With just 30 players bagging up Day 2 chips from the 531 entries in total, Ben Yu (2,515,000) leads the final day field. Uri Reichenstein (2,070,000) is his closest challenger, while there are top 10 stacks for some of the best players to have sat down at the felt this World Series in Shaun Deeb (1,680,000), Ramon Colillas (1,500,000), and Alexandre Reard (1,048,000), who will shoot for his second 2021 bracelet tomorrow afternoon. WSOP 2021 Event #88 $5,000 8-Handed NLHE Top 10 Chipcounts: Ben Yu - 2,515,000 Uri Reichenstein - 2,070,000 George Wolff - 1,770,000 Shaun Deeb - 1,680,000 Matyas Kende - 1,635,000 Ramon Colillas - 1,500,000 Danny Wong - 1,330,000 Justin Liberto - 1,285,000 Clayton Maguire - 1,100,000 Alexandre Reard - 1,048,000 Daniel Negreanu’s World Series of Poker came to a close and ‘Kid Poker’ was happy to post his scores from his final rollercoaster ride at the Rio. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092 Owais Ahmed commented that “It's sick, almost unfathomable, how many final tables and top 3 appearances [Negreanu] has at the Rio, but never won a bracelet in the building. I'm sure he'll be happy to see a location change.” in a comment liked by Negreanu himself. Bring on Bally’s. Everyone has made the ‘walk of shame’ from the famous poker venue for the last 17 years, but for Martin Jacobson, the Swedish WSOP Main Event winner whose best result of his career came inside the Rio, it was emotional. https://twitter.com/Martin_Jacobson/status/1463073395499692039 Finally, not everyone is going to be sad to see trips to the Rio go down and the temperature go up from May next year at Bally’s and Paris. https://twitter.com/kittykuopoker/status/1462932645155782661
  19. A fantastic day of action in the World Series of Poker saw three bracelets won by first-time winners as well as the first day of action in the $100,000 NLHE High Roller. Leo Margets was the first female player to win an open bracelet in the 2021 World Series of Poker as she closed out The Closer, winning $376,000 and claiming a maiden bracelet. Margets Makes History in The Closer With just 63 players remaining in the hunt for the bracelet, Margets began the day in the chasing pack as Alex Kulev of Bosnia led the field. That lead would be maintained for much of the final day of the event, but with a little luck and a lot of skill, Margets made good on her attempt to become the first female open event winner late in the 2021 World Series. The final table was reached in record time as just nine players remained, with Kulev still king in waiting. At that point, Margets had managed to get third on the leaderboard, but Kulev’s lead was such that she had just over half of his stack. Canadian player Ben Underwood busted in ninth place for $35,131 when his short stack shove with [poker card="Qh"][poker card="6s"] couldn’t get there against Aleksandr Shevliakov’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Jd"] as the board ran out with queens on flop and river but low cards elsewhere. There was quickly another elimination as Chris Moorman, online poker legend and short stack heading into the final, busted with ace-high against Margets. Moorman’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="5h"] started the hand behind against Margets’ [poker card="Ad"][poker card="9c"] and the board of [poker card="Kc"][poker card="4d"][poker card="7s"][poker card="As"][poker card="Tc"] saw Margets’ kicker play to send Moorman out with a cash worth $44,740. In seventh, Shevliakov was the victim as the post-dinner session that would find a winner began with his elimination for $57,525. Shevliakov called off Kulev’s shove and was in horrible shape, holding [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Qh"] against Kulev’s [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ks"]. The seven-high board sent the Russian home at the Bosnian’s expense as the chip leader took yet more control. In sixth place, Cherish Andrews earned $74,680 when her [poker card="Ad"][poker card="3h"] couldn’t catch Stephen Song’s [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Qh"] as the board, which initially looked great for Andrews on the flop of [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3s"], was fine on the [poker card="3c"] turn but took a turn for the worse on the [poker card="Qc"] river. With five players left, it looked like everyone was playing for second behind Kulev as he continued to dominate, busting two more players in a single hand as his [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Qc"] held against Arturo Segura’s [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Th"], condemning him to a fifth-place finish worth $97,865 and Marc Lange, whose [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Kc"] was overtaken on the board of [poker card="Jh"][poker card="8h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="6s"][poker card="Qd"] board. Another queen on the river and another player out, Lange earning $129,460, the first six-figure score of the event, for crashing out in fourth. Three-handed, Kulev’s stack of 38 million dwarfed both Song (6 million) and Margets (4 million), but no limit hold’em being what it is, no-one’s lead is ever safe for more than a couple of all-in hands. Margets had chipped up a little to 7 million by the time Song departed in third for $172,855, but Kulev, whose pocket nines beat Song’s [poker card="Kc"][poker card="8h"] shove, was up to 40 million and looking like it was a matter of time before he booked a first WSOP win. Heads-up began with the stroke of luck Margets needed. Miscounting her stack to 2.5 big blinds rather than 7.5, she shoved with [poker card="9c"][poker card="4d"] and when Kulev called with the dominating [poker card="As"][poker card="9s"], she looked doomed. But the board had other ideas, coming [poker card="Js"][poker card="7s"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="8c"] to double her up in fortuitous fashion and give her 15 bigs to play with. Suddenly, Margets had all the momentum, and 3:1 down in chips, she doubled again when her shove with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="4c"] held in spectacular style when Kulev’s [poker card="Kh"][poker card="8h"] was shot down by quad fours after the board played out. Grinding to level up the chips, Margets had a slim lead by the time the pair saw a flop of [poker card="9s"][poker card="5h"][poker card="3s"] and all the chips went into the middle. Kulev held [poker card="Ah"][poker card="9d"] for top pair, top kicker, but Margets had the flush draw and bottom pair with [poker card="Qs"][poker card="5s"]. The turn of [poker card="5c"] gave her trips and holding through the [poker card="Th"] river, her miraculous comeback was complete as Spanish pro Margets won her first-ever WSOP bracelet in the most dramatic of circumstances. WSOP 2021 Event #83 $1,500 The Closer Final Table Results: Leo Margets - $376,850 Alex Kulev - $232,920 Stephen Song - $172,855 Marc Lange - $129,460 Arturo Segura - $97,865 Cherish Andrews - $74,680 Aleksandr Shevliakov - $57,525 Chris Moorman - $44,740 Benjamin Underwood - $35,131 Badziakouski Wins Brilliant First Bracelet in High Roller In Event #85, the $50,000-entry High Roller, it was Belarussian poker crusher Mikita Badziakouski who reigned supreme and took the title and his first WSOP bracelet. Badziakouski had a huge task on his hands to do so, with one of the toughest final tables in this or any World Series to negotiate. However, from being one of the shortest stacks when the final table began, the Belarussian modern poker legend added another reminder to others of his poker prowess with an impressive performance. Ryan Leng was the first player to leave the nine-handed final table and it came as no surprise purely due to the 2021 WSOP powerhouse entering play with seven big blinds. Most of them went into the middle before the flop, with a little going in on the flop with [poker card="5h"][poker card="5d"], but Ren Lin had [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Kh"] and the cowboys shot down Leng’s hopes on a board of [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="Td"][poker card="Ac"][poker card="Ks"]. Leng cashed for $131,982. In eighth place, it was the turn of Joao Vieira to depart, earning $167,152 for his run to the final table. All-in pre-flop for just a couple of blinds, Vieira had [poker card="Ah"][poker card="4h"], but he was called by both Carlos Villamarin with [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5s"] and Jason Koon with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="9c"]. The board of [poker card="5d"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2c"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="2s"] saw a little more money go in, but it eventually went to showdown and Villamarin’s pocket fives - of course - won the day. Shortly after that hand, Villamarin himself was on the rail. All-in pre-flop with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Jh"], he was in horrible shape against the [poker card="As"][poker card="Ac"] belonging to Stephen Chidwick and the Brit held with ease across the [poker card="9h"][poker card="8s"][poker card="9d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="9s"] board to leap up the leaderboard and leave Villamarin on the rail with $214,496. With six players left, Chidwick held the lead, but not for long. Badziakouski took over and grabbed the chip lead. It was one he would not relinquish easily, as Ali Imsirovic busted in sixth place for $278,840 when Ren Lin’s [poker card="8s"][poker card="7c"] got there against Imsirovic’s [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Qd"] on a board of [poker card="Jd"][poker card="7s"][poker card="5d"][poker card="2c"][poker card="Tc"], with Lin’s middle pair on the flop surviving two streets of outs including two overs and any diamond. At this stage, Mike Matusow was singing the praises of Daniel Negreanu’s late registration...well, kind of. https://twitter.com/themouthmatusow/status/1462634694315438082 Stephen Chidwick had been left super-short by the chip leader and departed in fifth place for $367,153. Chidwick’s [poker card="5d"][poker card="2h"] couldn’t catch against Koon’s [poker card="Qs"][poker card="5c"] with all the chips in pre-flop and a board of [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kd"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="4h"][poker card="6d"] playing out. Koon was the next to bust, crashing out in fourth place for $489,585 when his [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Kc"] couldn’t find any help against Badziakouski’s [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Qs"]. The eight-high board sent the GGPoker ambassador out before the podium places and while the Belarussian Badziakouski led, hopes were high for both Negreanu and Lin to make a comeback. Those hopes were to be ruthlessly dashed by the champion in waiting. Negreanu was eliminated by Badziakouski next as the Belarussian went about taking down his final three opponents in a brutal display of poker dominance. The Canadian shoved with [poker card="Jh"][poker card="5h"] and Badziakouski called with [poker card="As"][poker card="6h"], the board of [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="8d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="Ad"] delivering Kid Poker from the competition for another great score of $661,041, but missing out on the bracelet once again. Heads-up could have been a non-event, Lin trailing Badziakouski as he did by almost four-to-one in chips. Despite that opening deficit, however, Lin chipped up to take the lead, and for a while, it looked like Badziakouski might struggle. But the partypoker pro is made of strong stuff and he railed to lead once again before the final hand. Li, short-stacked, shoved for just under seven big blinds with [poker card="Kd"][poker card="7s"] and Badziakouski called it off with [poker card="As"][poker card="5h"]. The board of [poker card="8h"][poker card="9d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="8s"][poker card="9c"] saw the Belarussian emerge from one of the toughest final tables of the Autumn the winner and the proud owner of his first-ever WSOP bracelet, along with the $1.46 million top prize. Li, defeated, had to settle for the runner-up prize of $903,610. WSOP 2021 Event #85 $50,000 NLHE High Roller Final Table Results: Mikita Badziakouski - $1,462,043 Ren Lin - $903,610 Daniel Negreanu - $661,041 Jason Koon - $489,585 Stephen Chidwick - $367,153 Ali Imsirovic - $278,840 Carlos Villamarin - $214,496 Joao Vieira - $167,152 Ryan Leng - $131,982 [caption id="attachment_637303" align="alignright" width="700"] Mikita Badziakouski won his first WSOP bracelet too, claiming a terrific victory in the $50,000 NLHE High Roller[/caption] The final event of the night to conclude produced a winner inside 14 hours of play as Michael McCauley won his maiden bracelet in the $1,000-entry Event #86, the Super Turbo event. In an event where the great and good took to the felt, some stars busted out early, such as Phil Hellmuth, Shau Deeb and Barny Boatman, whose tale of disaster started with such positivity... https://twitter.com/barnyboatman/status/1462472736895242244 ...but ended in a cold as ice defeat. https://twitter.com/barnyboatman/status/1462529376059154433 Others were running hot and chief amongst them was the leader of the WSOP Player of the Year race, Josh Arieh. Having seen the Poker Brat bust earlier, Arieh dug in his spikes and stuck around all the way to 10th place, earning $10,604, but most importantly, more points to go next to his name on the POY leaderboard. Others to cash but miss out on the final table included Ryan Riess (152nd for $1,606), Landon Tice (130th for $1,606), and Michael Lech (124th for $1,757). Down to the final table, Dara O’Kearney was the first player to bust when his queen-jack couldn’t catch Andrew Wilson’s ace-four. After Marc Lomeo lost a coinflip with pocket fives against Luigi Curcio’s ace-king, Curcio himself busted when he and Filippo Ragone bothlost out to McCauley in a double elimination. With just five players left, only the Israel player Yuval Bronshtein had won a WSOP bracelet before, but he crashed out in fourth after Rajvir Dua had departed in fifth. Indian player Neel Joshi had led for a long time in the run-up to the final table but could last no longer and left in third place when his start-stack shove with king-deuce ran into McCauley’s pocket sixes. Wilson was only a little shorter than the chip leader, but he was on the rail when his shove for 15 big blinds with [poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"] saw a call from McCauley with [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Jh"] and the board of [poker card="Qc"][poker card="Ts"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="8d"] gave the American player his first-ever WSOP bracelet. WSOP 2021 Event #86 $1,000 Super Turbo Final Table Results: Michael McCauley - $161,384 Andrew Wilson - $99,742 Neel Joshi - $72,031 Yuval Bronshtein - $52,679 Rajvir Dua - $39,022 Filippo Ragone - $29,282 Luigi Curcio - $22,263 Marc Lomeo - $17,153 Dara O'Kearney - $13,395 Holz Leads The $100K On Day 1 of the $100,000-entry High Roller, Fedor Holz showed once again why he is still one of the most dangerous high stakes players in the world as he topped the 28 players who survived from 53 entries. Holz’ stack of 3,415,000 was marginally ahead of David Peters’ 3,305,000 as a top-quality field produced some big stacks belonging to superstars with plenty of bracelets between them. Oddly, however, while there are 8 bracelets between the top 10 players, only three players of that number have won one, with Michael Addamo (3) coming into Day 2 sixth in chips with over 1.8 million, behind Holz (2) and Peters (also 3). With big names such as Sam Grafton (2,120,000), Sorel Mizzi (1,380,000), Sam Soverel (1,070,000), Dan Smith (665,000), and Ben Heath (610,000) all in the Top 20, the potential late registration of both Phil Hellmuth and Josh Arieh could yet decide the destiny of the WSOP Player of the Year title. Players such as Darren Elias, Stephen Chidwick, and Jason Koon all busted on Day 1 but will have the chance to rebuy before the first card hits the felt on Day 2. WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 NLHE High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts: Fedor Holz - 3,415,000 David Peters - 3,305,000 Orpen Kisacikoglu - 3,040,000 Sam Grafton - 2,120,000 Bill Klein - 1,885,000 Jonathan Little - 1,625,000 Seth Davies - 1,260,000 Laszlo Bujtas - 1,240,000 John Lilic - 1,190,000 Michael Addamo - 885,000 Finally, we stay with Koon as the GGPoker ambassador and first-time WSOP bracelet winner this series paid tribute to a great player given little credit apart from in the past few days. Sincerity rocks, people. https://twitter.com/JasonKoon/status/1462499757369139201  
  20. A dramatic day at the felt in two big tournaments saw history made inside the Rio Hotel & Casino as two more WSOP bracelets were won in two of the biggest tournaments of the Autumn. A Career-High Score For Adrian Mateos In Event #82, the $250,000-entry Super High Roller, Adrian Mateos went wire-to-wire as he took down the spectacular buy-in event for a top prize of $3.2 million and his fourth WSOP bracelet at the age of just 27. Just five players began the final day, with Mateos’ stack almost as big on its own as the four others combined. After a period of play that saw Keith Tilston drop down the ranks, the American was the first player to bust when his shove with [poker card="As"][poker card="3s"] over the opening bet from Mateos saw the Spaniard call it off with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ts"]. The board of [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8s"] gave Mateos a turned straight and sent Tilston home for a result worth $632,124. With four players left, Mateos now had more than the rest of the table combined. It was Ben Heath who busted the next player, however, as Seth Davies busted in fourth for $930,791. Davies shoved from the small blind with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="7c"] and Heath called it off from the big blind with [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jd"]. The ten-high board produced no drama and play was three-handed. After a period of play that saw Heath and Mateos battle for the lead, trading it on several occasions, Kincaid hit the rail when his [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"] was no match for Mateos’ [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ah"] on the ace-high board. Kincaid, who had been a lot shorter earlier in the event, cashed for an impressive $1.3m. Heads-up, Heath was looking at a 2:1 deficit to overcome, but he was unable to do so in a final hand that saw Mateos’ [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Tc"] good on a board of [poker card="7c"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5s"][poker card="Qh"][poker card="2s"] against Ben Heath’s [poker card="5d"][poker card="3d"]. Heath cashed for $2 million, but Mateos’ victory was worth $3.26 million, the biggest cash of an already astounding career at the live felt where he has now won over $25 million. WSOP 2021 Event #82 $250,000 Super High Roller Final Table Results: Adrian Mateos - $3,265,262 Ben Heath - $2,018,148 John Kincaid - $1,370,575 Seth Davies - $930,791 Keith Tilston - $632,124 Ausmus Denies Bracelet To Both Hellmuth and Negreanu A ding-dong battle saw Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu both just miss out on glory as Jeremy Ausmus won his third WSOP bracelet at the direct expense of his two highly-decorated opponents. The final table of nine kicked off with the departure of Veselin Karakitukov, who was the first player to win a six-figure score for their efforts, his cash worth $108,753. After the exit of Ben Lamb in eighth place, Josh Arieh busted in seventh, meaning he needed Hellmuth not to win in order to maintain his place at the top of the WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard. That happened, but not before a period of play when players were three-handed where each man had the lead. Hellmuth seemed to have all the momentum at one stage, but Daniel Negreanu was the thorn in his side. The same was true in reverse as at one point, Negreanu only needed to fade the river to eliminate his old frenemy in third place. Instead, the Poker Brat survived with a miracle on the river, leading to Hellmuth going to his rail whooping in the Thunderdome. Negreanu, frustrated at the missed opportunity, tipped his chair over in disgust. The Canadian would bust soon after, but Hellmuth still had work to do in order to claim the bracelet. He was unable to do so, getting it all-in with two pair on a flop of [poker card="9c"][poker card="7d"][poker card="6s"] where Ausmus had flopped the straight. That held through turn and river as Hellmuth saw his hopes of a full house disappear and dreams of that 17th WSOP bracelet go with it. The race for 2021 WSOP Player of the year looks likely to go to the final event, with Arieh making Day 2 of the $50,000 NLHE Event and Hellmuth needing to late reg and run deep to take the top of the leaderboard. WSOP 2021 Event #84 $50,000 PLO High Roller Final Table Results: Jeremy Ausmus - $1,188,918 Phil Hellmuth - $734,807 Daniel Negreanu - $519,764 Alexander Pedersen - $376,376 Laszlo Bujtas - $279,168 Jared Bleznick - $212,223 Josh Arieh - $165,452 Ben Lamb - $132,370 Veselin Karakitukov - $108,753 Jason Koon Leads The $50K High Roller In the $50,000-entry NLHE High Roller Event #85, Jason Koon bagged the biggest stack as some superstars of the felt gathered in his slipstream. With 35 players surviving from the 101 entries that took part, Koon’s stack of 2,405,000 is ahead of fellow first-time WSOP bracelet winner in 2021, Ole Schemion (1,760,000). With greats such as Stephen Chidwick (1,700,000), Shaun Deeb (1,650,000), Dan Smith (1,450,000) and Mikita Badziakouski (1,325,000) all in the top 10, there are going to be fireworks on Day 2, with Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu both likely to register as part of the late reg frenzy that is possible before Day 2 starts. With Michael Addamo (1,145,000) eight in chips and former WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen (610,000) and WSOP Player of the Year leader Josh Arieh (570,000) all in with a great shout of victory sitting in the top 20 stacks, there was no place in the Day 2 seat draw for Nick Petrangelo, Elio Fox, Sergio Aido, Dario Sammartino, Anthony Zinno, Brian Rast, Dominik Nitsche, Ben Heath, Scott Seiver, Sam Grafton or Fedor Holz. WSOP 2021 Event #85 $50,000 NLHE High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts: Jason Koon - 2,405,000 Ole Schemion - 1,760,000 Stephen Chidwick - 1,700,000 Shaun Deeb - 1,650,000 Ranganath Kanchi - 1,565,000 Dan Smith - 1,450,000 Mikita Badziakouski - 1,325,000 Michael Addamo - 1,145,000 Darren Elias - 1,144,000 John Brooks - 1,085,000 The Closer Prepares To Shut It Down Finally, on Day 1b of The Closer, the $1,500-buy-in event saw Alex Kulev bag the biggest stack with a mammoth stack of 2,685,000. He’s clear of Giorgiy Skhulukhiya (2,425,000) in second place but even further ahead of Marc Lange (1,320,000) in third place. Players such as Leo Margets (1,300,000), Ryan Riess (1,070,000), Cherish Andrews (600,000), Landon Tice (330,000), and Melanie Weisner (280,000) all made the cut for Day 2, which will see 61 players fight all the way from seven tables to the bracelet, with stars such as Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Ari Engel, Felipe Ramos, and Joseph Cheong all missing out on grabbing end-of-day stacks on Day 1b of the event. WSOP 2021 Event #83 The Closer Day 1b Top 10 Chipcounts: Alex Kulev - 2,685,000 Giorgiy Skhulukhiya - 2,425,000 Marc Lange - 1,320,000 Steven Steinmetz - 1,300,000 Leo Margets - 1,300,000 Ryan Riess - 1,070,000 Noah Bronstein - 1,010,000 Michael Wang - 1,010,000 Jonathan Borenstein - 960,000 Mitchell Halverson - 930,000 Landon Tice grabbed a bag, and while he was doing so, he couldn’t help but admit to being a fan of the Poker Brat. https://twitter.com/LandonTice/status/1462269836512292867  
  21. British mixed game specialist Benny Glaser won his fourth WSOP bracelet of a career defined by his World Series of Poker greatness as he closed out the heads-up battle to seal victory in the $10,000-entry Razz Championship. Glaser the Closer as Carlton Finally Overcome Taking his seat on the final day of the event, Glaser had only one opponent to topple, after Everett Carlton had fought so hard yesterday that the finale had to be delayed by 24 hours. But in the end, there was no denying the British pro, who bagged his fourth WSOP bracelet after an hour-long rollercoaster heads-up battle to the finish. Carlton took Glaser’s lead at one point and threatened to put himself in a dominant position for victory. Instead, Glaser chipped away at his opponent before taking the lead back and grinding his opponent down to the point where he had simply no chips left to fight with. It was a powerful display of exactly the skills that Glaser has established over so many years playing specifically WSOP Events at the Rio. After the win, Glaser thanked his supporters online as he celebrated his latest incredible mixed game victory. https://twitter.com/BennyGlaser/status/1461897898124353537 WSOP 2021 Event #78 $10,000 Razz Championship Final Table Results: Benny Glaser - $274,693 Everett Carlton - $169,773 Yuri Dzivielevski - $123,254 Erik Sagstrom - $90,859 John Monnette - $68,025 Yehuda Buchalter - $51,739 Erik Seidel - $39,987 Phil Hellmuth - $31,411 Schemion Wins First-Ever Bracelet After Long Wait Ends in Style German poker superpower Ole Schemion won his first-ever WSOP bracelet in the $1,979-entry Poker Hall of Fame Bounty event. At a final table where he went into play with a huge lead, Schemion used his stack and his considerable skills to get the job done in stunning fashion in the Thunderdome at the Rio. With six players making the final day, it didn’t take long for that number to be reduced. Jerry Wong busted in sixth place to Schemion when Wong shoved pre-flop with [poker card="Qc"][poker card="Jc"] and Schemion called with [poker card="6s"][poker card="6c"]. The board of [poker card="As"][poker card="Ah"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="Ac"] saw Schemion win another important hand and increase his lead over the remaining four players. James Alexander busted in fifth place for $37,965 when he moved all-in pre-flop with [poker card="As"][poker card="7s"] and Marc Rivera called with [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"]. The board of [poker card="Ks"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6h"][poker card="Kh"][poker card="6s"] saw Alexander exit, but his conqueror only laddered one more rung, busting in fourth for $52,569. Rivera’s final hand was a call from Schemion’s shove with [poker card="3c"][poker card="2c"]. Rivera was way ahead with [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"], but while the flop of [poker card="Qh"][poker card="6s"][poker card="5d"] kept him ahead and the turn card of [poker card="Qd"] was safe, the [poker card="4h"] on the river gave Schemion the straight and sent the Philippines player home. Minutes later, Giovani Torre busted in third place to send play heads-up. Schemion shoved once again, moving all-in with [poker card="Td"][poker card="8d"] and getting a call from Torre with [poker card="Jh"][poker card="6h"]. The flop of [poker card="Jd"][poker card="6s"][poker card="2d"] looked to have all but locked the hand up apart from diamonds for the Portuguese player, but an incredible runout of a [poker card="Ts"] turn and [poker card="Tc"] gave Schemion trips instead to send Torre to the cash desk with a payout slip worth $73,175. Heads-up, Schemion had eight times his opponents stack, and it took no time at all after a short break for the event to conclude in the German’s favor. Canadian player Ben Underwood had made it all the way to second place, but his [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Jd"] couldn’t catch Schemion’s [poker card="Ad"][poker card="5s"] as a board of [poker card="As"][poker card="Ac"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4h"] gave the German the top prize of $172,499 and Underwood a runner-up result worth $106,618. WSOP 2021 Event #79 $1,979 Hall of Fame Bounty Final Table Results: Ole Schemion - $172,499 Benjamin Underwood - $106,618 Giovani Torre - $74,175 Marc Rivera - $52,569 James Alexander - $37,965 Jerry Wong - $27,951 In Event #80, the third bracelet of four to be won on a mammoth day of action went to Robert Cowan as an all-British heads-up played out in the Amazon Room at the Rio. At the six-handed final table, reached after the elimination of WSOP 2021 Event #80 $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha Final Table Results: Robert Cowan - $280,916 Robert Emmerson - $173,613 Uri Reichenstein - $116,106 Dylan Weisman - $79,368 William Benson - $55,485 Karel Mokry - $39,688 An exciting conclusion to the $800 Deepstack Event #81 saw Jason Wheeler take home his first-ever WSOP bracelet after many years on the professional poker circuit. On a day where Will givens held the lead going into the action, 121 players played down to a winner in dramatic fashion. After players such as the aforementioned Givens (39th for $4,605) joined other like Justin Lapka (47th for $3,920) and Melanie Weisner (66th for $2,933) on the rail, the unofficial final table was reached in record time, with Wheeler the shortest stack of ten. Doubling up quickly with [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"] against the [poker card="As"][poker card="Jd"] of Antoine Goutard, however, Wheeler grabbed some chips and more importantly momentum as he began his ascent to the top of the leaderboard. After Maxwell Sabel busted in 10th place, Robert Hill busted in ninth place for $18,968 when his [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Jd"] couldn’t catch the pocket kings of Julian Velasquez on a queen high board after the chips all went in pre-flop. John O’Neal busted in eight for $24,165 when Goutard held again, his [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jd"] standing up to O’Neal’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Kd"]. When Ralph Massey busted to Velasquez in seventh place, his [poker card="Ad"][poker card="6s"] dominated and defeated by the Colombian’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Qd"], an ace and two queens on the board saw Velasquez take the lead, but with players like Garry Gates and Wheeler himself chipping up, the power dynamics at the table were shifting every orbit. Shelok Wong busted in sixth place for $40,376 when his ace-high couldn’t top Velasquez’ top pair on the turn, and Goutard busted very soon after when his [poker card="Th"][poker card="Ts"] was shot down by Diogo Veiga’s [poker card="Qc"][poker card="Qd"], leving the French player on the rail in fifth for $52,943. Garry Gates knows plenty about finishing fourth in a major tournament, as he came in that exact position in the Main Event just a couple of years ago, but he will regret this bust-out almost as much. ‘Not finishing fourth again’ was never said by Gates, however, and it was a good job as his [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qh"] was shot down by Velasquez’ [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8s"] on a board where an ace on the turn ended the drama before 5th street fell. Gates cashed for an impressive $70,077, and he was joined on the rail soon after by Veiga, whose third-place finish earned him $93,627. Veiga’s [poker card="Ac"]6c] didn’t hold as Wheeler’s [poker card="Kh"][poker card="9s"] flopped the world on a board of [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3h"]. Heads-up, it was Velasquez who took an early lead, but Wheeler was not to be denied, getting there with an all-in with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="4c"]. Velasquez called with [poker card="6d"][poker card="6c"] and was favorite to lift the title, but a board of [poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2s"][poker card="Kc"][poker card="4d"] saw Wheeler jumping for the ‘wheel’ straight he made on the river. Shortly afterwards, Wheeler’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="As"] held with ease against Velasquez’ [poker card="Ah"][poker card="2c"] as an ace on the turn ended all hope the Colombian had, his tournament devastated by the closing two major hands of the event. WSOP 2021 Event #81 $800 Deepstack Final Table Results: Jason Wheeler - $202,274 Julian Velasquez - $126,252 Diogo Veiga - $93,627 Garry Gates - $70,077 Antoine Goutard - $52,943 Shelok Wong - $40,376 Ralph Massey - $31,087 John O'Neal - $24,165 Robert Hill - $18,968 In the $250,000 Super High Roller event, just five players made the money and lasted to the final day’s play, with Spanish sensation Adrian Mateos a runaway chip leader with more chips than his four remaining opponents combined. With a busy day of action in the event that the elite of poker will be talking about for weeks, Adrian Mateos took the lead and dominated the latter stages as just five players made the money, with over $3 million up top for tomorrow’s winner. Michale Addamo led the field when Day 2 kicked off, but he and Ali Imsirovic saw their control of the field evaporate as the Spanish pro Mateos took over. With Ben Heath maintaining third place from Day 1 by the end of Day 2, he and the other three opponents, Keith Tilston, Seth Davies and John Kincaid, will all be threats to Mateos. Right up until German crusher Christoph Vogelsang’s elimination on the money bubble in sixth, though, Mateos was in control. It will take some performance to stop the young European superstar winning what would be his fourth WSOP bracelet at the age of just 27 years old. WSOP 2021 Event #82 $250,000 Super High Roller Final Table Chipcounts: Adrian Mateos - 25,500,000 Keith Tilston - 8,900,000 Ben Heath - 6,500,000 Seth Davies - 4,550,000 John Kincaid - 3,925,000 A Day 1a of drama in the Closer saw Turkish player Osman Ihlamur bag the chip lead with 1,765,000 chips by the end of play. With players such as Dimitar Danchev (1,635,000) and Wesley Belding (1,620,000) on his tail, Ihlamur will not have it easy on Day 2, but with just 25 players surviving from 802 entries, it was a fast-paced finish to the action as 121 players cashed. Big names such as Kenny Hallaert (1,250,000) and Chris Moorman (1,250,000) will be a threat when Day 2 takes place, but before that happens, there is tomorrow’s Day 1b to consider, where some players who busted bigger buy-in tournaments over the last couple of days will be doing everything they can to bag up one last Day 2 stack and close out the 2021 World Series of Poker in style. WSOP 2021 Event #83 $1,500 The Closer Top 10 Chipcounts: Osman Ihlamur - 1,765,000 Dimitar Danchev - 1,635,000 Wesley Belding - 1,620,000 Chris Moorman - 1,250,000 Kenny Hallaert - 1,250,000 Gergely Kulcsar - 1,200,000 Martins Adeniya - 1,190,000 Joao Simao - 1,100,000 Bin Liu - 1,000,000 Stephen Song - 940,000 An exciting first day of action in the $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha Event #84 saw Hungarian player Laszlo Bujtas (1,980,000) bag up the chip lead as Josh Arieh (1,355,000) continued his heater in pursuit of the WSOP Player of the Year title. Ben Lamb (1,755,000) is second in chips, but it is the appearance of Arieh in fourth place of the 33 survivors from 85 entries that catches the eye. The level of players in this $50,000-entry event is really high, and players like Jake Schindler, Dan Shak and Mark Herm all busted along the way as players such as Daniel Negreanu (1.12m) and Dan Cates (1.045m) both made the top 10. With others such as Chance Kornuth (625,000), Shaun Deeb (520,000) and Anthony Zinno (420,000) all still involved, players will battle attempt to win what will be a prestigious bracelet to claim late in the 2021 World Series of Poker. WSOP 2021 Event #84 $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha Top 10 Chipcounts: Laszlo Bujtas - 1,980,000 Ben Lamb - 1,755,000 Alexander Petersen - 1,355,000 Josh Arieh - 1,355,000 Jared Bleznick - 1,270,000 Alex Aleksandrovski - 1,130,000 Daniel Negreanu - 1,125,000 Jeremy Ausmus - 1,125,000 Scott Seiver - 1,070,000 Dan Cates - 1,045,000 After a stunning Main Event win, the new world champion Koray Aldemir tackled some of the fans’ thoughts in an intriguing post on Twitter. https://twitter.com/kooraay90/status/1461900448646848514 Phil Hellmuth is determined to chase down the top of the Player of the Year leaderboard and claim one of the only titles the ‘Poker Brat’ hasn’t won in what has been a glittering career. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1461670956775051270 He’s not going to have it easy, however, after the man at the top of the chart came out of 2021 WSOP ‘retirement’ to make a sprint for the line with just a few days of competition left. Can you imagine if these two are heads up for a bracelet late in the series? We can dream!
  22. Mixed game specialist Benny Glaser had struck out on a few occasions during the 2021 World Series of Poker. After consistently putting himself in the position to dominate in the mixed game events he knows so well, however, the British player is just one player from victory in the $10,000 Razz Championship at the Rio in Las Vegas. Heads-Up For $10K Razz Championship As the final table of nine was set, both Seidel and Hellmuth had spun up their small stacks. Glaser had added a little to his pile, but remained some way behind the chip leader, who at that stage was John Monnette, who already has a 2021 WSOP bracelet to his name. He added a bit more when he eliminated Brad Ruben in ninth place for $25,086, before Hellmuth exited in eighth place, with Yehuda Buchalter’s nine-six the winning hand. Despite winning that hand, Buchalter was still short, but it would be the nine-time WSOP bracelet winner Seidel who was the next player to hit the rail. Busting after a period of play that saw Glaser rise through the ranks and take the chip lead, Seidel lost out to Dzivielevski before Buchalter busted to the Brazilian too. At the next break, it was Swedish player Erik Sagstrom who led the final five, but that situation flipped as Glaser took control of the table, constantly putting pressure on all four players to the extent that one hour later, he had 3.7 million chips, more than double Dzivielevski’s total and vastly more than anyone else, with the other three remaining players super short. John Monnette busted in fifth place, and shortly afterward, Sagstrom was following him to the rail, the second victim in a row of Everett Carlton, who was the player pushing for victory. Dzivielevski busted in third place after Carlton took him out, but the winner of that hand was still well behind Glaser. That was until a series of pots balanced things out and with Glaser holding a slim lead, that was where play ended for the night as the two men agree to come back to the Rio at 3pm local time to conclude the battle for the bracelet. WSOP 2021 Event #78 $10,000 Razz Championship Chipcounts Benny Glaser - 3,990,000 Everett Carlton - 2,570,000 Prizes 3. Yuri Dzivielevski - $123,254 4. Erik Sagstrom - $90,859 5. John Monnett - $68,025 6. Yehuda Buchalter - $51,739 7. Erik Seidel - $39,987 8. Phil Hellmuth - $31,411 9. Brad Ruben - $25,086 Schemion Takes Massive Lead In Hall of Fame Bounty The final six players have been reached in the WSOP Hall of Fame Bounty event, which costs $1,979 to enter, and featured players who had won the WSOP Main with a year-appropriate bounty on their heads. With the final table playing out tomorrow, it is the German player Ole Schemion who lead the way, with a big lead of 6.9 million to his nearest rival Giovani Torre, who has 2.7 million. With every other player having 1.5 million or less, Schemion has a huge lead, and is on the brink of winning what would be his first-ever WSOP bracelet despite a career that has seen him win $16m in live events alone. It’s not only Schemion who would be winning his first bracelet as all six remaining players have yet to win gold. On the penultimate day, players such as Michael Gathy, Christian Pham, Maria Lampropulos, and Joao Vieira all busted, so missed out on the $172,499 top prize. WSOP 2021 Event #79 $1,979 Hall of Fame Bounty Final Table Chipcounts: Ole Schemion - 6,905,000 Giovani Torre - 2,720,000 James Alexander - 1,530,000 Jerry Wong - 1,200,000 Benjamin Underwood - 975,000 Marc Rivera - 755,000 Addamo Ahead After $250K Super High Roller Day 1 In the $250,000-entry Super High Roller event, there were 25 total entries, including two rebuys from Jason Koon and Justin Bonomo as Koon bust but Bonomo survived to a top ten finish. In all, 10 levels of play saw just 15 players with their names already in the seat draw for Day 2 after completing Day 1, with Michael Addamo (4,965,000) and Ali Imsirovic (4,875,000) clear at the top. Elsewhere in the top ten, Ben Heath bagged up 3,545,000 as he spent much of the day in pursuit of whichever leader was wearing the metaphorical yellow jersey at the time. Daniel Negreanu (2,305,000) had a strong day at the felt, with Stephen Chidwick doing the same, bagging up slightly more with 2,540,000 chips. Players to bust included the luckless Koon, who sunk $500,000 but ended the day with nothing, while John Lilic busted first and didn’t re-enter. Dan Smith was one of the leaders at one point but lost his stack to Ali Imsirovic late in the day. WSOP 2021 Event #82 $250,000 Super High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts: Michael Addamo - 4,965,000 Ali Imsirovic - 4,875,000 Benjamin Heath - 3,545,000 Adrian Mateos - 3,420,000 Timofey Kuznetsov - 2,890,000 Christoph Vogelsang - 2,860,000 Stephen Chidwick - 2,540,000 Daniel Negreanu - 2,305,000 Justin Bonomo - 2,285,000 Sam Soverel - 2,190,000 Weisman, Coleman, Rheem Crack $3K Top 10 In Event #80, Robert Cowan grabbed the lead as the British player bagged up 140 big blinds with which to attack the final day of the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha showdown. With players such as Dylan Weisman (1,475,000), David Coleman (1,250,000), and Chino Rheem (1,000,000) all in the top seven, it is sure to be a very exciting final day, where the winner will receive $280,916. With 122 players starting the penultimate day, only 75 made the money. Those landing on the wrong side of that divide included Ari Engel, Jake Schwartz, Esther Taylor, Ali Imsirovic, Brett Richey, Noah Bronstein, and Mark Birdsall, with both final two players on that list bubbling when they exited the event in the same hand. All of the following made money, as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Laak, Christian Harder, Ben Yu, and Gabriel Andrade all claimed profit but missed a very deep run in the event, which has seen 496 players put up the $3,000 buy-in, creating a prize pool worth over $1.3 million. WSOP 2021 Event #80 $3,000 PLO Top 10 Chipcounts: Robert Cowen - 2,800,000 Steven Forman - 1,685,000 Dylan Weisman - 1,475,000 Karel Mokry - 1,475,000 David Coleman - 1,250,000 Raphael Schreiner - 1,210,000 Chino Rheem - 1,000,000 Robert Emmerson - 915,000 Jered Bettencourt - 840,000 Senovio Ramirez III - 730,000 One Last Deepstack To Go In the $800-entry Deepstack event, Will Givens bagged the lead as he totaled a whopping 140 big blinds by the close of play. His stack of 2,440,000 chips looked down from a great height on Marc Lange (1,865,000) and William Blais (1,500,000) in his slipstream, while Jason Wheeler (1.27m) also made the top 10. Just 289 players made the money and 121 survived the 1,921 entries, meaning players such as Pat Lyone, Brett Apter, 2021 bracelet winner DJ Alexander, Joseph Cheong, Shaun Deeb and last year’s world champion Damian Salas all bowed out. WSOP 2021 Event #81 $800 Deepstack Top 10 Chipcounts: Will Givens - 2,440,000 Marc Lange - 1,865,000 William Blais - 1,500,000 Jonathan Press - 1,470,000 Christine Park - 1,460,000 Nikolay Yosifov - 1,380,000 Eduardo Amaral - 1,310,000 Serhii Holodiuk - 1,305,000 Jason Wheeler - 1,270,000 John O'Neal - 1,210,000 Landon Tice had some words for anyone complaining about how long the WSOP Main Event final table players took over their decisions on Tuesday and Wednesday night. https://twitter.com/LandonTice/status/1461380100075655168 Have you ever wondered what it’s like to wake up as the world champion? Koray Aldemir can tell you. https://twitter.com/kooraay90/status/1461437559825833984
  23. Koray Aldemir, the 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event world champion, sits on top of the poker world this morning after the result of his career saw him win the $8 million top prize in the Las Vegas spectacular earlier today. Aldemir's The New Main Event Champ Since the moment Aldemir beat George Holmes in a stunning hand that you can read all about here, the poker world has reacted with overwhelming positivity to one of the most liked and well-respected poker peers in the game. The final three kicked off with Aldemir in a large amount of control, of course, but the focus wasn’t all on the players. Many observers felt that the final table chips being colored up so regularly denied everyone watching on TV the chance to see players push huge piles of the fun discs over the line. What’s the solution to the situation that has irked so many? https://twitter.com/AlexFungali/status/1461101741160734724 As yesterday’s final nine departed the Thunderdome, each one of them was naturally disappointed. A day on, each might have been reflecting on what winnings they have made rather than any imagine extra, and Chase Bianchi, who busted in ninth place for $1 million will have a fun callback to make to his landlord. https://twitter.com/Chase_Bianchi/status/1460600006801453062 As happens every year, when it gets down to the equity of a poker hand being worth millions, the final three players do slow down. Hey, every decision they make is priceless. Scott Seiver, an advocate on speeding up play in virtually every other event, came to the trio’s defense. https://twitter.com/scott_seiver/status/1461194881460629508 Sam Greenwood had to tip Aldemir for glory before the final table began, but wanted to make it clart ere was no comeback if it all went wrong. https://twitter.com/SamGreenwoodRIO/status/1460644748830646277 Erik Seidel also knows the winner of the Main, apparently for the first time in a long time. https://twitter.com/Erik_Seidel/status/1461043639954513920 Phil Hellmuth was on his way to making the final day of the $10,000 Razz Championship, but still had time for a Sit ‘N’ Go with Vince Vaugh and a few friends. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1461097693615435782 Finally, Patrick Leonard is on WhatsApp terms with the new world champion and somehow managed to avoid a side bet on the Main Event. That’s why they call ‘Pads’ the sharpest tool in any box. https://twitter.com/padspoker/status/1460605744424828932 When the event was concluded, Aldemir’s dramatic win lived long in the memory of viewers worldwide as the German won $8 million for taking down the title and busting George Holmes heads-up after Jack Oliver had departed in third. WSOP 2021 Event #67 Main Event Final Table Results: Koray Aldemir - $8,000,000 George Holmes - $4,300,000 Jack Oliver - $3,000,000 Joshua Remitio - $2,300,000 Ozgur Secilmis - $1,800,000 Hye Park - $1,400,000 Alejandro Lococo - $1,225,000 Jareth East - $1,100,000 Chase Bianchi - $1,000,000 Himmelspach Takes $1,500 Freezeout The next bracelet winner on a busy day at the Rio felt was Chad Himmelspach, who won the $1,500-entry Event #75 Freezeout tournament after a heads-up victory against German player Stefan Reiser. It was when six players were left that Himmelspach started to make moves up the leaderboard, with a massive five-bet pre-flop leading to his eventual heads-up opponent Reiser open-folding pocket tens. When he eliminated Tarun Gulati in sixth place for $50,021 with his own [poker card="Th"][poker card="Tc"] holding against Gulati’s [poker card="As"][poker card="9s"], Himmelspach approached the top of the counts with 9.6 million chips. With the bust-out of Ori Hasson in fifth place for $66,447, Kaue De Souza vaulted himself up the leaderboard, [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Ks"] able to get there against the Israeli player’s [poker card="7d"][poker card="7d"] across the [poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2d"][poker card="Kh"][poker card="Jd"] board. The Brazilian, however, was the very next player to bust, dropping down the pecking order before a shove with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="9s"] against overnight leader Renmui Liu’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="2h"] fell to a deuce on the river. Liu himself was out in third place for $121, 580, the first six-figure score of the tournament, when his short-stack shove with [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Jd"] was called by Himmelspach with [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"] which held. That pot was a small one, but the eventual winner had built a healthy lead at the right time. With almost three times Reiser’s chips, Himmelspach saw the chip sway this way and that for over two hours until he was finally in a similar position of control. Himmelspach called his opponent’s shove, holding [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] and looking pleased to see Reiser had been shoving light with [poker card="9d"][poker card="3h"]. The board of [poker card="Th"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="4s"][poker card="Ts"][poker card="Ad"] saw the event end in the American’s favor, winning him a debut bracelet and the top prize of over a quarter of a million dollars in stunning fashion. WSOP 2021 Event #75 $1,500 Freezeout Final Table Results: Chad Himmelspach - $270,877 Stefan Reiser - $167,418 Renmei Liu - $121,580 Kaue De Souza - $89,344 Ori Hasson - $66,447 Tarun Gulati - $50,021 Nicholas Hubers - $38,121 Seth Evans - $29,416 Louison Vincent - $22,986 Joanello Scores First Bracelet In Fifty Stack The third and final bracelet of the day to be won came in the Fifty Stack finale in a more secluded corner of the Rio, where Paulo Joanello of Brazil won his first-ever bracelet and $321,917 in the process. The heads-up battle was, once again, an intriguing one as both Joanello and his opponent, Toby Price, were locked in battle for some time, before the former’s overpair survived the all-in on the flop by top pair holder Price. At a fast final table, perhaps the two biggest challengers in terms of know-how were Elio Fox and Scott Hall, but the pair bust in seventh and ninth place respectively. In the end, it was the Brazilian rail who celebrated, and wildly so, as the Rio erupted with a sound worthy of its namesake’s carnival attendees thousands of miles south of the world-famous poker venue in which their latest celebrated son won gold. WSOP 2021 Event #77 $1,500 Fifty Stack Final Table Results: Paulo Joanello - $321,917 Toby Price - $198,970 Martin Bicanik - $146,061 Ron Moisescu - $108,349 Roongsak Griffeth - $81,228 Axel Hallay - $61,550 Elio Fox - $47,145 David Morel - $36,508 Scott Hall - $28,585 Dzivielevski Leads $10K Razz Final Table The final day of the $10,000 Razz Championship is sure to be a thrilling one, with Yuri Dzivielevski (1,126,000) the chip leader and both Erik Seidel (227,000) and Phil Hellmuth (133,000) in the mix, albeit short-stacked. With the Brazilian chip leader’s closest challengers being Yehuda Buchalte (874,000) and John Monnette (861,000) there is class everywhere among the final 13 players. With Hellmuth firing for his 17th bracelet, an amount that would extend the Poker Brat’s current record amount of 16 wins, and Erik Seidel aiming to win his 10th bracelet, anything could happen on what is sure to be a tense and exciting final day. WSOP 2021 Event #78 $10,000 Razz Championship Final Day Chipcounts: Yuri Dzivielevski - 1,126,000 Yehuda Buchalte - 874,000 John Monnette - 861,000 Erik Sagstrom - 845,000 Roland Israelashvili - 647,000 Benny Glaser - 552,000 Shirley Rosario - 398,000 Brad Ruben - 316,000 Carlos Villamarin - 299,000 Everett Carlton - 231,000 Erik Seidel - 227,000 Phil Hellmuth - 133,000 Matt Vengrin - 54,000 Bounty Hunters Invade Poker Hall of Fame In the unique Event #79, the $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty event, just 71 players of the 469 who entered made the money places, with 63 staying through the end of the day. Top of the shop after Day 1 is Marc Rivera, with the Philippines player bagging up 721,000 chips by the end of the night. Elsewhere in the top 10 chip counts, Jerry Wong was second in chips (700,000), while Christian Pham sneaked into 10th place with 402,000. Other star names such as Maria Lampropulos (383,000), Ole Schemion (333,000), and Joao Vieira (75,000) all made the next day’s play, with plenty of bounties and big names missing out, as WSOP Master of Ceremonies Vince Vaughn - costing a $10,000 bounty - as well as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Scotty Nguyen, Barbara Enright, Linda Johnson, Tom McEvoy, Jack McClelland, Phil Hellmuth, and Eli Elezra, the latest Hall of Famer from 2021, made their exits. WSOP 2021 Event #79 $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty Top 10 Chipcounts: Marc Rivera - 721,000 Jerry Wong - 700,000 Payam Karami - 630,000 Eder Murata - 560,000 Laurent Polito - 486,000 Phil Scaletta - 462,000 Abhinav Iyer - 442,000 Sonia Shashikhina - 425,000 Michael Acevedo - 419,000 Christian Pham - 402,000 Chino Rheem In Top 5 of $3K Six Max Finally, Event #80 saw 10 hours of play conclude with just 122 players in seats and Ruslan Nazarenko in the lead with 616,500 chips. Closing in on the leader were Chino Rheem (500,000) and Maxx Coleman (496,000), with Uri Reichenstein (357,500) also making the top 10. With others such as Anatolii Zyrin (280,500) and Ali Imsirovic (268,500) both making the cut, others missed out, with Craig Varnell, David Williams, Chance Kornuth, Shaun Deeb, and 2019 champion from the event Alan Sternberg all hitting the rail. WSOP 2021 Event #80 $3,000 Six-Max PLO Top 10 Chipcounts: Ruslan Nazarenko - 616,500 Chino Rheem - 500,000 Maxx Coleman - 496,000 Steven Forman - 460,000 Michael Moncek - 445,500 James Mordue - 419,000 Joseph Haug - 358,500 Uri Reichenstein - 357,500 Michael Hudson - 334,500 Robert Emmerson - 316,500 And finally, as the World Series of Poker winds to a close over the next few days, players will be returning to countries all over the world to explain to friends, family, and complete strangers what it is they did all October and November. Good luck, all. https://twitter.com/Martin_Jacobson/status/1460701887599038464
  24. With just nine players remaining, the WSOP Main Event final table is set, and it is German player Koray Aldemir who will go into the final two days of the biggest poker tournament in the world with a huge chip lead. Here's Your November Nine With players such as Chance Kornuth, Andreas Kniep, and Jesse Lonis busting across a dramatic day at the felt, the final table of the WSOP Main Event was reached in the early hours of the morning, with Matt Berkey looking like a savant when he called the time and was just a few minutes out. https://twitter.com/berkey11/status/1460464671073341440 It didn’t take long from the kick-off of the day’s action for the bust-outs to keep coming, with Chance Kornuth’s one of the biggest of the day. Kornuth’s conqueror, George Holmes ended the day second in chips with 83.7 million chips, but at one point had less than two big blinds to his name, spinning his stack up to eventually knock out the most experienced player in the field when his [poker card="As"][poker card="Ac"] triumphed against Kornuth’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Ks"]. The final hand of the day played out when Canadian player Demosthenes Kiriopoulos bubbled the final as his [poker card="As"][poker card="3s"] lost out to the chip leader’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Tc"], with Aldemir’s fans on the rail going crazy when the board of [poker card="Qs"][poker card="9s"][poker card="5h"][poker card="7h"][poker card="Jc"] gave the German another knockout and the overwhelming chip lead heading into the final nine. Only one player already has a WSOP bracelet to their name and that man is Chase Bianchi (12,100,000), who couldn’t be more excited about the potential checking off of one of his life’s goals. https://twitter.com/Chase_Bianchi/status/1460563523960934408   With two British players also surviving, Jack Oliver (30,400,000) and Jareth East (8,300,000) will both be hoping to become champion in two days time just as all the nine finalists will. Tomorrow at 4 pm local time, the final table begins. It will end in two nights time with a new world champion. WSOP 2021 Event #67 $10,000 Main Event Final Table Chipcounts: Koray Aldemir - 140,000,000 George Holmes - 83,700,000 Alejandro Lococo - 46,800,000 Joshua Remitio - 40,000,000 Jack Oliver - 30,400,000 Ozgur Secilmis - 24,500,000 Hye Park - 13,500,000 Chase Bianchi - 12,100,000 Jareth East - 8,300,000 Six Remain In Crazy Eights In the Crazy Eights tournament, just six players remain from a field of 237 who started the penultimate day of the event. It is Leonid Yanovski who leads the final table, with a whopping 62.2 million chips, some way clear of closest challengers David Moses (49.1 million) and Paul Fehlig (48.7 million). On a busy day for final tables that should see four tournaments conclude and the Main Event reach three players, Yanovski will also face the challenge of short-stack Timo Kamphues (7.4 million), as well as former bracelet winners Georgios Sotiropoulos (21.8 million) and Sejin Park (14.6 million). WSOP 2021 Event #70 $888 Crazy Eights Final Table Chipcounts: Leonid Yanovski - 62,200,000 David Moses - 49,100,000 Paul Fehlig - 48,700,000 Georgios Sotiropoulos - 21,800,000 Sejin Park - 14,600,000 Timo Kamphues - 7,400,000 $10K Stud 8 Needs One More Day In the $10,000-entry Event #73, the Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship, Yuval Bronshtein leads the final four combatants after the final table was started but abandoned halfway through the story being told. It’s some story, as with four remaining, Bronshtein (3,320,000) is shooting for another WSOP bracelet, with two of his three opponents each holding bracelets in their back catalogs too. With nine players remaining, WSOP Player of the Year leader Josh Arieh bowed out, before being followed from the event by Gary Benson and Erik Seidel, who missed the chance to capture his tenth WSOP crown. After the elimination of John Monette in sixth place, Marco Johnson was the final player to miss out on the denouement of the tournament. WSOP 2021 Event #73 $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship Final Table Results: 5. Marco Johnson - $79,073 6. John Monnette - $59,545 7. Erik Seidel - $46,140 8. Gary Benson - $36,821 9. Josh Arieh - $30,290 The four remaining players share nine bracelets between them, with only Ian O’Hara (2,120,000) yet to win one. Scott Seiver (1,665,000) is aiming for his fourth title in WSOP history, with Brian Hastings going for his fifth gong. WSOP 2021 Event #73 $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship Final Table Chipcounts: Yuval Bronshtein - 3,320,000 Ian O'Hara - 2,120,000 Scott Seiver - 1,665,000 Brian Hastings - 1,535,000 Denis 'aDrENalin710' Strebkov Leads $2,500 Big Bet Mix In Event #74, the $,2500-entry Big Bet Mix, Denis Strebkov of Russia took a massive chip lead into the final day with just 14 players remaining. Strebkov piled up over 1.4 million chips to lead by a big margin from Shanmukha Meruga (877,000) and Scott Bohlman (827,000), with every other one of the 11 players having less than half of Strebkov’s chips with one day to play out. Just 91 players started the day, but 77 busted, with James Chen, Yuri Dzivielevski, John Racener, Matt Waxman, Ryan Laplante, Eli Elezra, and Chris Brewer among them. WSOP 2021 Event #74 $2,500 Big Bet Mix Top 10 Chipcounts: Denis Strebkov - 1,402,000 Shanmukha Meruga - 877,000 Scott Bohlman - 827,000 Hooman Nizad - 512,000 Patrik Ciklamini - 498,000 Anthony Ribeiro - 479,000 Noah Boeken - 455,000 Jon Turner - 415,000 Asher Lower - 375,000 Amnon Filippi - 371,000 $1,500 Freezeout Kicked Off In Event #75, Day 1 of the $1,500-entry Freezeout event took place, with Rennei Liu (889,000) also a big chip leader. Other prominent names such as Bin Liu (610,000), Asi Moshe (604,000), Artan Dedusha (504,000), Joe Serock (436,000), Nadya Magnus (414,000), Patrick Tardif (239,000), Gabriel Andrade (180,000), Sherry Hammers (139,000) and Angelina Rich (124,000) all remain in contention, while stars such as Barny Boatman, Daniel Strelitz, and Barry Greenstein exited before the close of play. WSOP 2021 Event #75 $1,500 Freezeout NLHE Top 10 Chipcounts: Rennei Liu - 889,000 Bin Liu - 610,000 Asi Moshe - 604,000 David Pham - 572,000 Stefan Reiser - 537,000 Armin Rezaei - 529,000 Kartik Ved - 523,000 Nicholas Hubers - 510,000 Naor Slobodskoy - 505,000 Artan Dedusha - 504,000 Chidwick, Sammartino, Timoshenko Survive Super Turbo Bounty Finally, seven players only remain in contention for the 76th WSOP event bracelet, namely the players who survived a brutal Day 1 of the $10,000-entry Super Turbo Bounty event. In what was a stacked field, Stephen Chidwick made up for busting out of the WSOP Main Event yesterday by racking up 2,270,000 chips, with the Brit only behind runaway leader Aditya Agarwal (8,750,000) and Barth Melius (3,550,000). Romain Lewis (2,050,000), Dario Sammartino (1,930,000), Uri Reichenstein (1,795,000), and Yevgeniy Timoshenko (1,065,000) all made the final table too as the overall field of 307 was reduced by 300 in one 10-hour shove fest marathon. With the $463,885 top prize one of the bigger prizes on offer in the Rio over the final few days of the 2021 World Series of Poker, finding out who wins is sure to be an exciting watch. WSOP 2021 Event #76 $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty Final Table Chipcounts: Aditya Agarwal - 8,750,000 Barth Melius - 3,550,000 Stephen Chidwick - 2,270,000 Romain Lewis - 2,050,000 Dario Sammartino - 1,930,000 Uri Reichenstein - 1,795,000 Yevgeniy Timoshenko - 1,065,000 One person who sadly won’t be part of the commentary team for the final days of the WSOP Main Event is Nick Schulman, who tested positive for COVID-19. It appears he’ll miss Ali Nejad... well, a bit. https://twitter.com/NickSchulman/status/1460429518837936128 Finally, players were being careful and getting tested in general, but like every situation in poker, there’s always a player who takes it too far. https://twitter.com/_dmock9888/status/1460432721566584838  
  25. After Day 8 of the WSOP Main Event, overnight chip leader and German poker professional Koray Aldemir leads the final three players in their quest for the $8 million top prize. With a massive lead, Aldemir sits ahead of British pro Jack Oliver and George Holmes as the final day of this year’s Rio showstopper looms. Just Three Remain In The Main Event The final table of the WSOP Main Event began with nine players in seats, but it wasn’t long before Chase Bianchi departed in ninth place for $1 million. Bianchi was all-in for 9.7 million with the big blind at 800,000 with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Qc"] but was called by British player Jack Oliver with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Kc"] and after the board played out [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"][poker card="6s"][poker card="Td"][poker card="Jc"], Bianchi was on the rail. Just a couple of minutes later, Jareth East was on the sidelines with just over a million bucks, too. East shoved with [poker card="As"][poker card="Jh"] and was called by the three-bet jam of George Holmes, which got folds from the rest of the table. Holmes had [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Qc"] and the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Qh"][poker card="7h"] flop put his hand way into the lead, and nothing changed across the [poker card="4d"] turn and [poker card="6c"] river. In seventh place, Argentinian DJ Alejandro Lococo made his departure, as a big hand went the chip leader’s way. Pre-flop, Lococo, holding [poker card="Tc"][poker card="Ts"], called a three-bet from Aldemir with [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"], and a flop of [poker card="Jh"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="9c"] saw Aldemir three-bet and get a call from Lococo. The turn card of [poker card="8h"] saw Aldemir bet 11.6 million and again Lococo called. On the [poker card="3d"] river, Aldemir fired out a pot-sized bet and Lococo called off his stack in seconds, shot down by Aldemir’s flopped full house and out for $1,225,000. It was Hye Park who busted in sixth place, earning $1.4 million when his [poker card="7s"][poker card="7c"] couldn’t hold against Aldemir in yet another flip that went the way of the German. Aldemir’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Qd"] hit a queen on the turn of a board that showed [poker card="Kd"][poker card="8h"][poker card="2d"][poker card="Qh"][poker card="9d"] and sent Park, the former chip leader in the Main Event, home. Aldemir wasn’t just winning hands, he was winning every hand in an orbit as the massive chipleader continued to dominate his opponents and put them in ICM hell. That was only getting tougher, of course, with the escalating places and attendant prizes, so when Ozgur Secilmis of Turkey shoved with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="5h"], Aldemir had an easy call with [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"]. The board of [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ah"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="As"][poker card="8c"] saw the German add to his stack and sent his opponent home with a prize of $1.8 million. One more player needed to bust and while it looked like it might be the last remaining British player in Jack Oliver, that was not the case. As he rivered a miracle to stay alive and treble up with a straight, he and his British rail went crazy. https://twitter.com/euan_m_/status/1460886232523706372 Shortly afterwards, the final three were confirmed when Joshua Remitio busted with [poker card="Jh"][poker card="7h"], called by Jack Oliver from the big blind with [poker card="As"][poker card="2c"] with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2c"] board sending Remitio home in fourth for $2.3 million. Three men remain, with a British, American and German player all hoping to top the 6,550- WSOP Main Event field and become world champion in the Thunderdome. Johnnie ‘Vibes’ knows who he is picking to go all the way and win the WSOP Main Event tomorrow evening. https://twitter.com/JohnnieVibes/status/1460771560734687234 Koray Aldemir might be most professionals’ pick, but Matt Affleck has a bone to pick. https://twitter.com/mcmattopoker/status/1460860047186010112 Whoever wins, the next 24 hours is about to change their life forever. WSOP 2021 Event #67 $10,000 Main Event Chipcounts: Koray Aldemir - 264,600,000 Jack Oliver - 77,300,000 George Holmes - 57,400,000 Payouts: 4. Joshua Remitio - $2,300,000 5. Ozgur Secilmis - $1,800,000 6. Hye Park - $1,400,000 7. Alejandro Lococo - $1,225,000 8. Jareth East - $1,100,000 9. Chase Bianchi - $1,000,000 Moses Down Takes Crazy Eights There was a big winner in the value $888-entry Crazy Eights event as David Moses clinched victory after a heads-up win against Sejin Park saw him win his first-ever WSOP bracelet. Moses’ victory came after a rollercoaster final table reconvened. It was Leonid Yanovski who led the final table, but he busted in fifth place as others at the final table rose from lowly positions to ladder with care and daring in equal measure. German player Timo Kampheus began the day looking up at the field but finished third for over $200,000 before Moses finally got the better of the skilled and experienced Park in the final duel. WSOP 2021 Event #70 $888 Crazy Eights Final Table Results: David Moses - $888,888 Sejin Park - $400,888 Timo Kamphues - $200,888 Paul Fehlig - $134,888 Leonid Yanovski - $102,888 Georgios Sotiropoulos - $79,888 Joseph Liberta - $61,888 Farhad Davoudzadeh - $47,888 Brian Hastings Is A Five-Time Bracelet Winner In the $10,000 Stud Hi-Lo Championship, Brian Hastings won a fifth WSOP bracelet, putting him in the company of only 28 other players in poker history. Hastings came into the final day fourth of the four remaining players, but managed to triumph after a heads-up comeback against Ian O’Hara. With both Scott Seiver (4th for $107,967) and overnight chip leader Yuval Bronshtein (3rd for $151,460) bowing out before the showdown, only Hastings had previous WSOP success in terms of winning bracelets. O’Hara had the chip lead heads-up, but couldn’t seal the deal to win his debut bracelet, with Hastings triumphing in style as he made a flush and saw O’Hara pair an ace on the river to hand Hastings the title. WSOP 2021 Event #73 $10,000 Stud Hi-Lo Championship Final Table Results: Brian Hastings - $352,958 Ian O’Hara - $218,144 Yuval Bronshtein - $151,460 Scott Seiver - $107,967 Marco Johnson - $79,073 John Monnette - $59,545 Erik Seidel - $46,140 Gary Benson - $36,821 At the final table of Event #74, the $2,500-entry Big Bet Mix event, Russian player Denis Strebkov went wire-to-wire in claiming his second WSOP bracelet and the $117,898 top prize. Jerry Wong was the unfortunate player to finish in second place after a run to the heads-up which saw both men outlast the field due to a mixture of chip dominance and daring. Wong went into the heads-up battle with a marginal lead but lost it almost immediately in a hand where he tried to bluff Strebkov off a flush and failed to do so. With the tournament ending a short time later, the Russian player had won a second WSOP bracelet and the only six-figure prize on offer, while Wong, like everyone else at the seven-handed final table, had to conceded to Strebkov’s dominance after he led from the start then closed out an impressive victory. WSOP 2021 Event #74 $2,500 Big Bet Mix Final Table Results: Denis Strebkov - $117,898 Jerry Wong - $72,868 Pearce Arnold - $48,864 Richard Bai - $33,583 Shanmukha Meruga - $23,670 Patrik Ciklamini - $17,119 Hooman Nizad - $12,715 In the denouement of Event #76, the $10,000-entry Super Turbo Bounty event, just seven players entered the second and final day of play. When the dust settled, French poker professional Romain Lewis had won his first-ever WSOP bracelet and the top prize of $463,885. Heading into the action, Ukrainian player Yevgeny Timoshenko had just seven big blinds, and they went into the middle when he was dealt [poker card="8d"][poker card="8c"] in early position. WSOP 2019 Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino made the call with [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Qc"] and stayed ahead through the board of [poker card="4h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2c"][poker card="9h"][poker card="Td"] as he busted his Ukrainian opponent and the Italian got a vital boost to his stack. Sadly for Sammartino, it was merely a stay of execution. Up to 15 big blinds, he hoped to make that 30 when he moved all-in with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="6c"] pre-flop from the small blind. The Italian was in great shape to do so with Stephen Chidwick calling him with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="3h"], but the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="Kc"] board put paid to his hopes and helped Chidwick chip up in the process. After Barth Melius busted in fifth place for $103,547 and Uri Reichenstein left in fourth for $142,840, Chidwick himself was eventually ousted in third for $200,598. The British poker legend and WSOP bracelet winner shoved from the small blind with [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Js"] but was behind Aditya Agarwal’s [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Qd"] and stayed that way through the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2c"] board. Heads-up, Agarwal had a 3:1 chip lead, but Lewis won a crucial flip with pocket fives holding before the final hand saw the Frenchman triumph with [poker card="Th"][poker card="9h"] against Agarwal’s [poker card="As"][poker card="3c"], a ten on the turn clinching the debut WSOP victory and $463,885 top prize and sending the delighted professional’s rail into raptures. https://twitter.com/RomainLewis/status/1460813657739186178 WSOP 2021 Event #76 $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty Final Table Results: Romain Lewis - $463,885 Aditya Agarwal - $286,705 Stephen Chidwick - $200,598 Uri Reichenstein - $142,840 Barth Melius - $103,547 Dario Sammartino - $76,442 Yevgeniy Timoshenko - $57,489 Haribhai Gopaul - $44,060 In Event #75, Renmei Liu bagged the chip lead heading into the eight-handed final day of action as the $1,500 Freezeout’s penultimate day took place. Liu piled up 7.1 million chips, with others such as Nicholas Hubers (5.6 million) and Kaue De Souza (4.54million) also having great days at the felt. On a day when players such as David Pham, Simon Lofberg, Asi Moshe and Mike Watson all fell close to the final, play was fast and furious, with tomorrow’s final expected to be the same. We’ll find out who wins the $270,877 top prize and their first-ever WSOP bracelet tomorrow. WSOP 2021 Event #75 $1,500 Freezeout NLHE Final Table Chipcounts: Renmei Liu - 7,100,000 Nicholas Hubers - 5,600,000 Kaue De Souza - 4,540,000 Chad Himmelspach - 4,000,000 Tarun Gulati - 3,080,000 Ori Hasson - 3,020,000 Stefan Reiser - 1,985,000 Seth Evans - 925,000 In the penultimate tournament of eight to take place on Day 48, Ryan Depaulo bagged up the biggest pile of chips in the $1,500-entry FIFTY STACK event. With a total of 1,501 entries into the tournament, just 114 players survived to take on the next day’s play as Ryan Depaulo piled up 2,735,000 chips, a clear chip lead over Craig Burke (2,080,000) and John Gorsuch (1,525,000), with everyone outside the top eight players having less than half of Depaulo’s stack. WSOP 2021 Event #77 $1,500 FIFTY STACK Top 10 Chipcounts: Ryan Depaulo - 2,735,000 Craig Burke - 2,080,000 John Gorsuch - 1,525,000 Valentyn Shabelnyk - 1,490,000 Kevin Theodore - 1,410,000 Roongsak Griffeth - 1,375,000 Garrett Beckman - 1,375,000 Ron Moisescu - 1,375,000 Scott Hall - 1,280,000 Ryan Hiller - 1,275,000 With just eight days to play in the 2021 WSOP, the 78th event to begin was the $10,000-entry Razz Championship, with Jeff Lisandro leading the field after an entertaining Day 1 at the felt. The Australian’s stack of 270,500 dwarfs most, but Phil Hellmuth (237,500) and Brian Hastings (212,000) who sit second and third in chips respectively, will feel like they have a great shot at victory. Indeed, Phil Hellmuth is as positive as you can imagine at his chances. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1460925293875511300 WSOP 2021 Event #78 $10,000 Razz Championship Top 10 Chipcounts:   Jeff Lisandro - 270,500 Phil Hellmuth - 237,500 Brian Hastings - 212,000 Nicolai Morris - 209,000 Jordan Siegel - 200,000 Chip Jett - 184,000 Max Pescatori - 178,500 Adam Owen - 178,000 Erik Sagstrom - 175,500 Shane Littlefield - 173,000 Finally... what are you doing between May and July next year? Us too. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1460773316122210305
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