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  1. The World Poker Tour is back in Las Vegas to close out Season XVII, and the grand finale includes the final table of WPT Choctaw. Headed up by chip leader Will Berry, just six players remain from the 577 entries. What’s Up for Grabs? The winner of the Season XVII WPT Choctaw will receive $379,990, a seat into the season-ending Baccarat WPT Tournament of Champions, and a luxurious Hublot Big Bang watch. Each player in the final six has locked up at least $76,890 1st Place: $379,990 2nd Place: $243,330 3rd Place: $179,430 4th Place: $133,770 5th Place: $100,850 6th Place: $76,890 Click here to read about how the WPT Choctaw final table was reached. Of note, this is the second WPT Choctaw event of Season XVII. Back in August 2018, Brady Holiman topped a field of 755 entries to win $469,185. Also at that final table were WPT Champions Club members Tony Ruberto and Anthony Zinno. How To Watch the WPT Choctaw Final Table The final table for the Season XVII WPT Choctaw is May 31. If you’re in the area, you’re able to head over to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to view the conclusion of the event in person, but of course not everyone is within reach of Sin City. For those looking to tune in as it’s happening, the final table can be viewed on PokerGO. If you don’t have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code “POCKET5S” for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. You can also follow along with written coverage on WPT.com. The event is also being filmed for broadcast as part of the WPT’s televised schedule of events that you’ll be able to catch later on FOX Sports Regional Networks. [caption id="attachment_624461" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Nick Pupillo (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 1: Nick Pupillo - 3,135,000 Making his first WPT Main Tour final table, Nick Pupillo has quickly made a name for himself on the poker scene. His first live tournament cash was recorded in 2013 and he’s had a fair amount of success since. In 2015, Pupillo won his first of two Heartland Poker Tour titles for $120,537, with the second coming in 2019 for $194,478. In 2017, he won a WSOP Circuit title for $170,286. He nearly won a Hollywood Poker Open title in 2015 but had to settle for second place, and his largest live tournament score was in 2017 for $217,535 from a second-place finish in a preliminary event at the Season XVI WPT Borgata Poker Open. All told, Pupillo currently has more than $2.5 million in live tournament earnings. A second-place finish or better in this event would give Pupillo the largest live tournament score of his career. [caption id="attachment_624464" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Will Bery (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 2: Will Berry - 7,575,000 The chip leader for the WPT Choctaw final table is Will Berry. Berry ran deep in the first WPT Choctaw tournament this season on the World Poker Tour, but ultimately finished in 38th for $11,995. This time, he’s found his way to the final table and could very well be on his way to the largest live tournament score of his career and first WPT title. Berry’s career-best live tournament score was a WSOP Circuit win in 2017 for $180,806. Berry also has a final table in the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Main Event back in 2016 to his credit. There, he took fourth for $136,812. On the WPT Main Tour, Berry now has three cashes. He had yet to make a final table, but Berry did take 15th in the Season XVII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December for a score of $85,542. [caption id="attachment_624462" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Stacey Jones (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 3: Stacey Jones - 980,000 With a big cowboy hat and an even bigger smile, Stacey Jones worked his way to the WPT Choctaw final table. He’ll be the short stack when play resumes on Friday, but what his stack may lack he’ll be making up for in entertainment value. Jones is one who always looks to be having fun at the poker table, which is a nice carryover from his business life where he’s a nightclub owner. Although he only has $119,366 in lie tournament earnings when you include the $76,890 he’s already earned in this event, Jones isn’t one you should sleep on. He’s been playing poker for decades, so there’s plenty of experience within his arsenal. [caption id="attachment_624460" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Craig Varnell (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 4: Craig Varnell - 6,230,000 Second in chips, Craig Varnell has been in this position before. In Season XV, Varnell reached the WPT Choctaw final table and finished third for a little more than $300,000. He’s back again and looking to end with an even better result that includes his first-ever WPT Main Tour title. Earlier this season, Varnell finished fourth in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival Main Event for north of $200,000. In 2015, Varnell won the huge WPT500 Las Vegas event for $330,000. In that tournament, he topped a field of 5,113 entries to take home the title. He won another large-field tournament in 2018 when he topped 2,419 entries in the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the World Series of Poker. All told, Varnell has nearly $2 million in live tournament earnings. [caption id="attachment_624459" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Austin Lewis (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 5: Austin Lewis - 2,560,000 Austin Lewis’ first WPT Main Tour cash has turned out to be quite the impressive run, as it’s this one and turned into a final table appearance worth at least $76,890. Coming out of Texas, Lewis has had plenty of success on the Oklahoma tournament scene. Earlier in 2019, he took fifth in the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Main Event for $84,375. Another bit of poker success in Choctaw for Lewis came when he won the 2014 CardPlayer Poker Tour Choctaw Championship Event for $183,025. [caption id="attachment_624463" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Trung Pham (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 6: Trung Pham - 2,600,000 Rounding out the WPT Choctaw final table is Trung Pham. He’s another player from Texas making his first WPT final table. It’s the second WPT Main Tour cash for Pham. Pham’s best live tournament score came in 2018 when he won a $360 preliminary event at the Season XVII WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open. For that win, Pham scored $123,364. He also has three WSOP Circuit gold rings and a fourth-place finish in a WSOP Circuit main event in Choctaw. Pham’s only other WPT Main Tour cash came during the Season XVI WPT Borgata Poker Open, when he took 33rd from a field of 1,132 entries to win $14,132.
  2. The World Poker Tour announced the core of their Season XVIII Main Tour schedule this week. The lineup includes 13 events in the United States plus another four international events as a part of their continued partnership with partypoker LIVE. The WPT has also scheduled the first five final tables that will travel to Las Vegas and be played tat the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor to be taped for broadcast on FOX Sports Regional Networks. “As the World Poker Tour nears the end of a record-breaking Season XVII, the WPT is proud to present our players and fans exciting events to look forward to in Season XVII, inclined the return to HyperX Esports Arena for TV final tables,” said CEO of the World Poker Tour, Adam Pliska. “Season XVII was ground-breaking of the World Poker Tour. With WPT events held for the first time in Russia, Vietnam and New Zealand, we continued across the globe,” Pliska said. “The WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic drew record-setting fields. Erkut Yilmaz won two WPT titles on his way to winning the Hublot WPT Player of the Year award. As always, the best is yet to come, and we are thrilled to begin preparing for another season of premier global poker events.” With so much success on the World Poker Tour last season, it should be no surprise that fourteen of the seventeen announced events will be returns to stops the WPT made in 2018-2019. During the first half of the tour, in 2019, seven of the nine events will be the same as in Season XVII. The changes come in the form of a return to the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for the $5,000 buy-in WPT Legends of Poker. A longtime staple on the schedule, the Legends of Poker took a year off from the Main Tour and will now be back in late August. WPT UK from the Dusk Till Dawn Casino is also back in the first half of Season XVIII, making its first appearance on the Main Tour since Season XV. Cornerstone stops such as WPT Borgata Poker Open, WPT Seminole Rock & Roll Poker Open and, of course, the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic are all back as well. DATES EVENT BUY-IN 7/20-7/25 WPT Gardens Poker Festival $5,000 8/31- 9/4 WPT Legends of Poker $5,000 9/15-9/20 WPT Borgata Poker Open $3,500 9/28-10/2 WPT Maryland at Live! Casino $3,500 9/30-10/6 WPT UK at Dusk Till Dawn £3,300 10/11-10/15 WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble $5,000 10/28-11/3 WPT Montreal $3,300 CAD 11/29-12/4 WPT Seminole Rock & Roll Poker Open $3,500 12/16-12/20 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,000 Like the first half of the schedule, the tournaments announced for 2020 strongly resemble the schedule for the previous season. The only major difference will be a stop at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic for WPT Germany. The California Swing is still intact with back-to-back stops at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles for the LAPC and a trip up north to Thunder Valley Casino Resort for WPT Rolling Thunder. While there is no mention yet of a possible return of San Jose's Bay 101 Shooting Stars, there is a significant gap in time between stops in early March and late April where it may fit. DATES EVENT BUY-IN 1/11-1/15 WPT Gardens Poker Championship* $10,000 1/16-1/30 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open* $3,500 2/17-2/23 WPT Germany €3,300 2/29-3/4 WPT L.A. Poker Classic* $10,000 3/7-3/10 WPT Rolling Thunder $5,000 4/30-5/5 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown* $3,500 5/15-5/18 WPT Choctaw* $3,700 * final table to be played at HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas Additional Main Tour stops are expected to be announced at a later date.
  3. Not many players can show up to the World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions and double their career WPT cashes total. Ole Schemion did exactly that on Monday night, winning the WPT TOC for $440,395 by beating Tony Dunst heads up. Prior to the TOC, Schemion's only cash on the WPT came when he won the WPT European Championship in January, 2018. Two cashes, two wins and $696,000 in total earnings. Schemion started the six-handed final table with over 40% of the chips in play and eliminated the final three players in his way before picking up the title and becoming just the fourth winner of this event. Simon Lam opened to 17,000 from middle position and Nick Schulman called from the cutoff. Ryan Tosoc then shoved for 651,000 from the big blind, forcing Lam to fold. Schulman tank-called all in. Tosoc tabled [poker card="kc"][poker card="qh"] which put him behind Schulman's [poker card="ac"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="2c"] flop put Tosoc in front. The [poker card="2d"] turn was no help for Schulman and he failed to connect with any of his three outs on the [poker card="td"] river and was eliminated in sixth place. It wasn't until nearly two hours later before the next elimination occurred. Griffin Paul raised from UTG to 25,000 and Dunst called from the button. After the [poker card="9s"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5s"] flop, Paul bet 18,000. Dunst moved all in for 523,000 sending Paul into the tank. Paul called and turned over [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"] for the second nut flush draw but Dunst had flopped bottom set with [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"]. The turn was the [poker card="3h"] and the river was the [poker card="tc"] to send Paul out in fifth. As if by clockwork, another two hours passed and there was a player sent to the rail. Schemion raised from UTG to 35,000 and Lam defended his big blind. The flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4c"] and Lam check-raised all in for 178,000 in response to Schemion's bet of 50,000. Schemion called and turned over [poker card="6c"][poker card="5c"] for a monster draw while Lam was slightly behind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="7d"] even though he had middle pair. The [poker card="tc"] turn gave Schemion his flush but gave Lam outs to a bigger flush. The river was the [poker card="ah"] however and Lam was sent packing in fourth. Schemion continued to apply pressure three-handed and it took roughly 90 minutes for him to find another victim. Tosoc called from the button, Dunst folded his small blind and Schemion checked. The flop came [poker card="6d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="3h"] and Schemion bet 40,000 and Tosoc responded by moving all in for 505,000. Schemion called and turned over [poker card="kh"][poker card="2h"] which put him ahead of Tosoc's [poker card="qh"][poker card="7h"]. The [poker card="9d"] turn gave Tosoc some extra outs but the [poker card="js"] river wasn't one of them, giving Schemion the pot and eliminating Tosoc in third place. Schemion started heads-up play the same way he started the final table; with the chip lead. Schemion had Dunst outchipped 2.1M-1.7M. It took just 17 hands a little less than an hour for Schemion to finish things off. Schemion opened to 60,000 before Dunst raised to 250,000. Schemion called and the flop fell [poker card="kh"][poker card="jh"][poker card="ts"]. Dunst check-called Schemion's bet of 200,000. The turn was the [poker card="4s"] and Dunst checked again. Schemion fired out a bet of 420,000 and Dunst responded by moving all in for 785,000. Schemion called quickly and turned over [poker card="qs"][poker card="9s"] for a flopped straight and Dunst showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="5d"]. The [poker card="td"] river gave Dunst a meaningless two-pair, eliminating him in second place and giving Schemion his first live win since he took down the PokerStars PCA National Championship in the Bahamas in Janaury. The first event of Season XVIII, the WPT Gardens Poker Festival, is scheduled for the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, California in from July 20 - 25. The $5,000 buy-in event got 584 entries when it made its WPT debut last summer. Simon Lam took home $565,055 for the win. Final Table Payouts Ole Schemion - $440,395 Tony Dunst - $250,265 Ryan Tosoc - $166,845 Simon Lam - $115,945 Griffin Paul - $84,140 Nick Schulman - $63,890
  4. The crazy week for the World Poker Tour continued on Friday afternoon as the $10,000 buy-in ARIA Summer Championship played down to a winner. Matthew Wantman eliminated four of the final six players to win $443,475 and his first WPT title. Wantman also earned automatic entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions that gets underway Saturday at ARIA. It took just four hands to get the first elimination. Action folded to Ryan Laplante and he moved all in from the hijack and Wantman called from the big blind. Laplante turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"] which had him racing against Wantman's [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="9h"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="8c"][poker card="jc"] runout missed Laplante and gave Wantman an unneeded set of jacks to bust Laplante in sixth place. Laplante wasted no time in getting back on the horse though. The next elimination came just six hands later. Jim Collopy limped for 15,000 before Wantman raised to 65,000 from the small blind. Collopy moved all in for 540,000 and Wantman called. Collopy tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="8d"] and Wantman was well ahead with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"]. The [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"][poker card="3c"] flop failed to connect for Collopy and all he could do was watch the [poker card="td"] turn and [poker card="4d"] river miss him again to officially eliminate him in fifth place. The fast pace of eliminations continued and only five more hands passed before Wantman found another victim. From the button, Wantman raised to 40,000 and Art Papazyan called from the small blind before Kevin Eyster shipped his last 375,000 from the big blind. Wantman called and Papazyan folded. Wantman again turned over a monster, this time [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"] while Eyster needed some help with [poker card="kd"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="7h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="tc"] runout gave Wantman a queen-high flush and eliminated Eyster in third. It took four hours and 140 hands to go from three players to heads up. Papazyan, who was looking for his third career WPT win, button-raised to 85,000 and then moved all in for 1,545,000 after Igor Kurganov made it 300,000 from the small blind. Kurganov called and showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="qd"] and Papazyan was in rough shape with [poker card="qs"][poker card="jh"]. The [poker card="as"][poker card="kh"][poker card="js"] flop gave Kurganov top pair and Kurganov bottom pair with players drawing to a chop with Broadway. The turn was the [poker card="7c"] and the river the [poker card="5c"] to give Kurganov the pot and send him to heads up against Wantman while Papazyan was out in third position. The players were nearly even in chips when heads up began; Wantman held 53% of the chips. Over the next two hours, Kurganov and Wantman played 53 hands and traded the chip lead a few times before Wantman finally put Kurganov away for good. Down to 18 big blinds, Kurganov shipped all in with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6c"] and Wantman called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] flop gave Wantman a commanding lead in the hand and neither the [poker card="6d"] turn or [poker card="4s"] river changed anything to send Kurganov out in second and award Wantman his first WPT title. The event drew 192 entrants for a total prize pool $1,824,000. In 2018, the Bobby Baldwin Poker Classic, which held the same spot on the calendar at ARIA, attracted 162 players. Final Table Payouts Matthew Wantman - $443,475 Igor Kurganov - $285,650 Art Papazyan - $209,980 Kevin Eyster - $156,220 Jim Collopy - $117,640 Ryan Laplante - $89,685
  5. There’s a reason that summer in Las Vegas is often called ‘poker player summer camp’ and it’s not just because the World Series of Poker is going on. During the summer bracelet chasing takes center stage in Sin City but over the past decade, many other Las Vegas poker rooms have battled with the WSOP for the hearts and minds of the poker playing public by consistently scheduling competing summer series that offer players excellent value through great structures and big guarantees. Here's a quick look around the city at some of those non-WSOP tournaments keeping poker players in action. ARIA Poker Classic and High Roller Series There are basically two tournament series happening at the same time inside the ARIA. The first is for the everyday player. It's filled with buy-ins right around the $400 and $240 buy-in level, The ARIA Poker Classic. The second is home to the high rollers - small fields, high buy-in, and elite competition - The ARIA Summer High Roller Series. Even though the Rio has offered some big buy-in tournaments early in the WSOP schedule, many of the biggest names in the game have been spending more time in the ARIA this summer simply because it’s where the biggest games are. Before he was embroiled in controversy for folding out of order at the WSOP, Sam Soverel bested the 23 player field in Aria High Roller 11 on May 30 for a $235,880 payday. He was joined in the money by David Peters (runner-up, $189.620), Jake Schindler (3rd, $92,000) and Poker Central founder Cary Katz (4th, $57,500). Australia’s Michael Addamo won the $10,000 buy-in ARIA High Roller 12 on June 4 for $136,000, defeating Germany’s Manig Loeser heads up. Loeser finished in second place taking home $88,400 for his efforts while fellow countryman Rainer Kempe finished in third for $54,400. Spain’s Juan Dominguez is having a nice start to his summer as he went back-to-back at the ARIA. First, he topped the 45 player field of the $10,000 ARIA High Roller 13 for $153,000 and the very next day he won the $10,000 ARIA High Roller 14 for another $126,682. Ben Yu was the official runner-up, taking home $125,318 while the familiar faces of Jake Schindler (3rd, $67,500), Manig Loeser (4th, $45,000) and Ali Imsirovic (5th, $36,000) also made final table appearances. The 2019 Wynn Poker Classic One of the nicer properties on the Las Vegas strip, the Wynn/Encore hosts the Wynn Poker Classic and through the first week and a half, players have been turning up en masse to play in their daily offerings. The Wynn has been offering multiple $1K+ buy-in tournaments and some well-known names have been showing up for them. On June 3, 484 runners showed up for the $1,100 in which the UK’s Louis Salter took home the $98.452 first-place prize and defeated a final table that included Connor Drinan (runner-up, $64,295) and Lily Kiletto (7th, $13,907). The next day 432 players jumped into the $1,600 buy-in which saw Florida’s Evan Teitelbaum hold off one-time WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen to take down the $138,209 first place prize. McKeehen settled for $89,018 as the runner-up. Other notable final table players included Mark Radoja (5th, $31,068) as well as Entourage and Ballers music supervisor Scott Vener (9th, $12,468). Keven Stammen bested the 618 runners of the $550 daily on June 6 for a $50,940 payday while Justin Liberto defeated Germany’s Bart Lybaert on June 8 to win a $1,100 tournament for $94,659. Lybaert’s $61,412 runner-up prize helped push him to over $3M in career earnings. The DeepStack Championship Poker Series at The Venetian The Venetian continues to provide large field tournaments for players looking for action outside the Rio. They have a partnership with the Mid-States Poker Tour for some of their larger events but also provide daily tournaments for players looking for buy-ins under $1,600. Although the Deepstack Series starts in the middle of May, the $1,100 ‘Summer Kickoff ‘ Event from May 27-29 brought out 518 runners where World Poker Tour Champion Brian Altman took home the $90,905 first-place prize. He defeated Robert Kuhn who ended up with $84,390 as the runner-up. The final table included popular Twitch Poker streamer Ricky ‘RatedGTO’ Guan who finished in fourth for $36,364, a top-3 score for his young career. Pot Limit Omaha cash game grinder Sasha Liu outlasted the 144 runners in the $800 Pot Limit Omaha 8-Max Bounty to take down the $20,161 first-place prize. Canadian Kevin Barton fell in second place for a $11,995 payday.
  6. It was late 2005 and poker was happily enjoying a boom phase that felt like it would never end. As one of the catalysts of the boom, the World Poker Tour was in the midst of unheard of and somewhat unbelievable growth. So much so that, 783 players made their way to Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, for what was, at the time, the single largest WPT event ever, the WPT World Poker Finals. A quiet, sheepish-looking kid named Nick Schulman, who had never cashed in a live tournament before, made his way through that record-sized field to win $2,142,000 and become the youngest WPT winner at the time. "You know it all happened so fast. It was so long ago, I feel a little embarrassed at this point. It was like 60 years ago. I don't think I can remember back that far," Schulman joked during a break at the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions at the ARIA Resort & Casino. He was just 21 years old and had been crushing online for years at this point. Winning wasn't new to him, and neither was the money that came with being a successful poker player. Being on such a massive stage was new though. "I was young. It was one of my first (live) tournaments. It was an incredible experience - obviously, I had a lot of online experience, but for it to come together live on, I think it was the biggest WPT ever at the time. It was great," Schulman said. Reflecting how that night changed his life, the now 35-year-old admits he might not have been ready to go from screen name to household name. A 21-year-old with a bankroll that could choke a hippo might not have been the best combination for him at the time. "I was kind of an animal. I wasn't really looking at it like that," Schulman said. "I was already deep in the gambling life and it didn't change things as much as it probably should have." His poker career has taken multiple turns since that night at Foxwoods. He's won an additional $9 million since then even though tournaments no longer take up most of his attention. "I guess I've sort of gravitated more to be being a cash game player over the years. I still play some WPTs and I've just been a professional poker player and I've leaned cash games," Schulman said. Even though his WPT win came almost 14 years ago, Schulman couldn't turn down a chance to play the WPT Tournament of Champions, especially after another former champ and good friend of his made the trip to Las Vegas to play. "It's a nice event. A buddy of mine, Taylor von Kriegenbergh, came out and he's playing it. I'm just kind of hanging out with him and playing it as well," Schulman said. "I love to play No Limit tournaments. A $15K No Limit tournament is right up my alley." As for the rest of his summer, Schulman doesn't know what's in store for him. The WSOP could be a draw, but Las Vegas high stakes cash games get very juicy during that time. "I don't know yet. I can't pin it down at this point," Schulman said. "I'm just going to see how the cash games develop and take it day-by-day."
  7. On his 36th birthday, Craig Varnell stormed back from 3.5 big blinds to score his first World Poker Tour title. The victory came in the 577-entry Season XVII WPT Choctaw Main Event and was worth a career-best $379,990. "It feels great," Varnell said about getting the victory on his birthday. "When I found out [the final table] was on my birthday, I said 'well that's good.' The day didn't start out too well, and I was down to three or four big blinds. Then, I didn't know what happened. I won a couple of all ins and all of a sudden I was back in it. It's crazy. I had a big support group here, people watching from everywhere, it's pretty crazy. Best birthday present you can ask for." On Hand #42 of the final table, Varnell flopped top and bottom pair on the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="6h"] board in a hand against Nick Pupillo. After Varnell checked with the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="6d"] in his hand, Pupillo bet 180,000. Varnell check-raised to 530,000, and Pupillo made the call to see the [poker card="3d"] hit the turn. Varnell moved all in for 2.405 million, and Pupillo quickly called with the better [poker card="Ts"][poker card="Th"]. The river was the [poker card="Qs"] to give Pupillo the double up and knock Varnell all the way down to 210,000. At the time, that was only 3.5 big blinds. Varnell doubled up through Trung Pham on the next deal of the cards, then doubled again a few hands later. The second double came through Stacey Jones. Immediately after that, Varnell doubled again through Pham and all of a sudden he was back up to 3.12 million in chips. Varnell took that momentum and rode it to victory, ultimately defeating Will Berry in heads-up play. Final Table Payouts Craig Varnell - $379,990 Will Berry - $243,330 Nick Pupillo - $179,430 Trung Pham - $133,770 Stacey Jones - $100,850 Austin Lewis - $76,890 This wasn't the first time Varnell had made a WPT final table, and it wasn't the first time he made the WPT Choctaw final table. In Season XV, Varnell took third in WPT Choctaw for $306,346. Earlier this season, Season XVII, Varnell took fourth in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival for $201,615. Although he did win a WPT500 title back in 2015, Varnell was still looking for that redemption after coming ever so close in WPT Main Tour events before. [caption id="attachment_624493" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Craig Varnell all smiles after his first WPT title victory (photo: WPT)[/caption] "It feels really good," Varnell said of being able to close this WPT Main Tour final table out with a win. "I made a really bad call when I was three handed, and I was pretty upset with myself for a while, but after I got short and then doubled up I think I played really well." Varnell had a roller coaster ride at the final table, but he said everyone experienced the same thing, with the chip lead changing multiple times and different players being at the bottom at various times, as well. Varnell also made sure to point out that everyone else at the table player very well. Austin Lewis was eliminated first when his [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"] couldn't hold up against the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Kd"] for Jones. Jones fell next when he ran pocket kings into the pocket aces of Pham. After that, it was Pham out in fourth and then Pupillo out i third to set up a Varnell-versus-Berry heads-up bout. Varnell entered heads-up play with almost a 2-1 chip lead. Berry quickly pulled back into the lead, but then Varnell stretched a lead back out. On the final hand, the two got all the money in with Varnell holding the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Td"] to Berry's [poker card="8s"][poker card="8c"]. Varnell flopped a ten and held from there to eliminate Berry in second place. "I try to follow my instincts, which a lot of players don't do anymore," Varnell said of the style and speed of his play. "It's all math and game theory. That's a part of the game a lot of people don't have. They're always on their phone on Twitter, they're always doing something. I look at people and I try to pick up on things and pay attention a lot, and that's why I have success. I don't study, I don't do all of this stuff. These kids have no lives. They're either on the computer or playing poker all the time. I don't want to live my life like that. I love playing poker, but I'm not going to just play all the time. I've got family, friends, a girlfriend. I can't just be studying all the time." Varnell can now add his WPT title to his trophy case that already includes a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, in addition to the aforementioned WPT500 crown. Varnell's WSOP bracelet came just last summer when he won the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event for $181,790. "Never would I have thought I'd have a WPT title and a bracelet," Varnell said. "It's crazy to just think about all of that. Now I get to play with all of the best tomorrow [in the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions] with all of the added money. I like being challenged." [caption id="attachment_624494" align="alignnone" width="1354"] Craig Varnell embraced by his girlfriend after the win (photo: WPT)[/caption] Next up for Varnell will be the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions on Saturday, June 1, when he'll face off against only fellow WPT Champions Club members in the rake-free $15,000 buy-in event.
  8. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance and Donnie are both in Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker. The guys discuss the smashing - and somehow unexpected - success of the Big 50 and the amazing buzz that has filled the hallways at the Rio in the first couple of days of play. They also recap Brian Green's bracelet win in the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty and what a sixth place finish means for Daniel Negreanu as he chases down WSOP Player of the Year. Lastly, they leave the friendly confines of the Rio and head over to the Luxor to recap the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and James Carroll's big win. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  9. PocketFiver Ben 'BenFaz' Farrell scored first place in the Zynga Poker WPT500 Las Vegas event on Thursday at ARIA Resort & Casino, topping a field of 1,932 entries to win $155,000. Hailing from England, Farrell earned his career-best live tournament score with the victory. He topped India's Nikita Luther in heads-up play. "There were a lot of people to get through," Farrell told WPT reporters after the win. "It feels really good." WPT500 Las Vegas Final Table Results 1st: Ben Farrell - $155,000 2nd: Nikita Luther - $109,300 3rd: Sung Joo Hyun - $75,000 4th: Min Ji - $55,000 5th: Trey Morris - $40,000 6th: Eduards Kudrjavcevs - $30,000 7th: Jakub Wojtas - $22,000 8th: Ritesh Shah - $17,000 9th: Jim Pennella - $14,000 Farrell joined the multi-flight field on the final starting day, the turbo flight. Although he slipped to as low as 12 big blinds, he said, he turned things around, finished the flight as chip leader, and charged on to the final table. At the final table, Farrell busted Ritesh Shah in eighth place, Eduards Kudrjavcevs in sixth place, and Trey Morris in fifth place en route to his heads-up battle with Luther. Entering the heads-up match, Luther had the chip lead following her elimination of Sung Too Hyun in third place. Her lead wasn’t a big one, though, as Luther as up 21.1 million to 17.525 million to start. Luther struck first, extending her chip lead to a gap of more than 9 million, and then she stretched it to more than 10 million shortly thereafter. Farrell closed the gap when both players flopped a pair of eights but Farrell’s kicker was better, and then the most important hand of the tournament played out. On that important hand, Luther held ace-king to Farrell's ace-queen. All the money went in preflop and Farrell saw the bad news as he was dominated. The nine-high flop missed both players, but a queen on the turn vaulted Farrell into the lead. He held from there and doubled up to take a commanding chip lead of 33.25 million to 5.375 million. About 10 minutes later, it was all over when Farrell’s ace-five finished off Luther and her king-queen. Luther, who had made a deep run in the 2017 WPT500 Las Vegas worth a fifth-place finish and $65,000, cashed this year for $109,300. "It feels really good," Farrell told WPT reporters. "I've been working on my game mainly by talking with friends. I’m mainly an online player, so I haven’t had many results live. But I’ve had a lot of close runs, so I always knew that I’d eventually win a tournament. I just had to put in the volume and keep studying." Others to run deep in the event include Zynga Poker VIP player Hugh Grant (11th - $11,500), former WPT Player of the Year Mukul Pahuja (12th - $11,500), Quentin Jones (35th - $3,500), T.K. Miles (49th - $2,700), and Mo Nuwwarah (66th - $2,100). Grant's run came one year after he took eighth in the WPT500 Las Vegas for $26,310. Jones and Nuwwarah also put together back-to-back cashes in WPT500 Las Vegas. Jones, a WPTDeepStacks champion, finished 13th last year for $13,220. Nuwwarah took 22nd for $7,320 one year ago.
  10. World Poker Tour 2018 LAPC champion Dennis Blieden has been taken into federal custody after being charged with embezzling $22 million from his former employer, StyleHaul Inc. On Thursday, after an FBI investigation, a federal indictment was unsealed charging Blieden with 11 counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and two forfeiture counts. The indictment claims Blieden used the tens of millions of dollars for poker tournament buy-ins, crypto-currency investments as well as to pay off personal debts. According to the indictment, while living in Santa Monica, CA, Blieden, was the controller and vice-president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul, a digital marketing company that represents social media ‘influencers’. In his role at the company, Blieden had control over the company’s bank accounts and abused his position and access to those accounts to transfer money to his own personal bank accounts. Blieden allegedly used company funds to enter into high roller tournaments as well as converting funds to crypto-currency which he was using to gamble online. The government documents continued to state that Blieden also used the money to write $1,204,000 in personal checks to other poker players, he used $1,134,956 to pay off his personal credit cards and he took another $8,473,734 and transferred them into his own crypto-currency accounts. Additional details from the government’s allegations assert that Blieden created a fictitious lease in May 2018 for the rental of a condo in Rosarito Beach, Mexico and he forged the signature of a StyleHaul executive to do so. After that, he transferred $230,000 of company funds to himself, claiming that the condo was being rented by clients of the company for business purposes. Additionally, Blieden allegedly falsified wire transfer documents from Western Union to make it appear that money he’d removed from StyleHaul accounts were being used to pay money owed to their own clients. Blieden is likely best known for this 2018 domination of the final table of the WPT Los Angeles Poker Classic where he ended up taking down the first WPT tournament he ever played in for an even $1,000,000. Since that time Blieden has also been seen playing high stakes cash on Live At The Bike as a participant in their ‘Million Dollar Cash Game.’ Blieden’s most recent live tournament score took place in late June in Las Vegas, where he now resides, when he finished in 17th place in the inaugural partypoker MILLIONS Vegas at the ARIA for $35,000. If Blieden is found guilty and convicted on all charges he faces a maximum sentence of more than 200 years in federal prison.
  11. It was nearly a generation ago when there was a deep divide between ‘online’ players and their ‘live pro’ counterparts. Nowadays, just about everyone who knows about the game of poker realizes that, for those that afforded the ability to play online poker, the online and live games complement each other more than ever. While PA online poker players continue to wait for their state-regulated poker sites to launch, there are still a number of options to get in some check-raising and three-betting in the Keystone State. One caveat though, you're going to have to put on pants. Harrah’s Philadephia Located in Chester, PA on the Delaware River waterfront, the spacious 28-table poker room of Harrah’s Philadelphia is noted as the only World Series of Poker-branded room in the state of Pennsylvania. With so many tables, the room often spreads games according to the desires of the players. Standard games include No Limit games starting at $1/3 and $2/5 blinds with the occasional larger $5/10 game being spread. Player bonuses include High Hand, Hot Seat and Bad Beat Jackpot promotions. Basically, Harrah’s Philadelphia is a full-service card room giving most grinders everything they are looking for in a cash game. They also offer daily tournaments. The casino has, in the past, been the site for WSOP Circuit stops with players like Phillip Hui and Kyle Bowker winning circuit rings back in 2014. With Harrah’s Philadelphia being owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, the provider of the WSOP.com network in both Nevada and New Jersey, it’s very likely that players in PA will, at some point, have the opportunity to join their larger network of shared liquidity. Once players can compete on WSOP.com, it opens the door for the WSOP to add Philadelphia back into their live schedule as well. Parx Casino Just northeast of Philadelphia, Parx Casino is known as one of the East Coast’s largest poker rooms with 48 poker tables and a full slate of poker tournaments that keeps grinders in action year-round. One of the benefits of having so many tables is the ability to offer a variety of games. Of course, both Limit and No Limit Hold’em are regularly spread with Limit games starting at $4/8 and playing as high as $150/$300. No Limit also starts small at $1/2 and will sometimes run as high as $10/25. Additional cash games include regularly spread Pot Limit Omaha as well as a variety of Mixed Games. Like other larger rooms, Parx has a progressive Bad Beat Jackpot that often sits in the six-figure range. Parx is also known for its tournaments. While they offer regularly run daily tournaments, the room is more well known for their ‘Big Stax’ series. The series is run roughly four times a year and for the past three, they have partnered with the World Poker Tour DeepStacks tour once a year. In May, Dominick Sannino took down the $1,600 WPTDeepStacks Main Event at Parx for over $116,000. Parx Casino has plans to launch its online casino on July 15, with online poker to be added at a later time. They have a partnership with GAN and Kambi that will allow them to build out an online arm of their popular live card room. SugarHouse Casino Home to ‘Poker Night In America’ another major player in Philadelphia’s live poker scene is Rush Street Gaming's SugarHouse Casino. Like Parx and Harrah’s, SugarHouse has space to spread a wide variety of cash games and tournaments in their 28-table card room. Typical cash games include low-limit ($1/2) No Limit Hold’em scaling up to $2/5/10 with a $3,000 max buy-in. Both High Hand and Bad Beat promotions are also in play at SugarHouse. SugarHouse offers tournaments four days a week with an occasional four-day tournament challenge (SugarRush Challenge) which are multi-flight tournaments offering big prize pools for smaller buy-ins. Though it’s been a number of years since holding a tour stop in Philadelphia, the last time PNIA was there they held their King of the Hill 3 heads up battle where Daniel Coleman won $200,000 and still currently sits as the casino’s All-Time Money List leader. SugarHouse’s own parent company, Rush Street Gaming - the producers of Poker Night In America - will be proving the technology for SugarHouse to provide online poker. Rivers Casino - Pittsburgh Those living in the Steel City have a large poker room to enjoy at the Rivers Casino located along the Ohio River. The room features 30 poker tables that offer cash games in multiple variants including NLHE, Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo with daily High Hand promotions. When it comes to tournaments, Rivers regularly offers two daily tournaments at smaller buy-ins and then they also welcome larger tours to their room, including the World Poker Tour DeepStacks Pittsburgh stop. 316 players registered for the most recent WPT DeepStacks Main Event in April when Erik Lemaquand took home the title and $66,593. Like SugarHouse in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino is owned by Rush Street Gaming and while the company has yet to announce their online poker plans when poker becomes available it’s likely that the online room will feed players into their live rooms and events. Mount Airy Casino With only nine total tables at the Mount Airy Casino and Resort located in the Pocono Mountains is one of the smaller places to play in PA. Of course, No Limit Hold’em is available but according to their website, Mount Airy also offers Mississippi Stud as an option. So, why keep an eye on the small card room of Mount Airy? Because their online poker partner is none other than the industry’s global leader PokerStars. It’s unlikely that Mount Airy has enough room to host something as extensive at the North American Poker Tour, one of the largest PokerStars festivals to take place inside the U.S. back in 2010/11. But the online giant may have ideas on how to expand their live footprint in PA and if they do, Mount Airy could be a big part of that. In addition to these rooms Pennsylvania has a number of other locations where grinders can find a good live game. The PA action is plentiful at the rooms of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National, Mohegan Sun Pocono, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino and the part-time room of Presque Isle Downs.
  12. Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour kicked off this week with the WPT Gardens Poker Festival at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. A field of 373 entries was generated to create a prize pool of $1.753 million. On Thursday, it was Roger Teska taking the title, $368,475 in first-place prize money, and a brand new 2019 BMW X1. The victory marked the first WPT title of Teska's career and came less than a year after he won the partypoker $25,500 MILLIONS World event for $2 million down in the Bahamas in November. It was the third WPT cash and second WPT final table to date for Teska. WPT Gardens Poker Festival Final Table Results 1st: Roger Teska - $368,475* 2nd: Laszlo Molnar - $235,615 3rd: Lior Orel - $172,770 4th: Lars Kamphues - $128,320 5th: Andrew Wisdom - $96,545 6th: Cord Garcia - $73,600 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. The final table began Thursday afternoon with Lior Ohel out in front of the final six players. Cord Garcia was second to last in chips to start the final table and he was the first one to fall. After getting a chunk taken from his stack by Teska, Garcia was knocked out in sixth by Lars Kamphues on the 17th hand of the final table. Kamphues held the [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Qc"] to dominate Garcia's [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Td"] and that was all she wrote for Garcia. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Wisdom hit the rail in fifth place. He was also eliminated by Kamphues. From there, four-handed play lasted quite some time and there was a lot of shifting around on the leaderboard. Eventually, Kampheus got his money in with the [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jc"] in a flip against Teska's [poker card="As"][poker card="Qh"]. Kamphues held until the river but then an ace hit to knock him out in fourth place. Three-handed play was also an extended affair, although not quite as long as four-handed play lasted. Orel was the player to bust in third after he ran the [poker card=“Js”][poker card="Jc"] into the [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"] of Laszlo Molnar. Heads-up play began with Molnar out in front by quite a wide margin. He had 12.275 million in chips to Teska's 2.65 million. Teska doubled on the first hand of the duel when he made Broadway with the [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Js"] against Molnar's [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qd"] after the money went in preflop. Teska kept chipping away at Molnar’s stack, then won a big one with quad sevens after he raised preflop and bet the entire way, hitting trips on the flop and riveting quads. That hand left Molnar very short and he was eliminated shortly thereafter. After a couple of shoves that went uncalled, Molnar shoved again from the button for 1.475 million with the blinds at 125,000-250,000 with a 250,000 big blind ante. Teska called with the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="6c"] and was ahead of Molnar’s [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qc"]. The board ran out [poker card="Jc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2s"] and Molnar was out in second place for $235,615. The top 48 finishers from the field of 373 entries cashed in the event, with notable finishes had by Maria Ho (8th - $44,525), James Calderaro (12th - $28,445), Viny Lima (15th - $19,225), and Adam Weinraub (19th - $16,150). Teska Takes Early WPT Player of the Year Lead With his WPT Gardens victory, Teska sits atop the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings for the new season, having earned 1,000 points. Although the new WPT season is only one event in, Teska did tell the WPT that he is likely to play a few more events this season. 1st: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 2nd: Laszlo Molnar - 800 points 3rd: Lior Ohel - 700 points 4th: Lars Kamphues - 600 points 5th: Andrew Wisdom - 500 points 6th: Cord Garcia - 400 points 7th: Eric Hicks - 300 points 8th: Maria Ho - 200 points 9th: Vladimir Vasilyev - 150 points 10th: Eric Wong - 100 points Garcia, who took sixth at WPT Gardens and is sixth in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race because of it, is also likely to play a handful of WPT events this season. In fact, he's even willing to bet on himself in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. "I woke up this morning and since it was a new season I decided that I would entertain some side bets - just one on one, whoever has the most points at the end of the season," Garcia told the WPT. "I wasn’t really interested in side-liners just taking elite players, but I told any player that if he wanted to bet himself, the door is open." Garcia said that he did book one $5,000 wager with two-time WPT champ and one of winningest players out of Pennsylvania, Aaron Mermelstein. The winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race for Season XVIII will earn a special Hublot timepiece valued at $15,000 and a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used towards buy-ins in any Season XVIII global WPT event. The winner also receives complimentary accommodation, ground transportation, and food and beverage credit at select WPT Main Tour stops. The player who finishes second in the race will earn a $7,500 WPT Passport, and the player who finishes third will earn a $2,500 WPT Passport. Legends of Poker Next for WPT Main Tour Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour continues with the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Southern California in August. The $5,000 buy-in Main Event takes place August 31 through September 4 and features two starting flights.
  13. As the launch of Pennsylvania online poker nears, PocketFives takes a look at the top 10 of the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list. The list includes a World Series of Poker Main Event champion, one other WSOP gold bracelet winner, a couple of World Poker Tour winners, and a European Poker Tour champion. The leader falls under none of these categories, though, but he does top the list in a big way with more than $24 million in live tournament earnings. Pennsylvania Poker All-Time Money List Jake Schindler - $24,659,374 Joseph McKeehen - $16,224,026 John Hennigan - $8,472,252 Matt Glantz - $7,110,451 Daniel Ott - $4,726,701 Matt Berkey - $4,152,310 Russell Thomas - $3,770,309 Michael Martin - $3,305,970 Aaron Mermelstein - $3,246,815 Garry Gates - $3,243,129 Jake Schindler Jake Schindler and his career live tournament earnings of more than $24.6 million tops the PA poker all-time money list, and the gap between him and second place is quite large. Schindler is originally from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia. It’s a suburb of Philadelphia with a population of only few thousand people. Schindler’s largest live tournament score to date comes in at $3.6 million for when he finished second to Christoph Vogelsang in the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl in 2017. He also has scores of $1.192 million from winning the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller, $2.151 million for winning the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona €100,000 Super High Roller, and $1.332 million for winning the WPT Five Diamond $100,000 Super High Roller in 2018. Not only does Schindler’s more than $24.6 million put him on top of Pennsylvania’s all-time money list, but it has him ranked in the top 15 of the United States all-time money list and top 25 of the overall all-time money list. Joseph McKeehen Coming in at #2 on Pennsylvania’s all-time money list is 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joseph McKeehen with more than $16.2 million in live tournament earnings. Of those winnings, $7.683 million came when McKeehen topped a field of 6,420 entries in poker’s most prestigious event, the WSOP Main Event. McKeehen is originally from North Wales, Pennsylvania. It’s a small town in the southeast corner of the Keystone State. McKeehen proved his wasn’t just a one-hit wonder when, in 2017, he won his second WSOP gold bracelet in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, scoring $311,817. McKeehen also has a WSOP Circuit Main Event title to his name. McKeehen’s second biggest score came from the 2016 PCA $100,000 Super High Roller. In that event, he finished second to Bryn Kenney for $1.22 million. John Hennigan One of the most well-known poker players in the world, John Hennigan, comes in at #3 on Pennsylvania’s all-time money list. He has $8.472 million in live tournament earnings. Hennigan has loads of big scores and triumphant victories on his résumé, but it’s the six WSOP gold bracelets and one WPT title that really stick out. Hennigan’s largest career score is his World Poker Tour win, coming in 2007 at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open when he won $1.606 million. His second biggest score came in 2014 when he won the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship to the tune of $1.517 million. That WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship win came just one year after he finished third in the same event for $686,568. In 2018, Hennigan took second in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $765,837. Hennigan is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Matt Glantz Matt Glantz, from Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, comes in at #4 on the list with $7.11 million in live tournament earnings. His biggest live tournament score came from the European Poker Tour London £20,500 High Roller. He won that event for what converted to $862,837. In 2008, Glantz took fourth in the WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event for $568,320, and in 2014 he finished fifth in the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller for $445,520. Glantz has a handful of WSOP final tables on record, but to date, he’s yet to win a WSOP gold bracelet. His closest was in 2005 when he took second in the WSOP $3,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament for $364,620. Daniel Ott Almost smack dead in the center of Pennsylvania is Altoona, where Daniel Ott is from. Ott comes in at #5 on PA’s all-time money list with $4.726 million in live tournament earnings. Nearly all of that, $4.7 million worth, comes from a single score. In 2017, Ott made the final table of the WSOP Main Event and finished second to Scott Blumstein for $4.7 million. Elsewhere on Ott’s résumé, you’ll find a bunch of WSOP cashes, all for small amounts, and an MSPT cash, but that’s it. Matt Berkey Originally from Leechburg, Pennsylvania, Matt Berkey is one of poker’s most popular players. He has more than $4.15 million in live tournament earnings, but that could change rather quickly for as big as he plays. Berkey is a regular in some of poker’s priciest tournaments, including the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl, which he took fifth in in 2016 for $1.1 million. That’s Berkey’s only seven-figure score to date, but he has several six-figures cashes and it seems like only a matter of time before he nets another cash of a million dollars or more. Russell Thomas Like Ott, the bulk of Russell Thomas’ career live tournament earnings come from a final table in the WSOP Main Event. Thomas has more than $3.77 million in earnings, which lands him #7 on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list. More than $2.85 million of that comes from a fourth-place finish in the 2012 WSOP Main Event. Thomas is originally from Wallingford, Pennsylvania, which is located in the southeast corner of the state. Michael Martin You won’t see Michael Martin on the poker circuit much these days, but he did well to amass more than $3.3 million in live tournament earnings. Nearly all of Martin’s live tournament cashes come from 2006 to 2010, with one very small cash coming in each of 2013 and 2019. Martin’s biggest score came when he won the European Poker Tour London Main Event in 2008 for more than $1.8 million. Prior to that, earlier in the same year, he banked $666,171 for a fifth-place finish in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Martin is originally from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. Aaron Mermelstein Philadelphia’s Aaron Mermelstein is still very much grinding the tournament circuit, and with more than $3.25 million in live earnings, he’s #9 on the Pennsylvania all-time money list. Mermelstein doesn’t have a seven-figure score on record, to date, but he does hold two WPT titles. He won both in 2015, topping the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $712,305, his largest score ever, and then winning the WPT Maryland Live! tournament for $250,222. Another big score for Mermelstein came when he won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown $25,000 High Roller event in 2019 for $618,955. Garry Gates Titusville’s Garry Gates is a newcomer to the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, thanks to his fourth-place finish in the 2019 WSOP Main Event for $3 million. Gates, a longtime member of the poker industry on both the media and corporate side, now has four WSOP Main Event cashes. Gates’ second-biggest score is a fourth-place finish in the 2012 WSOP Circuit Atlantic City Main Event for $64,530. Gates’ hometown of Titusville is home to notable football player and coach, John Heisman.
  14. The World Poker Tour has a new champion and his name is Aaron Van Blarcum. Van Blarcum was victorious in the Season XVIII WPT Legends of Poker Main Event at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino, topping the field of 520 entries to score the tournament’s $474,390 first-place prize. The win proved the largest live tournament score for the Dallas, Texas, native, crushing his previous best of nearly $51,000. Included in the prize for Van Blarcum was a $15,000 entry to the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. "It feels great," Van Blarcum told the WPT afterwards. "I planned on playing in six of these [WPTs] this year and this was the first one, so it's pretty awesome." Van Blarcum defeated Gueorgui Gantchev in heads-up play, with Gantchev taking home $306,265. WPT regular Jared Griener finished third for $226,040. WPT Legends of Poker Final Table Results 1st: Aaron Van Blarcum - $474,390* 2nd: Gueorgui Gantchev - $306,265 3rd: Jared Griener - $226,040 4th: Vahan Sudzhyan - $168,630 5th: Jisup Hwang - $127,165 6th: Antonios Roungeris - $96,955 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"] Van Blarcum entered Wednesday’s finale in last place on the leaderboard with six players remaining. He started climbing up from the bottom almost immediately and then eliminated Antonios Roungeris in sixth place on Hand #23 with the [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jd"] against Roungeris' [poker card="7s"][poker card="7c"]. One hand later, Van Blarcum made a royal flush to pick up even more chips. Van Blarcum continued to stay active and chip up, but he was a bystander when Gantchev knocked out Jisup Hwang in fifth. For the second elimination, it was a pair-versus-pair confrontation, with Gantchev's [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Qh"] holding up against Hwang’s [poker card="3c"][poker card="3h"]. Hwang went out on Hand #76, then Hand #81 saw Van Blarcum bust Vahan Sudzhyan in fourth place. Van Blarcum had checked the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4s"][poker card="Ts"] board to his opponent. Sudzhyan moved all in and Van Blarcum called with the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ks"]. Sudzhyan was drawing dead with the [poker card="6h"][poker card="5h"]. In another pair-versus-pair clash, Van Blarcum knocked out Griener in third place, this time when his [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"] held up against Griener's [poker card="7h"][poker card="7d"]. That gave Van Blarcum a stack of nearly 16.5 million in chips heading into heads-up play against Gantchev, who had a stack of just more than 4.3 million. On the 29th hand of the duel, it was all over. On the final hand, Van Blarcum's [poker card="Ts"][poker card="Tc"] were up against the [poker card="5s"][poker card="5d"] for Gantchev. The pocket fives didn’t come from behind on the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="8c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2d"] board and Van Blarcum was crowned the winner. The final day of play lasted 128 hands. The top 65 finishers reached the money, with deep runs had by Kitty Kuo (8th - $58,265), WPT Champions Club members Brian Altman (10th - $45,940) and Aaron Mermelstein (16th - $24,130), and Cord Garcia (30th - $14,100). Van Blarcum Takes WPT Player of the Year Lead Through two events in Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour, Van Blarcum sits atop the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings for the new season. His 1,200 points for winning the WPT Legends of Poker title were enough to surpass the 1,000 points won by Roger Teska when he took the opening title of Season XVIII in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival. Gantchev, the WPT Legends of Poker runner-up, earned 1,000 points for his finish and sits third in the race. 1st: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,200 points 2nd: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 3rd: Gueorgui Gantchev - 1,000 points 4th: Jared Griener - 900 points 5th: Laszlo Molnar - 800 points 6th: Vahan Sudzhyan - 800 points 7th: Lior Ohel - 700 points 8th: Jisup Hwang - 700 points 9th: Lars Kamphues - 600 points 10th: Antonios Roungeris - 600 points Just outside of the top 10 is Garcia with 450 points. Garcia finished sixth at WPT Gardens and 30th at WPT Legends. His finishes are noteworthy because Garcia made it known that he was willing to bet on himself in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Garcia stated that he did book one $5,000 wager with two-time WPT champ and one of winningest players out of Pennsylvania, Mermelstein, who is currently 28th in this season’s race with 100 points. Borgata Poker Open Next for WPT Main Tour The next stop on the WPT Main Tour for Season XVIII is the WPT Borgata Poker Open. The event takes place at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey, running September 15-20, 2019. The tournament has a $3,500 buy-in and $3 million prize pool guarantee.
  15. The World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open was recently at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It's always a very popular, well-attended series that draws in poker players from all over. Zach Gruneberg, one of the top players on the Pennsylvania poker all-time money list, was one of them. Not only did Gruneberg show up, he won, taking home two Borgata Poker Open titles from the series. With the victories coming at a time when Pennsylvania online poker is working to launch any day now, it felt as good a time as ever to check in with Gruneberg. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] "Honestly, it's pretty surreal," Gruneberg said of how he felt getting the two recent wins at Borgata. "Getting a first place ever, especially outright with no chop, is an extremely rare thing in tournaments. To get two within pretty much the same week doesn't seem real. I always say there's nothing like outright winning a poker tournament, well, I’ve got to find something new to say about winning two almost back-to-back (laughs)." The two events Gruneberg won were both bounty tournaments. He first won the $500 Black Chip Bounty Deepstack for $56,073. In that event, Gruneberg topped a field of 688 entries to take home the trophy. The second event he won was the $1,060 Purple Chip County tournament. In that one, Gruneberg bested a field of 232 entries to win $31,502. "The first win was a Black Chip Bounty event," Gruneberg said. "Meaning you get $100 for every person you knock out and the buy-in I believe was like $500 total. In this one, I really didn't make any adjustments. The bounties are pretty much worthless compared to the actual prize pool you are playing for. I ended up getting seven bounties, including my own for winning. However, in the $1,090 Purple Chip Bounty, each knockout is worth $500. This changes things slightly. This exact instance I really didn't change too much because I didn't have the spots to, but you definitely want to be calling some shoves a little lighter and going for those $500 bounties. I ended up getting 10, including my own, so $5,000 in bounties when first place was $31,000 is definitely a decent ratio." Knowing Gruneberg scored $700 in bounties in the first event and $5,000 in the second puts his total haul from these two tournaments at $93,275. That's quite impressive for about one week's work, but it wasn't the first time Gruneberg had scored big from a WPT series at Borgata. In 2016, Gruneberg maneuvered his way to the final table of the WPT Borgata Poker Open $3,500 Main Event. The field had 1,179 entries and Gruneberg ended up finishing in second place to Jesse Sylvia. Although he didn’t get the WPT title, Gruneberg scored $490,617 in prize money. To date, it was his largest live tournament score. In 2018, Gruneberg found his way back to a WPT final table at Borgata, only this time it was in the 1,244-entry WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open $3,500 Championship. Another top-three finish would be had for Gruneberg, as he took third place for $321,533. "Borgata is my main girl," Gruneberg said of his success at Borgata. "She never does me dirty and always does me right. I've considered it my home casino as long as I've played, so to have the level of success I've had there which includes chopping the WPT with Jesse, a third place in another WPT, and now three outright wins, it's wild. At this point now, I just feel completely relaxed and in my element there and I also am able to drive there from my home. Something about just being a car ride away instead of across the entire country or globe makes me feel at ease. It helps that I run like a Greek god at the Borgata, too. I love her!" The other title from Borgata that Gruneberg is referring to is a Saturday Series event during the 2017 Borgata Spring Poker Open. He won that $400 buy-in event for $35,996, topping a field of 415 entries to get the win. Gruneberg mentioned being just a car ride away from Borgata. He's originally from Pennsylvania, which isn't too far of a drive from Atlantic City. Soon though, Gruneberg could be trading in the drive to the casino for a walk to his computer in the comfort of his own home. Pennsylvania has legalized online poker and now it’s just a matter of time before regulated online poker sites launch in the Keystone State. Gruneberg is no stranger to the online poker world, having amassed more than $2.8 million under the alias 'HustlerGrune' on PokerStars and Full Tilt back in the day, and he’s pretty excited for the change to get legal PA online poker in his home state. "I'm super hyped for online poker to come back," Gruneberg said. "Should be any day now, but I am not really sweating it. When it comes back, it comes back, and I am excited to be able to play on partypoker and PokerStars (even though they seem like a shell of the company they once were now)." Whether it’s the live grind or competing on the virtual felt, Gruneberg said he’ll take it slow when it comes to planning out his poker schedule and just see where things take him. "Next for me in terms of poker will be WPT Maryland," Gruneberg said. "Technically, in terms of distance, that's actually the closest WPT to me and I have some good friends that live in the area, so I am excited for that. Mainly, I want to continue to focus on fitness and my health and just freestyle my poker plans. I am definitely trying to put more volume in, which means more WPTs and more WSOP Circuit stops - Vegas in December seems like a must. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and enjoy these wins."
  16. With the announcement that after 16 years PokerStars is putting an end to the long-standing PCA, there’s now room for new festivals to pick up where the PCA left off. Since before Black Friday, the PCA was a cornerstone of the poker calendar with players planning on grinding tournaments in the Bahamas at the beginning of the year. January belonged to the PCA. Now, without it, players are beginning to see that there are other options emerging on how to escape their winter situations and pick up a score that could set them up until the World Series of Poker. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] [ptable zone="GG Poker"] Here are a few of the festivals taking place this January that could fill the void left by the PCA. Aussie Millions Of course, the Aussie Millions is another poker calendar mainstay and it’s been a popular one for years. The difference in 2020 is that players may be more inclined to make the trip to the Crown Melbourne than in years past. Players who were wrapping up in the Bahamas and wanting to make their way to Melbourne were facing a flight time of no less than 19 hours. With connections in Miami and stops in the West Coast of the U.S., it could take well over a full day of travel before dealing with the extreme jetlag. However, other than the travel, by all accounts, the Aussie Millions has everything. A premier poker room with nearly 100 tables of action, a full slate of tournaments including high rollers to attract the best players in the world, and it’s located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In January, Australia is in peak summer and those looking for things to do outside of the poker room will have no shortage of options including the start of the Australian Open. This year the Aussie Millions takes place from January 4-24 with the $10,600 Main Event kicking off on January 17. MILLIONS UK The newest addition to January’s poker calendar is partypoker’s MILLIONS UK which boasts a $10,300 Main Event with a $5 million guarantee. Taking place from January 4-12 at Rob Yong’s Dusk Till Dawn card room in Nottingham, MILLIONS UK is a succinct set of tournaments with an eye at attracting the high rollers. In addition to the Main Event, the series has a $25,500 Super High Roller and a $10,300 High Roller both of which come with a $1 million guarantee. Additionally, there is the $1,100 MILLIONS Open. The tournament a $1M guarantee and also promises 20 seats to the $10K Main Event. Players can play the opening flight of the MILLIONS Open online as well as find satellites to the Main Event online. World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Championship The World Poker Tour is keeping it close to home as they bring back their Gardens Poker Championship from January 9-13 at the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, CA (just outside of L.A.). The tournament is the first of the televised event of the current WPT season where the final table will be put on pause and moved to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas. The $10,000 buy-in assures that even with a modest turnout, the first-place prize will be a hefty six-figure sum. With the PCA out of the picture, it could be a good sign for the WPT as players from L.A., Las Vegas and even the East Coast may opt to spend their allotted PCA budget on a trip to So. Cal and take a shot at a WPT title. Lucky Hearts Poker Open Florida is another premiere warm-weather destination in January and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL has been bringing players to their sun-soaked Lucky Hearts Poker Open festival since 2012. In 2020, the LHPO runs from January 9-21 and features a $1,000 World Poker Tour DeepStacks Main Event that begins on January 9 with a $1,000,000 guarantee. While the full 2020 schedule is still pending, players can expect more of the same from the LHPO. Traditionally the festival features modest price buy-in tournaments and more than your standard No Limit Hold’em spread as mixed games are sprinkled throughout the schedule. More To Come…? These are just four of options for players at the start of the year, but is there something else yet to be announced? Will PokerStars jump back into the frey? On a recent episode of DAT Poker Podcast, former PokerStars ambassador Daniel Negreanu hinted that there may be something new announced on the horizon. Speaking about the demise of the PCA Negreanu said, “I do believe that something will replace, how do I say this all cryptic…I think there will be something that we see in that time slot in January that will offer players something to play.”
  17. Another new champion has been crowned on the World Poker Tour. The Season XVIII WPT Borgata Poker Open found a winner on Friday, with Donald Maloney topping the 1,156-entry field to win $616,186 in prize money. The final hand of the tournament was a doozy, after the last three players agreed to go all in blind before the flop and that’s how the tournament was decided. On the button, Uke Dauti moved all in for 13.025 million, then Kevin Albers called all in from the small blind for 11.775 million, and then Maloney called from the big blind having both of his opponents covered. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] Maloney had the [poker card="Tc"][poker card="4h"], Albers had the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="3d"], and Dauti had the [poker card="5d"][poker card="3h"]. Dauti flopped two pair and took the lead on the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="5h"][poker card="3c"] flop. The turn was the [poker card="6c"] and then the river completed the board with the [poker card="2d"] to give Maloney a winning straight. Having both Dauti and Albers covered, Maloney not only won the pot, he won the tournament. Dauti was awarded second place for $410,787, and Albers scored third place for $303,903. For Maloney, the win was his first WPT title and largest live tournament score. It also pushed him to more than $1 million in live tournament earnings. Reports from PokerNews, who was also on site for live coverage of the event, stated that a deal was struck between the final three players, such that Maloney earned $487,784, Dauti earned $464,338, and Albers earned $378,664. Official reporting from WPT.com listed the results based on the original payouts. WPT Borgata Poker Open Final Table Results 1st: Donald Maloney - $616,186* 2nd: Uke Dauti - $410,787 3rd: Kevin Albers - $303,903 4th: Dave Farah - $227,077 5th: Jerry Maher - $171,386 6th: Victor Ramdin - $130,672 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. The final table of six started with Dave Farah in the lead. Farah had been in a similar position before. Last season on the World Poker Tour, Farah reached the final table of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and finished second for $485,611. This time, Farah finished fourth and added $227,077 to his bankroll. Before Farah busted, Victor Ramdin had busted in sixth place and Jerry Maher went out in fifth. Ramdin was busted by Albers when his pocket kings got cracked by the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="8d"], and Maher got knocked out by Dauti. Maloney then knocked out Farah in fourth, and he did so with pocket fives. The two got the money in on the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="9c"] board. Farah had flopped top two pair with the [poker card="Qc"][poker card="7h"], but Maloney had the [poker card="5d"][poker card="5c"] for a set. The river was the [poker card="3h"] and Farah was out. It was after Farah went out in fourth that the final three players competed for more than 60 hands before they finally decided to flip for the title. Maloney Moves Into Takes WPT Player of the Year Lead That’s now three events in the books in Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour. With the victory, Maloney has moved to the top of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year leaderboard with 1,200 points. Although that’s the same amount of points as WPT Legends of Poker champion Aaron Van Blarcum has, Maloney holds the tiebreaker with more money won. Dauti, who took second in this Borgata event, is third in the race, and then WPT Gardens Poker Festival winner Roger Teska is in fourth. 1st: Donald Maloney - 1,200 points 2nd: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,200 points 3rd: Uke Dauti - 1,000 points 4th: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 5th: Gueorgui Gantchev - 1,000 points 6th: Kevin Albers - 900 points 7th: Jared Griener - 900 points 8th: Laszlo Molnar - 800 points 9th: Dave Farah - 800 points 10th: Vahan Sudzhyan - 800 points WPT Maryland Next Up The World Poker Tour stays on the East Coast for its next stop, heading to Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland for WPT Maryland at Live! Casino. The buy-in is $3,500 and the prize pool has a $1.5 million guarantee. The event starts September 28 and runs through October 2.
  18. Josh Adkins’ World Poker Tour story is one many poker player dream about. Playing in his first-ever WPT event, after telling friends and family he was going to to win, Adkins took first place in the Season XVIII WPT bestbet Jacksonville Main Event. Adkins topped the field of 349 entries and along with it came $331,480 in prize money and the right to be called a WPT Champions Club member for life. “Playing my first WPT and to win it, I don’t have words,” Adkins told WPT officials after the win. “This means a lot to me, obviously, not because of the money, but just for me. I’ve worked really hard at this game for the last seven years, and to just have this win and how tough this field was – it’s just incredible. “It’s a funny story, I kind of called my shot in this. I have text messages of me saying, ‘I’m going to go win the $5K in Jax.’ And now it just happened. It’s indescribable.” [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] WPT bestbet Final Table Results 1st: Josh Adkins - $331,480* 2nd: Tan Nguyen - $210,988 3rd: Josh Kay - $155,340 4th: Jason Lee - $115,340 5th: Jonathan Cronin - $87,170 6th: Jeff Cunningham - $66,457 *First place includes a $15,000 seat to the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Adkins came into the final table second in chips, behind only Josh Kay, and it was Kay who earned the first knockout when he busted Jeff Cunningham in sixth place. Next to go was Jonathan Cronin in fifth place and he was also eliminated at the hands of Kay. As if things couldn’t turn out any better for Kay, he then knocked out Jason Lee in fourth place to push action into three-handed play. As you can imagine, Kay had the chip lead three handed. He used his chips to gain even more and eventually worked his way up to more than 8 million when both of his opponents had less than 6 million combined between them. From there, Kay went to more than 9 million in chips, which, at the time, saw Adkins drop all the way down to about 1.5 million. Tan Nguyen, the other player alongside Kay and Adkins, fought his way into the chip lead against Kay, but Adkins was still sitting as the shortest stack without being able to get much going. Adkins would eventually double through Kay that left the two about even in chips, and then Adkins landed a crippling blow to Kay that left him with less than one big blind. Although he did triple up and then double up, Kay’s run didn’t last much longer. The last of Kay’s chips went in on the [poker card="7s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3d"] flop when he had the [poker card="Qd"][poker card="7h"]. Nguyen had the [poker card="8c"][poker card="3h"], though, and held from there thanks to the [poker card="Js"] turn and [poker card="5h"] river. Entering heads-up play, Adkins had the chip lead, but not by much. His 7.205 million was up against Nguyen’s 6.715 million. The duel didn’t take long to come to an end. Adkins won the first big pot between the two to take a chip lead of more than 2-1, and then he knocked Nguyen out shortly thereafter. He didn’t do it without coming from behind, though. The chips went in preflop with Adkins having the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] to Nguyen’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Kc"]. A queen his the flop, though, and Adkins moved into the lead. The final board finished [poker card="Qc"][poker card="Js"][poker card="2d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="9c"] and that was all she wrote. Adkins had secured the victory and was crowned the newest WPT champion. Van Blarcum Takes WPT Player of the Year Lead In addition to Adkins winning the title and $331,480 in prize money, he earned 1,000 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. As this was his first-ever WPT event, these were his first points, but they were enough to jump him up to sixth on the leaderboard. It was another first-time WPT champion from this season that moved into the Hublot WPT Player of the Year lead with his performance at WPT bestbet Jacksonville, though. Aaron Van Blarcum, winner of WPT Legends of Poker, cashed in 15th place at WPT bestbet. He earned $16,843 in prize money, but he also earned 75 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Those points pushed him to 1,275 total and into first place in the race. Van Blarcum is one of three players with two cashes on the WPT Main Tour this season, with Brian Altman and James Rann being the other two. They are the only three players to have earned multiple WPT Main Tour cashes to date this season. 1st: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,275 points 2nd: Donald Maloney - 1,200 points 3rd: Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points 4th: Uke Dauti - 1,000 points 5th: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 6th: Josh Adkins - 1,000 points 7th: Nitis Udornpim - 1,000 points 8th: Gueorgui Gantchev - 1,000 points 9th: Ryan Mandara - 1,000 points 10th: Kevin Albers - 900 points The winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race for Season XVIII will earn a special Hublot timepiece valued at $15,000 and a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used towards buy-ins in any Season XVIII global WPT event. The winner also receives complimentary accommodation, ground transportation, and food and beverage credit at select WPT Main Tour stops. The player who finishes second in the race will earn a $7,500 WPT Passport, and the player who finishes third will earn a $2,500 WPT Passport. WPT Montreal Next for WPT Main Tour Coming up at the end of October is the next WPT Main Tour stop, WPT Montreal, held in conjunction with partypoker LIVE at Playground Poker Club. The event takes place October 29 through November 3, featuring a C$3,300 buy-in and a C$3,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.
  19. Another tournament, another trophy for Sweden’s Simon Brandstrom. Brandstrom continued to stay white-hot in 2019 as he took down the World Poker Tour UK $3,300 Main Event for $330,000 for his third major title this year. The victory makes him the first player to hold both a WPT Main Tour title as well as a WPTDeepStacks title, after winning WPTDeepStacks Barcelona in April 2019 for €270,000. In addition to both of his WPT victories, Brandstrom’s resume includes a victory in the largest field ever for an EPT Barcelona Main Event this past August for a massive €1.2 million payday. “This feels surreal,” Brandstrom said to the World Poker Tour right after his victory. “It feels like it shouldn’t be possible to have back-to-back wins, and I don’t fee like I am worth it.” [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Brandstrom outlasted the 690-entries that piled onto the piled into the Dusk Till Dawn Poker & Casino in Nottingham for the Main Event. When the final nine took their seats, Brandstrom knew he was going to have to battle some top-tier poker talent as both partypoker MILLIONS Nottingham champion Maria Lampropulos and Triton High Roller Montenegro Main Event winner Manig Loeser were also seated to battle for the WPT UK trophy. WPT UK Final Table Results 1st - Simon Brandstrom - $330,000 2nd - Ryan Mandara - $221,650 3rd - James Rann - $168,500 4th - Matthew Eardley - $128,500 5th - Maria Lampropulos - $98,500 6th - Paul Siddle - $76,000 7th - Manig Loeser - $58,500 8th - Leo Worthington-Lesse - $46,000 9th - Paul Jackson - $36,000 At the start of the final day, nine players remained with Brandstom holding the chip lead, however, it wasn't smooth sailing to get to the trophy. It took nearly two hours before players began to hit the rail as Paul Jackson was knocked out in ninth place for $36,000. He was followed out the door by Leo Worthington-Leese in eighth place for $46,000 and finally, three hours from when play began German crusher Maig Loeser hit the rail in seventh place, adding $58,500 to his $10.8 million in career earnings. After a short break, the final six players got to the business of crowning a champion. Paul Siddle’s bustout hand wasn’t really the hand that did him in. About an hour and a half into six-handed play he and Matthew Eardley, nearly equal in stacks, got their chips in the middle with Siddle holding [poker card="jd"][poker card="js"] and Eardley holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="ks"]. The massive flip went Eardley’s way as the [poker card="ad"] appeared on the flop and no additional help came for Siddle. After the chips were counted down Siddle was left with roughly 1/6th of an ante which he put in on the very next hand. Although he had the solid holding of [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] he was eliminated as an onlooker in a pot where Eardley made a full house holding [poker card="js"][poker card="jd"] on a [poker card="8h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2d"][poker card="kh"][poker card="2s"] board. Siddle collected $76,000 for his sixth-place finish. The very next hand Maria Lampropulos shipped her short stack with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="2s"] and was called by James Rann and his [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="qs"][poker card="7d"] provided Lampropulos, the 2018 PCA Main Event champion, little help and when the [poker card="5d"] hit the turn she was down to two outs. The [poker card="6s"] came on the river and the accomplished Lampropulos headed for the exit in fifth place taking home $98.500. With four players remaining, Brandstrom has long since lost his chip lead and was in desperation mode as Ryan Mandara and Eardley assumed the top half of the chip counts. Then the chips starting flying with all four players taking turns applying pressure, shoving their short stacks and finding themselves in tricky spots. It took 56 more hands before the next player was knocked out. After a raise from Mandara, Eardley shipped his ten big blind stack holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="9s"]. With the action back to Mandara, he made the call with the [poker card="td"][poker card="9d"]. The [poker card="8h"][poker card="5h"][poker card="qc"] kept Eardley in the lead but the door opened up for Mandara with the [poker card="7h"] turn card. The river was the [poker card="jh"], giving Mandara the runner-runner straight and eliminating Eardley in fourth place for $128,500, the largest cash of his career. Three-handed play lasted for nearly an hour when finally James Rann shoved from the small blind with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="2h"] and was quickly called by Mandara holding [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"]. There was little drama along with way as the board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="jd"][poker card="5c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="kd"] and Rann headed to the cashier to pick up his $168,500 third-place payday. With the score, Rann leaps over $1 million in lifetime live earnings. Mandara held the chip lead headed into heads up play but Brandstrom picked up crucial in the first few hands. Then, only seven hands into heads up, the title was decided. Mandara put in a raise with [poker card="js"][poker card="tc"] and Brandstrom called with [poker card="9h"][poker card="7s"]. The flop came [poker card="9c"][poker card="7c"][poker card="3d"] giving Brandstrom two pair and Mandara a gutshot to the straight. Brandstrom check-called another bet from Mandara. The turn fell the [poker card="4c"], changing nothing. Brandstrom checked it to Mandara who put in a sizable bet which Brandstrom called. The river was the [poker card="kh"] and Brandstrom checked for the third time. Mandara tanked, used a time-bank card and eventually over shipped the pot, putting himself at risk. Brandstrom had Mandara barely out chipped and didn’t take too long to make the correct call. Mandara finished as the runner-up for $221,650. Simon Brandstrom took down the WPT UK Main Event for $330,000 and a $15,000 entry into the 2020 WPT Tournament of Champions. Brandstrom Joins The POY Points Leaders Donald Maloney still holds the pole position in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year but he’s going to have to contend with Brandstrom, who after his WPT UK victory is tied with him Maloney and Aaron Van Blarcum with 1,200 POY points. Maloney and Van Blarcum hold an edge on earnings, putting Brandstrom in third place. WPT UK Runner-up Ryan Mandara also leaps into the top 10 with his $221,650 cash which was worth 1,000 POY points. He takes over the #8 position and that pushes Brian Altman out of the top 10 into the #11 spot despite being the only player in the top 20 with more than a single cash early in this season. 1st: Donald Maloney - 1,200 points 2nd: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,200 points 3rd - Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points 4th: Uke Dauti - 1,000 points 5th: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 6th: Nitis Udornpim - 1,000 points 7th: Gueorgui Gantchev - 1,000 points 8th - Ryan Mandara - 1,000 points 9th: Kevin Albers - 900 points 10th: Jared Griener - 900 points
  20. Exactly six months ago, Ryan Quail picked up his first career live cash when he finished 30th in the WPTDeepStacks Pittsburgh Main Event for almost double his buy-in back in what was his first-ever live score. This weekend Quail returned to the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and won this version of the WPTDeepStacks Pittsburgh Main Event for $80,001. Quail started Monday's final table as the chip leader and then eliminated his final five opponents on his way to the win. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Matthew Radcliffe was on the short side of the chip counts at the start of the final table and was the first one eliminated. After a flop of [poker card="ts"][poker card="8s"][poker card="7d"] and 300,000 in the pot, Radcliffe got the last of his stack in the middle holding [poker card="9h"][poker card="8h"] against William Reilly's [poker card="qd"][poker card="qh"]. Neither the [poker card="ks"] turn or [poker card="kh"] river were any help and Radcliffe was eliminated in ninth. Jaynesh Patel was one of four players who started the day with more than a million chips, but the opening hour of play didn't go his way. Patel got his last 800,000 in the middle with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qh"] after the [poker card="6c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3c"] flop only to have Reilly call with [poker card="6h"][poker card="6s"] for a flopped set. The board ran out [poker card="4d"][poker card="9s"] to officially send Patel home in eighth place. Another flopped set lead to the next elimination. With a board of [poker card="jd"][poker card="td"][poker card="6h"], Mark Milburn shoved for 200,000 and Ryan Ashman called. Milbrun turned over [poker card="qh"][poker card="th"] but Ashman showed [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="9d"] turn and [poker card="7c"] were no help for Milburn and he was out in seventh. The most high-profile player at the final table became Quail's first victim of the night. Jared Jaffee, a WPT Champions Club member, was all in for 930,000 preflop with [poker card="ah"][poker card="js"] against Quail's [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"]. The [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"][poker card="3c"][poker card="jc"][poker card="5s"] runout improved Jaffee's hand but not enough to survive the hand and he was eliminated in sixth place. Quail continued to apply pressure on his way to picking up another elimination. After a flop of [poker card="6s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3d"], Jamie Rotellini moved all in for 545,000 from the small blind and Quail called from the big blind. Rotellini showed [poker card="2d"][poker card="2c"] while Quail turned over [poker card="7c"][7s. The [poker card="qh"] turn and [poker card="6h"] river made Rotellini's fifth place elimination official. Not longer after Rotellini left, Quail sent another player home. With the board showing [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"][poker card="6c"], Stan Lee moved all in from the button and Quail called from the big blind. Quail was ahead with [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"] against Lee's club flush draw with [poker card="jc"][poker card="9c"]. The [poker card="3d"] turn was a complete blank and the [poker card="6d"] river gave Quail an unneeded full house to send Lee to the rail in fourth. Quail's run to the title claimed yet another victim before heads-up play got underway. Ryan Ashman moved all in for 1,800,000 on a [poker card="8h"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2d"] board and Quail called. Ashman held top pair with [poker card="8d"][poker card="3d"] but was dominated by Quail's [poker card="ks"][poker card="8c"]. The [poker card="ac"] river completed the board sent Ashman out in third and Quail began heads-up play with 80% of the chips in play. Despite the overwhelming lead, Quail wasn't able to shake Reilly quickly. Reilly continued to pick up doubles up to stay alive, but after 3.5 hours of play, Quail finally found a way to finish things off. Quail checked his option after Reilly completed the small blind. The flop came [poker card="9h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="3c"] and both players checked. The turn was the [poker card="6h"] and Reilly checked. Quail bet 300,000 and then called Reilly's all-in check-raise. Reilly turned over [poker card="6d"][poker card="5h"] for two pair but Quail showed [poker card="7s"][poker card="4h"] for a turned straight. The [poker card="8d"] river gave Quail an even better straight and eliminated Reilly in second place. The $1,100 buy-in event drew 386 entries - up from the 316 that played in April - to create a total prize pool of $374,420. The event wrapped up as many poker players in the state are anticipating the launch of the first regulated PA online poker site in the coming weeks. Final Table Payouts Ryan Quail - $80,001 William Reilly - $53,919 Ryan Ashman - $34,665 Stan Lee - $22,917 Jamie Rotellini - $17,642 Jared Jaffee - $14,615 Mark Milburn - $12,238 Jaynesh Patel - $9,961 Matthew Radcliffe - $7,700
  21. “Please one time…this is destiny!” - Nitis Udornpim The World Poker Tour welcomed a new member to their Champions Club on Wednesday as Baltimore’s Nitis Udornpim topped a field of 495 entries to win the WPT Maryland at Live! Casino title and with it the $319,415 first-place prize. After four days of play, Udornpim’s first WPT cash turned into his first WPT title as he battled from the bottom end of the chip counts to run white-hot at the end of the final table. Eventually, he battled and defeated Stephen Deutsch in heads up play to lock in the win, put his name on the cup and punch his ticket to the WPT Tournament of Champions. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] “It feels great to be a WPT champion, Udornpim said to the World Poker Tour after it was all over. “I couldn’t have run any better today, so I’m pretty excited with the result. It feels good to win a tournament in my home state. I moved here about a year ago and this had been my home casino ever since.” Along with dealing with Deutsch, Udornpim had no small task in front of him in order to take home the tile. To start the final table he had roughly 25 big blinds, plus he had to find a way to outlast two accomplished WPT champions in Brian Altman and Anthony Zinno. WPT Maryland Final Table Results 1st: Nitis Udornpim - $319,415 2nd: Stephen Deutsch - $202,905 3rd: Brian Altman - $149,515 4th: Anthony Zinno - $111,415 5th: Robert McLaughlin - $83,970 6th: Jeffrey Colpitts - $64,020 The final table got underway and it took nearly an hour and a half before the first elimination took place as Jeffrey Colpitts, who started the day as the short stack, was running on fumes. Deutsch raised from the button with [poker card="ad"][poker card="ts"] and with the majority of his stack already in the middle, Colpitts made the call from the big blind holding [poker card="qc"][poker card="5s"]. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4s"] flop paired Colpitts but he needed to fade plenty of outs to hold on. The [poker card="jc"] hit the turn but it was the [poker card="7s"] that sealed Colpitts fate. Deutsch hit his flush and Colpitts hit the rail collecting $64,020 for his sixth-place finish. It was only fifteen minutes later that Robert McLaughlin found himself all in for his tournament life. McLaughlin limped in the small blind with [poker card="qh"][poker card="9h"] only to be raised by Deutsch in the big blind holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"]. McLaughlin made the call and the pair saw a [poker card="kc"][poker card="qs"][poker card="9c"] flop. McLaughlin checked it over and Deutsch put in a bet. McLaughlin put in a check-raise with his flopped two pair. Then Deutsch shoved his top pair, gutshot straight draw and McLaughlin made the call. The [poker card="6h"] turn changed nothing but Deutsch once again got there when the [poker card="th"] gave him a straight on the river. McLaughlin collected his things and headed to the cage to pick up his $83,970 fifth-place prize. The final four players took turn shipping chips around the table when finally, three-time WPT champion Anthony Zinno could no longer cling to his short stack. Brian Altman put in a raise under the gun and Zinno, holding [poker card="8s"][poker card="8c"], jammed over the top. When the action reached Deutsch, he re-shoved holding [poker card="as"][poker card="kh"] forcing Altman out of the pot. The race was on and the pair watched as the dealer put out a board of [poker card="ah"][poker card="7h"][poker card="2d"][poker card="th"][poker card="td"]. With the spiked ace, Deutsch claimed his third knockout of the day and Zinno falls in fourth place for $111,415, sending his north of $3 million in total World Poker Tour cashes. At three-handed Deutsch was still in control with Brian Altman on his heels. However, Udornpim had other ideas. His heater began as he picked up some key pots and eventually won a flip against Altman to double up. Sitting second in chips, Udornpim raised the button after looking down at [poker card="ah"][poker card="ad"]. Altman put in a three-bet with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"] and within seconds the pair had all the money in the middle. The board ran out clean for Udornpim’s aces eliminating Altman from the tournament. Altman falls just short of his second WPT win, collecting $149,515 for this third-place effort. Both Deutsch and Udornpim were deep at the start of heads up play with both sitting on over 100 big blinds. However, it didn’t take long for Udornpim to take a commanding chip lead. Deutsch would battle back but eventually, the affable Udornpim surged ahead once again, this time for good. On the final hand of play Udornpim, with a 5:1 chip advantage shoved his button with [poker card="as"][poker card="3c"] and Deutsch called all-in with [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"]. The [poker card="5s"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"] gave Udornpim the wheel. The turn fell the [poker card="4s"] opening the door for Deutsch to pick up the runner-runner flush but the [poker card="qd"] river ended Deutsch’s comeback bid sending him home in second place for $202,905. Nitis Udornpim was crowned the winner of WPT Maryland at Live! Casino for $319.415 and a $15,000 entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions. Udornpim Enters The POY Race Two of the final six from WPT Maryland at Live! Casino enters the top 10 of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Nitis Udornpim picked up 1,000 POY points for his victory which has him tied with Uke Dauti, Roger Teska and Gueorgui Gantchev who all also have 1,000 points. However, Udornpim’s $319,415 score slots him in fifth place using money earned as a tie-breaker. Brian Altman picked up his second cash of Season XVIII and had accumulated 900 POY points, which puts him in a three-way tie with both Kevin Albers and Jared Griener, but with cashes as a tiebreaker, he is currently in ninth place. WPT Season XVIII Player of The Year Leaderboard 1st: Donald Maloney - 1,200 points 2nd: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,200 points 3rd: Uke Dauti - 1,000 points 4th: Roger Teska - 1,000 points 5th: Nitis Udornpim - 1,000 points 6th: Gueorgui Gantchev - 1,000 points 7th: Kevin Albers - 900 points 8th: Jared Griener - 900 points 9th: Brian Altman - 900 points 10th: Laszlo Molnar - 800 points
  22. The final table of the World Poker Tour Montreal event was as star-studded as they come. A former World Series of Poker Main Event champion was joined by the reigning GPI Female Player of the Year, a former November Niner, and a former PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion and yet somehow Geoffrey Hum found a way to outshine them all. Hum, whose career earnings prior to Sunday was $51,588, eliminated the final four standing in his way to pick up a World Poker Tour title, an entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions, and $500,000 CDN ($381,000 US). [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] The action started just 14 hands in. Martin Jacobson moved all in from UTG with [poker card="jd"][poker card="td"] and Adedapo Ajayi called from the cutoff with [poker card="ah"][poker card="qh"]. The board ran out [poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="js"][poker card="qd"] to give Ajayi a rivered pair of queens to beat Jacobson's turned pair of jacks and eliminate the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event champ in sixth place. Fourteen hands later, a cooler sent partypoker pro Kristen Bicknell to the rail. Bicknell raised from UTG to 350,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] and Hum replied with a re-raise to 1,100,000 from the big blind with [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"]. Bicknell clicked back, making it 2,300,000 and Hum re-raised again, this time to 8,000,000 and Bicknell called all in. The [poker card="qh"][poker card="8c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2d"][poker card="jh"] runout changed nothing and Bicknell was eliminated in fifth place. It took 47 more hands, but Hum was the benefactor of the next elimination as well. Hum raised from UTG to 450,000 with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"] and Mike Watson three-bet to 1,800,000 from the big blind with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"]. Hum moved all in and Watson called all in for just under 8,000,000. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="ts"][poker card="6s"] flop took away two of Watson's original outs and added three more thanks to the gutshot straight draw he picked up. That draw came to fruition with the [poker card="jc"] turn but the [poker card="2s"] river gave Hum a flush and eliminated Watson in fourth. Three-handed play lasted 62 hands and once again Hum was the one doing the work on the next elimination. Joseph Cheong made it 700,000 from the button with [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"], Ajayi called from the small blind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="jd"] and Hunm raised to 2,800,000 from the big blind with [poker card="8h"][poker card="8d"]. Cheong shoved for 8,550,000 total, Ajayi folded and Hum called. The [poker card="Td"][poker card="8s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Ts"][poker card="5s"] runout gave Hum a full house and forced Cheong to settle for the second-highest profile third place finish of his career. Thanks to his string of eliminations, Hum started heads-up play with 60% of the chips in play and needed just eight hands to capture the rest. Ajayi raised from the button to 800,000 and Hum defended his big blind. After the [poker card="kd"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4h"] flop, Hum check-raised Ajayi's bet of 800,000 to 2,600,000. Ajayi then moved all in for 6,900,000 and Hum called. Ajayi tabled [poker card="jh"][poker card="9h"] for a flush draw but got bad news after Hum tabled [poker card="kh"][poker card="7h"] for top pair and a better flush draw. The [poker card="ah"] turn eliminated any drama and gave Hum the nut flush leaving Ajayi drawing dead. The meaningless river was the [poker card="ts"] and Ajayi was officially eliminated in second giving Hum his first major title. Final Table Payouts Geoffrey Hum - $380,648 Adedapo Ajayi - $255,034 Joseph Cheong - $179,126 Mike Watson - $137,034 Kristen Bicknell - $106,582 Martin Jacobson - $83,743
  23. ClubWPT, the sweepstakes-based online poker membership club of the World Poker Tour, is upping its game for 2020. If a ClubWPT VIP member qualifies for a WPT Main Tour event and then goes on to win that WPT Main Tour event that they qualified, the qualifier will win an additional $1,000,000. The ClubWPT $1,000,000 Bonus comes in addition to any money won from the event itself. "Since 2010, hundreds of thousands of players have honed their skills on ClubWPT, and we’re proud to kick off a new decade with the ClubWPT $1,000,000 Bonus," Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, said. "With millions of dollars at stake in every WPT event, and now a $1,000,000 bonus on the line, ClubWPT is clearly the most rewarding way for players to qualify for a seat on the World Poker Tour." The WPT Gardens Poker Championship is the first event eligible for the ClubWPT $1,000,000 Bonus. Scheduled to start Thursday, January 9, 2020, this event takes place at the Gardens Casino in Southern California and features a $10,000 buy-in. It is the first televised WPT event of Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour, with the TV final table to play out on Tuesday, March 31, at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas. Additional events with eligibility for the ClubWPT $1,000,000 Bonus are the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, and WPT Choctaw. A full list of qualifying events will be available soon. In recent seasons of the World Poker Tour, Bruce Collado is the ClubWPT VIP member to run the deepest in a WPT Main Tour event that he qualified for on ClubWPT.com. Collado won his way to the Season XVII WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship and finished in 56th place from the 1,075 entries. Running deep in a big-field event wasn’t something that Collado was new to, as he beat a field of 2,400 entries to win his way to the Borgata event. Collado turned his qualifying ticket into $11,123 for his 56th-place result. The season before, ClubWPT qualifier James McLaughlin also won his way to the WPT Borgata Poker Open. In a field of 1,132 entries, McLaughlin finished in 100th place for $6,993. During his run, McLaughlin got to play with Cliff 'JohnnyBax' Josephy, winner of the first-ever PocketFives Legacy Award. McLaughlin’s in-the-money finish broke a dry streak for ClubWPT qualifiers. Before him, Ernest Evans was the last ClubWPT qualifier to cash in a WPT Main Tour event when he took 62nd from a field 1,476 entries in the Season XIII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $12,000. What Is ClubWPT? ClubWPT is the official subscription online poker game of the World Poker Tour. VIP users pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to full episodes from every past season of the WPT television show, plus magazine subscriptions, and coupons. Plus, ClubWPT VIP members can play poker to win a share of $100,000 in cash and prizes each month, including seats to World Poker Tour events. It is the seats to those WPT events that can turn into a seven-figure bonus for ClubWPT VIP members. ClubWPT is online poker that operates under sweepstakes rules where allowed. Included in the 36 eligible territories is Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The full list is available on ClubWPT.com. According to ClubWPT.com, starting Wednesday, January 15, 2020, ClubWPT’s VIP membership costs $27.95 monthly, $74.95 quarterly, and $264.95 annually.
  24. The Season XVIII World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic crowned its winner on Saturday, with Alex Foxen topping the record-breaking field of 1,035 entries to win the $1.694 million first-place prize. "It feels, I don't know… surreal," Foxen said in the moments following the win. "It’s kind of hard to put into words, but it feels amazing. The last time I got to this spot, I was a little bit disappointed in the way that I played heads up. It’s just incredible to get the opportunity again and be fortunate enough to pull out the win. I don’t have words." Back in Season XVI, Foxen found himself heads up with Ryan Tosoc in this very event. Tosoc had finished runner-up the year before and was back in heads-up play with a chance to better his previous result. Back then, Foxen couldn’t overcome Tosoc in what was a very lighthearted heads-up battle with plenty of fun had between the two and he had to settle for a second-place payout of $1.134 million. "I do feel like I was so excited about having that opportunity," Foxen said of the difference between his two WPT Five Diamond heads-up appearances. "I think that score I locked up was already five or six times my biggest score to date at that point, so there was an element of me feeling like I lost a little bit of focus and maybe didn’t take it as seriously as I should have because, regardless of the outcome of heads-up play, it was such an amazing result that in the moment I didn’t see the severity of that situation. I definitely didn’t make that same mistake twice." Much like Tosoc had redeemed his second-place finish with a victory the following season, Foxen came back two seasons after his runner-up finish to get the job done and capture the WPT Five Diamond throne. The victory gave Foxen his first WPT title. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Final Table Results 1st: Alex Foxen - $1,694,995 2nd: Toby Joyce - $1,120,040 3rd: Seth Davies - $827,285 4th: Peter Neff - $617,480 5th: Danny Park - $465,780 6th: Jonathan Jaffe - $355,125 Foxen came into Saturday’s final table in second position on the leaderboard with six players remaining. In fewer than 30 hands, Foxen had improved to the chip lead. Shortly after gaining the top spot, he knocked out WPT Champions Club member Jonathan Jaffe in sixth place. Although others did some damage of their own, such as Toby Joyce knocking out start-of-day chip leader Danny Park in fifth place and Seth Davies busting Peter Neff in fourth place, Foxen never gave up the lead once he had it. Three-handed play between Foxen, Joyce, and Davies lasted for quite some time. Even though both Joyce and Davies scored double ups during the battle, things never appeared to get away from Foxen as he stayed strong behind the wall of chips he built. Eventually, Davies’ stack shrunk and he got the last of his money in against Foxen in a dominated position. Foxen had the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] to Davies’ [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"]. Davies, a WPT Champions Club member, did flop some outs to a chop but he was ultimately done in thanks to the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="3s"][poker card="As"][poker card="8d"] board. Entering heads-up play with Joyce, Foxen had the chip lead with 29.5 million to Joyce’s 11.9 million, and the match was never really close. Joyce narrowed the gap ever so slightly at the beginning of the duel, but Foxen’s dominance was too much and he quickly started to distance himself. On the final hand, Foxen had limped on the button with the blinds at 200,000/400,000 with a 400,000 big blind ante. Joyce checked and the dealer fanned the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop. Joyce checked, Foxen bet 400,000, and then Joyce check-raised to 1.1 million. Foxen put in a raise of his own and made it 2 million to go. Joyce called to see the [poker card="Kc"] land on fourth street. Joyce checked and Foxen shoved all in, for what was effectively 4.5 million because he had Joyce covered. Joyce tanked and used four 30-second time extensions to think things through. Joyce eventually made the call with the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="9c"] for a pair of jacks, but Foxen had him out-kicked with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Js"]. The river was the [poker card="4c"] to seal the deal for Foxen. For his runner-up finish, Joyce scored $1.12 million in prize money. Fourth Consecutive Record Turnout for Five Diamond It was the fourth consecutive record-setting turnout for WPT Five Diamond, and this season’s 1,035 entries topped last season’s 1,001. The seasons prior to that were 812 entries for Season XVI and 791 entries for Season XV. In this event, the top 130 finished reached the money. Included in those to cash were Eric Afriat (9th - $168,005), Darren Elias (14th - $107,840), Chino Rheem (22nd - $60,435), Cary Katz (44th - $37,670), Kitty Kuo (67th - $26,220), Cliff Josephy (74th - $23,830), and Maria Ho (116th - $19,345). Also running deep was Timo Kamphues, who placed seventh in the Season XVIII WPT Five Diamond for $273,695. He has had quite the week of poker in Las Vegas, as just a few days prior to his run at Bellagio, Kamphues won the Wynn Poker Winter Classic $1,100 NL $500,000 Guarantee tournament for $202,787. Foxen Takes Player of the Year Lead With the victory, Foxen moved to first place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings. Both Foxen and Joyce have the same amount of points, 1,400, but Foxen holds the tiebreaker of most money won. Joyce earned his second cash of the season and is currently second in the race. 1st: Alex Foxen - 1,400 points 2nd: Toby Joyce - 1,400 points 3rd: Donald Maloney - 1,300 points 4th: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,275 points 5th: Geoffrey Hum - 1,250 points 6th: Milen Stefanov - 1,200 points 7th: Kevin Albers - 1,200 points 8th: Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points 9th: Peter Neff - 1,150 points 10th: Seth Davies - 1,100 points WPT Gardens Poker Championship Up Next Up next for the WPT Main Tour is the WPT Gardens Poker Championship at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. The $10,000 buy-in event kicks off January 9, 2020, and runs through January 13.
  25. As we move into 2020, PocketFives takes a look back at the year that was in poker news, going month-by-month through the biggest and most important stories of 2019. December saw one of the largest online poker tournaments ever, a new state regulating online poker, and Pennsylvania players getting their first taste of COOP action. MILLIONS Online Chopped Up Again For the second year in a row, the partypoker MILLIONS Online was chopped up by the final two players. This time, 'frenchsniperrr’ and ‘Lucio’ each ended up with a $2.2 million score. The official winner, ‘frenchsniperrr’, banked $2,259,113.58 for first place while ‘Lucio’ took $2,222,511.43 as the runner-up. After Day 1A finished, all eyes were on 'jiggidyjigjohn', who finished with the chip lead. A partypoker promotion offered the Day 1A chip leader a $1 million bonus if they went on to win the event. Unfortunately for 'jiggidyjigjohn', they had to settle for a 42nd place finish for $52,725. The event drew 2,109 runners to build a total prize pool of $21,090,000 to beat the guarantee and make it the second-largest online poker tournament prize pool of all time behind only the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online event. The buy-in for the 2019 event was bumped up from $5,300 to $10,300 - one of a handful of things that PocketFives Editor in Chief Lance Bradley believes need to be changed for the 2020 event in an effort to break the record for largest online poker tournament ever. Alex Foxen Wins WPT Five Diamond to Clinch GPI POY Alex Foxen captured the 2018 GPI Player of the Year title and spent all of 2019 doing his best to defend it. He ended up doing just that in dramatic fashion. Foxen captured the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Poker Classic for $1.694 million and more than enough points to lock up a second consecutive poker GPI POY title. The unlimited re-entry event drew 1,035 runners to break the record for largest Five Diamond ever. “It feels, I don’t know… surreal,” Foxen said in the moments following the win. “It’s kind of hard to put into words, but it feels amazing. The last time I got to this spot, I was a little bit disappointed in the way that I played heads up. It’s just incredible to get the opportunity again and be fortunate enough to pull out the win. I don’t have words.” Runner-up Toby Joyce collected $1,120,040 for his efforts. This was the fourth consecutive year that the Five Diamond field saw an increase. Season XV had 791 entries, Season XVI had 812, and Season XVII last year had 1,001. Pennsylvania Online Poker Players Enjoy First Big Series Just weeks after the launch of online poker in Pennsylvania, Keystone State grinders got their first taste of what a big online series was like. The inaugural PokerStars Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker actually kicked off in late November, but most of the events took place in December and PokerStars executives had to be happy with the overall turnout. PokerStars actually bumped up the overall guarantees for the series twice. First on December 2, going from $1 million to $1.125 million, and then again on December 4, with another $125,000 being added to the prize pools. The Main Event was won by 'Gyeao' for $31,335.64. The event had a $150,000 guarantee but the 640 entries in the $300 buy-in event helped the prize pool balloon to $179,200. PACOOP was the first time that some of the best online poker players in the state got a chance to show their mettle. Six players, lead by 'Gyea0', managed to earn more than $20,000 over the course of the entire series. Michigan Legalizes Online Poker - For Real In late 2018, online poker players in Michigan were excited and then heartbroken when the Michigan legislature passed a bill to legalize online poker only to have then-Governor Rick Snyder veto the bill out of spite just days before leaving office. It took nearly 12 months, but another bill was passed on December 10 and then signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on December 28. This made Michigan the sixth state to pass online poker legislation, joining Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

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