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Found 246 results

  1. It’s not easy to crack into online poker’s worldwide top-100 rankings. But for Americans who play inside U.S. borders on regulated sites, it’s even tougher. United States-based players don’t have access to the massive player pools and huge guarantees that some of the top players grind in order to rack up leaderboard points. For these pros, it takes a doubling-down of volume and effort in order to earn their spot and recognition among online poker’s best. And this week, four of America's best have succeeded in doing just that. Frank ‘thewholefunk’ Funaro Jr. (#52) New Jersey’s Frank Funaro is the current #1-ranked player in the United States and currently sits at #52 in the world. Funaro is in the midst of a career run, sitting just one spot off his career-high ranking and speed toward $1 million in total online poker earnings. Funaro has been stockpiling PLB points all summer including 19 PLB-qualifying scores in August. However, he really heated up after he took down the September 14 edition of the WSOP.com $100,000 Player Appreciation tournament for $19,741 and 325.69 PLB points. Just two weeks later, Funaro grabbed gold again by winning the WSOP.com $2,000 buy-in $150,000 guaranteed NLH High Roller for another $44,489 and 446.65 points. For the entire month, Funaro pulled in 38 cashes for a total of just over $102,000 in earnings. After a solid two-month grind, Funaro has been taking it easy. With just 11 cashes in October and, as of yet, no major recorded scores in November, he’ll find himself slipping down the rankings soon. But after all his hard work, he’s still likely to have a spot in the top-100 for a little while longer. David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman (#62) David Coleman has just added to his long list of accomplishments, which includes a win in the New Jersey WPT Online Poker Open earlier this year, by reaching a career-high worldwide ranking of #62. Coleman, who is perpetually in the conversation when one talks about the best U.S. online poker players, has been steadily picking up PLB points throughout September and October. However, on October 28 he really received a boost with a pair of five-figure scores. Coleman just narrowly missed out on picking up a WSOP Circuit ring with a third-place finish in the WSOP Circuit Event #13 ($100,000 NLH High Roller, 6-Max) for $25,183 and 273.63 PLB points. The same day, he took down the WSOP Tuesday Showdown for another $17,302 and 246.39 PLB points. Coleman has continued his grind into November, already picking up some key PLB points including a win in the PokerStars NJ $250 Super Tuesday for $5,318. As more results come in, Coleman has a clear shot at cracking the top 50. Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon (#90) World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Yong Kwon currently sits at #90 in the world having been ranked as high as #47 just last year. Known for his dedication to grinding, Kwon has spent years being known as one of the most dominant players from the Garden State racking up accolades and often times holding the #1 U.S. ranking for months at a time. After taking the first two weeks off in October, Kwon racked up 47 in-the-money finishes with 15 scores of four-figures or higher. His heavy PLB point push came as the month was coming to a close with back-to-back victories on WSOP.com. First, he took down the $20,000 Weekly Thursday for $7,162 and 157.16 PLB points. Then he added a win in the $10,000 Weekly Friday for another $2,800 plus 100.00 PLB points. His spotlight score took place in the WSOP.com PLO Mania Event #13 ($25,000 PLO) for $9,770 and 193.29 points. Kwon kicked November off with a fast start taking third place in the PokerStars NJ Sunday Special for another $4,721 adding to his more than $3.75 million in lifetime online earnings. Angel ‘ChromeKing’ Lopez (#92) Angel Lopez broke through into the top 100 this week for the first time, rising 16 spots to a career-high ranking of #92. Lopez used a flurry of PLB-qualifying cashes in recent weeks to propel himself up the rankings. It got started with a third-place finish in the October 21 edition of the WSOP.com Tuesday Showdown for $6,398. He followed that up with a run in the WSOP Circuit Event #11 ($250,000 NLH Main Event) for $1,319. Then, he went on a three-tournament tear in earl November picking up points in bulk. First, a deep run in the November 2 WSOP.com $100,000 GTD Sunday brought him $2,707. He followed that up two days later with a third-place finish in the PokerStars NJ $250 Super Tuesday for $2,707. Finally, he capped it all off with a victory in the BorgataPoker.com Mega $535 Tuesday and taking home the $5,759 first-place prize. Players qualify for the online poker worldwide rankings by adding their screen names to their PocketFives profile.
  2. Poker players in Asian markets are about to get the opportunity to play for their share of World Poker Tour glory - and $100 million HKD in guaranteed prize pools - thanks to the tour's partnership with Natural8. WPT Asia Online is a 22-event series, running from October 3 - 22 featuring tournaments which are restricted to players in Asian markets and includes various game formats, multiple leaderboards, and the single biggest online poker tournament guarantee in the region's history. The WPT Asia Main Event has a $10 million HKD guarantee and a $10,000 HKD buy-in. There are 22 starting flights beginning on October 18 with the final day scheduled for October 25. There are also National Championship events for Vietnam, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Cambodia, Japan, and Macau. The buy-in and guarantee for each of these events is in the host country's currency and the eventual champion of each event also earns a WPT Passport valued at HK$23,000. Three separate leaderboards, each covering a single week of play, will give players the opportunity to earn points for their home country. The top 10 players for each country have their total count towards the leaderboard and players who earn at least one leaderboard point for the top-performing country will then play in freeroll tournaments with prizes of $50,000 HKD, $50,000 HKD, and $100,000 HKD. [table id=109 /]
  3. On Saturday night, Keven StamdoggStammen (pictured) took down the World Poker Tour Championship for $1.3 million. The season finale had a brand new location at Borgata in Atlantic City this year with a more affordable buy-in of $15,400 and 328 entrants turned out. In the end, PocketFivers ruled the day, as Stammen brought home his first WPT title and will have his name engraved in the tour's Championship Cup. Stammen led the way entering the WPT Championship six-handed final table, holding 113 big blinds, or 50 more than the next closest player. It took 34 hands for the first player to be knocked out, as Abe Korotki ran A-7 into PocketFiver Ryan g0lfa D'Angelo's A-J. The 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure final tablist was ahead the whole way, rivering a jack to boot, and Korotki exited in sixth place for $235,000. Curt Kohlberg doubled through Stammen to trim the latter's death grip on the final table after A-10 out-raced pocket fives. Then, Stammen took a pot worth 3.15 million in chips off D'Angelo after the latter called a bet on the river with top pair, but Stammen showed the nut flush. Stammen continued to dominate, opening 19% of pots through the first 100 hands, the second most of any player. Kohlberg, meanwhile, busted in fifth place at the hands of Byron Kaverman after he came out on the losing end of a flip. D'Angelo hit the rail in fourth place after shoving for his final seven big blinds and coming up short. One hand before that, Tony Bond18 Dunst (pictured), a WPT host, doubled up through D'Angelo. However, Dunst still sat on a dangerously short stack and busted shortly thereafter in third place for $452,000. It was Dunst's third WPT final table. Stammen had a 2:1 chip lead entering heads-up play against Kaverman, who has had six WPT cashes since November and ultimately took the chip lead before ceding it back for good. On the 151st hand of final table play, Kaverman 3bet all-in with pocket fours and Stammen snap-called with A-8. Kaverman was ahead until an ace on the river sealed the deal, giving Stammen his first WPT title in his third WPT final table: 1st Place: Keven StamdoggStammen - $1,350,000 2nd Place: Byron Kaverman - $727,860 3rd Place: Tony Bond18Dunst - $452,729 4th Place: Ryan g0lfaD'Angelo - $363,930 5th Place: Curt Kohlberg - $286,292 6th Place: Abe Korotki - $235,341 Stammen joins a solid group of past WPT Championship winners: Season I: Alan Goehring - $1,036,886 (111 entries) Season II: Martin de Knijff - $2,728,356 (343 entries) Season III: Tuan Le - $2,856,150 (647 entries) Season IV: Joe Bartholdi - $3,760,165 (605 entries) Season V: Carlos Mortensen - $3,970,415 (639 entries) Season VI: David Chiu - $3,389,140 (545 entries) Season VII: Yevgeniy Jovial Gent Timoshenko (pictured) - $2,149,960 (338 entries) Season VIII: David Williams - $1,530,537 (195 entries) Season IX: Scott Seiver - $1,618,344 (220 entries) Season X: Marvin Rettenmaier - $1,196,858 (152 entries) Season XI: Chino Rheem - $1,150,297 (146 entries) Season XII: Keven StamdoggStammen - $1,350,000 (328 entries) Congrats to Stammen on his WPT win! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. In 2013, David "Chino" Rheem (pictured) won the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for $1.1 million, defeating a field of 146 entrants in the $25,000 buy-in tournament. This year, the WPT's season finale moved east to Borgata in Atlantic City, where, according to F5 Poker, Rheem had a free entry waiting for him. On Monday, Rheem Tweeted, "Wanna wish all my homies best of luck at Borgata @WPT Championship event! I won't be there to defend last year's title, so play well!" Day 1 of the WPT Championship was held on Monday and Rheem's Tweet sparked a response from Robert Mizrachi, who Tweeted back, "@ChinoRheem I think you have a free roll since u won last year. I would find out." Rheem's final comment on the matter was simply the two-word phrase "What freeroll?" The buy-in this year was dropped to $15,000 for the WPT Championship and the tournament's organizers guaranteed a prize pool of $5 million. First place will earn $1.3 million and a field of 328 players turned out, more than doubling last year's attendance. F5 confirmed with WPT President Adam Pliska that Rheem had been gifted a seat and the news site explained, "The World Poker Tour Championship event is one of the very few events, on any tour, where the previous year's champion gets a free seat the following year. Rheem had a seat just waiting for him… The seat is/was non-transferable or convertible." A PokerListings article insinuated that Rheem may have skipped the WPT Championship on purpose, even if he didn't know he had a free seat: "Rheem… decided to skip the tournament and was instead doing 'choice' (which we'll assume is Choice Leadership Program, of which Daniel Negreanu is a huge proponent)." Whatever the case may be, at the start of the day on Friday, 18 players remain in the WPT Championship, each guaranteed a payout of at least $41,000. Here are the chip counts along with the number of big blinds each player is stacked with, according to WPT's website: Eric Afriat - 2,029,000 (126 bb) Abe Korotki - 1,616,000 (101 bb) Anthony Gregg - 1,499,000 (93 bb) Ryan g0lfa D'Angelo - 1,369,000 (85 bb) Curt Kohlberg - 1,097,000 (68 bb) Justin Young - 993,000 (62 bb) Byron Kaverman - 974,000 (60 bb) Ray Qartomy - 955,000 (59 bb) Brock t soprano Parker - 918,000 (57 bb) Keven Stamdogg Stammen - 867,000 (54 bb) Tom Dobrilovic - 786,000 (49 bb) Chris O'Rourke - 670,000 (41 bb) Tony bond18 Dunst - 622,000 (38 bb) Corey Hochman - 598,000 (37 bb) Bobby Oboodi - 525,000 (32 bb) Glenn Lafaye - 395,000 (24 bb) Hans Winzeler - 320,000 (20 bb) David Grandieri - 209,000 (13 bb) The WPT Championship concludes on Saturday. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. If you haven't heard, Greg Merson (pictured), two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, was not at all happy with the World Poker Tour's decision to run a $500 buy-in, $1 million Guarantee at Aria in Las Vegas at the same time as this year's WSOP Main Event at the Rio. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- "Can't breathe on PartyPoker/WPT trying to step on the toes of the WSOP Main Event. Of course you can play both, but very disrespectful IMO," he Tweeted to his 34,000 followers. The comparatively low buy-in WPT500 was an effort by organizers to take advantage of the many grinders hanging around town for the WSOP who could not afford the $10,000 Main Event. But Merson was having none of it and continued to voice his displeasure on Twitter: "Just a desperate attempt by a company trying to hold onto a glimmer of the spotlight as they have continued to slide since 2006 #showers." At that point, Matt Savage (pictured), Executive Tour Director of the WPT and organizer of the WPT500, tried to calm down the 2012 Main Event winner, replying, "Sorry for upsetting you, no one is more supportive of the WSOP than I am and wouldn't expect a single player to skip the ME for this." He also added, "In addition, we moved our dates from the 1-6th out of 'respect' for the 'Little One Drop,' as a $1K buy-in is too close to $500." On the forums, most agreed with Savage that the $500 event was unlikely to draw any players away from the prestigious five-figure buy-in Main Event and welcomed more competition for the WSOP. "Some people prefer a tourney where they can win $200k in 2 days instead of an entry to a $10k, 2 week+ tournament," chimed in Andy Bloch. "WPT is a competitor. Who really cares if there is a $500 at the Aria? Nice for people who fly in and want to play every day," said Russell Thomas. Merson was unmoved and kept up his tirade, calling the Main Event "our Super Bowl" and telling WPT execs to "save your five-day reentry money grab for another date." The pro's comments might have been spurred by a new sponsorship alliance with the WSOP, as pointed out by F5 Poker. In the middle of this year's Series, Merson was photographed wearing a WSOP.compatch after leaving Phil Ivey's training site. One Twitter observer was not impressed with the bracelet winner's behavior: "Astounded @WSOPcom would still consider @GregMerson as potential ambassador after tirade against #WPT500 @ARIAPoker event! #GreatValueEvent." Merson's Main Event run came to an end on Day 2AB, with the pro Tweeting, "I have been eliminated from this tournament." That didn't stop him from keeping up the jabs, though: "Debating going to play Day 1P of the [WPT500] tournament," he said facetiously. At that point, the WPT500 was already turning out to be a rousing success, smashing its guarantee with 3,599 entrants and generating a prize pool of $1.8 million. In the end, Sean Yu bested the field, defeating Kareem Marshall for a $260,000 first place prize. On Twitter, poker industry professionals were quick to complement Savage on the tournament. "Pretty impressive vision and even better execution. Congrats," said Parx Poker Ambassador Matt Glantz (pictured). "Congrats to @ARIAPoker @WPT for a hugely successful #WPT500," agreed Bellagio Poker Room Manager Sean McCormack. Merson seems to be standing by his remarks, but he made clear that the criticism wasn't directed toward Savage himself. "@SavagePoker wanted to let you know those comments were in no way directed toward you. You are one of the best in the business and we are lucky to have you in the poker world," he said. "They were my views stemming from frustration of poker companies not working together to schedule stuff that doesn't hurt numbers for major events." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. History was made in the Caribbean on Friday, as longtime PocketFiver Darren darrenelias Elias (pictured) became the first person ever to win back-to-back World Poker Tour Main Events in the same season. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. PocketFivers will love playing in the site's €1 million guaranteed iPOPS series, which runs through November 9. Visit William Hill today! --- Elias won the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September in Atlantic City and followed that up with a victory in the WPT Caribbean event in St. Maarten on Friday. According to WPT officials, "Elias [also]becomes the first player to win multiple WPT Main Events in the same season since Season III. Both Tuan Le and Daniel Negreanu won a pair of events in Season III and Negreanu was crowned WPT Player of the Year." The first person ever to win back-to-back WPT Main Events was Marvin Rettenmaier (pictured), who took down the Season X WPT World Championship and the Season XI WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, but failed to secure both titles in the same season. The Caribbean event marked Elias' seventh WPT in the money finish. Incredibly, four of those are final tables. He finished fifth in the 2011 Borgata Poker Open Main Event for $230,000 and followed that up a few months later with a third place showing in Jacksonville for $147,000. Elias' Borgata Poker Open Main Event win in September was worth $843,000, bringing his all-time live earnings to north of $2.5 million, according to the Hendon Mob. Elias was nearly a 5:1 dog entering heads-up play in St. Maarten against Christophe Rosso, but doubled up twice to claim the chip lead. Rosso turned in two double-ups of his own and on the final hand, he moved all-in before the flop with 7-6, but ran into Elias' aces. Rosso actually made two pair on the turn, but the river paired the board, giving Elias aces-up for the record-setting title. Here were the WPT Caribbean final table results: 1st Place: Darren darreneliasElias - $127,680 2nd Place: Christophe Rosso - $64,900 3rd Place: George Griffith - $42,100 4th Place: Mike Linster - $28,950 5th Place: Ziga Jamnikar - $22,280 6th Place: Dan Agentu Murariu - $17,370 Online, Elias has $3.4 million in career tournament winnings and won the PokerStars Sunday Second Chance two weeks ago for $49,000. He has two monster wins online: a WCOOP High Roller victory in 2012 for $574,000 officially and a WCOOP Main Event final table two years prior for $396,000. Elias has five six-figure scores in his PocketFives profile. Congrats to Elias for his historical finish in St. Maarten. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. According to a press release sent out on Friday by bwin.party, WPTPoker.com, a site on the PartyPoker network branded to the World Poker Tour, will shut down on June 3. Officials cited an "ongoing company strategy" as the reason for the closure, adding, "bwin.party has made the decision to focus our online poker efforts entirely on our lead brands: PartyPoker and bwin Poker." Players will still be able to log into their WPTPoker.com accounts and request withdrawals for three months after June 3. The maximum withdrawal limit will be lifted between now and June 3; however, standard withdrawal fees will continue to apply. As of June 6, no new registrations will be permitted on WPTPoker.com. All pending tournament registrations will be reversed, no new deposits will be accepted, and no games will exist on the site. If you have tournament dollars and tournament tickets, these will be refunded to you. Tournament entries with no cash value will not be refunded, however. As the press release added, "If player qualifies for live events before the website's closure, his invitation remains valid." Any unused points will be forfeited, so start using them if you still have any banked away. Similarly, any part of a bonus that has not been released before June 3 will be forfeited. There are no plans to re-open WPT Poker and balances cannot be moved to PartyPoker. The WPT Poker skin was launched in 2009 after PartyPoker's acquisition of the World Poker Tour. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  8. In recent days, the World Poker Tour wrapped up its annual end-of-season Championship event from the Borgata in Atlantic City. This year, the tournament attracted 239 entries, down 27% from the 328 recorded last year. PokerNews' Donnie Peters (pictured) called the development "worrisome," so PocketFives took to Twitter to figure out why attendance slid so much. Peters gave his take on why the WPT Championship headcount dropped, Tweeting, "5% no High Roller and Super High Roller, 20% timing on schedule, 75% location." The European Poker Tour's Grand Final was taking place concurrently across "The Pond," meaning many poker pros were camped out there rather than in aging Atlantic City, the site of the WPT Championship. Kevin Mathersadded on Twitter, "Also no re-entry, second Day 1 flight, and no guaranteed prize pool." The 2014 WPT Championship had a $5 million guarantee, while no guarantee existed this year. Getting to Atlantic City is no easy feat. A small airport exists about 10 miles away, but is largely just served by Spirit Airlines. Instead, most players fly into cities like Philadelphia and then drive over an hour. Speaking to that, Online Poker Report's Chris GroveTweeted, "Lot harder to get to via plane than some other places." Contrast Atlantic City with a place like Las Vegas, where the airport, which is served by dozens of carriers, is a stone's throw from the Strip. United Airlines formerly served Atlantic City's airport, but discontinued service in December. Thus, only three airlines serve 13 destinations. Compare that with McCarren Airport in Las Vegas, which has over 30 airlines and is one of the busiest hubs in the entire world. We had a few high-profile players lend their thoughts on the declining WPT Championship attendance. Mike Gags30Gagliano, who is from New Jersey, commented, "Lack of guarantee versus last year, also timing made it tougher to do this and Monte Carlo." Christian charder Harder (pictured), who made the WPT Championship final table in 2009, added, "It was reentry last year and not this year." Peters said on Twitter that there were only 12 reentries last year. "Poker Life Podcast" host Chicago Joey said the cab ride to and from the Atlantic City airport put him on life tilt: "Last time I was out there, the ride to and from airport was so tilting." The WPT Championship moved from Las Vegas to Atlantic City for the first time in 2014, but as the team from Pokerfusechimed in on Twitter, "WPT Championship attendance declined for six of the last last years before it moved to AC." With that in mind, here are the attendance numbers for the WPT Championship each year it has been held. The event switched from a $25,000 buy-in to a $15,000 buy-in last year (Season 12): Season 1: 111 Season 2: 343 Season 3: 453 Season 4: 605 Season 5: 649 Season 6: 545 Season 7: 338 Season 8: 195 Season 9: 220 Season 10: 152 Season 11: 146 Season 12: 328 Season 13: 239 What do you think? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  9. "The last month of my life has been the craziest month of my life. The last week of my life has been the craziest week of my life. Today has been the craziest day. Everything is just so surreal. I'm happy my dad got to be here. I couldn't have ever imagined this." Those were the words of Asher Conniff (pictured), who is known in the New Jersey poker world as misclick, after taking down the World Poker Tour Championship on Monday for almost $1 million. There were 239 entrants in this year's WPT Championship and the six-handed final table featured a gauntlet of talent that included WPT host Tony Bond18Dunst and former WPT Championship and World Series of Poker Main Event winner Carlos Mortensen. Dunst hit the deck in sixth place after Mortensen sucked out on kings with tens. That hand crippled Dunst, who was eliminated shortly thereafter. If you missed it, Dunst recently sat down with PocketFives and talked a little daily fantasy sports. Mortensen exited in fourth place after his pocket tens weren't so fortunate against A-6. Mortensen is up to $6.7 million in career WPT winnings and leads the all-time money list for the longstanding tour, which is now in its 13th season. Conniff beat out Alexander Lakhov heads-up. Lakhov re-raised all-in before the flop with 10-6 and Conniff snap-called with A-Q, which held for the win. Lakhov won the Season XIII WPT Merit North Cyprus Classic. Conniff has been on a tear as of late. He took down the opening event of the Borgata Spring Poker Open for over $200,000 and won a $1,600 satellite for the WPT Championship online. Speaking of online, Conniff has $76,000 in winnings on Borgata Poker in New Jersey in his PocketFives profile and owns three GSSS titles. The attendance at this year's WPT Championship (239) was down sharply from 2014, when 328 players turned out. 2014 was the first year the tournament featured a $15,000 buy-in, down from $25,000. This year was the second that the season-ending WPT Championship has been held in Atlantic City. Here's how the WPT Championship final table cashed out: 1. Asher Conniff - $973,683 2. Alexander Lakhov - $573,779 3. Brian Yoon - $330,358 4. Carlos Mortensen - $267,764 5. Ray Qartomy - $208,647 6. Tony Dunst - $173,873 Congrats to Conniff on his WPT title! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  10. On Sunday night, it was announced that Ourgame International Holdings has acquired the World Poker Tour for $35 million. It's an all cash transaction with no debt. Since 2009, bwin.party has owned WPT, which is renowned for its worldwide live tournaments and events. WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska commented in a press release, "Having already established an exciting partnership with Ourgame, a high growth company led by an enthusiastic group that is fully invested in the global growth of the sport of poker, we are delighted to now become a fully-integrated member of the Ourgame family. I want to thank bwin.party CEO Norbert Teufelberger and bwin.party CFO Martin Weigold for all of their support over the last six years and for helping facilitate this agreement." Last year, Ourgame began licensing products and services related to the WPT in Asian countries. Now, it owns the tour outright. Ourgame has a market cap of over $700 million and is one of Asia's leading social gaming firms. In fact, it has over500 million usersand, according to the same release, "For three years, Ourgame has helped facilitate WPT National China at MGM Grand Sanya Resort, bringing together hundreds of social gamers with some of the biggest professional poker players in the world." Ourgame CEO Frank Ng commented in the same press release, "World Poker Tour is unquestionably the global leader in organizing world-class poker events and we are very proud to acquire one of the world's greatest brands. WPT, with Ourgame as its new owner, will continue to expand its already impressive global presence, bringing poker and gaming entertainment to cities and homes around the world via television broadcasts, mobile devices, card tables, and more." Ourgame is publicly traded and was founded in 1998. According to Online Poker Report, ClubWPT is also part of the sale. The same source added that the closing date was June 25. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  11. The schedule for the final World Poker Tour events of Season XIV was unveiled on Wednesday and included one major change. The WPT Championship as we know it is no more. In its place is the WPT Tournament of Champions, an invite-only event to be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida in mid-April. Only Season XIV champions and WPT Champions Club members can participate in the Tournament of Champions, which has a buy-in of $15,400. The event won't come cheap for WPT officials either, as every Season XIV Major Champion is automatically entered into the Tournament of Champions and will have their airfare and hotel accommodations covered. Champions Club members can buy in. WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska (pictured) commented in a press release, "By combining Season XIV winners and WPT Champions Club members, the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions will truly be a championship event. We will promote the 'champion of champions' to our millions of television viewers and to the thousands of players in the community for seasons to come, solidifying the winner's place in the World Poker Tour's rich history." Several PocketFivers have made the WPT Champions Clubthis year, including Taylor taypaurPaur, Asher yasmellmeConniff, and Aaron aaronmermel Mermelstein. The new Tournament of Champions begins on April 21. Here's a look at the tournaments leading up to it: January 4 to 8 WPT National Philippines Solaire Resort & Casino Manila, Philippines $1,500 + $150 January 8 to 11 WPT DeepStacks Hustler Hustler Casino Gardena, California $1,000 + $100 January 14 to 18 WPT DeepStacks Hollywood Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida $1,000 + $100 January 29 to February 1 WPT DeepStacks Malta Dragonara Casino St. Julian's, Malta €500 + €50 January 31 to February 5 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa Atlantic City, NJ $3,300 + $200 February 21 to 24 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Fallsview Casino Resort Ontario, Canada CAD $4,700 + CAD $300 February 25 to 28 bwin.be WPT National Brussels Grand Casino Brussels Viage, Belgium €1,100 + €100 February 26 to 29 WPT DeepStacks - BigStax Parx Casino Bensalem, Pennsylvania $1,500 + $100 February 27 to March 3 WPT LA Poker Classic Commerce Casino Commerce, California $9,600 + $400 March 7 to 11 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Bay 101 Casino San Jose, California $7,150 + $350 March 8 to 13 partypoker WPT Vienna Montesino Vienna Vienna, Austria €3,000 + €300 March 12 to 16 WPT Rolling Thunder Thunder Valley Casino Resort Lincoln, California $3,200 + $300 April 8 to 11 Gioco Digitale WPT National San Remo Casino San Remo San Remo, Italy €900 + €90 April 15 to 17 WPT National Johannesburg Emperors Palace Hotel Casino Johannesburg, South Africa R10,000 + R1,000 April 14 to 20 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida $3,200 + $200 + $100 April 21 to 23 WPT Tournament of Champions Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida $15,000 + $400 The WPT Championship's attendance dropped 27% from 2014 to 2015, so the writing was on the wall for a major change to the event. Here's a look at the WPT Championship attendance each year it has been held. Season XIII ended in April 2015: Season I: 111 entrants Season II: 343 entrants Season III: 453 entrants Season IV: 605 entrants Season V: 649 entrants Season VI: 545 entrants Season VII: 338 entrants Season VIII: 195 entrants Season IX: 220 entrants Season X: 152 entrants Season XI: 146 entrants Season XII: 328 entrants Season XIII: 239 entrants Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  12. [caption width="645"] The World Poker Tour returns to television with 27 weeks of episodes starting on February 28[/caption] The World Poker Tour announced that coverage of Season XIV will debut on the Fox Sports networks starting February 28th, with the first episode airing from the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten return as lead commentators, with Lynn Gilmartin serving as the anchor for her third season. Tony Dunst also returns for his sixth season as analyst of “The Raw Deal”, breaking down a key hand during each broadcast. Episodes of Season XIV include the two WPT events in Los Angeles (Legends of Poker and the LA Poker Classic), along with stops in Montreal, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Jacksonville, San Jose and the season-ending Tournament of Champions at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Each televised stop consists of three one-hour episodes, starting with highlights of the previous days of the tournament and the storylines showing how the last six players reached the final table. New episodes debut Sunday nights at 8pm local time, with further repeats available during the week on FSN and FS2. Viewers can check their local listings for additional times in their area. The WPT Season XIV television schedule and broadcast dates: February 28–March 13: WPT Choctaw March 20-April 3: WPT Legends of Poker April 10-24: WPT Borgata Poker Open May 1-15: WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble May 22-June 5: WPT Montreal June 12-26: WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic July 3-17: WPT L.A. Poker Classic July 24-August 7: WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star August 14-28: WPT Tournament of Champions
  13. [caption width="640"] Chino Rheem is now one of just four players to win three World Poker Tour titles. (WPT/Joe Giron photo)[/caption] When the final table of the $10,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Finale began, there were a couple of storylines in play. Spain’s Adrian Mateos was hoping to become the youngest player to win poker’s Triple Crown and Chino Rheem, with two previous WPT titles under his belt, was looking to become just the fourth player with three. Mateos saw his run ended early, but Rheem, with a rail of friends, family and supporters that kept growing as the final table wore on, came through in the end, beating Aditya Prasetyo heads-up to win the title and the accompanying $705,885. He also earned an automatic seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions that starts Friday at Seminole Hard Rock Casino. “This one feels real good. It’s been a couple of years since I got to see anything substantial in any kind of tournament,” said Rheem, 36. “When you have a shot, and you’re close and you’ve been there before and you already know the process of what you’ve got to do. It just feels good to zig and zag and get there.” Bryan Piccioli, the shortest stack at the start of the final table, was also the first player eliminated. Piccioli moved all in from under the gun, Richard Leger called from his left and Prasetyo called from the small blind. The flop came [poker card="6d"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4h"] and Leger and Prasetyo checked. The [poker card="qh"] turn got Prasetyo to check again, only to have Leger bet 600,000. Prasetyo folded. Leger tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"], which left Piccioli drawing dead after he showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="2s"] hit the river and Piccioli was out in sixth. It took another hour of play before another player hit the rail. William Benson moved all in for 695,000 from UTG and Leger called from the small blind. Benson flipped over [poker card="ah"][poker card="9h"] and found himself racing against Leger’s [poker card="7h"][poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="8h"][poker card="7d"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Leger top set, but left Benson with the nut flush draw. The [poker card="ks"] turn and [poker card="as"] river were both blanks, though, and Benson was out in fifth place. Mateos’s run at becoming the youngest winner of poker’s Triple Crown (EPT, WSOP and WPT title winner) was cut short. Prasetyo raised to 150,000 from UTG and Mateos defended his big blind. The [poker card="qs"][poker card="jh"][poker card="3h"] flop got checks from both players. The [poker card="ks"] turn got Mateos to bet 150,000 and Prasetyo called. Mateos moved all in after the [poker card="2d"] river and Prasetyo quickly called. Mateos showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="3d"] for a flopped two pair, but Prasetyo turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="tc"] for a turned straight, eliminating Mateos in fourth place. The pace of play slowed with three players left as Rheem and Prasetyo each took turns with the lead while Leger continued to look for a spot to double up. Rheem opened to 215,000 from the button and Leger responded by moving all in for 1,785,000 - just under 18 big blinds. Rheem called and tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="ts"], much to the chagrin of Leger who held [poker card="ad"][poker card="3d"]. The [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"] flop gave Leger some chop outs, but the [poker card="ks"] turn and [poker card="6s"] river completed an unneeded flush for Rheem and sent Leger packing in third place. Rheem started heads-up play with an 8-5 lead over Prasetyo. The two played 39 hands with Rheem never surrendering the lead. After increasing his lead to nearly 13-1, Rheem moved all in and Prasetyo called. Rheem held [poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"] while Prasetyo was slightly ahead with [poker card="kc"][poker card="9h"]. The board ran out [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"][poker card="4s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="7h"] to give Rheem trip sevens and eliminate Prasetyo. With the win, Rheem joins Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Anthony Zinno as the only players to have won three WPT titles. “For the years that I’ve been playing, I have created an image that is priceless. The good thing is I can, for the most part, take advantage of that image,” said Rheem. Final Table Payouts Chino Rheem - $705,885 Aditya Prasetyo - $484,130 Richard Leger - $311,305 Adrian Mateos - $200,510 William Benson - $154,585 Bryan Piccioli - $127,905
  14. [caption width="640"] Daniel Negreanu was the biggest name in the field, but suffered an upset thanks to Jonathan Little.[/caption] When the field was announced for the WPT Champions Challenge, the bracket-style contest pitting former WPT champions against one another in a fan vote, it seemed like Daniel Negreanu was a lock to win it all. Negreanu has $6.4 million in WPT earnings, nine final tables and two titles. Couple that with his massive fanbase and Negreanu seemed to be in position to dominate the popularity contest. Locks are apparently just for doors. In what can only be described as a major upset, Negreanu, the number one seed in the Clubs region, was defeated by four seed Jonathan Little. Little did some social media campaigning to get his fans to vote for him. It paid off. Little now moves on to the Elite 8 and finds himself up against Doyle Brunson for a Final Four berth. Brunson, the 11 seed in the region, beat out two seed Hoyt Corkins to advance. Negreanu was actually the second top seed to fall. The Hearts region saw Carlos Mortensen eliminated in the second round by Erik Seidel. Only one of the four regions, the Spades region, had the top two seeds advance to the Elight 8. Top seed Gus Hansen beat out Alan Goehring to advance while second seed Antonio Esfandiari beat out good friend Phil Laak to move on. The other remaining top seed, Anthony Zinno, came out on top of Mohsin Charania to get through. He’ll now face Barry Greenstein. The three seed upset two seed JC Tran to move on. Despite being a number seven seed, Phil Ivey continues to survive and advance. Ivey made it past Michael Mizrachi. Seidel posted yet another upset, beating out Marvin Retteinmaier to earn a spot against Ivey. Clubs Region Matchup Key Stats #4. Jonathan Little: $3,695,510 - 2 titles - 4 final tables - 21 cashes #11. Doyle Brunson: $2,081,824 - 1 title - 3 final tables - 8 cashes Diamonds Region Matchup Key Stats #1. Anthony Zinno: $2,336,548 - 3 titles - 3 final tables - 15 cashes #3. Barry Greenstein: $2,427,428 - 2 titles - 5 final tables - 20 cashes Hearts Region Matchup Key Stats #7. Phil Ivey: $4,027,221 - 1 title - 10 final tables - 14 cashes #8. Erik Seidel: $2,332,000 - 1 title - 7 final tables - 22 cashes Spades Region Matchup Key Stats #1. Gus Hansen: $4,051,782 - 3 titles - 7 final tables - 9 cashes #2. Antonio Esfandiari: $2,956,243 - 2 titles - 8 final tables - 13 cashes The Elite 8 of the WPT Champions Challenge is open for voting until Tuesday at 5 pm ET. Vote here.
  15. [caption width="640"] Only three of the four top seeds are moving on to the WPT Champions Challenge Sweet 16.[/caption] Even though they've had little trouble this year, number one seeds don’t always breeze through the NCAA tournament. Upsets happen. It seems that the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge is no different. Carlos Mortensen, top seed in the Hearts Region, was beaten by poker hall of famer and eight seed Erik Seidel in the Round of 32. The other three top seeds, Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Negreanu, all advanced to the Sweet 16. The Champions Challenge is a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other with each match-up decided by a fan vote on WPT.com. The field of 64, and the seeding, were determined by taking into account the WPT success of each player. In the Sweet 16, Hansen is matched up against Alan Goehring, while Zinno takes on Mohsin Charania and Negreanu has Jonathan Little as his opponent. There was only two other upsets in the second round, but poker fans might not call one of them that. Doyle Brunson, seeded 11th in the Clubs region, beat Darren Elias, a three seed, to advance to the third round. While Brunson’s popularity is unquestionable, his WPT resume isn’t quite as polished as Elias’. Brunson has one WPT title, three WPT final tables, eight WPT cashes and $2,081,824 in earnings, but Elias has two WPT wins, five final tables and 19 cashes and he only trails Brunson’s lifetime WPT earnings by $189,000. Still, Brunson earned enough fan votes to move on. The other upset came in the Spades region as 11 seed Phil Laak beat out 3 seed Freddy Deeb. Laak’s victory sets up a third round match-up that will probably end up as the most talked about of the round. Laak now faces his best friend, Antonio Esfandiari, in the Sweet 16. The pair have been good friends since long before their WPT success. Those two aren’t the only good friends facing off in the next round though. After upsetting Elias, Brunson now faces Hoyt Corkins for a chance at moving on to the Elite Eight. Like Elias, Corkins brings a better-than-Doyle WPT resume to the table, but his two WPT titles, six final tables, 19 cashes and $3.5 million in earnings might not be enough to overcome Brunson’s popularity. This round of voting is open until Friday at 5 pm ET. The WPT Champions Challenge Sweet 16 Clubs Region Daniel Negreanu vs. Jonathan Little Hoyt Corkins vs. Doyle Brunson Diamonds Region Anthony Zinno vs. Mohsin Charania JC Tran vs. Barry Greenstein Hearts Region Erik Seidel vs. Marvin Rettenmaier Phil Ivey vs. Michael Mizrachi Spades Region Gus Hansen vs. Alan Goehring Antonio Esfandiari vs. Phil Laak
  16. [caption width="640"] Farid Yachou now has a Corvette and a few hundred thousand dollars after winning the WPT Tournament of Champions[/caption] Farid Yachou seems to know how to make his tournament appearances count. Last May the Dutch amateur outlasted 340 other players to win WPT Amsterdam and $225,073. Part of that prize pool was a seat to the $15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions. He didn’t want to fly to Florida to play and he almost didn’t get Visa paperwork handled in time. Yet Sunday night it all came together for him again as he beat Vlad Darie to win the WPT Tournament of Champions for $381,600 - just his second career score. "It’s something I cannot believe," Yachou said after the win, smiling. "I am seated with only champions. I said to myself, ‘I will be glad if I finish 30th.’ Then, day by day and hand by hand it came altogether, and everything came to me." Darren Elias started the final table fourth in chips, but thanks to the early work of Darie, he found himself as one of the shorter stacks early on. Elias jammed from the cutoff for 261,000 and Yachou reraised all in from the button to 694,000. Everybody else folded and Elias tabled [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"] while Yachou was well ahead with [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3h"] to eliminate Elias in sixth place and move Yachou into the lead. Just two hands later Noah Schwartz joined Elias on the rail. Michael Mizrachi raised to 40,000 from the cutoff and Schwartz moved the last of his 229,000 all in from the small blind. Mizrachi called and tabled [poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"] and Schwartz showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="5d"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="7s"][poker card="2s"] flop was relatively safe for Schwartz but the [poker card="3h"] turn gave Mizrachi flush outs. The river though was the [poker card="jc"] to give Mizrachi a pair of jacks and send Schwartz out in fifth. Darie opened from the button for 40,000 before Jonathan Jaffe took his time in making his decision. So much time in fact that he he had to use one of his remaining “time chips” to give himself and additional 30 seconds to act. Before his time expired he moved all in for 349,000 and Darie called instantly. Jaffe showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="tc"] while Darie tabled [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"]. Jaffe was unable to connect on the [poker card="jd"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="td"][poker card="8s"] board and his run ended in fourth. When three-handed play began Mizrachi held over 50% of the chips in play with Yachou and Darie each working with 25% each. That turned out to be as close as ‘The Grinder’ would get to the win though. Yachou was the first to take some of Mizrachi’s stack and then Darie took enough to push Mizrachi to third in chips. Darie and Yachou took turns swapping the lead until Mizrachi made his final stand. After Mizrachi opened to 50,000 from the button, Darie folded before Yachou moved all in from the big blind. Mizrachi called with [poker card="kc"][poker card="9d"] and found himself needing help against Yachou’s [poker card="4c"][poker card="4d"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="4h"] flop gave Mizrachi top pair but bottom set to Yachou. Mizrachi was unable to improve on the [poker card="6s"] turn or [poker card="8d"] flop. Yachou began heads up play with a small lead over Darie. The pair played heads up for just over 30 minutes before Yachou emerged with the title. Darie raised to 50,000 and Yachou called. After the [poker card="8h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2c"] flop Yachou check-raised Darie’s bet of 50,000 to 250,000. Darie called that bet and the 200,000 Yachou bet after the [poker card="tc"] turn. The river was the [poker card="8d"] and Yachou shoved all in for 1,585,000. Darie called and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="7d"] for two pair with his king playing kicker, but Yachou showed [poker card="as"][poker card="2d"] for a full house to eliminate Darie in second and win the second poker tournament of his career. Along with the $381,600 first place prize money including a $15,000 seat to the Season XV WPT Tournament of Champions, a 2016 Corvette provided by Monster Products, a Hublot watch, Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard, Monster 24K headphones, a custom poker table from BBO Poker Tables and a seat to Tiger’s Poker Night next week in Las Vegas. "The Corvette is something I have never seen a tournament give away, it’s amazing," Yachou said. "I took my Monster Headphones from WPT Amsterdam because I like to hear the sound it has. It’s not like the others." Payouts Farid Yachou - $381,600 Vlad Darie - $224,190 Michael Mizrachi - $140,450 Jonathan Jaffe - $95,400 Noah Schwartz - $74,200 Darren Elias - $58,300
  17. [caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour could be using the Protection Poker Action Clock regularly next season.(WPT photo)[/caption] Matt Savage thought Mike Sexton was crazy. Sexton, World Poker Tour commentator and Poker Hall of Famer, had been pushing Savage, Executive Tour Director of the WPT, to introduce a shot clock to WPT events to speed up the game and prevent players from tanking unnecessarily. On Friday, the WPT debuted the Protection Poker Action Clock for the first time in the $15,000 buy-in Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. The Action Clock allows players 30 seconds to act on their hand. If time expires, the hand is dead. Players are also given four time buttons that can be used to give themselves another 30 seconds. Each table has been outfitted with a tablet with the Action Clock app on it. Dealers push one of four buttons depending on what’s happening in the hand. Most players were pleased with the concept and Savage, once a skeptic, seems to have changed his mind. “Seeing this in motion, seeing how easy it is for the dealers to use, how much more of a different dynamic it creates for the game, I’m excited and I think this is something we can probably use at other events in the future,” said Savage. As the clock winds down during a hand, the app beeps when a player has ten seconds left to act and then a more distinct buzz when there are just three seconds remaining. “I love it. Absolutely love it. For me, it’s not much of a hindrance because I don’t take more than 30 seconds,” said Season XIII WPT Championship winner Asher Conniff. “I have 3 of my 4 time banks left through eight levels. Some of the other guys, they need the time, and I appreciate the edge on some of these guys, they’re great players.” Savage admits it is going to take some players some time to adjust to the concept, but as more and more players see the concept and play with it, they’ll learn to adapt. “I think that we saw early on in the day people were timing out when they didn’t want to be. But I think as people get more and more used to it, it becomes easier and becomes second nature, people just play faster,” said Savage. “Jordan Cristos and Marvin Rettenmaier and Yevgeniy Timoshenko, they’re all dealing with it, they’re all adjusting.” [caption width="640"] Each player is allotted four "time" chips at the start of each day. (WPT photo)[/caption] In 2014, the WPT polled players at the LA Poker Classic to gauge their feelings on the shot clock and 80% of those that responded were in favor of limiting players' time to act on each hand. Dan Smith thinks the clock brings some of the fun back to tournament poker just by getting rid of hands that take too long to play. “I think in terms of quality of play it’s not quite as high, but maybe it’s like 90% as high,” said Smith. "From an enjoyment standpoint, not having to sit there for six minutes while somebody makes a decision - that’s just brutal.” Smith also pointed out that it makes the game more exciting for those at the table with an added element of drama. “There’s something exciting about it, it goes to the river and it’s like 5, 4, 3, 2, - it’s exciting,” said Smith. Not all players were fans of the clock, though. A number of players continue to express concern over how it changes the game. "I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I actually didn’t think it was going to go as well as it does. But I think 30 seconds is just not enough time. There are so many situations that come up," said Marvin Rettenmaier. "I’ve definitely made some folds that I may have tended the other way if I had a minute or something." While the WPT TOC had a field of just 64 accomplished players, Rettenmaier worries about the way recreational players might react to the added pressure. "I think it’s way worse for them than it is for us because we should kind of have a feel for what we’re going to do,” said Rettenmaier. “I think it’s actually not amateur-friendly at all even though people are saying that’s why they want to do it, but it really isn’t." Given the relative success of the first use of the Action Clock, it’s likely to find its way to another couple of tour events next season. “We’ll definitely be using it for the (2017) Tournament of Champions,” said Savage. “I think that it’s going to take one of our casino partners to step up and say ‘Hey, we want to give this a try.’”
  18. [CAPTION=100%]All four #1 seeds advanced to Round 2 in the WPT Champions Challenge.[/CAPTION] Just like March Madness, the first round of the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge was all about the upset. Eight of the first 32 first round match-ups ended with the lower seed advancing to the second round. The Champions Challenge is a bracket-style tournament pitting some of the greatest performers in WPT history against each other in a contest driven by fan voting. It's structured identically to the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament with the winner announced on April 11. Four of the upsets came from the Spades region, with the biggest highlight being #10 seed Tony Dunst beating out #7 seed Howard Lederer. Season 9 WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger, the #12 seed, beat out #5 Tommy Vedes, #11 Phil Laak eliminated #6 Matt Giannetti and #9 David Williams beat out #8 Nenad Medic. The biggest upset came in the Hearts region as #15 seed Dan Harrington beat out #2 seed Erick Lindgren. The only other upset in that region had #11 Nick Schulman come out ahead of #6 Aaron Mermelstein. The other two regions only had one upset each. In the Diamonds region, #11 Vivek Rajkumar bested #6 Randal Flowers and in the Clubs region #11 seed Doyle Brunson ousted #6 Kevin Eyster. And just like March Madness, number one seeds had no trouble in the first round. Carlos Mortensen, Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Negreanu all moved on to the second round. Looking through the 16 second round match-ups, there are a few that stand out as worth watching. Clubs Region #1 Daniel Negreanu vs. #8 Gavin Smith It's an all-Canadian battle as Season 3 WPT Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu goes up against Season 4 WPT POY Gavin Smith. Negreanu has two WPT titles, both coming in Season 3 when he won the Borgata Poker Open and Five Diamond Poker Classic. Smith won the Mirage Poker Showdown in Season 4 and followed that up with a third place finish at the North American Poker Championship and a fourth place finish at the World Poker Open. Negreanu has a huge edge in lifetime WPT earnings, having banked $6.4 million to Smith's $2.6 million. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #7 Scotty Nguyen There may not be a closer match-up in the second round than JC Tran against Scotty Nguyen. Tran has two WPT titles to Nguyen's one and has $1.3 million more in earnings, but Nguyen has eight WPT final tables to Tran's seven and 18 cashes to 16. The bulk of Nguyen's success came early in his career. Six of his first eight WPT cashes were final tables including his win at the World Poker Open in Season 4. Tran's first win came in Season 5 at the World Poker Challenge in Reno. He returned to the winner's circle in Season 12 when he won his hometown Rolling Thunder event at Thunder Valley. Hearts Region #1 Carlos Mortensen vs. #8 Erik Seidel Carlos Mortensen is a #1 seed thanks to his three WPT titles, but he may be in for a rough ride in the second round as he goes up against Erik Seidel. Mortensen's three wins are spread out over three different seasons. He won the North American Poker Championship in Season 3, the WPT World Championship in Season 5 and the Hollywood Poker Open in Season 8. He's cashed 21 times for $6.7 million in earnings. Seidel won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6 and has cashed 22 times with seven final tables and $2.3 million in earnings. Spades Region #2 Antonio Esfandiari vs. #10 Tony Dunst Tony Dunst took out Howard Lederer in the first round, but beating one the poker world's biggest villains is an easier task than taking on one of its most popular players. That's the challenge in front of Dunst, though, as he takes on #2 seed Antonio Esfandiari. Dunst has one WPT title to his credit, the Season 12 WPT Caribbean event, but has four final tables. Esfandiari has two WPT titles, the LA Poker Classic in Season 2 and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Season 9. He has nearly $3 million in WPT earnings and eight final table appearances. Second round voting is open until Monday, March 21 at 3 pm PT. Vote here.
  19. [caption width="640"] Stefan Schillhabel outlasted Adam Geyer to win WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star (Joe Giron photo)[/caption] German poker players have had so much success on the international poker circuit the past three to four years that it's really no surprise when another German star emerges to take down a major title. That's exactly what happened Friday night in San Jose as Stefan Schillhabel came out on top of the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star event to win $1,298,000. Schillhabel started the final table with the chip lead, but watched as Adam Geyer was the most active player early, picking up three eliminations in the first two hours of play. Maria Ho entered the final table third in chips with a shot at becoming the first female player to win an open WPT event. Ho lost a significant pot early on to Adam Geyer only to have her tournament come to an end an hour later. After Geyer opened to 175,000 from the cutoff and Schillhabel re-raised to 460,000 from the button, Ho, the last remaining Shooting Star left in the field, cold four-bet all in for 1,735,000. Geyer tank-called and Schillhabel folded. Geyer was in control with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"] against Ho's [poker card="ah"][poker card="kh"]. The board ran out [poker card="9c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="6c"][poker card="qs"] to send Ho out in sixth. After losing over 2,600,000 in a hand with Bryan Piccioli, Season XIII Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown champ Griffin Paul was left short-stacked and in need of an opportunity to double-up. Paul moved all in from UTG for 610,000, Geyer called from the button, but Andjelko Andrejevic announced he was all in for 1,130,000. Geyer called and turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="9h"] and found himself way behind Andrejevic's [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"] and Griffin's [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] flop changed everything though and gave Geyer top two pair with two cards to come. The [poker card="6s"] turn and [poker card="7s"] river were blanks for Andrejevic and Griffin and both players were eliminated, Griffin in fifth place and Andrejevic in fourth. Having been responsible for the first three eliminations, Geyer was in full control with just three players remaining and over 50% of the chips in play. Things got close to even, though, after Schillhabel clashed with Piccioli. From the button, Geyer opened to 240,000. Schillhabel made it 73,000 from the small blind before Piccioli moved all in from the big blind. Geyer folded, but Schillhabel called and got great news when he found out his [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] had Piccioli's [poker card="ks"][poker card="qc"] dominated. Neither player connected on the [poker card="th"][poker card="td"][poker card="5s"][poker card="js"][poker card="6c"] run out and Piccioli was eliminated in third place. That hand moved Schillhabel to within 350,000 of Geyer, but as heads-up play began, both players had more than 90 big blinds. Heads-up play took nearly three hours and 54 hands. Schillhabel took down a 6,750,000 chip pot early on to take a nearly 2-1 chip lead, but Geyer battled back to take even and took a small chip lead himself. Schillhabel then took down a 9,000,000 chip pot without showdown to put himself clearly ahead of Geyer for the final time. On the 102nd hand of play, Geyer, left with just 1,850,000, moved all-in and Schillhabel called. Geyer showed [poker card="kd"][poker card="9s"] and Schillhabel needed help with [poker card="8s"][poker card="7d"]. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="tc"][poker card="3c"] flop moved Geyer even further ahead with top pair, but the [poker card="8h"] turn and [poker card="8c"] river gave Schillhabel running trips to eliminate Geyer and take down the title. Along with $1,283,000 in prize money, Schillhabel also earned a $15,000 seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions next month at Seminole Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The WPT now heads north to Sacramento for the WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino with the Main Event beginning Saturday. Final Table Payouts Stefan Schillhabel - $1,298,000 Adam Geyer - $752,800 Bryan Piccioli - $493,350 Andjelko Andrejevic - $331,500 Griffin Paul - $231,310 Maria Ho - $179,930
  20. [caption width="640"] Harrison Gimbel now has a WPT title to go with his PCA Main Event victory (Joe Giron photo)[/caption] Harrison Gimbel burst onto the live poker scene in 2010 when the then 19-year-old took down the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to become the youngest winner in the history of that event. On Wednesday night, Gimbel added another title to his resume after defeating Mohsin Charania heads-up to win the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder event and pocket $275,112. Along with the cash, Gimbel earns entry to the WPT Tournament of Champions next month in his home state of Florida. Charania was hoping to become the fourth player to capture three WPT titles joining Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Anthony Zinno, but Gimbel wouldn’t be denied. Starting the TV final table with the lowest chip stack, Derek Wolters knew he had some work to do. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for the 26-year-old poker pro. Wolters raised from UTG to 90,000 and Gimbel called from the big blind. After a [poker card="9h"][poker card="8d"][poker card="5s"] flop, both players checked. The [poker card="th"] was enough for Gimbel to lead out for 85,000. Wolters responded by moving all-in for 565,000 and after 90 seconds thinking it over, Gimbel called and tabled [poker card="jd"][poker card="9c"], while Wolters showed [poker card="kd"][poker card="td"]. Wolters was ahead, but the [poker card="9d"] river gave Gimbel trip nines and Wolters was eliminated in sixth. Russell Garrett opened from the button to 80,000 and Hafiz Khan moved all-in from the small blind. Garrett called and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"] and was up against Khan’s [poker card="3d"][poker card="3h"]. The board ran out [poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"][poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="9h"] to counterfeit Khan’s pair and send him home in fifth place. The third elimination of the night happened just 15 minutes later and again began with Garrett opening to 80,000. Gimbel called from the button before Markus Gonsalves made it 275,000 to go from the small blind. Garrett folded, but Gimbel took some time before announcing he was all-in. Gonsalves quickly called and tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"] and found himself ahead of Gimbel’s [poker card="kh"][poker card="qh"]. The flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"][poker card="8c"] to put Gimbel ahead with top pair, but Gonsalves picked up a Broadway draw. The [poker card="qc"] turn put Gimbel further ahead with trips and the [poker card="jc"] river was no help for Gonsalves and he was eliminated in fourth. Three-handed play went on for 90 minutes before Garrett, who began the day with the chip lead, and Charania clashed. Gimbel raised to 120,000 from the button, Charania called from the small blind and Garrett moved all-in from the big blind for 1,770,000. Gimbel folded, but Charania eventually called and tabled [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] and found himself racing against Garrett’s [poker card="ah"][poker card="qh"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="8d"][poker card="5c"] flop was no help for Garrett and the [poker card="kh"] turn and [poker card="3c"] river were both bricks, sending him out in third place and leaving Charania and Gimbel to play heads-up for the title. When heads-up play began, the two players were separated by just 55,000 in chips - less than one big blind. While it took a little over two hours and 107 hands to go from six players to two, the duel between Gimbel and Charania lasted much longer. The two players played 116 hands of heads-up play with Gimbel and Charania trading the chip lead back and forth at least four times before it finally came to an end. With blinds of 100,000/200,000 and Gimbel holding the lead, Charania limped his button and Gimbel moved all-in. Charania called and showed [poker card="kh"][poker card="qh"], while Gimbel turned over [poker card="5h"][poker card="4h"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2h"] flop gave Gimbel extra outs for a straight. The [poker card="5d"] turn put Gimbel ahead and the [poker card="5s"] river sealed the deal to eliminate Charania in second place and give Gimbel his first WPT title. The next WPT stop is already underway as WPT Vienna began Tuesday and wraps up Sunday. From there the WPT heads to Florida for three events; the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale and the WPT Tournament of Champions. Final Table Payouts Harrison Gimbel - $275,112 Mohsin Charania - $192,132 Russell Garrett - $123,682 Markus Gonsalves - $91,616 Hafiz Khan - $68,712 Derek Wolters - $54,970
  21. [caption width="640"] Chris Leong won the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Friday night. (WPT Live Updates/Joe Giron photo)[/caption] While some final tables follow a wire-to-wire run by chip leaders, others see short stacks come from the back of the pack to claim the title. That’s exactly what happened in Atlantic City, as Chris Leong outlasted a massive 1,171 player field to claim the World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open title and a $816,246 score. The six-handed table battled through a tactical and slow first level of play, the action really kicked off in one of the first hands of Level 31. Chip leader Rafael Yaraliyev opened to 285,000 from the cutoff and after action folded to Wantman, who was in the big blind, he three-bet to 700,000. Yaraliyev pushed his stack forward to put Wantman to a decision for his remaining 3,400,000 and the Massachusetts native snap-called, turning over [poker card="qh"][poker card="qd"]. It was a flip for the short stack’s life, as Yaraliyev held [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"] and that flip went the chip leader’s way on the [poker card="as"][poker card="8s"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6s"][poker card="8d"] runout. Wantman hit the rail in sixth place, while Yaraliyev took control of close to 40% of the chips. Yaraliyev then tried to put that chip advantage to use over the next level, as he had 2009 WPT World Champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko on the ropes a few times. The first encounter saw Timoshenko flip for his tournament life with [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qc"] to Yaraliyev’s pocket fours but after the [poker card="8h"][poker card="7c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="4s"][poker card="6h"] runout, he had to settle for a chop. A few hands later, Timoshenko finally did double his short stack, as his [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"] flopped a straight against Yaraliyev’s [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"] on a board of [poker card="ac"][poker card="kd"][poker card="qs"]. Unfortunately for Timoshenko, the high blinds and antes didn’t allow him to get much traction after that double, as he was eliminated in the next level by Leong. That’s where the New Yorker’s run towards this WPT WPO Championship title started, as he dispatched the former World Champion while holding [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"]. Timoshenko re-shoved over Leong’s early position open for just over 10 big blinds and his [poker card="4h"][poker card="4s"] couldn’t improve, confirming his fifth place elimination. The only other "world champ" at the final table was next to go, as reigning WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen then found himself as the short stack. He got a handful of shoves through but eventually, he was all-in and at risk to Yaraliyev, who still controlled a sizable chip lead at that stage of the tournament. Yaraliyev held [poker card="as"][poker card="ts"] to McKeehen’s [poker card="kd"][poker card="qh"], with the bracelet winner moving all-in for 3,100,000 after Yaraliyev opened in early position. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="kc"][poker card="js"][poker card="9d"][poker card="7s"] runout completed the elimination and McKeehen bowed out right before the podium spots in 4th place. In the very next hand off the deck, Liam He, another short stack, was all-in and after some thought, Leong called to put him at risk from the small blind. In his encounter with Timoshenko, Leong needed to hold to score the knockout but this time, he needed to hit, as he held [poker card="5h"][poker card="5c"] to He’s [poker card="7h"][poker card="7c"]. He did just that, as the [poker card="9d"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3s"] flop gave him a set and left He drawing to running cards or the final two sevens in the deck to stay alive. Neither came, as the [poker card="2s"] and [poker card="kd"] completed the board and moved Leong into heads up play with a 3:2 disadvantage. That disadvantage quickly disappeared, as Leong won a 20,000,000 chip pot in one of the first hands of heads up play, four-betting pre flop and calling two big bets on a board of [poker card="ac"][poker card="8d"][poker card="2s"][poker card="4h"][poker card="9c"] with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"]. Top pair-top kicker was good to swing that 3:2 ratio in his advantage and from there, it looked like the title was only going to be a few hands away. That was, until Leong and Yaraliyev exchanged multiple double ups, shifting the chip lead back and forth close to a half dozen times before Leong scored the title winning elimination. With the level set to go up in just a few seconds, Leong moved all-in from the button and Rafael Yaraliyev snap called in the big blind, tabling [poker card="qh"][poker card="qc"]. Leong threw over [poker card="ac"][poker card="8s"] and he was looking for a bit of revenge with his medium ace, as Yaraliyev doubled through Leong in the previous level [poker card="ad"][poker card="7h"] over [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"]. This time, it was Leong’s turn to spike the ace though and he did, as the [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="jd"][poker card="5c"] runout confirmed the elimination and crowned the newest member of the WPT Champions Club. Final Table Payouts Chris Leong - $816,246 Rafael Yaraliyev - $487,288 Liam He - $297,288 Joe McKeehen - $249,267 Yevgeniy Timoshenko - $206,160 Matthew Wantman - $166,803
  22. [caption width="640"] Mike Shariati has gone from low-stakes grinder to WPT Player of the Year. (Joe Giron/WPT photo)[/caption] This time last year, Mike Shariati was just another poker player dreaming of a big break while grinding away in the low-stakes dailies at the Commerce or the Bike or Hawaiian Gardens in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, as the World Poker Tour season was winding down, 42-year-old Shariati locked up WPT Player of the Year honors after the last player with a shot at catching him, Cate Hall, busted the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in ninth place. Along with having his name run alongside previous winners like JC Tran, Betrand Grospellier and Daniel Negreanu, Shariati also gets a prize package that includes a one-of-a-kind Hublot watch, hotel accommodation and ground transportation for all WPT main tour stops and a trophy. Shariati’s amazing run from low-stakes grinder to POY started with a win in the $130 buy-in Mega Millions at the Bicycle Casino worth a whopping $275,000. "Last year, the Mega Millions at the Bike, it was over 4,500 players. It took a whole ten days and I made the final table,” said Shariati. “I was down 6-1 heads-up, I came back and won it and that gave me good confidence." It wasn't a WPT event, but it gave Shariati with a bankroll and the belief that he could play. From there, he won a WSOP Main Event satellite and headed to Las Vegas. He didn’t cash, but in true grinder fashion, he found himself in a Daily Deepstack at the Rio that he found a small score in. That would be the last of his small scores for a while. In August, Shariati played a satellite at the Bike for the WPT Legends of Poker and won his way into the $3,700 buy-in event. His run good continued as he outlasted 785 other players and beat Freddy Deeb heads-up to win the event and $675,942 first place prize money. Rather than jump onto a plane and start playing more big buy-in events around the country, Shariati went right back to playing the dailies. His next cash came in a $130 buy-in event and earned him $250. He cashed six more times over the next four months leading up to the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, but Shariati wasn’t ready to put up that $10,000 buy-in himself. “The same day (LAPC) started, they had this satellite, the last satellite. The (LAPC Main Event) started at 12 o’clock and the satellite started at 5 o’clock. So I played the last satellite,” said Shariati. “So at 12:30 that night I got qualified. I entered the LAPC on Day 2 with 30,000 - lower than average - and I got down to two chips - a 1,000 and a 5,000 - at the end of the second day and came back and finished second.” That runner-up finish earned him $656,540 and put him into the lead for WPT POY. There were still a few events left on the schedule and although his lead was anything but safe, Shariati held off all comers thanks to a 21st place finish in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown to wrap up the POY award on the second-to-last day of the WPT season. “A few people were on my heels for the Player of the Year, so I was fortunate enough to finish up as Player of the Year,” said Shariati, who didn’t call himself a professional poker player until recently. “I’m a biochemist. I also invented a medical device that I’m putting a lot of time into, to patent it. So probably 6-7 months into it. So hopefully that works out, that would be great,” said Shariati. “I’m getting my partner more involved so I can travel more (to play).” Shariati wants to take his shot as a poker pro now and still find time to run his business. He knows that finding a repeat of this season is a near impossibility, but he just wants to enjoy the ride. “I don’t think I can ever have the same year, but I’m grateful,” said Shariati.
  23. [caption width="640"] If your name is on the WPT Champions Cup, you can play in the WPT Tournament of Champions.[/caption] To the surprise of many, the World Poker Tour announced last November that it would be scrapping its annual season-ending WPT Championship in favor of an invite-only Tournament of Champions event. With the event a little over a month away, the WPT has released some more details on the exclusive event, including the introduction of a shot clock and nearly $200,000 in cash and prizes. The $15,000 buy-in tournament kicks off April 22 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and is only open to WPT Champions Club members - previous WPT winners. The 21 champions from this season won their TOC buy-in as part of their original payout. Winners from previous seasons will have to pay their own entry fee. "It is our goal to elevate the WPT Tournament of Champions, creating an extraordinary season-ending event to celebrate the members of the WPT Champions Club and the rich legacy of the World Poker Tour," said WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska. "With a significant overlay of cash and prizes the WPT has immediately increased the value of being a WPT Champions Club member, and we will crown two more winners prior to the WPT Tournament of Champions during the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown festival." In addition to banking the largest slice of the prize pool, the winner of the inaugural Tournament of Champions takes home a selection of prizes including a pair of gold Monster 24K headphones, a custom premium poker table, an Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard and a timepiece crafted by luxury watchmaker Hublot. Furthermore, the first place finisher wins a seat at golf legend Tiger Woods’ exclusive Poker Night tournament, and a round of golf at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas with WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. The WPT has also decided to introduce a shot clock at the TOC. Players will have 30 seconds to act and receive five 30-second time extensions which can be used before the final table. At the final table, clocks will be reset, and players will receive an additional four, 30-second extensions. "I have always believed that being a member of the WPT Champions Club is an incredible honor," said Savage. "The World Poker Tour has added a lot of cash and great prizes to the rake-free WPT Tournament of Champions, and there is even more to come. I have to admit that I am extremely jealous not to be an eligible member of the WPT Champions Club." Champions Club members will have one opportunity to satellite their way into the big event in a $1,550 buy-in Super Satellite at noon on April 21.
  24. [caption width="640"] Vlad Darie now has his name on the WPT Champions cup after emerging victorious in Vienna.[/caption] When the final table of the World Poker Tour Vienna stop got underway on Sunday evening, all eyes were on Dietrich Fast. The German poker pro was second in chips behind Zoltan Gal and looking for his second WPT title in a little over two weeks after taking down the L.A. Poker Classic. Fast’s run at that second title was cut short, though, as Vlad Darie went on to win WPT Vienna for his first WPT title and $192,496 after beating Gal in a nearly four-hour-long heads-up battle. The first elimination didn’t come for nearly 90 minutes. Darie opened for 60,000 from the button and Georgios Zisimopoulos moved all in from the small blind for 427,000. Darie called and showed [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"], while Zisimopoulos tabled [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"]. The board ran out [poker card="as"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5s"][poker card="qs"][poker card="qh"] to eliminate Zisimopoulos in sixth place. On the very hext hand, Dominik Bosnjak called from UTG before Fast raised to 70,000 from the cutoff. The blinds both folded and Bosnjak moved all in for 354,000. Fast called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] and was racing against the [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] of Bosnjak. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8d"] flop put Fast in front and neither the [poker card="jd"] turn nor [poker card="5d"] river was able to save Bosnjak from a fifth place finish. Despite starting the day second in chips, Fast was unable to maintain the momentum, even after sending Bosnjak packing. With blinds at 20,000/40,000, Gal raised to 100,000 and Fast moved all in for 910,000. Gal called with [poker card="as"][poker card="kh"] and Fast tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Fast a nut-flush draw, but the [poker card="js"] turn and [poker card="6h"] river failed to complete his hand and he was out in fourth place. Left with just over four big blinds, Matt Davenport raised all in to 175,000 from the button and both Darie and Gal defended their blinds. The board ran out [poker card="qs"][poker card="8d"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6h"] and Davenport showed [poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"], Gal showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="9d"] for ace-high, but Darie flipped up [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"] for a rivered straight to win the pot and eliminate Davenport. Even with Davenport’s chips now in his stack, Darie started heads-up play down 2-1 to Gal and quickly found himself in an even bigger hole, down nearly 3-1 after just five hands of play. The sixth hand, however, saw both players make a pair on a [poker card="th"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5h"] flop. Gal made two pair when the [poker card="3s"] fell on the turn and all the chips went in. Darie, who held [poker card="7s"][poker card="6h"], made a better two pair when the [poker card="6s"] hit the river and doubled into the chip lead. Even though the two players played another two-and-a-half hours, Gal never regained the lead. On the final hand of the tournament with blinds at 75,000/150,000, Darie moved all in from the button and Gal called. Gal was ahead with [poker card="ah"][poker card="2h"] against Darie’s [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"]. The [poker card="9s"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"] flop changed everything, though, with Darie pairing his six. The [poker card="8h"] turn and [poker card="2c"] river did nothing for Gal and Darie eliminated him in second place to claim the title. The €3,300 buy-in event had 234 entrants for a €702,000 prizepool. The WPT now heads back to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida for three events including the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and the WPT Tournament of Champions. Final Table Payouts Vlad Darie - $192,496 Zoltan Gal - $123,554 Matthew Davenport - $80,004 Dietrich Fast - $59,269 Dominik Bosnjak - $44,477 Georgios Zisimopoulos - $35,595
  25. [caption width="640"] The WPT Champions Challenge pits some of poker's biggest stars up against each other[/caption] Sure, everybody at your workplace is focused on just how awesome their NCAA March Madness bracket is. Paul from accounting is convinced that the six-seed he’s got going to the Elite Eight is his key to victory. You’ve got a bracket too – everybody does – but thanks to the World Poker Tour you’re also looking at another bracket. That’s what the WPT is hoping for anyway with their launch of the WPT Champions Challenge, a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other. The contest is interactive, with each match-up decided by a fan vote. The 64-player field was determined using WPT titles, final table and earnings as criteria. Given that, it should be no surprise to see four players who have taken turns dominating the WPT over the years as the top seeds in each “region“: Clubs bracket: Daniel Negreanu Diamonds bracket: Anthony Zinno Heart bracket: Carlos Mortensen Spades bracket: Gus Hansen Just like the NCAA bracket, the WPT Champions Challenge goes from 64 down to 32, down to 16, down to eight, down to four and then down to two before a winner is determined. Voting opened on WPT.com on Friday and continues until a winner is announced on Monday, April 11. The WPT Champions Challenge Schedule Round of 64: March 11 - 16 Round of 32: March 16 -21 Sweet 16: March 21 - 25 Elite 8: March 25 - March 29 Final Four: March 29 - April 1 The Championship: April 1 - 8 The winner will be announced on April 11. Check out the complete WPT Champions Challenge bracket. FIRST ROUND MATCH UPS TO WATCH Spades Region #7 Howard Lederer vs #10 Tony Dunst It’s hard to argue that Howard Lederer wasn’t one of the most successful players on the World Poker Tour in the early days. He won two events in the inaugural season and has cashed a total of seven times. Meanwhile Tony Dunst represents the online player generation that was most victimized by Lederer’s mismanagement of Full Tilt Poker and could easily pull the upset here with the support of his fellow former online grinders. Hearts Region #8 Erik Seidel vs. #9 Shawn Buchanan Each year one of the more intriguing first round matchups of March Madness pits the #8 seed vs. the #9 seed. That’s certainly carrying over to the WPT Champions Challenge as Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel is up against Shawn Buchanan. Seidel has 22 WPT cashes, seven WPT final tables and won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6. Buchanan is no slouch either. The Canadian poker pro goes 16-4-1 in WPT events with his win coming at a stacked Mandalay Bay Poker Championship in Season 6. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #15 Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier Each player in the field was chosen based on their success at World Poker Tour events. JC Tran has multiple WPT titles to his credit while Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier has just one, but both players have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success outside of the WPT and that may sway some voters based on their loyalties. Tran has over $12 million in lifetime earnings with just under $4 million coming at WPT stops. Grospellier has nearly $11 million in lifetime earnings with $2.2 million coming via the World Poker Tour. Clubs Region #5 Chino Rheem vs #12 Keven Stammen If the Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan matches of the 1990s left you disappointed, maybe seeing one WPT World Champion up against another WPT World Champion can satisfy your appetite. That’s what we have in the Clubs region as Season 11 champ Chino Rheem takes on Season 12 champ Keven Stammen. Rheem, who also won the Five Diamond Classic in Season 7, is the higher seed but Stammen has 15 cashes to Rheem’s four, three final tables to Rheem’s two. If you’re looking for a more traditional NCAA bracket to fill out, check out PocketFives' free-to-enter March Madness contest with $500 in prizes from FanDuel.
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