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It has been a busy week of poker news, but one item we didn't want to overlook was Tom Marchese (pictured) winning back-to-back Aria High Roller Events. On January 30, he took down the first of two High Rollers, which have $25,000 buy-ins. He defeated former WSOP November Niner Ben BenbaLamb in that one to bank $383,000 after a heads-up chop; the final table also included the likes of Antonio Esfandiariand Jason treysfull21 Mercier. His first Aria High Roller win was in a tournament that had 41 entrants and a prize pool that passed $1 million. The second Aria High Roller, which took place one night later, featured Marchese chopping with Byron Kaverman, who made the final table the previous day as well, and Tony Gregg. This time, Marchese reeled in $298,000, the largest payday awarded. The tournament on January 31 had a field of 42. As PokerNews detailed, "Marchese moved to just under $9,800,000 in career live tournament earnings, and he's gotten himself off to a blistering start to 2015 after finishing up his best year ever from live events in 2014. Last year, Marchese won $4,472,478 and could challenge that if his early pace keeps going." Marchese is #21 on the all-time money list for the United States, according to the Hendon Mob, and is #2 from his home state of New Jersey. He is quickly closing in on $10 million in career live poker scores, as PokerNews pointed out, and was #6 on the money list for 2014. He won last year's WPT Alpha8 during the Five Diamond event in Las Vegas for $1.5 million and finished second in a Super High Roller in mid-2014 for $1.4 million. He has four career seven-figure live scores. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
According to reports from Todd Witteles and Allen Kessler on Two Plus Two and Poker Fraud Alert, there has been a major shakeup at the Aria Poker Room in Las Vegas, allegedly due to theft. Witteles sourced a person who claimed "a bunch of Aria tournament people" were let go for theft: "The rumor is that when they paid people for cashing in tournaments, they did it in a room with no witnesses. Tokes were never recorded and they pocketed or skimmed from the cash tips." Witteles added that another source claimed an Aria's "poker tournament director" was let go "under suspicion of theft," saying, "The investigation turn into a rat-fest, with people trying to save their own skin or take someone down with them." Witteles added that no arrests were made and an investigation is still ongoing. He explained, "The 'General Manager' of the poker room [Leon Wheeler] resigned. However, apparently this was over a completely different matter and was unrelated to the thefts. This general manager was said to not have been involved with the thefts and the timing of his resignation seems to have been an unfortunate coincidence." Witteles then reiterated that Wheeler was reportedly not involved in any theft. Comps have also been part of the investigation. As a post on Poker Fraud Alert outlined, "There are suddenly new safeguards for comp issuance such that a player now must present an ID and player's card for every transaction and only the shift supervisor may issue it." Kessler posted on Two Plus Two, "Trying to get more details. What a shame. Best run room in Vegas." Another poster shared what details he knew of the investigation: "Whoever was doing the investigating seems to have taken a scorched earth approach, running off a massive portion of supervisor-level staff and their underlings." Aria is fresh off hosting the WPT500, which featured numerous starting days an affordable $565 buy-in. Craig imgrinding Varnell won the tournament after a five-way chop and over 5,100 entries were recorded. Needless to say, Aria's poker room was hopping throughout the tournament series. One source told Witteles, however, "Many of the dealers from the WPT500 have not received their envelopes for almost a month." Aria is also home to the high-stakes Ivey Room. Fourteen-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth serves as one of its brand ambassadors. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
The World Poker Tour and Aria Casino team together for a third annual WPT500 – an event that’s quickly found favor with players looking for a break from the grind of 2016 WSOP. The $565 buy-in event, complete with a $1 million guarantee, kicks off Monday with the first of nine starting flights. The innovative structure was tweaked a bit this year – the top 11% of each field makes the money and only the top 5% bag up chips and advance to Day 2. Players are allowed multiple entries but players can only move their best stack forward. Players from 8-11% cash for $950, 5%-8% earn $1,200 and the min-cash for all Day 2 survivors is $1,500. The first year featured a $1 million guarantee that it crushed by more than 50% with 3,599 entrants. Organizers bumped the guarantee up to $2 million in 2015 and crushed it again with a $2.55 million prize pool. Players start with a 15,000 stack with late registration open until Level 9 on the traditional Day 1s. There are two Last Chance Turbo events on July 4 where players have until Level 7 to enter. The format was changed in 2015 to allow for a final table on Day 3 – the first year had a Day 2 that didn’t finish until 8 AM. Craig Varnell took down the 2015 event as part of a five-way deal with Lucio Antunes, Alexander Lakhov, Nick Binger and Chad Roudebush. Varnell’s win kicked off a yearlong hot streak where he’s had seven cashes of $15,000 or more. He cashed in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, won an IPT Malta Six Max event for $85,259 and final tabled a $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event in 2016 for $58,569. The inaugural event's final table had Scott Clements and Christian Harder but it was two relatively unknown players, Sean Yu and Kareem Marshall, who battled until sunrise before Yu took down the event. Amazingly, both players qualified from the Last Chance Turbo and spent 24 hours straight in the tournament where they won $260,000 and $180,000 respectively. Yu’s career took a big upswing after his win; a few months later he won the WSOP Circuit Rincon Main Event for $101,881 and the LA Poker Open at the Commerce for $124,590. He also finished runner-up in a LAPC Doublestack Turbo event for $52,020. The event offers a lower buy-in during a stretch of the WSOP schedule that includes two $5,000 events, two $10,000 events and the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. The Aria offers a special poker room rate during the event for $99 + $32 resort fee per night. WPT500 Schedule Day 1A – Monday, June 27 Day 1B – Tuesday, June 28 Day 1C – Wednesday, June 29 Day 1D – Thursday, June 30 Day 1E – Friday, July 1 Day 1F – Saturday, July 2 Day 1G – Sunday, July 3 Day 1H/1I – Monday, July 4 Day 2 – Tuesday, July 5 Day 3 – Wednesday, July 6
In the first moments after winning the $565 Casino Employees event at the 2019 World Series of Poker, 39-year-old Nicholas Haynes had a lot of things going through his mind. About 2.5 years ago, Haynes' dog passed away after a bout of cancer, so he brought his ID tag to the final table hoping it would bring him some good luck. So he was thinking about him. He was also thinking about the players he'd just beaten and some of the things he'd experienced during his playing days. Most notably though, Haynes was thinking about his job as a poker dealer in the ARIA Resort & Casino poker room. He had no intention of quitting after picking up $62,000 along with the bracelet, he was more focused on the pride he felt in helping ARIA accomplish something pretty special. "One of the things that really jumped out at me is the fact that an ARIA dealer has won two years in a row. The other dealer, they had a really long heads-up battle - I believe it was four hours - and ours was so short," Haynes said of Jordan Hufty's 2018 victory. "It's just amazing that where I work, ARIA dealers, we were able to take it down two years in a row. That's awesome." Haynes has been dealing at ARIA for a little over a year and a half after moving to Las Vegas from Michigan. He credits his time in the box at ARIA as having an impact on his abilities as a player. "There's a lot of incredible players there and I watch them and just pick up little bits here and there and over time you just become better, you sharpen your edges," said Haynes. "I feel like they were very instrumental in my play today and that's why I'm thankful for my job and the players there." Sean McCormack, Director of Poker Operations for ARIA, was beaming with pride after seeing another one of his charges see a lifelong dream of winning a WSOP bracelet come to fruition. "Nick's fantastic. He loves the game and obviously, a lot of these guys go over to play the Casino Employees event," McCormack said. "Anytime my guys ask 'Hey, can I get the day off to play the Employees event? We're like 'Yes!' This is a dream to win a World Series bracelet, spin it up into something. It's a dream of all of us." The ARIA hosts everything from low buy-in daily tournaments and cash games to high roller events and high stakes cash games and Haynes deals all of them. McCormack has seen the passion Haynes has for the game, not just dealing or playing, but in learning and improving every day. "Nick actually gets to deal in the (PokerGO) studio quite often, so he gets to deal to those players," McCormack said. "I've heard him say, 'I think I've picked up a couple of things.' So it's really cool to see him not only learn while he's dealing but be able to apply and go win something that we've all dreamed of doing." Haynes, who was supposed to deal WSOP events as well as his normal shifts at ARIA, has decided to forego dealing at the WSOP after winning a little more than $60,000. He has no intentions of quitting his job at ARIA though. "I would never call myself any kind of pro or anything like that. I play a lot in spurts. I travelled for a year and a half playing in major tournaments, but it turned out okay, nothing great. I've had a couple of cashes throughout the years, but nothing monstrous like this. This is the biggest cash for sure," Haynes said. Even with the bracelet and a little bit of notoriety that comes with winning one, Haynes doesn't expect anything to change when he gets back to work this week. Not even a little raise. "He might actually give me less. I don't know," Haynes joked about how McCormack might react when they see each other next. "I'm sure he'll shake my hand and we'll have a moment and talk but it will be work like usual."