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Found 130 results

  1. [caption width="640"] Paul Volpe has accomplished plenty in his poker career but the PPC title would be the highest point for the mixed game specialist.[/caption] The $50,000 Poker Players Championship final table never fails to be a collection of the game’s premiere talent. This year is no different with Daniel Negreanu, Isaac Haxton, and Elior Sion among the six remaining heading into Thurdsday's restart. The short stack among them and one of the top all-around players in the world is former PocketFives #1 Paul ‘paulgees81’ Volpe. For the last few years, Volpe has been one of the top performers at the World Series of Poker and has a chance to win his third bracelet in the PPC. This summer has been a change of pace, though, as Volpe has played fewer events overall and fewer at the Rio than in previous years. Although he’s taken a step back, Volpe came into the PPC ready to battle in one of his favorite events of the year. “If there was no money involved, I’d want to win this tournament over any tournament ever. All the real poker players come out and play this one, who play all the big games. This is a huge one for me. I love the idea of being able to play all eight games,” said Volpe. Last year, Volpe cashed for the first time in the PPC but came up shy of the final table, finishing 11th. Earlier in the summer, Volpe tweeted that he was not enjoying the grind as much as he had in prior years. A few weeks later, Volpe stands by the tweet and admits that he can be a “moody person” which has in part, led to him playing less. “It just feels likes in year’s past it’s been exciting to play and for whatever reason this year, I just haven’t been totally feeling it. It’s been tough. This has been a massive grind and when I get home at night, I can’t think and feel burnt out.” Prior to the start of the summer, Volpe backed out of a prospective bracelet bet he made with Mike Gorodinsky due, in part, to not wanting to feel any pressure of having to play a full schedule of events. At certain points over the course of this summer, Volpe could be found playing four-figure limit mixed game cash one day and then a $1,500 No Limit event the next. He may not enjoy playing every day as much as he once did, but Volpe has still put together a list of quality results by most metrics. Among his finishes, this summer is a third place finish in The Venetian $10,000 High Roller and a top-10 cash in the WSOP $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Single Draw event. No one would argue against Volpe’s tournament resume and the success he’s had but the signature win of his career still eludes him. Volpe’s three WPT final tables, two WSOP bracelets, and two top-30 finishes in the Main Event speak for themselves and he sees the PPC final table as the opportunity for his career to be fully validated. “Winning this tournament, I was thinking about this yesterday, it would make me feel accomplished, like I succeeded in poker; this tournament alone. It’s for $1.4 million, I’ve never had a million dollar score. Even though I’ve already have had a lot of success and made a great living for myself, this would be it.” Volpe starts the PPC final table with half the chips of the second shortest stack, Ivo Donev, but has years of experience on his side as he takes on the latest challenge of his career. His uncertain future career path aside, tomorrow marks the chance for Volpe to etch his name on the WSOP’s most prestigious trophy and allow him to have more freedom than ever before.
  2. [caption width="640"] Maria Ho is now front and center in the eSports world after signing on with Amazon as part of their coverage of the booming industry.[/caption] With more than $2 million in live earnings, multiple World Series Of Poker final tables, online poker titles, and a bustling broadcasting career, Maria Ho has been very busy throughout her time in the poker spotlight. But now, having agreed to a new partnership with Amazon that will see her present the online retail giant’s Mobile Masters eSports events, she’ll be branching out in front of a whole new audience. “When I was contacted by Amazon with this opportunity for their mobile eSports brand and the events they had planned throughout the year, it seemed like a no-brainer,” Ho says. “Obviously they’re an amazing brand to be a part of, but it also ties in with everything that I’ve done in the past 10 years in poker.” Ho’s hosting duties with Amazon put her front and center during a series of invitational tournaments comprised of top players and streamers competing across Com2uS' Summoners War, Blizzard's Hearthstone and Super Evil Megacorp's Vainglory. Players battle for a share of the $65K prize pool, with $25K going to the winner of the Summoners War and Vainglory events, and $15K set aside for the Hearthstone champ. “I know what it’s like to compete on these big stages, and now eSports have become this big stage, and there’s a lot of money they’re playing for. So I like taking some of the similarities between my experience with poker, to start bridging the gap for people in the eSports world.” Ho acts as on-screen host, interviewing players before and after matches. The first event in New Jersey (June 23-24) was a big success, and the next event takes place in Los Angeles in August. “It was great,” she says. “I’m a bit of a recreational gamer; growing up I was always into video games. Obviously a lot of people watching are hardcore gamers, but there are also plenty of people watching who might not know the games too well, but they can understand the competition aspect of it, and I think that’s what I’m there for. “Amazon has just given me a really good opportunity to be a part of that and the eSports world is definitely something that I’d like to get more into.” Ho has already had plenty of experience in front of the cameras, having done strategic commentary and hosting duties for shows like Heartland Poker Tour and PokerGo’s Super High Roller Bowl. But when it comes to time away from the poker tables, Ho thinks it’ll be learning the eSports games that will prove to be her biggest poker distraction. “That’s the funny thing; it’s not going to be hard balancing hosting with poker, but more that I want to become more knowledgable and immerse myself in the eSports world, and I think that will mean more time away from poker. But I’m actually looking forward to doing that because I’m really interested in these games. I’ll never be as good as the people that started playing these games with similar hours to those I put into poker, but I want to get more of a feel for what it’s like for these gamers so I can relate and connect to them more.” Ho is currently in Las Vegas grinding the WSOP. She has six cashes to her name so far, including a deep run in the Marathon event. But for a player like Ho, who can play all the games and thus has fired in a large number of events, that still equates to being down on the summer. “Unfortunately a lot of my favorite events have already passed,” she says. “Like, the $10K Dealer’s Choiceis definitely one of my favorite events outside of the Main Event. I haven’t been able to much [of the mixed-games] this year because I keep getting deep in the No Limit Hold’em events.” The biggest No Limit Hold’em event of them all is of course the Main Event, and it’s an event that Ho has proved rather astute in. After finishing 38th back in 2007 for $237K, she has since placed 322nd (2012), 77th (2014), and 242nd (2016). What is it about this event that suits her game so well? “I think it’s a combination of being more comfortable playing a deeper slower structure, and also knowing how to navigate big fields,” she says. “Obviously, there’s a high number of recreational players in events like the Main and the Marathon, because they really want to get their value. And I think I have a very good strategy against recreational players who aren’t very comfortable playing with a deep stack structure.” And finally, with so much going on, will Ho have time for some online poker throughout the rest of 2017? “I don’t play online as much as I used to,” she says. “I relocated to Vancouver back after Black Friday, but I recently moved back to LA, so that’s my home-base now. I will travel to Vancouver or to Mexico for an online poker series though. “When the WSOP is over I have a pretty full schedule. After the LA Mobile Masters event I’ll be at Winstar, which is a casino I’m a spokesperson for, and they have a great tournament series every September called The River. From there I have a new poker show which I’ll be doing strategic commentary for, but that hasn’t been announced yet. So I’ll be filming those, and then with my partnership with Amazon we’ll actually be filming some of the eSports competitions for a TV show. “So the rest of my year is more heavily leant on the broadcasting side of things, but that’s also why I’m really enjoying my time here in Vegas because this is probably going to be the only time I have where I can just focus on poker.”
  3. Five years ago, Greg Merson won two World Series of Poker Bracelets, $9.75 million and WSOP Player of the Year, but the things that happened to him off the felt just before and after that summer have had a bigger impact on his life. As people go through life, they mentally circle important dates on the calendar in permanent ink. Memories pile up as each calendar page turns, but celebrating or remembering the important ones is only half of the process. Adding new dates as you reach new milestones makes up the other half and over the last five and half years, Greg Merson has built up an impressive collection. Five years ago, Greg Merson was one of thousands of online poker players who made their living – and built their reputation – sitting in front of a computer screen. The 2012 World Series of Poker changed all of that for Merson, but not before a far more important milestone began his path to poker stardom and ultimately saved his life. December 10, 2011 It was early December 2011, and a lot of poker players were in Las Vegas for the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. Merson was sharing a room at Aria with two of his better friends, Tony Gregg and Christian Harder. Merson was in the room alone when his two friends returned to find him sitting upright in the bed, unconscious. “I really don’t remember that much. Last thing I really remember is eating goldfish (crackers),” said Merson. “I just remember being scared and then immediately being like, ‘Alright, he’s alive’, and then telling him, ‘Greg, you can’t do this bro’ and then just him having a breakdown,” said Harder, who realized his friend and fellow Maryland poker pro had come ridiculously close to dying of an overdose in that hotel room. “I just completely nodded out, which is somewhat close to overdosing, where you just kind of fade out, and if your heart stops beating, then you’re going to die,” said Merson. “I don’t remember nodding out, but I just remember them telling me that I was positioned like that, like I was dead. So that was a big wake up call for me.” As Harder remembers that day, Merson got himself together, grabbed his phone and headed for the hallway where he called his mom, in tears. He had just turned 24 years old, but Merson was smart enough to recognize he needed to get his life together in a hurry. He took the unusual step of locking himself in his hotel room for three days to get the drugs out of his system and start over. It worked, but it certainly wasn’t easy. “I remember the depression being by far the worst, like ten times worst than anything I had ever experienced, and how sick I was,” said Merson. “But for all that, I can only imagine what it would have been like if I continued to use for a long time.” A little less than a month ago, on June 10, Merson quietly celebrated 5.5 years of sobriety. His life is very different now than that day where he woke up in a hotel room with uneaten Goldfish crackers all over his shirt. Not long after detoxing himself in his hotel room, Merson made the decision to move to Toronto to get back to doing the thing he loved more than anything. “He got clean, he went through some stuff and he was like, ‘alright, I’m going to bury my head and play online constantly’,” said Harder. “So he went to Canada, it was post-Black Friday and he just played online a million hours a day.” It wasn’t the only thing he did though. While in Toronto, Merson took up yoga and began attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. When he wasn’t doing that, he was playing upwards of 24 tables of No Limit cash games with stakes as high as $5/$10. Through all of that, Merson never forgot one very important fact that he was going to have deal with the rest of his life. “You have to stay focused on the fact that you are an addict and you are not going to ever be cured of this. So you just have to constantly remind yourself that one bad decision could mean falling back into some bad habits,” said Merson. It might be over 5.5 years ago now that two of his closest friends walked in on him and probably saved his life, but Merson still looks back once in a while at the way he was before he got clean. “I think about it sometimes. I don’t dwell on the past, but I am also not embarrassed about my past, because similar to poker, you just need to keep moving on,” said Merson. “I don’t really regret anything that happened. I’m not super spiritual or think that everything happens for a reason, but for me, it ended up working out so I could not really change anything if I wanted to.” July 6, 2012 As the 2012 was drawing closer to the Main Event, Merson had a cashed a couple of times, including bubbling a final table, when the event Merson describes as his personal “Super Bowl”, the $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold'em Championship began. After three days of play, Merson had just one opponent standing in between himself and a WSOP bracelet; Keith Lehr. Merson woke up on July 6, knowing he had to be at the Rio for 1 PM. Only 11 hours earlier, Merson had bagged up a 2-1 chip lead over Lehr. The event was scheduled to end that night, but tournament staff wouldn’t allow the pair to finish it out. Merson and Lehr played exactly one hand on the extra day, with Merson beating Lehr to win the first bracelet of his career and $1,136,197. The previous six months had been a long journey, but seeing the fruits of his labor was more than enough for Merson to break down in tears during his post-win interview. It was just his fifth career WSOP cash and third that year. Harder didn’t even know how many WSOP events Merson, who prefers to play high stakes cash games, had planned to play that summer, but definitely saw a much-improved version of his friend before the WSOP began. “I just knew that he was in a better place and was playing everyday. That’s the best thing for him, if you ask him, just getting in a groove of playing all the time. That’s when he’s playing his best,” said Harder. “Then the World Series came around. I didn’t know he was going to play any tournaments because Greg barely played any tournaments.” Merson wasn’t done there though. Ten days later he made his way through the Main Event field to make the final table. Thanks to the U.S. Presidential Election, the November Nine was moved up a week and became the October Nine, but Merson still had a 3.5-month break before the final table began, so he did what any online grinder would have done; he went back to Toronto and went to work. After two months of that life though, Merson headed back to his hometown of Laurel, Maryland. The drive should have taken just about nine hours, but Merson had a planned stop to see a friend that he’d known since he was in high school, Julie Sosenko. Greg and Julie had met at the beach years earlier and stayed in touch via Facebook and email. They hadn’t seen each other since 2005, but Julie’s hometown was the halfway point of the trip, so Greg messaged her on Facebook to see if she’d want to grab dinner as he drove through town. Even though they’d been friends on Facebook for a while, Julie didn’t really know much about what Greg was up to. She knew he was into poker, but not much beyond that. And she knew nothing of his addiction issues. The pair had first met before Merson was doing drugs and this reconnection was coming almost a full year after he’d cleaned up. “At dinner I was kind of waiting for her to bring up either one, and it was not happening and then I brought up the poker thing without trying to sound like I was bragging,” said Merson. “She was like, ‘Yeah, I saw some stuff on Facebook, but I didn’t know what that meant’.” The poker side of his story was the easy one to tell, the other part came up after dinner when Julie suggested they go to a bar for drinks. Greg told her he didn’t drink and next thing he knew, he was explaining the rest of the story to her. “I didn’t really flag it as anything concerning, mostly because I’ve been around it here and there before,” Julie said. “Of course, there were concerns, it’s scary. Nothing you ever want to think about, but me personally, I don’t know him as that. I hope to never know him as that.” Not long after that reconnection, the pair began dating. It went against what Merson was looking for at the time as he was solely focused on preparing for the Main Event final table and wanted to avoid any possible unnecessary distractions. “I can’t be falling in love and then have the girl break up with me two days before,” said Greg. “But it just kind of happened.” “We kind of both dove in pretty quickly. We were both very hesitant to get into a relationship at all,” said Julie. “We both assumed, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna be friends,’ which is kind of funny because immediately our friends could tell we were inseparable. Something about him made me trust him a lot and I think he felt the same way.” Six weeks later, Merson sat down on stage at the Penn & Teller Theatre to play the WSOP Main Event final table while he and Julie, who was studying to be a physical therapist at the time, were well into a relationship. October 31, 2012 With poker fans around the world watching, Merson plowed through the other eight Main Event final table players to win his second bracelet of the year, $8,531,853 and WSOP Player of the Year. His total earnings for the 2012 WSOP topped $9.75 million. That type of windfall boost to somebody’s net worth can change people at their core. Those closest to Merson don’t see him acting any differently today than he did before he won those two bracelets and the money. ‘I don’t know if he’s that different, honestly. He loves the game. He loves poker more than anyone. People don’t know because they don’t see him out in tournaments, but no one plays more than Greg,” said Harder. “I talk to him almost everyday, he’s just playing on New Jersey sites. He’s content to just grind.” Obviously winning nearly eight figures in a single year affords one a different type of lifestyle, but Merson doesn’t feel like he can sit back and not continue to work hard. “The financial freedom is awesome. I struggle with being afraid of not being able to make money. I have no degree. I have no backup plan. I want to take advantage of my skill set in the industry as much as I can,” said Merson. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing because it makes me work a little too hard sometimes if you ask people close to me.” Now 29 years old, Merson still loves the game as much as he did when he was in his early 20s, playing online after dropping out of college. That passion is something only those closest to him get to see on a regular basis. “He plays a lot, wins at a high rate, at stakes where people would not expect somebody with that much money, that many accomplishments,” said Harder. “That’s the Greg I first met and he was off drugs, then he relapsed and he wasn’t the same Greg. Then before the (2012) Main he was in the zone. It still crazy that until this day, not one sliver has he let up.” September 25, 2017 In just under three months, Merson is heading into surgery to fix both of his hips, a degenerative issue that has caused him a lot of pain the last couple of years – so much so that it’s actually prevented him from playing live for the better part of the last 12 months. “I would have had the surgery earlier, but with the Series … I just wanted to deal with the pain and then get the surgery in the fall,” said Merson. While he delayed the surgery in part to be able to play the WSOP this summer, he didn’t come out to Las Vegas until mid-June. “I literally cannot sit for more than a couple of hours without being in a lot of discomfort. That’s why I haven’t been playing any live poker for the last year,” said Merson. “I’m just going to deal with the pain for the tournaments.” Having both hips operated on at the same time – a rarity for somebody as young as Merson – also presents a challenge that is simply just a fact of life for any former addict. He’s going to come out of surgery and have a lot of pain to deal with and he’s going to be prescribed painkillers. A few years ago, he had his Achilles operated on and went through that recovery process without any prescription medicine. “I just have no idea what kind of pain I’m going to be in, and my Achilles was fucking awful for two days of not having anything. So, if I need them, I’m not going to hold back from using them,” said Merson. He won’t have easy access to them though. Julie will be the one responsible for giving Greg the drugs and keeping them out of reach when he doesn’t need them. Julie is happy to act as the checks and balances for Greg, but she thinks he’s more than capable of recognizing any potential problems himself. “He tells me, ‘Hey, do you mind taking care of these? Give them to me if I ask for them and we’ll go from there’,” said Julie. “I don’t see it being an issue. If I were concerned, I would address it with him, but I also feel like he would see that.” July 22, 2017 Earlier this year the WSOP announced that the November Nine concept was being retired and that the 2017 WSOP Main Event would play out live on ESPN in late July. Every poker player made note of the new scheduled date of the final table and told friends and to expect to be busy that day. Except Merson. He panicked. July 22 – the day that the 2017 Main Event champion will be crowned – is the same day that Greg and Julie are getting married in Morristown, New Jersey. After dating for just over four years, Greg popped the question and the two picked a date they though wouldn’t conflict with the already-announced dates for Main Event. “It’s not even just me though, it’s half of my groomsmen are going to be in the tournament,” said Merson. The new schedule calls for the final nine players to begin play on July 20 and play down to six. Those six return on July 21 and play down to three. The final three return on July 22 and play down to a winner. The announcement from the WSOP came early one morning in mid-May. Harder jokingly texted Merson, but he’d already seen the news and was reading it to his soon-to-be-wife who wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. She just reassured herself that the chances Greg or any of his friends made it to the final table were slim. “Once I got past the confusion and taking the whole idea in, I was like ‘Wow, that sucks’. From there I thought, ‘You know what? It’s like one in a billion chance that he’ll get to the final table again,” Julie said. “Then people tried to make me feel better. He was like ‘Really? It’s like 1 in 900.’ and I thought ‘Oh, great’.” “It’s not even just me though, it’s half of my groomsmen are going to be in the tournament, and then other close friends,” said Greg. “If one of our super close friends make the final three, she just feels like it takes away from our wedding, since people are going to be watching (the final table) on their phones.” Even with the wedding planned and everything already paid for, Merson is a poker player and can’t help but dream about the possibility of repeating his performance from five years ago. “It’s so unlikely to affect anything and I think it would just be such an awesome thing if I were in the final three, obviously,” said Merson. “Who the fuck cares that I’m punting all of this money we spent on the wedding because it’s just not going to matter.” Julie might not be a poker player, but she understands the odds are actually in her favor. Still, she’s come up with a contingency plan should Greg still be in the tournament on July 22. “The wedding is probably get canceled or put on hold for however long,” said Julie. “I fly to Vegas with my wedding dress and probably sit behind him in my wedding dress until he’s done.”
  4. [caption width="640"] Elior Sion won the ,000 Poker Players Championship to win his first WSOP bracelet Thursday (WSOP photo)[/caption] All eyes were on the final table of the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship on Thursday at the 2017 World Series of Poker. But while the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Isaac Haxton were battling it out in that, two more events played down to the last few tables, including the $25K PLO. Sion Wins Prestigious PPC Title for Almost $1.4 million Outside of the Main Event, it’s arguably the most coveted and prestigious poker tournament of the entire calendar year. The $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship consists of an eight-game rotation, meaning only the most well-rounded players succeed. It was no surprise to see the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Isaac Haxton and Paul ‘paulgees81’ Volpe at the final table then. But unless you follow this event closely each year, you might not be so familiar with Elior ‘Crazy Elior’ Sion. The high stakes online player from the UK final tabled this event last year, finishing in ninth place. Twelve months later, he’s the latest player to have his name etched on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, taking it down for $1,395,676. Volpe was the first to exit, busting to Sion in a 2-7 hand. He was followed by Negreanu, who came into the finale as chip leader but didn’t have much luck. In his final hand (PLO), his pair and flush draw couldn’t survive against Ivo Donev’s overpair and bigger flush draw. Donev was next to fall however, when he got brutally unlucky against Haxton on NLH. He was all in with pocket kings against Haxton’s pocket fives, and a miracle five on the river gave Haxton a set, the knockout, and a big chip lead. Things wouldn’t go so smoothly for Haxton though, and a little while later he was our third place finisher, dropping to Sion in a Stud hand. That left Sion heads up with Johannes Becker, another name you might be familiar with. He had an almost 3:1 chip deficit when heads up began, but managed to put up a long, hard battle, evening the counts and eventually taking a 2:1 chip lead. It all came to an end in an Omaha Hi-Lo hand. Becker had flopped a flush and low draw, while Sion flopped a full house, which would scoop the lot. "It feels amazing," Sion said after the five-hour heads-up match. "It's like a long journey. You take it a step at a time. There were a few blips along the way, but as long as you still have chips, anything can happen. "At the final table, the cards fell my way and I was fortunate enough to win. I got very lucky. In tournaments, anything can happen. You just have to believe, and sometimes, things can fall your way. Just goes to show you." Final table payouts: Elior Sion - $1,395,767 Johannes Becker - $862,649 Isaac Haxton - $595,812 Ivo Donev - $419,337 Daniel Negreanu - $300,852 Paul Volpe - $220,111 Kenny Hallaert Leads Final 23 in $1,500 NLHE It’s been quite a few months for Kenny ‘SpaceyFCB’ Hallaert, having won a Spring Championship of Online Poker title in May, then finishing third in the $5K NLH earlier in the WSOP for $238K. The former November Niner still seeks his first bracelet though, and Hallaert has a good shot in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em, where he holds the overnight chip lead. There are 23 players remaining, among them Chris Klodnicki, Darren Elias, Ben Zamani, Vojtech Ruzicka (320K), and Brian Hastings (201K). This event attracted 1,956 runners, creating a prize pool of $2,640,600 and a first place prize worth $428,423. Action resumes on Friday. Top 10 Chip Counts Kenny Hallaert - 1,779,000 Schuyler Thornton - 1,771,000 Dylan Hortin - 1,571,000 Chris Klodnicki - 1,442,000 Aditya Sushant - 1,313,000 Emile Schiff - 984,000 Darren Elias - 619,000 Thomas Blizniak - 540,000 Tom Braband - 538,000 Ben Zamani - 500,000 Parvizi Leads Once Again in $25K PLO It’s not often the Day 1 chip leader still bags the most at the end of Day 2, but that’s exactly what happened in Event #67: $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller. Iraj Parvizi is once again the overnight chip leader with just 20 players remaining. He bagged up 3.75 million, and joining him tomorrow include other big stacks James Calderaro (3 million) and Dario Sammartino (2.675 million). Also through to the final Day 3 are Dan Smith (980K), Ben Tollerene(910K), recent bracelet winner Tommy Le (830K), Ashton Griffin (600K), and Martin Kozlov (355K). There were 205 entries in this one, and there’s a massive $1,289,074 awaiting the eventual champ. Top 10 Chip Counts Iraj Parvizi - 3,750,000 James Calderaro - 3,000,000 Dario Sammartino - 2,675,000 James Park - 2,045,000 Alexey Rybin - 1,650,000 Aaron Katz - 1,505,000 Rifat Palevic - 1,300,000 Artem Babakhanyan - 1,070,000 Mike Krasienko - 1,045,000 William Kakon - 995,000 Kornuth and Grapenthein Bag Day 1 Chip Leads Two new events got started on Thursday: the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em (Event #68) and the $1,500 Razz (#69). When all was said and done in the former, the 1,349 starting field had been chopped down to 348, and it was Chance Kornuthwho led the survivors with 192,600. He’ll be back tomorrow on the quest for his second bracelet. There’s another very familiar face in the top 10 chip counts too: Charlie ‘Epiphany77’ Carrel finished with fourth biggest stack (159,200). Joining them tomorrow will be Michael Delvecchio III*(153,100),*Matt Salsberg*(111,500),*Igor Kurganov*(101,000),*Dietrich Fast*(98,500),*Joe Serock*(97,300),*Valentin Vornicu*(74,200),*Ben Keeline(73,500),*Dylan Wilkerson*(64,500),*David Pham*(54,900),*Natasha Mercier*(54,000),*Matt Affleck*(52,300),*Norberto Korn*(46,100),*DJ MacKinnon (38,600),*Andy Frankenberger*(33,500),*Jonathan Little*(31,300),*Kevin Eyster*(29,700),*Everett Carlton*(28,500),*Daniel Strelitz*(25,500),*Gordon Vayo*(25,300),*Ray Romano*(22,700),*Marton Czuczor*(22,300),*John Racener*(21,200),*Ralph Perry*(21,000),*Jiachen Gong*(18,000),*Ryan Laplante (14,300), and*Alex Keating*(13,100). There’s $645,922 for the winner. Top 10 Chip Counts Chance Kornuth - 192,600 Anton Bertillson - 179,000 Alan Schein - 177,800 Charlie Carrel - 159,200 Michael Delvecchio IIi - 153,100 Antonio Storno - 152,400 Tommy Chen - 147,000 Sergi Reixach - 144,400 Simon Appleby - 143,900 Georgios Zisimopoulos - 140,900 Meanwhile in the $1,500 Razz, 419 became 138 at the end of Day 1. Bracelet winner Matt Grapenthein bagged the chip lead, but there are a bunch more bracelets in the top 10 counts. Three-time bracelet winner Benny Glaserbagged up the sixth biggest stack, while 14-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth bagged the ninth biggest. It wasn’t such a good day forDaniel Negreanu, who hopped in this one having busted the $50K PPC in fifth place. He was eliminated in two levels, and was ultimately joined on the rail by the likes of Jameson Painter,*Jon Turner,*Frank Kassela,*Victor Ramdin,*Randy Ohel,*Max Pescatori,*David Bach,*Jeff Lisandro,*Greg Raymer, and*Calvin ‘cal42688’ Anderson. The winner will receive $132,957, with action resuming Friday. Top 10 Chip Counts: Matt Grapenthien - 83,700 Grzegorz Wyraz - 79,800 Yordan Petrov - 70,500 Jim Schaaf - 67,900 Tim Batow - 61,400 Benny Glaser - 61,000 Roland Israelashvili - 56,000 Mike Ross - 48,600 Phil Hellmuth - 45,900 Andrew Kelsall - 43,800
  5. [caption width="640"] Winning your way into the 2017 WSOP Main Event is a lot more lucrative now thanks to 888poker.[/caption] Over the last ten years, winning theWorld Series of Poker Main Event has been worth between $7.6 million and $10 million to the eventual champion. It's life-changing money for sure, but now the folks over at 888poker want to make you even richer. As part of their Supersize ME promotion, any player that qualifies for the 2017 WSOP Main Event through 888poker will be eligible to win $10,000,000 if they go on to win the Main Event. That's because 888poker will make up the difference between the standard WSOP payout for first and $10,000,000. "This makes an already exciting tournament even bigger and more incredible. Imagine getting to the final table of the WSOP Main Event with the possibility of winning a full 10 million dollars," said Kara Scott, 888poker Ambassador. "The prize money for the champion is already huge but this takes it one step further and gives all the 888poker qualifiers an even bigger prize to shoot for." Martin Jacobson is the only WSOP Main Event winner to walk away with $10,000,000 in the last 10 years. YEARCHAMPWINNINGSENTRANTS 2007Jerry Yang$8,250,0006,358 2008Peter Eastgate$9,152,4166,844 2009Joe Cada$8,547,0426,494 2010Jonathan Duhamel$8,944,3107,319 2011Pius Heinz$8,715,6386,865 2012Greg Merson$8,531,8536,598 2013Ryan Riess$8,361,5706,352 2014Martin Jacobson$10,000,0006,683 2015Joe McKeehen$7,683,3466,420 2016Qui Nguyen$8,005,3106,737 The promotion is open to anybody who wins their way to the WSOP Main Event through 888poker. The online poker operator ran a similar promotion in 2016, but it was only for a limited number of satellites and guaranteed an additional $5 million to the winner. Only 30 players were eligible, but Romanian Joldis Cosmin gave the company a real sweat by making it to Day 5 before busting out in 85th place. There were two 888poker qualifiers who made it to the November Nine though. Former PocketFives #1-ranked Griffin Benger and amateur Fernando Pons both won their seats online and turned that into a seven-figure score. Players who qualify for the WSOP Main Event through 888poker get a package worth $12,500 that includes the $10,000 Main Event buy-in, $1,200 travel and expenses allowance, five nights at the Vdara Hotel Las Vegas and an 888live poker kit. Winning your way to the 2017 WSOP Main Event starts with satellites for just one cent. Work your way through six steps to get into the $1,050 WSOP satellite. To help, PocketFives has put together a comprehensive guide on how to play each step. How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $0.01 How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $0.10 How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $1 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $5 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $30 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $160 If you don’t have an 888poker account yet, sign up through this link and you’ll get a 100% bonus up to a maximum of $700. You'll also get a free $10 on top of the first $10 you deposit available to you right away!
  6. [caption width="640"] Jeff 'YellowSub86' Williams is all smiles at the final table of the ,500 Pot Limit Omaha event at the 2017 World Series of Poker.[/caption] Last Sunday, Jeff Williams flew into Las Vegas from his hometown of Atlanta with the intention of hanging out with some friends from his poker playing days and maybe playing one or two World Series of Poker events for old times sake. It was supposed to be a short trip - just a few days. “I played the $5K Six Max for a couple of minutes, fresh off the plane,” joked Williams. That turned out to be the only brick so far though. After busting that one he played the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event and finished 273rd for a little better than min-cash. The next day he jumped in the $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty event and wound up 37th for $3,862. He had one more day on his planned trip but registered for the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha - a three-day event - anyway. He bagged just under an average stack on Day 1 with 138 players remaining, just seven bustouts from his third cash of the week. Then he outlasted another 120 players on Day 2 and bagged up the fourth biggest stack heading into Day 3. Not long after play resumed on Friday afternoon, he was one of just nine players left in the field with $231,482 and the WSOP bracelet up top. While his eventual payout has increased along the way, Williams jokes that the big winner has been Delta who have collected a decent chunk of change fees from him over the last three days. Williams, who won the European Poker Tour Grand Final at 19 years old, and has just over $1.2 million in online poker tournament winnings, doesn’t play much poker these days. He and his wife Lauren had their first baby last year and earlier this year Williams started living that entrepreneur life. “Family man now. It’s been a lot of change, but it’s awesome. Life’s really different, but it’s really cool,” said Williams. “So, family takes up a lot of time, but I’ve also got a small venture fund in Atlanta with some friends of mine, we’ve been going out and finding cool companies and investing in some stuff. We’ve got some exciting prospects but nothing that’s hit yet.” Williams, who earned €900,000 for his EPT win, looks back on that time of his life as one full of special moments, including having his mom and dad jump on a plane on the second to last day of the Grand Final to come to Monte Carlo and cheer him on. “Not knowing if I was going to still be in or not, which in hindsight, was pretty reckless. They could have just come and i was like ‘Got 11th - sorry guys, no show’. So seeing them surprise at the final table was pretty wild,” said Williams. He also didn’t get to take home the huge glass trophy he was presented with for winning. He was given a much smaller replica which now sits on a shelf inside the home he and his wife built in an Atlanta suburb. The poker-playing Williams is now really a thing of the past. He’s more focused on his family and business, but his little girl is clearly the jewel of his eye. “I look back and, fond memories of course, but it’s a different time of my life and having fun with what I’m doing now and had fun with what I did back then,” said Williams. “Family, definitely. There’s that first year, getting to spend time with the little baby girl. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been amazing.”
  7. [caption width="640"] Chris Brammer joined Chris Moorman as former #1-ranked PocketFivers to capture 2017 WSOP bracelets (WSOP photo)[/caption] Saturday nights in Las Vegas are usually pretty wild, and Saturday night at the 2017 World Series of Poker was no different. Three bracelets were awarded (including one with a rowdy British rail) while two popular tournaments kicked off their Day 1s. Chris Brammer wins first bracelet, second for UK The rowdy British rail that came out for Chris ‘Moorman1’ Moorman’s bracelet win not long ago returned last night to see another former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, win his first WSOP bracelet. Chris ‘NigDawg’ Brammer overcame a tough final table and 505 players in total to win the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em (30 minute levels), for a massive $527,555 payday. There to celebrate with him were the likes of Moorman, Sam 'The Squid' Grafton, James Akenhead and Tom Middleton. "I've been on both sides," he said after the win. "I remember being in the Pavilion Room up on the stage for that Six Max final table, and my rail was spilling over onto the floor. I was here last week for Chris Moorman's, and it's just amazing to be a part of it. You can't feel sad at any point, because there's just so much support behind you." Brammer had come close to WSOP success in the past, finishing fifth in the 2012 $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six Max event. "That one hurt for a long time. I made a final table at World Series of Europe that same year, but there hasn't been any since, and I've been coming here every year. It's been a while.” Well, he’s now got that monkey off his back, besting the likes of Yevgeniy ‘Jovial Gent’ Timoshenko and Oliver Weis to capture his first major live title. "It was a turbo tournament, so the blind levels went up fairly quickly. That creates a lot of action, and it's important to win those all-ins. And I think I won pretty much all of them. I was dealt a lot of good cards. There were situations where I could shove into them and put pressure on them.” In the very first hand of heads-up play, Jett Schencker opened [poker card="ac"][poker card="jh"] only for Brammer to put him all in with the [poker card="qh"][poker card="th"]. A ten on the flop was all she wrote. Final table payouts: Chris Brammer - $527,555 Jett Schencker - $326,051 Yevgeniy Timoshenko - $223,574 Rui Ye - $156,022 Tobias Ziegler - $110,845 Oliver Weis - $80,196 Michael Brinkenhoff - $59,107 Alex Foxen - $44,395 Diego Sanchez - $33,993 Ben Maya goes all the way in $1,500 Shootout [caption width="640"] Ben Maya surprised everybody - including himself - to win the ,500 NLHE Shootout (WSOP photo)[/caption] You’ve probably never heard of this new bracelet winner, but don’t worry. Even his friends don’t know he final tabled this event. “I’m shocked. All the people I play with will be shocked,” Ben Mayasaid after his win in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout. “I have my own business. I’m a realtor. There is no one following me at home. No one knows.” For his victory over the 1,025-strong field, Maya wins $257,764 and his first gold bracelet. It wasn’t an easy road to victory for the Israeli realtor, as he had to beat the likes of Moorman and Vojtech Ruzicka along the way, before overcoming a final table which included Jonathan Little. "I had a feeling from the first day... I had a picture of me taking the bracelet, but I didn't believe in myself. I don't know why; I'm not such a good player, that I can tell you. After I won the second day, I knew it, that's it," Final table payouts: Ben Maya - $257,764 Thomas Boivin - $159,273 Tim West - $115,297 Phachara Wongwichit - $84,453 Alex Rocha - $62,602 Steve Foutty - $46,969 Joe Cook - $35,673 Paul Michaelis - $27,431 Jonathan Little - $21,360 Matas Dilpsas - $16,844 Matthew Schreiber claims first bracelet in $3K HORSE [caption width="640"] Matthew Schreiber beat Phillip Hui heads-up to win his first career WSOP bracelet. (WSOP photo)[/caption] Another first-time bracelet winner was crowned on Saturday. Matthew Schreiber took down the final table of Event #44, the $3,000 HORSE in just three hours of play. "I have been playing a lot of mixed cash games," said Schreiber. "But in this particular event, I'm very inexperienced in Stud and very inexperienced in hi-lo. So, it's coming as a shock to me as well.” For his victory, the former collegiate golf player won $256,226. He came into the final table as chip leader, and despite a rocky road managed to get to the finish line in first. "This is the pinnacle for any poker player," he said about his bracelet win. "I made some deep runs and could never really finish the job, but I felt really good about this one at the end.” Final table payouts: Matthew Schreiber - $256,226 Phil Hui - $158,361 David Steicke - $107,458 Tom Koral - $74,382 Ryan Himes - $52,542 Hanks Honig - $37,892 Ryan Hughes - $27,910 Brendan Taylor - $21,007 Valentin Vornicu - $16,165 Barry Greenstein headlines $1,500 PLO final 21 On Day 1 of Event #46: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, 830 players sat down to give it a shot. By the start of Day 2, there were just 151 remaining. And now, going into Sunday’s Day 3, they’re down to 21. Millard Hale leads the bunch, but it’s three-time bracelet winner Barry Greenstein who a lot of eyes will be on. He sits fifth in chips, while nearing the bottom of the pack is two-time bracelet winner Barny Boatman. They’ll all return today to play for the $223,339 first-place prize. Top 10 chip counts: Millard Hale - 640,000 Kevin Saul - 613,000 Miguel Use - 598,000 John O’Shea - 459,000 Barry Greenstein - 359,000 Fernando Macia - 335,000 Samuel Lee - 313,000 Robert Price - 289,000 Christopher O’Rourke - 279,000 Andrew Watson - 277,000 Monster Stack and $10K Seven-Card Stud kick off There was a huge turn-out for Day 1A of the $1,500 Monster Stack yesterday, with 2,676 hopefuls taking their seats. After play was over, 768 remained. Allan Rabinovich bagged the chip lead, with Loni Harwood, T.J. Cloutier, Jonathan Duhamel, Paul Volpe, and Ari Engel all making it through. The day wasn’t so good for the likes of Jessica Dawley, Eddy Sabat, Matt Salsberg, Joe Cada, JC Tran, Mike Sowers, Marsha Wolak, Annette Obrestad, Jamie Kerstetter, and Mohsin Charania, who all busted. However, they can have another shot at Sunday’s Day 1B if they like. Meanwhile, the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship (Event #48) also got going yesterday with 125 runners. Just 48 will return Sunday, with three-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser holding the chip lead with 325,00. He’ll be joined by a stacked line-up including Todd Brunson (271,000), John Monnette(221,500), Phil Hellmuth (70,000), James Obst (137,500),Jennifer Harman (166,000), and Daniel Negreanu(97,500). There’s $320,193 up top in this one. Top 10 chip counts Benny Glaser - 325,500 Mack Lee - 292,500 Todd Brunson - 271,000 Randy Ohel - 248,500 Richard Chiovari - 246,500 Jameson Painter - 238,500 John Monnette - 221,500 Viacheslav Zhukov - 215,000 Abe Mosseri - 179,500 Chris Wallace - 176,000
  8. [caption width="640"] Chris Moorman and Christopher Brammer both won their first WSOP bracelets this summer. (WSOP photo)[/caption] It took a while for the former #1-ranked players to get going at the 2017 World Series of Poker, but now that the Main Event is a little over two weeks away, the group of elite players is clearly hitting its stride. With 52 cashes and $2,561,302 in earnings through 46 events, the group still has a ways to go before matching the 2016 numbers of 110 cashes and $11,729,142 in earnings. Christopher Brammer's first bracelet win this past weekend was the second bracelet won by former #1-ranked PocketFivers this summer. It also made him the highest earning member of the group so far this year. Christopher Brammer2017 WSOP cashes: 2 2017 WSOP earnings: $528,799 Brammer beat out 504 other players to win the $5,000 No Limit Hold'em (30 minute levels) and his first career bracelet. The win was worth $527,555. It was Brammer's first WSOP final table appearance since two fifth place finishes in 2012. Brammer's only other 2017 WSOP cash was a 145th-place finish in the $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty for $1,244. Shaun Deeb2017 WSOP cashes: 7 2017 WSOP earnings: $195,198 While Shaun Deeb has yet to win a bracelet this summer, he's managed to find the cashier's cage seven times, the most of any former #1-ranked player. Of the seven cashes, just one was a final table. Deeb finished second to Ben Yu in the $10,000 Triple Draw Deuce to Seven event for $143,842. His next biggest score came in the $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship where he finished 12th for $12,318. Chris Hunichen2017 WSOP cashes: 2 2017 WSOP earnings: $363,646 Chris Hunichen made it through 572 other players in the $5,000 Six Max No Limit Hold'em event only to lose heads-up with Russia's Nadar Kazhmazov. The $358,677 score is Hunichen's biggest at the WSOP. His previous was $229,575 for a sixth place finish in the 2013 Millionaire Maker. Yevgeniy Timoshenko2017 WSOP cashes: 3 2017 WSOP earnings: $228,746 In the same event that Brammer won, Yevgeniy Timoshenko finished third for $223,574, his third largest WSOP cash behind a 22nd place finish in the 2013 Main Event and a runner-up in the $25,000 Heads-up Championship in 2011. His other two cashes this summer were a 821st place finish in the Millionaire Maker and a 86th place finish in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event.
  9. [caption width="640"] The 2017 World Series of Poker could be one of the busiest ever with 74 events over just 48 days (WSOP/Joe Giron photo)[/caption] In a little over 100 days poker players from around the world will be making their way to Las Vegas for the 2017 World Series of Poker. The schedule includes a total of 74 bracelet events spread over 48 days, meaning the Rio Hotel convention center is going to be packed to capacity most days. “As long as we're at this time period, I think there's not much more room for growth particularly on the, the live side,” said Seth Palansky, WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications. While the official WSOP schedule still says “Final Table TBD”, WSOP organizers do have dates circled on their calendar in November – but there’s other factors in play. “The final table should be as it always has been, nothing changes. We have tentative dates in November to play that out, but we are sort of embroiled in discussions with ESPN on the future, so we just want to get through all that before we definitively announce those dates,” said Palansky. The WSOP contract with ESPN runs through 2017 and an extension of that contract could impact the way the final table plays out. “(ESPN) have some interest in some other things, some additional live opportunities and things like that, so if, if we did extend and if some of these other things come to fruition, you know, it could impact how the Main Event is run.” “I anticipate it going just like it always has, that's the most likely solution here.” While Palansky doesn’t believe the final table plans will change much this year, he’s far less committal on the Main Event field size. “Some of these political issues that are going on, the dollar valuations; those are really the main drivers of the WSOP,” said Palansky. “Attendance, we think we'll have a very successful Main Event this year, the 15% payouts, the 50,000 starting chips, everything that went into effect last year is back, and just a way the calendar breaks this year with where July 4 is and where the main event falls.” If current exchange rates hold through July, it would represent a slight increase in costs for players coming from Europe to play. YearDollarEuroGBPME Field 2017$1.00€ 0.93GBP 0.79? 2016$1.00€ 0.90GBP 0.756,737 2015$1.00€ 0.90GBP 0.646,420 2014$1.00€ 0.73GBP 0.586,683 While the Main Event continues to be the anchor point of the WSOP schedule, the weekends are still being scheduled around recreational players. With that in mind the WSOP introduced the lowest buy-in live open event in WSOP history this year, the Giant. “There was definitely some debate internally here, whether to go to this price point. Everything about it was tricky, so that's why it's set up the way it is set up over the five weeks. At the end of the day, Ty Stewart’s real belief is we have to open the tent to everyone, right? Everyone should feel welcome to come in and participate.” With five starting flights spread over five consecutive Fridays, the $365 buy-in event is aimed squarely at the players coming in to play $1,000 or $1,500 buy-in Saturday events. “So we're going to give it a shot. We think it will be a successful event, we know that price point works really well both as a Circuit and kind of a midpoint between the most popular Deep Stack that can draw 1,500 to 2,000 people and a $1K or a $565 level,” said Palansky. There is one event on the schedule this year with a buy-in lower than the Giant though. After experimenting with online bracelet events on WSOP.com over the last two years, the 2017 schedule includes three different events, with buy-ins ranging from $333 to $3,333, that will be played out entirely on WSOP.com. “We do feel an obligation to try to give poker a jolt in all places, so live and online where we're operating. Obviously in the U.S. online has been tougher of late and we want to make sure that everyone at every buy-in level has an opportunity to play the variant of their choice,” said Palansky. “We just wanted to bring in the different customers. Some may not have played our other (online) events last year because it was either too high or too low price for the online event for them. So this year we're kind of solving that buy doing all levels.” Another change for 2017 is sure to make some of those who follow the WSOP from home happy. After two years of doing live updates for all bracelet events with their own staff, the WSOP will be working with an outside vendor for 2017. “We’ve got a couple of hungry parties that will, we’ll figure out. I think I have more meetings next week there and we'll determine where that goes, but I would anticipate an outside entity handling live updates this year,” said Palansky.. While Palansky wouldn’t divulge which companies have shown interest in live updates, it’s safe to assume one of the two is PokerNews. They provided live updates for the WSOP on PokerNews.com and WSOP.com up until the end of the 2014 WSOP. The other could be PokerListings, which worked with the WSOP for WSOP-APAC live updates previously, or the recently revamped PokerCentral, which is now doing live updates for Aria High Roller events and the upcoming Super High Roller Bowl. The 2017 WSOP begins May 31.
  10. [caption width="640"] Over the next 50 days, Maurice Hawkins plans to win at least a couple of bracelets and a staggering amount of money.[/caption] In the first installment of 50 Days and 50 Nights, we introduced you to 10-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Maurice Hawkins and went over his blueprint for finding success at the 2017 World Series of Poker. Now it’s time to talk about the first week, how he’s feeling and what he’s looking forward to. It’s technically Day 9 of the 2017 WSOP and if you look at Maurice Hawkins’ profile on WSOP.com you notice that he has yet to record a single cash this summer. For a guy that has openly talked about winning $7 million at the WSOP this year, it’s not exactly a fantastic start but Hawkins isn’t exactly down on himself for the lack of early results. “I feel great. See the thing is, I trust the process. Most people get hell bent out of shape after they lose a couple of tournaments, but last time I checked we only cash around one out of ten, so I’ve lost like five, but three or four unique tournaments, winning is just right around the corner,” said Hawkins. “I don’t get too down about it, except for the first ten minutes out of a tournament, I don’t like to be touched or talked to, but after that I’m straight.” Like most of the Circuit grinders playing the WSOP this year, Hawkins took a shot at the $1 million first place prize money in Colossus III but found the structure to be not to his liking. “The (starting stacks) are so small, the blinds go up so fast, it’s a hyper turbo. You’re forced to play every pot and every hand basically to showdown and pray to god that you have the best one because if you don’t get any chips, a couple of doubles in the first three, four levels, you’re just toast,” said Hawkins. Despite this, Hawkins fired six times. “I like to call it the $3K punt off because that’s what it felt like. It felt like I had no clue how or when or where or what I was doing,” said Hawkins. He also played the tag team, joining forces with Brandon Fish and Charles Moore. The team quickly built up a decent stack and even found themselves near the chip lead at one point. A couple of “unfortunate spots” later and Hawkins and his team were out, well before they hit the money, but that gave Hawkins a chance to reset before the first $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event of the year. “The $1,500 I felt like myself in, because it was just a nice No Limit tournament, not tagging nobody in and not worrying about the blinds eating me up. Can’t wait for more of those, that’s going to be beautiful - like breakfast in the morning,” said Hawkins. Again, he built up a decent stack early on and saw his name at the top of the chip counts before getting bored and busting out, again well short of the money. “I wasn’t having fun, I wasn’t playing my style of poker. i think I was just sitting back too much, hanging out, playing that ABC grind game and I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of energy, sway, positivity when you’re having fun,” said Hawkins. “I feel like you hit more sets - you don’t, I know I live in a logical world - but I just believe when you’re having fun, things seem to be going better for you.” That reminded Hawkins that for him to be successful, he’s got to be himself and make sure that he’s doing things to keep the game fun for him, and his tablemates. “So I’m going to try to fun it up a bit more; have more conversations, have more talks, stack more people, upset a few more people when things don’t go their way and they don’t know what the hell I just did,” said Hawkins. Thursday afternoon he’ll be putting that to test in the $1,500 Six Max event. He also has the $565 Pot Limit Omaha event and the Millionaire Maker on his schedule, but he’s most looking forward to Sunday. That’s when his family arrives. “You start going delirious because you start losing human contact. You could talk to people everyday, they could be your man, your friend, all these different people, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like real human contact until you can talk to the person you love or your kids or your family,” said Hawkins. “It’s always good when your family gets here.” Stay tuned throughout the 2017 WSOP as we check in regularly with Hawkins and talk about how things are going – good or bad – and chronicle what could be an amazing summer.
  11. [caption width="640"] 888poker is the only place to qualify online for the 2017 WSOP Main Event[/caption] More than 50 online poker players have already won their entry into the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, and there is still time for you to do so as well. 888poker, the official WSOP satellite provider, has a number of sub-satellite "Steps" for players to move up the ladder throughout June and compete for a $3,000 WSOP "Crazy 8s" package or a $12,500 grand prize which includes entry into the 2017 WSOP Main Event, lodging, and money for travel expenses. Last year 888poker sent almost 150 players to the WSOP Main Event, including final tablists Griffin Benger and Fernando Pons. To make playing worth even more, players who qualify for the WSOP Main Event through 888poker that go on to win the Main Event will have their winnings increased to $10,000,000. "This makes an already exciting tournament even bigger and more incredible. Imagine getting to the final table of the WSOP Main Event with the possibility of winning a full 10 million dollars," said Kara Scott, 888poker Ambassador. "The prize money for the champion is already huge but this takes it one step further and gives all the 888poker qualifiers an even bigger prize to shoot for." Here is a look at this week's online poker Satellite Tournament schedule. Qualify for as little as $0.01. WSOP 2017 MAIN EVENT QUALIFIER *Qualify via Steps or buy-in direct $1,050 buy-in June 11 -- 15:30 - Tournament #104424627 1 WSOP Main Event Package awarded $1,050 buy-in June 15 -- 15:30 - Tournament #104546530 1 WSOP Main Event Package awarded Single-Table "Steps" to WSOP 2017 *Sit & Go events run at various times throughout the day Step 1: $0.01 buy-in Winners receive $0.10 Ticket Step 2: $0.10 buy-in Winners receive $1 Ticket Step 3: $1 buy-in Winners receive $5 Ticket Step 4: $5 buy-in Winners receive $30 Ticket Step 5: $30 buy-in Winners receive $160 Ticket RELATED: How to Qualify for the WSOP Main Event for $0.01 REGIONAL SATELLITES June 11 -- 18:00 (Brazil Only) Tournament #103485770 -- $0.01 Winner gets $3,000 WSOP Ultimate package 120 currently registered *Freeroll entries available June 15 -- 15:30 (UK Only) Tournament #103485546 -- $0.01 Winner gets $3,000 WSOP Ultimate package 125 currently registered *Freeroll entries available You can check out all the upcoming satellite tournament action directly through the 888 Poker client by selecting the menu options ALL GAMES > TOURNAMENTS > LIVE EVENTS Best of luck at the tables. Here's hoping we'll see YOU at this year's World Series of Poker Main Event! 2017 Main Event Package Winners To Date: 57 2017 Crazy 8's Package Winners To Date: 16
  12. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES PocketFives.com Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark are all ready for poker's version of summer camp: The World Series of Poker. This episode is dedicated entirely to previewing the 2017 WSOP and talking about what's new, who they think is going to stand out this summer and what the recently announced PokerGo streaming plans mean for poker.
  13. For poker fans, the World Series of Poker is one of the most exciting times of the year. With the game’s best competing for 74 bracelets and millions of dollars over the course of seven weeks, there is plenty of action for fans to sweat. If you aren’t in Las Vegas on the rail, there are several options for fans to follow the action from the comfort of their own home. Live Updates After two years of doing the live updates in-house, the WSOP brought PokerNews back to do the live updates for the summer. PokerNews’ live reporting team are producing the updates that can be found on both PokerNews.com and WSOP.com. Fans can expect detailed hand histories from start to finish of every tournament, as well as up-to-date chip counts. PokerGo by Poker Central Along with making changes to who would be providing the live updates, the WSOP also announced a partnership with Poker Central that gives Poker Central the global television and digital media rights for the WSOP. This agreement gave Poker Central the responsibility of running the live streams for the entire summer. Shortly after the agreement between the two parties, Poker Central announced the release of their subscription based service PokerGo, where all the live streams for the WSOP final tables can be found. For a small monthly fee, fans can have access to all the summer’s streams as well as plenty of other content from Poker Central. Twitter Sometimes during the early stages of a tournament, it is tough to get updates on every player in the field and sometimes chip updates are few and far between. If you are looking for updates for a specific player, don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and their other social media outlets. Most players will post updates as the tournament progresses. They will document chip counts at various stages of the tournament, as well as mention noteworthy hands after they happen. Some players have gotten into the habit of posting their tournament updates from a different twitter account altogether. Make sure you are following the right account if you want to get tournament updates from the player. PocketFives If you live somewhere other than the Pacific time zone or just simply aren’t as nocturnal as many poker players are, you might be asleep when some of the meaningful action of a tournament takes place. If you can’t stay awake long enough to watch the duration of a live stream or follow the updates until completion, PocketFives is covering the entire series every ay, in a way that allows fans to catch up on the action the next day. PocketFives.com will have coverage of the action throughout the summer. Daily recaps, bracelet winner interviews, and features on interesting stories that have developed throughout the tournament series.
  14. [caption width="640"] Maurice Hawkins has just 55 players standing between him and the first WSOP bracelet of his career (WPT photo)[/caption] In the previous installment of 50 Days and 50 Nights with Maurice Hawkins, the 10-time WSOP Circuit ring winner was cruising his way through the Marathon and appeared to be on track to win his first WSOP bracelet and pick up his biggest career score. That’s not what happened though. Maurice Hawkins finished Day 4 of the $2,620 buy-in Marathon event at the 2017 World Series of Poker with the fourth biggest stack, 3,630,000, with Joseph Di Rosa Rojas, Tim Reilly and Andrew Jernigan ahead of him. There were just 13 players and one more scheduled day of play ahead of him. Any top three finish would be a career-best for him. “The train fell off the tracks. Was a big ol’ wall at the end of the track and I didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t meant for me to win. It just seemed every time I had a pretty big hand somebody had a bigger hand,” said Hawkins, who made the final table but had to settle for a ninth place finish. One of those hands were Hawkins was second-best came against Tim Reilly, late on Day 4 when Hawkins flopped top set on an [poker card="as"] Jx [poker card="ts"] board before turning a full house. Reilly held [poker card="ks"][poker card="qs"] and rivered a royal flush with the [poker card="js"]. It marked the beginning of some verbal sparring between the two according to Hawkins. “He made a smart ass comment. He said ‘This is not the Circuit’ after he hit a two-percenter on me. Where he had a straight flush draw,” said Hawkins. The next day the two were seated next to each other and it didn’t take long for fireworks to go off. “He was just digging in to me over and over again. Finally I just got tired of it. Then he started getting disrespectful. Which, I don’t like. I don’t like when people lie about things they know nothing about, just blatantly shouting things out. It’s just ridiculous,” said Hawkins. Reilly accused Hawkins of not paying back some backers, a story that has made its way around some of poker’s gossip circles but Hawkins denies it. He even challenged Reilly to name people that are waiting to get paid. “When they don’t have anything to say about you, they just come up with a dumbass comment. That’s the reason when he was there I was like ‘Why don’t you tell me who I owe?’. I wanna know so I can pay that person back who I owe,” said Hawkins. The confrontation got loud enough that the floor came over and spoke to both players. The floor was concerned enough to ask a security guard to monitor the two players until they cooled down. “What bothered me was when he started being disrespectful,” said Hawkins. A few hours later, Hawkins was out in ninth place while Reilly went on to finish fourth. Hawkins earned $54,356 for his efforts and then took some time off to spend time with his wife and a few friends. They hit up Jewel at Aria, then spent an afternoon at Tao. It was hardly refreshing though. “I feel tired. I wish I could say I was refreshed. I feel tired,” said Hawkins, who still believes he’s going to do big things this summer. “I’m gonna final table within the next week. Seven days I’ll be back to a final table. And within 15 I’ll be top three again, about to win,” said Hawkins. “Because I’m doing the same thing that I always do. Every four or five tournaments I normally make a final table. Three or four tournaments later I make another final table. And then around two to three weeks in, I just win something big.” Hawkins plans is playing a few No Limit events this week, including the Monster Stack this upcoming weekend. “I’m going to make a final table, man. Proof is in the pudding. This is what I do,” said Hawkins.
  15. [caption width="640"] Calvin Anderson hasn't played a single WSOP event yet this summer - and he's just fine with that (PokerStars photo)[/caption] A few days before the 2017 World Series of Poker began, WSOP bracelet winner and former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, Calvin Anderson fired out a tweet that caught a lot of people off guard. As he has in years past Anderson had been in Mexico playing the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker. He cashed 39 times, including a win in Event #13 (High) for $69,920 and a third place finish in Event #15 (Medium) for $154,400. With that kind of recent success, and his WSOP success in years past, Anderson was sure to be one of the most drafted players in the numerous WSOP fantasy drafts and that factored into his decision to not play his normal summer schedule. “I don’t like the pressure of getting on all of these fantasy teams and then I feel like I have to play every event,” said Anderson. “Not everybody feels this way, but I feel a bit responsible to play because I know I’m really talented and I play all the games a lot and I’m able to beat the fields, but it’s just a bit exhausting.” Anderson’s SCOOP schedule meant playing multiple events every day for three weeks straight and getting an average of four hours sleep each night. After years of jumping in to the WSOP right after SCOOP, Anderson wanted a more balanced approach and a chance to recharge while still being involved He arrived in Las Vegas earlier this week and was on the rail earlier this week as his longtime girlfriend, Kami Hudson, made a run in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event, eventually finishing 10th. “I’ve been stepping back and buying some action, advising some people and that’s a role I would like to take more I would say,” said Anderson. “I’ve been working on a lot of mindset stuff and energy and vibrational stuff and it’s just more rewarding or fulfilling.“ Anderson cashed in six WSOP events in 2016, including a runner-up finish in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop for almost $325,000. He’s cashed 21 times over the previous four years and won his only career bracelet in 2014. It’s that level of success that has allowed Anderson to take a more measured approach this summer. “Once you get to a point where you have a certain amount of money, you’re able to sit back and chill and think about what your skill set is. For me, a lot of people consider me to be a pretty good poker player, but I consider myself to be a pretty good teacher, too, and I back and advise quite a few people and I want to fine tune how a lot of things work,” said Anderson, who has recently joined the chorus of poker players trading cryptocurrencies. Even though he’s not playing a full schedule, Anderson does still plan to play some events in the second half of the WSOP schedule. He’s just able to pick his spots based on how he’s feeling each day, rather than a need to chase Player of the Year of WSOP fantasy points. “From a big picture standpoint, it’s time to take some time off and not feel pressure about the world. The World Series is crazy. You come here, every single tournament is such good value so you feel like a crackhead around here because you’re running around here playing all these tournaments,” said Anderson. “I feel like I’m finally a bit out of the rat race and I can just relax and play some tournaments, late-reg if I want to, if I don’t feel like playing, don’t play.”
  16. [caption width="640"] Maurice Hawkins is one of 20 players returning for the final day of the Monster Stack (WPT photo)[/caption] Just a few weeks ago, Maurice Hawkins was telling the world his plan to win $7 million this summer at the World Series of Poker. Now he’s not only planning on that, but he’s going to take down Player of the Year and the Main Event in the next couple of weeks. But first he’s one of just 20 players left in the $1,500 Monster Stack on Wednesday. “I’m just chilling ready for Round 2. Back to the same position with the same amount of chips, ready to make it happen,” said Hawkins, referring to his previous deep run in the $2,620 Marathon. Hawkins is unbagging 3,500,000 on Wednesday. He’s more than happy to play with that stack and not yet worry about how much money he can make by laddering up a spot or two - yet. “I don’t look at pay jumps unless I get real short, which is kind of strange. I’m still comfortable with 10 - 15 - 20 bigs, I’m not looking at the pay jumps, but if I get down to like six, seven bigs or something like that, I start wondering like, ‘okay, if things don’t go right at least I can gain another $50,000’,” said Hawkins. “As long as I’m in the tournament, it’s not a problem, but with six bigs I try to start to finesse my way into more money. Because it’s the only time that you can make $20,000 just by being smart about it.” Being one of the first two to bust out on Wednesday means Hawkins walks away with $37,831, but maneuvering his way to the final five guarantees him at least $281,800. And winning it means he’s got his first seven-figure score, $1,094,349. That 3,500,000 stack gives him 29 big blinds, just a touch under the 5,000,000 chip average . “That’s comfortable. I mean, every tournament comes down to 20 bigs, if you have 20 bigs, you’re more like average, if you have 30 bigs, in most tournaments, you’re above average, when you get up to the 40 or 50 bigs, you know you’re the chip leader,” said Hawkins. “I’m right where I’m comfortable. It’s pretty much right there for the taking. Yesterday I came in and got the full double on the third hand and was chip leader for the next four or five hours, at this point anything is anything.” Hawkins is coming back to a stack that big after doubling up towards the end of play Tuesday. The double up wasn’t all he got though. “I doubled the last hand of the night off that Scott Baumstein guy. He went through all the hands I could have and then told me how bad I was and then he called. So I got his chips and a lesson from him, which was kind of impressive,” said Hawkins. After his now infamous confrontation with Tim Reilly during the Marathon, Hawkins has found a very different vibe over the last three days of the Monster Stack. “Actually, everybody loves me at the table, this whole tournament. Probably the most pleasant tournament I’ve ever played. Most people are either admirable of my achievements, they tell me how great the things I’ve done are, or a couple of people this is their first deep run, they were happy to be there with me, taking pictures and things. It’s really a totally different experience,” said Hawkins. No matter where he finishes, Hawkins is guaranteed his fourth cash of the 2017 WSOP. He had the one deep run that ended in ninth place, but likens the last few weeks to a baseball player just settling in for a long season. “Have you ever seen a great baseball hitter? They go 0-for-9 or 0-for-10 and then they get that first base hit. And that first base hit turns into a double, and then another double and then a home run and next thing you know they’re just swinging it out of the park like they know they can do it. They know what is in them. And with me, I know a champion is within me and I’m just waiting on that moment for me to shine, for it to come out,” said Hawkins. Almost 2/3 of the way through the WSOP schedule, Hawkins says he’s not tired or in need of a rest. He does have to leave Las Vegas for a couple of days in early July for his sister’s wedding, but other than that plans on playing as much as he can. He’s realized there’s another incentive waiting for him. “I was looking at this (Player of the Year) thing, and if I win this, I can actually win the POY. I guess I have to win this and just win the main, and I’ll be POY, and I’ll have a lot of money,” said Hawkins.
  17. [caption width="640"] Chris Moorman has finally crossed his name off of the 'Best Players Without a Bracelet' list after capturing the K Six Max on Friday (WSOP photo)[/caption] Wow, what a day. Friday at the 2017 World Series of Poker saw the all-time leading money winner in online tournaments win his very first bracelet, having endured multiple runner-up finishes over the years. Two more bracelet winners were also crowned, two new events got going, and three more tournaments chalked up another day. Oh, and Daniel Negreanu is close to his seventh bracelet yet again. Here’s a look at all of Friday’s action. Chris Moorman adds a WSOP bracelet to his epic resume If there’s one name synonymous with online poker tournaments, it’s Chris ‘Moorman1’ Moorman. The 31-year-old Brit has won more than anyone in the format - more than $14 million to be precise - as well as more than $5 million in live earnings and a WPT title. You can now add a WSOP bracelet to his accomplishments, after he took down the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Six-Handed for $498,682. It almost wasn’t to be, though. When play reached the official final table, Moorman was all-in with ace-king against the pocket jacks of Steve Sung. A miracle ace on the river saved his tournament life. From there they saw the start-of-day chip leaderMax Silver bow out, followed by John Gorsuch, Sung, and Michael Gagliano in third. Moorman had slightly more than a 2:1 chip lead when he got heads up against Brazil’s Bernardo Dias, and that meant two rowdy rails as the Brazilians and Brits are known for their side-stage support. The Brit never lost the chip lead throughout the battle, but every time Dias got short he found a double. In the end though, he open jammed for around 20 big blinds with king-ten, and Moorman snap-called with ace-king, which held up. Moorman then celebrated in style with a ‘shoe bomb’ (a jaegerbomb shot drunk out of his own shoe) alongside his rail, which included his wife Katie, and some of the UK’s leading players such as Craig McCorkell, Toby Lewis, Niall Farrell, Chris Brammer, and Tom Middleton. “I feel like anytime you win live, it's just a lot more real,” Moorman said. “All your friends are there celebrating with you and particularly a lot of my online success was when I was living in the U.K. I would be playing all through the night and maybe win a tournament about five or six in the morning and I would just be there on my own.” Having the bracelet under his belt, Moorman’s optimistic for the rest of the series. “The series is still young, there are plenty of more events out there,” he added. “I’ve already had three cashes, including this one, and I feel great and confident. Hopefully, I can make a final table and if not, hopefully, some more Brits do and I can be on the rail and support them and I would be just as happy, to be honest." Final table payouts: Chris Moorman - $498,682 Bernardo Dias - $308,166 Michael Gagliano - $210,139 Steve Sung - $145,634 John Gorsuch - $102,605 Max Silver - $73,510 Venezuela’s first bracelet comes as Joseph Di Rosa Rojas wins The Marathon Joseph Di Rosa Rojas is the first player from Venezuela to win WSOP gold (WSOP photo)[/CAPTION] The unknown player from Venezuela came into the home straight of the $2,620 Marathon with the lead, and he never lost it, running that chip lead all the way to victory. Joseph Di Rosa Rojas not only captured his first gold bracelet and $690,469 - more than ten times his career earnings before tonight; he also took down the first ever bracelet for his home country of Venezuela. It was by no means an easy final table, what with the likes of Tim Reilly, Julien Stuer, Faraz Jaka and Maurice Hawkins all taking seats. But by the time Rojas found himself heads-up against Alexander Lynskey, he had built up an impressive 8:1 chip advantage. In the final hand, Rojas limped on the button only for Lynskey to shove with the [poker card="9c"][poker card="6c"]. Rojas snap-called with the [poker card="tc"][poker card="td"], leaving Lynskey in dire straits. That is, until the [poker card="qc"][poker card="9s"][poker card="6d"] flop hit the felt, giving him two pair. Now it was Rojas who needed to improve, and he did so quickly on the [poker card="qh"] turn, giving him a bigger two pair. The [poker card="5h"] completed the board, and that meant victory for Rojas. When asked how he felt about capturing the first bracelet for Venezuela, Rojas laughed, "I don't know, maybe tomorrow I will know!" Final table payouts: Joseph Di Rosa Rojas- $690,469 Alexander Lynskey - $426,663 Jeffrey Tomlinson - $307,728 Tim Reilly - $224,316 Julian Stuer - $165,277 Faraz Jaka - $123,105 Andrew Jernigan - $92,705 Pratik Ghatge- $70,590 Maurice Hawkins - $54,356 Brian Brubaker takes down $1,500 Triple Draw Deuce for $109,967 [caption width="640"] Brian Brubaker topped the 326-player field in the ,500 Triple Draw Deuce to Seven (WSOP photo)[/caption] While he’s not a household poker name like Moorman, Los Angeles-based mixed game pro Brian Brubaker showed his worth on Friday by winning the $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw. First prize in this event was $109,967, and it would take two hours of heads-up play against start-of-final table chipleader Brendan Taylor before Brubaker could capture his first gold bracelet. The entire final table only took five hours, showing how much of a battle the final duel was. Rewinding back to the start of the final table, the first players to fall wereRick Fuller and Dean Kerl in sixth and fifth respectively, before professional German soccer player Max Kruse exited in fourth, taking his rowdy rail with him. Jason Riesenberg then busted in third, leaving Taylor - seeking his second gold bracelet - up against Brubaker. The lead swung back and forth several times, but ultimately Brubaker began to pull away, grinding down his opponent. In the final hand Brubaker patted a nine-low, and Taylor held a four-card eight-low before drawing one. He had outs, but it came an eight on the river to pair his hand, giving Brubaker the victory. "It was a lot of fun. Pretty intense, there were a lot of swings throughout the final table," Brubaker said. "Luckily, I pretty much just won the majority of the [heads-up] pots and went straight up. "I guess I'm pretty good at draw altogether, especially in a tournament," he added. "I make some adjustments in tournaments I think are successful. I don't know if they're necessarily what other people would say are good. But, I've been successful with it and now I have something to prove it.” Final table payouts Brian Brubaker - $109,967 Brendan Taylor - $67,952 Jason Riesenberg - $43,597 Max Kruse - $28,740 Dean Kerl - $19,482 Rick Fuller - $13,591 Eddy Sabat bags chip lead in $2,500 No Limit Hold’em Day 2 of Event #29 has seen the 1,086 starting field decrease to just 30 players, all of whom with return on Saturday. Eddy Sabat holds the most chips with 1.86 million, followed by Asi Moshe (921K) and Tom Thomas(861K). Scott ‘Aggro Santos’ Margereson is also still in contention (712K), as is Chi Zhang (674K), Giuseppe Pantaleo (568K), Curt Kohlberg(376K), John Dolan(305K), Jonathan Abdellatif(252K), 2015 November Niner Federico Butteroni (236K), and start-of-the-day chip leader Pablo Fernandez(132K). The prize pool of $2,443,500 has created a healthy first-place prize of $456,822. Play resumes on Saturday with all players guaranteed $10,868. Top 10 chip counts: Eddy Sabat - 1,866,000 Asi Moshe - 921,000 Tom Thomas - 861,000 Jamie Armstrong - 756,000 Scott Margereson - 712,000 Henric Stenholm - 676,000 Chi Zhang - 674,000 James Calvo - 572,000 Giuseppe Pantaleo - 568,000 Charalampos Lappas - 526,000 Daniel Negreanu leads $10K H.O.R.S.E finale As Day 2 neared its end, Daniel Negreanu managed to increase his chip lead and will come into Saturday’s Day 3 of the $10,000 HORSE Championship way out in front. Just 15 of the 150 players who started remain, including recent two-time bracelet winner David Bach, three-time bracelet winner Brian Rast, and five-time bracelet winner Jason Mercier, who also happens to be the defending champion. There’s $383,208 for the winner, but all that will be on Negreanu’s mind after several close calls will be the gold bracelet. If he can capture it, it’ll be his seventh. Play resumes at 2pm Saturday. Final 15 chip counts Daniel Negreanu - 1,213,000 Scott Bohlman - 756,000 Don Zewin - 704,000 Richard Chase - 647,000 David Bach - 572,000 Brian Rast - 553,000 Jason Mercier - 541,000 Yuebin Guo - 513,000 Jerry Wong - 457,000 Eric Rodawig - 334,000 Mack Lee - 319,000 Anthony Zinno - 283,000 Andrew Brown - 282,000 Phillip Wallace - 226,000 Mark Gregorich - 137,000 Senior’s Event and $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo kick off Two more tournaments got started on Friday: the $1,000 Senior’s No Limit Hold’em Championship, and the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Mix. A massive starting field of 5,389 entered the Senior’s, with 809 making the money. Well, we ended Day 1 with just 694, meaning the bubble burst on Day 1 and everyone is already guaranteed $1,587, but all have their eyes set on the $617,303 first-place prize. The mean leading the way when the chips were bagged was Kevin Dowling, who managed to spin his 5,000 starting stack up to 160,800. Also returning for Day 2 will be Georgios Karakousis (158,300), Martinus Kaspers (157,300), Jim Earnest (142,600), David James (135,000),Greg Raymer (101,400), defending champion Johnnie Craig (95,000), Dan Heimiller (22,500), Bill Klein (23,300), Cliff Josephy(19,900) and Joe Somerville (7,000). Chris Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen, Billy Baxter, Mike Sexton, Men Nguyen, and Barry Greenstein all entered, but failed to bag chips. Top 10 chip counts Kevin Dowling - 160,800 Georgios Karakousis - 158,300 Martinus Kaspers - 157,300 David James - 142,600 Jim Earnest - 135,000 Bill Maness - 121,300 Jim Ernest - 114,000 Gina Bacon - 108,500 Greg Raymer - 101,400 Dan Schmiech - 101,400 Meanwhile over in the Omaha event, it was Daniel Zack who ended the day on top with 92,375. The 688 field was whittled down to 224, and there are plenty of well-knowns returning tomorrow. A few of those who made it through include Igor Sharaskin (85,500), Allen Kessler (73,450), Leif Force (70,050), Sam Farha (43,775), Lee Markholt (32,900), Nikolai Yakovenko (32,800), Yuval Bronshtein (28,125), Mike Matusow (23,175), Phil Hellmuth(21,650), Rob Mizrachi (18,850), Mike Sexton (18,450) and Benny Glaser(15,300). Top 10 chip counts Daniel Zack - 92,375 Igor Sharaskin - 85,500 Allen Kessler - 73,450 Leif Force - 70,050 David Brookshire - 58,300 Alan Sternberg - 44,000 Sam Farha - 43,775 Orlando Romero - 41,575 Regina Hampton - 37,300 Stephen Johnson - 36,100
  18. [caption width="640"] One bracelet win in the books already for Former #1s thanks to Chris Moorman (WPT photos)[/caption] In the storied history of the PocketFives Rankings, no player is more decorated than Chris Moorman. He’s hit the #1 spot 13 times in his career, he’s won over $14,000,000 in online poker tournaments, he’s collected a total of 25 Triple Crown wins. He’s never been able to take that success and transfer it to the World Series of Poker though. Until now. Moorman’s win in the $3,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em event was the only bracelet won by former #1-ranked players on PocketFives as the group inches closer and closer to more than $1 million in cashes this summer through 31 events. Chris Moorman2017 WSOP cashes: 3 2017 WSOP earnings: $505,759 Moorman beat out 958 other players, including a final table with Max Silver, Steve Sung and Bernardo Da Silveira Dias, to win the first bracelet of his career and $498,682. It’s the fourth largest score of his career and biggest he won the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic in 2014. It was his fifth career WSOP final table and third in a Six Max tournament. He also picked up two smaller cashes earlier in the Series. He picked up $4,418 for a 285th place finish in Colossus and another $2,659 in the Millionaire Maker where he finished 834th. Jordan Young2017 WSOP cashes: 1 2017 WSOP earnings: $242,160 The earliest sign of a big score from the former #1s came from Jordan Young in a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event in the first week. Young took home $242,160 but ultimately fell one spot short of winning his first WSOP bracelet with a second place finish. It was his first WSOP final table since 2011 and just the second of his career. Shaun Deeb2017 WSOP cashes: 4 2017 WSOP earnings: $23,852 Shaun Deeb leads the way with the most cashes so far this summer (4) but with earnings of $23,852 over those four events, and a number of $10,000 Championship events already come and gone, Deeb might be on the net-negative side of the ledger so far. Deeb had a small cash in the $565 Pot Limit Omaha event for a 248th place finish but has had three close calls with 26th, 13th and 20th place showings so far. One or two hands go a different direction in any of those three and we could be talking about a much bigger score. The group of 40 players has cashed just 33 times so far for a total of $959,686 in earnings. That’s far cry from last year when the same group combined for $11,729,142 from 110 cashes, including three bracelet wins (Fedor Holz, Paul Volpe and Deeb).
  19. Even over $500,000 in earnings so far this summer, Chris Hunichen is looking to cap things off with another deep WSOP Main Event run (PokerStars photo)[/CAPTION] Almost three weeks ago, Chris ‘Big-Huni’ Hunichen was heads-up for a World Series of Poker bracelet against Nadar Kakhmazov. Hunichen started with the chip lead, watched Kakhmazov even things up and eventually shook the Russian’s hand to congratulate him on his victory. “It’s still a little salty because winning a bracelet means so much to me. To get that close, I think that’s my fourth or fifth WSOP final table, so I’ve had my shots and that was the closest and I really feel like if I had it again, I have a small edge over my opponent but that’s how it goes,“ said Hunichen. “The last hand has been eating me alive, I kinda misplayed it a little bit, it was a little bit of a cooler but I still shouldn’t have stacked off an had a chance to rebuild back up.” The pair actually agreed to a chop heads-up, giving Hunichen $450,000 for his efforts. That’s a big part of the reason Hunichen, a former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, believes this summer has been one of his best yet and it started early on with a six-figure score away from the Rio. “I got fourth in the $10K at the Venetian for just under $100K, I think that was the third or fourth tournament of the summer, so that was nice. Covered a lot of my buy-ins, gave me a lot of confidence going forward,” said Hunichen. “ He’s also picked up some smaller cashes along the way and believes that as the Main Event begins, he’s in a great spot to put up a result better than the 114th place finish he had last year. “I believe that might have been my first cash in the Main out of five attempts. I had a couple of bad years and then I had some years where I just ran really bad in the Main. But I think I’m on top of my game now, I’m playing the best that I’ve ever had before so I think this year I’m set up for another deep run,” said Hunichen. The results this summer are the result of a shift in Hunichen’s focus when it comes to stuff away from the felt. He’s dedicated more of his time to studying the game than he ever had before. “I used to play lot of but never put in a lot of work off the felt. I really put in time studying, started a stable and we’ve we’ve done a lot of coaching for that, so that helps too, to kind of fine tune and refresh,” said Hunichen. “Other than that, I really think that a lot of the off the felt work is just so important in poker nowadays because it’s just constantly evolving, it gets harder and harder everyday. You can’t get content with your skill level because you’re just never where you need to be.” Hunichen was one of those players who decided to move to Costa Rica after Black Friday to continue to play online poker. it’s been home now for six years for him. He’s married and six months the couple had their first baby to add to the son, Derek, his wife had before they met. With all that in mind, Hunichen things big changes are coming for the family of four. “I think we’re going to move, maybe out here to Las Vegas, sometime in February or March or something. The school systems (in Costa Rica) aren’t where I want my kid to be growing up, and now that Derek’s four, he’ll be five in October, so he’s going to be starting school,” said Hunichen. “I think a year or two would be fine in Costa Rica, but anything after that I want to get him into some good public schools or maybe even some good private school around here or something.” A move to Las Vegas would mean no longer being able to play online on PokerStars, partypoker and 888poker. Hunichen’s okay with that though, he’s ready to take a new challenge that might see him playing in something a bit bigger than the PokerStars $215. “Out here I can actually still work. I’d consider playing some bigger cash games at Aria, and getting into that kind of mode, maybe start playing the $25Ks regularly or something, possibly if things keep going well,” said Hunichen. He’s hoping to be busy for the next week or so though with the Main Event. He’s playing Day 1A this year after always having played Day 1C in previous years. Deep stacked, big field events are where Hunichen goes to feast. “I feel like these kind of fields play to my strengths. I final tabled the Millionaire Maker a couple of years ago which is about the same size field as this. I also a top 50 in the Millionaire Maker a year or two after,” said Hunichen. “The good thing is there’s a lot of rec players in this tournament, so I’m kind of chatty and friendly at the table, and I think that plays to my advantage as well. Make some friends and they don’t mind losing to you and they respect you and they’d rather lose to you than lose to the guy who’s treating people like shit.”
  20. [caption width="640"] Judy and Tom O'Meara Sr. flank Keren Jackson and John Nichol, two of the five people their late son left 2017 WSOP Main Event seats to in his will.[/caption] Judy and Tom O’Meara Sr. are inside the Amazon Room on Sunday afternoon, sweating the early action from Day 1B of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Neither one of them play poker and they’d be hard-pressed to pick out any of the players who made the final table last year. In their hearts, they were hoping to be at the WSOP cheering on their son, Tom Jr. The 52-year-old real estate agent picked up the poker bug not long after Chris Moneymaker’s win in the 2003 WSOP Main Event and then started organizing small buy-in tournaments in his neighborhood in Dacula, a suburb just about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. Like a lot of poker players, he always dreamed of playing in the Main Event. In early 2016, Tom Jr. was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had hoped to finally play the Main Event last summer but was simply too sick to get to Las Vegas. He died in September before ever being able to cross the Main Event off of his bucket list. “His wife passed away in June, so we did his will at that point and that’s when he made up his mind on how he wanted to distribute his assets because he didn’t have any children,” said O’Meara Sr., who had traveled from their home in Michigan to be with their son in his final days. With his wife gone and no children to leave things to, Tom Jr. made sure that five of his home game buddies got to do the thing he never had the chance to do and he wrote into his will a 2017 Main Event buy in for five of his home game friends. That’s how John Nichol, Keren Jackson, Jerry Hanes, Miltos Tzinourtas and Steve Pavlichek ended up in the 2017 WSOP Main Event, with Judy and Tom Sr. cheering them on from the sidelines. “He wanted to be here and couldn’t, so he said ‘hey, how about my best friends?,’ said O’Meara Sr. Before he died, O’Meara made sure to let each of the five know that he’d picked them to play the Main Event. “I was on way to golf, gorgeous day, I’ve got my top down on my convertible and he calls me and he says, ‘I just wanted to let you know, because I didn’t want it to be a surprise, you’re in my will.’ And as soon as he said that, goosebumps all over, because there’s only one reason he put any of us in his will,” said Hanes. “He’s like ‘I’ve been hoping to get to this year’s Main, I’m just too sick I can’t do it. I’m not going to get it off my bucket list, but I’m going to make sure you do’.” [caption width="640"] Keren Jackson is one of five players playing the 2017 WSOP Main Event after a generous gift from a long time friend.[/caption] Jackson, the lone female in the group, remembers getting his phone call from Tom Jr. “He called me personally. It was soon after he went to his attorney after he found out his fight wasn’t going to end with success,” said Jackson. “We cried because I’d rather he be here to do this. It’s an honor. It’s a gift and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.” As for why Tom Jr. chose her as one of the five, Jackson recalled impressing her neighbor during some home games. "He said he liked my moxie," remembered Jackson. Tzinourtas was away on business in Australia when he got his phone call. Blown away by the generosity of the gesture, Tzinourtas knows that he and his four friends have been given a chance to pay homage to their longtime friend while also living out a dream of their own. “I don’t think there’s any better way to honor Tom, honor his life and honor a guy that basically came from working in Detroit as a janitor, barely making ends meet and becoming who he ended up becoming in the end, a great, great guy,” said Tzinourtas. Each of the five describe Tom Jr. the same way; overly generous, willing to do anything to help out a friend or make the neighborhood a better place. Even though he and his wife didn’t have a family of their own, each Halloween he transformed his house into the one that everybody in the neighborhood would talk about. The five have honored Tom by wearing shirts with Tom’s name on them and the king of hearts. That card was chosen with purpose. “He really was the king of hearts. He would do anything for anybody,” said Hanes. [caption width="640"] Jerry Hanes wearing the King of Hearts on his shirt to honor his longtime friend, Tom O'Meara.[/caption] His generosity and passion for helping other people have left a lasting impression on those closest to him. For Tom Sr., he looks back at the way he handled the last eight months of his life. “He knew what was coming, but he was a champion and from the beginning he just said ‘it is what it is, i’m okay with it and at peace with everything’. I couldn’t get over that,” said Tom Sr. The group also had special coins made with each of their names on one side and Tom’s on the other to serve as card protectors. The $10,000 buy-in to the Main Event is a pretty steep jump up from the usual $40 tournaments they play back home. “This is the third or fourth time I’ve been in a casino, but this is the first time I’ve played any kind of tournament. I’m a real home game player,” said Nichol. “It’s unbelievable; his generosity, his love of the game. We used to play poker back when we first started and he was head and shoulders above everyone else.“ Tom Jr. likely would have been the most comfortable of the group had he lived long enough to play the Main Event. He regularly made trips up toe Cherokee, North Carolina - the closest casino to Dacula - to play poker. One such trip, last June, ended up being the last thing he did before passing away six weeks later. “The last time he actually went out of the house, he wanted to go to Cherokee and so he went with Miltos and Steve and then Tom and I went in a separate car. That was the last time he played,” said Tom Sr. “They watched and made sure he was okay and he had a good time.” Judy remembers worrying that he wasn’t going to be able to go on that trip. “That was the last time he went out socially and he didn’t even think he could do it. He was very ill the night before. He was bound and determined to get out there,” said Judy. Tom and Judy are only staying in Las Vegas until Monday before heading to Arizona for a short visit with Tom’s sister before returning to their home in Michigan for a wedding next Saturday. While they’re unable to stick around see how the five do over the next few days, they’ve learned something about their son by meeting the folks he chose to represent him. “I can see why Tom picked these people,” Judy said. “They all have stories too.” [caption width="640"] John Nichol and Judy O'Meara walk arm in arm during a break on Day 1B of the WSOP Main Event[/caption]
  21. [caption width="640"] Mickey Craft has spent a good chunk of Day 4 and 5 at the 2017 WSOP Main Event in the ESPN/PokerGO spotlight.[/caption] Ever year at the World Series of Poker Main Event, some unknown player bursts onto the scene and grabs the attention of poker fans around the world. Sometimes it’s for “speech play”. Sometimes it’s for antics at the table. And sometimes it’s for a playing style that combines fun with the a real disregard for whatever GTO is. This year that player is clearly Mickey Craft. The Wilmington, North Carolina native has caught the attention of fans watching on ESPN and PokerGO, including Danielle Andersen, whom he played with earlier in the tournament. Craft has gladly shown bluffs, overbet big pots and kept his opponents wondering exactly what the hell is going on. Craft isn’t quite sure what to make of all the attention he’s getting. “I don’t even know how that would even happen,” said Craft, who had his table moved to one of the featured tables after the last break. Despite not understanding what all the fuss is about, Craft knows his style of play probably flies in th face of what the young pros would consider an optimal approach - especially this deep in the Main Event - but he thinks others should follow his example. “It’s definitely a loose aggressive style, everybody should play that way, a lot of people worry too much about making the money or advancing and everything, when you should just worry about having fun, play your cards, play the people and just make a time of it,” said Craft. He’s already seen his chip stack fluctuate in way that might remind some of his younger opponents of their crypto-currency investments and he’s got no designs on tightening up any time soon. “Not right now. I think I went from two million up to almost five, now I’m down to three. Might be down to two, might be up to seven,” joked Craft. Even though he’s playing a lot of hands, Craft would still like to make the final table, if only to say he sat in the same seats as some of his poker heroes. “I just hope to be able to continue it for sure. I would love to be able to be at the final table,” said Craft. “I grew up watching it the last 10-15 years, some of the people that I have looked up to; Daniel Negreanu, the Magician, Phil Hellmuth, even though people don’t like him, those people are just having fun.” Even though he doesn’t understand why he would have fans at this point, Craft hopes that maybe his devil-may-care approach inspires a few other players to play the Main Event next year and has advice ready for those able to play. “Don’t go in nervous - first of all, don’t spend $10,000 that you don’t have - and don’t worry about leveling up and things of that nature. You’re playing to win and the only way to win is to stop caring about stuff like that and start playing the game for fun,” said Craft. “Of course play smart and play the people. Once they think you’re loose aggressive and you finally do have something, they’re going to call you.” At the midway point of Level 30, Craft had 4.6 million, good enough for a top 10 stack.
  22. [caption width="640"] Bryan Piccioli is enjoying his deepest run in the WSOP Main Event and hopes to keep going.[/caption] This time last year Bryan Piccioli, once the #1-ranked online poker player in the world, was deep in the World Series of Poker Main Event and updating his friends and family back home in Olean, New York as he made his way through the field. His parents, Dan and Diana, were following along right up until their son busted in 84th place. The day a player busts out of the Main Event is the worst day of their year and Bryan and his girlfriend Karissa made plans to get away for an extended European vacation. “I didn’t want to play poker for a little bit, I was ready for a nice break. My girlfriend and I had a nice vacation planned,” Bryan said. “It was supposed to be a 28-day trip and then on the fifth day I got the phone call you never want to get from your mom.” Bryan’s dad had suffered a serious spinal injury after falling at home. A medevac was brought in to take him to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo – some 75 miles away - for surgery to alleviate some of the pressure on his spine. “She didn’t know how serious it was at first. So she kind of waited a little bit to see exactly what the situation was before calling me and it turned out it was very serious,” Bryan said. Bryan’s dad was suddenly a quadriplegic. Abandoning the vacation, Bryan flew from Copenhagen to Amsterdam to New York City to Buffalo to get back to his family. Once stable, doctors recommended that he be transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one of the nation’s leaders in spinal injury rehabilitation. With bills to pay, Bryan’s mom couldn't afford much time off work and his sister had just started the nursing program at George Mason University in Virginia. Bryan realized what needed to happen. “Poker gives me the freedom to pretty much do whatever and take however long off I want, whether it be good or bad comes up. Obviously this is very unfortunate. I’m extremely close with my dad,” said Piccioli. “Somebody had to step up to the plate and my girlfriend and I got a two month lease in an apartment in Pittsburgh just to be there with him day after day while he was going through rehab. I can’t imagine what he was going through mentally and he just needed someone to be there.” In the meantime, his sister Lauren set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family raise money to pay for the extensive renovations the family home in Olean was going to need to accommodate Dan. Co-workers from Cattaraugus County, where Dan served as Social Services Commissioner, started selling t-shirts to help with the fundraising. [caption width="640"] Lauren Piccioli started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for some of the renovations needed for the Piccioli house.[/caption] The campaign was a huge success and while Dan was in Pittsburgh learning how to cope with his new reality, contractors went to work. “For a while there were workers coming in and out every day, construction sounds throughout the house,” Bryan said. “The house is finally done, it looks great. His room had to get expanded for room for his bed and stuff. It looks super nice, the guys did an amazing job. At least he has like a sense of home now.” Once his dad was back home, Bryan and Karissa had a decision to make. The pair had planned on moving to San Diego in January. That move would mean Bryan would be almost 2,600 miles away. “I talked it over with both my girlfriend and my parents of course, and they want us to live our lives,” said Bryan. “With poker, I’m able to have the freedom to go back whenever, so once a month I can go back for a week, look after my dad, give my mom a break, and then come back.” The rehabilitation process gave Dan some limited improvement, but the reality is that his situation is unlikely to improve any time soon, if at all. “It’s very little and honestly the chances improvements we’ve come to realize are extremely low,” said Bryan. “We’ve heard so many miracle stories about people in the same situation and he’s just so strong and he’s a hard worker so we just hope and pray that things come, but either way we’re there for him.” Before the start of Day 6 of the 2017 WSOP Main Event, Bryan was still playing, looking to better his 2016 finish and was again keeping family and friends up to date on his progress, including his biggest fan. “He can’t really use a phone right now, but we usually have somebody there during the day with him so sometimes messages get relayed,” Bryan said. “Usually I just copy and paste my mom and dad the same message, so he’s been getting a lot of updates.” But Dan isn’t just some railbird who has no clue about the game. He’s the one who introduced Bryan to the game years ago. In 2006, Dan played the Main Event, finishing 537th. It was a memorable experience for a lifelong poker fan, there was just one small problem. “Him and his buddy came and they both cashed within ten places of each other in the money. They got the min-cash for $12,500,” Bryan said. “He told me this story, they lost money on the trip after hotel and airfare. They cashed the Main Event and lost money.” He’s also picked up a few other cashes over the years. The last few times he’s been out to Las Vegas though was the cheer on his son. “He was here last summer, not during the Main, but he came out a couple weeks before the Main,” Bryan said. “He got to see me play in the money of the $5K No Limit. He was sweating that, but then he had to go back to work.” Through the first two levels of play on Day 6, just 60 players remain and Piccioli sits right in the middle of the pack. While he’s trying hard not to get too far ahead of himself, he’d love to find a way to have his biggest fan on the rail should be make it to the final table. “We’re still not exactly sure as far as accessibility for him to start traveling in the near future. We have a van, we can drive him wherever, but we’re not sure about airplanes,” said Bryan. “If need be, I’ll hire a team of chauffeurs to drive the van across the country. There’s two days before the final table. I will hire people to drive him in a van. I looked it up, it’s 36 hours from Buffalo to Vegas.” One of this year’s most endearing stories has given Bryan even more inspiration though. Kenneth ‘K.L’ Cleeton finished in 917th place. The 27-year-old suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and is paralyzed from the neck down – just like Dan. What if Dan could play the Main Event next year? “Shortly after the accident I’d mention, ‘When are we going to get you back at the poker table?’ and he was always like, ‘Oh no, that’s the last thing on my mind’,” Bryan said. “But in the past couple of months he’s slowly started to be like, ‘We could make it work somehow, right?’. So I feel like things are slowly starting to work things out. We’re going to figure out a way.” Sharing the story with his family, Bryan hopes it serves as a bit of inspiration for dad. “I was tearing up honestly. I told my Dad the whole story. I was FaceTiming with him, ‘Dad, look at this guy. This is the perfect example. You could be out here next year’,” said Bryan. The 28-year-old has learned a lot about himself in the past year, but he says he’s had some important things reinforced for him. “I’ve always been super aware that I have amazing parents and I love them so much and for something like that to happen to them, it really puts life in perspective,” said Bryan. “My family is so strong, we’re doing great. We’re getting through it together.” Even though he’s in Las Vegas now, and enjoys the lifestyle in San Diego, putting his entire family under one roof so they could be together would be the ideal situation. The deeper he gets in the Main Event, the easier it will be to make that happen. “My dream, hopefully one day, is to be able to get a big house and live with my parents, I don’t know where but if I win this tournament that would help,” Bryan said.
  23. [caption width="640"] Marinus Hoogma got into the 2017 WSOP Main Event for just .[/caption] Just a few weeks ago Marinus Hoogma and his brother Joep were just hanging out together watching 888poker ambassador and Twitch streamer Parker ‘tonkaaaa’ Talbot stream some poker. Joep, 22, has been playing online poker for a while now, but Marinus just more or less watched from the sidelines. Talbot was hyping up a freeroll he was running and Marinus figured he’d give it a try. “My brother’s like, ‘You should try it out as well, play some poker with me’, and Toknkaa had something going on where you could get a $10 bonus if you register,” said Marinus. “So I made my account and I lost there, sadly, in the tournament that (Talbot) organized.” Normally that could be the end of the tale, but not this time. Marinus decided to have a bit of fun. “I was like, ‘okay, let’s do some BLASTs’,” said Marinus. BLASTs are the lottery-style sit-n-go on 888poker that feature four players playing for a randomly drawn prize. Marinus played a $10 BLAST and after all four player registered the spinning wheel that determines the prize had a bit of fun with Marinus. One of the prizes available was a 2017 WSOP Main Event package. “It was spinning, my brother was sitting next to me, and it was like ‘Oh, we didn’t get it’ but then it shot back. So we were like ‘what?’,” said Marinus. The wheel in the center of the table stopped on the WSOP prize package spot. It took only a few minutes, but Marinus was suddenly making plans for a trip to Las Vegas. “I won that one against three other players. It was a bit of luck, I won a couple of hands that, statistically, I shouldn’t have won but that’s poker,” said Marinus, who decided to bring his brother with him on the 5,000 mile trip. “I actually got into poker because of my poker. He plays it more than me, he’s actually a little bit better than me,” said Marinus. Having never played live poker before, Marinus jumped into a couple of smaller tournaments at home. “I played two tournaments in Hollands Casino in the Netherlands to get a feeling for live poker, because I have never played live before in my life,” said Marinus, who admits to having sweaty palms now that he’s on to Day 2 of the Main Event. “I’m quite nervous, because I know that I’m that the level that’s here is much higher than I can play. I know that. I’m trying to keep telling myself it’s only $10, but it’s hard,” said Marinus. “Somewhere in the back of my mind, the min cash is $15,000 - for me that’s a lot of money. I played a $10 blast tournament and there’s a reason that I played for $10, my bankroll isn’t that big.” Joep has been on the rail, lending support and some advice for his brother when it’s needed. “I think it would have been better had he actually won the tournament, because he’s more experienced but he also likes it more than I do,” said Marinus. “I’m enjoying it, it’s a fun game, but because I’m not that experienced, it’s hard to enjoy something that you don’t really know.” Even if he doesn’t cash - he starts Day 2C with 22,800 - the 26-year-old knows he’s managed to experience something that he wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford and doing it with his brother makes it even more special. “Being here together, it’s amazing. Staying at Vdara, for us that’s once in a lifetime, I think and that’s why I really enjoy the fact that I’m here,” said Marinus.
  24. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Gjergj Sinistaj is playing on Day 3 of the Main Event and has pieces of action spread across the Amazon Room.[/caption] If you look in the Brasilia Room at Joe McKeehen’s Main Event title banner, you see a man holding up the championship bracelet with a $7.6 million smile on his face. Behind the pile of money and glory are another man who helped to finance McKeehen’s buy in and the entry fee for at least a dozen more players that year. Gjergj Sinishtaj has grown from the preeminent online cash game prodigy of his generation to piece buyer extraordinaire. Sinishtaj played in some of the highest-stakes games as a teenager and was featured as an adversary against the “2 Months 2 Million” team under the screen name of “Blewjob.” Online poker is obviously not a prevalent option across the United States and as a result, Sinishtaj has turned his attention toward the occasional live game and piece buying with the Main Event serving as his personal trust fund. In 2015 and 2016, Sinishtaj says there were 15 players of whom he had a piece of. Not all of the buys panned out by the ones that did, earned Sinishtaj a fortune. Sinishtaj had 30 percent of McKeehen’s action when he won and then had approximately 65 percent of Gordon Vayo’s$4.6 million score for taking second place last year. There isn’t a specific method to Sinishtaj’s brilliance but he does his due diligence to make sure the pieces he’s buying are worth the full investment. “A lot of it has to do with luck. I’m not going to say I’m a skillful picker because I’ve obviously run way above EV in buying pieces. What I look at first is the markup and then I do a little bit of history on the player, get some references and interview them to see what type of person they are. I go with my gut, some people come approach me or I approach them, I might not stake them in the tournament even if I approach them. It depends on my feel.” In 2015, Sinishtaj cashed for the first time in the Main Event, bowing out at the end of Day 4. Sinishtaj was preoccupied with his own play as he is this year with 200,000 in his stack as of Level 13. There are 30 players, according to Sinishtaj, that he has action on this year but he doesn’t keep tabs on how they are doing until the end of the day while he is playing. It makes sense for Sinishtaj to have more players in this year’s field based on his previous success and after putting out a tweet along with some word of mouth, Sinishtaj had players reach out to him to have their action bought. “I have more players this year. The reason is, people have heard that I’ve had so much success staking and they think it’s a lucky thing. A lot of people approached me and had fair markups. I’m able to negotiate the markups too, I’m like ‘I’m super lucky, how about 1.4 instead of 1.6?’ and they’re like, ‘alright!’” Along with the $10,000 he spent on himself to enter the Main Event, Sinishtaj has $100,000 invested in the field within his pieces. Sinishtaj says that both last year and this year were a struggle in terms of ROI prior to the Main Event. Vayo was able to save Sinishtaj’s summer in 2016 and with about 1,800 players currently remaining, chances are that there are few horses still in who can carry Sinishtaj to the finish line for the third straight year.
  25. [caption width="640"] Antoine Saout is one of 11 former November Niners who started Day 4 of the 2017 WSOP Main Event with chips.[/caption] At the start of Day 4 of the 2017 World Series of Poker there were 11 players who had, at one point in their careers, been a part of the now retired November Nine. The top three from that group were Antoine Saout, Kenny Hallaert and Ben Lamb. It really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see those three running deep in the Main Event. Along with their final table appearances, each one of them has also had a top 125 finish. Saout finished 25th last year, Hallaert was 123rd in 2015 and Ben Lamb got 14th in 2009, a year before his final table appearance. “I learned a lot when I made a deep run in 2015 when I finished 123rd place,” said Hallaert. “I was really tired and exhausted already on Day 5 and I was disappointed when I was knocked out on Day 5 because I got down to approximately 2% of the field and I had a field that I had ruined my only chance to ever make a deep run in this event.” Hallaert knew that fatigue was a big factor in his downfall in 2015 and took steps to correct that or 2016. He worked on eating better, lost some weight, put some effort to improving his focus all while continuing to improve his game as much as possible. “I could see it in my results already. I was improving. I was working a lot on my game as well but I was feeling better when I was sitting at the table, I was less tired, I was just a happier person in general. So I found, more or less, the key to success,” said Hallaert, who finished sixth last year. Lamb knows that the Main Event offers a very different type of player than any other tournament in the world. The abundance of amateur players, many playing the Main Event for the first time, make mistakes with the weight of the moment upon them. “I think a lot of people get deep in this tournament and the pressure gets to them and they end up making a horrible decision for all of their chips, said Lamb. “Some kind of weird force takes over them and they end up making a mistake.” Having two top-14 finishes in his career, Lamb believes he has a solid understanding about what types of players are in the tournament and how best to take advantage of each of them. “I’ve been deep before and it helps. I know what to expect, know how the tournament is going to play out, know how other people are going to react,” said Lamb. “You know who’s going to play ABC and who’s really going to try to put pressure on.” Each of them were in the enviable position on the bubble to have a lot of chips. While a lot of players were simply folding everything, hoping to squeak into the money, Lamb, Saout and Hallaert were on the other end of that equation, applying pressure to players not wanting to bust early. “The bubble is actually about getting more chips, so I abused the bubble. I got like 200,000 chips,” said Saout. For Hallaert, having a big stack at the stage afforded him the opportunity to do something that others couldn’t: relax and enjoy the moment without worrying about busting. “I had the luxury to have had chips three years in a row on the bubble. Once we were down to 1,500 (players), I was 90% sure I was cashing given my chip stack. So I could already start putting a lot of pressure on opponents,” said Hallaert. Even though they’ve had their fair share of success in the Main Event, making it past the bubble was still something worth savoring. “The Main Event is the most beautiful tournament in the world, there’s nothing else that can compare,” said Hallaert. “Even though it’s already my fourth cash, I think I would want to die to make a cash in the Main Event because it’s so unique.”
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