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Found 8 results

  1. Damian Salas’ amazing start to 2021 got even better this week with a string of online scores propelling the newly crowned World Series of Poker Main Event champion to a career-high spot in the latest worldwide Online Poker Rankings. If the totality of Salas’ yearly accomplishments would have been taking down the 2020 WSOP Main Event in January, by any standard it would have been a great year. But Salas, who has a well-documented love of the grind seemingly isn’t content with his place in the history books, he wants more. After spending the past two weeks racking up picking up impressive scores and the PocketFives Leaderboard points that come with them, the Argentinian has soared 19 spots this week to break through into the top 10 of the Online Poker Rankings where he currently sits at #9. His spotlight score of last month was a runner-up finish in the February 14 edition of the weekly GGPoker $10,000 buy-in Super MILLION$. From a final table that included top-ranked pros like Bert ‘girafganger7’ Stevens, Arsenii ‘hellohellohello’ Malinov, and, eventual winner, Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro, Salas collected a $314,924 payday and 937.69 PLB points for his second place finish. On the same day, Salas finished in third place in the GGPoker Sunday High Roller Bounty Special for another $7,390 and 131.69 points. One week later, Salas ran deep in another major event when he finished inside the final two tables in the PokerStars Turbo Series 03 ($5,200 NLHE, 8-Max High Roller) for $14,284 and another 179.43 PLB points. And finally, he grabbed another 180.61 PLB points when he bubbled the final table of the GGPoker two-day $1,050 Monday Main Event, finishing in tenth place for $4,289. For Salas to remain in the top 10 moving forward, he’s going to need to continue to keep busy. The PLB point race is especially tight in the #8-#12 spots with Salas being just 383 points behind Brazilian Bruno ‘brunovolks’ Volkmann and a mere 127 points ahead of Anatoly ‘nl_profit’ Filatov who sits at #10. For someone to enter the top 10 means that someone has to leave and this week it was Anton ‘AnteSvante’ Wigg who slipped from the #9 spot to #11. Also of note for Salas, at the very end of January he scored a runner-up finish in a GGPoker $1,500 High Roller Deepstack for $16,119. That's a nice score by any measure but it was also the moment that he eclipsed the $9 million in online earnings mark. Online Poker Rankings Notes This Week • Last week it was Yuri ‘Yuri Martins’ Dzivieleski who was in the position to make a run at Brunno ‘bbotteon’ Botteon’s reign at #1, this week former #1-ranked Bert ‘girafganger7’ Stevens assumes the #2 spot. The difference this week is that Steven has eclipsed the 13,000 PLB mark, putting him closer than any other player has been in nearly a month. Helping Stevens out was his victory this week in the GGPoker $400 Forty Stack where he earned $11,669 and 224.46 PLB points. • With his win in the aforementioned GGPoker Super MILLION$, Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro also had a significant leap in this week’s rankings rising from #26 back to #12. The win was worth $408,406 and brought with it an impressive 1,421.27 PLB points. Keep an eye on the former worldwide #1 for a possible return to the Top 10 in the coming weeks. • Jonathan ‘proudflop’ Proudfoot flew back into the Top 100 this week, rising 245 places to #40 thanks to a slew of recent high roller results from GGPoker, a deep run in the PokerStars Turbo Series, and a runner-up finish in the partypoker High Roller One Shot for $26,425 (307.69 PLB points). Next week see another surge for the Brit as he took down a the $5,250 High Roller Special on GGPoker for $125,383 and made the final table of the partypoker MILLIONS Online Main Event. • Five players returned to the Top 100 this week including the Brazilian trio of 'dennysramos2', ‘jason132008’, and ’saymon9’ as well as former #1-ranked superstar Jon ‘apestyles’ Van Fleet who comes in at #98 this week. Although Van Fleet’s recorded volume has been light in 2021, he’s is always good for massive scores. Including his third-place finish in the PokerStars Turbo Series 03 ($5,200 NLHE High Roller) where he won $101,421 (471.27 PLB points) and jumped to over $17 million in career online cashes, good for #4 on the All-Time Online Money List.
  2. It’s not often that one gets a second shot at greatness. Very few have been afforded that opportunity when it comes to becoming the World Series of Poker Main Event champion. So when Damian Salas, who just three years ago finished in seventh place at the WSOP Main Event, found himself in a position to win the championship bracelet that eluded him in 2017, he leaned into his passion for the game and his desire to be known as one of the very best finally reach his championship goal. “Taking into account my experience in 2017, I didn’t see it as a rematch, I took it as a new opportunity granted by this beautiful mind sport so that I could win the World Championship,” said Salas. “I felt great and highly motivated. I’ve worked with tons of persistence during these last eight or nine years of my professional career, so I can give my very best in times of extreme pressure. I felt like I could make it and that was a determining factor to becoming the champion.” It may be that Salas, the Argentinian lawyer turned poker pro, made a name for himself in poker with his seventh-place finish 2017 Main Event when he won $1.425 million but as he mentioned, it was by no means the start of his poker journey. Salas has made the trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker for over a decade and prior to his first Main Event, final table appearance had posted a string of impressive results on the biggest poker tours in Latin America including the LAPT and BSOP. If Salas’ journey had essentially ended with his seven-figure score on ESPN it would be a poker success story by nearly every metric. However, for Salas, a few minutes in the spotlight was not what he was after. It still isn’t. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal. It’s not what drives me,” Salas said. “It is great, taking those results into account, as it is paramount to meeting other ambitions in my life. But my basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” “As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t think winning [the Main Event] makes me the best player in the world, but I am worthy of the achievement since I believe I could compete for many years now with the world-class poker elite. That’s an honor I’ve earned, and it is my greatest challenge and motivation day in and day out - to remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” To get to where he is, Salas has embraced the grind. With live poker events essentially put on hold in 2020, Salas dove into online poker and quickly became the #1-ranked player in his native Argentina. He broke through into the worldwide top-20 with the help of a pair of impressive scores in some of the year’s biggest tournament series. First, he took third place in the first-ever WPT World Championship Main Event on partypoker which came with an $814,664 payday. Then he took home a PokerStars EPT Online title with a victory in Event #20 ($1,050 NLHE) for another $117,475. The success was paving the way to a run in the WSOP Main Event. “Honestly, I was having a great year,” he said. “So I wasn’t surprised by the [WSOP win] because I felt in great shape, I was really prepared. Obviously, it was incredible and even spectacular to close the year this way.” The path to the WSOP Main Event title was unlike any in years past. First Salas has to navigate the field of online entrants on GGPoker, then travel to the Czech Republic to play down the final table at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, and finally make his way to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to compete against Joseph Hebert, the winner of the domestic leg of the WSOP Main Event, in a for-broadcast heads-up match. “I can say that the online elements against international players at GGPoker were impressive. The poker world’s elite played in that tournament and I had to face them all,” he said, looking back on the tournament as a whole. “It was highly difficult. The clash was really hard from the beginning.” When he made the live final table he was third in chips but one of the toughest challenges awaited. Brazil’s Brunno Botteon, the current #1-ranked player in the world, held the chip lead and was also having a career year. “At the final table were at least five elite representatives of poker including Bruno Botteon, whose quality is extraordinary. And, well, the confrontation demanded my very best,” he said. “I was really inspired at the final table, where I took certain creative lines which I could capitalize in my favor. In the end, while I believe I also benefited from some good cards and good luck, I think those creative hands were responsible for my success.” Salas walked away with the win after defeating Botteon heads-up, which brought him a new career-high score of $1.55 million. It also put him in line to battle heads up for the championship bracelet. “Then came the heads up with Joseph [Hebert]. Either one of us could have won, really,” Salas said. But even after losing some key pots and being on the brink of finishing in second, Salas fought back. “I think I played with discipline, with concentration, with metered quantities of matured aggressiveness that was very efficient,” he said. “It is a great privilege because I understand I was very lucky. However, I also know I have done all I could so that I could meet my goal and that fills me with joy.” In the aftermath of reaching his goal, one might expect Salas to take some time off, perhaps enjoy a few of the finer things with his bonus $1 million payday he received for winning the bracelet. While some new doors are opening for the new World Champion, Salas insists that the main goal of being elite never stops. “Being totally honest, my daily routine has not changed much. As I always say, I’m not driven by money. There is another motivation, that’s to belong to the world elite. Added to the fact that I truly enjoy what I do and I do love playing poker, so my routine remains practically the same…I’m the World Champion, and that’s great, but understanding I’m the same person I was before the tournament.”
  3. There’s not a single year-end list that won’t be heavily influenced by the pandemic, and this one is no different. Nearly every industry faced overwhelming challenges in the face of COVID-19, the same was true for poker. As live poker events took a backseat to an online poker surge, some of this year’s brightest rising stars had career-making moments take place while playing online in the strangest of times. While there were plenty of poker players (and personalities) who succeeded in continuing their poker pursuits in 2020, these are our five Rising Stars who took what this year gave them and used it to step into the spotlight. Brunno 'bbotteon' Botteon Some in South America knew what Brazilian poker powerhouse Brunno Botteon had to offer, but after a year where Botteon seemingly never cooled off, now the whole poker world knows how great he really is. In 2020, no matter the online series, no matter the stakes, Botteon found a way to thrive. At the end of 2019, Botteon could regularly be seen playing mid-stakes, with the occasional high roller mixed in. That all began to change at the very start of 2020. In early January, on the same day at the same time, he finished as the runner-up in the PokerStars Winter Series $530 Main Event for $196,908 and third place in the Winter Series $5,200 Main Event for another $265,463. The hot start to his year set him up to make deep runs in many of the marquee series that made the move online when forced to postpone their live events. During the World Series of Poker Online events on GGPoker, Botteon found himself in the mix for a bracelet in some of the most prestigious events of the series. After he finished as the runner-up in Event #67 ($500 NLHE) for $41,855, Botteon made another final table in the $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship. He ended up finishing in sixth for $388,837 for what was, at the time, a career-high cash. He bested that just days later when he made it to the finals of the WSOP $25,000 Heads Up Championship. He finished in second place, just behind German superstar Fedor Holz, for a new career-high score of $622,300. Botteon then turned his attention to the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker where he picked up his second career title in Event #36-H ($2,100 NLHE Midweek Freeze) for $80,642. He also finished as the runner-up in Event #48-H ($5,200 8-Max PKO) for another $95,458. By this time, Botteon had soared in the rankings and was sitting as the #3-ranked player in the world and was regularly competing and cashing in the biggest buy-in tournaments online. However, as much as Botteon had already achieved in 2020, he decided to save the best for last. Botteon weaved his way through the international leg of the 2020 World Series of Poker hybrid Main Event, taking the chip lead into the live final table. The Brazilian made his way to Rozvadov where, in the end, he finished in second place to Damian Salas, but locked up his first career seven-figure score of $1,062,723. It was the third time in 2020 that Botteon set himself a new career-high cash and, in total, in his first WSOP experience, Botteon earned more than $2.16 million. Sitting with more than $5.2 million in lifetime online earnings (excluding his WSOP Main Event haul) Botteon’s tenacity at the tables has helped him into online poker history as one of the elite few who has reached the top of the worldwide rankings. On December 12, Botteon finally became the #1-ranked player in the world, capping off an incredible year for one of 2020’s biggest breakout stars. Artur ‘marathur1’ Martirosyan Also known by his screen name ‘marathur1’, Russia’s Artur Martirosyan took his career to the next level in 2020 after capturing multiple titles and big-time cashes. During the Poker Masters Online series in April, Martirosyan narrowly missed out on winning the Purple Jacket after cashing in nine of the 30 high roller event events for a total profit of $551,674. Just weeks later Martirosyan’s heater extended into the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker where he took down Event #17 ($10,300 NLHE 8-Max High Roller) for over $271,000. Days later he grabbed his second title of the series in Event #19 ($5,200 NLHE Midweek Freeze) to add another $157,426 to his ever-expanding bankroll. In June, he was back dominating another Poker Central series when Martirosyan took a series victory in the Super High Roller Bowl Online Series. He made six final tables, eight cashes overall, over the series' 27 events and he earned just under $1.8 million for his efforts. He wasn't done. After a deep run in the World Poker Tour World Online Championships Main Event, he took down the WPT Mini Super High Roller for $239,500 which led to the Russian being named player of the series and winning an additional $50,000 for topping the leaderboard. Landon Tice When you make the leap from online micro-stakes to playing in some of the biggest live games Las Vegas has to offer in a matter of just a couple of years, people are going to take notice. That is exactly what 21-year old Landon Tice has done and his story, and talent, brought youthful energy and excitement to poker 2020. For those that follow poker closely it was hard not to encounter Tice in some form or another, from his on-stream appearances with Joey Ingram to guest co-hosting the Solve For Why podcast with Matt Berkey and Christian Soto, Tice took little time letting his personality shine in the poker media. At the same time, Tice's poker game has reportedly been taken under the wing of the likes of Nick Schulman, Andrew Lichtenberger, and Berkey among others. Tice's Las Vegas cash game exploits at the higher limits were recounted and analyzed on podcasts and social media. At the same time, he quickly proved that his talent translated to the tournament scene as well. Tice took down one of the few major live tournaments to take place this year, besting a field of 1,123 entries in the 2020 MSPT Venetian Main Event for a $201,529 first-place payday. And if the World Series of Poker is able to be run in its traditional form in 2021, one should expect to see a lot more of Landon Tice in the chip counts. Ryan Depaulo When it comes to seizing the spotlight in 2020, perhaps no one did it better than Ryan Depaulo. With his star already on the rise from his popular YouTube channel Ryan Depaulo: Degenerate Gambler, the New York pro successfully pulled off one of the most improbable WSOP gold bracelet victories of the year. In order to play WSOP Online Event #13 ($500 No Limit Hold’em, The Big 500), Depaulo drove his car to a Whole Foods parking lot in New Jersey in order to “borrow” a little internet. From the front seat of his car, Depaulo played all night and reached the final table. When he got there, he dominated. Depaulo eliminated six of his final eight opponents and grabbed the gold bracelet and a $159,563 score as the sun rose over the hood of his car. https://twitter.com/depaulo_ryan/status/1282600527839334400?s=20 After he locked up the win, Depaulo, stunned, jumped out of his car and as the Whole Foods employees were coming in to start their morning shift he screamed out loud “I’m a Legend!” He may not yet be a full-blown poker legend yet but if he continues to pull off insane feats like this one he might just be on his way to becoming one. Jeff Platt It would be fair to say that poker commentator Jeff Platt could have, and rightfully should have, been named a rising star a year ago. Maybe he was and if so, it would have been true. But in 2020, Platt found the opportunity to level up in poker once again by becoming one of the premier faces and voices of some of this year’s most-watched poker streams on Twitch. If Nick Schulman is the current GOAT when it comes to poker commentary, then Platt is the People’s Champion. Platt seemed to be everywhere he was needed in 2020. From grabbing a glass of wine and anchoring the WSOP pre-final table broadcast throughout the summer, to holding down the GGPoker Twitch stream during the Polk-Negreanu challenge, you could count on Platt to be a consummate pro juggling talking thru the action with indulging the chat. With so many events taking place online this year, plenty of content creators have taken a stab in the commentary booth, with varying degrees of success. But it’s Platt’s professionalism that will likely put him in line for more and more work in the poker industry for years and years to come.
  4. Making the trip from Argentina to the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event international live final table at King's Casino in the Czech Republic was well worth it for Damian Salas. The 45-year-old, who also made the final table of the 2017 WSOP Main Event, defeated Brunno Botteon, the #1-ranked online poker player in the world, heads-up to win $1.5 million and will now travel to Las Vegas to play the winner of the American final table live for another $1 million. The final table began eight-handed after China's Peiyuan 'fish3098' Sun not to travel to Rozvadov due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took just 45 minutes for the Salas to turn his aggression into an increased chip stack with the elimination of Hannes Speiser. Salas was the initial aggressor, raising to 425,000 from early position before Speiser, who started the final table with the fifth best stack, responded by moving all in for 1,925,000. Salas called and showed [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] while Speiser was in trouble with [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"]. The board ran out [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"][poker card="jh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6s"] to eliminate Speiser in eighth place. Salas continued to accumulate and 30 minutes later, sent another player home. Stoyan Obreshkov raised to 900,000 from the cutoff and Salas re-raised to 1,750,000 and Obreshkov called all in. Salas showed [poker card="as"][poker card="tc"] which was the worst case scenario for Obreshkov who tabled [poker card="ks"][poker card="th"]. The [poker card="td"][poker card="9d"][poker card="7d"] flop changed nothing for Obreshkov and all he could do was sweat the [poker card="7s"] turn and [poker card="as"] river to seal his fate with a seventh place result. That pot moved Salas into striking distance of Brunno Botteon for the first time since the final table began. A battle of the blinds just 15 minutes later between Dominykas Mikolaitis and Manuel Ruivo ended things for one of them. From the small blind, Ruivo moved all in and Mikolaitis called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"] while Ruivo was ahead with [poker card="3c"][poker card="3h"]. Ruivo improved to bottom set on the [poker card="9c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3d"] flop. The [poker card="7s"] turn ended Mikolaitis' running clubs dream. The [poker card="4c"] completed the board to officially eliminate Mikolaitis in sixth. Ruivo found another victim but it wasn't until nearly two hours later. The Portugal native raised from the button to 600,000 and Marco Streda shoved from the small blind for somewhere north of 2,500,000. Ruivo called and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"] while Streda was in bad shape with [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"]. The board ran out [poker card="jc"][poker card="8c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4s"] to eliminate Streda. Thanks to a 30-minute dinner break and a regularly scheduled 15-minute break, the next elimination didn't happen until nearly one hour and 45 minutes after Streda hit the rail. Ramon Miquel Munoz was down to approximately 800,000 and moved all in from UTG. Botteon followed that by moving all in, forcing the rest of the table to fold. Munoz had life with [poker card="as"][poker card="6d"] while Botteon showed [poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"]. Munoz' tournament life was all but snuffed out on the [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"][poker card="3h"] flop. The [poker card="ks"] turn made a comeback impossible and the [poker card="ad"] river made Munoz' fourth place finish official. Three-handed play last just about an hour before Salas sent the tournament to the heads-up portion. Botteon folded his button, Salas completed from the small blind and then called when Ruivo raised to 1,500,000 in the big blind. After the [poker card="9c"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2d"] flop, Salas check-raised to 5,000,000. Ruivo moved all in for not much more and Salas called. Ruivo showed [poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] for top two pair while Salas tabled [poker card="tc"][poker card="7c"] for a flush draw. Salas added a straight draw on the [poker card="8s"] turn and then completed his flush draw on the [poker card="5c"] river to bust Ruivo in second. Heads-up play began with Salas holding nearly two-thirds of the chips in play. Over a full hour of play between Botteon and Salas, the Brazilian only managed to briefly take over the chip lead before Salas regained it and eliminated Botteon. On the final hand, Botteon completed from the small blind and Salas checked to see a flop of [poker card="kc"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"]. Both players checked to see the [poker card="6h"] turn card. Botteon check-raised to 2,800,000 and Salas called. The [poker card="8c"] completed the board and Botteon moved all in and Salas tank-called. Botteon showed [poker card="7h"][poker card="3h"] for a missed flush draw while Salas tabled [poker card="kd"][poker card="8h"] for top two pair to eliminate Botteon in second place. The win means Salas will be flying to Las Vegas right after Christmas to play the eventual winner of the U.S. leg of the 2020 WSOP Main Event for the $1 million prize. Final Table Payouts Damian Salas - $1,550,969 Bruno Botteon - $1,062,723 Manuel Ruivo - $728,177 Ramon Miquel Munoz - $498,947 Marco Streda - $341,879 Dominykas Mikolaitis - $234,255 Stoyan Obreshkov - $160,512 Hannes Speiser - $109,982 Peiyuan Sun - $75,360
  5. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event continued on Monday as the 179 players who survived the three $10,000 buy-in starting flights on GGPoker reconvened on Day 2 to determine which nine players would lock up a seat at King’s Casino in Rozvadov for a shot at the $1,550,969 first-place prize. When all was said and done on Day 2 it was worldwide #5-ranked Brunno Botteon out of Brazil who rose to the top of the final table chip counts, finishing the day with more than 10 million in chips. More than 4 million behind Botteon on the leaderboard sits Manuel Ruvio. Ruvio scored the final knockout of the day which helped elevate him to second in chips. The top-three is rounded out by 2017 World Series of Poker final table member Damian Salas. Salas, currently third in chips, would need to win the international portion of the Main Event to best his previous final table cash of $1.425 million which he earned for a seventh-place finish. Joining the chip leaders in Rozvadov will be ‘fullbabyfull’, Hannes Speiser, Dominykas Mikolaitis, Ramon Miquel Munoz, Peiyuan Sun, and short-stack Stoyan Obreshkov, who will start the final table with roughly 10 big blinds. Final Table Chip Counts [table id=136 /] Long before the final table was set, over half the field needed to go broke before the payouts began. Some of poker’s most notable names managed to make Day 2 but still ended up going home empty-handed. Former #1-ranked online pros Simon Mattsson and Yuri Dzivielevski were ousted before the money, as were the notable names of Ludovic Geilich, Anatoly Filatov, Anton Wigg, and Daniel Dvoress. WSOP gold bracelet winners Georgios Sotiropoulos, Simon Lofberg, Barak Wisbrod, Jonas Lauck, and Sung Joo Hyun all fell short of the money as well, leaving just Toby Joyce as the lone bracelet winner to sneak into the cash where he finished up in 32nd place for $26,507. Joining Joyce on the right side of the money bubble included Julien Menhardt (24th, $30,404) and Blaz Zerjav (25th, $30,404), the respective Day 1A and Day 1B overnight chip leaders. Alex Difelice (39th, $22,876), Sergio Aido (41st, $22,876), Antonine Saout (53rd, $18,421), Gary Hasson (54th, $18,421), and Gediminas Uselis (74th, $15,277), were also among those who managed to turn a profit. Roughly seven hours into Day 2, the final two tables battled to see who would survive to see the live portion of the tournament. Diego ‘Ushuaua1’ Zeiter got his [poker card="kc"][poker card="jc"] it all-in preflop against Stoyan ‘UncleToni’ Obreshkov’s [poker card="td"][poker card="ts"] but failed to improve, falling in 18th for $34,115. He was quickly followed out the door by China’s ‘sunnyzyang1982’ who got in a raising war with Salas after the pair saw a [poker card="ts"][poker card="8c"][poker card="6d"] flop. The pair got it all in the middle, ‘sunnyzyang1982’ was holding the [poker card="jd"][poker card="td"] but was out-kicked by Salas’ [poker card="ah"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="kh"] turn and [poker card="7h"] river didn’t help ‘sunnyzyang1982’ and they fell in 17th for $39,356. Roughly 30 minutes later it was Fazel ‘waterproo’ Dawood’s turn to go broke. The South African open-shoved holding [poker card="jc"][poker card="tc"] and was called by Salas and his [poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"]. The board ran out pah][poker card="qs"][poker card="7c"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4c"] giving Salas more chips and Dawood a 16th place finish for $39,356. Another 30 minutes passed before Evaldas ‘Man14c’ Aniulis made his move with his short stack holding [poker card="qc"][poker card="jc"]. He was called by Dominykas ‘MickeyMouse’ Mikolaitis in the big blind with [poker card="tc"][poker card="6h"]. The [poker card="9c"][poker card="2d"][poker card="6d"] flop paired Mikolaitis, which held through the [poker card="4h"] turn and [poker card="8c"] river. Aniulis was ousted in fifteenth place a $39,356 payday. ‘BorisLeBlade’ found himself all-in and at risk holding [poker card="ks"][poker card="kd"] against Christopher Puetz’s [poker card="ac"][poker card="2c"]. The board ran out clean for ‘BorisLeBlade’ right up until the [poker card="as"] on the river flipped the script awarding the hand to Puetz and sending ‘BorisLeBlade’ home in fourteenth place with $39,356. Despite securing that knockout, Puetz wasn’t long for the tournament either. He shipped his roughly 10 big blind stack from late position holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="7c"] and was re-shipped on by Hannes ‘BlackFortuna’ Speiser and his [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"]. Both players paired their ace on the [poker card="ad"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3s"] flop, but the [poker card="5s"] turn and [poker card="5h"] river put Speiser’s kicker into play and Puetz exited in thirteenth place for $44,914. The eliminations kept coming as Canada’s Carter Swidler clashed with Day 1C chipleader Senthuran Vijayaratnam in a pre-flop all-in contest. Swidler held [poker card="as"][poker card="7c"] while Vijayaratnam showed down [poker card="kc"][poker card="kd"]. The board ran out clean for the pocket kings and Swidler hit the rail in twelfth place, earning $44,914. Vijayaratnam entered Day 2 with an overwhelming chip lead but with just 11 left he found himself engaged in an all-in clash with Botteon. After Botteon raised from late position with [poker card="qh"][poker card="qd"], Vijayaratnam three-bet shipped his nearly 20 big blind stack with [poker card="ad"][poker card="7s"]. Botteon, who had Vijayaratnam covered, made the quick call with his premium pair. The board ran out [poker card="9s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="7d"][poker card="jd"][poker card="6c"] bringing Vijayaratnam’s day to an end in eleventh place for $50,131 and sending Botteon to the top of the chip counts. The bubble for the final table finally burst when Manuel ‘robocup’ Ruvio raised from under the gun and the UK’s Thomas ‘ggmbn’ Macdonald moved his short stack all-in from the small blind with [poker card="ah"][poker card="4h"]. Ruvio completed the call holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="3h"]. Ruvio took the lead on the [poker card="qc"][poker card="6d"][poker card="3d"] flop and held on through the [poker card="jd"] turn and [poker card="qs"] river to send Macdonald home in tenth place for $50,131, just one spot shy of a trip to Rozvadov. Now, with the final table of nine in place, the players will ditch their screen names and accept the challenge of making their way to King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Rebublic by December 15 to play the international portion of the WSOP Main Event out in person. Final Table Payouts [table id=138 /]
  6. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event has arrived. The unique live-online hybrid solution to finding a successor to current reigning World Champion Hossein Ensan gives players, both in the United States and internationally, one final shot at winning a gold bracelet in 2020. Last updated: Sunday, December 7, 2020 The tournament, which comes with a traditional $10,000 buy-in and is a true freezeout, will hold all of its starting flights online. Players in the United States can travel to Nevada or New Jersey to play in a single opening flight on WSOP.com while international players have three starting flights to choose from on GGPoker. These two separate online tournaments will spawn two different final tables which will be played out live. The final nine from the WSOP.com player pool will determine a winner in Las Vegas as GGPoker's final table will battle it out at King’s Casino in Rozvadov. Ultimately, the winner of each final table will face off in a winner-take-all heads-up battle in front of the ESPN camera on December 30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The winner of that match will take home an additional $1 million and the title of WSOP World Champion. WSOP Main Event Schedule (GGPoker) [table id=130 /] WSOP Main Event Schedule (WSOP.com) [table id=128 /] Julian Menhardt Leads GGPoker Day 1A Survivors [caption id="attachment_633135" align="aligncenter" width="799"] The opening flights of the 2020 World Series of Poker are underway online. (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] The first flight of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event had 246 entries take their one-and-only shot in the $10,000 buy-in tournament. At the end of 16 30-minute levels, just 62 players advanced to day two with Germany’s Julian ‘VWgunther’ Menhardt bagging the chip lead with 534,490 chips (107 big blinds). Germany’s Paul ‘AsiaStylez’ Esau finished the day with 472,075 (94 bbs) for second in chips while the Netherlands Dirk Gerritse rounded out the top three with a 472,075 stack (91 bbs). Plenty of star power entered and survived through Day 1A. This includes former WSOP Main Event standout Preben Stokkan, a pair of Brazil’s best in Brunno Botteon and former #1-ranked player Yuri Dzivielevski, Anatoly Filatov, Daniel Dvoress, and Russia’s Artur Martirosian among others. For others though, the dream of becoming the WSOP Main Event champ will have to wait another year. Fedor Holz, Kristen Bicknell, Christian Rudolph, Julien Martini, and former #1-ranked players Steven van Zadelhoff and Andreas Nemeth were among those notable players who busted before the day was done. Joining them on the rail are the likes of Pablo Brito Silva, Jans Arends, Ole Schemion, Rainer Kempe, Christian Jeppsson, Sebastian Sikorski, and Patrik Antonius. The players that made it through to Day 2 of the WSOP 2020 Main Event will return to the online tables on December 7 and merge with the remaining fields of Day 1B and Day 1C to play down to a final table of nine. Day 1A Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=129 /] Blaž Žerjav Takes Overall Chip Lead On Day 1B [caption id="attachment_633168" align="aligncenter" width="696"] The 2020 WSOP Main Event has a new chip leader after Day 1B. (photo: PokerFactor)[/caption] The World Series of Poker 2020 Main Event continued on December 5 as 171 players opted to take their $10,000 shot on Day 1B. After roughly nine-and-a-half hours of play, 16 total levels, just 42 players survived the day with their dream of becoming the next WSOP World Champion in tact. Slovania’s Blaž Žerjav, third-place finisher in the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online, finished the day atop the chip counts with a stack of 639,394 (128 bbs), good for an overall chip lead through two flights. Žerjav was followed closely by Brazil’s #9-ranked player, Rodrigo Valente (592,043, 118 bbs) in second place and Isreal’s Amir Divr (538,003, 108 bbs) in third. Online poker’s former #1-ranked crusher from Russia, Artem ‘veeea’ Vezhenkov was the only other player to end the day with over 100bbs, finishing in fourth place with 551,114 in chips, good for 102 big blinds. Day 1B saw its share of notable names make it through to Day 2 including World Series of Poker gold bracelet winners Simon Lofberg, Toby Joyce, and Barak Wisbrod. Joining them in advancing was the likes of PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo SHR winner Sergio Aido, Swedish pros Anton Wigg and Simon Mattsson, as well as PokerStars WCOOP winner Alex Difelice. With nearly 3/4th of the field busting throughout the day, it’s fair to say that there was plenty of big-time talent that found themselves on the outside looking in. Some of those who shot and missed included GGPoker ambassadors Felipe Ramos and Kevin Martin, 888poker ambassador Daria Feshchenko, Team partypoker pro Dzmitry Urbanovich, Sylvain Loosli, Bert ‘girafganger’ Stevens, Jens Kyllonen, Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic, Adrian Mateos, and former #1-ranked Swedish pro Niklas Astedt. Day 1B Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=133 /] Senthuran Vijayaratnam Tops Day 1C, Takes Overall Chip Lead Into Day 2 The final starting day of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event on GGPoker saw another 257 players post their $10,000 buy-in to boost the field size to a three-day total of 674 runners. This landed the total prize pool at $6,470,400 assuring a seven-figure score of $1,550,969 for GGPoker’s eventual winner as well as awarding $1,062,723 for the runner-up. At the end of another 16 levels, 75 players virtually bagged chips in Day 1C making for a total remaining field size of just 179 players who will return for Day 2 on Monday. Of those still in the hunt to become the 2020 WSOP World Champion, 80 will make the money and just nine will lock up a seat at the live final table, which set to take place at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic on December 16. Canada’s Senthuran Vijayaratnam leveraged the largest of the three starting flights to launch himself to the top of the overall chip counts. Vijayaratnam has a healthy lead on the field after dragging 966,714 (193 bbs) in chips, a number far above the tournament’s second-place player, the UK’s Jesse Wigan. Wigan just out chipped Day 1b chip leader Blaž Žerjav after finishing the day with 642,276 (128 bbs) in chips. Russia’s Viacheslav Buldygin rounds out the Day 1C top three, locking up 480,671 in chips to advance to Day 2. Day 1C had its fair share of notable names who made their way to the end of the day including WSOP bracelet winners Jonas Lauck and Sung Joo Hyun. Joining them in advancing to Day 2 include the likes of Gediminas Uselis, Damian Salas, Alexandros Kolonias, Ludovic Geilich, Antonine Saout, and Gary Hasson among others. Just like all of the other starting flights before it, Day 1C also saw plenty of big-time talent bust out before the end of the day. Eleven former bracelet winners failed to advance including GGPoker ambassador Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Davidi Kitai, Mike Leah, and 2020 WSOP Online Main Event winner Stoyan Madanzhiev. It was the same fate for the notable names of Dietrich Fast, Patrick Tardif, Dario Sammartino, Benjamin Rolle, Maksim ‘MAMOHT_T’ Mamonov, Mikita Badziakouski, David Peters, Kitty Kuo, and 2014 WSOP Main Event winner Martin Jacobson. Day 1C Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=134 /] Day 1 Combined Top 10 Chip Counts [table id=135 /]
  7. When the complete schedule for the online iteration of the 2020 World Series of Poker was announced, the high-stakes tournament pros from around the world cleared their calendar to be available for the $25K NLHE Poker Players Championship. Sure, this year’s PPC wouldn’t have the traditional variety of mixed games as the live version in Las Vegas has in year’s past, but this tournament had the biggest buy-in of the entire 2020 WSOP and gave players a shot at the largest first-place payday outside of the Main Event. Now, only nine players from the star-studded field of 407 remains. It's a mix of some of poker's brightest superstars, online poker savants, and even a shot-taker or two. They will return on Saturday, August 29 to play down to a winner and award the $1.8 million first-place prize and World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Jason Koon Country: United States Chip Count: 7,863,055 Final table chip leader Jason Koon is one of the most well-known high-stakes tournament players in the world. The Las Vegas, by-way-of Weston, West Virginia, poker pro has climbed into ninth place on the Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List with over $31 million in lifetime live earnings. Koon boasts eight seven-figure scores including a career-high $3,579,836 cash at the 2018 Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro series. In addition to his success in Triton events, for which he’s an ambassador, Koon has high roller victories on both the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour. Should he take this chip lead all the way to victory, it will be his first WSOP title. [caption id="attachment_632398" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Shankar Pillai (photo courtesy of The Borgata)[/caption] Shankar Pillai Country: United States Chip Count: 6,875,234 New York’s Shankar Pillai first garnered the attention of the poker world back in 2007 when he won his first WSOP gold bracelet by winning a $3,000 NLHE event for over $527,000. Twelve years later Pillai earned his second bracelet by battling through the field of the 50th Annual Bracelet Winners event for a $71,580 score. In addition to his nearly $2 million in live earnings, Pillai recently earned two WSOP Online Circuit rings in 2020 as well as a victory in the 2020 WSOP.com Winter Online Championships for more than $69,000. [caption id="attachment_632397" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Christian Rudolph (photo courtesy of Poker Central)[/caption] Christian Rudolph Country: Germany Chip Count: 5,544,188 German superstar Christian Rudolph enters the final table third in chips and in a good position to add to his more than $2.2 million in live career earnings. Although Rudolph looks to have opted out of Hendon Mob tracking, some high-profile scores one simply can’t hide including his recent runner-up finish in the partypoker 2020 MILLIONS UK Main Event for $620,00. Online, Rudolph is well-known for playing under his PokerStars screen name ‘WATnlos’ where he regularly competes in the highest stakes tournaments online and has a victory in the marquee Sunday Million from back in 2018. [caption id="attachment_632396" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Aram Zobian (photo courtesy of Poker Central)[/caption] Aram Zobian Country: United States Chip Count: 4,405,440 Many will recognize Aram Zobian from his final table finish at the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event where he finished in sixth place for a $1.8 million score. Zobian’s first live result dates back to 2016 and since that time he’s put together more than $2.1 million in total live earnings. In addition, the Las Vegas-based pro also earned his first WSOP Circuit ring in 2020 after winning the WSOP.com Online $215 Turbo Deepstack for $20,910. Should Zobian work his way from fourth in chips to taking down the $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship he’ll eclipse his career-high score by $290 and have a new top-line result on his poker resume. [caption id="attachment_632395" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Chris Hunichen (photo courtesy of Poker Central)[/caption] Chris Hunichen Country: United States Chip Count: 4,175,274 Chris ‘BigHuni’ Hunichen is one of poker’s elite grinders. Hunichen is found in the biggest buy-in tournament field both live and online and boasts a career that has amassed more than $20 million in total earnings. According to Hendon Mob, Hunichen has earned over $8 million which includes a $927,000 victory in the 2019 EPT Barcelona High Roller and a $1.1 million score in a podium finish in the partypoker MILLION World Bahamas Main Event. While Hunichen’s live resume is impressive, his online career is even more elite. ‘BigHuni’ is a former worldwide #1-ranked online player with more than $12.6 million in total online earnings, which currently places him at #13 on the Online All-Time Money List. He holds titles in both POWERFEST and the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker as well as a number of six-figure super high roller scores. [caption id="attachment_632394" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Aleksejs Ponakovs (photo courtesy of World Poker Tour)[/caption] Aleksejs Ponakovs Country: Latvia Chip Count: 3,883,951 Long-time Latvian online high-stakes grinder Aleksejs Ponakovs has put himself in position for a career-high payday coming into the final table of the $25K sixth in chips. Ponakovs is an online crusher, having reached #4 in the worldwide rankings and topped more than $7 million in online earnings. He won the PokerStars Sunday Million in 2017 for more than $159,000 and holds partypoker POWERFEST and PokerStars Turbo Series titles as well. With more than $400,000 in live earnings, Ponakov has nearly a decade of experience including a deep run in the 2013 WSOP Main Event where he finished in 33rd place for $229,281. [caption id="attachment_632392" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Aliaksei Boika (photo courtesy of PokerStars)[/caption] Aliaksei Boika Country: Belarus Chip Count: 3,297,276 For more than 10 years, Belarusian pro Aliaksei ‘ale6ka’ Boika has been grinding both live and online. He’s amassed more than $248,000 in World Series of Poker earnings alone, nearly capturing a bracelet with his fourth place finish in the tough 2018 $5,000 NLHE event for $142,458. While those in the high-stakes online community will know his screen name thanks to his multiple PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker titles, he may be best known for his 2016 EPT Malta Main Event victory for $386,962. [caption id="attachment_632391" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Paullis Plausinaitis (photo courtesy of The Hendon Mob)[/caption] Paulius Plausinaitis Country: Lithuania Chip Count: 2,905,555 Lithuania’s Pauliuis Plausinaitis nearly made his mark in another high-profile $25,000 event back in 2018. However, he just missed out on winning a Platinum Pass to the PSPC by falling in fifth place in the PokerStars Festival London High Roller for a career-high score of just over $30,000. But now, after winning his way into the WSOP $25K NLHE Poker Players Championship in a $1K satellite, Plausinaitis has already locked up a six-figure score with the potential for life-changing money should the cards fall his way. [caption id="attachment_632390" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Brunno Botteon (photo courtesy of SuperPoker.com.br)[/caption] Brunno Botteon Country: Brazil Chip Count: 1,750,027 The #1-ranked online Brazilian pro (current #4 in the world) has more than $3.2 million in online earnings and has been in the midst of a career-heater in 2020. In January, he took second in the PokerStars Winter Series Medium Main Event for $196,908 while at the same time finishing in third in the Winter Series High Main Event for $265,463. Picked as one of the Brazilian players poised to dominate the 2020 World Series of Poker, Brunno 'bbotteon' Botteon has already racked up eight cashes during the series including a runner-up finish in Event #67 for over $41,000.
  8. When it was announced that 54 events of the 2020 World Series of Poker would be held on GGPoker, it meant that for the very first time players outside of the United States could compete for a gold bracelet online. It also opened the door for elite online poker players all over the world to bracelet chase without having to make the trek to Las Vegas. With that in mind, prior to the start of the series, PocketFives staff attempted to make some predictions of players that we thought would make a serious impact on the 2020 WSOP. We dove into the player pools from the online poker powerhouse countries of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, and Canada to take our best guesses as to who would make headlines and history in 2020. Here’s how we did. Score...A Direct Hit From the thousands of potential entries in the 2020 World Series of Poker, we picked 20 players and two of them binked themselves a gold bracelet. Canada’s Kristen Bicknell already had two WSOP gold bracelets on her resume and had been running extremely hot on GGPoker prior to the series, winning thousands upon thousands in side events from the recently completed WSOP Super Circuit Online Series. During the WSOP, she outlasted the 892-entry field in Event #44 ($2,500 NLHE 6-Handed) to win her third career bracelet and the first-place prize of $356,412. She continued to play after the victory and put up a total of seven cashes for a total haul of $382,391. Another one of our picks that grabbed gold was Brazil’s former #1-ranked Yuri Dzivielevski who just one year ago made a splash at the 2019 WSOP with his impressive play on the televised table of the Main Event. Even though Dzivielevski had won the first bracelet of his career just one year ago, we were convinced he was going to do it again, this time in the online arena. He proved us right. The Brazilian topped the 4,356-entry field of Event #42 ($400 PLOSSUS) for $221,557 and his second bracelet. In total, Dzivielevski racked up 14 cashes, including two final tables, for $347,714. While Brazil’s Brunno Botteon didn’t win a bracelet, it’s safe to say he made a major impact on the series. Botteon had already been red hot in 2020, earning six of his seven-largest cashes this year and he only took it to the next level in the WSOP. Botteon finished as the runner-up on two different occasions including Event #67 ($500 Limit Hold’em) where he earned $41,855 and Event #79 ($25,000 NLHE Heads-Up) where he fell to Fedor Holz in the Heads-Up finals but walked away with $622,300. He also made the final table of the $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship, finishing in sixth place for more than $388,000. He may not have grabbed a gold bracelet this year, but Botteon finished the series with 15 cashes and over $1,105,562 in earnings. A Solid Series Some of the players we selected had a very respectable series that didn’t include winning a bracelet or earning a million dollars. When it came to picking players from the UK, it would be downright silly to pass over high-stakes crusher Stephen Chidwick. While he didn’t repeat his 2019 $25,000 PLO High Roller bracelet performance that brought him a $1.6 million score, he did manage seven series cashes for $147,679. And sure, perhaps it wasn’t the Chidwickian of his outings as we’ve seen in year’s past, but far be it from mere mortals to call six-figures in earnings anything less than success. Mike Watson fared a little better. The Canadian found himself at three final tables this summer, however, he was unable to lock down that first career bracelet. He scored a series-high cash of $115,117 in a fourth-place finish in Event #35 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship) which contributed to the bulk of his $202,455 in total earnings over 11 cashes. Watson may be frustrated with not yet winning a bracelet. He has finished as the runner-up no fewer than four times in his WSOP career. But with a player of his caliber, we’d be sure to pick him again next year should the series take place live or online. Mike Leah was another of our Canadian picks that climbed over six-figures in earnings. Leah, who was promising to play just about every event prior to the start of the series, made good on his word. He racked up 18 total cashes for a total of $141,204 and made his deepest run in Event #82 ($1,050 NLHE Beat The Pros Bounty) finishing in sixth place for $41,892. What Were We Thinking? Some of our picks just didn’t pan out. Who knows why? We don't. A bad run of cards? Bankroll fatigue? Or simply living life outside of poker? Whatever it was, our high hopes for these players will have to wait for another series. Take for instance the UK’s Sam Grafton who we were pretty sure would thrive in this kind of international series. But it looks like Grafton didn’t put in much if any volume and therefore didn’t notch a single result during this year's WSOP. (However, it didn’t take him long to book a win during the current PokerStars WCOOP.) We also missed on picking Russia’s Alexander Mordinov and Vladimir Troyanovskiy. When it came to Mordinov, who goes by ‘NoPlanB’ online, we knew it might be a stretch for him to play in the bigger buy-in tournaments of the WSOP. However, with the ability to be staked right in the client, we felt it could have been perfect for him to sell pieces of himself after pointing investors to his over $6 million in lifetime online earnings. We also felt like Troyanovskiy, one of Russia’s premier players, and his extensive poker resume would excel in an online series but from the looks of it, the Russian poker legend simply took the summer off.
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