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For the fourth time during the GGPoker Spring Festival, Lev 'LevMeAlone' Gottlieb worked his way through a High level buy-in field to claim a title. On Sunday, Gottlieb took home more than $316,0000 to push his earnings from the four victories past the $1.4 million mark. Gottlieb defeated Chris Klodnicki heads-up to win $316,691.68 after beating the 317-entry field in Event #72 ($5,250 Bounty Hunters Main Event). Klodnicki had to settle for runner-up status and a $138,955.55 payday while 'Land on it!' finished in third place for $119,873.69. Gottlieb's three previous wins came in Event #5-H ($586,075.23), Event #15-H ($320,728.78), and Event #35-H ($199,770.92) and Sunday's win marked his first victory in an event with a buy-in below $10,000. The second biggest winner on Sunday was Alex Papazian after he outlasted the 474-entry field in Event #71 ($1,500 Sunday Marathon) to take home $122,881.16. Coming in second place earned 'RobertCatesby' a $92,147.62 score while 'J-Dubya' walked away with $69,100.97 and third place honors. Each of the the three final players in Event #73 ($1,050 GGMasters High Rollers) came close to surpassing Papazian's payday, but the three-way chop left each of them just a tad short. 'JoaoSymon' earned the victory and $116,504.06 after the deal while 'raking-even' banked $121,269.52 and 'TheMadQueen' took home the biggest cash of three, earning $121,740.50 and third place status. Tom Delaine took down Event #69 ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event) for $87,869.78 after navigating his way through 482 other players. The last player in his way, 'Pearlblossom', earned $65,892.81 while Samuel Vousden added $49,412.64 to his bankroll with a third place result. The last event on Sunday's schedule, Event #76 ($2,100 Sunday Heater [Bounty Turbo]), drew 204 total entries to push the prize pool to $408,000. 'illywilly97' took home the winner's share of $85,360.16 for an outright win. Renan Bruschi fell just short of the title and earned $42,772.55 while 'Wei Zhao' wound up in third place for $33,632.91. Event #69 ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event [2-Day Event]) Entries: 483 Prize pool: $483,000 Tom Delaine - $87,869.78 Pearlblossom - $65,892.81 Samuel Vousden - $49,412.64 Event #71 ($1,500 Sunday Marathon) Entries: 474 Prize pool: $675,450 Alex Papazian - $122,881.16 RobertCatesby - $92,147.62 J-Dubya - $69,100.97 Event #72 ($5,250 Bounty Hunters Main Event) Entries: 317 Prize pool: $1,585,000 LevMeAlone - $316,691.68 Chris Klodnicki - $138,955.55 Land on it! - $119,873.69 Event #73 ($1,050 GGMasters High Rollers) Entries: 1,142 Prize pool: $1,142,000 JoaoSymon - $116,504.06* raking-even - $121,269.52* TheMadQueen - $121,740.50* Event #76 ($2,100 Sunday Heater [Bounty Turbo]) Entries: 204 Prize pool: $408,000 illywilly97 - $85,360.16 Renan Bruschi - $42,772.55 Wei Zhao - $33,632.91
On Friday night in Las Vegas, Phil Hui won arguably the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship, earning $1.099 million in prize money, the coveted gold bracelet, and the respect of the game’s elite. "This is my dream," Hui said in the moments after victory. "I’d rather win this than the Main Event. Obviously the money for the Main Event would be amazing, but this is incredible. You have to be well-versed in every single game. It’s a dream come true. This is the one tournament I wanted to win, and play. It’s only the second time I’ve played it. Just to be lucky enough to play it, it’s incredible." With the victory, Hui joins the esteemed company of David 'Chip' Reese, Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mirzachi, Brian Rast, and John Hennigan, among others, as a champion of the event. "My name doesn’t belong there yet," a humble Hui said when asked about being in such exclusive company. "I’m happy it’s there, but I need to do a lot more to be in a group with those guys." This year, the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship drew 74 of the top players in the game, and Hui had to battle with all of them over a grueling five days of play. In the end, it came down to Hui and Josh Arieh for the title. Entering heads-up play, Arieh had the lead with 16.2 million in chips to Hui’s 6 million. Although he was down nearly 3-1, Hui stood tough and immediately began working to close the gap. The heads-up match between Hui and Arieh saw the chip lead change several times, as the two went back and forth over the course of several hours. One player would gain the lead and start to pull away, but then the other would fight back and do the same. Over and over. Eventually, though, Hui stretched out to a lead that Arieh couldn’t come back from thanks to some big pots in the stud games. The final hand was in 2-7 triple draw, with Hui made a [poker card="9x"][poker card="5x"][poker card="4x"][poker card="3x"][poker card="2x"]. Arieh had a [poker card="6x"][poker card="5x"][poker card="2x"] and drew a [poker card="3x"] and an [poker card="Ax"] to make an inferior hand. With that, Arieh was eliminated in second place for $679,246. The triumph came in Hui’s ninth cash of the 2019 WSOP, and it was the third final table he had made this summer. Entering the event, Hui’s results had him in the top 25 of the WSOP Player of the Year race with 1,541.83 points. He can now add another 1,265.67 to that for 2,807.5 total. That puts him right there behind current leader Dan Zack and throws another top contender right into the thick of this hotly contested race. “I want to win Player of the Year,” Hui said. “That was my main goal going into this year. I was going to play everything I could and try to make deep runs, so Player of the Year is first on the list.” Final Table Results 1st: Phil Hui - $1,099,311 2nd: Josh Arieh - $679,246 3rd: John Esposito - $466,407 4th: Bryce Yockey - $325,989 5th: Shaun Deeb - $232,058 6th: Dan Cates - $168,305 From the field of 74, only the top 12 would make the money. Late on Day 3, Arieh finished off Chris Klodnicki in 13th place to send him home on the bubble. That ended play for the day with Phil Ivey atop the final 12 competitors. Day 4 couldn’t have gone worse for Ivey. He lost almost every hand he played, included one when he folded a winning low in a seven-card stud hi-lo hand that would’ve won him half the pot. Ivey ultimately finished in eighth place for $124,410 in what was his fourth career cash in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Those four cashes have earned Ivey $1.013 million from this event. The four players to hit the rail before Ivey were, in order, Andrew Brown, Talal Shakerchi, Chris Vitch, and Dario Sammartino. For Vitch, it was his second in-the-money finish in the event in as many years. Last summer, Vitch took 11th. Sammartino was recently featured on PocketFives as part of the 'No Gold Club: Best Players Without a World Series of Poker Bracelet.' He came close once again with his run in this event but ultimately fell short with a ninth-place finish. The final elimination on Day 4 was David Oppenheim, a finalist for the Poker Hall of Fame this year. He was eliminated in seventh place by both Bryce Yockey and John Esposito. On the fifth and final day, Dan Cates hit the rail first in sixth place, then it was defending WSOP Player of the Year Shaun Deeb falling in fifth. It was Arieh who busted Cates and Esposito who knocked out Deeb. Yockey, who was making his first-ever cash in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, busted in fourth place to Arieh in a hand of 2-7 triple draw that will go down as one of the wildest hands the WSOP has ever seen. Arieh had raised on the button, Yockey three-bet from the small blind, and Arieh made the call. Yockey stood pat, but Arieh drew two. Yockey then bet, and Arieh called. Yockey was pat again, and Arieh drew one on the second draw. Yockey bet, and Arieh called. Yockey stood pat and Arieh drew one card again. Yockey was dealt number two - [poker card="7x"][poker card="6x"][poker card="4x"][poker card="3x"][poker card="2x"] - and fired the last of his chips into the middle. Arieh peeled his last card to reveal a seven to make a number one - [poker card="7x"][poker card="5x"][poker card="4x"][poker card="3x"][poker card="2x"] - and called to win the pot. Esposito went out next in third, also making his maiden voyage into the money of the tournament. Once again it was Arieh who ended the run, this time in a hand of pot-limit Omaha. Arieh flopped top and bottom pair on the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="8d"][poker card="7h"] flop against Esposito's [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Ad"][poker card="Kd"][poker card="4d"]. Arieh had the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="7s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="4c"] and held with the [poker card="Jc"] turn and [poker card="6s"] river.
It’s not just online poker that is coming back to Pennsylvania, the online poker dream is returning with it. The notion that a player can fire up online tournaments and cash games on demand, take a small bankroll and run it up, and even spend a Sunday taking down a big-time score. It’s no secret that initially it won’t be as big as the pre-Black Friday era. It’s going to take some time to grow, but there's little doubt that there is a new crop of PA-based online poker players out there, ready to make a name for themselves. But before the future king of PA emerges, we took a look back to pay homage to some of the best online poker players to crush in the Keystone State. Paul ‘paulgees81’ Volpe You can’t talk about the best poker players from Pennsylvania without mentioning Paul ‘paulgees81’ Volpe. Sure, Volpe earned the nickname ‘The Main Event’ for his sustained success at the World Series of Poker where he’s a three-time bracelet winner. And, yes, Volpe has over $8.2 million in lifetime live earnings but while the Philly crusher was racking up titles in the live arena, he was also ascending the PocketFives rankings where he eventually topped the online charts solidifying himself as one of the very best. Volpe became the #1-ranked online player in March of 2011, arguably one of the toughest times to conquer the online world, just before Black Friday. He’s a PocketFives Triple Crown Award winner and he also has a Monthly PLB title on his resume. A big part of what helped Volpe claim the rankings top spot was his victory in the PokerStars Sunday Million in January of 2011 that brought him an online career-high cash of $253,895. Throughout his career Volpe also took down WCOOP, SCOOP and MiniFTOPS titles as well. While it will take some time for the Pennsylvania market to mature and joining a larger player pool will be necessary for growth, PA players looking to model their career after one of the greats in the state could not choose player better than Volpe. Zachary ‘HustlerGrune’ Grunberg Another former member of the PocketFives top 10 to come out of PA is Zachary ‘HustlerGrune’ Grunberg who, in 2011, reached as high as #4 in the world. Gruneberg has over $2.8 million in career online earnings and another $1.8 million in live earnings. At the height of online poker, Gruneberg routinely found himself atop the payouts of some of the most prestigious online tournaments including taking down the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up in 2009 for an online career-high cash of $118,692. Gruneberg also took down the PokerStars $109 Rebuy, one of the most lucrative tournaments the 2010 era, for $86,085. In total, ‘HustlerGrune’ picked dup over 60 five-figure scores before the end of 2015. Nowadays, he can regularly be seen playing live, including picking up eight cashes at the 2019 World Series of Poker. Mark ‘dipthrong’ Herm One of Pennsylvania’s original online superstars is Mark ‘dipthrong’ Herm. A well-known online poker backer and coach, Herm used his knowledge to reach #5 in the world back in 2010, racking up impressive total online earnings of over $5.1 million. A three-time Triple Crown Award winner, Herm took down one of the most prestigious of online tournaments when on 10/10/2010 he bested the 7,661 runner field of the PokerStars Sunday Million for a career-high online cash of $229,834. That Sunday Million victory was the second six-figure score of his online career having taken down the Full Tilt Poker $750,000 Guarantee for over $147,000. Herm also has some impressive podium finishes that in his day as well, just missing out on FTOPS and SCOOP titles while finishing second in the popular Full Tilt Sunday Brawl twice and finished third another time, all for healthy five-figure scores. In addition to his prolific online resume, Herm also boasts over $1.7M in live earnings. Chris ‘SLOPPYKLOD’ Klodnicki Chris ‘SLOPPYKLOD’ Klodnicki may reside on the West Coast now, but when he was coming up through the ranks of online poker his PocketFives profile had him racking up wins in Pennsylvania. Before Klodnicki took second place in the 2013 WSOP $111,111 One Drop High Roller for nearly $3 million, he was grinding online in PA, putting together a resume that included $2.58 million in online earnings with 59 total five-figure scores. His online career-high score came in 2010 when he won $97,070 in the $530 Sunday 500 on PokerStars. Klodnicki’s online success mirrored his live poker achievements as he has over $9.7 million in lifetime live earnings, a World Series of Poker bracelet and circuit ring, a 2nd place finish in the WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship, a victory in the ill-fated Epic Poker League for over $800,000, and 16 total live cashes of six-figures or better. At the height of his online powers, Klodnicki reached #30 on the worldwide PocketFives rankings. Jesse ‘JMaster130’ Cohen With over $3.3 million in career online earnings, Jesse ‘JMaster130’ Cohen is another one of Pennsylvania's elite with an impressive resume that spans over a decade. ‘JMaster’ was a runner-up in both Full Tilt Poker’s FTOPS series as well as PokerStars WCOOP, racking up over 40 five-figure scores including a career-best takedown of $85,206 by finishing in second place during the 2010 FTOPS. While it’s been over a year since Cohen has recorded an online cash, at his height, he scaled as high as #66 in the PocketFives Rankings. Although Cohen may have slowed down in the online arena he continues performing in live tournaments with over $1.7 million in career live earnings. In fact, Cohen just recorded a new career-best live score of over $203,000 on June 29 finishing as the runner-up in the DeepStack Championship Poker Series.