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  1. Last August, Art Papazyan entered and won the first World Poker Tour event he ever played when he beat Phil Hellmuth heads-up to win the Legends of Poker event. That scenario repeated itself Thursday night as Dennis Blieden, playing in his first WPT event, beat Toby Lewis heads-up to win the L.A. Poker Classic and walk away with $1,000,000. When the final table began, Manuel Martinez was at the bottom of the chip counts looking up. That situation didn't last long - but not in the way that Martinez had hoped. From UTG, Martinez raised to 60,000 and Blieden defended the big blind. After the [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"][poker card="2h"] flop, Blieden check-raised Martinez's 50,000 bet to 175,000 and Martinez called. The turn was the [poker card="6c"] and Blieden lead out this time for 230,000 before Martinez moved all in for 675,000. Blieden called and tabled [poker card="8c"][poker card="6d"] for a turned full house while Martinez was left looking for two outs with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"]. The river was the [poker card="6s"] to eliminate Martinez in sixth place. Blieden continued to build his stack and picked up another elimination just eight hands later. Blieden raised to 65,000 from the cutoff before Peter Hengsakul moved all in from the big blind for 560,000 total. Blieden called and showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="7h"] which had him ahead of Hengsakul's [poker card="9h"][poker card="8h"]. The board ran out [poker card="as"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="6d"][t2] to miss Hengsakul and send him out in fifth place. The first two eliminations came quickly, but the third took some time. 43 hands after Hengsakul was eliminated, Marc Macdonnell clashed with Toby Lewis and saw his run end early. Macdonnell moved all in for 1,105,000 from the button and Lewis called from the big blind. Macdonnell showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="7h"] while Lewis showed [poker card="9d"][poker card="9h"]. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="9s"][poker card="7d"] flop gave Lewis middle set and as the [poker card="5d"] turn and [poker card="8d"] river were dealt, all Macdonnell could do was watch as he was eliminated in fourth place. Blieden continued his push towards the title just 20 hands later when he sent yet another player to the rail. Lewis folded the button before Derek Wolters moved all in for his last 355,000 and Blieden called from the big blind. Wolters was behind but drawing live after tabling [poker card="qc"][poker card="7c"] and seeing Blieden show [poker card="ks"][poker card="2d"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="8s"][poker card="4s"] flop moved Blieden even further ahead and the [poker card="2s"] turn [poker card="as"] river actually gave Blieden an unneeded flush as Wolters busted in third place. When heads-up play started, Blieden had Lewis out-chipped by a nearly 4-1 margin. It took only two hands for Blieden to end the tournament. Lewis raised to 120,000, Blieden made it 300,000 and Lewis clicked back to 750,000. Blieden called and then checked the [poker card="6d"][poker card="6s"][poker card="3s"] flop. Lewis bet 400,000 and Blieden called. The turn was the [poker card="qh"] and Blieden checked again. This time, Lewis moved all in for 2,200,000 and Blieden called after asking for a count. Blieden showed [poker card="as"][poker card="qd"] and Lewis could only watch in disbelief after tabling [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. The river was the [poker card="6h"] to eliminate Lewis and give Blieden his first major live win and $1,000,000 and entry into the WPT Tournament of Champions this May in Las Vegas. Final Table Payouts Dennis Blieden - $1,000,000 Toby Lewis - $600,630 Derek Wolters - $430,210 Marc Macdonnell - $319,310 Peter Hengsakul - $244,430 Manuel Martinez - $186,325
  2. The poker calendar was in full swing by the time March came around with plenty of headlines fueling the fire of the late winter months. In addition to all of the news and results of the month, the world of poker vlogging took center stage on PocketFives in March. VLOG/TURN/RIVER Early in 2018, poker vlogging had hit a fever pitch and the PocketFives in-depth series VLOG/TURN/RIVER put the spotlight on the ever-groaning poker content created by the poker player for the poker player. We conducted in-depth interviews with some of the mediums most popular personalities including Andrew Neeme, Jaman Burton, Brad Owen and more. Additionally, PocketFives drilled down on the art of vlogging. We tackled topics including how to get started vlogging, the tools of the trade and how to grow an online audience. Take a look back at the entire VLOG/TURN/RIVER series: Profiles: Andrew Neeme Andrew Pieper Brad Owen Jaman Burton Matt Vaughan Tim ‘The Trooper’ Watts Inside Vlogging: A Primer On Starting Your Own Vlog Inside The World Of Poker Vlogging Learn About The Tools of the Trade Growing A Vlog Audience Requires Commitment Vloggers Still Hoping For Endorsement Windfall Negreanu, Polk Among Big Names on Vlog Train World Poker Tour Crowns A Pair of First-Time Champions The World Poker Tour wrapped two of their Season 16 events in the month of March as a pair of first-time champions were crowned. In the first week of the month, Dennis Blieden, playing in his very first WPT event defeated Toby Lewis heads up to claim the title of 2018 Los Angeles Poker Classic Champion. Blieden, who had a total of roughly $22,000 in total recorded cashes before the tournament, walked with a cool $1,000,000 first place prize. READ: First-Timer Dennis Blieden Wins WPT L.A. Poker Classic, $1M The very next week Bay Area grinder David Larson bested the 440 runners at WPT Rolling Thunder at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, CA. Larson, who stone-bubbled the satellite to win a seat, bought in and turned his $3,500 investment into a $295,128 payday and a ticket to the WPT Champions Club. READ: WPT - David Larson Wins Rolling Thunder While Larson walked away with the title, it was runner-up Ian Steinman that had everyone talking. In one of the most talked about hands of the year, Steinman made one of the biggest folds the poker world had seen in some time when he let go of a set of kings against World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Joe McKeehen when McKeehen went runner-runner into the nut straight. Watch the amazing hand below. Matt ‘OLD TIME GIN’ Stone Wins Sunday Million Before he made his way into the worldwide top 10 in 2018, Canada’s Matt ‘GINS FINEST’ Stone picked up a massive score when he took down the PokerStars Sunday Million. Stone defeated a field of 5,971 to bring home the $161,237 prize just days after winning both the Sunday Warm Up the weekend before and the PokerStars $1,050 Super Tuesday in late February. After his March heater, Stone continued to grind straight through to the summer and beyond. He entered the worldwide top-10 for the first time and climbed to a career-high ranking of #3 in the world. He eclipsed the $5 million mark in 2018. READ: SUNDAY MAJORS - Matt 'Old Time Gin' Stone Grabs Sunday Million Win partypoker Hit With Server Issues Increases Sunday Guarantees Many months before the partypoker 2018 MILLIONS Online set the record for the largest tournament in history, partypoker announced that they were ramping up their tournament offerings and guarantees on their Sunday schedule. In the middle of their March 4 tournament schedule players experienced significant downtime and technical problems causing partypoker to postpone and even cancel some of their tournaments. The site addressed the issues head-on, dealing with player complaints on social media. Finally, in a bid to make things right with their customer base partypoker added $2 million worth of guarantees to their schedule the following weekend continuing their campaign of going “All In.” Read: partypoker Increases Sunday Guarantees In Wake Of Server Issues Sweden’s ‘C Darwin2’ Wins Monthly PLB Title, Stays #1 In The World There was no stopping Sweden’s ‘C Darwin2’ in early 2018 and at the end of March not only did he capture the monthly PLB title, but he had spent the entire calendar year as the #1-ranked player in the world. On March 4, ‘C Darwin2’ finished as the runner-up in Event 70 of the PokerStars Turbo Series ($5,200 NLHE Eight Max High Roller) for a mammoth $161,411 score. However, this would not be his largest payday of the month just weeks later, on March 20, he won PokerStars High Rollers #7 ($10,300 NLHE) for $267,406, his current career all-time high payday.

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