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[caption width="640"] Jamie Kerstetter lives in New Jersey but makes a point to travel around the country and take part in the tournament circuit. (WSOP photo)[/caption] This month alone, there are tournament series going on across all regions of the country. For starters, the LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is nearing its World Poker Tour Main Event, and West Palm Beach, FL just finished playing host to the World Series of Poker Circuit. In between both of those destinations sits Blackhawk, CO and the Golden Gates Casino. Hundreds of players made their way “up the mountain” to play in the Heartland Poker Tour event with New Jersey’s Jamie ‘mmmWawa’ Kerstetter among them. The newest member of the BorgataPoker.com roster makes her way across the country year-round to play in tournaments and uses poker as a vessel to see new places. A former lawyer, Kerstetter says she enjoys the freedom that poker gives her to travel after she first started gaining air miles as an adult. “The most alluring thing for me (and probably for most people who hate their jobs) was free time and the autonomy to make my own decisions. But I also enjoy being able to make some last minute impulsive trips when I get the itch to go somewhere new,” said Kerstetter. “I used to experience pangs of homesickness when I traveled, but lately I get bored very quickly when my life is routine at home and I enjoy planning the next trip.” The new year has been a busy one for Kerstetter with trips to Oklahoma and Colorado along with a stint in New Jersey already on her odometer. As a means of saving on expenditures such as hotels, poker players will travel together in pairs and Kerstetter’s travel companion for most of the last full year has been fellow New Jersey pro, Chris Horter. Horter has accompanied Kerstetter to a few stops this year and the two made waves on social media last year as they made their way cross-country in an RV from New Jersey to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Accompanied by their dog, Crouton, Kerstetter, and Horter chronicled their trip across America’s heartland and had their relationship grow as a result. [caption width="640"] Kerstetter's dog, Crouton, plays the role of co-pilot with NJ online pro Chris Horter. (Submitted photo)[/caption] “It's definitely a bonding experience to deal with the ups and downs of planning trips and spending 24/7 with each other. We're already planning another cross country adventure and taking a different route to hit up new campgrounds and hikes this time around.” Kerstetter has become known for her work off the felt and inside the broadcasting booth as live streams have grown in popularity in the past few years. Most of the streams she participates in are at The Borgata but her first time participating in commentary came in Venice, Italy which Kerstetter also claims is her favorite place that she has traveled to during her career. “I had the time of my life at WPT Venice. The fear of being in a new place by myself where I didn't know anyone and didn't know the language led to some serious anxiety at first. Getting over that and then exploring the city, making a lot of new friends, and getting to try out commentary for the first time was a huge growth opportunity for me.” Given how many travel destinations there are to choose from on the poker calendar, Kerstetter says the things that bring her back to places a second time are the field quality, how well the tournament is run, and if the “location offers something unique that I can't get at home.” Kerstetter is often on the move and she keeps her Twitter followers plenty abreast of where she is headed next. As the poker season shifts toward the spring, there are many tournament stops to visit and it’s a safe bet that Kerstetter will be on the grind searching for new treasure.
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 debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance and Matt are all over the Heartland Poker Tour Westgate Las Vegas fiasco, from the fake guarantee to the half-price offer some players got in the closing hours of registration. They get into how this is a bad look for poker and what this might mean for the HPT moving forward in Las Vegas and other cities. They also talk about Jake Schindler's dominance in high roller events coming off of his big win at the partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final €100K Super High Roller and get into some good news for online poker players in New York. They close the show with a discussion about what it means to be a poker ambassador in 2018 and how the "big 3" sites are handling their rosters. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES GET THIS EPISODE ON STITCHER
Poker's Mid-Major circuits are home to some of poker's brightest up-and-coming stars. Each month, PocketFives breaks down the big winners from the WSOP Circuit, WPT DeepStacks, Heartland Poker Tour, and Mid-States Poker. Viet Vo Conquers Rio Las Vegas WSOP Circuit Main Event The Las Vegas WSOP Circuit events are usually the biggest and arguably the toughest fields of the season. Viet Vo beat out 951 other players to win the first Circuit ring of his career. "It feels good. I’ve been wanting this for a long time. I got second in the Main Event in Chicago three years and a half ago. I got 11th last year in the Main Event at the Bicycle Casino. I bubbled the final table. To finally be able to close it out today, it feels good," Vo said after his win. The victory earned him $274,030 and pushed his career earnings to just shy of $1.7 million. The final table included Jared Jaffee, Cylus Watson, Nick Pupillo and eventual runner-up Sohale Khalili. Ali Imsirovic picked up the first WSOP Circuit ring of his career in the $2,200 High Roller event by beating a final table that included Asher Conniff, Upeshka De Silva, Barry Hutter, and Aaron Massey. Zachary Donovan Wins Second Career WSOPC Ring at Coconut Creek Nearly six years after winning a $365 buy-in WSOP Circuit event at Foxwoods, Zachary Donovan won the $1,700 Main Event at Coconut Creek in Florida to win his second ring and $243,916. Donovan started the final table with the chip lead and started heads up play with the lead over runner up Sokchheka Pho. Jason Young finished third for $110,859. Mike Hudson Wins WSOPC Potawatomi Main Event WSOP Circuit stops are usually full of players who grind their way through all 12 events before moving on to the next stop. Mike Hudson is apparently the exception to the rule. Hudson beat out 666 other players to win the Main Event at Potawatomi after not playing any other events at that stop. The final table included Eric Wasylenko, Brett Apter, former #1 PocketFiver Kevin Saul, and second place finisher Joshua Turner. The win was the first time Hudson cashed in a WSOP Circuit Main Event and his first live cash since April 2015. Nick Pupillo Takes Heartland Poker Tour Title in Black Hawk Just a week before finishing fourth at the WSOP Circuit event at the Rio, Nick Pupillo beat out 587 other players to win the Heartland Poker Tour event in Black Hawk, Colorado for $194,478. The win moved Pupillo into a tie with Nick Davidson for HPT Season XV Player of the Year. Brian Wilson Tops Star-Studded MSPT Poker Bowl III Final Table Canadian Brian Wilson arrived in Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend and left with $143,929 and the title of Mid-States Poker Tour Poker Bowl III champion. Wilson, runner-up Pedro Mendes and third place finisher Eli Ross agreed to a three-way deal to wrap things up. Mendes and Ross each left with just a touch over $119,000. The final table also included Vegas locals Eddy Sabat, Shannon Shorr, and Eric Baldwin. Martin Gaudreault Wins WPT DeepStacks Montreal Martin Gaudreault worked his way through an all-Canadian final table at the WPT DeepStacks Montreal Main Event to pick up the first live win of his career and $ 139,311. Gaudreault's only other live cash came in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event at the 2011 World Series of Poker. “It’s awesome obviously, I have no words, it’s just incredible. I don’t play too many tournaments, and just going out and binking one of the biggest ones I play is awesome,” said Gaudreault. The $1,650 CDN ($1,110 US) buy-in event drew out 686 players to push the total prize pool to $760,712. Mike Leah finished 36th for $3,670. Mohamed Abdou Takes Down WPT DeepStacks Brussels The Grand Casino in Brussels played host to the WPT DeepStacks €1,200 Main Event and 584 players. Mohamed Abdou outlasted all of them on his way to the first live win of his career and $ 136,217. All of Abdou's previous eight cashes came in his native France and his biggest score was $17,171. Michael Mizrachi finished 27th for $4,143 while Triple Crown holder Davidi Kitai picked up $2,724 for finishing 56th. Matt Kirby Wins MSPT Canterbury Park for Third MSPT Win Matt Kirby became the third three-time Mid-States Poker Tour champion after beating 478 other players to win the $1,100 buy-in MSPT Canterbury Park Main Event. Kirby, who picked up $99,573 for the win, had previously won MSPT Walker and MSPT Onamia in 2012. The only other players with three MSPT titles are Blake Bohn and Carl Carodenuto.
Poker’s Mid-Major circuits are home to some of poker’s brightest up-and-coming stars. Each month, PocketFives breaks down the big winners from the WSOP Circuit, WPT DeepStacks, Heartland Poker Tour, and Mid-States Poker. World Series of Poker Circuit Elik Vodovoz Takes Down World Series of Poker Circuit Hammond Main Event The World Series of Poker Circuit was seemingly everywhere in the month of March, holding no fewer than four different series in different parts of the U.S. The first saw the WSOPC travel to the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Illinois where Elik Vodovoz took down the 1,050-entry field of the $1,700 Main Event for a career-high score of $294,290. The event crushed its $1M guarantee, generating a prize pool of over $1.59 million, awarding eight of the final nine players their own career-best cashes. Sean Yu Dominates Los Angeles WSOPC Event at The Bike South Korea’s Sean Yu bested cash game grinder Andrew Moreno heads-up to capture the $1,700 Main Event WSOPC title from the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. The $210,585 score helped Yu, who currently resides in Los Angeles, up over the $2M mark in career earnings. It was the second circuit ring of the series for Yu, who has seven rings total as well as a WSOP bracelet. Moreno ended up with $130,295 as the runner-up. With the event being held in Los Angeles, plenty of well-known names made the money including Scott Vener (6th, $40,910), Ralph Wong (8th, $24,815), Mohsin Charania (15th, $12,890), Joseph Serock (20th $8,855) and Joe Kuether (22nd, $7,470). Ryan Eriquezzo Wins Fourth WSOPC Event In Atlantic City On the East Coast, veteran tournament grinder Ryan Eriquezzo picked up his fourth WSOPC ring when he finished atop the 357 entry field of the $1,700 Main Event at Harrah’s in Atlantic City for $124,397. With the win, Eriquezzo now has more than $1.5M in career earnings. Phillip Pope Takes Down Tulsa WSOPC Event Phillip Pope captured a career-high cash when he picked up the win in the $1,700 WSOPC Main Event from the Hard Rock Hotel & Cainso in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Pope outlasted the field of 533 entries to take home $215,000 after beating Kou Vang heads up. Vang walked with a six-figure cash of $132,930, also a career-high score for the well-traveled grinder. Superstar WSOP Circuit grinder Maurice Hawkins just missed out on what would be a record-tying 12th ring after finished in third place. Hawkins added $97,110 to his over $3.5M in career earnings. World Poker Tour DeepStacks Vitor Coleho Wins WPTDeepStacks Jacksonville Tampa resident a former restauranteur, Vitor Coleho secured the fifth six-figure cash of his career by besting the 446-entry field of WPTDS Jacksonville. The score propels him up over $1M in total recorded earnings. “In my mind, I was going to win this tournament,” Coelho said after his victory. It marks his ninth WPT cash where he’s accumulated over $423,000 in earnings. Simon Brandstrom Takes Down WPTDeepStacks Barcelona Sweden’s Simon Brandstrom posted only the fourth recorded cash of his poker career when he won WPTDS Barcelona for €270,000 plus a €2,000 seat to the WPTDS Europen Championship. The 1,232 player field was the largest ever outside of North America and ranks as the fifth largest ever in the history of the tour. WPTDeepStacks Johannesburg & Vietnam Crown Champions You Zeng took home the $69,451 first-place prize and the trophy after surviving the 452-entry field of WPTDS Johannesburg. The score marks the South African resident’s second career recorded cash. Thailand’s Vincent Chauve eliminated each of his final five opponents to take home a career-high cash of $99,000 as the top prize of WPTDS Vietnam. Justin Liberto Adds WPTDS Title To Resume In Maryland Accomplished tournament pro Justin Liberto finally captured a WPT title, after 14 cashes, by finishing in first in the WPTDS Maryland Main Event for $116,363. Liberto, who has over $3.3M in career earnings had a near-miss in this very event two years ago when he finished in fourth place. Noah Shefrin finished as the runner-up, taking home $81,472 as a consolation and popular poker vlogger Matt Vaughn wrapped up in eighth place for $15,026. Felix Schulze Is The WPTDS Amsterdam Champ Felix Schulze wrapped up an incredible run at the Holland Casino Amsterdam Center after winning the €1,200 WPTDS Amsterdam Main Event for €104,304. It was his third tournament victory of the week after, earlier in the series, Schulze bested a 50 player field in a €330 Hyper and 61 entries in the €330 Short Deck event. “I feel good, it’s been a decent week,” Schulze said after finishing off the 507- entry field of the Main Event. Heartland Poker Tour Bill Byrnes Bests Heartland Poker Tour in St. Louis Hailing from Wentzville, Missouri, 47-year old criminal defense attorney Bill Byrnes picked up a career-high cash by defeating the 444 entries in the Heartland Poker Tour $1,650 Main Event in St. Louis. With the win, Byrnes moves into fourth place in the HPT Season 15 standings, siting right behind Nick Davidson, Nick Pupillo and current leader, Greg Wood. Kou Vang, who finished as the runner-up in the WSOPC event in Tulsa, finished in fifth place for $31,978. Mid-States Poker Tour Steven Federspiel Wins Mid-States Poker Tour Iowa 409 players flocked to the Meskwaki Casino and Bingo Hall for the Mid-States Poker stop in Tama, Iowa. North Liberty’s Steven Federspiel made his way to his second career MSPT final table and took home the title and a career-high cash of $86,949. The score helped push him over $250K in lifetime earnings. It was Federspiel’s sixth MSPT cash of his career.