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  1. You may not know the name Jordan Westmorland (pictured), but you might have heard of his online handle, JWPRODIGY. No, this isn't JJPRODIGY; it's one letter off. JWPRODIGY calls Thailand home and recently took third place in the PartyPoker $200,000 Guaranteed for $17,000. We took the cash as a unique opportunity to talk to a player from Thailand, where he can be found in Phuket. The American transplant is the #2 player in the Asian country. PocketFives: Nice job on the PartyPoker final table. Talk about the tournament and how it played out in general. Jordan Westmorland: It's one of those tournaments that are bittersweet because, for the entire duration of it, things went smoothly. As a tournament player, you're just waiting for a massive cooler or suckout to inevitably happen, but it didn't happen this time until we were three-handed. The other big stack and I were involved in a 6bet pre-flop blind-versus-blind hand. I had A-K, he had A-Q, and he unfortunately ripped a queen for 90% of the chips in play. I can't complain, though, as I ran so well to get to that spot. PocketFives: Earlier this year, you took second in the PartyPoker High Roller for $32,000. While your latest final table isn't your biggest score, what does it mean to you in general? Jordan Westmorland: It's an excellent confidence-booster and when you're out thousands on a Sunday, it's a relief to make a decent score. PocketFives: Tell us about life in Thailand. Jordan Westmorland: Where do I begin? When they say it's Heaven on Earth, they are not joking. The people truly make this country the "Land of Smiles," as they say, and day in and day out, you subconsciously feel that. The time zone is perfect for us because my roommates and I are natural night owls. We are on a ridiculous schedule where we sleep during the day and play at night, but it wasn't hard to adjust to. We have been so blessed to live in a nice house on a golf course, which is great because playing golf has been a passion of ours. It's so important to have a hobby in this line of work. I highly recommend any and all people come to Thailand. It changed my life. PocketFives: How did you end up joining the Thailand pokercommunity? Jordan Westmorland: It's funny. I was staying at my best friend's college fraternity and we threw a party. We were all hammered and one of the guys said, "What if when the summer ends we move to Thailand for poker?" I looked at him said, "I swear I'm down." The next day, we bought flights and brought our girlfriends with us. Being spontaneous FTW! I grew up 20 minutes north of Seattle. PocketFives: When did you end up moving to Thailand and how long are you planning to stay? Jordan Westmorland: We moved in August of last year, so we're working on a little over a year now. It's insane where the time goes. In 2013, we plan to do the same thing and have strict goals for poker, so we hope to have way more money. For the most part, people here don't really know what we do. We just say we work on the computer and nothing usually gets asked after that. PocketFives: Why did you pick JWPRODIGY? Do people constantly ask you if you're JJPRODIGY (pictured)? Jordan Westmorland: You make these names when you're 18 years old when you're a fish and don't think anything of it. There is a group of us who copied our friend JMPRODIGY. He is, and always will remain, the best of the group. He got the name from JJPRODIGY. PocketFives: How did you find poker originally? Jordan Westmorland: JMPRODIGY and Bigpapalindare the sole reasons I'm playing this game for a living. They introduced me to poker when I was in high school. They mentored me and definitely gave me a baseline for how to play this game. I was so fortunate to have close friends who worked with me day in and day out. Don't have a PartyPoker account? Sign up for one through PocketFives' linksand get a 100% bonus when you use the code P5S. Plus, get one free month of PocketFives Training when you make a deposit. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. On Tuesday, Full Tilt Poker will open its doors for real money play for the first time since June 2011, when its gaming license was suspended. Now owned by PokerStars, Full Tilt features sponsored pros that include Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, Tom "durrrr" Dwan, and Gus Hansen (pictured). We caught up with the latter to talk about Full Tilt coming back to life this week. "Full Tilt is where I play," Hansen told us when asked about joining the new Full Tilt as its first sponsored pro. "I have had some great times on the site and feel closely related to the brand. When I was presented with an opportunity to be part of getting the brand back on its feet and getting the games rolling again, I didn't hesitate." Hansen was also a sponsored pro of the old Full Tilt. In the middle of last month, Full Tilt Poker added Dwan and Blom to its pro team, dubbing the group "The Professionals." "Tom and Viktor are great for the game," Hansen told PocketFives. "They are very skillful, yet unorthodox players. They are super talented, complete action junkies, and not afraid of anyone at the poker table. Everybody agreed that getting them onboard would spur a lot of action online and a lot of commotion. I am looking forward to taking them down on Full Tilt." U.S. Full Tilt players remain separated from their funds and are awaiting word from the Department of Justice on how to recoup their bankrolls. Although Full Tilt referred any questions from us about the U.S. remission process to the DOJ, Hansen gave a preview of what non-U.S. players can expect: "From what I have seen so far, the site is coming back stronger and with several new features. Full Tilt always had the best software in the world - that is not going to change." Hansen is a member of the Denmark pokercommunity, joining players like 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate (pictured) and Mickey mementmori Petersen. We asked Hansen about the state of poker in his homeland: "I have met a lot of very talented, new players, so I guess the Danes are still putting in the extra hours at the tables. I was fortunate to be part of the boom of poker, both online and on TV, so I'd like to think I had a positive influence on the growth of poker." Hansen is fifth on the World Poker Tour money list at $4 million on the strength of winning three events in the tour's first two seasons. He booked his first WSOP bracelet in 2010 and is 13th on poker's all-time tournament money list, according to the Hendon Mob. His last major splash at a live tournament came in January, when he took third at the AUD $250,000 Challenge at the Aussie Millions for USD $823,000. Away from poker, sports and keeping fit have always been staples of Hansen' life. He added, "I am a big sucker for racket sports. Currently, I am practicing for the World Championships of Racketlon (a combination of table tennis, badminton, squash, and tennis), and I am hoping for a top 10 spot." In 2009, Hansen famously squared off in a boxing ring with Theo Jorgensen in Copenhagen, but lost via judge's decision after three rounds. Hansen actually placed a handicap on himself, and Jorgensen's win earned him $35,000. If Hansen had won, he would have collected $25,000. "I was doing a project called Gus TV at the time and the idea surfaced to box against Theo," Hansen said of the bout. "Although I lost, we had a lot of fun setting up the match, but I doubt we will ever see a rematch. Theo will never get fit again." Finally, Maryland's Greg Merson won the WSOP Main Event last week after a record-setting final table that stretched for 399 hands and banked $8.5 million. When asked if he had ever played with Merson before, Hansen responded, "I have yet to have the pleasure of playing with Greg. I might get the chance to play with Greg in Macau or on Full Tilt - he is more than welcome." We'll have details on the U.S. remission process as they become available on PocketFives. For non-U.S. players, the site reopens on Tuesday. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. On October 14, U.K. PocketFiver WithoutAir(pictured) hit it big in the PokerStars Sunday Million, chopping the tournament heads-up and banking $164,000. There were just over 6,800 runners in the $215 event and he chopped with fellow PocketFives member bagoch, who calls Lithuania home and took away $196,000. "It hasn't really sunk in yet," WithoutAir said of the six-figure score, the largest of his poker career. "It's a pretty surreal experience and is a lot more money than I've ever had before. The major thing I'm feeling at the moment is relief that I haven't been wasting my time with this silly game." He's now at nearly $200,000 in tracked cashes in his PocketFives profile. WithoutAir described the two-way chop as "quick and painless." Why? "We both wanted it," he told us. "My opponent had a 2:1 chip lead going in and I was actually a little surprised that the numbers were closer than I thought they'd be. There was no argument from either party; we just saw the numbers and agreed." Second place was scheduled to make $153,000, so he earned an extra $11,000, or 7%, above the regular payout. The top 990 finishers made the money and over $1.3 million was doled out. What is the Northern Ireland resident going to do with a cash infusion of $164,000? "As I said, it is a lot more money than I've ever had," he admitted. "But to be honest, I'm a pretty conservative guy. I can't see myself going on a spending spree. I'll probably spend a chunk of it on small things like a 30-inch monitor or computer parts. The money also allows me to play a bit higher, but I'm not going to go wild. I'll also give my parents something nice for putting up with me." He told us that he has been trying to crack 50nl Six-Max games for quite some time, but has been "failing miserably" thus far. He described what his bread-and-butter has been: "I've had deep runs in $11 to $22 buy-in tournaments, which have kept me above water. I actually play the Sunday Million quite a lot and usually play a handful of satellites every Sunday to get in. The week I chopped, I got in via a $39 satellite." We're fans of the moniker WithoutAir. It's catchy, contains poker lingo, and is quite unique all at the same time. We asked him where it came from: "I thought it sounded cool and that's what it came down to. I had no idea that 'air' was a poker term when I made it up, so that was a happy coincidence. I was being much more literal than you'd expect." As for what specifically provoked the idea of WithoutAir, he acknowledged, "I'm not exactly sure. Maybe I was watching 'Total Recall' or something." He only discovered poker two years ago and, consequently, is a relative newcomer to the game. He saw a television advertisement for a U.K.-only freeroll on PokerStars, the world's largest online poker site, and took third in it for $300. Although he lost his bankroll over the ensuing days, he admitted, "That initial positive result got me hooked." Poker is likely to become his full-time career now. On his side income, WithoutAir told us, "I had a few temporary jobs out of university. That coupled with student loan leftovers kept me going. I was trying to become a solicitor for two years, but it didn't work out. That was probably for the best, as my heart wasn't really in it. I'll probably stick to online poker for the rest of the year. Next year, I'd definitely like to play in some UKIPT tournaments and see where that goes." If you're from Northern Ireland (pictured), celebrate WithoutAir's achievement by posting in PocketFives' all-new Northern Ireland poker community.
  4. Alex AssassinatoFitzgerald (pictured) has carved out a name for himself on multiple levels in the online poker world. He's an instructor with PocketFives Trainingand coached two recent Triple Crownwinners, bertulsonsand rakis6; latter recorded the second largest Triple Crown ever. Oh yeah, last month, Fitzgerald drove to a chop of a PokerStars WCOOP Second Chance tournament and booked a six-figure payday. The poker coach and accomplished pro sat down with PocketFives to talk about his recent claims to greatness. It's hard to believe he has been a member of our community since 2006. PocketFives: Tell us about your PokerStars WCOOP Second Chance winfollowing a chop. That has to feel good, especially given how long your career has spanned. Walk us through how that tournament went. Alex Fitzgerald: I was making an effort to play a little more solidly through the middle stages than I normally do. I felt there were a number of spots more appealing than the flashy 3bet bluffs and whatnot. At one point in the tournament, I made a really light 4bet call with A-10, which in retrospect was a horrible play. I rivered a 10 versus my opponent's A-K and from that point on, I promised myself I'd take that gift and do something with it. I never gave a pot up after that. I felt good about when I decided to apply pressure and when I laid off. The tournament ended up finishing early in the morning and I chopped it because I had Day 2 of the WCOOP Main Event to play in six hours. I was so delirious that I was standing the whole final table to keep myself awake. PocketFives: You recently had multiple students win PocketFives Triple Crowns. Can you tell us who they were and how your coaching may have helped? Alex Fitzgerald: bertulsons (pictured) and rakis6 both shipped Triple Crowns the other week. It was really satisfying to see. The MTT approach we worked on really messes with the regs, but it's comforting to actually see the results. You don't always get such immediate confirmation from poker tournaments like we did. It was a really ridiculous run. I shipped the WCOOP $1K, took second in the Big $109, and did well in some other tournaments for a $140,000 to $150,000 week. rakis6 won $200,000+ with three wins in a week, one being a WCOOP, and attained the second largest Triple Crown ever. bertulsons is always shipping tournaments and has deserved a Triple Crown for a while. He has grown so much as a professional since I met him. They were both very solid players when I met them, but had a healthy interest to learn more. I have more bizarre ideas when it comes to poker, but through mathematical analysis, lessons attained through experience, and consulting with some of the top MTTers in the game, I have come to a method that I believe ruins 99 out of 100 players in an MTT. They always showed up for lessons with tons of hands and analysis of their own to sort through. They always really took what I said to heart and went back at it the next day to get better. Now you can see it plainly: hard work and study really do pay off. PocketFives: How did you get into coaching? What makes a good poker coach? Alex Fitzgerald: When I was 20 and going out for the European Poker Tour full-time, I would do lessons and videos for PokerPwnage to pay my bills. I enjoyed being paid to review my work and mental process. It made the tour a lot less stressful. It was nice to have side income paying my rent and plane tickets. Eventually, I got lost down the rabbit hole. Every time I watched a hand history, it was a challenge and I wanted to see more. Teaching forced me to break down every play to its core elements and prove that every one of them, without a shadow of a doubt, was true. A real coach separates himself because of his responsibility to the player. He doesn't watch the clock and bail on you the second it has been an hour. If a hand needs to be discussed or a concept needs to be fleshed out, it's his responsibility to take an extra 10 minutes. A good coach has lesson plans, PowerPoints, personal notes, and specific hand histories prepared to illustrate his points. More than anything, a good coach must be open. Nothing is more frustrating and useless to a paying student than a coach who says, "Do this here because I said so." What is the logic behind the play you are suggesting? Does your student fully understand that logic? Has your student received instructions on how to apply that concept before their next lesson? You need to take your student's potential development personally. A friend and I have created another way to learn. For little more than the price of one individual lesson, my first public lecture will cover pretty much everything I believe a good MTTer needs to know to become an all-star. I have gone through all of my videos, lessons, and personal notes. I'm positive our presentation will be as comprehensive as it is profitable to the average player: [nofollow="http://www.jaxtrawpoker.com/assassinato"]Jaxtrawpoker.com/assassinato[/nofollow]. PocketFives: Talk about the PokerStars takeover of Full Tilt. What were your first thoughts when you heard about a deal? What are you expecting from the new Full Tilt? Alex Fitzgerald: I was elated to find out the six-figures I had in my Full Tilt account might not be lost forever. That enthusiasm has somewhat dampened upon learning that the extremely speedy, efficient, and fair people at the U.S. Department of Justice would be handling paying my money back. For personal reasons, I hope Full Tilt remains how it was: a site designed to kill the average MTTer. The top-heavy prize pools, slow structures, and multi-entry tournaments were fantastic for experienced MTTers. Knowing how incredibly smart the people behind PokerStars are, I see no way this is going to continue. It's their responsibility to protect the average player and they know that. I hope some semblance of the multi-entry tournaments and structures stick around and Full Tilt becomes an alternative for the more experienced player. PocketFives: We've heard a rumor about Richard Ashby boxing Shaun Deeb(pictured). Who's your horse? What do you think of poker players stepping into the boxing ring? Alex Fitzgerald: I don't know how big Ashby is. If Deeb could harness some of the anger he seemed to have, he could have a real shot. I'm all for poker players stepping into the ring. I get sick of the guys who act like jackasses behind their computers or near casino security. This puts a cap on all of it. Put the gloves on and fight me or shut the fuck up. PocketFives: Where does Assassinatocome from? How did you get that name originally? Would you pick anything different if you could do it all over again? Alex Fitzgerald: My father lives in Brazil and I was watching TV there and heard the word. When I was making my first poker accounts, I wanted to have a name I could actually remember. I looked up the word "murder" in other languages and just liked how Assassinato sounded. I wouldn't change it if I had to do it again. It's easier to remember than most poker names. It has helped me commercially and financially. PocketFives: What are some of your hobbies away from poker? Alex Fitzgerald: I usually run a lot with my dog at a local park. I need it to not feel so anxious. I dig weird foreign movies. I'm addicted to good television. I love "Boardwalk Empire," "Game of Thrones," "Homeland," "Breaking Bad," "Dexter," and all of the commercial stuff. My fiancée and I watch all of the new shows right when they come out and watch a lot of classics and weird ones people don't really know about. I love anime and documentaries too. I listen to a ton of hip-hop and metal. I read all the time. I love historical fiction, nonfiction, and philosophy. I like to take lots of little trips to the beach, mountains, and rainforest around here and lay around with no internet for a few days. I love traveling and taking pictures. I like chilling at cafes and writing on the laptop. I write every day as a habit. People can check out more of my rants and musings at [nofollow="http://www.pokerheadrush.com"]PokerHeadRush.com[/nofollow]. You can e-mail Fitzgerald at [email]assassinatocoaching@gmail.com[/email].
  5. Late last month, the PocketFives Opentook place on InterPoker. Nearly 100 people showed up and the top three finishers took home brand new Apple iPads for their time. The buy-in was a scant €11 and plenty of bounties were up for grabs. Coming away with the victory in the most recent PocketFives Open was Latvia's WeeklyStorm (pictured), whose real name is Andris Kaktins. We sat down with him, in a virtual sense of course, to talk about his landmark victory in the community-building event. "I've never won anything like this," Kaktins admitted when asked what it felt like to come out on top. "I'm happy to win an iPad." The PocketFives Open marked the first badge in his profile on our site. The Aluksnes native joined PocketFives in August and played in the Open under the InterPoker screen name iPollo. "I felt very good after the tournament," he pointed out. "I felt so good when I won that I shouted and called all of my friends." When asked how his friends responded to the news, Kaktins replied, "They thought, 'How could I win?' They were in shock." He edged out fellow PocketFives member Dipolico, who hails from Greece, heads-up. New iPads, generously added to the prize pool by InterPoker, were given to the top three finishers in the PocketFives Open. Dished out to the top 10 were copies of "The Mental Game of Poker," licenses to Tournament Shark and Smart Buddy from Poker Pro Labs, and plenty of PocketFives gear. You can relive all of the action by checking out this PocketFives thread. Kaktins registered for the PocketFives Open because of its value. He said that one month of PocketFives Training and a free license to a Poker Pro Labs product were enough to get him over the hump. As he put it, "I want to be a great poker player, and those helped me do that." By the way, you can still sign up for InterPoker through PocketFivesto get one free month of PocketFives Training with the sign-up fee waived. You can also take part in PocketFives' exclusive InterPoker Points Competition, which is running this month and awards €1,000 in prizes. Right now, the first place player has raked €144 and is in line for a €300 payday. The second place player has raked €50 and is in line for a €200 payday. So, there is plenty of value to be had. It's only open to players whose InterPoker accounts were created through PocketFives' links. Let's get back to Kaktins. His brother, a poker player, turned him onto the game. Right now, he is going to school to be an electronics technician. He remarked, "I like electronics and I like making things, so it's perfect." Check out past PocketFives Open winners. Look for the next set of PocketFives Opens, one for U.S. members and one for non-U.S. members, later this year.
  6. It's not very often that we get to make hair-cutting puns here on PocketFives, so we'll take advantage of it while we can. In early September, Canada's Kerry shears458Shears (pictured) took second place in the weekly PokerStars Sunday 500 for $61,000. He has been a member of PocketFives since 2010 and generated over $200,000 in tracked MTT scores in his profile. "It's a great feeling," Shears told PocketFives when asked what it felt like to book his largest tracked cash. "I have been close to a big score before, so coming through in a tournament with such a strong field is a thrill. I feel this tournament is one of the toughest out there. Even though I'm a part-time player, it's confirmation that I can compete." Members of PocketFives impressively represented 40% of the tournament's in the money finishers and the final table also featured former #1 player Steve gboro780 Gross, who took seventh place for $14,000. "Whenever I get the chance to play, I go for higher stakes, so the Sunday 500 is a good one," Shears told us. "I've played it a few times before, but this was my first real run in it. I love the competition from good poker players." The Sunday 500 on PokerStars boasts a $500 buy-in and a guarantee of $300,000 that is often easily exceeded. No chop occurred in the Sunday 500 on September 2, although talk of one went down when play was three-handed. One of the finalists, hnidel, was not interested in a deal and, perhaps ironically, wound up busting out in third. Shears went into heads-up play against Gaasbeek888 as a 3:1 underdog and landed in second place. Shears calls Newfoundlandhome. If you, like us, are not familiar with poker in Newfoundland, here's a once-in-a-lifetime look at it courtesy of Shears: "The poker scene around here is almost non-existent. There's no casino in the province and the only poker in my small town of 900 people is around the kitchen table with buddies. There are definitely no high-stakes MTTs. I'm very thankful for my success, which allows me to travel to live events across Canada, the United States, and the Bahamas. 2013 will be my fourth year going to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure." So what does he look forward to the most about the PCAand how has the tropical tournament series gone for him in the past? Shears responded, "I love everything about the PCA. It is the perfect kickoff to a new poker season. There are so many tournament and cash game options, an incredible venue, lots of pros, and people from all over the world converging on Paradise Island for two weeks of madness. I have done really well at the PCA in the past, cashing in several tournaments and making two final tables in the last two years where the buy-ins were $1,500 and above." We think he's dead set on making his third final table in three years when the 2013 PCA begins in January. Chris Moneymaker's victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event was a catalyst for many players to hop on the poker bandwagon, including Shears. He explained the origins of his poker career: "I deposited on an online poker site when I was in college and built my game from there. My wife travels to Ottawa a lot for work and I tag along with her. That's how I came across a tight group on a site called JackSevenand met some incredible people who help me with my online and live game. I'd like to give props to FouTight(pictured), spektah, qihu00, and ottcanada. I also want to recognize Marc and Angie for running JackSeven." Perhaps even more impressive than his online and live poker balance is the fact that he's only a part-time player. Shears and his wife own several businesses that occupy a significant portion of their free time. As such, Shears pointed out, "It's hard to play until 5:00am and function the next morning. Outside of poker, I like to golf, play hockey, travel, and have a good laugh with buddies." If you don't already have a PokerStars account, PCA qualifiers are running around the clock, so now is the perfect time to sign up. Create your account through PocketFives to show your support for our online poker community. Get started here.
  7. Last week, HogWild Pokerhosted a U.S.-friendly PocketFives Openthat attracted a field of over 300 players. Among the entrants to the tournament was Islip's Bryan Winkler (pictured), who goes by the user name EndersShadow723 on PocketFives and walked away with a brand new Dell Inspiron laptop and a PocketFives hoodie for his troubles. A few days after the Open ended, we caught up with him to break down his big win and swanky new profile badge. This author was seated alongside Winkler for the early stages of the PocketFives Open on HogWild Poker, a free, U.S.-facing league site. On why he signed up for the free tournament, Winkler told us, "I've been checking out PocketFives for a few years now and the HogWild freeroll sounded like a no-brainer. Once I saw it was happening, I was excited to play." By the way, you can sign up for HogWild for free here. Early on in the 300-man tournament, he lost a three-way all-in with queens against K-J and pocket sevens, but didn't throw in the towel. Instead, he patiently waited for an opportune spot to pick up the blinds in the middle and late stages. When he finally won, it felt like anything but winning a freeroll: "I was pretty pumped! I used to play a lot online and it's been tough since Black Friday. This was the first online tournament in a while that I was excited to play in. It felt great to be grinding on the virtual felt for a worthwhile prize and taking it down was definitely a confidence-booster despite the free buy-in." Part of the allure of HogWild Poker is that its fields are usually pretty competitive. Unlike the fields on other free online poker sites you'll find, players on HogWild are largely highly skilled. As Winkler evaluated, "I felt like I was definitely taking it more seriously. In freerolls, you're obviously going to have sit-outs and all-in shoves early, so I think that makes it softer. The structure was decent, but I don't think we were playing much more than 20 big blinds deep in the late stages. So, luck comes into play more and it's a lot of push-fold strategy, which I think I know pretty well." Next up for Winkler is a trip to Foxwoods (pictured) in the forests of Connecticut, and his brand new laptop and hoodie will certainly come in handy for the trip. On why he picked Foxwoods, which is nearby his hometown of Islip, the newest PocketFives Open champion told us, "I haven't been there in a while and I'm looking to play some cash games and maybe check out some tournaments. I've just been really excited and confident about my game right now, so I guess I'm looking for a fun, challenging, and hopefully profitable experience." We'd probably just go to Foxwoods for the Fuddruckers. Winkler is a product of the Moneymaker Boom and was also turned onto poker by another American staple, the movie "Rounders." He currently manages a family-owned market in New York and told PocketFives that his poker volume has sunk since Black Friday: "After Black Friday, my volume and decreased significantly. I was fortunate enough to find a home game close by that runs at least twice a week, so that's been good at least. I also try to get to Foxwoods when I can." Finally, we'd be amiss if we didn't ask Winkler about PokerStars purchasing the assets of Full Tilt Pokeras part of a deal announced in July. U.S. players are still awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Justice on how they can retrieve their account balances, but in the meantime, Winkler assessed, "I've always had a great appreciation for what PokerStars has brought to the poker community. I've always loved everything about the site. Buying Full Tilt sounds like another great move on their part and I'm looking forward to the success of PokerStars and its reemergence into the U.S. market." Winkler had half of his bankroll on PokerStars and the other half on Full Tilt. As such, he hoped to be reunited with his funds shortly: "I'm hoping it works out for me and everyone else who was affected." Sign up for HogWild Poker today, a free, U.S.-facing poker site that shells out live staking packages every month along with prizes like HDTVs and laptops. There's no cost and no credit card required, so get started.
  8. In late August, the U.K.'s Sam TheSquidGrafton (pictured) came away with a second place finish in the PartyPoker $200,000 Guaranteed for $24,000. It wasn't the biggest cash of his career or the flashiest, but it helped him barrel past $1.5 million in tracked MTT winnings in his PocketFives profile. We really get a kick out of Grafton's accent, so we sat down with him to talk about his recent poker career. Luckily for us, he was 12-tabling, but gave us coherent quotes nonetheless. PocketFives: Thanks for joining us. Give us your take on the PartyPoker $200K. Why do you play it and how does it feel to make its final table? Sam Grafton: The thing that's really nice is that there are certain tournaments you play that you know are good values. The Party major is one of those. When it pops up to register, you know it's a juicy and soft tournament. There is a lot of variance and it's hard to get paid out. When that value is converted into dollars in your account, it's a good feeling. I've seen British poker pros get paid out in this tournament before, but I have not done anything. It's really nice to see my PartyPoker account going up. PocketFives: You chopped a $2,100 No Limit Hold'em SCOOP tournament earlier this year and banked $240,000. That had to leave you with a good feeling. Sam Grafton: I got $240,000, the largest amount in the chop. I had an overwhelming chip lead five-handed and got it in with top set against two overcards and a flush draw. I insta-turned a house and that was the happiest turn card of my poker career. Then, I doubled up a couple of people, pressed the deal button, and it came up. We chopped it on ICM with $20,000 to play for. I ran badly three-handed, so that vindicated the decision to chop. It reminded me how much variance there is three-handed. I had a Vegas trip coming up and it was important for me to lock up cash. PocketFives: Are you normally a fan of chopping? Sam Grafton: It was a strange circumstance where I had about 30% of the chips in play. With five people left, I could get a little more than second place by chopping. It's a unique place where you can do a five-handed chop and be in such a strong negotiating position. The payouts are super steep on Party. It has to do with you, your opponents, and your negotiating position. PocketFives: Would you suggest that PartyPoker's staff change their payout structure? Sam Grafton: In general, we want steep payouts, but they are taking it to an extreme. They want that big number at the top because that's what gets recreational players playing, but it's quite remarkable. However, at the end of the day, as an aggressive player and a reg, you're playing for a win more than your opponents, so a top-heavy structure should suit you. PocketFives: You told us that the beginning of the interview that you are 12-tabling and talking to us at the same time. How is that possible? Sam Grafton: I've done this so many days now that you reach a level of comfort. It's really once you get deep that you need to pay attention. At the beginning of a session, I'm not doing anything out of line. At 15/30 in the Big $22, I am pretty comfortable with my decisions, so I can chat. There will occasionally be a difficult spot. By the way, last night, we did the draw for our teams for WCOOP for an all-English league. I drew Chris moorman1Moorman (pictured) and Tom hitthehole Middleton. It was a random draw too. Can you run better than that? It's $300 per man and I think I'm just printing money. PocketFives: Did you go to any of the 2012 Olympic Games since you're a member of the England pokercommunity? Sam Grafton: I did. I went to see basketball, which was really great. It was really nice because I got back from Vegas in time for the buildup. I live in London and there was a great feeling in the city. The British team did exceptionally well this year. PocketFives: Remind us how you got started in poker. Sam Grafton: I played live cash at a little club in East London. I was at the club, someone sent me money on Full Tilt Poker, I two-tabled, and chopped a $24 freezeout for $7,500. That was my bankroll. I three-tabled and four-tabled, which I was impressed with myself for being able to do, and if I lost money on the session, I'd play heads-up cash to make it back. Somehow I survived like that until I got an FTOPS chop. PocketFives: We saw you had three cashes at this year's WSOP. Talk about your time at this year's tournament series. Sam Grafton: I had a really good time. Craig mcc3991McCorkell won a bracelet. He's one of my closest friends. My roommate Christopher NigDawG Brammer final tabled the $10K Six-Max event. So, morale was high on the trip. I got 28th in the $1,500 Re-Entry and that was frustrating, but overall, it was a great trip. Sign up for PartyPoker today! If you sign up for PartyPoker through PocketFives' links, make at least a $50 deposit, and generate at least 10 points before September 23, you'll get one free month of PocketFives Training with the sign-up fee waived (a $65 value) as well as a free one-year license to Tournament Shark or Smart Buddy! Get started here.
  9. "Playing a lot and finding people to talk strategy with are probably the most important things to do to improve." Those were words of wisdom from David davidv1213Vamplew (pictured), a former EPT Main Event winner who recently finished second in the PartyPoker $100,000 Guaranteed High Roller, a $500 buy-in weekly tournament that regularly shells out more than $30,000 to its champion. The second place finish, which earned him $19,000, certainly wasn't the largest or most high profile one of his career, but it was still significant. As Vamplew pointed out, "It's good to have a winning day. I'm very happy that I have been putting up consistent results recently and this is one of my bigger successes. I came into the final table 10th of 10, so I have to be happy to end up with a pretty big score. It would have been good to close it out, though." Vamplew was the runner-up on August 26, when the High Roller brought out 239 players. We asked him for a scouting report: "The structure of the tournament is great. The only thing I can really find fault with is that it plays ten-handed. Once the tournament gets going, it tends to have a 30 to 50 big blind average stack, which I think is ideal for a high-stakes online tournament." He added that the field is on the softer side given the buy-in, but called for more players to pony up the $500 entry fee and take part. Vamplew can be found on the online poker felts nearly every Sunday: "I would say I play a little tighter than usual on PartyPoker since it is ten-handed and in general I know less about my opponents since I don't play a huge number of tournaments there, so I would rather avoid too many marginal or read-dependent situations. Deeper in the tournament, I'd say it is more important to put the pressure on and go for the win because of how top-heavy PartyPoker's payouts are." The member of the United Kingdom pokercommunity stands at #67 worldwide, his highest position ever, in the PocketFives Rankings and noted that "it is good to see hard work and progress in your game reflected in the rankings system on PocketFives. It can help with motivation." Vamplew'sEPT win came in 2010 in London and was worth a healthy $1.4 million. The following year, he made the final table of the WPT's stop in Venice and banked another $201,000. He has earned nearly $2 million from live MTTs according to the Hendon Mob and said that traveling is the most alluring part of live poker tournaments: "It's fun to travel and play in different places. Plus, deeper stacks and better reads that are available live mean you can play a different style than in most online tournaments." We asked Vamplew to pick two of his most favorite travel destinations expecting to get responses like Las Vegas or the Bahamas. Instead, he said, "It's hard to pick places, but I would say Tallinnand Pragueare a couple of locations I really like. The cities aren't too big, they both have a great old town part, and there are plenty of fun things to do." His EPT final table saw him go toe-to-toe with the likes of John Juanda and Kyle kwob20 Bowker (pictured). However, to say Vamplew was intimated would be a falsity: "At that point, I didn't really realize how hard it is to final table a big tournament or what a big deal it was, so I didn't let anything intimidate me. I had fun, played my game, and ended up winning a lot of money!" We'd say $1.4 million qualifies as "a lot of money." In college, Vamplew's friends turned him onto poker. He joined the school's poker club, found the online game, and his career progressed from there. Discovering forums like Two Plus Two and PocketFives was a "major factor" in his development. By the way, if you don't already have an account on WPT Poker, which makes its home on the same network as PartyPoker, you can sign up through PocketFives, make a deposit, and get one free month of PocketFives Trainingwith the sign-up fee waived, which would normally run you $65. Just click here to get startedand use the code P5WPT.
  10. In a recent running of the iPoker Network $150,000 Guaranteed, which takes place on sites like Titan Poker, Dale crazytoothSimmons (pictured) blasted through a field of 949 players en route to a $32,000 payday. If you've never played in that particular tournament, it has a buy-in of $215 and shelled out five-figure paydays to the top four players. Simmons is a member of the United Kingdom poker community and is currently tops in the city of Portsmouth. PocketFives: Congrats on taking down the iPoker $150K. Can you walk us through the tournament? Dale Simmons: Ever since a group called Bankroll Supply has sponsored me, they have encouraged me to play satellites into the bigger weekly games. So, after winning a satellite to the $150K for only $25, I was looking forward to playing. The game started off in a great way for me, as by the end of the first two hours, I was the chip leader and running good. I got most of my chips in a span of four hands. After that, I was up to 40,000 in chips. I was just picking up chips, but nothing massive. Once we were down to four tables, I was looking to ladder up, pick up chips, and stay alive as long as I could. I got to the final two tables with a pretty short stack, but hit a couple of hands in the right spots to put me fifth in chips entering the final table. Once at the final table, the pay jumps were huge and I was keeping a close eye on them, as it was looking like my biggest win to date. Once we got to four-handed play, I took the line that I was going to go for the win and after that, I didn't look back. The game ended in a three-way all-in with a short stack shoving the button with Q-7 suited, me flatting with A-K, and the big blind shoving with A-Q suited. My hand held to give me the win. PocketFives: Your $32,000 cash represents your breakthrough win thus far. How will this score change your poker career and how did your backers respond? Dale Simmons: They are really happy with me. This cash gets me one step closer to being the pro I'm trying to be. This result means that me leaving work just over two months ago to play poker has proven to be the right move so far. Overall, I feel like this is only the start of me playing poker for a living. With my backing group behind me as well as everyone else supporting me, I'm sure it's going to be a good few years. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker originally? Dale Simmons: I started playing online about seven years ago when it was the big thing to do, but never really had a lot of success. I found a local card room, which was the place I played in the most. I loved the game and the people and learned so much from all of the old school and new school guys I was playing with, so I never stopped. I kept poker going as a hobby from then on. By the way, you can get a free fitted hat and an organic cotton t-shirt from Blind Squirrel Apparel, a $55 value. All you have to do is sign up through our link for Titan Pokerusing the code "PF5" and make a deposit before Thursday, August 30th at 23:59 ET. Then, e-mail support@pocketfives.com to claim a high-quality fitted hat and shirt. Play in this week's $150K and get free gear, only by signing up for Titan Poker through PocketFives. Get started here.
  11. Poker players we've interviewed for feature articles on PocketFives come from all sorts of different backgrounds. Some were former underwear models (well, one was), some were former chess wizards, some played World of Warcraft, some traded stocks, and some left school. Whatever their former professions and passions, they all eventually migrated to poker. For Bruno brunovolksVolkmann (pictured), tennisgot the shaft in favor of No Limit Hold'em. He told PocketFives in an exclusive interview that he formerly played professional tennis in his homeland of Brazil: "During the breaks, I used to play poker freerolls online or play with friends and wanted to know more about the game. So, I went onto some poker forums and found a poker club in my home city." He has since amassed nearly $200,000 in tracked online MTT cashes in his PocketFives profile, three-quarters of which has come on PokerStars. He won a poker championship two months after finding the poker club and, more recently, booked a $23,000 payday for taking down the 888 Poker Sunday Challenge. The $90 buy-in tournament comes complete with one rebuy and attracted a field of 730 players on the final Sunday of July. The top 140 made the money and four of the top seven finishers were registered members of PocketFives. Prior to the Sunday Challenge on that memorable day, Volkmann had the $8.80 Rebuy and a $55 No Limit Hold'em tournament on PokerStars open. In fitting style, he took gold in both for nearly $8,000 total and explained, "After those two tournaments, I was left with two tables, the PartyPoker $200,000 Guaranteed and the 888 Sunday Challenge. After I went broke on PartyPoker, I one-tabled for almost three hours to beat the field on 888 Poker." It wasn't happenstance that Volkmann did so well that day. If anything, the writing was on the wall. For starters, he told PocketFives that he studied poker quite a bit in the days leading up to his breakthrough performance and largest tracked cash ever: "I set a lot of filters on Hold'em Manager and felt confident. This game is sick. Each day, everybody improves their game, so if you don't study and review a lot of hands, you are screwed." In addition to analyzing his game, Volkmann had his girlfriend around that day to make him lunch and cheer him up after any ill-time bad beats. As if all of those factors didn't portend a successful afternoon, he was also coming off a rather successful month of June that saw the Brazilian finish second in the Big $109 on PokerStars for $13,000 and take down the Bigger $5.50 on the same site for another $7,300. Those two cashes occurred within two days of each other. He is a member of a stable of poker players, a group he joined six months ago. Our interview subject sits in 31st in the Brazil pokercommunity and is currently #495 worldwide. In our Country Poker Rankings here on PocketFives, Brazil is fifth worldwide with a combined PLB score of the top 20 players of just over 90,000. If you've never played in the 888 Poker Sunday Challenge, as its name implies, you can find it in the 888 lobby every weekend. If you don't already have an 888 Poker account, you owe it to yourself to sign up through PocketFives. If you do, and make a minimum deposit, you'll get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus (regularly 100% up to $400), $8 free, and one free month of PocketFives Training with the sign-up fee waived, a $65 value. You can learn from some of the top MTT minds in the world at PocketFives Training. Create your 888 account here.
  12. Brazil's Diego diegokeepCardoso (pictured) made out like a bandit in the PokerStars Sunday Million, chopping the tournament in both April and May for a combined $333,000. To make one final table in the richest weekly online poker tournament is hard enough. To make two is even more improbable. And to make two in back-to-back months is worthy of a feature article here on PocketFives. We caught up with Cardoso to break down his assault on the online poker world. "I'm very excited, it was pretty sick," is all Cardoso could put into words when asked what it felt like to chop the PokerStars Sunday Million in back-to-back months. On April 1, he came away with his first chop after striking a five-way deal for $137,000. Cardoso officially took second in the tournament. Little did he know that in late May, it would be déjà vu all over again, as he chopped the PokerStars Sunday Million once more, this time for $196,000. He was one-half of a two-way deal and shot up to #182 worldwide in the PocketFives Poker Rankings three days later. What went right for Cardoso? Did he run like a deity? Or were other factors in play? When asked what went right in the two Sunday Million tournaments, Cardoso shared, "What went right in each tournament was my focus. My girlfriend was with me and I was more relaxed overall. I chopped the tournaments because of the big prizes. In the first one, I chopped because I was second in chips with five players left. In the second Sunday Million, I chopped heads-up for what I thought was a nice deal." All of Cardoso's energy was focused on the Sunday Million, which, as he indicated, led to an increased focus. For example, in the first go-around, the Sunday Million was the lone table on his screen from 700 players on, which he said "is so crucial to have a good game." Meanwhile, his girlfriend was on-hand to make dinner, give him a much-needed massage, and be his rock throughout the multi-hour affair. Cardoso is from Brazil, where he's at #4 in the country's Sortable Poker Rankings out of over 700 registered PocketFives members. While he is proud to represent the South American nation, he said, "I feel better about representing my family and realizing my dreams. I bought two apartments here in Brazil and my mother can smile and sleep in a nice place." It's really all about mom. Last September, Cardoso won the PokerStars $100 Rebuy for $23,000. In recent days, he finished fourth in the PokerStars Hotter $55 and won the site's Nightly Thirty Grand for a combined $12,000. Overall, he has showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He got into poker after catching the James Bond flick "Casino Royale," which was the first in the Bond franchise to star Daniel Craig. The film was released in 2006 and Cardoso was instantly hooked. We wonder if any of his first poker opponents had a tell of bleeding out of their eye like Le Chiffre. After running across "Casino Royale," Cardoso headed to Everest Poker, where he played freerolls and began his poker career. On why the game was appealing, Cardoso asserted, "I can realize my dreams. I can have my own lifestyle, I don't have a boss, and I work for myself. When I don't want to play, I don't have to and can just go to sleep or go away with my girlfriend or travel." He currently stands at #167 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings, his highest mark ever. Can he make it a three-peat in the Sunday Million in June? He has two weekends left to do it. Stay tuned to PocketFives to find out.
  13. One thread in the PocketFives Off Topic forumhas had over 220,000 views in the span of two weeks. Posted by Jaybone2315 (pictured), whose real name is Jack King, it details his crazy Las Vegas adventures. If you haven't heard of King, to make a long story short, he received an unemployment check for $3,500 and, on the way back home from San Diego to the East Coast, stopped in Las Vegas to hit up the World Series of Poker. Despite admitting he lacks any semblance of bankroll management, King has run his roll up to $25,000. On Sunday, King finished 125th in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event and received extensive coverage from PokerNews at the behest of fellow PocketFiver Maria Maridu Mayrinck. Now, King is a celebrity. PocketFives caught up with him on Monday to talk about his meteoric rise to stardom in Off Topic. PocketFives: Talk about why you're moving back from San Diego to the East Coast and what made you want to stop in Las Vegas? Jack King: I'm going back home because I have to take care of some legal things. Also, Sweetness777's family was coming out to San Diego and my original plan was to live out there until his family came or I found a job, which didn't happen. The timing came to where I could leave when I did. The Las Vegas stop came out of nowhere because I wasn't expecting to get the money I got from unemployment. They gave me $3,500 and I paid some bills, ran up some tabs, and had $2,500 left. I came out to Las Vegas with $2,000 and left $500 aside for a plane ticket. It sounds like a bad business decision, but that's what I did. Really, worst-case scenario, I lose the $2,000 and fly back home. My old job was being a building inspector and they said if I wanted my old job back, I could have it. They said starting around July could be fine, so I wasn't worried about the money. PocketFives: What was it like being stalked by PokerNews during your run in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event? Jack King: I was surprised at how weird I thought it was. I don't like people taking pictures of me while I'm at the poker table and don't like people asking me things about hands. It felt uncomfortable. The PokerNews guys were asking me about hands and such, but they weren't asking anyone else at the table. Maridu was playing the $1K event, busted, and came over to the $1,500 event and said that PokerNews should find me. She came over to my table with the PokerNews guys and said, "This guy is a legend. You need to follow him all day." The other players at the table didn't say anything to me about it except for one guy who knew Maridu and asked me if I was Brazilian. PocketFives: How do you know Maridu (pictured)? Just through Off Topic? Jack King: Yeah, just through Off Topic. I had never met her before yesterday. She said she read things on PocketFives about me. At one of the breaks, she brought me food and I ate it in the media area with the PokerNews guys. She was telling them about the "Jr. Bacon" thing and the Sweetness thing. She's awesome. There are no bad things I can say about her. She brought me food and was railing me harder than anyone else. She's very cool. I think I'm going to hang out with her later this week too. PocketFives: The Off Topic community also railed you during a $235 tournament at the Rio you bought yourself into and chopped for $20,000. You seemed confident when you were in push/fold mode. What were some key spots in that event? Jack King: I didn't suck out much in it. I think I had one with four tables left, but it wasn't for my tournament life. One of the big hands was when I jammed with 10-high thinking my two opponents would fold. The player in the button smooth called me with A-3 and I hit that on him. It was a terrible call, but I ended up hitting it. I remember playing on the bubble hand-for-hand and was on the button. The hijack raised and I shoved for 150,000, which was well above average. The guy who raised had 300,000, tanked, and folded. I felt like that one showed the table I didn't care about losing and that helped my image. I had A-K offsuit and the other guy folded a pair face up to me. I stayed at that table for another two hours and made a lot of money. PocketFives: Is it weird being a celebrity of sorts in Off Topic? Jack King: I remember being out in New Jersey and people were yelling, "Jaybone" at me. That was the first time I realized I shouldn't be posting as much as I am. Out here in Vegas, I randomly see people who know me. Yesterday after the $1,500 event, I was talking in the hallway and a few people said, "Great job, I'll follow the thread," but they didn't tell me their names. I don't know if I like the fame or hate it, but it's fun to live it while I can. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker? Jack King: Probably around the poker boom like everyone else in 2003 and 2004. My brothers got me into it. They always wanted to play poker and ended up getting me into it. The next thing I knew, I was playing non-stop. I went to Atlantic City when I was 21 and played tournaments. Live poker is my thing; I've never been an online guy. At one point in my life when I lived in Philadelphia, I would take the train to Atlantic City four or five times a week and play cash games. I had $1,000 to my name and would go play $1/$2. By the way, the reason I don't ever have money is because I have terrible bankroll management. If I make $300 in cash games, I'll go buy into a $300 tournament. I can always get more money. I can always get a job. PocketFives: Why was your fling in San Diego nicknamed "Jr. Bacon"? For our readers who aren't familiar with that story, check out this PocketFives thread. Jack King: Sweetness is a ridiculous person and came up with that on his own. She was a little chubby and so he started calling her "Jr. Bacon." Some other girl before that was chubby too, so I think that's why he called her "Jr. Bacon." The thoughts that come into that guy's head can't be explained. PocketFives: What are you plans for the rest of the WSOP and the rest of the summer? Jack King: I booked a flight home on Saturday because some of my family from Louisiana is coming up. If this week goes well, I'll play the $1,500 event on Wednesday and try to grind out a Main Event seat. If that happens, I'll fly back out here after my brother's MMA fight on the East Coast. Did I mention my brother is an MMA fighter? I have enough of a bankroll now to do whatever, especially since I haven't followed bankroll management in the past, so why start now? The Rio has a ton of single-table satellites to the Main Event, so I'll play those. I have a bankroll of somewhere in the range of $25,000, give or take $1,000. It's certainly better than $2,500. PocketFives: You seem to put yourself out there without much shame when you post. Is that just your personality? Jack King: That's who I am in real life. All of my friends back home know I do stupid shit. For example, I went to a party two years ago wearing a diaper as a joke. Everyone knows that's how I am. Everyone can bust my balls; it doesn't matter and it takes a lot to get me worked up. At family barbeques, there's usually an hour spent talking about my dumb ass stories. That's just how I am. PocketFives: Did you end up selling any pieces of yourself in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event? We know there was a lot of interest from the Off Topic community. Jack King: I sold a total of 31% to five people. I figured I would sell it all, but was surprised that it sold out in 20 minutes. After hitting the $20,000 score and everything that came up in the thread, people wanted to have something to follow, but selling it so fast was amazing. After my deep run in the $1,500 event, I'm assuming I can sell anything at this point. If I somehow get into the Main Event, I don't want to sell any of it, though. I talked to a few guys and they said I needed to play the Main Event and that it was a "can't miss." I want to get in and want to have 100% of myself. I can't imagine ripping off an $8 million score and then sending someone a check for $3 million. Visit the busy thread in Off Topicto read about Jaybone2315's latest antics.
  14. It took all of two events of the 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP) for Brent bhanks11Hanks (pictured) to come away with a bracelet. His breakthrough came in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em tournament and was worth a stellar $517,000. He defeated fellow PocketFives member Jacob bazeman Bazeley heads-up after rocking through a field of over 2,100 players. But what makes Hanks tick? PocketFives caught up with Hanks to discuss what it's like to hit it "Big." You see what we did there? "I'll probably be a little bit more excited after it has settled in," Hanks told PocketFives when asked how he was feeling about winning his first piece of WSOP hardware. "I have gotten a lot of congratulations from faces I've never seen before. There are a lot of poker fans out there and it being the first open event, it adds a certain allure to it." Vanessa Selbst and John Juanda were among those who ran deep in the tournament. For Hanks, the No Limit Hold'em event's $517,000 first place prize meant a chance to break free on his own: "I'm now on my own. I'm hoping to have continued success and make more down the road. This tournament helped me go on my own and made the decision to go out on my own much easier." Hanks has been a member of PocketFives since 2006 and has nearly $2.7 million in tracked earnings in his profile. Bazeley (pictured), his heads-up opponent, was certainly no pushover. He has $2.5 million in tracked MTT cashes and, according to the Hendon Mob, has piled on another $816,000 in live tournament earnings. We asked Hanks to analyze Bazeley's game: "He plays great. I played with him for a number of years online. He's super solid and I thought he was a little bit better than I was heads-up. He plays really well." On the ending of Event #2, Hanks relayed, "I was pretty torn winning the way I won because I was hoping it would come down to a neutral coin flip or I could chip away at him until the match was over. It didn't work out that way." Instead, in the defining moment of heads-up play, Bazeley 5bet all-in pre-flop with pocket nines and had the best of it against Hanks' A-8. However, Hanks spiked an ace on the flop to send Bazeley's chip stack spiraling to less than one big blind. Bazeley was eliminated one hand later. Hanks was a fifth grade math and social studies teacher prior to becoming a professional poker player. "It was awesome being a teacher," Hanks recollected. "You certainly need to be patient with how things progress in poker and in teaching. Sometimes, there are parallels with kids in the classroom. Learning how to deal with each kid individually is similar to how to deal with each opponent at the table." Several members of PocketFives extended their congratulations to Hanks after his bracelet win, including PocketFives Traininginstructor Mike Gags30Gagliano, who posted in a Live Poker thread, "Congrats to one of the nicest guys in poker!" "I've never had an issue with anyone in the entire poker world," Hanks said of the overwhelmingly positive community support. "I've never had a bad run-in. Everyone seems great and it's a pretty neat thing to have people look up to you and not have big negatives." Finally, we asked Hanks for his take on Viktor Isildur1 Blom (pictured) winning back-to-back tournamentsto kick off the 2012 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, or SCOOP. Hanks shared, "That's remarkable. Tourneys are funny that way, the way the variance runs out. To have Isildur1 of all people roll through two fields and pile it up was amazing. It probably, to him, felt like another five hours at the office." Hanks is one of seven PocketFives members who have claimed bracelets this year: Simon pokerbrat13 Charette June 13, 2012 $3,000 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max Randy mavsrule3 Ohel June 12, 2012 $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball Brandon schaefer Schaefer June 8, 2012 $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Shootout Brian Stinger885 Hastings June 7, 2012 $10,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em Andy Andy Bloch Bloch June 2, 2012 $1,500 Seven Card Stud Nick Stacked121 Jivkov June 1, 2012 $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em Brent bhanks11 Hanks May 30, 2012 $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Check out our WSOP Wall of Champions for more details.
  15. When merry month of May came to a close, Austria's IM_ICMfinished in the top 10 in the Monthly PLB. He final tabled Sunday Majors on back-to-back weekends to start the stanza, finishing third in the PokerStars Sunday Second Chanceon May 6 and scoring a second place in the iPoker $200,000 Guaranteed one week later. The two cashes were worth over $50,000 combined. We caught up with him to talk about his 2,718-PLB point month. PocketFives: Thanks for joining us. Can you talk about the structure of the iPoker $200K as well as your run in it? IM_ICM. iPoker tournament structures used to be very fast, so the final tables were quite a gamble, but now they have changed the structures of most of their tournaments. The structure of the iPoker Major is good now and it's fun playing the tournament. It's quite soft as well. I ran okay, but also played very well, I think. The final table wasn't that soft actually. There were three other PocketFives members, but I managed to find some good spots and run good in showdown poker, which you have to do in tournaments. PocketFives: You had a big month of May, with a third place in the Second Chance as well. Tell us what went right during the month. IM_ICM: On the first SCOOP Sunday, I got third in the Sunday Second Chance and the week after, I got second in the iPoker Major. I also managed to win a $50 Rebuy on PokerStars and a small turbo. Although I didn't do well in the SCOOP events, I can't really complain. PocketFives: How has poker been evolving in Austria? PocketFives has over 200 members in our new Austria pokercommunity. IM_ICM: Poker is much more popular than it used to be. If you are a live poker fan, then Vienna is great because we have some really good casinos. There are some very good poker players in Austria, especially if you also count in the guys who moved to Austria in the last few years. I am friends with a lot of online players who live in Vienna. It is great knowing these guys and I go out with them from time to time. Getting better at this game is a lot easier when you have the opportunity to talk poker with some great players. PocketFives: Do you have any aspirations of getting back to #7 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings? You're at #61 now. IM_ICM: Of course. After Vegas, I plan to put in a lot of volume and hope you guys don't have to scroll down too far in the Rankings list to find IM_ICM! PocketFives: Do you play any non-Hold'em games? IM_ICM: I play some PLO, but not really much. I definitely plan to work on some other games after the summer. PocketFives: Remind us how you got started in poker. IM_ICM: I used to play some low-limit home games with a few friends, mainly Five Card Draw and later No Limit Hold'em. One my friends said he knew a guy who had won $1,000 playing online poker. I was shocked and couldn't believe it was possible to win so much money just playing poker on the internet. So, I thought I should give it a shot. I started on PartyPoker. They gave me a bonus of a few dollars and I won a 45-man SNG. I really don't know how I did that, as I was pretty bad at the time. Then, I started with micro-stakes cash games, grinded up to mid-stakes cash games, and later switched to SNGs for a while. I always liked MTTs and started to play some of those, and although I wasn't really good at the time, I managed to win some money. That was also the time when I started working on my MTT game. I read everything and every book about poker I could find and watched every training video I had access to. PocketFives: The best No Limit Hold'em MTT player right now is who? IM_ICM: There are so many brilliant players these days that it's really not easy to say who is the best, but if I had to name one, I would probably say Dan djk123 Kelly.
  16. Released over the weekend on PocketFives Trainingwas a brand new series from David Randall (pictured), better known as GhettoFabolousin the online poker world. Part 1 of his video series, which you can watch a sample of by clicking here, covers topics like the benefits of flatting versus 3betting, playing hands deep-stacked, and squeezing. Randall sat down with PocketFives to unveil a concept he calls Big Picture Mentality. By the way, PocketFives Training provides top-of-the-line MTT training from instructors like Randall, Mike Gags30Gagliano, and Jon sketchy1 Eaton. PocketFives: Can you describe your new video to us? What can viewers expect to see? David Randall: It's a video of my $1K buy-in PokerStars SCOOP Main Event run. I got really deep in it, 50th place. It's one of the longest hand history videos I've ever done at 800 hands. I utilize a new instructional concept that I've been using with my students called BPM, or Big Picture Mentality. BPM is the process of which spots to select. I think a lot of tourney regs are good at picking spots, but what often happens with good players is they have too many spots and spew. BPM is focused on controlling aggression, monitoring your image, and taking the necessary steps to win a tournament. That's the concept I introduce in this video. PocketFives: Where did BPMcome from? David Randall: It came from a downswing I went through. I was playing a really high-variance style. When you pick every spot, you're subjecting yourself to a lot of awkward and bad situations and other players will notice that. To make the adjustment, I created this concept. Image control is so important and it's something that's underestimated. Everyone is aware of everyone else's image, but they lose track of what their own image is, especially situationally. The first step of BPM is to identify how I'm going to get chips at a table. At some tables, it's opening 80% of hands. In the $1K SCOOP, that probably won't work and people will adjust. Sometimes the answer is 3betting every open, which you also can't do in a $1K SCOOP event. You have to come up with an answer, and the answer is in that video. PocketFives: How'd you get involved with PocketFives Training originally? David Randall: PokerPwnage originally hired me in early 2008. I was one of the original grassroots instructors at the site. I was approached by herschelw (pictured) and he offered me a position. I had done a couple of private lessons with a few people because I enjoy teaching. When I put out a couple of early videos, they got a great reception and I was getting a lot of PMs. That gave me the fuel to keep doing it. I like having the ability to help people perform a skill they wouldn't otherwise be able to. Once I got into it, I was off and running from there. PocketFives: What do you want viewers to take away from your latest video? David Randall: I want them to take away the BPM concept, specifically the way I integrate it in that specific tournament. I want people to see how I implement that strategy on the highest level. For example, there are a ton of spots where I say, "This would be a standard 3bet spot, but I'm going to pass. It's not necessary for me to win the tourney and the number of chips I'm collecting won't change my stack. It's more important for me to protect my image than get caught 3betting light." PocketFives: What do you think makes an informative poker training video? David Randall: I've been watching a lot of videos lately and see the same thing over and over again - it starts to get stale. The instructor will go through a hand history and approach each spot, spot by spot. They all say the same thing. Nowadays, everyone can find spots. Every reg has that capability. So, I ask myself, "What separates people apart?" A lot of people said Holdem Manager. I don't believe that because most of the top players in the world I know don't use Holdem Manager. If a lot of them can get there without it, Holdem Manager can't be the answer. That's where I developed the BPM concept. PocketFives: Can you tell us about your life post-Black Friday? David Randall: I've spent a lot of time playing live cash games. There's a game in Columbus, Ohio I play in. I've also traveled to casinos to play live tourneys and cash games on the side. I also have a residence in Windsor, Canada. I've also gone to Mexico and Ireland. Before, I'd wake up in my boxers and grind a session. Every day was the same, but it's not like that anymore. In order to survive in this industry, you have to be chameleon-esque. You have to figure out new ways to make it unless you want to move permanently out of the country. PocketFives: Why Windsor? David Randall: I got together with a few cash regs I know and we went up and got a place in Windsor. If I want to go up for the weekend, it's only a two-hour drive from my house. Signing up for new poker sites was easy too and I started playing on iPoker and PokerStars. Speaking of PokerStars, that was a process. It was three to four days to get everything reactivated. You have to dedicate three to four days, minimum, to get that process completed. PocketFives: Can you tell us about your World Series of Poker plans? David Randall: I'm looking forward to the shootouts. Everyone says that's the easiest way to win a bracelet and I'd have to agree. Last year, I made it to the second round and got two-outed by stamdogg (pictured). I'm also looking forward to all of the $1,500 events because for whatever reason, I'm comfortable in those and have gotten there in the past. I think the fields at the WSOP are incredibly soft, but the softest fields in the Series still have an okay structure. With 4,500 in chips and an endless field of fish, the $1,500 events provide great value. PocketFives: Why is a shootoutthe best opportunity to win a WSOP bracelet? David Randall: In a shootout, you basically have to win two good-structured sit and gos and you have a shot at a bracelet. It has the same structure as a $1,500 event, but it's a sit and go. You only have to beat 18 players and you're down to the final table. I remember the first round I won, I was playing heads-up and we were about 70 big blinds deep. It's the same concept as a sit and go, but it's so much more deep-stacked that it plays more like a tourney. Learn all about BPM from Randall by signing up for PocketFives Trainingtoday.
  17. It took PocketFives member Chris Big HuniHunichen (pictured) all of three days to score his third online poker Triple Crown. On May 15th, he knocked out the first two legs by winning the $109 No Limit Hold'em Turbo on PokerStarsas well as the $40,000 Guaranteed Super Tuesday on iPoker for a combined haul of $20,000. Then, three days later, victory was his in a $100 tournament on Ongame for $3,100. He's one of eight Triple Crown winners we've had in May and sat down with PocketFives to recap his big week. PocketFives: Congratulations on your third Triple Crown. Does winning the award have as much meaning the third time around? Chris Hunichen: Yeah, it still means something, especially because it has been awhile since I got my second one. I have won two of the three legs so many times and then just couldn't get that third win to complete the Triple Crown. This one was fun because I won three birds in one day, two of them on separate sites, so I had a whole week to get the third win on another site. When I got five-handed in the Ongame tournament, I somehow ended up 5/5 and thought I blew it. However, I came back to take a slight chip lead going into heads-up only to get it in on the second hand with 8-7 of diamonds on 10-8-6 flop against Q-Q. I lost that one, putting me down to six big blinds. I somehow came back to get the win and my third Triple Crown. PocketFives: That sounds like an epic tale. Tell us about the PokerStars and iPoker wins, which came on the same day. Chris Hunichen: I actually had three $10,000 scores that day in the $100 Rebuy on CelebPoker, the $200 Turbo on PokerStars, and the $109 Turbo on PokerStars. The $40,000 Guaranteed, $100 Rebuy on CelebPoker is a tournament they only have on Tuesdays. It's a really good tournament with a long, slow structure that allows the better MTT players to have an advantage. I enjoy this tournament a lot and really wish they would add the $100 Rebuy in as a daily tournament. The Turbos on PokerStars were normal Turbos we play day in and day out. They have fast structures with quick blind levels, so it's less skill and a little more luck because it's basically all push/folding at the end. PocketFives: Have you strayed seriously into any non-Hold'em games? Chris Hunichen: I do play other games, but I definitely have a much bigger edge in No Limit Hold'em. I have been putting in more time playing PLO lately and have really improved my PLO game a lot over the past year, but I still have a lot to learn. My roommate, mtstackin88 (pictured), is incredibly good at PLO High/Low. I was probably the biggest fish a few months ago in that game, so I have sweat him some and been learning that game off him. So, I am finally starting to expand my horizons a little bit outside of the Hold'em games. PocketFives: Is it necessary nowadays to be proficient in multiple games in order to be a successful poker pro? Chris Hunichen: It depends on how good you are at the game you are profiting the most from. I personally think I am average to just a little above average in PLO, but I feel like in NLHE, I am one of the top MTT players in the world. So, I honestly feel I can make it just playing Hold'em, but at the same time, learning all of the variations of the game will increase your overall knowledge of poker, thus sharpening your skills in the main games you play. PocketFives: We know you're familiar with Shaun shaundeebDeeb (pictured), who won four titles during the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Pokerthis year. Can you give us your reaction to his feat? Chris Hunichen: It's pretty impressive. He has put in a lot of work and a lot of time in poker over the years and deserves all of the credit he is getting. I do believe that Isildur1's two SCOOP wins were much more improbable and tougher to complete because they were in huge fields with a lot of tough players, whereas Deeb's four wins were in fields of fewer than 100 people. However, it is still incredible to ship all three SCOOP High variations of Stud as well as a HORSE title to show he can play all of the games, so I am definitely not taking anything away from him at all. PocketFives: Can you tell us about your World Series of Poker plans this year? Chris Hunichen: I am planning to play all of the big NLHE events $10,000 and under and the $5,000 PLO events. We have a really sick spot rented out, a Mini Castle, with an incredible group of guys that could definitely make some noise at this year's WSOP. So, I definitely want to give a shout out to the crew: telks, Gettin Daize, mtstackin88, My Brim Low, nutserrytime, The Lab Rat, Flippa42, ship_the_perc, southernctowl, and Otter8739. HUSSSS! Check out our Triple Crown Wall of Champions.
  18. On Thursday, 101 players convened on WPT Pokerfor the latest PocketFives Open. With $3,000 in added cash in the prize pool along with Holdem Manager 2 licenses, PocketFives Trainingsubscriptions, and PocketFives gear, there was plenty to play for. After about three-and-a-half hours, Sweden's demios came away with the win and banked $1,100 for his $11 buy-in. Not too shabby. "This is one of the biggest tournaments I have won lately. Plus, in the last two months, I have not had so much luck with poker, so this feels great," demios told PocketFives moments after his big win in an exclusive interview. He plays on WPT Poker under the screen name toffelvadd and defeated mysticpig heads-up, who hails from the United Kingdom. One of the most memorable hands of demios' tournament saw him knock out fellow community member Geraldo22 with quad tens to get a bounty. We asked demios to walk us through that key moment: "Geraldo22 shoved for nine big blinds from the hijack and the cutoff shoved for 13 big blinds, so I thought for a while and called with my 10-10. Geraldo22 got unlucky with his K-K and the cutoff also got a bit unlucky with his A-Q suited after he flopped a pair of aces because I hit my trips on the turn and quads on the river." The PocketFives Open is a time-honored tradition on our site and typically takes place once per quarter. The Swede is the 20th PocketFives Open champion we've crowned and WPT Poker is the 10th site we've held the tournament on. We asked why demios why he chose to play in the first place: "I like these community tournaments. There is extra value and prestige and bounties spice things up." On the final hand of the PocketFives Open, demios hit a straight on the turn and called an all-in bluff to take down a pot worth 25 big blinds and the title of champion. mysticpig banked $681 for second place and the total prize pool, including the $3,000 in cash that WPT Poker graciously added, lapped $4,000. demios told us that he got started in poker after watching "Poker After Dark" on television. From there, he narrated, "I started playing Fixed Limit cash games and now play mostly No Limit Hold'em and Omaha tournaments." He signed up for PocketFives last November and has nearly $2,000 in tracked MTT cashes to his credit. Our latest PocketFives Open winner plays poker three to four hours per day. He explained, "I used to like poker a lot and play poker a lot, but I now I get a little bored of it sometimes, so I play about three or four hours per day. I think if you're good enough to play full-time and enjoy the games, it's one of the best jobs in the world. Also, it gives you so much more freedom than a normal job." Sweden is home to over 500 registered PocketFives members, some of whom chat in our new Sweden pokercommunity. "I think Sweden has a lot of great players," demios said of his homeland. "I don't look up to anybody in particular, but I think Isildur1 (pictured) is doing great. There are a lot of people who play poker in Sweden, so it's all good here." Here were the final table results from Thursday's PocketFives Open on WPT Poker. Thanks to everyone who played for making this recurring tournament a success every time: 1. toffelvadd - $1,122.81 (demios) 2. Hamhamham - $681.70 (mysticpig) 3. iownursoul - $421.05 (gerryf23) 4. Sentapied99 - $330.82 (Senterpied) 5. skyblue13888 - $284.71 6. vanillaicecream - $240.60 (NG3434) 7. catalinfr0 - $200.50 8. yuman - $164.41 (Morovica) 9. Geraldo22 - $112.28 (Geraldo22) 10. finalshine1 - $90.22 If you're due a prize from the PocketFives Open, please e-mail support@pocketfives.com. Show your love for PocketFives by signing up for WPT Pokerusing the code P5WPT. If you do, you'll get a 100% bonus plus one free month of PocketFives Training with the sign-up fee waived, a $65 value.
  19. Several companies exist in the still-developing poker insurance market. Some insure tournaments, while others like InsuredPlay focus on real money ring games. Here's a quick summary of how InsuredPlay works. Let's say you're all-in on the flop with an 80% chance to win a $100 pot. InsuredPlay will automatically insure the hand for $20 plus a small premium, which it will deduct from your InsuredPlay account. If you lose the hand, InsuredPlay will send you $100. A recent thread in the poker forumshere on PocketFives focused on a few of the benefits and drawbacks to using insurance services. PocketFives sat down with InsuredPlay's Emre Kenci to learn about how the company can help online poker players. By the way, InsuredPlay recently came out of beta testing. PocketFives: What gave you the idea to launch InsuredPlay? Emre Kenci: Bad beats and downswings. I played poker a lot in 2009 on Full Tilt and was running pretty bad. I constantly had to move down in stakes, so I started looking for ways to reduce variance and there were none available at that time. I knew the concept of insurance, started working on how it can be applied to online poker, and InsuredPlay was born. PocketFives: Tell us about yourself and your poker background. How could InsuredPlay have helped you while you were playing? Emre Kenci: I had played about 250,000 hands during that time on Full Tilt and would have saved about five buy-ins if I were using insurance as it is offered on InsuredPlay. I don't think people would believe the numbers if we published them, but we will be releasing the graphs and stats of people who play with InsuredPlay in the future. PocketFives: Some players feel it is not worth paying any additional premium on top of what the poker site itself is charging. What players do you think will benefit the most from purchasing cash game insurance? How do you rationalize to people that they should take advantage of this type of service? Emre Kenci: I don't think it's rational to compare our fee to a poker site's rake. When you buy insurance, you get a service in return, and buying that service might be a profitable choice. Insurance will certainly help players who want to play higher stakes. It reduces your bankroll requirement and allows you to play in games where you are skilled enough to play but are under-bankrolled. It will also help high-volume players by reducing variance and preventing downswings. For high-volume players, the fee is 1%, which I think is worth the reduction in variance. You do not have to play that much, by the way, as a 1% fee is very achievable; it only requires 200 insured hands in the last 30 days. There is also the psychological side to the game. Poker is not an isolated, purely mathematical game. Bad beats, variance, and downswings are not easy to handle. PocketFives: How might purchasing insurance help your poker decisions? Emre Kenci: The mental state you are in is very important in poker. I was reading Tommy Angelo's "Elements of Poker" the other day and it's almost entirely about having the right mindset at a poker table. Bad beats cause tilt, and tilt causes bad decisions that make you lose money. Knowing your bad beats are covered will take away some of that pain. In the end, even though it might look like you paid extra, you will have saved some money. We're not claiming that insurance will make you play nosebleeds, reduce your variance to zero, and make you 100% tilt-proof, but it will absolutely help. PocketFives: What are some of the free benefits to people visiting InsuredPlay's website? Emre Kenci: The hand history section on the website is free to use. It shows your poker hands grouped into cash game sessions and tournaments. You can easily view information like how much you won or lost, how long you played, how many hands you saw, etc. You can replay or share your hands without having to deal with hand history files. We also track your tournament hands. You will find all of your tournament hands and results in the hand history section. PocketFives: What are your long-term plans for InsuredPlay? We've seen other sites offer services like bubble protection, for example. Emre Kenci: We have a lot of plans and a lot of different projects in mind. But, first we need to do what we are doing perfectly and explain ourselves to the community before we move on to other projects. Bubble insurance for tournaments is something we are looking into. To me, using bubble insurance is about taking a shot at a tournament that is above your bankroll. So, if we do it, it will be designed for that kind of mentality. PocketFives: Talk about the process of using InsuredPlay during a hand. What does a user have to do to activate InsuredPlay while they're playing? Emre Kenci: The user does not have to do anything while they are playing. No decisions are made in real-time. The situations you want insurance for are determined prior to game play. For example, let's say you set your minimum odds for insurance to 80%. When you go all-in or call an all-in bet with an 80% or more chance to win, the hand will automatically get insured. You can also customize your settings to only insure pots that are larger than a minimum size you determine. PocketFives: Respond to this PocketFives member question about InsuredPlay: "This seems like a cool idea, but aren't you essentially betting against yourself because you have to keep money in the insured account?" Emre Kenci: Technically, yes. You are making a side bet for losing a hand. You are hedging the bet you make at a poker table by placing a bet with us. PocketFives: Talk about how a person can figure out what insurance percentage is optimal for them. Emre Kenci: I think ultimately every player has to find the optimal settings for his style by playing around. I like to insure all hands where I'm the favorite, including coin flips, for pots larger than 50 big blinds. But, I can't say if that's the optimal setting for everyone. Visit InsuredPlayfor more details.
  20. Last week, David D RoRowan (pictured) came away with a third place finish in the weekly PokerStars Sunday $100 Rebuy. The tournament drew more than 1,200 players and well over $400,000 was given out, nearly double the event's guarantee. Rowan collected $41,000 as his reward and is nearing an amazing $2.5 million in tracked cashes in his PocketFives profile. How'd he do it? PocketFives virtually traveled to his home to find out. The final table was full of veteran poker talent, including Sorel Imper1umMizzi, U.K. player Rick TheClaimeerTrigg, Germany's pappadogg, and recent Triple Crownwinner LiroLa, several of whom are in the top rungs of the PocketFives Poker Rankings. "It was a tough table for sure," Rowan said of the group. "I didn't have any significant history with anybody. Sorel gave me a hard time three-handed and it seemed like I was always adjusting a second too late. Otherwise, I didn't get into too many battles or confrontations." On his last hand, Rowan jammed his final 13 big blinds with Q-7 offsuit and received a call from an opponent with K-J in a blind-versus-blind confrontation. Rowan flopped a queen to grab an early lead, but his opponent hit Broadway on the river for the win. PokerStars member paulitschMCultimately took down the entire tournament for $76,000. Also ongoing on PokerStars is the annual Spring Championship of Online Poker, or SCOOP. The series wraps up on May 20th and Rowan was looking forward to the "straightforward" events: "I'm looking forward to all of the regular and Turbo No Limit ones. I'm kind of put off by all the gimmicky stuff. I don't mind rebuys and tournaments like that, but the Action Hour thing was ridiculous and a Super Knockout - I mean they're cool and force you to adjust and all, but I think PokerStars would attract more players with more straightforward tournaments." Rowan had played in an Action Hour event just before PocketFives caught up with him and discussed why he wasn't enamored with the structure: "Basically, there is and hour-long rebuy period that plays like a Turbo. Then, the blinds reset after the add-on. The last level in the rebuy is 150/300, and it typically resets to 40/80. Tonight, it reset to 5/10 and they didn't miss a level from there." Only one Action Hour tournament was on the 2012 PokerStars SCOOP docket. The poker community has made significant adjustments following Black Friday in 2011. For Rowan, relocating and taking a staking deal were the consequences of the U.S. Department of Justice's actions. "I took a staking deal after relocating," Rowan recollected. "I'm looking to get back to playing on my own as soon as possible. I need to get my bankroll to a point where I feel I have a very small risk of ruin playing a normal high-stakes MTT schedule full-time." He added, "This year, I'm looking forward to getting back to playing on my own dime and always striving to find the life/poker balance." Besides SCOOP and the one-year anniversary of Black Friday, one of the other hot topics in the poker community right now is the rumored PokerStars purchase of Full Tilt Poker, which neither party has commented on officially. "It seems like everyone wins if it happens," Rowan observed. "It was definitely pretty low on the list of possible scenarios I pictured playing out. The GBT deal seemed promising. It seemed like the only option on the table, so of course I was optimistic about it." Other recent scores for Rowan include a second place finish in the PokerStars Bigger $162 for $32,000 and a win in the site's $109 Cubed for $11,000. He's at #190 worldwide in the Rankings and has been a card-carrying member of PocketFives since 2007. Sign up for PokerStars today.
  21. There have been several mammoth tournaments held so far during the 2012 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, or SCOOP. And, believe it or not, there have been a few of them that didn't feature PokerStars pro Viktor Isildur1Blom at the top of the leaderboard. Among those flying high so far is Sam TheSquidGrafton (pictured), who recently won a PocketFives Triple Crown and was part of a five-way chop of the high-stakes version of SCOOP Event #2. Grafton walked away with $234,000 from the $2,100 No Limit Hold'em tournament following the deal and received the event's largest payday. He officially took third place and told PocketFives how the chop went down: "We were five-handed. I had the chip lead and decided to look at the numbers. I clicked the button to discuss a deal and we made one instantly. I guess the others had already clicked it and we just took ICM." He pocketed $234,000 from the ICM deal and played on for another $20,000 in cash. "I was confident I would win, but when we played it out for the remaining $20,000, I was the chip leader and got coolered, running T-T into A-A and two pair into two pair. It just shows the variance." PokerStars member greezhool, who hails from Lithuania, officially came away with the win in SCOOP Event #2 and banked $220,000. Second place and $193,000 went to Germany's @cey@lone, while a familiar face in the PocketFives community, Canada's Luke IWEARGOGGLES Staudenmaier (pictured), finished in the #4 spot for $187,000. The U.K. native is the holder of four Triple Crowns, the most recent of which was solidified on the final day of April. He shot up from #123 worldwide in the PocketFives Poker Player Rankings to #70 when the standings were recalculated on Wednesday and is the #8 player in the United Kingdom. Getting to represent his U.K. countrymen, several of whom have been active in our new United Kingdom pokercommunity, was a thrill. "I'm just excited about the SCOOP," Grafton shared. "There are so many incredible English players, so I'm glad I got a good result. I'm sure many of my mates will get results soon." Grafton holds the top Sliding PLB score in the city of London. He'll now head to Las Vegas for the 2012 World Series of Poker and shared his advice for those looking to strike it big online. You're not going to believe this one: "My one recommendation to the poker community is to make sure you have a good avatar." Yes, it's all about the avatar. Grafton explained that a simple avatar change seemed to be the key to victory: "In the first few months of the year, my avatar had members of the community who are good friends: mcc3991, EMSGAWA9, and OMGJayGatsby. I ran terribly. Over the last two months when I got my Triple Crown and the SCOOP score, I went for the big hitters: badpab2and moorman1 (pictured). I've run like God ever since." Maybe it's not a coincidence. At this year's WSOP, Grafton has his eyes set on Event #28, a new $2,500 No Limit Hold'em Four-Max tournament. The event is bound to feature plenty of action, with Grafton previewing, "I can't wait for the Four-Max. I love the battles, the blind wars, and all that stuff." He has one WSOP cash to his credit, a $25,000 haul for taking 14th in a $2,500 Six-Max No Limit Hold'em tournament last June. He's maneuvered his way to a number of solid cashes as of late, including a win in the PokerStars Big $109 in January for $18,000 and a 98th place exit from the WCOOP Main Event last year for $17,000. He has $1.3 million in tracked MTT cashes to his name and holds the 51st best PLB score worldwide. Don't forget, PokerStarsis running a special freeroll on Sunday, May 13th at 2:30pm ET for PocketFives readers. It's a winner-take-all freebie for a $1,050 ticket into the 27th event of the Spring Championship of Online Poker. We'd like to thank PokerStars for bringing this type of value to the PocketFives community. Sign up for PokerStars today.
  22. In recent days, Tripp trippkirkKirk (pictured) took down his second gold ring by virtue of winning the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event in St. Louis, Missouri. After outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting 624 opponents, he earned $190,000, a six-figure sum he'll now bring back to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Poker isn't his full-time career, as he works for a software firm, but he's learned from some of the game's best, like PokerSkiBumand four-time gold ring winner Kyle da_kyky Cartwright. We caught up with Kirk just after his big victory to learn what it takes to win two WSOP Circuit rings. PocketFives: Tell us about the significance of getting your second gold ring. Tripp Kirk: It was a pretty good day, and then I woke up the next day and found out we might get our Full Tilt money back. Ha. Winning a second ring makes the first one not feel as fluky, especially being a Main Event. It adds some validity to it. Live poker is just so high variance that I never really pictured myself winning something as large as a WSOP Circuit Event. It seems somewhat prestigious and tough. PocketFives: Talk about entering heads-up play with a 2:1 chip lead against Tim "Killer" Killday (pictured). Tripp Kirk: I coolered Chris Conrad three-handed pretty bad to get it heads-up. I was confident too. I got my start playing low-stakes heads-up cash games on PokerStars and Full Tilt, so I was confident in my heads-up abilities. I wanted to keep the pots small, whereas Killer's strategy was to play these huge variance pots. Conrad opened one time under the gun and Killer put in 55 big blinds with jacks and beats tens. PocketFives: Talk about the final hand. You had aces-up, whereas Killday was on a stone cold bluff with Q-10 on an A-7-4-2 board. What were you expecting him to turn over? Tripp Kirk: I thought maybe he got tricky with 7-4 and flopped bottom two. He could have turned over a straight draw or a middle pair. I knew my hand was good and didn't think there were any aces in his range. I think he would have shoved over my pre-flop raise with an ace rather than see a flop. He was trying to get all of his chips in the middle. PocketFives: How excited are you to qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, a gold bracelet event? Tripp Kirk: I'm very excited for it. I've never played a $10,000 buy-in event, which is basically what this is. I'm excited to play a $10,000 event and excited to play against some of the stars. If you win a WSOP Circuit Main Event, you automatically qualify for the tournament, and there are other ways to qualify as well. PocketFives: Can you talk about your online poker career following Black Friday? Tripp Kirk: I haven't been playing online much recently. I had some money on Merge and played the nightly High Roller, but that's been about it. I've been busy and have been traveling. The prize pools online don't interest me as much. Three or four of my really good friends all want to play these live events and the players are so bad, so we try to get to as many of them as possible. They're a lot of fun. PocketFives: What went through your head when you saw the news that PokerStars could be on the verge of purchasing Full Tilt? Tripp Kirk: I was excited and encouraged. I only have about $3,000 on Full Tilt, but the intrigue about the site being open in the U.S. market again is exciting. I think part of the reason I haven't been playing on Merge is because I don't like playing two or three tables, which is about all of the relevant tournaments. Merge and Cake are not Full Tilt and Stars. There just aren't the prize pools. Grinding out $44 tournaments for eight hours to win $2,400 doesn't sound that fun. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker? Tripp Kirk: In college, we started playing $20 buy-in poker games. After college, a couple of my close friends, including PokerSkiBum, taught me the ropes. I spent a lot of time watching him and studied the game intently. He taught me how to think about the game, like what things to look for at the tables and things I had never thought about before. He taught me stack sizes, exploitable spots, and how to think about the game.
  23. On March 18th, a four-way deal ended matters in the PokerStars $100 Rebuy, which sported over 1,000 players on that fateful day and shelled out a prize pool of $340,000. Each player involved in the chop banked $31,000, while Kevin lobbyludParkes (pictured) officially came away with the win and booked a $35,000 payday. He's just $21,000 shy of his $1 million cash badge here on PocketFives and spoke to us about his monumental score a few weeks after the fact. "Obviously I am delighted with the win, but in hindsight, I am a little disappointed with the final table deal," Parkes admitted when asked how he was feeling a few weeks removed from the chop. "It was a lesson learned. I played well and didn't get unlucky." The other three PokerStars members involved in the deal were OBigO, ministerborg, and Kessbert. Last August, Parkes final tabled the weekly PartyPoker $200,000 Guaranteedfor $7,000. About a week ago, he took third in the PokerStars Big $55 for $10,000. Still, the Sunday $100 Rebuy chop, perhaps not surprisingly, stands out from the rest. "This win is probably the best I've had given the tough field," Parkes asserted. "It's always nice to add $35,000 to your bankroll." Well said. He'll be using his $35,000 shot in the arm in part to fund an upcoming family trip to the United States. He told us that he's looking forward to claiming his $1 million cash badge soon, and is proud to represent the United Kingdom in the process: "There is clearly a huge pool of poker talent in the U.K. It used to be moorman1(pictured) flying the flag, but now there are numerous players pushing the top of the rankings. There have also been significant breakthroughs on the live poker scene, with Moorman, Jake neverbluff67 Cody, and Sam Trickett leading the way." Parkes sits in the top 100 of the Sliding PLBfor the U.K., a list that features Christopher NigDawG Brammer (pictured) at the top. He's come a long way since haphazardly finding out about professional poker at a golf club: "I got into poker when a friend at a golf club suggested I might use my math background to make some extra money. I joined the original PokerSchoolOnline and learned the basics. I play poker as a hobby, albeit a serious hobby, and have no intentions of playing full-time, as I own my own chartered accountant practice." On the live poker circuit, Parkes has amassed over $104,000 in winnings, according to the Hendon Mob. "I've played a little live poker, but have only managed a few relatively small cashes," he told us when asked if he's had any success so far. "I am playing in the UKIPT Nottingham, so I hope this is the turning point in my live career." Speaking of UKIPT Nottingham, the PokerStars-backed tournament started today, April 11th, and runs through April 16th. His largest live cash to date was worth just over $20,000 and came during the Grosvenor U.K. Poker Tour Summer Series in 2009. That series took place in the city of Bolton, where Parkes took down a £500 No Limit Hold'em Main Event and defeated a field of 77 players. Here were the results for the March 18th PokerStars Sunday $100 Rebuy, which reflect the four-way deal: 1. parksy1066 - $35,500.00 (lobbylud) 2. OBigO - $44,000.00 3. ministerborg - $57,157.60 4. Kessbert - $31,500.00 5. jackellwood - $17,871.00 (jackellwood) 6. Mysters_Y - $14,467.00 7. Tribeca1999 - $11,063.00 8. montecarlo13 - $7,659.00 9. sappy123 - $4,765.60 (sappy123) Visit PokerStars for more details.
  24. In the month of March, inhoo(pictured) has been on fire. He's already up to over $100,000 in tracked online poker winnings, one Triple Crown, and four major tournament titles. Oh, and he took the first two-and-a-half weeks off to visit Thailand. It's just another day at the office for the Swedish online poker pro, who sits at #30 worldwide in the PocketFives Online Poker Player Rankings and has been a card-carrying member of our community since 2008. If you're looking to run well online, the solution is apparently to take a two-week sojourn to Asia. inhoo told PocketFives that he was well-rested following his recent excursion: "I just got home from a two-week vacation in Thailand. I didn't bring my computer, so I got home really refreshed and excited to play again. That and, of course, running really well have led to my recent success." He came back to the felts like a man possessed. On March 18th, he won the PokerStars.fr Sunday €200 Six-Max for $13,000. One day later, he was back at it again, this time taking down the $530 Monday Omaha on PokerStarsfor $19,000. The next day, players on Titan Pokerwere his victims, as inhoo won the $40,000 Guaranteed Super Tuesday for $10,000. And finally, on March 22nd, four days after his rampage began, inhoo brought home the win in the $100 Rebuy on PokerStars for $11,000. You can do the math to see that's over $50,000 in winnings in a four-day span. On which one of the tournament victories stood out the most, inhoo assessed, "It has to be the $100 Rebuy or $530 Pot Limit Omaha freezeout on PokerStars. It is always fun to win big tournaments that are not Hold'em." In early February, inhoo won the PartyPoker Winter Millionfor $130,000, which stands as his largest tracked score to date. Over the weekend on March 25th, he booked another $31,000 by final tabling the PokerStars Sunday Million. Clearly, he's doing something right. "The $100 Rebuy on PokerStars is a tournament I've wanted to win for a long time. I have been running awful on PokerStars in the bigger tournaments, so it was a relief to finally get there. Hopefully my success can continue now." We think it will. Last week, he rose from #34 to #30 worldwide in the Rankings and has the top PLB score in Sweden. His second Triple Crown should go a long way towards what could be a run at the top 20, or perhaps the top 10, in the world. "This was my second Triple Crown, so it feels good, but it's not close to the first one," inhoo remarked when asked to compare his two coronets. "With the first one, I really had to grind it out and was smashing things when I didn't get there at first." According to our Country Poker Rankings, Swedenis #16 in the world in terms of the combined PLB score of its top 20 players. It is sandwiched in between the Ukraine and the Netherlands and its players have amassed 14 Triple Crowns over the years. Perhaps Sweden's most famous online poker product is PokerStars pro Viktor Blom (pictured), the high-stakes young gun better known as Isildur1. Other Swedish poker players include Martin de Knijff and Chris Bjorin. We asked inhoo how he got started in poker: "The same old story. I started out playing small tournaments, moved over to cash games, and grinded mid-stakes games for a while until I got back into tournaments again. I have been grinding those most of the time now." He's averaging $943 across 1,202 cashes that have been tracked for the Rankings. Finally, we've seen online poker players in the United States, Sweden, and around the world attempt to strike it rich on the live circuit. Is inhoo one of them? "I was grinding most of the European Poker Tour events last year and had one final table bubble," inhoo said. "Besides that, I have not had any big successes. I haven't had the patience you need to get deep and have been spewing too much." We've awarded five Triple Crowns in March. Will you be next? Learn how to take home your own online poker Triple Crown.
  25. Two weeks ago, Morten MortenVMMortensen (pictured), who hails from Denmark, finished second in the $530 buy-in PartyPoker High Rollerfor $23,000. The tournament, which is also run on sites like WPT Poker, carries a $100,000 guarantee, which was smashed on that fateful day when 304 players turned out. Mortensen fell heads-up to OjanViskaSyn, who reeled in nearly $40,000 for the win, and the top 40 finished in the money. If you don't already have a WPT Poker account, sign up through PocketFivesand lay claim to a $100 bonus if you use the code P5WPT. Plus, we'll give you one free month of PocketFives Trainingwith no sign-up fee if you make a deposit. Get started. Other scores for Mortensen include a $19,000 haul for taking fourth in the PokerStarsSuper Tuesday last June and a $15,000 payday for being the runner-up in the site's Big $55 five days ago. One successful Sunday will earn him his $500,000 cash badgehere on PocketFives and he can be found at #219 worldwide in the Poker Player Rankings. According to the Hendon Mob database, Mortensen has over $300,000 in career live tournament cashes. It took us a few days, but PocketFives managed to run down Mortensen to discuss his life in the Scandinavian country. PocketFives: Thanks for joining us all the way from Denmark. Tell us how you're feeling about your PartyPoker High Roller runner-up finish. Morten Mortensen: It's a really nice feeling to end Sundays with a big score. That being said, there are always mixed feelings when you finish second in a poker tournament, and since I have buy-ins between $4,000 and $8,000 on normal Sundays, the finish is not something I gave too much thought to. I had a nice dinner with my roommate and fellow poker player Rasmus RasA86 Agarskov the very next day. PocketFives: Tell us about PartyPoker's High Roller. What is the field like? Morten Mortensen: In general, all High Rollers are a bit more difficult than regular tournaments. I actually feel like Party's High Roller normally has the strongest field of players of the weekly High Roller tournaments, except for maybe the Super Tuesday on PokerStars. PocketFives: You have more than 10 poker site names verified in your PocketFives profile. What are a couple of your favorite tournaments on those sites? Morten Mortsensen: The $525 Ongame High Roller each Tuesday is by far my favorite. It has a lot of good players for sure, but Ongame runs a lot of satellites to it as well, which keeps the regular field a bit softer than the usual High Roller tournaments. The PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up and Sunday Million would be the obvious picks for #2 and #3, but I haven't done really well in either of those. My last picks would be the $200 Sunday ChampionChip on Ongame and the Super Tuesday on PokerStars, not because they have many weak players, but because I really enjoy playing the more expensive online tournaments. For some reason, I seem to play them more seriously than the $50 freezeouts, a leak I need to get fixed. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker? Morten Mortensen: Pretty much the usual story. I started playing home games and stuff like that. I quickly started experimenting with online poker and ever since, poker has been my profession. To start with, I played heads-up sit and gos, but these days I play almost all tournaments, both live and online. PocketFives: Why did you want to play poker full-time? Did you have any other options? Morten Mortensen: The youth in Denmark have all the options in the world since education is free here, and so did I. But to be honest, I just fell in love with idea of being free and being able to travel and knew the only way I could realize that was by playing poker.

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