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“Poker still gives me a thrill from time to time. All deep runs, even if it’s a small tournament, like $3,000 for first, the competition of getting to the final table gives me a thrill even though it’s something I do every day.” For professional online poker pro Jonatan ‘Pot4teUS’ Hellman, his life and the grind are intertwined. Despite everything that he’s gone through in the past two years - a marriage, a divorce, a move from the country to the city - Hellman has continued to maintain his focus and keep the grind alive. Hellman has been a PocketFiver for over five years and a poker pro for even longer. He has amassed over $3.5 million since 2016, more than doubling his lifetime earnings to a massive $6.6 million. He did this with the confidence and support of one of the toughest, tight-knit online poker communities - the Swedes. It’s no secret that many of the top-tier online pros hail from Sweden, with 12 of the top 100 ranked player in the world coming from the Kingdom, including the #1-ranked player in the world ‘lena900.’ “Yea, I know all of them,” Hellman said. “A lot of us are really tight and hang out a lot, talk on Skype and talk hands. A big group stays in Gothenburg which is the second biggest city in Sweden. It’s me, Mr. Andrew (‘r4ndomr4gs’) and Lena (‘lena900’), ‘Sheater’, ‘eisenhower1’, ‘inhoo’…there’s a lot of guys staying in the same city so we go out a lot.” As prolific as Hellman and #TeamSWE are, it’s a marvel that the crew has any time to spare for a night out at all. “We usually go to nice dinners, go out partying and stuff. That’s basically it. But not that often anymore. Everyone wants to stay home and grind, especially ‘Lena’ - he’s the most boring one by far,” Hellman laughs. “That’s why he’s number one. Like on a Friday, when we usually have a day off we go out to a nice restaurant, have some beers and a nice dinner. He gets there, has one Coke then he gets home to grind. That’s why he’s the best.” The reputation of the Swedish contingency precedes itself. Legendary tales of wildly aggressive play and maniacal moves. “We used to be crazy,” Hellman laughs. “I think people play pretty much the same now, except the South American players, especially the guys from Uruguay. ‘SixthSenSe19’ (Fabrizio Gonzalez) and his crew, they have their own style.” “(The reputation) was more of a thing a few years ago. But like the Brazilians, there are so many of them, there are going to be a lot of different styles. It’s the same with the Swedes. It’s not like everyone plays like ‘Isildur1’ in 2008. Obviously, if we talk poker with each other some tendencies are going to be the same but there’s still going to be different styles.” It’s clear that there is a camaraderie and healthy competition among Hellman and his countrymen. Hellman, who is currently the #4-ranked player in the country, more than holds his own. A former top-5 ranked player in the world, Hellman has been rising back up the rankings, currently sitting at #21 thanks in part to his first PokerStars WCOOP title this fall. “I had a terrible WCOOP, I just lost every day,” Hellman recalls. “Then the last day was a $1K Turbo Bounty and I shipped that. It was cool.” To hear Hellman talk about it, he’s happy with it but not overly so. He keeps an even keel about notching his new career-high cash of over $84,000 first place plus another $78,000 in bounties. That’s all in a day’s work for a man who has just recently surpassed 7,000 total recorded online cashes. His work ethic had awarded him with what would be roughly four cashes a day, every day, for the past five years. He's simply played so many tournaments, so many sessions he couldn’t even tell you how many tournaments he plays in a session. “I have no idea,” he said. “I play around twelve tables at a time. I’m guessing I’m playing maybe forty or fifty tournaments in a session. On a Sunday maybe more. “I basically play everything between $50 and, on a normal day, the biggest ones are $1K. During a series, I’ll usually play (up to) the $5K Main. But I’ll play most of the $2K’s and below. So really a grind for me can be varied buy-ins. Sometimes I’ll get $20 buy-ins in as well.” The pursuit of online perfection has taken Hellman away from playing live poker as much as he used to. Approaching $500,000 in live earnings, Hellman will make the occasional appearance at a European Poker Tour event but prefers the action right where he is. “I used to play more live a few years ago but I tired of it basically. The traveling, the long hours and only being able to one table live, it’s not really for me. I mean, live deep runs is the most fun you can ever have in a poker tournament but the two or three days before that is so boring. “One of my first live tournaments was the WSOP Main Event in 2012 and I finished 28th in that, so that was really huge for me. It’s really funny because I was a terrible MTT player back then, I played only cash games. I think about it all the time because nowadays I’m super serious about pay jumps. Like in the (PokerStars) Hot $55, if I have five big blinds I’m going to stall because I want to make the extra $20. But back then, the pay jump between 28th and 27th was $60K and that was basically my net worth when I went to Vegas that year and I had no idea there was a pay jump.” The more times change for Hellman, the more they stay the same. His life in Gothenburg is surrounded by friends all focused on the grind. Up next for Hellman, appears to be more of the same. Perhaps even there’s a return to the top 10 in his future. “I think (the PocketFives rankings) are a fun element but the problem now is they have added so many super buy-in tournaments, like $25Ks. They have so many tournaments which I don’t play so it makes it kind of hard to ever be able to compete with, for example, ‘lena’ and ‘Darwin’ who play everything," Hellman said. "It's still fun. Maybe to become the best Swede outside of 'lena' and 'Darwin', that's my goal." You can follow Jonatan Hellman's poker journey via Twitter: @Jonatan_Hellman
The prestigious Aussie Millions AU$100,000 Challenge wrapped up on Saturday with Cary Katz adding another high roller title to his resume. Katz, the founder of Poker Central, bested the 42-entrant field to take home the AU$1,481,760 ($1,074,658 USD) prize and ANTON Championship ring. Although Katz would eventually end up with all the chips, he was in need of some serious help earlier in the tournament after limp-shoving pocket kings against eventual runner-up Johannes Becker’s pocket aces. A king hit the board and Katz doubled through. He then used that bit of good fortune to stay alive and press on to win the fifth seven-figure score of his career. The final table of nine needed three eliminations before players found themselves in the money. Germany’s Manig Loeser fell in ninth place, followed by American Michael Soyza in eighth. Then Alex Foxen, who celebrated his birthday just one day prior, received the unkind gift of being the official bubble boy, busting in seventh place when his [poker card="as"][poker card="2h"] couldn’t spike against Becker’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="8h"]. With six players remaining, Kristen Bicknell shoved her 15 big blinds in from the button holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="2d"]. Rainer Kempe made the call from the small blind with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="qh"]. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="8h"][poker card="3s"] giving Kempe some backdoor outs plus two overs to bust Bicknell, who just needed to hold. The [poker card="kc"] turn left Bicknell in need of an ace however the [poker card="4h"] river was no help. Bicknell’s run ended in sixth place for AU$288,100. It wasn’t long before the next elimination. Katz opened from under the gun with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qs"] only to be shoved on by Jack Salter who held [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"]. Katz went into the tank, but eventually made the call. The [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"][poker card="6c"] flop gave Katz a commanding lead and left Salter searching for one of the final eights in the deck. The turn was the [poker card="3h"] and the river [poker card="js"] sending the UK pro to the rail in fifth place for AU$329,280. Four-handed play took place for nearly an hour before Kempe and countryman Abraham Passet clashed in a big hand. Passet raised small from under the gun with [poker card="kd"][poker card="ks"] and was called by both Katz and Becker. Kempe, in the big blind, pushed all in with his [poker card="ad"][poker card="qd"]. Passet then reshoved, forcing both Katz and Becker out of the hand. The pair of Germans saw a board of [poker card="9c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="qh"] keeping it clean for Passet’s pocket kings. Kempe, the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl Champion, bowed out in fourth place for AU$452,760. The final three, eager to continue play, shortened their dinner break and pressed on with Passet in the chip lead and Katz sitting on the short stack. However, over the course of the next hour, Katz began chipping up and finally turned the tables. He found double through Passet holding pocket aces versus Passet’s pocket sixes, sending Katz into a chip lead he would not relinquish. Eventually, Passet’s tournament came to an end when Becker’s only called the small blind with [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] prompting a shove from Passet with [poker card="ad"][poker card="th"]. The flop fell [poker card="9s"][poker card="2c"][poker card="3c"] giving Passet some backdoor straight options along with his single overcard. The turn was the [poker card="9c"] and the river was the [poker card="ts"]. Passet took home AU$617.400 for his third-place finish. Once heads-up play began, Katz went on a run that had him eliminating Becker in just under an hour of play. After winning a series of hands, Becker was crippled and the final hand had the pair get all the chips in the middle with Katz holding [poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"] against Becker’s [poker card="kc"][poker card="2c"]. The [poker card="8d"][poker card="5s"][poker card="8s"] flop was clean for Katz. The [poker card="2h"] turn offered some extra outs for Becker but the [poker card="jc"] river sealed his fate and the German finished in second place for AU$946,680. Katz earned AU$1,481,760 for the victory, his first ever result at the Aussie Millions. It marks his second major $100K Super High Roller win having also taken down the 2018 PCA $100K for $1,492,340. Katz now sits at #25 on the All-Time Money List with over $18.3 million in earnings. Aussie Millions AU$100,000 Challenge Payouts Place Player Payout AUD Payout USD 1 Cary Katz $1,481,760 $1,066,867 2 Johannes Becker $946,680 $681,610 3 Abraham Passet $617,400 $444,528 4 Rainer Kempe $452,760 $325,987 5 Jack Salter $329,280 $237,082 6 Kristen Bicknell $288,120 $207,446
On Thursday, Loren Klein added his name to the World Series of Poker history books and now has a shot at erasing a few names in 2020. Klein was one of three players to win bracelets on Thursday, with the other two winning the first bracelets of their career. Aristeidis Moschonas Wins $600 NLHE/PLO Deepstack Title Greece is now on the board. Aristeidis Moschonas defeated Dan Matsuzuki heads-up to win the $600 No Limit Hold'em/Pot Limit Omaha Deepstack event to give his homeland of Greece their first bracelet of 2019. Moschonas, who typically plays PLO cash games, felt he had a noticeable advantage over the players in the field who specialize in No Limit Hold'em as the moved between PLO and NLHE. "My main game is PLO, I’m a PLO cash player. I also play No-Limit tournaments so it’s like the perfect format for me," Maoschonas said. "I have an edge against the No-Limit players who don’t know how to play PLO." The $194,759 score he got for winning was definitely nice, but the extra day the tournament needed to complete cost the 37-year-old the chance to play one of the marquee events on the schedule. “I wanted to play the $25K PLO but I went to deep on this one, but it’s OK I guess,” Maoschonas said. Matsuzuki, who won the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event last year, banked $120,374 for the runner-up finish. Final Table Payouts Aristeidis Moschonas - $194,759 Dan Matsuzuki - $120,374 Raghav Bansal - $88,410 Rainer Kempe - $65,482 Ashish Ahuja - $48,914 Stephen Ma - $36,852 Adam Lamphere - $28,006 Daniel Moravec - $21,469 Simon Samokovski - $16,603 Loren Klein Makes History With $2,500 Mixed Big Bet Win For the fourth straight year, Loren Klein has won a WSOP bracelet. Klein beat Ryan Hughes heads up to win the $2,500 Mixed Big Bet event for $127,808. He joins Bill Boyd and Doyle Brunson as the only players to have won a bracelet four years in a row. Klein's other three wins were the $1,500 NLHE/PLO (2016), $1,500 PLO (2017), and the $10,000 PLO Championship (2018). Hughes has a streak of his own. This is the second consecutive year that he's finished runner-up in this event. He also finished seventh in 2017 to make him the only person to cash all three years that the event has existed. Philip Hui finished third for $51,346 and his eighth cash of the 2019 WSOP. Final Table Payouts Loren Klein - $127,808 Ryan Hughes - $78,985 Phillip Hui - $51,346 Arthur Morris - $34,328 Joseph Couden - $23,622 Jonathan Depa - $16,746 Mike Sexton - $12,240 Michael Blake Takes Down Super Seniors Michael Blake came out on top of the record-setting 2,650-player field in the Super Seniors event to win $359,863. “It's the third time I've played in it. I'm an old guy, I've played poker for most of my life, and I feel very fortunate,” said Blake, 71. Blake beat 2009 WSOP Europe Main Event champion and Card Player Magazine co-owner Barry Shulman for the bracelet. Shulman's wife, Allyn, who won the Seniors Event in 2012, finished 36th. Final Table Payouts Michael Blake - $359,863 Barry Shulman - $222,295 Cary Marshall - $162,536 Timothy Joseph - $119,888 Rick Austin - $89,217 Kanajett Hathaitham - $66,987 Jeffrey Miller - $50,751 Bruce Treitman - $38,802 Miles Harris - $29,939 Damjan Radanov Leads $1,500 NLHE Bounty into Day 3 Day 2 of the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Bounty event started with 272 players - all in the money - and ended with Damjan Radanov leading the 23 survivors. Radanov bagged up 4,625,000 while two-time bracelet winner Asi Moshe ended up right behind him with 4,530,000. Other notables moving on to Day 3 include Harrison Gimbel, Martijn Gerrits, and Kalidou Sow. Among the 249 players who were unable to make it through the 10 levels of play were Phil Ivey, Loni Harwood, Sam Grizzle, Steven van Zadelhoff, Scott Margereson, Justin Young, and Barry Greenstein. Day 3 begins at Top Chip Counts Damjan Radanov - 4,625,000 Asi Moshe - 4,530,000 Timothy Stephens - 3,220,000 Harrison Gimbel - 2,985,000 Andrew Hills - 2,580,000 Patrick Truong - 2,505,000 Tonio Roder - 2,300,000 Bastian Fischer - 2,185,000 Martijn Gerrits - 2,145,000 Benjamin Chalot - 1,900,000 Anson Tsang Leads Massive $25K PLO High Roller Day 2 of the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller was mostly about Anson Tsang, but it's impossible to ignore the 56 players who late-regged or re-entered on Day 2. Those players helped push this year's event to 278 total entrants, smashing the previous high of 230. Tsang finished Day 2 leading the final 39 players with a stack of 4,775,000. James Chen put on a late surge to move within striking distance of Tsang and bagged 4,140,000. Alex Epstein sits third with 2,450,000. Other notables still chasing down the $1,618,417 first place prize include Robert Mizrachi, Erik Seidel, Ben Tollerene, Paul Volpe, Stephen Chidwick, Justin Bonomo, and Dan Smith. Day 3 begins at 2 PM PT and will play down to six players. Top Chip Counts Anson Tsang - 4,775,000 James Chen - 4,140,000 Alex Epstein - 2,450,000 Firas Sadou - 2,430,000 Robert Mizrachi - 2,245,000 Wasim Korkis - 1,900,000 Esther Taylor-Brady - 1,730,000 Erik Seidel - 1,533,000 Ka Kwan - 1,415,000 Ben Tollerene - 1,215,000 Day 1 of Ladies Event Draws Huge Field; Familiar Faces Jennifer Lopez - no, not THAT Jennifer Lopez - ended Day 1 of the Ladies Event with the chip lead, narrowly edging out Katie Lindsay. Lopez finished with 251,900, while Lindsay bagged 245,600. For the first time in the history of the event, players were able to re-enter after busting one time. That helped lead to a record number entries - 968 to be exact - before registration closed. In 2018, the event drew a field of 696 players. Some of the notables moving on to Day 2 include Ana Marquez, Allyn Shulman, Erica Lindgren, Kathy Liebert, Maria Lampropulos, Maria Ho, Kelly Minkin, Gaelle Baumann, and Kristy Arnett. Defending champ Jessica Dawley was one of the 707 players who were eliminated on Day 1. Action resumes at Noon PT. Top Chip Counts Jennifer Lopez - 251,900 Katie Lindsay - 245,600 Diane Cooley - 229,100 Raylene Celaya - 216,500 Tian Jin - 216,100 Iva Lazaova - 216,000 Ana Freitas - 210,000 Irina Batorevicova - 203,300 Dee Luong - 173,700 Erika Weinstein - 173,000 Baitai Li Leads Day 1 $2,500 No Limit Hold'em Event Just 200 of the 996 players who entered the $2,500 No Limit Hold'em event on Thursday managed to survive the opening day of play. New York's Baitai Li ended up with the chip lead as play wrapped for the night, ending with 354,800. Li's closest threat is Barny Boatman. The Brit finished with 263,100, just ahead of Canadian Mark Radoja, who bagged 248,000. Some of the bigger names who advanced to Day 2 include Ari Engel, David 'Bakes' Baker, Kitty Kuo, Kristen Bicknell, Bryan Piccioli, Martin Jacobson, Tony Dunst, Kenny Hallaert, Ben Yu, and Jake Schwartz. Day 2 begins at 1 PM PT and the first 50 players eliminated will do so without showing any return on their $2,500 buy-in. Play is scheduled to go another 10 levels. Top Chip Counts Baitai Li - 354,800 Barny Boatman - 263,100 Mark Radoja - 248,000 Antal Mezei - 246,400 Sebastian Percysmith - 245,000 Jesse Smith - 224,300 Oihan Abarzuza - 214,500 Adrian Apmann - 205,100 Truyen Nguyen - 190,000 Stefan Ivanov - 174,700 Johannes Becker Tops $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Day 1 Last summer, Johannes Becker won his first bracelet by taking down the $2,500 Mixed Lowball event. On Thursday he took a pretty good step towards winning another one, albeit against a tougher field. Becker finished Day 1 of the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Championship with 526,500 - 130,000 more than any other player. Benny Glaser, who won his first bracelet in a $1,500 buy-in version of this event in 2015, ended up second in chips with 396,500. A total of 92 players entered on Day 1 with players able to enter up until the start of Day 2. There is no re-entry in this event. There will need to be 17 Day 2 entries for this year's event to match the 109 that played in 2018. The 32 players that managed to avoid busting on Day 1 include Luke Schwartz, Calvin Anderson, Brian Hastings, Marco Johnson, Brian Yoon, David 'ODB' Baker, and Mike Matusow. Day 2 action gets underway at 2 PM PT and will play seven 90-minute levels. Top Chip Counts Johannes Becker - 526,500 Benny Glaser - 396,500 Luke Schwartz - 321,500 Mark Gregorich - 275,000 Daniel Ospina - 258,500 George Wolff - 232,500 Cary Katz - 223,000 Rep Porter - 216,500 Calvin Anderson - 208,000 Max Kruse - 195,500