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Found 13 results

  1. Poker Summer Camp 2018 has come to a close. The 49th annual World Series of Poker is officially in the books and, as time passes, this year will be remembered for the wild one it was. Thousands of players flooded the halls of the Rio All Suites & Casino in search of their slice of the multi-million dollar prize pools, but also to have the time of their lives playing the game that they love. So, before too much time passes and players begin to look forward to their next great poker excursion let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments from the summer that was WSOP 2018. The Bubble Bursts In a summer filled with hundreds of thousands of hands dealt, the hand that took the Main Event from ten players down to the official final table of nine may be one of the most extraordinary in Main Event history. The hand seemed so improbable. Three players all-in, two of them holding pocket kings and a third with pocket aces being broadcast to the world via ESPN. Nick Manion raised with his aces and, behind him, Antonie Labat opted to simply call his pocket kings. When short-stacked Yueqi Zhu peered down at his own pair of pocket kings, he moved all in. Having Zhu covered, but with fewer chips than Labat, Manion moved all-in as well. Then Labat had a big decision: call here with his under-represented kings for a shot at the chip lead or preserve his current stack, which was second in strength at the start of the hand. Labat called and the poker world witnessed a three-way all-in to determine who was going to be at the final table. Most likely, more than the players who held the hands, the hand itself will be remembered and celebrated for years to come as an example that when it comes to the WSOP Main Event, anything can happen. Doyle Tips His Hat, Says Goodbye Have we really seen the last of “The Godfather of Poker” Doyle Brunson at the World Series of Poker? “I’m planning on retiring after the summer,” Doyle said in an interview with Poker Central “My wife is not in very good health, and I will stay with her for the duration of either her life or mine. I’m going to stop playing completely, but while I might change my mind, I don’t think that I will. This will be the last time that my wife and I have to spend together, and right now, every day that I leave the house I feel guilty.” His wife’s health situation, as well as the grueling grind of the WSOP’s multi-day tournaments, had the poker world faced with the fact that, at age 84, this may be the last time to appreciate the on-the-felt endeavors of a poker legend. Doyle did not disappoint his fans either. For his last tournament he a deep run Event #23: $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship. For a brief moment, it seemed like the poker gods were going to bless Brunson with his 11th bracelet. It did not come to pass though, as Brunson ended up scooting to the rail in sixth place for just over $43,000, bringing a close to a WSOP career that started back in 1972. [caption id="attachment_619532" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Doyle Brunson bid farewell to the World Series of Poker on Tuesday. (Drew Amato photo/PokerCentral)[/caption] Once the moment of Brunson's final tournament passed, he later indicated that he may not be done with the game after all. Spectacle Hellmuth Love it or hate it, both players and fans of poker will remember Phil Hellmuth’s 2018 entrance into the World Series of Poker Main Event. Hellmuth, sitting astride a custom built chopper, came to the tournament dressed as the Marvel Comic’s Prince of Asgard, Thor. He strode into the halls of the Rio shouting "By Odin's Beard!" and hoisting a makeshift hammer high in the air. Surrounded by 14 models, all dressed as the DC comic’s staple heroine Wonder Woman, Hellmuth's grand entrance was captured and broadcast for all to see thanks to the ESPN cameras. Are the circus-like arrivals for the, now, 15-time bracelet winner "good for poker" because they are just good clean fun? Or are they simply a publicity stunt for the man in the middle of the spectacle itself? Either way, the entrance achieved the desired effect as, for the day, social media was abuzz with all things Hellmuth. Colossal Mistake Time and time again we see the pulse-pounding moments when players are on the verge of capturing their first WSOP bracelet. Flush with excitement, but reserved until the hardware is in their hands, it’s easy to be happy for those humble enough to win with grace. Sometimes though, the excitement of having your opponent crushed is too much to handle. When excitement becomes excessive celebration, the poker gods are happy to hand down a healthy dose of humility. Sang Liu couldn't contain his excitement when he discovered that he had Roberly Felicio all-in and dominated. The pair were heads-up for the million-dollar payday of the 2018 Colossus and victory for Liu was two cards away. Lui did just about everything you shouldn't do. He jumped in the air, he danced around the table, ripped off his jacket and, perhaps even, began spending his life-changing payday in his mind. That was not going to happen as with only three outs to the river, Felicio was granted his "one-time" and Liu’s dreams of being a WSOP champion were wiped away. Michael Dyer, ended that strange Day 5 with a massive chip lead, which he rode all the way to a third-place finish in the Main Event.
  2. [caption width="640"] Tommy Yates turned a 1¢ satellite win on 888poker into ,500 in 2015.[/caption] The start of the 2017 World Series of Poker is right around the corner and for the third straight year, 888poker is an exclusive satellite partner of the world’s richest tournament series. As part of the partnership, 888poker is once again offering qualifiers into the World Series of Poker Main Event with steps starting at just $0.01. Last year, both Fernando Pons and Griffin Benger reached the final table of the Main Event after qualifying online at 888poker. Pons and Benger qualified for $30 and $160, respectively, but all players have the option of starting at Step 1 and repeating the feat of Tommy Yates. In 2015, Yates managed to climb his way up through all of the tournament steps and ended up cashing for $19,500 in the Main Event, making good on his initial investment of a single cent. Satellites are currently running for all steps with the $0.01 Step 1 marking the entry point for players to qualify on the smallest of bankrolls. When it comes to qualifying for the minimum, 888poker team pro Sofia Lövgren suggests examining one’s bankroll before deciding what step to enter first. “To make it easy, I calculate a bankroll of at least 100 times the tournament I try to win a ticket into whatever step I start off with. If you can’t afford it you’re not bankrolled and it’s more like taking a shot. Which could be a very good thing to do every now and then.” Compared to the later stages of the satellite steps, Step 1 provides a shallower structure and is a more fast-paced event. Based on those variables, Lövgren suggests studying opponents early on and finding weak spots to pick on to chip up as much as possible. “Study the other players carefully and try to find the weaker opponents which will then be your targets. Play many hands in the beginning without building big pots unless you have a really good hand. You want to see cheap flops with hands like small pairs and suited connectors when all have lots of big blinds. Play small ball poker against less experienced players,” said Lövgren. “They will often make the mistakes you could exploit and you can even be able to win big pots early in a satellite when they can’t fold their top pair. If you play well these early stages of the satellites you could be the one building the stack you need later.” Short stack play is also of the essence when playing turbo satellites and fellow 888poker pro, Natalie Hof, recommends players study the Nash push/fold charts or download the SnapShove app to give themselves the maximum advantage. Most importantly, the key to any satellite is to survive and advance to the next round rather than try to win. Given the how many steps it will take players to reach the WSOP Main Event seat, the saying “one step at a time” is important to be aware of. Once a player gains a large enough stack, Lövgren recommends coasting to the finish line. “If you are a big stack close to the bubble in a satellite you’re in a great position. Don’t let your ego keep you fighting for more chips than you need, risking to lose everything. You can always push people around with your stack but since there is nothing to fight for. Let the other people do the mistakes while you surf into one of the positions guaranteeing a prize.”
  3. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Gjergj Sinistaj is playing on Day 3 of the Main Event and has pieces of action spread across the Amazon Room.[/caption] If you look in the Brasilia Room at Joe McKeehen’s Main Event title banner, you see a man holding up the championship bracelet with a $7.6 million smile on his face. Behind the pile of money and glory are another man who helped to finance McKeehen’s buy in and the entry fee for at least a dozen more players that year. Gjergj Sinishtaj has grown from the preeminent online cash game prodigy of his generation to piece buyer extraordinaire. Sinishtaj played in some of the highest-stakes games as a teenager and was featured as an adversary against the “2 Months 2 Million” team under the screen name of “Blewjob.” Online poker is obviously not a prevalent option across the United States and as a result, Sinishtaj has turned his attention toward the occasional live game and piece buying with the Main Event serving as his personal trust fund. In 2015 and 2016, Sinishtaj says there were 15 players of whom he had a piece of. Not all of the buys panned out by the ones that did, earned Sinishtaj a fortune. Sinishtaj had 30 percent of McKeehen’s action when he won and then had approximately 65 percent of Gordon Vayo’s$4.6 million score for taking second place last year. There isn’t a specific method to Sinishtaj’s brilliance but he does his due diligence to make sure the pieces he’s buying are worth the full investment. “A lot of it has to do with luck. I’m not going to say I’m a skillful picker because I’ve obviously run way above EV in buying pieces. What I look at first is the markup and then I do a little bit of history on the player, get some references and interview them to see what type of person they are. I go with my gut, some people come approach me or I approach them, I might not stake them in the tournament even if I approach them. It depends on my feel.” In 2015, Sinishtaj cashed for the first time in the Main Event, bowing out at the end of Day 4. Sinishtaj was preoccupied with his own play as he is this year with 200,000 in his stack as of Level 13. There are 30 players, according to Sinishtaj, that he has action on this year but he doesn’t keep tabs on how they are doing until the end of the day while he is playing. It makes sense for Sinishtaj to have more players in this year’s field based on his previous success and after putting out a tweet along with some word of mouth, Sinishtaj had players reach out to him to have their action bought. “I have more players this year. The reason is, people have heard that I’ve had so much success staking and they think it’s a lucky thing. A lot of people approached me and had fair markups. I’m able to negotiate the markups too, I’m like ‘I’m super lucky, how about 1.4 instead of 1.6?’ and they’re like, ‘alright!’” Along with the $10,000 he spent on himself to enter the Main Event, Sinishtaj has $100,000 invested in the field within his pieces. Sinishtaj says that both last year and this year were a struggle in terms of ROI prior to the Main Event. Vayo was able to save Sinishtaj’s summer in 2016 and with about 1,800 players currently remaining, chances are that there are few horses still in who can carry Sinishtaj to the finish line for the third straight year.
  4. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro made Day 2C of the Main Event and is looking to better his Day 5 finish of a year ago.[/caption] Over 7,000 entrants jumped in this year’s WSOP Main Event and roughly half of them returned Wednesday for Day 2C. Mike Azzaro is one of those players and is making his second straight Day 2 appearance. Last summer, Azzaro made a Day 5 run that wound up with him earning his best tournament result from his 187th place finish. Azzaro brings 30,300 into Day 2 and despite being under starting stack, knows that it’s a long road ahead to best or exceed his place from a year ago. “It's hard not to think about where I was last year. I'm going to take it one hand at a time and focus on bagging one day at a time. I bagged 30,000 which is below starting stack but I still have 50 big blinds. My intention for Day 2 is to bag again.” The Main Event is different from nearly all other tournaments in that it doesn’t reach the money until Day 3 or Day 4, compared to others that reach that checkpoint by Day 2. With so many players returning for Day 2C, it’s effectively another Day 1 and Azzaro recognizes the importance of having to put another good day of poker together in order to reach the $15,000 min-cash. “Both days are very important as you need to play well and bag chips if you want to reach the money and eventually the final table.” In the week leading up to his Day 1C Main Event entry, Azzaro cashed in three events, his best streak of consistent success in the last few weeks. Azzaro believes the “momentum” of reaching the payout cage helps in confidence heading into the best tournament of the year. In order to best prepare himself for what will be an arduous grind, Azzaro is planning to relax, take his time, and be mentally prepared for whatever might lay in front of him. He’s made the climb up the mountain before and Azzaro has the tools at his disposal to chip up on Day 2 and potentially leave Las Vegas in the black for the summer.
  5. The structure for the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event has been released. From previous announcements, we know that the amount of starting chips went from 50,000 in 2018 to 60,000 in 2019, a big blind ante format will be used and registration has been extended until the start of Day 2. Now, let's dive a little deeper into the details and break down how the WSOP Main Event structure in 2019 compares to 2018's version. 2019 WSOP Main Event Structure Buy-In: $10,000 Starting Chips: 60,000 Level Duration: 120 minutes Late Registration Period: Start of Day 2 Re-Entry: None Click here for structure sheet DATE EVENT DAY START TIME (PT) DAY LENGTH 7/3 Day 1A 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/4 Day 1B 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/5 Day 1C 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/6 Day 2A/B 11 a.m. 5 levels 7/7 Day 2C 11 a.m. 5 levels 7/8 Day 3 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/9 Day 4 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/10 Day 5 12 p.m. 5-6 levels 7/11 Day 6 12 p.m. 5-6 levels 7/12 Day 7 12 p.m. To nine players 7/14 Day 8 6:30 p.m. To six players 7/15 Day 9 6:30 p.m. To three players 7/16 Day 10 5:30 p.m. To winner *Per WSOP structure sheet: Adjustments may be made to the numbers of levels played each day. Once again, the WSOP Main Event is a 10-day competition with three starting flights. Registration is open until the start of Day 2 and players will play five 120-minute levels on Day 1. You can see the levels during the registration period in the 2019 WSOP Main Event structure table below, plus one additional level that you'd start playing if you registered right before registration closed. LEVEL ANTE BLINDS BB DEPTH M 1 - 100-200 300 200 2 200 100-200 300 120 3 300 200-300 200 75 4 400 200-400 150 60 5 500 300-500 120 46.15 6 600 300-600 100 40 With 60,000 chips to start, players in the 2019 WSOP Main Event begin with 300 big blinds. That is fewer big blinds than players started with for 2018, but the decrease only lasts one level. You can also see that if you enter right at the close of registration (start of Day 2) and head into Level 6 with a fresh 60,000-chip starting stack, you'll have 100 big blinds and an M of 40 to work with. In a further comparison of the two structures, the table below is a year-by-year look at the two structures through the registration periods. The starting stack for the 2018 WSOP Main Event was 50,000, so 10,000 less than what it will be in 2019. It's not the massive increase to the starting stack we've seen in some of the other WSOP events for this year, but it's an increase that benefits the players early on in the structure, past the first level. For "ante," we took the standard ante from the 2018 structure and multiplied it by nine to show the cost of a full round of antes at a standard nine-handed table. This was done to align the comparisons better. 2018 Structure Compared To 2019 Structure LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS BB DEPTH M 1 2018 0 75-150 333.33 222.22 2019 0 100-200 300 200 - - 2 2018 0 150-300 166.67 111.11 2019 200 100-200 300 120 - - 3 2018 225 150-300 166.67 74.07 2019 300 200-300 200 75 - - 4 2018 450 200-400 125 47.62 2019 400 200-400 150 60 - - 5 2018 Reg. Closed 2019 500 300-500 120 46.15 - - 6 2018 Reg. Closed 2019 600 300-600 100 40 The 2019 WSOP Main Event registration period has been extended and will allow players to register until the start of Day 2. Looking at the above table, you can see that there are three levels that overlap with 2018's registration period. In two of those three overlapping registration periods, the structure benefits players with deeper stacks. The first level was actually deeper in 2018, but the difference isn't anything astronomical that players should be up in arms about. In fact, some players have suggested the WSOP Main Event is a little too slow at the beginning. When comparing the end of registration in both years, players would be deeper in 2018 had they entered at the last chance to start Level 4 with a fresh stack of 50,000. That would make for 125 big blinds and an M of 47.62. If players registered to start Day 2 with a fresh 60,000-chip stack in 2019, they'd start with 100 big blinds and an M of 40. That's two full, 120-minute levels later, and in some cases a full day later for the latecomers. What Happens After Day 1? First, let's take a look at how the two years compare for Day 2. In both years, Day 2 begins with Level 6 and the schedule calls for playing five, 120-minute levels. Remember that for the 2018 ante, we took the standard ante from the structure and multiplied it by nine to show the cost of a full round of antes at a standard nine-handed table. LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS 6 2018 900 300-600 2019 600 300-600 - - 7 2018 900 400-800 2019 800 400-800 - - 8 2018 900 500-1,000 2019 1,000 500-1,000 - - 9 2018 1,800 600-1,200 2019 1,200 600-1,200 - - 10 2018 1,800 800-1,600 2019 1,600 800-1,600 The blinds are exactly the same for 2019 as they were in 2018, the only difference per level is the number of antes paid per round. In 2018, a player at a full, nine-handed table would pay more per round in antes in four of the five levels on Day 2. The only level that fewer antes were paid in 2018 versus 2019 is Level 8. On the surface, this tells us that players will have more play overall on Day 2. When you factor in that players begin the tournament with 20% more chips in 2019, the average stack on Day 2 should be larger, and that adds even more play than 2018. Now, let's take a look at Day 3-6. DAY 3 LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS 11 2018 2,700 1,000-2,000 2019 2,000 1,000-2,000 - - 12 2018 3,600 1,200-2,400 2019 2,400 1,200-2,400 - - 13 2018 4,500 1,500-3,000 2019 3,000 1,500-3,000 - - 14 2018 4,500 2,000-4,000 2019 4,000 2,000-4,000 - - 15 2018 4,500 2,500-5,000 2019 5,000 2,500-5,000 DAY 4 16 2018 9,000 3,000-6,000 2019 6,000 3,000-6,000 - - 17 2018 9,000 4,000-8,000 2019 8,000 4,000-8,000 - - 18 2018 9,000 5,000-10,000 2019 10,000 5,000-10,000 - - 19 2018 18,000 6,000-12,000 2019 12,000 6,000-12,000 - - 20 2018 18,000 8,000-16,000 2019 16,000 8,000-16,000 DAY 5 21 2018 27,000 10,000-20,000 2019 20,000 10,000-20,000 - - 22 2018 36,000 12,000-24,000 2019 24,000 12,000-24,000 - - 23 2018 45,000 15,000-30,000 2019 30,000 15,000-30,000 - - 24 2018 45,000 20,000-40,000 2019 40,000 20,000-40,000 - - 25 2018 45,000 25,000-50,000 2019 50,000 25,000-50,000 DAY 6 26 2018 90,000 30,000-60,000 2019 60,000 30,000-60,000 - - 27 2018 90,000 40,000-80,000 2019 80,000 40,000-80,000 - - 28 2018 135,000 50,000-100,000 2019 100,000 50,000-100,000 - - 29 2018 180,000 60,000-120,000 2019 120,000 60,000-120,000 - - 30 2018 180,000 80,000-160,000 2019 160,000 80,000-160,000 For Day 5-6, we assumed five levels to be played, but note that the structure sheet does say "5-6 levels." If you look at the blind levels for Day 3-6, you'll notice the small blind and big blind amounts are all the same as they were in 2018. The change comes with the ante, and you'll notice the cost of one round of antes is less in the majority of blind levels in 2019 when compared to 2018. Of the 20 levels from Level 11 to Level 30, only three times does the 2019 structure call for a higher price for a round of antes. In several spots, each pot is going to be one small blind or greater less than was played in 2018. For example, Level 13 on Day 3 in 2019. In 2018, this level was 1,500-3,000 with a 500 ante. That put 9,000 in the pot at each nine-handed table to start the hand. In 2019, Level 13 is the same 1,500-3,000 but with a 3,000 big blind ante. That's 7,500 in the pot to start the hand for a difference of 1,500 fewer chips. Another example is in Level 29. In 2018, this level was 60,000-120,000 with a 20,000 ante for 360,000 in the pot to start the hand. In 2019, the level is 60,000-120,000 with a 120,000 big blind ante for 300,000 in the pot to start each hand. More Chips Plus Big Blind Ante Means More Play In conclusion, the larger size of the starting stack and the way the big blind ante format works with the structure will allow for a deeper, slower structure in 2019 compared to 2018 in the WSOP Main Event. Want to know more about the 2019 World Series of Poker? Check out 'Everything You Need To Know About the 2019 WSOP.'
  6. [caption width="640"] Before making the WSOP Main Event final table, Bruno Politano learned a costly lesson (888poker photo)[/caption] I F*cked Up is a PocketFives series where the game's best tell stories of where they got it wrong. Mistakes happen every day in poker and let these players be the first to tell you it happens to everyone. Before making the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event final table, Bruno Politano was a respected tournament player in his home country of Brazil. Politano had a fair amount of tournament success there prior to bringing his game to the United States. In 2013, Politano was among the final three at the Brazilian Series of Poker Main Event out of 572 entrants. Politano and an opponent held dominating stacks over the other play. Politano was attempting to win his second BSOP title after doing so in 2008. Things were looking good for Politano to make it to heads up but a costly bluff sent him out in third place. The Hand Politano opened the button with [poker card="6c"][poker card="5c"] and his similarly-stacked opponent called out of the big blind. The flop was J-7-3 with one club, giving Politano a straight draw and backdoor clubs for a flush. The big blind checked and Politano bet 75 percent of the pot. His opponent called and the [poker card="qc"] turn gave Politano the flush draw. After being checked to, Politano bet 85 percent of the pot. Politano says he did this in order to set up an all-in shove on the river. The [poker card="2h"] hit and Politano did just that, moving all-in for 35 big blinds. Politano’s opponent had roughly the same stack and tanked for three minutes for the biggest pot of the tournament. After the thought process was completed, Politano’s bet was called by pocket tens to pick off his bluff. Politano was eliminated in third place and had his chance at winning the title gone along with it. The Aftermath Politano was devastated after the hand and realized his mistake in being too aggressive with a spot effectively assured for heads up play. He would end up taking home $47,493 for his finish, a far cry from the $108,917 awarded for first place. In an attempt to put pressure on his opponent who had a nearly identical stack, the plan blew up in Politano’s face. “I tried to pressure because the other opponent had only 25 blinds. I learned pressure is important but there needs to be equilibrium. Pressure is good, but when it’s not intelligent, there’s a great chance to put it in the trash,” Politano said. The Lesson Politano says he didn’t run into any spots quite like that one in the WSOP Main Event but notes the overall experience taught him well for that run and future final tables. “I learned from the mistake to not run a triple bluff. At final tables, you should play more slowly. I put 50 blinds in the trash and it was unnecessary. When it hurts, you learn.” Politano recommends playing with your opponent’s mindset considered and making decisions that way, instead of on pure emotion. Try to play poker with more reason than emotion. Emotion is important but the reason is more important. Think if your move is intelligent.” Should Politano make another final table in the near future, rest assured he will not be making the same mistake twice.
  7. What are you supposed to expect when the event you grew up watching is suddenly live and in front of your own eyes? Scott Blumstein saw Chris Moneymaker win the Main Event when he was a teenager but never thought he’d make it to the poker’s biggest stage in his first ever attempt. Neither did most of his closest friends, many of whom were on the rail at the start of Thursday’s final table of the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event. As a friend of Scott’s, I joined his team of investors, confidants and “Due Theorists” on the rail for all three days of his journey to immortality. The shirts (brought to you by the good folks of RunGoodGear) were a nice perk but we were all there for a moment in time we would never forget, regardless of the result. This isn’t supposed to happen. You don’t just “attend” Main Event final tables. But it did. And we were there for it. Day 1: "Is This Real?" Anyone who’s known Scott will tell you that they always knew he was capable of doing something special in the poker world, but who could expect this? $8.1 million dollars on the line and Scott is the chip leader? His father, Len Blumstein, certainly didn’t. Five minutes before cards are in the air, he tells me a story about 13-year-old Scott convincing his mother, Randee, to buy him a $270 Phil Hellmuth-branded poker set. The set came with chips and an instructional book. Len says he was not pleased with the purchase at the time but with his son about to play for life-changing money, he could only marvel and say, “look at him now.” You would think that with the Main Event title and millions of dollars on the line, there would be tension in the air that you could cut with a knife. It was the opposite, actually. Scott spent most of the time before the final table started talking to close friends on the rail about minor strategy details along with some casual ice-breaker discussion to keep his mind balanced before the biggest moment of his life. With Scott starting the final table as chip leader, our hopes were sky-high. He didn’t come this far to not finish the job. Scott likes to say “it’s still a poker tournament” and all of us were conscious of that fact. None of us would say it out loud but we were sure that the title was his to lose. The pageantry of the moment wasn’t lost on any of us. Last year’s Main Event Champion Qui Nguyen was in attendance to do “Shuffle Up and Deal” duties and made an effort to stop by and exchange a quick word with Scott. I didn’t catch any of their conversation and never bothered to ask Scott what was said between the two of them. The words were not relevant, but the scene was. It was finally time to play poker. The rail was filled with a combination of both coaches and “fans.” Asher Conniff, Chris Horter, and Jake Schwartz led the charge with relaying pertinent information to Scott from the stream, giving him all information on the hands his opponents were playing. On the other end, Anthony Garofolo, James 'Jimbo' Hundt, and Jason Brauda were in charge of keeping Scott’s “mentals” in check. It’s easy to get overwhelmed under the bright lights with everything at stake and that trio made sure Scott stayed focused on the task at hand, rather than let a bad hand or unlucky break stay with him. Brauda played a key role in Scott’s run to the final table for the latter part of play in the lead up to Thursday. He was on the rail for Days 5, 6, and 7, keeping Scott in check when it was necessary and putting everything into the right perspective. Scott played amazing poker, but if not for Jason keying Scott in on breaks and the occasional mindset adjustment, the run as we know it might not have materialized the way it did. The first few hours of the final table showed just how loose Scott was for this moment. As the only person eligible to order cocktails for the rail, Scott asked for “37 beers” when pressed for order details. Even after losing a small all-in to eventual fifth place finisher Antoine Saout, Scott and Saout exchanged a laugh after Scott paid off the loss. Scott’s ease at the table and around the rail kept us calm as we sweated out his battle for millions and our fight for tens or hundreds of thousands. Without specifically saying who or for how much, there were folks cheering for Scott who stood to win life-changing money of their own as a result of an investment paid to him before the start of the tournament. With that said, you can imagine our collective excitement when Scott won the largest pot of the entire tournament against fan favorite and then-chip leader, John Hesp. Hesp and Scott had been battling in small pots for the first 46 hands of the final table but on Hand 47, Scott’s equity and the equity of those who bought a piece changed forever. The legend has been etched in rock from Boulder Station to Stonehenge of the cooler Scott put on Hesp to claim 40% of the chips in play. With the ESPN microphones as my witness, I said to a friend and fellow railbird Eric Most, “this is the hand where Scott flops top set and gets it all from Hesp’s bottom two pair.” It didn’t quite happen that way, but the result was the same. Whatever subliminal nervousness we had about Scott pulling this off was gone. He was basically at heads up play, waiting to take the title that he tweeted he was going to win. Day 2: "Our Time" The tension that existed on Day 1 was gone when play started with seven left. Our guy had 150 million. All we had to do was not give away chips and a place on Saturday’s stage was ours. Scott played a hand discussed by many against runner-up Dan Ott at the end of Thursday night, in which Scott shoved the river with a pair of queens on an ace-high board. Prior to the start of Friday’s action, commentator Antonio Esfandiari asked Scott why he played the hand the way he did. In a two-minute burst of brilliance, Scott fully articulated his full thought process to Esfandiari and left Esfandiari doing that nod where you stick your bottom lip out a bit further than normal because you were not expecting what just happened in front of you but are impressed by it. Scott was sharp in explaining the hand and if there was any question about how well he knew his remaining opponents, it was answered there. We had some new additions to the rail on Friday. Scott is a proud alum of Temple University and a few of his fellow Owls flew out to support their guy. While the majority of the rail had on the blue/white t-shirt, these guys came clad in Temple maroon complete with flags and cheers. Nick, Aldo, Peter, etc., all great guys who made a lasting impression. Their story about how their small investment in Scott turned into gold was featured on ESPN, but even if there was no money involved, these guys still would have been there. Their friendship was strong like the faith they had in Scott. There were no consistent, organized cheers for Scott on the first day but these guys changed that. “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE, FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE” rung out after Scott won the smallest of pots. It was great having that raw energy there from people not in the poker world. That exuberance carried over to the other dozen or so people on the rail for Day 2 as the party atmosphere picked up. Aside from Bryan Piccioli’s rail full of excitable Bitcoiners, we had the largest cheering section throughout the final table. I think the lack of stress among us helped out Scott as well. There was a point when Scott came up to me once the field was narrowed to down to five players and looked me dead in the eye asking, “Is this really happening?” Indeed, it was, and we knew just the meal to keep the party going. Jimbo had the bright idea to order multiple pizzas for our rail as we were more or less trapped inside the Brasilia room with no immediate food options at our disposal. It felt a little bit like the scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High as Len alluded to while mowing down a slice but when it’s your time, it’s your time. Len and Randee were the real stars of the rail. Neither of them had a solid sense of poker knowledge and we gladly supplied them with pertinent details about their son as big hands played out. The pair spent most of their time sitting in the stands as they tried to maintain their composure over what Scott was attempting to accomplish. Len joined the group near the rail on numerous occasions and it was a joy having him there. Going off of a sample size of a few hours, it appeared that Len was one of those “always a kid at heart” types of folks and that manifested in the zealous smile he had on his face for the whole final table. Overall, I think they loved seeing how much other people enjoyed being around their son. There was a moment midway through Friday where he walked up behind a group of us and marveled at the spectacle, saying “this is just great.” No one disagreed. Every time Scott lost ground at the final table, he found a way to gain it right back. The hand where he turned a full house against Benjamin Pollak’s trip nines was a prime example of this. Scott had lost an all-in right before then and suffered a few more small hits but when he needed to win a hand, he did. Being situated directly next to the French rail, we were careful about discussing the hand with Scott in the immediate aftermath as was he. He gave us a smirk and an “I’ll tell ya later” before heading back to the table. When the hand became available on the ESPN stream 30 minutes later, a strange moment took place. Standing adjacent to each other, Blumstein and Pollak watched the hand unfold on the same screen, with Pollak gazing over the fan side of the rail as his better trips were foiled by Blumstein’s turned full house. Scott complimented Pollak on his river fold and Pollack furrowed his brow and nodded in acknowledgment. The instant camaraderie among the final table participants was staggering. Hesp set a cheerful demeanor early on but I don’t think a similar situation would have unfolded the year before between Qui Nguyen and Cliff Josephy. The moment between Scott and Pollack that played out, though, is one of the most endearing minutes of the final table and I hope even a few years from now, those the two players are aptly recognized for their gamesmanship inside of that two minutes. The last couple dozen hands on Friday flew by. As Hesp grew more short, we all knew the day was going to be over soon enough. I had left to tend to my day job at the Venetian by the time Hesp hit the rail in fourth place but we were already making plans for Saturday. We didn’t come this far to not see this thing all the way through. Day 3: “Can We Just Win a Fucking All In Already?” The pressure had officially got to us. Scott possessed nearly all the chips coming into the last day of play and only time was separating him from his destined bracelet. The cards, however, knew of no such divine right. By leveraging his stack against Ott and Pollak, Scott won nearly every small pot but when the cards were turned up, our hair started falling out. The peak of this moment came when there was the first three-way all-in to potentially decide the title in Main Event history. Scott had AQ. Ott had K9. Pollak had Q10. It was all right there for the taking. Until a king flopped and then it wasn’t. We were heads up, at least, with a 2-1 advantage. One thing that did help us to forget the relatively dire situation we were in: In and Out Burger. That’s right. As the only one with a car who had the leeway to leave for a few minutes, I took Patrick Serda, a mutual friend of the group, over to the In and Out on Sahara and proceeded to order 12 burgers regular, 12 #AnimalStyle, along with 12 milkshakes. There was enough alcohol on the rail, we didn’t really need to worry about the liquid part of it but the ice cream base did its part to wash the onions down smooth. The burgers repressed our screams as the first part of heads up play between Scott and Ott played out. Without giving away all of the secrets, we had a last minute find for virtual coaching that helped Scott form a lot of his strategy. The large sizing he used when three-betting Ott’s opens was not an accident. Through the rapid communication of source to a phone to Scott, he was able to adjust on the fly and take advantage of Ott’s perceived weaknesses. It worked. Scott had an incredible advantage but there was one leak left to plug. We still couldn’t win an all in. Ott managed to wiggle out of trouble with K9 against Scott’s sixes when he flopped a better pair. There was a relative calm among us but it was a high-strung moment as the next hand was dealt out. Scott put the last opponent of the 7,220 he battled his way through all in on the very next hand. We thought our guy had it, he just wouldn’t give his chips away this easily right? Ott tanked for what felt like hours and called with A8. All we had was A2. The flop was no good. The turn left us with three outs. And then. It happened. By the grace of whatever poker god was listening, a deuce hit the river and the championship was ours. The celebration was on. Euphoria poured out of every one of us as Scott ran over to the rail and jumped into our arms. “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE, FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE” “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE, FOR THE CHERRY AND THE WHITE” That chant is still in my ears and won’t be leaving anytime soon. We all thought this moment would happen from the time play started on Thursday but how are you supposed to react when your wildest dreams come true? Scott Blumstein flew to Las Vegas to play one tournament and won it. And we were there for it.
  8. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES Matt Clark and Lance Bradley talk about 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event storylines, some of the big names still in and what life is like on the bubble of poker's most prestigious poker tournament.
  9. [caption width="640"] 888poker is the only place offering official WSOP Main Event satellites online[/caption] So you’ve made it through Step 1 of the 888poker World Series of Poker Main Eventsatellite program and now you’re wondering what’s next. Or, you’ve decided to jump in at Step 2. Either way, your Main Event qualification journey continues at the near rock-bottom price of 10 cents. Yes, just a dime can qualify you for the biggest one of them all. There are still four more steps to complete after Step 2 before a Main Event seat can be earned, but there is a magnitude of a difference between the opening step and this one. RELATED: How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $0.01For starters, the overall structure in Step 2 is better than its predecessor. Players have 500 more chips and five-minute levels, rather than the three minutes in Step 1. One out of every 10 players who enter will earn a seat in Step 3, which costs $1 to enter without previously qualifying. Additionally, it may not seem like it at first, but there is an increased difference in the suggested bankroll needed to fire as many bullets as possible before qualifying for the next step in the series. 888poker team pro Dominik Nitsche suggests that players realize that they will need to still cash in the Main Event before actually making any money so they should be “investing a tiny portion of your bankroll and accept that the money is gone.” Nitsche recommends that players should have four or five buy ins for every step they enter and play without worrying about whether or not their bankroll will be seriously affected. Nitsche admits that playing from the lower steps is difficult considering the amount of variance in satellites and notes that with the average of 20 percent advancement rate, he’s not even sure if he could do it himself but that he would like the competition of the challenge. With all of that said, Nitsche says that players should be starting off at the lower steps if they’re looking for easier games to beat. “People will just randomly go all-in with nonsense. There are no pros playing below the $30 buy-ins. If you want to play the lower stakes, they are quite easy to beat.” Nitsche also notes that players should be playing more aggressive in satellites and avoid calling whenever possible, pointing out that hand strengths change based on point of action. “When you’re on the bubble, hand values change a lot. You don’t want to be calling all ins. Calling all in is usually a disaster and your tournament life is very important. Players make the mistake of three-betting with ace-king rather than just moving all-in. Satellite poker is about making your opponent fold.” Now that you are prepared to take on the second step of the 888poker satellite series, stay tuned for Step 3 when we dive into the $1 buy ins. Sign up for 888poker using promo code 'pocket5s' and get an extra $10 on your first deposit of $10 or more and get an additional 100% welcome bonus on your first deposit up to $700.
  10. [caption width="640"] Daniel Negreanu has a list of goals he is looking to achieve after a, by his standards, subpar 2016. (PokerStars photo)[/caption] The start of the new year is rife with resolutions and for Daniel Negreanu, it is no different. The PokerStars Team Pro posted his annual list of goals on his Full Contact Poker blog in addition to a look back at his intentions from the previous year. Negreanu wrote that “some of the goals are a real stretch, while others on the list seem very reasonable.” The general theme of Negreanu’s objectives is to set lofty expectations for himself while also not having his year solely defined by the results. Most of Negreanu’s targets for 2016 were tournament-based with the World Series of Poker setting the stage for the “make or break” point. Among these landmarks included winning three bracelets, moving into second place on the all-time WSOP money list, and cashing 12 times overall out of his projected 55 tournaments played. The only goal that Negreanu achieved on his 2016 agenda was moving into third place on the WSOP all-time cashes list. Negreanu surpassed Humberto Brenes and Men Nguyen to move from sixth up to third as his 92 payout receipts now trail only Erik Seidel and Phil Hellmuth. With the 2017 poker calendar officially underway, Negreanu says he is “setting myself up to win by focusing on QUALITY over QUANTITY.” Rather than have 10 goals in place, Negreanu has given himself eight to hit over the next 12 months. As he did in 2016, the first goal listed for Negreanu is to cash for $2,500,000. Negreanu cashed for a relatively paltry $302,000, his lowest total since 2000. The biggest cash on the year for Negreanu was $96,000 and he had limited success in $25,000 High Roller tournaments accompanied by zero cashes in $100,000 Super High Roller events. “The way the tournament poker landscape looks these days, if you don’t have a good year in Super High Roller events, that’s going to define your year,” said Negreanu. Like last year, the beef of Negreanu’s checklist centers around the World Series of Poker. The three bracelet ambition remains as one of his most sought after achievements. The six-time bracelet winner is certainly capable of tying the record for most bracelets in a series but is in search of his first bracelet win in Las Vegas since 2008. Despite his bracelet drought on United States soil, Negreanu won a bracelet in Australia and France in 2013, which propelled him to his second WSOP Player of the Year title. Negreanu won the first Player of the Year banner in 2004 and is intent on winning a third title in 2017. Only eight cashes shy of 100 for his World Series career, Negreanu is hoping he can reach that mark this year. For all of Negreanu’s poker feats, the one that is probably freshest in the public’s mind is his 2015 Main Event run where he fell short of the November Nine, bowing out dramatically in 11th place. Negreanu concedes that it is “crazy” for him to make the ultimate final table in poker a goal, but it is listed nonetheless. “My style of play was tailor-made for this event. It allows you to avoid as many landmines as you can until the very end. I can get there. I don’t believe in my heart that anyone is better suited to succeed in this specific event than I am.” The final two goals that Negreanu has in mind are non-tournament based. He has $250,000 set as the figure that he wants to win in cash games after falling a few thousand dollars short in 2016. Finally, he is putting himself out there to create more content for poker fans. His Full Contact Poker Podcast has been a success and Negreanu promises to have on the most sought after guest in all of poker, Phil Ivey. With plenty of work in front of him to achieve his goals, Negreanu will embark on completing them this week as he heads down to the Bahamas for the inaugural PokerStars Championship.
  11. [caption width="650"] David 'dehhhhh' Coleman is playing in his first Main Event and is out to validate New Jersey online poker in the process.[/caption] Last year at this time, David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman was another New Jersey online grinder looking to move up in the virtual world. Fast forward a year later, and Coleman is the #1 on ranked player in the state and among the first players to break 100,000 on Day 1C of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Coleman has learned plenty both poker-wise and on the business end of the game that helped him make sure he had a seat for this year. “I definitely wanted to, but I wasn’t fully rolled for it at the time and not accustomed to selling action. This year, I sold a bunch of action and here I am. It’s going really well so far.” The preparation done by Coleman to get himself in the right state mentally for a potential two-week grind was to come out a few weeks before the start of the Main Event and play a few preliminary events. Coleman cashed in the $5,000 No Limit event and on his relative home turf in the $3,333 Online High Roller. Those events gave Coleman some wind at his back at he gets started on the longest journey in poker. “It helps gives me a little confidence because I don’t have a ton of live experience,” said Coleman. Going deep in the Main Event is a boon for any player and Coleman is looking at this tournament as an opportunity to expand his horizons outside the online world. “It would solidify me in the poker world, getting a deep cash in the Main Event. I have a lot of online experience success but not much live success. It would give me a lot of confidence going further in the live poker world. Maybe I’ll play more big buy in events and gear away from all the online I’ve played in the last two or three years.” Before he shifted his focus to online MTTs, Coleman was primarily a cash game player and is right at home in the deep structure the Main Event provides. New Jersey’s own Thomas Pomponio won the Colossus to kick off the WSOP and by making the final table, Coleman would be the second player from the state to notch a live seven-figure score this summer. Coleman appreciates the relative burden of representing the NJ online community and representing the strong play from the state. “A lot of New Jersey players have had success this summer, which is great to see, especially coming from a smaller market. The solid players that are out here seem to have success which is a testament to how much talent we have in New Jersey.” Only time will tell how Coleman’s Main Event will end but for someone who wasn’t in any part of the poker radar a year ago, there is plenty for him to look forward to regardless how what his fate holds. The Main Event offers a few great storylines each year and a 24-year-old online phenom from New Jersey competing with the best in the world would make for a great headline as the pay jumps grow by the tens of thousands.
  12. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro is running out of time to turn his summer around.[/caption] Poker tournament professionals are keenly aware of the fact that downswings are inevitable. The duration of them is a complete unknown but when they hit, there is no telling when the sun will shine once again. Mike Azzaro struggles continue this summer as he’s only put together a ledger of $3,850 in tournament earnings. July is right around the corner and Azzaro is running out of chances to earn the big score he came out to Las Vegas seeking. Azzaro’s struggles haven’t intensified to the point where he has had to consider lowering his volume or buy in range and that is due to healthy bankroll management practice. “BR management is key for not going broke. I don’t play tournaments where I don’t feel like I have an edge. It’s smart for players to sell action even if they don’t need to. You can reduce variance and not be so financially invested in a specific tourney where you can play with ease.” When some players are mired in a losing spell, they turn their attention to more consistently profitable cash games, but not Azzaro. The arduous days of tournament grinding have prevented him from doing so. There’s always a new tournament each day so even when Azzaro busts one, he is looking toward the next. A major item for Azzaro in keeping a healthy perspective on his downswing is the ability to keep his tournament results separated from his personal happiness. In a previous interview, Azzaro said he was lucky to play poker for a living and he stands by that even during this rough summer. “I don’t let poker results determine my happiness. I’m so lucky to be playing this game every day and not working a shitty dead-end job.” The hands that have resulted in Azzaro ending up a spectator are not memorable to him. As he says, he hasn’t played in that many meaningful pots and no specific hands stand out. Azzaro is playing the Dog Days of Summer Poker Jam Main Event at Binion’s this week and he says that if he wins the $200,000 guaranteed event, his bankroll might be back into the black for his Las Vegas stint. The summer schedule is littered with other events for the next few weeks and Azzaro should be in the mix for most of the six-figure guaranteed events leading up to the WSOP Main Event. Azzaro’s patience in waiting for his breakthrough payout of the summer has been tested and thanks to his keen money management, should pay dividends beyond July.
  13. [caption width="658"] Scott Blumstein has been among the chip leaders for most of the Main Event and is coming into Day 5 mentally ready for a deep run.[/caption] Day 4 of the WSOP Main Event proved to be a moving day of sorts as less than 300 of the 1,084 players who entered the day moved on to Day 5. Scott ‘Sblum2711’ Blumstein started Day 4 top-10 in chips and maintained his stack around the 2,000,000 mark all day and will bring approximately that amount into today’s restart. Blumstein is a contrast to most of the Day 5 as most of the field is either a recreational player who is in Las Vegas taking a shot in this event or a pro playing out the string of a long summer. Rather than grinding out a live summer, Blumstein has been at home in New Jersey honing his craft online and improving his fitness which has paid dividends through the steep days of the Main Event. “More than my physical health, my mental health has been pretty good. I’m in a good state of mind these days. I can’t stress it enough, mental health is the be all-end all for poker and anything else. If you train your brain to act a certain way, anything is possible. I’m fresh and [I have] putting in the work online while everyone has been out here grinding live tournaments. All that combined is why I’m here on Day 5 with a chance to win this thing.” The Main Event is famous for some of poker’s most infamous blowups and the pressure of the moment getting to players when the equity is at its peak. Blumstein isn’t worried about that just yet but admits a place on the feature table might create some nerves that didn’t exist before. “I’m still in the moment and there are 300 people left. There’s a long way to go. I don’t want to start getting overwhelmed yet. If I were to ever find myself at one of these streamed tables, that might change just because I’ve never played on one before. For right now, I’m happy to fade that because I’m not sure I’m ready for it [laughs]. I don’t think it’s going to hit me until when I bust or I’m sitting at the final table because I’m just treating it like any other tournament.” Blumstein started to peak on Day 3 after the dinner break when he was one of the chip leaders on the bubble and has continued to accumulate since that point. Some players by this stage of the tournament have a hand or two that they can point to that got them to this point but Blumstein says nothing specific stands out at this point. There’s over 360,000,000 in chips in play and Blumstein realizes that he has a long way to go before the finish line comes close to being here. “I don’t know how I have 2,000,000 chips. 360,000,000 chips in this thing and I have 2,000,000. How can I even start worrying about [the final table]? There’s so much poker left. Sure, Day 5 is cool and the pay jumps are starting to accumulate, but there’s still a long way to go until the final table.” Tomorrow is a new day and Blumstein brings an edge that most players don’t have with him into one of the most important days of the poker year. By the end of play, the payouts will have gone from $35,267 to close to $100,000. Blumstein says he is not worried about the dollar factor and is focused on playing the best poker he can to win the tournament. “I’m just trying to accumulate and put myself in a position to make a run in this thing. I came here to win, I’m not here to worry about the money. I also think at the end of the day, it allows you to play the best poker when you can put the money aside and worry about getting all the chips. Honestly, I’m still waiting for my heater.”

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