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  1. There are still plenty of PokerStars Platinum Passes left to be won in 2018. However, only five more Platinum Passes are available to be earned as a part of the PokerStars Platinum Pass Adventure. The program enables PokerStars ambassadors to create unique ways for players to win their way to the 2019 $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship. Now PokerStars personalities Daniel Negreanu, Maria Konnikova, Jeff Gross, Jen Shahade and Lex Veldhuis will be handing out passes. Each ambassador tasks their fanbase to perform something unique in an effort to be one of the people selected at a shot to win millions in the Bahamas. Negreanu Asks "Who Do You Play For?" Daniel Negreanu’s challenge is asking the poker community the question “Who are you playing for?” Negreanu understands that players are likely hoping for a score to change their own lives, but he’s asking for more. His challenge requires people to create a short video discussing a motivating charity, cause or foundation that would also benefit from having you playing in the PSPC. “You can make a huge difference for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. So…who do you play for?” Negreanu said. Submit the video using the social media hashtag #DonateWithDaniel by September 30. Negreanu will select his top five finalists and then, on October 13 award the Platinum Pass. The four finalist videos that are not selected will all earn $1,000 for the charities or causes discussed. If the winner of the challenge cashes or, even wins, they will donate 50% of their earnings to the charity in their video. Konnikova's Poker Story Maria Konnikova’s poker story is incredibly unique. After having set out to write a book about what it takes to become a professional poker player, she actually lived it out. She turned a victory in the $1,500 2018 PokerStars PCA National event for $84,000 into a sponsorship deal with PokerStars. Now, she’s giving away a Platinum Pass to someone else who has a story to tell. “I truly believe that creativity and storytelling are among the most valuable and most often overlooked skills in poker - and I can’t wait to see you embrace those skills in this challenge,” Konnikova said. Konnikova's #mypokerstory challenge is looking for the most compelling story of what it means to be a good poker player. Are You Ready For Your Close Up? The social media savvy Jeff Gross has been creating YouTube vlogs for years and now he’s looking to inspire someone else to pick up a camera and begin to document their journey. “To have the opportunity to encourage someone to create something they are passionate about and give away a once in a lifetime experience trip to the PSPC means the world to me,” said Gross. “This is an event that will go down in history as one of the most special poker tournaments of our time.” Visit Gross' YouTube Channel for more details on his challenge. Create The Ultimate Game Of Skill Chess expert Jennifer Shahade found her way to to the felt by way of the chess board. Now, she’s hoping to find the next poker superstar among those who also share a love for both games. The #MyChessPokerGame challenge is asking the community to create a new game that incorporates elements of both chess and poker. “Poker is not just a game, but a passion, a science and a community, just like my first love, chess,” said Shahade. Shahade will select the finalists and a panel of poker and chess professionals will help select the winner, including Negreanu, Live Boeree and International Chess Master Danny Mensch. Pay It Forward Team PokerStars Online Pro Lex Veldhuis has also opted for a person of charity to receive his Platinum Pass. Hoping to find someone who will pay it forward, Veldhuis is looking for someone who will take action by documenting themselves spending 20 hours for a charitable cause. “When thinking about this challenge I really wanted to encompass what makes Twitch special for me. Then it became very simple. It’s people anonymously doing stuff for others. Going out of their way to do something nice or be there for someone,” Veldhuis said. “It’s a win-win contest as those who do not win a Pass will still feel like that have won by doing something they cherish, and people will have received something nice because of them.” Winners of each of the five Platinum Passes will earn a ticket to the $25,000 tournament plus an additional $5,000. Additionally, they will receive coaching and be mentored by the Ambassador who selected them. The PokerStars’ PSPC will take place January 6-10, 2019 during the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas.
  2. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast is LIVE this week from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure with daily episodes bringing in all of the guests and action from the PokerStars Players No Limit Championship and the PCA Main Event. The PokerStars Players Championship is down to a final table and Lance and Donnie break down the penultimate day of play and preview what lies ahead for the eight players who made the final table. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  3. Exactly one year ago today, Maria Konnikova was basically a complete unknown in the poker world. Sure, some people knew that a New York Times bestselling author had enlisted the assistance of Erik Seidel to learn how to play poker so she could write a book about it all, but almost nobody would have been able to put a name to that person. Then, over the course of the next seven hours, Konnikova became a known commodity, winning the $1,650 National Championship at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The win came with $84,600 and one of the very first $30,000 Platinum Passes to be awarded. Suddenly every poker media outlet and a few mainstream outlets picked up her story. She followed that up over the next few days by making a very deep run in the PCA Main Event, almost as a way of proving that it wasn't beginner's luck. That set the stage for a big year for Konnikova and changed the direction of what she had planned for her book and poker career. "PCA last year really changed the trajectory of my relationship with poker because it had been, in the past, basically for the book," Konnikova said. "I was really enjoying it and I was learning and had gotten much more into the game than I ever thought I would, but it was always still one of these things that I'm gonna do this for a year and be done. Konnikova, who had originally planned to use the 2018 WSOP Main Event as the end of her poker journey for the book's story arc, decided to take advantage of her good fortune and pushed the book deadline back indefinitely to play more and see where it took her. The answer was, well, everywhere. "I've been playing really full time this past year. I made a point of just hitting as much of the major stuff as I could," said Konnikova, who played European Poker Tour, World Poker and World Series of Poker events over the 12 months. "And it's still for the book in the sense that you never know what's gonna happen and what's going to be an important moment, an important thing. If you don't do it, it doesn't have a chance of happening, so it gives you more opportunities." Once the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure finishes, Konnikova is headed back home to New York City to focus on writing the first draft. Her editor has been very understanding of the shifting deadline, but has made Konnikova promise him one thing. "The only thing he told me is, 'just make this the best book you can'," said Konnikova. She's looking forward to finally sitting down and just writing, but she's also excited about getting a break from one of the toughest parts of the last year, the travel. "The hardest thing has been just being constantly on the road because I do like being home. I like stability. I like to see my family, and it can be rough to just spend three days a month in my apartment," said Konnikova. "I take my role as (PokerStars) ambassador really seriously because I want to share my excitement. I want to bring women to the game. I want to be a positive force and not ever be seen as someone who's like, 'Oh man, the constant travel's such a drag'. That's no good to anyone. Yeah, sure, the travel's tough, and that's the hardest part, but you have to put it in perspective and say, 'Shit, I get to travel to all these places to play a game. That's pretty cool'." Hopeful that the book will be on bookshelves by the end of 2019, Konnikova has no plans of walking away from the game entirely. She's come to enjoy it too much. "Once I'm done with the book, definitely playing full time until publication for sure. If I'm still playing well and if the book is doing well, I don't see why I'd stop, because I'll just start working on my next writing project," said Konnikova. "At this point, I see a very possible future and once again, life has a way of getting in the way so I have no idea, but one possible future I see is just playing and writing in tandem because you can write from anywhere in the world. That's the beauty of writing." Along the way, PokerStars added Konnikova to their group of Team Pros. That too has been an eye-opening experience for her. As she's become more of a known commodity in the poker world, players and fans have approached her at various events to share their story with her. "I've had so many people come up to me, and a lot of them women, be like, 'You've really inspired me. You're a model for what I want to do'," said Konnikova. "That's so wonderful and I'm happy to do any number of interviews and to just give as much of my time as needed because ultimately, that's the dream, right? To inspire people. It's what I hope my books do, so to be able to do it also through poker, it's great to know that you've reached people." Having lived the life of a poker pro over the past year, Konnikova has noticed she's also undergone personal growth that is directly related to her time at the table. "I've always been pretty low stress, but I've just had to become really low stress because it's something where if you let things get to you, you're just gonna be so miserable," said Konnikova. "So I've really gotten to the point where okay, let's just go day by day and see what happens and be okay not knowing what's going to be going on two weeks from now. I've just been much more sanguine about any given tournament. I busted the $25K on Day 1 on the last level. That wasn't fun. I was bummed in the moment, but then I was like, you know what? On to the next one."
  4. After tabulating the votes of over 130 Nomination Panel members, the Global Poker Index, along with their partner PokerCentral, has unveiled the nominations in thirteen of the 20 categories of the first ever Global Poker Awards. The awards are set to take place on April 5 at the PokerGO Studios in Las Vegas where poker players and industry members from 10 different nations will be represented in a wide variety of categories that aims to celebrate all aspects of the poker community. PocketFives is well represented within the nominees. The Fives Podcast is one of five nominees for Podcast of the Year and PocketFives' President & Editor in Chief Lance Bradley's book, The Pursuit of Poker Success, Here are the nominees, presented in alphabetical order: Tournament Performance of the Year Justin Bonomo (Super High Roller Bowl IV) John Cynn (2018 World Series of Poker Main Event) Maria Lampropulos (2018 PCA Main Event) Dylan Linde (WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic) Breakout Player of the Year Almedin ‘Ali’ Imsirovic Maria Konnikova Ping Liu Christopher Michael Soyza Streamer of the Year Jeff Gross Jason Somerville Jaime Staples Lex Veldhuis Vlogger of the Year Marle Cordeiro Joe Ingram Andrew Neeme Daniel Negreanu Doug Polk Podcast LFG Podcast PokerCentral Podcast PokerNews Podcast The Chip Race The Fives Poker Podcast Broadcaster Maria Ho Lon McEachern Nick Schulman Lex Veldhuis Poker Journalist Drew Amato Sarah Herring Remko Rinkema Christian Zetzsche Media Content Drew Amato (photo: Brunson bids farewell to WSOP) Lance Bradley (book: The Pursuit of Poker Success) Haley Hintze (article: Vayo v. PokerStars) PokerCentral/PokerGO (Super High Roller Club: Schulman featuring Nejad) Industry Person Angelical Hael (World Poker Tour) Cary Katz (Poker Central) Matt Savage (WPT, TDA) Ty Stewart (World Series of Poker) Rob Yong (Dusk Till Dawn, partypoker) Tournament Director Tony Burns (Seminole Hard Rock) Paul Campbell (ARIA) Jack Effel (World Series of Poker) Kenny Hallaert (Unibet Open) Mid-Major Tour/Circuit 888poker LIVE RUNGOOD Poker Series Unibet Open WPTDeepStacks WSOP Circuit Event of the Year partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event Super High Roller Bowl IV WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic WSOP Main Event Moment of the Year Jeremy Hilsercop received PSPC Platinum Pass via Christmas Day viral video Joe Cada wins The Closer after finishing 5th in WSOP Main Event Doyle Brunson plays his final WSOP event Justin Bonomo wins Big One for One Drop, completing Super High Roller Streak In addition to the above categories, there are seven other awards that will be given out during the ceremony. Due to their results in 2018, Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell will each be receiving awards for the 2018 GPI Player of the Year and the 2018 Female Player of the Year respectively. Along with trophies for Foxen and Bicknell the following categories will be determined by the Global Poker Awards Jury: - Lifetime Achievement in Poker Award - Charitable Initiative - Jury Prize As has been the case in previous GPI award shows, the “people” will have a voice and will vote to award the People’s Choice Award for Poker Personality of the Year. Also, PocketFives will be handing out the PocketFives Legacy Award acknowledging a player who has come from the world of online poker to make major contributions to poker’s live tournament scene. The Global Poker Awards can be watched live on PokerGO on April 5.
  5. When you first look down at your hole cards after the dealer pitches your cards, you immediately begin to formulate a plan on how to play that specific hand. In most cases, you’re simply waiting for your turn to fold, but in those instances where the poker gods have blessed you, you look down and see a great starting hand - a premium pair perhaps - and you instantly picture yourself raking in a huge pot at the conclusion of the hand after cleverly outplaying your opponent. Things don’t always follow the initial narrative you create though. Maria Konnikova spent the last three years learning exactly that, but not just via the hands she played live and online as she wrote her latest book The Biggest Bluff, which followed her journey from total poker newb to a Hendon Mob profile with over $300,000 in winnings and a marquee victory to her credit. It was 2016 and Konnikova, a New York Times bestselling author, had just launched her second book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time into the universe and was searching for her next project. Her first few ideas were met with polite resistance from her publisher and she folded to wait for something better. That’s when her idea to take a year learning the game of poker - really learning it - before playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event came to her like a premium hand on the button. Konnikova envisioned tracking down a top-flight poker pro to be her coach and guide through the journey. She knew nothing about the game, including the rules, and put together a well-thought-out pitch that detailed how the 12-month journey was going to play out. “Proposals take a lot of time and a lot of research. You don't just bang out a book proposal. It took me about six months to do my book proposal,” Konnikova says. “I had to do a bunch of research so that I could make the proposal really meaty and have some sort of idea about what was going to happen.” As she dug into the research part of the pitch, Konnikova zoned in on one player to be her coach, Hall of Famer Erik Seidel. She tracked down Seidel and did her best sales job on convincing the eight-time WSOP bracelet winner to take her on as a student. “When I reached out to Erik, the first time I met him, the book hadn't been sold and I was very open about that. I said, ‘Look I have this idea, but we don't know what's actually going to happen’,” Konnikova remembers. Seidel agreed to be part of the project but Konnikova had one more thing she had to do. She played a little bit online and then headed to Las Vegas to get her first taste of the poker world. “I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to hate poker,” Konnikova admits. After getting enough of a taste of the online and live scene to know she was going to enjoy the process, Konnikova signed a book deal with her publisher to spend a year in the poker world before using the 2017 WSOP Main Event as the exclamation point on her journey. That’s not how the hand played itself out though. Premium pairs be damned. “I had no idea how the journey was going to go. I didn't know what was going to happen and I really did envision it as being like one year and as ending with the World Series of Poker. That's just kind of the grand hurrah,” Konnikova says. “And none of that was the case and the outline, the proposal that I gave is totally different from what ended up happening.” The book, which hit bookshelves Tuesday, features Seidel extensively. When Konnikova first met with him she didn’t have an alternate choice as her coach in case Seidel declined but admits now that the student-sensei relationship with Seidel helped frame her poker journey and the book. “My experience with poker would have been totally different. I think with some players even, players who are considered great, I mean I'm not naming any names or anything like that, I would have just hated the game and not been able to get good at it because their attitude is so different from mine and we really would not have I think meshed on a personal level,” Konnikova says. “I think sometimes things just work out and this was one of those things where I just had no idea how good my first choice was. No idea. I could never have predicted it.” Learning that cash games and tournaments were totally different pursuits was a revelation for her and the more she learned about each one, the clearer the necessary path became. “Erik kind of told me, ‘Look, you have to focus. You have to pick one if you are going to do this quickly because it is a different animal. Eventually, you can play both but at the beginning, you have to focus on one game and one style because you are going to learn to play very differently if I'm teaching you to play cash versus tournaments’,” Konnikova says. Konnikova evaluated both options and elected to focus her poker education solely on tournaments. She saw them serving as a great vehicle to talk about decision making in a way that made sense for how people live their lives on a daily basis. “I was looking for something that was going to provide me with a good way into life. Tournaments are much more dynamic. They have a beginning, middle, and an end. They have an ark. They have a story. They have changing priorities at different depths of the game and to me that is much more reminiscent of how life is,” Konnikova says. “Life is not a cash game. It's not something where you can constantly add-on and re-buy and walk away from the table whenever you want and leave when you are up or when you are down.” So Konnikova was off and running with her poker journey but the calendar intervened and like a check-raise on the turn from the tightest player at the table, forced Konnikova to re-evaluate her options. “My year timeline got completely screwed from the very beginning. I met Erik in the summer and kind of conceived it as ‘oh, this is going to be like a year thing’,” Konnikova recalls. “But by the time that I was ready to play my first hand online, it was already fall. And by the time I played my first live tournament, it was already winter. And so, that timeline had gotten completely shifted.” Konnikova plowed onward. The next few months included playing online and multiple trips to Las Vegas to play small buy-in tournaments before finding some tougher events with bigger buy-ins on the East Coast of the United States. The 2017 WSOP Main Event was fast approaching and Seidel wasn’t sure she was ready for it. Playing that event was a key component of the book pitch and there was suddenly a real possibility she wouldn’t even be ready to play it. Skipping it to wait for a better spot seemed like a bad play at the time to Konnikova. “I was like, ‘No, this is my proposal. This is what I sold. This is the book I sold. I am going to play the damn thing’,” Konnikova says. She played the Main Event that year and looking back now admits it wasn’t her best decision. “It was a lot of money for me. So that was something I probably shouldn't have done. Hindsight tells me that and I should have known it in the moment and I didn't really want to know it. I think it tells us a lot about how the human mind works. When we really don't want to acknowledge something we often don't. We find excuses.” When she busted early on Day 2, Konnikova knew that was meant to be when she was supposed to begin writing the book. Reviewing everything up to that point, she quickly realized that she had to keep going if she wanted to write the book she had envisioned, even if it was not the one she had pitched. “I didn't have a book at that point. I did not have enough. I hadn't spent enough time in the poker world,” Konnikova says. “I hadn't met enough people. I hadn't. I mean sure, I could have written some book, but it would have been a different book and I think it would have been a much worse book.” Her first phone call was to her editor, Scott Moyers at Penguin Press. She explained to him that she needed to keep going and found him to be very supportive of the sudden shift. Not long after that, the book’s trajectory - and deadline - changed again. [caption id="attachment_631383" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Maria Konnikova and her poker coach/mentor Erik Seidel after Konnikova shipped the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure National Championship (PokerStars photo)[/caption] At the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Konnikova beat out 279 other entries in the $1,650 PCA National Championship to win $84,600. While that victory could have served as the final chapter of a successful journey through poker, Konnikova wanted to do more research and continue to play. Her editor was receptive and supportive. “I told him, ‘Look, I need you to just leave me alone and give me time and when I'm ready I'm going to write the book’ and he said, ‘Yeah, sure. Go for it. No one is going to scoop you. This is your life story’,” Konnikova says. Like a premium hand and the narrative built in your head on how to maximize the value on each street, Konnikova turned that one-year plan into a 3.5-year-long education not only on how to play poker but how to handle the potential derailments along the way.

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