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Found 21 results

  1. If you haven't heard, Greg Merson (pictured), two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, was not at all happy with the World Poker Tour's decision to run a $500 buy-in, $1 million Guarantee at Aria in Las Vegas at the same time as this year's WSOP Main Event at the Rio. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- "Can't breathe on PartyPoker/WPT trying to step on the toes of the WSOP Main Event. Of course you can play both, but very disrespectful IMO," he Tweeted to his 34,000 followers. The comparatively low buy-in WPT500 was an effort by organizers to take advantage of the many grinders hanging around town for the WSOP who could not afford the $10,000 Main Event. But Merson was having none of it and continued to voice his displeasure on Twitter: "Just a desperate attempt by a company trying to hold onto a glimmer of the spotlight as they have continued to slide since 2006 #showers." At that point, Matt Savage (pictured), Executive Tour Director of the WPT and organizer of the WPT500, tried to calm down the 2012 Main Event winner, replying, "Sorry for upsetting you, no one is more supportive of the WSOP than I am and wouldn't expect a single player to skip the ME for this." He also added, "In addition, we moved our dates from the 1-6th out of 'respect' for the 'Little One Drop,' as a $1K buy-in is too close to $500." On the forums, most agreed with Savage that the $500 event was unlikely to draw any players away from the prestigious five-figure buy-in Main Event and welcomed more competition for the WSOP. "Some people prefer a tourney where they can win $200k in 2 days instead of an entry to a $10k, 2 week+ tournament," chimed in Andy Bloch. "WPT is a competitor. Who really cares if there is a $500 at the Aria? Nice for people who fly in and want to play every day," said Russell Thomas. Merson was unmoved and kept up his tirade, calling the Main Event "our Super Bowl" and telling WPT execs to "save your five-day reentry money grab for another date." The pro's comments might have been spurred by a new sponsorship alliance with the WSOP, as pointed out by F5 Poker. In the middle of this year's Series, Merson was photographed wearing a WSOP.compatch after leaving Phil Ivey's training site. One Twitter observer was not impressed with the bracelet winner's behavior: "Astounded @WSOPcom would still consider @GregMerson as potential ambassador after tirade against #WPT500 @ARIAPoker event! #GreatValueEvent." Merson's Main Event run came to an end on Day 2AB, with the pro Tweeting, "I have been eliminated from this tournament." That didn't stop him from keeping up the jabs, though: "Debating going to play Day 1P of the [WPT500] tournament," he said facetiously. At that point, the WPT500 was already turning out to be a rousing success, smashing its guarantee with 3,599 entrants and generating a prize pool of $1.8 million. In the end, Sean Yu bested the field, defeating Kareem Marshall for a $260,000 first place prize. On Twitter, poker industry professionals were quick to complement Savage on the tournament. "Pretty impressive vision and even better execution. Congrats," said Parx Poker Ambassador Matt Glantz (pictured). "Congrats to @ARIAPoker @WPT for a hugely successful #WPT500," agreed Bellagio Poker Room Manager Sean McCormack. Merson seems to be standing by his remarks, but he made clear that the criticism wasn't directed toward Savage himself. "@SavagePoker wanted to let you know those comments were in no way directed toward you. You are one of the best in the business and we are lucky to have you in the poker world," he said. "They were my views stemming from frustration of poker companies not working together to schedule stuff that doesn't hurt numbers for major events." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. Nearly three weeks after he issued a Twitter tirade against the World Poker Tour and its $500 buy-in Las Vegas tournament, the WPT500, 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Greg Merson (pictured) has responded to critics who thought he took his criticism too far. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- On his Twitter feed from July 6, Merson ripped into the WPT for holding its inaugural WPT500 at Aria in Las Vegas while the World Series of Poker Main Event was being conducted nearby at the Rio. "Can't breathe on partypoker/WPT trying to step on the toes of the WSOP Main Event," Merson wrote in his first Tweet. "Of course you can play both, but very disrespectful, in my opinion." Merson went on to Tweet, "The Main Event is our Super Bowl, save your 5 day re-entry money grab for another date." He concluded his scathing remarks by commenting, "Just a desperate attempt by a company trying to hold onto a glimmer of the spotlight as they have continued to slide since 2006." Players such as Christian charderHarder, Russell Thomas, and Brian Stinger885Hastings disagreed with Merson's original Twitter rant, while WPT Tournament Director Matt Savage (pictured below) addressed Merson directly. "We moved our dates from [July] 1-6 out of respect for the Little One for One Drop, as a $1K buy-in is too close to $500," Savage wrote on Twitter. "No one is more supportive of the WSOP than I am and wouldn't expect a single player to skip ME for this." Over the past weekend, Merson addressed those who disagreed with him in a lengthy statement on his Facebook page, in part saying, "I think it is very unlikely I would have fallen into poker without the boom in 2003, which was caused predominantly by the Main Event," Merson continued. "The Main Event blew up poker to another level and keeping the numbers strong for the Main Event is important for the industry as it continues to struggle without Federal legalized online poker in the States." "For partypoker/WPT to poach the traffic for the biggest event of the year was a little grimy," Merson stated. "Let's see how they would feel about WSOP putting a $500 bracelet event the same days and in the same city as their WPT Championship. It mostly comes down to the fact that the 3 major tours fight for the same players and should be working together and not against each other." The statements from Merson come on the heels of signing with the Nevada-based regulated online poker site WSOP.com as its first sponsored pro.
  3. In an interview with Lee Davy from CalvinAyre.com, tournament director Matt Savage (pictured) discussed the demise of Federated Sports & Gaming and its pet project, the Epic Poker League. In it, Savage recounted his involvement with the group and, in particular, stated that the two major players in the organization, former World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and Annie Duke, were not to blame for the overall failure of the venture. The interview with Davy was sparked by a Tweet from Savage in which he stated he received a settlement check from the bankruptcy filing by FS&G. "Not what I was owed, but it was like finding money in the street," Savage chirped on Twitter. In the interview, Davy drew a bit more information out of Savage about the organization. "The events themselves were great," Savage said of Epic. "The fields were small, but the players that attended were well taken care of," including free rooms at the Palms Hotel and added money to the prize pools. He also believed that Epic was "something that could change the industry" and that the difficult fields made for great television. Savage recognized there were downsides of FS&G and Epic, however. "The up-front costs were massive," Savage commented to Davy. "From the set, the television time, production, and, yes, the added money to the prize pools… I knew the initial outlay was going to be tough to overcome." Davy asked Savage who was to blame for the downfall of the organization and Savage didn't lay that blame at any particular person's feet. "It was a great idea that didn't work," Savage remembered. "I don't think, like others do, that there is blame to be placed." At the end of the discussion, Davy broached the names of Pollack and Duke. When asked about Pollack, Savage didn't pin everything on the former WSOP commissioner. "(Pollack faced) lofty goals that were impossible to attain," Savage said. "Many businesses have attempted to succeed - and failed. Should he take the blame? Maybe. Should he be crucified for it? No." On Duke (pictured), Savage had similar sentiments: "Annie tried hard to do right by the players, but had a lot to overcome with her public opinion. Tarnished by Ultimate Bet and Daniel (Negreanu) slinging insults and negative comments about the EPL and how it would fail. Annie doesn't deserve the blame for the Epic failure." FS&G introduced the Epic Poker League in 2011 as a professional poker league that saw elite players come together on the felt. Originally supposed to play four tournaments with a $20,000 buy-in and a 27-player Tournament of Champions that was a $1 million freeroll, Epic was canceled after the third event in December 2011. Facing severe debt and revenue shortfalls, FS&G filed for bankruptcy in February 2012 and its components were sold in an auction to Pinnacle Entertainment in June 2012. Epic's parent reported $8 million in liabilities. After the purchase, Pinnacle sold the Global Poker Index to Zokay Entertainment and Alex Dreyfus, who has since taken GPI to greater heights with his management. When asked whether having Dreyfus in charge of FS&G and Epic would have changed the eventual endgame, Savage said he "didn't think that anyone could (have) made it work." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. After a considerable amount of pressure from the poker community, the Tournament Directors Association, or TDA, announced on Twitter on Friday that its summit will switch venues from Venetian to Aria. The event will take place on June 26 and 27 and registration details will follow. TDA's Matt Savage (pictured), a veteran tournament director, announced on Twitter on Friday night, "The 2015 @PokerTDA Summit will be held June 26-27 @ARIAPoker Las Vegas. Registration details to follow shortly. Send your local TD please." The announcement followed one a week ago saying the event would be held at Venetian, which ignited a storm of controversy. The change of venue followed rumors for the last seven days that the location would officially be changed or the event would be canceled altogether. The Venetian hosted the TDA summit when it was last held in 2013, but given the hardline stance of parent company Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelsonagainst online gaming, a change of venue seemed imminent. Adelson has pledged to spend "whatever it takes" to rid the US of online gaming, including in the three states where it's already regulated. To that end, one poster on Twitter commented, "TY @SavagePoker for excellent location & date change. Hopefully @pokertda will have record attendance." Aria will cover costs related to the event.Venetian had offered to front the entire cost of the event, which could have approached $30,000, leaving TDA few options given its non-profit focus. The figure included a comped meeting room, food, drink, tournament, and A/V. Trying to move away from the Adelson-owned property, Global Poker Index's Alex Dreyfus offered to pay for the summit, while former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Ryan Riess offered to host it at his home. Poker Players Alliance Vice President Rich TheEngineer Muny commented "well done" on Twitter, while the Tweet itself from Savage deservingly received more than two-dozen re-Tweets. This author would like to thank Savage and the entire TDA on changing venues to the MGM-owned Aria in Las Vegas. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. On Thursday, the Tournament Directors Association, led by the esteemed Matt Savage (pictured), announced that the next TDA Summit will take place from June 16 to 17 at the Venetianin Las Vegas. Savage added, "Registration details to follow shortly. Send your local TD please." Savage told PocketFives that he was not the one who negotiated the deal with Venetian, but rather just made the announcement. As you'd expect, the announcement led to an uproar from the poker community, as the Venetian is owned by the Sheldon Adelson-led Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Adelson has promised to spend "whatever it takes" to rid the US of online poker and internet gambling, including in the three states where it's already legal. Savage made his announcement one day removed from a sham of a House Subcommittee hearingto discuss the merits of Restoring America's Wire Act, which Adelson brought to the table. The bill bans internet gambling and the hearing was chock-full of fear-mongering. It lacked any substantive discussion on the issue and only one witness - Parry Aftab - was familiar with the technological and regulatory issues that should have been the center of debate. So why on Earth would the TDA hold a summit at Venetian knowing the backlash it would likely receive? Savage told PocketFives on Thursday, "Venetian Tournament Director stepped up and offered a ballroom, free A/V, and a hotel room rate TBD. No one else offered a thing, but now maybe?" One person close to the situation described it as the Venetian sponsoring the TDA summit with no financial outlay by TDA. Venetian said it would also take care of water and coffee as well as host a tournament for the attendees. Global Poker Index's Alex Dreyfus (pictured) quickly stepped up to the plate on Twitter, offering to front the full cost of the conference room, A/V, and accommodation if the summit were held at another venue, a cost that could approach $20,000. As he put it, "I don't understand why TDA board host this event at Venetian now that Kathy [Raymond] is away. Makes no sense." One person on Twitter equated it to an AA meeting being held at a bar. 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Ryan Riess even chimed in, saying on Twitter, "Host it at my house instead." Fellow poker pro JC Tran cautioned the crowd, "Be easy on Matt, guys. There are other Board members. Harrah's property should take charge. They do own WSOP.com." For the last word on this topic, PocketFives went to Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas, who told us, "Las Vegas is home to many wonderful casinos and resort properties. It is a shame that the TDA selected to host their event at the epicenter of opposing players' rights. Ultimately, it is their decision, but it has not proven popular with the player community." The last TDA summit was held in 2013, also at Venetian. The property donated the cost of the conference two years ago as well. The TDA tries to keep the cost of its summits as low as possible in order to encourage as many TDs to attend as possible without having to pay a registration fee. Its Board includes Savage, Jack Effel, Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, Tab Duchateau, Neil Johnson, Dave Lamb, and Mike Bishop. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  6. On Tuesday, Caesars officials announced the 10 finalists for this year's Poker Hall of Fameclass. There are four newcomers to this year's ballot: Italian poker ambassador Max Pescatori, Irish Open founder Terry Rogers, highly influential tournament director Matt Savage, and longtime British poker player David "Devilfish" Ulliott (pictured). --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- Ulliott passed away in Aprilafter a battle with colon cancer and, almost immediately, players from around the world began clamoring for him to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, either through the traditional process or via a special exemption. Ulliott appears like a strong candidate regardless and should have plenty of support among voters. Three players who appeared on last year's ballot but were not inducted are back in the top 10 this time around: Chris Bjorin, Bruno Fitoussi, and Jennifer Harman. Bjorin and Harman have now been finalists for four consecutive years, but have not yet been inducted. They'll join three finalists from previous years to round out the final 10: David Chiu, John Juanda, and Carlos Mortensen. The fate of the 10 finalists is now up to the 23 living Hall of Fame members and a 16-person media panel, who will together determine up to two inductees. The induction ceremony will take place during the November Nine weekend in Las Vegas. As a reminder, in order to be considered for the Poker Hall of Fame, a player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition, be a minimum of 40 years old at the time of nomination, played for high stakes, played consistently well, gained the respect of peers, and stood the test of time. Non-players like Savage (pictured) can get in as long as they have contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker with indelible positive and lasting results. Daniel Negreanu and Jack McClelland were inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014, bringing the total number of members to 48. Here's a look at the existing Poker Hall of Famers: Jack McClelland Daniel Negreanu Tom McEvoy Scotty Nguyen Eric Drache Brian "Sailor" Roberts Barry Greenstein Linda Johnson Dan Harrington Erik Seidel Mike Sexton Henry Orenstein Duane "Dewey" Tomko Barbara Enright Phil Hellmuth Billy Baxter TJ Cloutier Crandell Addington Jack Binion Berry Johnston Bobby Baldwin Lyle Berman Johnny Chan Stu "The Kid" Ungar Roger Moore Julius Oral "Little Man" Popwell Jack Keller Thomas Austin "Amarillo Slim" Preston David "Chip" Reese Benny Binion Fred "Sarge" Ferris Doyle Brunson Jack "Treetop" Straus Walter Clyde "Puggy" Pearson Henry Green Red Hodges Murph Harrold Joe Bernstein Tom Abdo Bill Boyd T "Blondie" Forbes Nick "The Greek" Dandolos James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok Edmond Hoyle Felton "Corky" McCorquodale Johnny Moss Red Winn Sid Wyman In the past, the voting panel has received 10 votes each that they can allocate however they see fit (i.e. all 10 votes for one person or six for one person and four for someone else). The top two vote-getters have typically been inducted in recent years. Ballots are submitted electronically and voters are free to discuss who they backed if they'd like to. This author has been on the voting panel for the past several years. Who would you vote for? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  7. [caption width="640"] If your name is on the WPT Champions Cup, you can play in the WPT Tournament of Champions.[/caption] To the surprise of many, the World Poker Tour announced last November that it would be scrapping its annual season-ending WPT Championship in favor of an invite-only Tournament of Champions event. With the event a little over a month away, the WPT has released some more details on the exclusive event, including the introduction of a shot clock and nearly $200,000 in cash and prizes. The $15,000 buy-in tournament kicks off April 22 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and is only open to WPT Champions Club members - previous WPT winners. The 21 champions from this season won their TOC buy-in as part of their original payout. Winners from previous seasons will have to pay their own entry fee. "It is our goal to elevate the WPT Tournament of Champions, creating an extraordinary season-ending event to celebrate the members of the WPT Champions Club and the rich legacy of the World Poker Tour," said WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska. "With a significant overlay of cash and prizes the WPT has immediately increased the value of being a WPT Champions Club member, and we will crown two more winners prior to the WPT Tournament of Champions during the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown festival." In addition to banking the largest slice of the prize pool, the winner of the inaugural Tournament of Champions takes home a selection of prizes including a pair of gold Monster 24K headphones, a custom premium poker table, an Aurae Solid Gold MasterCard and a timepiece crafted by luxury watchmaker Hublot. Furthermore, the first place finisher wins a seat at golf legend Tiger Woods’ exclusive Poker Night tournament, and a round of golf at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas with WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. The WPT has also decided to introduce a shot clock at the TOC. Players will have 30 seconds to act and receive five 30-second time extensions which can be used before the final table. At the final table, clocks will be reset, and players will receive an additional four, 30-second extensions. "I have always believed that being a member of the WPT Champions Club is an incredible honor," said Savage. "The World Poker Tour has added a lot of cash and great prizes to the rake-free WPT Tournament of Champions, and there is even more to come. I have to admit that I am extremely jealous not to be an eligible member of the WPT Champions Club." Champions Club members will have one opportunity to satellite their way into the big event in a $1,550 buy-in Super Satellite at noon on April 21.
  8. [caption width="640"] The Bay 101 Shooting Star event is one of the most unique WPT events on the schedule[/caption] Some of the biggest stars in poker - most of them in fact - are on their way to San Jose, California to play in one of the longest-running World Poker Tour events. This isn’t just some standard WPT event, though. The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star is the closest thing poker has to an all-star game. That is, if any basketball player that wanted to could just show up and play in the NBA all-star game or if every beer league hockey player could pull a John Scott and play in the NHL all-star game. The Shooting Star concept is simple. A group of players, dubbed the “Shooting Stars”, are bounties in the $7,500 buy-in event and busting one of them is worth $2,500 to whomever eliminates them. This year’s group of "Shooting Stars" includes WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen, Anthony Zinno, Kelly Minkin, Mike Leah and Erik Seidel. The man at the center of choosing the Shooting Stars each year is WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. While his highest profile gig is with WPT, he’s been the Bay 101 Tournament Director for 13 years. With some 50 "Stars" each year, selecting the players can be a little bit of a challenge - especially with players campaigning for spots. “It usually starts sometime around November going into December. And then when the calendar turns to the next year, people are texting me and emailing me and tweeting me with requests that they want to be a part of the shooting star program,” said Savage. “It’s strange because some people are a little more active about it, some people that you might not expect are pretty much in my year round about why they’re not a shooting star.” Due to his role with WPT, Savage is as in tune with the poker industry as anybody, and that makes putting together a shortlist of possible Shooting Stars easy. Throughout the year, he’s on the road talking to players, talking to fans to determine who should make the final cut. “I do polls and stuff like that on Twitter and TwoPlusTwo to figure out who they think belongs and who doesn’t, just to get the talk going, and it always seems to work,” said Savage. “People always want to bring it up and complain who got snubbed and who got in and stuff like that. So it makes it interesting.” Players with great results - even great recent results - aren’t necessarily guaranteed to get an invite. Being a Shooting Star has more to do with being a superstar in the eyes of fans than any ranking system could ever handle. “We have such good fans (at Bay 101) that I want it to be people that, if you were a fan of poker, you’d want to come and see. So, in addition to those names, you get a lot of the old timers and the bigger names,” said Savage. “Then you have the new guys; the young up-and-coming stars and the WSOP Champion. I try to also include people that really support the WPT and Bay 101. It’s kind of a mixture of all of those things, but for the most part it’s a popularity contest really. Savage begins sending out invitations early in the year and always leaves a few spots open right up until the week before the tournament. But not every player who is asked to be a Shooting Star is ready to accept the challenge. Savage gets a few players each year that turn down the invite. “I do get people that reject it from time to time because some of them don’t actually want the pressure of having the shooting star on them. They feel like they play better if it’s not,” said Savage. “Like Nam Le, he’s turned it down, Ted Forrest at one point turned it down. He thought he’d have a better chance by not having it.” Though Le and Forrest are among a handful of players who have said “no thanks” to the Shooting Star honor, Savage says there’s far more players clamoring for spots than those who aren’t interested. “The opposite is far and away much more people saying they want to be a Shooting Star. They want to be recognized, they want to have that and sometimes they’re even saying, ‘Why am I not a shooting star? I’ve done this or that’. There’s a lot of those guys too,” said Savage. Being a bounty does have some perks. Each Shooting Star is given $1,000 for each time they enter (all players are allowed one re-entry) as well as some Bay 101 or WPT merchandise. There is a bit of a strategic advantage too. While you’re likely going to be the target of other players at your table, you’re assured that no other Shooting Stars will be at your starting table. The number of poker superstars that come out for the event, combined with the fact that this is the longest-running WPT event in Northern California, leads to a very different atmosphere from an event in Las Vegas or even Los Angeles. From Day 1 of the tournament, the rail is four or five deep with poker fans snapping pictures of Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu or Phil Ivey. Fans eagerly wait for breaks to ask a player for an autograph or a selfie. Savage admits that the players who get into it love it. “You get a guy like Antonio, Phil Laak, Daniel, they never miss the tournament because I think they really like that kinda thing. It’s kinda cool, when they walk in there are people standing there with photographs and autographs cards,” said Savage. “I think in some respect there was a point in poker where they may have not liked that as much, but I think over time they’ve realized it’s not going to be around forever. That’s kind of something that comes and goes so I think that those guys like that stuff, the fandom.” While the notoriety is nice and the $1,000 comes in handy, the pros also love coming to the Bay 101 event because it’s full of satellite qualifiers. Savage estimates that each year they qualify between 250 and 300 players via satellites at the host property. “Our satellite program is the best in the country. There’s not a place in the country where you could run satellites almost three months in advance and get 300 players to come in and play. And we were able to do that at Bay 101. You couldn’t even do that for the World Series of Poker Main Event to be honest. So I think people really look forward to that event on the calendar, for those guys, because it’s more of a locals' event,” said Savage. [caption width="640"] Fans pack the Bay 101 casino in San Jose every year to get a glimpse of their poker heroes[/caption] Over the years, Savage feels like he’s had every pro poker player he’s ever wanted as a Shooting Star. Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, Vanessa Selbst, Chris Moorman and Doyle Brunson have all been part of the program. There is, however, one potential Shooting Star that has eluded him. “I always want to get the celebrities to come out and play. So, I’ve always wished that Tobey Maguire would come out and play to be honest,” said Savage. “Because I thought not only is (Maguire) a good actor, he is also a really good poker player and a lot of people don’t know that he’s one of the biggest winning players in the game.” The tournament also has a unique structure. The chip leaders at the end of Day 1A and 1B are given $10,000 and when there are just 36 players left, the tournament goes six-handed until it finishes.
  9. [caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour could be using the Protection Poker Action Clock regularly next season.(WPT photo)[/caption] Matt Savage thought Mike Sexton was crazy. Sexton, World Poker Tour commentator and Poker Hall of Famer, had been pushing Savage, Executive Tour Director of the WPT, to introduce a shot clock to WPT events to speed up the game and prevent players from tanking unnecessarily. On Friday, the WPT debuted the Protection Poker Action Clock for the first time in the $15,000 buy-in Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. The Action Clock allows players 30 seconds to act on their hand. If time expires, the hand is dead. Players are also given four time buttons that can be used to give themselves another 30 seconds. Each table has been outfitted with a tablet with the Action Clock app on it. Dealers push one of four buttons depending on what’s happening in the hand. Most players were pleased with the concept and Savage, once a skeptic, seems to have changed his mind. “Seeing this in motion, seeing how easy it is for the dealers to use, how much more of a different dynamic it creates for the game, I’m excited and I think this is something we can probably use at other events in the future,” said Savage. As the clock winds down during a hand, the app beeps when a player has ten seconds left to act and then a more distinct buzz when there are just three seconds remaining. “I love it. Absolutely love it. For me, it’s not much of a hindrance because I don’t take more than 30 seconds,” said Season XIII WPT Championship winner Asher Conniff. “I have 3 of my 4 time banks left through eight levels. Some of the other guys, they need the time, and I appreciate the edge on some of these guys, they’re great players.” Savage admits it is going to take some players some time to adjust to the concept, but as more and more players see the concept and play with it, they’ll learn to adapt. “I think that we saw early on in the day people were timing out when they didn’t want to be. But I think as people get more and more used to it, it becomes easier and becomes second nature, people just play faster,” said Savage. “Jordan Cristos and Marvin Rettenmaier and Yevgeniy Timoshenko, they’re all dealing with it, they’re all adjusting.” [caption width="640"] Each player is allotted four "time" chips at the start of each day. (WPT photo)[/caption] In 2014, the WPT polled players at the LA Poker Classic to gauge their feelings on the shot clock and 80% of those that responded were in favor of limiting players' time to act on each hand. Dan Smith thinks the clock brings some of the fun back to tournament poker just by getting rid of hands that take too long to play. “I think in terms of quality of play it’s not quite as high, but maybe it’s like 90% as high,” said Smith. "From an enjoyment standpoint, not having to sit there for six minutes while somebody makes a decision - that’s just brutal.” Smith also pointed out that it makes the game more exciting for those at the table with an added element of drama. “There’s something exciting about it, it goes to the river and it’s like 5, 4, 3, 2, - it’s exciting,” said Smith. Not all players were fans of the clock, though. A number of players continue to express concern over how it changes the game. "I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I actually didn’t think it was going to go as well as it does. But I think 30 seconds is just not enough time. There are so many situations that come up," said Marvin Rettenmaier. "I’ve definitely made some folds that I may have tended the other way if I had a minute or something." While the WPT TOC had a field of just 64 accomplished players, Rettenmaier worries about the way recreational players might react to the added pressure. "I think it’s way worse for them than it is for us because we should kind of have a feel for what we’re going to do,” said Rettenmaier. “I think it’s actually not amateur-friendly at all even though people are saying that’s why they want to do it, but it really isn’t." Given the relative success of the first use of the Action Clock, it’s likely to find its way to another couple of tour events next season. “We’ll definitely be using it for the (2017) Tournament of Champions,” said Savage. “I think that it’s going to take one of our casino partners to step up and say ‘Hey, we want to give this a try.’”
  10. [caption width="640"] Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson are the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2016 (WPT photos)[/caption] The Poker Hall of Fame officially has two more members as Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson were announced as the Poker HOF Class of 2016 on Thursday morning. The two were chosen by the voting panel consisting of living members of the Poker Hall of Fame and select media members. WSOP officials, who oversee the PHOF, called the 2016 voting process the closest in years. Mortensen and Brunson will be officially inducted on October 26 at a ceremony at Binion's Gambling Hall in Downtown Las Vegas. Mortensen is the only player in history to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event and the World Poker Tour World Championship and is also the leading money winner in WPT history, having won $6,738,670. In 2001, Mortensen topped a 613-player field, and a final table that included Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, and runner-up Dewey Tomko, to capture the WSOP Main Event for the first major win of his career. Two years later he captured his second WSOP bracelet in a $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. Mortensen is also one of only three players to have won three WPT titles. His first came in 2004 when he won the inaugural Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In 2007 he won the WPT World Championship at Bellagio for $3,970,415 - the largest single score of his career. He then won the Hollywood Poker Open in 2010 for his third WPT title. "I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” said Mortensen. “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish. I've always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame. To be included with the legends makes me very happy. I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me. I take this honor very seriously." Mortensen is the first European-born player to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. While Mortensen has been the model of success for tournament players of his era, Brunson has found the most success at the highest stakes cash games available. The son of poker legend Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson was a key figure in the heads-up limit hold'em matches against Texas billionaire banker Andy Beal in 2004 and 2006. In 2015 he reportedly won $5 million from Beal in 2015 inside Bobby's Room at Bellagio. Brunson has had some tournament success over the course of his career. He won his only WSOP bracelet in 2005, beating 358 other players to win a $2,500 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo event. He's had two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes in WSOP events over the course of his career. His lifetime tournament earnings of $4,291,671 put him 69th on the all-time list. "It's a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson. “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members. To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime. Todd and Doyle Brunson are the only father-son combination in the Poker Hall of Fame. The eight nominees that were not inducted this year, Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage and David Ulliott are eligible for nomination in 2017 and beyond.
  11. [caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is one of 10 nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame (PokerStars photo)[/caption] The list of players eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2016 include two former WSOP Main Event champions, a highly respected tournament director, five players with strong ties to the success of poker in their home country and the son of a current Hall of Famer who has dominated cash games in Las Vegas for the better part of the last 15 years. The World Series of Poker, which oversees the Poker Hall of Fame, announced the list of 10 nominees for the Class of 2016 on Friday and the biggest name on the list might just be 2003 WSOP Main Event winnerChris Moneymaker. The one-time "accountant from Tennessee" is largely credited with helping ignite the poker boom following his Cinderella story win in 2003 after qualifying online. Moneymaker, who turned 40 earlier this year to become HOF eligible, is one of three new names on the list this year. Todd Brunson and Eli Elezra, who both play high stakes cash games in Las Vegas, were also nominated for the first time. Brunson, son of Doyle Brunson, has one WSOP bracelet to his credit while Elezra has three. The rest of the nominees have all been nominated before but none more so than Swedish poker pro and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Chris Bjorin who has been nominated every year since 2012. Carlos Mortensen, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2001 and WPT World Championship in 2007, is nominated for the third time after failing to be inducted in 2013 and 2015. David 'Devilfish' Ulliott, who passed away in April 2015, and Max Pescatori were nominated for the first time in 2015 while Bruno Fitoussi has now been nominated in three straight years. Costa Rica's Humberto Brenes rounds out the nine players nominated for induction this year. The only nominee who is not a player is WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. Savage, who co-founded the Poker Tournament Director's Association, is one of the most highly respected tournament directors in the world. He was first nominated in 2015 and is hoping to become the second tournament director inducted into the HOF joining 2014 inductee Jack McLelland. The list of 10 nominees will be sent to 45 voters, comprised of 25 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 20 members of the media, for consideration. Voters will consider the following criteria when voting: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time For non-players: contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. Voters have until October 7 to submit their ballot and the two nominees receiving the most votes from the 45 voters will be inducted on Wednesday, October 26 at Binion's in Downtown Las Vegas.
  12. [caption width="640"] Players like Dietrich Fast are going to have to ditch the headphones and tablets to play #TheSocialExperiment (WPT Photo)[/caption] At one point or another in your live poker travels you’ve probably found yourself at a table full of players wearing some combination headphones, sunglasses or hoodies all with their heads buried in their phones. Well, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles has announced an experiment that might be right up your alley. As part of the upcoming California State Poker Championship, “The Social Experiment”, is a $350 buy-in $100,000 guaranteed tournament which doesn’t allow players to wear headphones, sweatshirt hoods, sunglasses or use electronic devices like phones or tablets. The tournament is brainchild of Matt Savage, Commerce Tournament Director, and Justin Hammer, Commerce Tournament Coordinator. The tournament structure includes the pair’s reasoning behind the event. “The #SocialExperiment is an attempt to create social interaction amongst players. Cell phones, sunglasses, headphones, and hoods will only be allowed outside of the tournament area, or on break.” Players who use their electronic devices, or break any other of the special tournament rules, will be penalized. While registration is still open the penalty is three hands. Once registration closes the penalty escalates to a minimum of one round. The reaction from those on social media was mixed, but Savage was quick to reinforce that the idea is an experiment and not something that the TDA, which Savage is the head of, is considering for widespread implementation. The two-day event begins Saturday, April 29.
  13. [caption width="640"] The WPT Action Clock is coming to all Season XVI tour stops starting in Choctaw next week.[/caption] The World Poker Tour Action Clock premiered two seasons ago at the WPT Tournament of Champions and received rave reviews upon its introduction. The concept has grown as players of both the professional and recreational ranks are looking to speed up play in the later stages of tournaments. Just announced this week, the WPT is making an innovative change that officially brings the Action Clock into the full poker spotlight. Starting with the first American stop of Season XVI, the Action Clock is ready to tick at Choctaw in the first week of August. The Action Clock, which WPT is bringing in with a partnership agreement made with Protection Poker, will be in use once the respective field is one table away from breaching the money bubble in all WPT Main Tour events. From that point forward, the Action Clock will be on all tables down to the final table, where it will also be used. Players are given 30-seconds with each decision in order to maintain a reasonable pace of play. For decisions that may require some additional thought, players have the option to use one of their four time-extension chips. Each chip is worth 30 seconds of additional time given to a player. As the final three tables are reached, players will be given a maximum of six chips and then a maximum of eight chips when the official WPT final table of six is hit. Another change being made by WPT and its hosting partners is for all tables to be eight-handed once there are 10 tables remaining in play in a WPT Main Tour event. WPT Executive Director Matt Savage has been open to player feedback on the subject of faster play over the last few years and is excited to introduce the Action Clock across all WPT events. “The World Poker Tour is proud to be the first to implement the Action Clock across all of its Main Tour event. Many players, both recreational and professional, have expressed concerns that unnecessary tanking has taken a lot of the fun out of poker. Poker should always be fun, and it was a no-brainer decision to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events following its success in the WPT Tournament of Champions and WPT500™ Los Angeles. With the Action Clock, more action equals more fun, and who doesn’t want more fun in poker?” The third running of the WPT Choctaw event kicks off on August 4 and runs through August 8. The $3,700 buy in tournament holds a $2,000,000 guarantee and had a playing field of 1,066 in 2016.
  14. [caption width="640"] Savage's signed suit raised thousands for those in need[/caption] From the smoldering ashes of a Matt Savage suit, something very good will rise. As the players who made Day Two of the World Poker Tour bestbet Bounty Scramble in Jacksonville took their seats in search of making the Final Table, renown tournament director Matt Savage was possibly simply searching for something to wear. Much to his dismay, but with his wholehearted consent, his cranberry suit, a debated about fashion faux pas that was beloved by Savage, was literally set aflame for a good cause. On September 19 a massive earthquake rocked Mexico, hundreds of citizens lost their lives and thousands were left without homes. Professional poker players Angel Guillen and JC Alvrado, as well as World Poker Tour personality Lynn Gilmartin, after seeing the devastation, knew they needed to do something to help. Together they started a fundraising effort to help bring much-needed supplies to the rescue and recovery efforts. However, in addition to the massive amount of need in a major metropolis like Mexico City, the trio thought that moving forward, perhaps one of the biggest challenges would be rebuilding in some of the smaller Mexican towns that were also in a state of ruin. Thus, Mexico Fuerte was born. Mexico Fuerte looks to raise funds to not only help rebuild shelters for all of those who lost everything in the Mexican towns of Morelos, Oaxaca and beyond but to do so in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way through the use of bio construction. To date, the endeavors of Mexico Fuerte have raised over $40,000 USD with their sights set on raising more so that they can bring back even more lost homes. That's where Matt Savage comes in. Always sharply dressed when at the helm of any tournament, one of Matt's more controversial choices in attire was his favorite glistening cranberry colored suit. However, not everyone was as enthusiastic about the wardrobe mainstay, including professional poker player Tom Hall. Hall, who wanted to see the suit burned on camera, offered $5,000 to Savage's choice of charity (as well as $95 to replace the suit) if he would agree to incinerate the threads. While the suit is now officially gone, the need for assistance in Mexico is not. To learn more about the mission of Mexico Fuerte visit their website at mexicofuerte.org.
  15. On Monday, the Poker Hall of Fame revealed their list of 10 finalists that will be considered for induction in 2018. After a public nomination process and vetting by the Poker Hall of Fame Governing Council the list of finalist have been deemed to fulfill the qualifications for induction. This year, the list of nominations include (in alphabetical order): Chris Bjorin David Chiu Mori Eskandani Bruno Fitoussi John Hennigan * Mike Matusow Chris Moneymaker David Oppenheim * Matt Savage Huckleberry Seed * First-time nominees The voting process is now turned over to the current 28-member Hall of Fame members as well as an 18-person “blue ribbon” panel of media members. These 46 voters will determine who will ultimately be inducted. The current criteria for consideration remain the same as in years past: - A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition - Be at a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination - Played for high stakes - Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers - Stood the test of time - For Non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results Official ballots will be sent to those who are eligible to vote with a deadline of July 8 for their votes to be received by the WSOP Governing Council. Then, once all the votes have been counted, the official inductees will be announced to the public. On July 13, in Las Vegas as a part of the WSOP Main Event Final Table festivities, the two honored recipients will officially become part of the Hall of Fame during the ESPN broadcast. Career Highlights of Finalists Chris Bjorin - One of Sweden's most celebrated poker players, Bjorin is a two-time bracelet winner with over $5.7 million in career earnings. David Chiu - Hailing from China, Chiu had accumulated five WSOP gold bracelets and a World Poker Tour title. His over $8 million in lifetime earnings currently has him sitting just inside the top 100 on the All-Time Money list. Mori Eskandani - A one-time high-stakes player in the 1980's, Eskandani is now known as the head of Poker PROductions, the production company responsible for seminal poker shows including High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark and, currently, producing the WSOP on ESPN. Bruno Fitoussi - Fitoussi is credited for the introduction of Texas Hold'em in his native country of France. With over $2.8 million in lifetime earnings, Fitoussi has a runner-up finish in the 2007 $50K Poker Players Championship on his resume as well as being recognized as a key individual in getting poker televised in France. John Hennigan - The 2014 WSOP Poker Players Championship winner, Hennigan has a total of five bracelets and over $8 million in career earnings. Hennigan is known for being exceptional at all of the variants of poker. Mike Matusow - A consistent presence in early iterations of televised poker, Matusow is a four-time bracelet winner with over $9.4 million in career earnings. Matusow won the NBC Heads-Up Championship and has made the final table of the WSOP Main Event twice. Chris Moneymaker - The man whose victory was the spark that ignited the poker boom in 2003, Chris Moneymaker is a WSOP Main Event Champion. "The Moneymaker effect" is the common phrase used when discussing the massive mainstream popularity that poker enjoyed in the early 2000's as well as the inspiration for a generation of poker players. Moneymaker has been a long-time ambassador for PokerStars and for poker in general. He has accumulated over $3.7 million in lifetime earnings. David Oppenheim - A Los Angeles cash game pro, Oppenheim is considered a pro's pro with the respect that can only come when one has mastered most of the games in poker. He currently has $1.8 million in lifetime tournament earnings. Matt Savage - One of the inaugural, founders of the Tournament Directors Association (TDA), Savage is the Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour. One of the most vocal and consistent voices for standardization of poker rules, Savage has a player-friends style that has for years continues to move the game forward. Huckleberry Seed - Seed is a four-time bracelet winner with over $7.6 million in career tournament earnings. The 1996 WSOP Main Event Champion also has a victory in the NBC Heads-Up Championship as well as the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions. Seed was a regular presence on televised poker during the poker boom.  
  16. Got a tough poker decision? Matt Savage has the answer. Savage is one of the most high profile tournament directors in the game today thanks to his decades of work in poker as well as his role as the World Poker Tour’s Executive Tour Director. In 2001 Savage was one of the founding members of the Tournament Directors Association with a purpose to create a set of uniform rules for poker tournaments and give players an experience they can count on wherever they decide to play. Savage is so well-regarded by both players and his peers that he’s been nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame every year for the past four years. But if you think it would be tough to connect with a guy who wears so many hats in poker, you’d be wrong. Savage is seemingly ever present on social media, constantly Tweeting and engaging with players by answering just about any poker question posed to him. So while Savage may be used to clarifying the “one chip rule”, we decided to grill him on subjects that he’s not used to answering. Here’s some more about Matt Savage that you just gotta know. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson When not coloring up chips on the felt, Savage can be found hitting chip shots on the greens. An avid golf fan, Savage holds his own invitational golf tournament every year. "I really want to go, first of all. It’s going to be at Shadow Creek, a place I love to play golf a lot. I would definitely be a Tiger fan on that one. I’m not a huge fan of Phil Mickelson, he seems kind of phony to me. Tiger Woods has been through a lot so I know there’s a lot of people pulling for him even though a lot of people don’t believe in what he’s done or whatever. There’s no debating that he moves the needle as far as watching golf on TV and I’m a fan, that’s for sure." GTO Savage has had the opportunity to oversee some of the biggest tournaments in the world and watch the best players on the planet up close. "I think GTO is overrated, for sure. I know a lot of the great poker players do it just from feel alone and don’t focus too much on GTO. However, I do know that being GTO has helped a lot of poker players raise their levels from where they were, maybe, a total fish to just being good poker players. I think it means different things for different people but I don’t think it’s the end-all, be-all of poker playing." Professional Wrestling Any chance he’s related to Randy “The Macho Man” Savage? "Those guys are great athletes, believe it or not. I’m not a big fan. I know a lot of people that are. I haven’t taken my son to a match but I think they’re…well, obviously it’s fake. But they’re also great athletes. It’s not something I would be involved in, per se, I don’t think I could take it. But I still think it’s definitely entertaining and the people that are into it, are really into it. So, while it’s entertaining it’s not something I’ve been a part of…yet." All-Inclusive Resorts Plenty of poker tours have events at resorts that claim to take care of a player’s every want and need. "I’ve had some good ones and I’ve had some bad ones. You know, you go on these cruise ships and they’re all-inclusive and I seem to choose to go to the place in the boat where you have to pay for dinner because I feel like it’s better. I’m not a huge fan of the all-inclusive bars because it’s all well drinks and if I’m going to have a drink I want it to be a little more top shelf. So, overall I’d say I’m not a fan but I have had some good ones over the years." Poker Vloggers A new generation of poker superstars has been created on YouTube with players and fans tuning in by the thousands to watch their favorite poker players grind it out in the cash games. "Well, I just had to start a vlog for the World Poker Tour so I’ve been enjoying doing that. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort as well so I think that I have a certain respect for those guys showing us what they do in their normal life. It’s interesting, it’s definitely interesting. I am doing my own vlog now so I know how hard it is and I respect the amount of effort it takes to put those together." Mascots The World Series of Poker just introduced their new mascot in 2018 - Chippy…the Chip? Savage, a well-documented hockey fan, has had his encounters with a number of these real-life cartoon characters. "I am a fan of mascot racing. I’m a fan of watching those guys fall down and make a fool of themselves. I’m a big hockey fan so whenever they get on the ice it’s more entertaining. My son loves it so anything that he’s a big fan of, I’m a big fan of as well. It definitely adds a lot of entertainment atmosphere to any sporting event and we have Champ here in Las Vegas for the Golden Knights. I met him, he’s a cool dude. I’m a fan."
  17. Fifteen years ago, the poker world was introduced to Chris Moneymaker. The accountant from Tennessee with an unthinkable last name earned his way into the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event via a satellite on PokerStars for a paltry $86. Moneymaker went on to win the event thanks to a storybook run in poker’s greatest tournament and recently was the subject of the acclaimed 30 For 30 Podcasts by ESPN. "They actually approached me about doing the TV series, 30 for 30, a while back and I thought that sounded really cool," Moneymaker said of the opportunity with ESPN. "Then I guess they didn’t think I was cool enough for the TV show, or they saw my face and said that I have a face for radio, and they moved it over to the podcast (laughs). A guy came to Memphis, where I live, and spent three days with my wife and I, just hanging out and being part of the family. I did a bunch of interviews and then basically did about a million follow-up questions. It was a cool process. I haven’t heard the podcast yet myself, but I’d be interested to hear what the others [on the podcast] said. I know kind of what I said because I've said it a few times, but it’d be interesting to hear what Matt Savage and some of the others guys said." Moneymaker’s story is the stuff dreams are made of. Even though his big win was 15 years ago, at times it still appears that the relationship Moneymaker has with poker is still going through the honeymoon period. Make no mistake about it, though, the man once very open about his amateur status in the game now comes with a win-first mentality. "My goal is that whenever I come into a room, I want to take everybody's money, but I want them to be really happy when I do," Moneymaker said. Since his WSOP Main Event victory, Moneymaker's been on the ride of a lifetime, and understandably so. Many would argue his win was the win in poker. It catapulted Moneymaker into poker stardom and since then he's been triumphantly serving as one of the game's most prominent ambassadors. "It's been pretty surreal," Moneymaker told PocketFives of the last 15 years. "There's been ups and downs like anything else. Mostly it’s been up, but obviously, there's downsides of it, too. At the end of the day, poker went through a very hard time around Black Friday, and I think that we’re coming out and we’re recovering. There are other things that are attracting the younger generation’s attention that we’re sort of competing against for the new players coming up, but I think Twitch and what everyone else is doing is helping get us some buzz. We have things like PokerGO putting out great content, too.” One of Moneymaker’s recent trips took him to Reno, Nevada, for Jason Somerville’s Run It Up Reno VII festival. He brought with him the Moneymaker Tour, his brightest ambassador costume, and fierce-but-fun-loving competitiveness. While there, Moneymaker, alongside PokerStars, helped dish out another Platinum Pass in the stop’s $86 buy-in Moneymaker Tour event, deemed the "Moneymaker Spectacular." That tournament attracted the largest turnout of Run It Up Reno VII, with 825 entries blasting away in hopes of winning the $30,000 Platinum Pass package. In the end, it was Nathan Manuel achieving a lofty goal he set out to complete months prior. "First of all, [PokerStars] gave all of the ambassadors one seat to give away and our goal was to send everybody here to Reno and give away that seat," Moneymaker said. "It morphed into giving away a Platinum Pass away at every single stop [on the Moneymaker Tour], which is just absolutely incredible. It’s huge for me because I give someone else the opportunity that I had 15 years ago to turn $86 into life-changing money. Even for people go down there and don’t make anything, there’s a lot of people who can’t afford to go to the Bahamas so it’s already life changing for them. Then they have the opportunity, if they work hard or they want to get better, that I’m offering resources to help them get better and give them a real shot at making something in this tournament. My hope is that one of the people that won one of my tournaments makes a deep run or wins the [PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship]. Actually, I hope I win it, let’s be real, so they can get second (laughs). Again, to me, it’s about giving someone else the opportunity that I had so many years ago. It’s been really the most enriching experience to go through and play at every one of these stops. We’ve had people come in that have never played poker before or haven’t played poker in 10 years or never been to casinos before." While in Reno, Moneymaker cashed in three events for a total of $8,015 and was one player away from taking home a Run It Up Reno trophy when he placed second in the $235 6-Max 8-Game tournament for $5,400. If he’d have won that event, Moneymaker could’ve added the trophy right next to his bevy of PokerStars NJCOOP titles, of which he scored two more earlier in the month of October. Ever since online poker became legal in New Jersey and PokerStars launched PokerStarsNJ, "Money800" has been a regular fixture in the Garden State's virtual streets, locking horns with the best the state has to offer and coming out on top. In April 2018, he won two NJCOOP titles and placed second and fourth in two other NJCOOP events during the series. In October, Moneymaker doubled the weight of his NJCOOP bag by adding two more titles in back-to-back days. "It's awesome," Moneymaker said of being able to play regulated online poker in New Jersey. "It’s been, what? Two, three years now? I’ve had really good results in NJCOOP since I moved up there to play, and it’s always good the time the series comes in. There are a couple games I like to focus on. I always focus on the 8-game and a couple of the other variants, and they have all those so I really enjoy playing that series because they have a lot of different variants to play." When playing regulated online poker in New Jersey, Moneymaker can often be found on Twitch streaming his grind when he’s there for some action. Back when Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, and for much of the 15-year period between his win in 2003 and now, online poker streaming wasn’t a thing. Now, it’s everywhere, serving audiences in both entertainment and enhanced instruction. "Back when I won [the WSOP Main Event], there was Super/System and Mike Caro’s Book of Tells," Moneymaker said of poker’s new age involving Twitch and streaming. “I think those were the only two books, maybe a few more. There just wasn’t that much poker material out there. No one knew what they were doing, and now, you have all this free access. If you want to learn and get good at poker, you can do it for free, which is through time. All it takes is time, and energy to sit there and ask questions and watch a good streamer play. And there are so many different streamers to choose from. You can find one that fits your style, obviously, there are so many training sites and videos, there’s just so many resources now that poker is just so much more difficult now. The average player is just going to be better. That’s a tough thing for new players getting in the game, as they’re coming into a very knowledgable market that knows what they’re doing and it’s tough to just come in without trying to learn. To just be a recreational player, it’s difficult to sort of break through and be successful. But, the great thing about poker is that there is luck in the game and even people that aren’t as experienced are going to have good runs and maybe win a main event." *Photo courtesy of Run It Up.
  18. Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. It would be nice to think that, as we grow older, the old adage of “it’s better to give than receive” is a feeling that most people come to embrace. That said, there’s an amazing feeling when the right person gives you the perfect gift. Quite often it’s not only the gift itself, but it’s the fact that there’s someone out there that knows you so well and wants nothing more than to make you happy. “This is a close one,” said PokerStars and WSOP broadcaster Joe Stapleton when thinking about the best gift he’s ever been given. “I’m gonna go with the original NES [Nintendo Entertainment System]. “Everyone on my block had one and my parents pretty much swore they weren’t going to get us one. Also, maybe Santa was still a thing then...I can’t remember. “When we finished opening our presents and the NES we so desperately wanted was not contained therein, we, my brother and I, did our best to hide our disappointment. We were good kids, (read: terrified of our parents), and it would have been rude and ungrateful to complain about not getting something for Christmas. Also, we were kinda genuinely good kids who didn’t want to make our parents feel bad.” However, not all hope was lost for Stapes. “My Grandma would always come over when we were done opening present for her non-Santa presents. You see where this is going so I’ll cut to the chase. She brought us the Nintendo. It was some real Red Rider BB Gun shit. We were thrilled.” New Jersey poker pro Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano has a similar story. For him, it was a gaming system that led him to a lifetime of playing games. “I would have to my favorite gift was when I got Nintendo 64. It was 1996, I was 11 and really into video games,” said Gags. “I had no idea what the N64 would bring. It was a video game system like I had never seen before. The games were amazing and I would spend the next seven years glued to it, playing every game imaginable. It really grew my interest and obsession with game and video games a ton, and probably is partly responsible for leading me to poker.” While some a gift may be an item that helped shape their future, for some, the best gifts of Christmas can’t be bought. Solve For Why coach and former PocketFives #1-ranked player Jordan Young didn’t have to think twice when recalling his perfect gift. “I have received the perfect Christmas gift,” Young said. “The best gift I ever received was from my parents and it was a memory book full of pictures of my dog, Doogan. That was the first time I ever received something and got emotional because I had just spent three years without him while I had moved abroad to play online poker.” For others that perfect gift isn’t an object at all. “It may sound a bit cheesy…” said partypoker Pro Kristen Bicknell “…but I think the true gift and magic of the holidays is being with family and loved ones. There really is something special and unique about the spirit of the season. One of my favorite things about Christmas that never fails is Christmas dinner. It’s definitely the best meal of the year.” World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage’s favorite gift falls in line with that sentiment. “My favorite gift has always been spending time with family. This year is going to be a tough one as my father recently passed away,” Savage said. “Christmas was his favorite holiday. He made every Christmas special when I was young with gifts I never needed but wanted. I always enjoy giving more than receiving and the perfect gift is the one that makes Maryann [his wife] smile.” Still looking for that perfect gift to give the poker player in your life? We have some suggestions to make their eyes light up with The Definitive Poker Player Holiday Gift Guide.
  19. “I have always said San Jose has the greatest poker fans in the world.” Matt Savage has called San Jose’s Bay 101 Casino home since he took a job dealing there back in 1994. This week, after its much-discussed one-year absence from the poker tournament calendar, Savage announced that the casino’s premier event, the Shooting Star, will return in 2019. Savage is one of Bay 101's key Tournament Directors in addition to his position as the Executive Tour Director for the World Poker Tour. “We have been working on the Shooting Stars and it has been championed by new Casino Manager Samuel Quinto to bring it back,” Savage said. “To be honest, we are not happy that it skipped a year but we are truly thrilled that the Shooting Star will return in 2019.” So while the Shooting Star is back, it’s not the same tournament as the one that left. Some slight tweaks to the structure, a single starting day and, perhaps most notably, it will not be a World Poker Tour event in 2019. “I have always said this is the most unique tournament in poker and many of the things that make this a one-of-a-kind event will return,” Savage said when talking about the resurrection of the Shooting Star. “It will have a $5,200 buy-in, 30 Shooting Stars that are worth $2,000 if you claim their last chips. The tournament will have a one day start and feature an excellent structure that will have 40,60 and 90-minute levels and play six-handed at 36 players. The 30 Stars will not only be poker greats but also some non-poker personalities and social media influencers.” The absence of the tournament in 2018 coincided with a venue shift for Bay 101. The old card room, which had its opening back in 1993, was a fixture of the Northern California poker landscape. It was a broad open space with high ceilings and an old-school card room vibe. The new location, located directly across the 101 freeway from the now-defunct card room, has adopted a more modern approach for their environment. When the new Bay 101 opened in September of 2017, the casino was slow to re-introduce daily tournaments. It quickly became apparent that the Shooting Star tournament would not be able to be incorporated into the casino’s plans in 2018. For many in the industry, the Shooting Star has always felt like a unique tournament on the schedule. Its ability to attract big names, award bounties and t-shirts for knockouts and drop to six-handed in the late stages of the tournament made it a favorite for pros and recs alike. The legendary rabid San Jose poker fanbase had made the event a can’t-miss tour stop. So, when it was dropped from the WPT schedule in 2018, its absence was felt by locals and pros alike. But for many of the players, including the locals that make up that legendary fan base, the lack of WPT affiliation won't stop them from registering. “I can tell by the messages I have already received that the event was sorely missed,” Savage said. Bay 101’s day-to-day Tournament Director Quoc Pham echoed Savage's sentiment. The local players are ready to have their Shooting Star back in the fold. “[The locals] were ecstatic, they couldn’t be happier,” Pham said. “A lot of people dream of playing the Shooting Star, the prestige of playing in a big buy-in tournament. They have a chance of playing for life-changing money.” One of the questions that will be answered soon will be who the Shooting Stars will be. In the past they’ve been some of the biggest names in the game, Savage promises that the bounties of 2019 will be just as impressive but give the tournament a brand new look. “Invites are just being sent out now and contracts need to be signed before we can release names but I can tell you that this year’s list of Stars will look entirely different than years past,” Savage said. Even without the WPT branding behind it, the Shooting Star is likely to be an appetizing event for big-name pros, if only for the number of qualifiers it is expected to bring in. The venue has 26 satellites on the schedule. “The satellite schedule is really aggressive and the Shooting Star is always strongly supported by our Bay Area locals making our field one of the best in poker,” Savage said. “We are hoping that we will give away about 200 seats into the event,” Pham added. ”Roughly half of the field will be from satellites.” Even though the Shooting Star is not an official WPT event, the 2019 scheduling of it makes it obvious that Savage kept the WPT Main Tour, and his own duties, in mind, placing the tournament in its traditional March timeslot. The World Poker Tour has both the Los Angeles Poker Classic and WPT Rolling Thunder taking place earlier in March, allowing the Shooting Star to, perhaps, capture some of the pros that make their way to California for those events. “It is important in the current tournament poker climate that dates, especially in the same region in the world, work in tandem. Fortunately, our relationship with the WPT made that easy and it will fit right between two of their events on the West Coast making it easy and convenient for traveling players.” When asked if the Shooting Star would return to the World Poker Tour, both Savage and Pham couldn’t say. There is a sentiment that they would be trying again to make that happen in 2020. The Bay 101 Shooting Star takes place from March 19-22 at the Bay 101 Casino in San Jose.
  20. Join PocketFives throughout the month of December as we bring you the PocketFives 12 Days of Christmas to help keep you in the spirit of giving. Get some popcorn; it's movie time. With good reason, some of the biggest blockbusters of all-time made their debut around the holidays. With extra time off, families flock to the theaters to take in a film and rewatch classics in the comfort of their home. So many great holiday films that have come out over the years, sometimes it’s hard to pick which one to throw on but there are some that are just so good they are worth watching over and over again. “My favorite movie has to be ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and I make it a point to watch it every year as it reminds me that if you do good deeds you will be repaid tenfold,” said World Poker Tour Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. “It’s also tough to beat Will Ferrell in 'Elf' or Bill Murray in 'Scrooged'.” [caption id="attachment_621631" align="alignnone" width="768"] It's A Wonderful Life, Elf and Scrooged are a trio of holiday classic films.[/caption] When it comes to taking the temperature on the poker world’s favorite holiday movie, the modern-day Christmas classic “Elf” starring Will Ferrell as a North Pole Elf making his way in New York City is clearly a top choice. “ELF! It isn’t even close,” says former #1-ranked PocketFiver and Solve For Why Academy coach Jordan Young. “Will Ferrell is just so damn hilarious and I love all the quotable lines from the movie.” Young. Team PokerStars Online pro and Twitch streamer, Jeff Gross agrees with Young. “I liked the movie and it puts a comedy spin on the holiday season, which can be stressful,” Gross said. “Bringing a lightness to the season is a nice twist.” Not everyone is looking for maximum relaxation during the holidays. An all-out action-packed Christmas classic is the favorite of online crusher ‘Girafganger7.’ “It’s easy and it’s not close - it’s 'Die Hard'. Bruce [Willis], barefoot, slaying German-accented baddies in a blaze of bullets and exposition, riddled with perfect one-liners,” Giraf said. Favorite character is Hans Gruber played by the untouchable Alan Rickman.” partypoker Ambassador Kristen Bicknell is on the opposite end of the spectrum, opting for sentimentality over swinging off a building from a fire hose. “There are so many good Christmas movies!” Bicknell said. “But if I had to pick one right now it would be ‘Love Actually.’ It’s full of emotion and charming characters.” One of which is also played by Alan Rickman. “Some other favorites of mine that come to mind are ‘The Santa Clause’ and ‘Home Alone’” [caption id="attachment_621632" align="alignnone" width="768"] Die Hard, Love Actually and Home Alone are other holiday favorites of the poker world.[/caption] One of New Jersey’s top online grinders, Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano couldn’t agree more. “Without a doubt, ‘Home Alone’,” Gagliano said. “I think I saw it when it came out in the mid 90’s. I don’t remember, but I do remember being obsessed with it as a kid and watching it over and over. The scene where Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) draws the battle plans to save his house was the best, and I used to try and make ones just like his.” But not every Christmas movie is a winner, right? Sometimes, those holiday movies miss the mark and can just take you right out of the holiday mood. “Even though everyone loves it, I’ve never cared for 'A Christmas Story'. It’s probably because I don’t remember watching it as a kid. I think I first saw it when it was a little older and I didn’t have the nostalgia that others have. It was just kind of boring to me and I didn’t really think the ‘classic’ scenes were funny or interesting at all,” Gagliano said. “My least favorite Christmas movies are the corny Hallmark movies that all seem to follow true to the same script,” Savage said. For Jordan Young, he’s simply not going to let some spoiled cinema take him out of the holiday spirit. “I’m sure I have a least favorite Christmas movie but for the same of being ‘cheery’, I will pretend that I don’t have one,” he laughed. Do you have a favorite holiday movie? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Happy Holidays!
  21. Nominations for the second annual Global Poker Awards were announced on Friday with popular poker personality Joey Ingram leading the way with four nominations. The Global Poker Awards, slated to take place at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas on March 6, celebrates the poker industry by recognizing the game of poker's top talent both on the felt and behind the scenes. This year, awards will be handed out in 19 different categories including two that are voted on by the fans. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="GG Poker"][ptable zone="BetMGM NJ"] Multiple Nods Sixteen former award winners are back in contention this year with a number of them recognized in multiple categories. Poker personality and podcast/video producer Joey Ingram picked up nominations in the People’s Choice for Poker Personality of the Year, Podcast of the Year (Poker Life Podcast), Journalist of the Year and Media Content of the Year for his extensive work investigating the Mike Postle cheating allegation story. PocketFives’ own three-time GPI award winner Lance Bradley earned another three nominations for Journalist of the Year, Media Content of the Year, and Podcast of the Year for The FIVES Poker Podcast, alongside PocketFives own Managing Editor Donnie Peters. Daniel Negreanu, Jamie Kerstetter, Lex Veldhuis, Hayley Hochstätter and tournament director Matt Savage each earned two nominations. Alex Foxen, Andrew Neeme, Barny Boatman, Brad Owen, Bryn Kenney, Cary Katz, Joe Giron, Joe Stapleton, Kevin Mathers, Nick Schulman, and Paul Campbell join Bradley, Ingram, Negreanu, Savage, and Veldhuis as previous award winners who find themselves back in the running for even more hardware at the upcoming ceremonies. In addition to the 18 awards that will be voted on and the Global Poker Index Player of the Year awards, the PocketFives Legacy Award will once again be handed out to a PocketFives player who has shown success in both the online and live poker arenas. Previous award winners include Ari Engel, Cliff Josephy and Chris Moorman. 2019 Global Poker Award Nominees GPI BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR Robert Campbell (AUS) Ramon Colillas (ESP) Ben Farrell (UK) George Wolff (USA) FINAL TABLE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR Hossein Ensan (GER), WSOP Main Event William Alex Foxen (USA), WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Phillip Hui (USA), WSOP Poker Players Championship Bryn Kenney (USA), Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro TWITTER PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR Barny Boatman (UK) Jamie Kerstetter (USA) Kitty Kuo (TAI) Kevin Mathers (USA) PLAYERS CHOICE FOR TOUGHEST OPPONENT Michael Addamo (AUS) Kahle Burns (AUS) Stephen Chidwick (UK) Ali Imsirovic (BIH) STREAMER OF THE YEAR Hristivoje Pavlovic (AUS) Benjamin Spragg (UK) Matthew Staples (CAN) Lex Veldhuis (NED) VLOGGER OF THE YEAR Jaman Burton (USA) Andrew Neeme (USA) Daniel Negreanu (CAN) Brad Owen (USA) PODCAST OF THE YEAR DAT Poker Podcast: Terrence Chan, Ross Henry, Adam Schwartz, Daniel Negreanu (CAN) Poker Life Podcast: Joey Ingram (USA) The Fives, a PocketFives Podcast: Lance Bradley (CAN), Donnie Peters (USA) The Grid: Jennifer Shahade (USA) INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR Phil Galfond (USA), Run it Once Poker Cary Katz (USA), Poker Central/PokerGO Paul Phua (MAS), Triton Poker Matt Savage (USA), WPT/TDA TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR Tony Burns (USA), Seminole Hard Rock Paul Campbell (USA), Aria Jack Effel (USA), World Series of Poker Matt Savage (USA), WPT/TDA EVENT OF THE YEAR PokerStars Players Championship Bahamas Triton London Million for Charity World Series of Poker Main Event World Series of Poker BIG 50 MID-MAJOR TOUR/CIRCUIT OF THE YEAR Road to PSPC RUNGOOD Poker Series WPTDeepStacks WSOP Circuit JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR Lance Bradley (CAN) Haley Hintze (USA) Joey Ingram (USA) Nick Jones (UK) BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR Jamie Kerstetter (USA) Jeff Platt (USA) Nick Schulman (USA) Joseph Stapleton (USA) MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR: WRITTEN A Fight for Fatherhood: The Biggest Win of Jason Young’s Life, Lance Bradley (CAN) for PoketFives Kevin Roster Spread Sarcoma Awareness at WSOP, Wants to End Life on His Terms, Aleeyah Jadavji (CAN), Hayley Hochstetler (USA) for PokerNews Poker and Pop Culture, Martin Harris (USA) for D+B Publishing The Unabridged Story of The Hendon Mob, Paul Seaton (UK) for PokerNews MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR: PHOTO Antonio Abrego (USA): Ryan Laplante in deep thought at the WSOP (PokerNews) Drew Amato (USA): Dario Sammartino folds at the WSOP (Poker Central) Joe Giron (USA): WPT Champion Frank Stepuchin is lifted in victory (WPT) Hayley Hochstetler (USA): Doyle Brunson and Jack Binion at WSOP celebration (WSOP) MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR: VIDEO Investigating Mike Postle Hand Histories from Stones Live, Joey Ingram (USA) Legends of the Game – Stu Ungar (PokerGO) The Big Blind w/Jeff Platt featuring Mike Matusow, Normand Chad, Sarah Herring (PokerGO) Who Makes Money from Professional Poker, Sam Rega (USA) for CNBC PEOPLE’S CHOICE FOR POKER PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR Joey Ingram (USA) Jonathan Little (USA) Ryan DePaulo (USA) Lex Veldhuis (NED) PEOPLE’S CHOICE FOR HAND OF THE YEAR Bryce Yockey takes a historic hit against Josh Arieh in the WSOP Poker Players Championship Ryan Riess makes 10-high all-in call at EPT Monte Carlo final table Sam Trickett makes Stephen Chidwick fold best hand at Triton London 1M event Thi Xoa Nguyen folds full house to Athanasios Polychronopoulos at PSPC
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