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  1. Almost everybody who has entered a poker tournament has experienced this at some point; you look down at your stack and notice you're desperately short. It feels like it's only a matter of time before you're eliminated. Earlier this week Tony Tran was in that position in the World Poker Tour bestbet Bounty Scramble. Staring at just two big blinds with the blinds fast approaching him, Tran was all but out. And then he just couldn't lose a pot. Tran completed the comeback story Monday night, beating Jake Schwartz heads-up to win the bestbet Bounty Scramble, $341,486 and a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions. Tran started the final table fifth in chips with only Dominique Mosley behind him. Things didn't start off strong for Tran though. After picking off a Ray Qartomy bluff, Tran found himself in the middle of a hand that could have seen his tournament end relatively early. Mosley moved all in for 340,000 from the cutoff and Tran defended from the small blind. Schwartz re-raised to 850,000 from the big blind and Tran made it 1,400,000. Schwartz took his time before moving all in for 5,185,000. Tran folded, showing [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"], and then felt relief as Schwartz tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"]. Mosley flipped over [poker card="js"][poker card="ts"] and then watched the board run out [poker card="5h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2d"][poker card="3d"][poker card="7d"] to cement his elimination in sixth place. Nine hands later, with Schwartz in control of nearly half of the chips in play, another player was sent packing. From UTG, Schwartz raised to 110,000 before Ping Liu announced he was all in for 920,000 from the cutoff. Ray Qartomy re-raised all in for 1,305,000 and Schwartz folded. Liu turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="4c"] and needed some help after Qartomy showed [poker card="jd"][poker card="jh"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="8c"][poker card="5h"] flop changed nothing for Liu and once the [poker card="9s"] turn and [poker card="6d"] river completed the board, he was eliminated in fifth place. Qartomy's run only lasted another two hours. Down to just nine big blinds, Qartomy moved all in from the button and Tran tank-called from the big blind. Qartomy was behind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="qh"] to Tran's [poker card="ad"][poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="td"][poker card="8h"][poker card="2s"] flop left Qartomy with some hope, but the [poker card="as"] turn left him with just four outs to Broadway to stay alive. The river was the [poker card="5c"] and he was eliminated in fourth. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Tran took over the chip lead before sending another player packing. Schwartz folded his button and Kelly Minkin completed from the small blind before Tran raised to 480,000 from the big blind. Minkin responded by moving all in for 2,260,000 and Tran snap-called, tabling [poker card="ah"][poker card="kc"] in the process. Minkin showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="3c"] and needed some help to stay in the tournament. The [poker card="as"][poker card="4c"][poker card="3s"] flop gave Minkin two pair, but the [poker card="4h"] counterfeited Minkin's hand and the [poker card="9h"] river completed her elimination in third place. Heads up began with Tran holding 59% of the chips in play and it took just 90 minutes for him to complete the comeback. Tran raised to 300,000 from the button and Schwartz moved all in for 2,305,000. Tran snap-called and again tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"] which put him ahead of Schwartz who showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="5d"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="8h"][poker card="5s"] flop paired both players and Schwartz was unable to improve on the [poker card="4c"] turn or [poker card="3s"] river and was eliminated in second place. This year's bestbet Bounty Scramble drew 356 players, up slightly over the 323 runners it drew in 2017. Final Table Payouts Tony Tran - $341,486 Jake Schwartz - $228,590 Kelly Minkin - $146,973 Ray Qartomy - $95,684 Ping Liu - $73,734 Dominique Mosley - $60,981
  2. Dylan 'ImaLucSac' Linde entered the Season XVII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic final table second in chips among the last six competitors. A dominating performance from Linde followed that earned him his first World Poker Tour title and a $1.631 million payday. "Incredible… I'm stunned, I'm stunned," Linde said after the victory, noticeably searching for the right words in the winning moment. "I was in for a lot of bullets in this tournament - I was in for five bullets - and all I wanted to do was get even. I was like, 'OK, I need to get 24th place and then I make like 8K, that’s great.' Then I got to there and it just felt like freerolling. I just was confident, I played my game - I mean, I'm still… I’m still in shock." Linde entered the final table of the record-setting event with just more than $2 million in live tournament earnings to his name. He nearly doubled that total thanks to scoring the largest live tournament score of his career. Not only did Linde earn a $1.631 million payday, but he claimed the title in one of poker’s most prestigious events, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio. Linde now goes down in history alongside players such as Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Joe Hachem as a champion of this event. "Incredible!" Linde said once again, more emphatically. "Besides having played a lot of poker for the past 10 or 11 years, I’m a gargantuan poker fan. I watch every single everything on PokerGO, I watch all broadcasts. Even weird cash games that have been televised, I consume it all. I love poker. To be there, to be here playing in the studio, it’s incredible. It's just incredible. I watched the Super High Roller Bowl Cash Game this morning before I came to play." What's more is that Linde topped a record-breaking field in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The event attracted a field of 1,001 entries, nearly 200 more than the previous record of 812, and generated a prize pool of $9.709 million. "It was like a roller coaster," Linde said of firing multiple $10,000 bullets in the event. "The first one or two, it was like, 'Ehhh, OK.' And then when I busted bullet three, I was pretty sad and I kind of tilted. Then when I busted bullet four, I was just like, 'Ya know? Whatever, this tournament is really good and I need to fire.' At that point, I've already passed my pain threshold so now it doesn’t matter. I just try and it almost helped me to be in for five." WPT Five Diamond Final Table Results 1st: Dylan Linde - $1,631,468* 2nd: Milos Skrbic - $1,087,603 3rd: Andrew Lichtenberger - $802,973 4th: Ping Liu - $599,147 5th: Lisa Hamilton - $451,880 6th: Barry Hutter - $344,529 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Barry Hutter was first knocked out at the final table when his top pair ran into the bottom two pair of Milos Skrbic on the [poker card="8s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5s"] flop. Hutter's [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8d"] couldn’t come from behind against the [poker card="6h"][poker card="5d"] of Skrbic, leaving Hutter with a sixth-place result worth $344,529. Next to go was Lisa Hamilton in fifth place, and she was eliminated when her pocket fives couldn't hold up against the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Td"] of Linde. The money went in preflop and Linde flopped top pair, turned trips, and rivered a full house to send Hamilton to the payout desk to collect her $451,880 in winnings. Eliminating Hamilton in fifth place gave Linde the chip lead. This is when he really began to press on the gas in order to put distance between himself and his opponents. It also helped when Linde busted Ping Liu in fourth place with the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="2c"]. Action folded to Linde in the small blind, and he moved all in against Liu's big blind. Liu was short stacked and called with the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="4h"]. The board ran out[poker card="Kh"][poker card="7h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="Kd"] to eliminate Liu in fourth place for a career-best $599,147. Andrew Lichtenberger was the shortest stack entering three-handed play. He fought as hard as he could to get himself back into the match against Linde and Skrbic, but ultimately it wouldn’t be in the cards for the player so widely known as "LuckyChewy." Lichtenberger flopped top pair with the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="5h"] on the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="7s"][poker card="3c"] flop against Skrbic holding the [poker card="Tc"][poker card="6c"] for a flush draw. The two bet and raised back and forth to get all the money in, leaving Lichtenberger needing to fade the draw to stay alive. Skrbic quickly completed his flush on the turn with the [poker card="8c"] and the river completed the board with the [poker card="4d"]. For his efforts, Lichtenberger scored $802,973. Linde held the chip lead entering heads-up play, with his 22.375 million to Skrbic’s 17.675 million. Linde dominated the duel and took just 35 hands to dispose of Skrbic. On the final hand, Linde's pocket jacks held up against the pocket fives for Skrbic after all the money went in preflop and that was all she wrote. Skrbic, who entered the event with less than $500,000 in live tournament winnings, took home $1.087 million for his runner-up result, and Linde was crowned champion. "I'm pretty much going to keep doing the same thing I've been doing," Linde said when asked where he takes his poker career from here. "I'm a big believer in the amount of money that I have doesn’t really dictate the games that I should be playing. I’ll have some more action of myself in tournaments rather than selling more. I’m not going to start playing super high rollers or anything. I’ll just play the cash games I normally play here (in Las Vegas) and play tournaments. I’m pretty happy with my life at the moment, as far as poker. I play fairly high stakes normally anyway, and I don’t really need to go battle against my friends in the 25Ks and 100Ks who I know are slightly better than me or a lot better than me. At one point, maybe I will, but for now, I just want to keep improving, use this to make my life more comfortable, and hopefully make it so that I feel more confident and can just play my A-game more consistently." With the victory, Linde earned a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. He also picked up 1,400 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race, although that only puts him in third behind Tony Ruberto's 1,850 points and Liu's 1,550 points. Next up on the WPT Main Tour is the $10,000 buy-in WPT Gardens Poker Championship in January at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. That tournament runs January 12-16, 2019.
  3. One might think that with the holidays on the horizon December would be a quiet month of people spending time with their family. Not for the world of poker. December 2018 was full of record-breaking tournaments and huge headlines. Here are some of the names that made the news in December. Dan Smith Makes A Difference For the past five years, regular high-roller Dan Smith has been collecting donations for various charities at Christmas time. This year, Smith and his collaborators amassed $1.29M for the Double Up Drive and that they would use to match donations to spread to 10 carefully cultivated charities. They nearly got that amount in a single day when DFS champion Tom Crowley promised to give 50% of any winnings he might make from the DraftKings World Championship Final. Crowley, known as ‘ChipotleAddict’, went on to win the event for $2 million and over the weekend hauled in a total of $2.254 - half of which was donated to the Double Up Drive. The donation was ‘surreal’ but Smith wants to make sure people knew that donations of any size are welcome. “I want to clarify that any amount makes a difference,” Smith told PocketFives. “People in Uganda are living off 65 cents a day, an amount we don’t even consider at all.” READ: Dan Smith Charity Drive Gets “Surreal” $1.1M Donation via DFS Champ Isaac Haxton Wins Super High Roller Bowl V The fifth edition of the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl saw Isaac Haxton best the field of 36 elite players to earn a career-high cash of $3.672 million dollars. “This is easily the best tournament result I’ve ever had and it’s an event I love. It feels great to win here at ARIA. This is the highlight of my tournament career, no doubt,” said Haxton after the win. The final table was replete with talent including Poker Masters champion Ali Imsirovic, Igor Kurganov, Adrian Mateos, Talal Shakerchi, Stephen Chidwick, and eventual runner-up Alex Foxen. Foxen took home a career-best $2.1 million for his second-place finish. This capped off an amazing year that saw him earn 12 cashes of six-figures or better as well as rise to become the #1-ranked player on the GPI. READ: Isaac Haxton Wins Super High Roller Bowl for $3.672 Million READ: Alex Foxen’s Drive Takes Him to the Super High Roller Bowl The World Series of Poker Releases 2019 Dates Just before Christmas the World Series of Poker delivered players an early present by announcing a partial schedule of the 2019 WSOP. This summer will be the 50th anniversary for the longest-running tournament series and to help commemorate the occasion the WSOP is planning a number of special events for the players. The schedule included the announcement of the ‘Big 50’, a $500 buy-in tournament with a $5 million guaranteed prize pool and a $1 million guarantee for first place. Additionally, in an extra effort to “make the 2019 WSOP a better value all-around” many of the marquee events of the summer have an increased starting stack. This includes the WSOP Main Event which is increasing their starting stack to 60,000. READ: WSOP Releases 2019 Dates, New ‘Big 50’ Event - $500 Buy-in, $5M GTD Dylan Linde Wins WPT Five Diamond for $1.6 Million The crypto crash of 2018 has some in the industry fearing that the numbers for the World Poker Tour’s highlight event, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, might see a dip in registration. However, just the opposite happened as players flocked to the Bellagio in record-setting numbers. The event attracted 1001 runners and generated a prize pool of $9.7 million. In the end, longtime poker pro Dylan ‘ImaLucSac’ Linde (who re-entered five times in the event) dominated a stacked final table that included Andrew Lichtenberger, Ping Liu, Lisa Hamilton, Barry Hutter and runner-up Milos Skrbic. Linde won a career-high $1.6 million and earned the title of WPT Champion. READ: Dylan Line Wins Record-Shattering WPT Five Diamond Title for $1.6 Million Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio, Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede Chop 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online. partypoker’s 2018 $20M GTD MILLIONS Online did not disappoint. The incredible online tournament surpassed its posted guarantee and set the record for the largest single online tournament in history with players vying for a first place prize of over $2.6M. In the end, after one hand of heads-up play, Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio and PocketFiver Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede settled on a lightning-fast chop that awarded both players over $2.3M. Rubio, technically, earned the victory, taking home $20K more than De Goede and now owns the record for the single largest online payday in history. READ: Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio and Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede Chop partypoker MILLIONS Online A December To Remember December was just one of those month’s where huge news seemed to break every day. Here are some of the other must-read major headlines in December. Michigan opens its doors to online poker. READ: Michigan Becomes Fifth State to Regulate Online Poker The poker world loses a legend in the passing of Thor Hansen. READ: Thor Hansen Passes Away at 71 The pitch black bathroom bet comes to an abrupt end. READ: The $100K Bathroom Prop Ends Early; Alati, Young Agree on $62K Buyout Bay 101’s Shooting Star returns without the WPT behind it. READ: After a Year Away, Bay 101 Shooting Star Returns With New Look
  4. The World Poker Tour was back at Gardens Casino in Southern California for the second time in Season XVII, this time for the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. Six players remain from the 253-entry field, and it was Frank Stepuchin who bagged the chip lead. Stepuchin was joined at the official final table by Shannon Shorr, Steve Sung, Brent Roberts, Ray Qartomy, and Jonathan Abdellatif. The $10,000 buy-in event was the first WPT Main Tour event to feature the delayed TV final table format. After playing down to the final six players on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, the tournament was put on ice for what will be nearly two months before play resumes on Tuesday, March 12 - 55 days, to be exact. That is when the final six will compete for the $548,825 top prize at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Stepuchin, who hails from Park City, Utah, and entered this event with $354,625 in live tournament earnings, bagged the chip lead in a very large way, with 4.065 million in chips. The next closest was Shorr with 1.71 million. Belgian player Jonathan Abdellatif, who held nearly $1.7 million in live tournament earnings entering the Season XVII WPT Gardens Poker Championship, finished as the short stack with 555,000. WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table Seat 1: Shannon Shorr - 1,710,000 Seat 2: Frank Stepuchin - 4,065,000 Seat 3: Brent Roberts - 1,385,000 Seat 4: Jonathan Abdellatif - 555,000 Seat 5: Ray Qartomy - 820,000 Seat 6: Steve Sung - 1,580,000 Road To the Final Table Stepuchin emerged as a big stack right out of the gate. He finished as the Day 1a chip leader and was second in chips entering Day 2. At the time, he was behind another player that reached the final table, Qartomy. Stepuchin finished sixth in chips after Day 2 when Shorr bagged the chip lead, then Stepuchin led the final 19 players after Day 3 before riding that chip lead into the final table. On Day 4, Stepuchin eliminated Toby Lewis in seventh place and Allen Pock in 15th place. Eliminating Lewis in seventh set the official WPT final table, and it came just before 10 p.m. PT on Wednesday when the tournament was in Level 24 with the blinds at 15,000-30,000 with a 30,000 big blind ante, according to WPT coverage. Shorr had opened with a raise from the cutoff seat to 60,000, Lewis called from the button, and Stepuchin called from the small blind. The flop was [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2h"] and action checked to Lewis. He bet 75,000 before Stepuchin check-raised to 190,000. Shorr folded, but Lewis made the call to see the [poker card="Kd"] land on the turn. Stepuchin fired 360,000 and Lewis called to see the [poker card="3d"] appear on the river. Stepuchin bet all in, having Lewis and his remaining 360,000 covered. Lewis called with the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Jh"] but saw the bad news when his two pair was second best to Stepuchin’s pocket fives - [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"]. For Shorr, Sung, and Roberts, they’re second, third, and fourth in chips, respectively. Shorr ended Day 2 with the chip lead, but it wasn’t without a couple of very eventful hands that saw Shorr with plenty of chips on the line. First, he was all in with pocket kings against the pocket queens of Dan Smith and earned a double up. After that, Shorr took out Mike Eskandari, but did so with an inferior hand when his pocket sevens came from behind against Eskandari’s queens. On that hand, all of the money went in preflop and Shorr flopped a set. Qartomy reached the final table as the second shortest stack remaining, but he could’ve been knocked out by the lowly [poker card="9c"][poker card="4d"] in seventh place had his [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Qd"] not held up. Qartomy three-bet jammed for 410,000 over a raise to 60,000 from Stepuchin. Stepuchin called, but Qartomy’s hand held strong to give him the double up. On Day 3 of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, Qartomy was the player to send everyone into the money, doing so when he knocked out Raul Lozano in 33rd place. Qartomy held the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qs"] and was behind Lozano’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Ks"], but a queen flopped and Lozano couldn’t come back from it. Some of the notable players to cash in the event but fall short of the final table were Garrett Greer (8th - $66,955), WPT Champions Club member Marvin Rettenmaier (11th - $43,220), Ricky 'RatedGTO' Guan (13th - $35,550), and Nicole Schwartz (20th - $25,225). Schwartz won her way into the event by winning a $100 charity event. She fired an additional $100 bullet in that event, so her $10,000 seat cost her $200, but she then turned that into more than $25,000 in prize money. Can Shorr, Sung, and Roberts Finally Break Into the WPT Champions Club? Shorr, Sung, and Roberts are no strangers to tournament poker. They’ve been around the game for a long time and have impressive career résumés. Entering this event, Shorr had nearly $6.7 million in live tournament earnings, Sung had more than $5.5 million, and Roberts was just over $2 million. All three have experienced podium finishes in WPT events, but none have won a WPT title. Shorr’s best WPT finish was a second-place result in the Season XII WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. In a field of 415 entries, Shorr finished runner-up to James Calderaro and took home $190,039. "I'm on cloud nine after reaching the Gardens final table," Shorr told PocketFives. "I've been putting a ton of work into my poker game and my mind and body lately, so to have a big result like this in a major tournament is really special, personally." Shorr also placed fourth in the Season IX WPT Southern Poker Championship and fifth in the Season VII WPT World Championship for $144,985 and $408,550, respectively. "Winning a WPT title would be incredible," Shorr added. "I've had tons of final tables in big events worldwide but haven't won a 'major.' Maybe this is the one." Sung has three official WPT final tables on record, with his best result coming in the Season VI WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star event when he took second to Brandon Cantu and won $585,000. "It feels amazing to have reached the Gardens final table, to be able to enjoy the next couple months knowing that the final table will always be there," Sung said. "I always wanted to experience making the 'November Nine,' and this is the next best thing, the 'March Six!'" Sung also has a pair of fourth-place finishes on the World Poker Tour, first in the Season VI WPT Spanish Championship for €117,400 ($164,943) and then in the Season VII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $396,205. “Winning a WPT title means that my goal has been finally accomplished,” Sung said when asked what a winning a WPT title would mean to him. “I've expected to win one over a decade ago and had to come back from self-inflicted setbacks in multiple aspects of my being.” Roberts does have a WPTDeepStacks title from back in 2016, but a WPT Main Tour title has eluded him. His best WPT Main Tour finish was in the Season XIV WPT Legends of Poker when he took third in a field of 786 entries to win $251,035. Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications The final six have locked up 600 points in the Season XVII Hublot WPT Player of the Year race, currently led by Tony Ruberto with 1,850 points, and there are 1,200 points up top. The points could mean the most to Qartomy, who already has 650 points on the season and is in 40th place on the leaderboard. A win would vault him to the same 1,850 points as Ruberto, but Qartomy would hold the tiebreaker of most money won as he’d have $652,474 to Ruberto’s $530,692. Sung also stands to benefit well from the Hublot WPT Player of the Year points earned at this final table. Entering the event, Sung has 450 points and was in 57th place. He’s guaranteed to move to 1,050 points, which would put him in the top 15, and has upside to move into second place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with a victory. Sung now has five WPT Main Tour cashes in Season XVII, including a ninth-place finish in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival that kicked off the season. Stepuchin entered this event with 100 points, Shorr 100 points, Roberts 175 points, and Abdellatif 50 points. Champion To Be Crowned on March 12 The final six competitors have locked up $110,225 for reaching the final table and will be back in action on March 12 in Las Vegas to compete for the $548,825 top prize. First place includes a $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. "It's a bizarre feeling traveling to LA for five days, playing nonstop in a tournament, and to not know my result upon leaving," Shorr said. "I really like the format, though, and am all for anything that helps grow the game." "I'm going to enjoy the next 55 days like no other!" Sung said.
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