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  1. In 2013, the Millionaire Maker debuted at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the goal of which was to give those who couldn't shell out five-figure buy-ins the chance to play in a massive live tournament for a whopper of a potential prize. --- 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. --- A total of 6,343 entrants bought in to that first Millionaire Maker, creating the largest single-day starting field in WSOP history. Benny Chen took the title and nearly $1.2 million. The following year, even more people showed up – 7,977 – and Jonathan Dimming won the top prize of over $1.3 million. This year, the numbers are down, but at 7,275 registrants, it is still a larger Millionaire Maker than the original. What has become interesting about this one is that while the tournament was originally designed to give relative low-rollers a shot at the big money, the remaining field of 17 people going into Day 3 of the event features a number of well-known, successful players. Many such players tend to focus on the higher buy-in events, but the possible payday for a cheap buy-in in a field filled with what one would assume are lesser-skilled players can be too tempting to pass up. Let's take a look at a few of the notable players who have waded through the 7,275 player field to the edge of the final table. Seventeen players remain. 2nd Place – 5,950,000 chips – Erick Lindgren Lindgren (pictured) was one of the stars of the poker boom, one of the Full Tilt pack whose face was all over poker television. Black Friday was the catalyst of a downward spiral for Lindgren, though, as the lack of income from the Full Tilt combined with a sports betting addiction put him in a massive, multi-million dollar financial hole. Reports surfaced in 2012 from many fellow poker players that he had not made good on betting debts and, earlier this year, Rational FT Enterprises sued him for $2.5 million for disputed money transfers from Full Tilt. Lindgren has $10 million in lifetime earnings, but aside from two $600,000+ cashes in 2013 (including a WSOP bracelet), he has been relatively silent at the tables for the last few years. 4th Place – 5,150,000 chips – Olivier livb112 Busquet A very successful tournament player, Busquet has over $6.1 million in live earnings and is currently ranked 30th in the Global Poker Index. His most recent significant score came last August when he won the European Poker Tour Barcelona Super High Roller for €896,434. Busquet is probably best known by poker fans as a commentator for ESPN's WSOP broadcasts. 6th Place – 3,300,000 chips – Mike Sexton Not much needs to be said about Sexton (pictured at top), the "Ambassador of Poker" and 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee. He is one of the most popular faces in poker history. Though many have had more success than Sexton – he only has one WSOP bracelet – he is one of the most important figures in the game, helping popularize poker during the boom as a PartyPoker spokesperson and commentator for WPT broadcasts. 16th Place – 1,340,000 chips – Andrew luckychewy Lichtenberger Lichtenberger (pictured) first made his name online under nickname luckychewy, amassing $2.4 million in tournament earnings and making it into the top 100 of the PocketFives Rankings. As recently as May, he nabbed a six-figure score, finished second in a SCOOP event for $135,300. He has made the transition into a very successful live tournament player, earning more than $6.2 million in live events, according to TheHendonMob.com. He currently ranks 71st on GPI. His best live cash came last December, when he won the $100,000 Alpha8 at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, a $1.77 million score. Lichtenberger is seeking his first WSOP bracelet. Congrats to Hellmuth on his 14th bracelet! Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  2. Over the past week, comments from WPT host Mike Sexton about the value of a WSOP bracelethave drawn the attention of the poker world. That attention grew even more significant when the Executive Director of the WSOP, Ty Stewart (pictured), replied to some of Sexton's arguments. Soon after Sexton's thoughts on the current state of the WSOP were published, Stewart stepped up. "Despite this forum being a PartyPoker blog, we (the WSOP) would never question your motivations to want what is best for the industry and the WSOP," Stewart started. He then responded to Sexton's thoughts with an extended post of his own. As to the November Nine, Stewart suggested that the current format actually helps players who make the final table. Pointing out the live reporting and social media nature of our world today, Stewart said he hopes the poker community "feels proud of a platform which sees every hand of a poker tournament covered on the #1 sports network in the world via a multi-day prime-time finale" rather than in a documentary-style presentation months after the conclusion of the event. As for the players who make the trip back to the November Nine final table, Stewart said that the WSOP goes to great lengths to cater to them. "We furnish business class travel and expenses for the return trip," Stewart stated, and highlighted several areas where players have been able to garner extra sponsorship dollars and attention from outside the poker community. "I believe it was very exciting for Bruno Politano(pictured) to receive a good luck message from country icon Neymar last year," Stewart wrote. He also pointed out the difference between the 2007 WSOP Main Event final table and the first November Nine. "Having been there when a sparse crowd of mostly sleeping, un-invested persons witnessed the final table, I am continually floored by the atmosphere of the modern final table, replete with body painters, country flags, and chanting fans, which makes poker feel very close to sport." Regarding the number of bracelets awarded, Stewart believes that has come about due to balancing the needs of professional players and recreational players. "We are guided by the principles of having choices and opportunities for all segments of players and giving them the best experience, prize pool, and value for their money possible," Stewart said. "We are proud to have $1 million events and $1,000 events. This is poker today; it is still statistically harder to win a bracelet than at any time in the past." Stewart pointed out that the POY race is simply a reflection of the global nature of today's poker world. "We have always believed in the 'World' in WSOP and that, with a fast growing global game, not all events should be on home soil where Americans can save the travel expenses," Stewart opined. He mentioned players like inaugural WSOP Europe champion Annette Annette_15Obrestad (pictured) and 2013 WSOP Europe champion Adrian Mateos, "who wouldn't have been eligible to play at the WSOP when they won their bracelets due to their age," as great moments in WSOP history. Due to the events being held in foreign locations, the WSOP has brought the game further into the television realm with broadcasts on Eurosport and Australian television. Both gentlemen offer very well presented and thought-out reasons for their positions. But the bottom line is who the players believe has it right: Sexton or Stewart. Comment here and let us know your thoughts. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  3. In a blog recently published on PartyPoker's website, World Poker Tour host Mike Sexton (pictured) questioned the value of World Series of Poker bracelets and called out the WSOP for a few other reasons. Sexton is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and owns one WSOP bracelet, which came in a Stud High-Low event in 1989. After saying that the WSOP is "diluting" its product, Sexton argued, "Winning a WSOP bracelet is the dream of nearly all poker players, the marketing of which has played a key role in attracting customers. The staying power, however, will evaporate if more and more bracelets are continually handed out." Sexton pointed out that in 1970, the WSOP's first year, only one bracelet was given out. In 1999, there were 16 awarded, but this year, explained Sexton, "There are 68 bracelet events on tap plus all of the events at WSOPE and WSOP Australia… I'm worried, as the number of events continually grows, the value of each bracelet will diminish." Sexton advocated only awarding bracelets in Las Vegas. He also touched on the November Nine, a concept he's against because it "doesn't put players first." He explained, "We all know they move the Main Event final table from July to November for PR and TV reasons. I wish they would allow players to take two days off – one for rest and the other for player interviews – and play the final table on the third day. This would allow family and friends time to travel to Las Vegas to watch. The Rio showroom would still be jam-packed. And I'm sure the TV ratings would be good. Most importantly, I feel certain the vast majority of players would prefer to play the final table in July." Sexton argued that there are a variety of issues with waiting four months, including an unfair rest and training period, a short-stacked player having to return to Las Vegas only to be ousted immediately, and the potential of someone dying during the break. He chided about the latter point, "I'm guessing they'll put a little coffin on the table and blind that person off." What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Sexton on either point? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  4. Wednesday's hearing on Restoration of America's Wire Actin the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations predictably featured much fear-mongering from the bill's advocates, contrasted with cool-headed and fact-based testimony presented by its opponents. With the ability to watch the proceedings unfold online, the poker community got a front row seat and was generally shocked by how RAWA's supporters fail to grasp concepts surrounding the bill. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson (pictured) is pushing the bill. "Being well spoken or having an understanding of the topic you are debating is not required to be a politician," tweeted poker pro Daniel Negreanu to his 346,000 followers. Indeed, the technological aspect of the industry is the centerpiece of RAWA supporters' "concern" about legalizing internet gambling. The bill's sponsor,Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), warned that it was "naïve at best to think you can suddenly just create these fictitious borders because of technology and prohibit [online gambling] coming into the state of Utah." Repeating a statement which he had previously given to the media, Chaffetz (pictured) claimed that a "good 16-year-old" could figure out a way to "spoof this or put some virtual private network out there." He argued it was "fiction for anyone to believe they can virtually create these borders." But in fact, the Poker Players Alliance held a demonstration which clearly explained the geolocation and player verification technology used by regulated online gambling sites to ensure users are playing on the site legally. Chaffetz, however, failed to attend, although his staff did. WiredSafety CEO Parry Aftab testified that there is virtually no evidence that minors or out-of-state players have been able to access the site. "It is much easier for them to get fake IDs and wander into a brick-and-mortar casino than get past the levels of age-gating used by online casinos," she said. "If you can't prove that you are an adult, the site is closed to you. Period." The poker community was quick to applaud Aftab for her solid testimony against the bill. "Shoutout to @parryaftab and @amoylan for providing factual testimony amongst all the nonsense," tweeted PokerNews editor Donnie Peters. Washington University professor Michael Fagan, who was called to testify in support of RAWA, brought up his familiar and hyperbolic claims that online gambling would enable terrorists to launder money to be used for attacks on the US. Victor Rocha, editor of Pechanga.net, chimed in, saying that the "hearing on Sheldon Adelson's bill to ban online gambling is an exercise in fear-mongering." Gaming attorneyJeff Ifrahagreed, tweeting in jest, "According to all witnesses, internet gaming leads to terrorism, collapse of financial markets, and end of world order." WPT host Mike Sexton (pictured) voiced his own frustration with the hearing, saying, "Watching the hearing on HR707 (Restoration of America's Wire Act). In recess - Painful that no one's speaking on behalf of poker players." While Aftab and R Street Institute Executive Director Andrew Moylan testified against the legislation, some questioned why no actual regulators were called to speak at the hearing. Even so, the uncompromising anti-gambling views held by some of the RAWA supporters likely worked against their efforts to ban i-gaming. Poker journalist Steve Ruddock pointed out, "In a hearing to placate a casino billionaire, at least two of the 'star' witnesses would shut his casino business down if given the chance." While the majority of the anti-online gambling testimony given at the hearing angered many in the poker community, most watchers believe that the blatant hypocrisy and absurdity of the apocalyptic scenarios suggested would only work against RAWA's supporters. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. On Friday, PocketFives was privileged to be in attendance for the first ever American Poker Awards, held at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Two-hundred and fifty of the brightest and most influential minds in the industry, along with a cavalcade of players, descended upon a ballroom for a four-hour event featuring booze, chicken, and flatulence. Oh yeah, there were awards given out too. Kara Scott served as the host. The first accolade set the stage for the night, with Brandon Shack-Harris accepting his award for Breakout Player in the Year and delivering a speech that included "I have to thank Dan Colman for his leftovers" and "I'm going to try not to fart." Never a dull moment. Awards were given out in groups of four in between meal courses and in case you missed the parade of Tweets, here's who won, courtesy of PokerListings: Lifetime Achievement Award: WPT founder Steve Lipscomb Best Ambassador: Daniel Negreanu GPI Player of the Year: Dan Colman GPI Female Player of the Year: Vanessa Selbst Industry Person of the Year: Adam Pliska, WPT President Tournament Performance of the Year: Mark Newhouse, WSOP Main Event Breakout Player of the Year: Brandon Shack-Harris Event of the Year (buy-in over $2,000): WSOP Main Event Event of the Year (buy-in under $2,000): WSOP Monster Stack Innovation of the Year: Twitch Charitable Initiative of the Year: All In for Kids Media Content of the Year: Brad Willis, "Stages / Never Stop Fighting" Media Person of the Year: Chris Grove, Online Poker Report Chris Grove was at our table and passed around the award after he won. Yes, it was heavy, in case you're wondering, and for Grove, was well-deserved. Steve Lipscomb brought up an entourage that included Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, Adam Pliska, and Vince Van Patten to accept his award, while Brad Willis' Media Content of the Year win seemed unexpected, as it went up against Jason Somerville's "Run it Up" series. Willis was not in attendance. Innovation of the Year going to Twitch's adoption of poker seemed like a no-brainer and Daniel Negreanu winning Best Ambassador cost this author $10. A slew of poker players were in attendance, including Negreanu, Chris Moorman, Mark Newhouse, Sam Trickett, Bertrand Grospellier, Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho, Jason Mercier, Dan Smith, Mohsin Charania, Somerville, Martin Jacobson, and Tony Dunst, the latter of whom told us that he has been diving head-long into daily fantasy sports on sites like DraftKings as of late. Nolan Dalla, who moderated a panel at the day's industry conference, called the awards "one of the most exciting nights in poker history," while Mike Sexton, whom we chatted it up with on several occasions, said, "Congrats to all winners and losers at the American Poker Awards and thanks to Alex Dreyfus for making it happen." Alex Dreyfus (pictured), a co-founder of Winamax and the head of the Global Poker Index, organized the awards, which we're certain will be renewed for next year. Dreyfus' peers resoundingly praised him throughout the awards and conference for his vision, passion, and devotion to poker. We appreciate being an integral part of the awards. PocketFives co-founder Adam Small was a member of the eight-man jury that selected the winners, while Editor-in-Chief Dan Cypra was a member of the nominating panel. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  6. [caption width="645"] The World Poker Tour returns to television with 27 weeks of episodes starting on February 28[/caption] The World Poker Tour announced that coverage of Season XIV will debut on the Fox Sports networks starting February 28th, with the first episode airing from the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten return as lead commentators, with Lynn Gilmartin serving as the anchor for her third season. Tony Dunst also returns for his sixth season as analyst of “The Raw Deal”, breaking down a key hand during each broadcast. Episodes of Season XIV include the two WPT events in Los Angeles (Legends of Poker and the LA Poker Classic), along with stops in Montreal, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Jacksonville, San Jose and the season-ending Tournament of Champions at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Each televised stop consists of three one-hour episodes, starting with highlights of the previous days of the tournament and the storylines showing how the last six players reached the final table. New episodes debut Sunday nights at 8pm local time, with further repeats available during the week on FSN and FS2. Viewers can check their local listings for additional times in their area. The WPT Season XIV television schedule and broadcast dates: February 28–March 13: WPT Choctaw March 20-April 3: WPT Legends of Poker April 10-24: WPT Borgata Poker Open May 1-15: WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble May 22-June 5: WPT Montreal June 12-26: WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic July 3-17: WPT L.A. Poker Classic July 24-August 7: WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star August 14-28: WPT Tournament of Champions
  7. [caption width="640"] Andreas Olympios arrived at the final table with 15 big blinds and ran it up to win the title and 0,000.[/caption]The third incarnation of the WPT500 at the Aria Resort and Casino proved to be more popular than ever with 3,956 entrants and a $2 million prize pool – double the advertised guarantee. The WPT did kick in a nominal sum for the attractive number for a $565 buy-in, but after an action-packed final table with a slew of double ups Andreas Olympios won $260,000 and the title. Wesley Hickey built a monster stack in Day 2, returning to the final table with 105 big blinds while Jonathan Opas was second in chips with 53. A three-way chase pack of Drazen Ilich, Robby Seurynck, Sanjay Mayekar held 20 plus big blind stacks and Olmpios was 8th of nine in chips to start Day 3. Olympios was at risk of elimination after the first orbit. He was all in holding [poker card="ah"][poker card="qd"] and Hickey called with pocket kings. Olympios spiked an ace on the flop and hit a queen on the river for good measure but still had less than ten big blinds. The other short stacks were eliminated in relatively short order and at five-handed play it was anyone’s game with only ten big blinds separating the field. Hickey and Olympios both scored key double ups with five left – Hickey doubled up holding [poker card="as"][poker card="ts"] against Ilich’s [poker card="ad"][poker card="ks"] and made two pair. Olympios got all in on the river holding a queen-high straight and got paid off by Jonathan Opas’ jack-high straight. Olympios survived going all in half a dozen times throughout the day and when the final pairing began, Olympios held a near 3-1 chip lead over Hickey They only needed ten hands, pushing the final table to 143 total, when they went to a raised flop of [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"][poker card="2s"]. Hickey shoved holding [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"] for second pair and Olympios called with [poker card="kh"][poker card="js"]. The board finished [poker card="5s"][poker card="qc"], Hickey didn’t improve and Olympios joined Craig Varnell and Sean Yu as WPT500 champions. Olympios’ previous largest cash came at the 2016 WPT Amsterdam High Roller for $19,408 with 9th place finish. Hickey’s results reach back 15 months and his largest previous cash was a runner-up finish at the 2015 DeepStacks Edmonton Main Event for $44,109. The event’s nine entry flights played until 5% of the field remained and 201 players returned for Day 2. Ebony Kenney and Mike Beasley just missed the final table while Justin Young and WPT Commentator Mike Sexton made the final three tables. Zo Karim, Jesse Yaginuma, James Calderaro, Allen Cunningham, Ralph Massey and Joe Serock all recorded a cash on Day 2. Final Table Payouts Andreas Olympios - $260,000 Wesley Hicks - $185,000 Drazen Ilich - $135,000 Robby Seurynck - $100,000 Jonathan Opas - $75,000 Sanjay Mayekar - $58,000 Khoan Ho - $45,000 Guy Gorelick - $35,000 Guy Cicconi - $27,150
  8. [caption width="640"] The partypoker MILLIONS will pay £1,000,000 to the eventual champion[/caption] Online poker powerhouse Partypoker has announced the £5 million partypoker MILLIONS, a hybrid online and live poker event which guarantees a massive £1 million to the winner. The tournament is a throwback to the site’s landmark PartyPoker Million events, which began over 15 years ago and were instrumental in the company’s success in the online poker market. MILLIONS, which boasts the largest guaranteed poker prize pool ever awarded in Europe, will be hosted on partypoker.com, as well as in card rooms across the United Kingdom and internationally. Qualifying players will come together at Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn poker club on April 20 to battle for the seven-figure first-place prize. Sign-up now for partypoker and win your way into the partypoker MILLIONS and your shot at £1,000,000 While the tournament may be over half a year away, players can begin their journey to the final table on partypoker starting October 4, when the site runs the first online Day 1 for a buy-in of £500 + £50. Day 1s will also be offered live at Dusk Till Dawn, as well as at affiliated card rooms, at a soon-to-be-determined date. Players who advance through Day 1 will carry their chips over to either Dusk Till Dawn or go online for Day 2. players who feel like skipping Day 1 altogether, have the option of buying into Day 2 directly for £5,000 + £300 and receiving 1 million in chips. Players who don’t make Day 2 on their first try, can play as many Day 1s as they like. Players who make Day 2 more than once, can play more Day 2s and take their largest end-of-the-day stack into Day 3. As an added bonus for early birds, partypoker is running a promotion that gives a £550 cash prize to the first 100 players to make Day 2. The site is also integrating MILLIONS into its Caribbean Poker Party event in the Dominican Republic in November. At the end of the week, partypoker will run two Day 1s and Day 2s, with those lucky enough to make Day 3 taking home a $1,500 cash bonus. The extra prize money will not be deducted from the MILLIONS prize pool. Partypoker brand ambassador Mike Sexton, who was integral in making the inaugural Million event a success, will be back on hand to host the tournament. “I am absolutely thrilled to host and bring back the partypoker MILLIONS in its original format with £1,000,000 guaranteed to the winner,” Sexton said. “This multi-venue, live and online event gives players the chance to qualify all over the world and win a share of the huge £5,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. This will be THE event of 2017 which I will not be missing and means a lot to me as this is how my partypoker journey started.” With its combination of live and online play, coupled with a final table set on a cruise ship, the original Million tournament was seen as unique and innovative when it debuted in 2001. That year, poker pro Kathy Liebert beat out a field of mostly amateur online players to take home the title and a check for $1 million. For those not looking to shell out the £550 buy-in for Day 1, partypoker will, of course, be offering plenty of qualifiers on the site. “Not only can partypoker players win a share of £5,000,000, they will be able to qualify online from as little as $0.01,” said Group Head of partypoker Tom Waters. “We continually look to challenge ourselves and add value for the players. The partypoker MILLIONS does just that, offering the global poker community the opportunity to become a millionaire.”
  9. [caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour, with Mike Sexton, Lynn Gilmartin and Vince van Patten will be on FOX Sports networks through Season XIX.[/caption] Fans of the World Poker Tour are going to be happy to learn that FOX Sports and the tour have come to terms on a deal that will see FOX Sports continue to be the broadcast home of the WPT for the next five years. The extension means that FOX Sports will broadcast WPT events through Season XIX. "This unprecedented, five-year deal with FOX Sports elevates WPT into an elite and exclusive group of shows that have aired on television for nineteen seasons," said Adam Pliska, WPT President and CEO. The WPT debuted on the Travel Channel in 2003 and moved to Fox Sports fro Season VII in 2008. Since then it has become a staple of FOX programming, averaging more than 900,000 viewers per week. "WPT remains a highly rated, regularly scheduled program on FOX Sports Regional Networks, and it's a key part of our primetime lineup each Sunday," said Josh Oakley, Executive Director, Acquisitions and Programming, FOX Sports. "WPT is the perfect complement to our other sports programming, including MLB, NBA, NHL, and college football and basketball. We are excited to have this partnership through 2021." In 2015 the WPT broke their own record when Episode 22, the final table of WPT Fallsview won by Anthony Zinno, drew 1.6 million viewers to become the most-watched episode in tour history. As part of the new agreement, Fox Sports Regional Networks will air two WPT marathons each season with the first coming on Labor Day. "This announcement is great for fans of the WPT and provides extensive, guaranteed exposure for our mainstream sponsors, including Hublot, Monster Headphones, Royal Caribbean International, and FIAT," said Pliska. "We are proud of our new deal with FOX Sports, and we thank the network for its continued support and promotion of our content across its television and digital platforms." World Poker Tour mainstays Mike Sexton, Vince van Patten, Lynn Gilmartin and Tony Dunst will continue to be a part of the broadcast. Season XV began two weeks when James Mackey beat Benjamin Zamani to win WPT Choctaw. The World Poker Tour is broadcast each Sunday night on FOX Sports Regional Networks.
  10. [caption width="640"] Mike Sexton added some hardware to his World Poker Tour legacy on Thursday night in Montreal (WPT photo/Joe Giron)[/caption] For nearly 15 years Mike Sexton has been the voice of World Poker Tour broadcasts. Thursday night in Montreal the Poker Hall of Famer was unable to be in the broadcast booth as he was busy adding his name to the WPT Champions Cup after overcoming Benny Chen heads-up to win the partypoker.net WPT Montreal event and $317,896. Sexton outlasted a field of 648 players at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal to win the first WPT title of his career. He now has over $6 million in lifetime earnings, a World Series of Poker bracelet and a Tournament of Champions title. The final table included Chen, the first winner of the WSOP Millionaire Maker and highly respected pro Jake Schwartz, who had two previous WPT final table appearances to his credit before this event. Schwartz came in to the final table with the second shortest but wasn’t able to outlast anybody. Action folded to Schwartz in the small blind and he jammed 695,000 in the middle with [poker card="jd"][poker card="9h"] only to have Nadir Lalji, the only player who started with a shorter stack, called from the big blind with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ks"]. The board ran out [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"][poker card="jc"][poker card="2d"][poker card="qd"] to give Lalji the hand and eliminate Schwartz in sixth. Sexton started the final table with the lead, but right behind him was Ema Zajmovic. Those two tangled in a big pot early on that saw Zajmovic’s run end. From the cutoff, Sexton raised to 250,000 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="ah"] before Zajmovic moved all in for 2,065,000 with [poker card="kd"][poker card="qh"]. Sexton called and the [poker card="5s"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2d"] flop, [poker card="5d"] turn or [poker card="9s"] river were no help for Zajmovic and she was out in fifth place. Through 15 seasons of the WPT events, no woman has ever won an open event title. Chen claimed his first victim at the final table a little over an hour later in a blind vs blind battle. Action folded to Chen in the small blind and he called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"] before Ilan Boujenah moved all in for 1,325,000 with [poker card="6c"][poker card="6s"] and Chen called instantly. The [poker card="ad"][poker card="th"][poker card="9d"] flop left Boujenah drawing to runner-runner, but the [poker card="js"] turn was no help for him and the [poker card="9h"] river gave Chen a full house. Boujenah was eliminated in fourth. Over the next 45 minutes Chen and Sexton took turns with the chip lead. Caught in the middle was Lalji who fell victim to another pocket pair from Sexton. Chen folded his button, Sexton raised to 375,000 from the small blind with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"] and then called when Lalji moved all in for 2,200,000 total with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qh"]. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3c"] flop put Sexton well ahead. Lalji got no love on the [poker card="4s"] turn or [poker card="5h"] river to end his run at the title in third. Heads up play between Chen and Sexton began with Chen holding 10,575,000 chips to Sexton’s 8,875,000. The pair played heads-up for nearly four hours with Chen holding the lead for almost all of that. Sexton took the chip lead for the first time after 155 hands between the two players and then ended things two hands later. Chen open-shoved all in for 8,150,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="jd"] and Sexton called with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"]. The [poker card="qd"] door card put Sexton ahead and the remaining board of [poker card="9c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="ac"][poker card="2d"] sealed the deal and gave Sexton his first WPT title. Sexton has twice been unable to be in the broadcast booth at the start of a WPT final table because he was playing. The first occurred in 2011 (Season 9) when he made the Bay 101 Shooting Star final table, eventually finishing sixth. The second came in 2013 (Season 11) when he finished third at the WPT Venice Grand Prix. On Thursday night Sexton’s normal commentary seat was filled by Raw Deal host Tony Dunst. Final Table Payouts Mike Sexton - $317,896 Benny Chen - $213,515 Nadir Lalji - $136,806 Ilan Boujenah - $99,067 Ema Zajmovic - $76,127 Jake Schwartz - $61,000
  11. [caption width="640"] partypoker's new top tier of their VIP program aims to reward high volume players with increased rakeback.[/caption] In an online poker landscape where many sites are cutting rewards and scaling back cash bonuses to high volume players, partypoker is reversing the trend with the implementation of their new Diamond Club VIP Program. Players that earn 100,000 points over the course of a calendar year will qualify for Diamond Club status, which is at the top of the Cashback Loyalty Program that was implemented by the site. Players who meet the requirements will earn at least 50% rakeback along with other bonuses. The change comes after Mike Sexton, the new partypoker Chairman, laid out 10 commitments he’d like to deliver to the poker community. One of his goals was to “reward players who start games and keep the action going.” Sexton wants to reward the regular players and the Diamond Club does that by rewarding regulars over all of the different poker variants. Players can qualify for this level of rewards by grinding cash games, Multi-table tournaments, Sit & Gos, Fast Forward and Sit & Go Hero games. Since this is a program to reward high volume players, partypoker decided to have a respected poker pro oversee the program. Former #1 overall player on PocketFives and current partypoker Ambassador Patrick ‘Pleno1’ Leonard will oversee the operations of the club. Leonard, who is currently 12th on the PocketFives worldwide leaderboard, will be a point of contact for players, consulting with them on improvements to the system, the software and the overall product that partypoker is putting out. “I joined partypoker initially because management promised me they would have the player’s best interests in mind and invest in the poker community,” said Leonard. “The Diamond Club will be an important part of this strategy.” Leonard hopes that with the implementation of this level of rewards, partypoker will change the poker ecosystem for the better, rewarding those who keep the action going on the site. “Over recent year, I have unfortunately seen certain online sites punish regular players who start games and encourage predatory regulars to prey on amateur players and weaker players,” said Leonard. “The Diamond Club will reward regulars who start games and continue games and not reward these predatory regs who jump into a game for a small amount of time when they believe their win rate is sky high and sit out when the weaker players has gone broke.” While other programs have shifted away from rakeback based reward programs, Leonard doesn’t feel that any of the new innovations in reward programs have worked. He thinks the best way to run a rewards program is to reward your most loyal customer base. “I’ve seen a lot of people who don’t have a background in poker try and come up with ‘revolutionary’ ways to improve loyalty systems and not surprisingly, most of them have failed,” said Leonard. “Quite simply, those who want to support partypoker and make this their home for playing poker will be rewarded generously.” In addition to the extra cash rewards, Diamond Club members will receive a dedicated Customer Support line on Skype, which is available 24/7. Once achieving Diamond Club status with partypoker, players will have their additional Diamond Club rakeback and VIP bonuses deposited into their account every Monday on top of their normal rewards. If a player earns the required amount of points in less than 12 months, they will begin receiving benefits immediately. Sign-up now for partypoker.com to take full advantage of the Diamond Club VIP Program.
  12. [caption width="639"] Mike Sexton's final season with the World Poker Tour gave him a grand sendoff as he won his first career WPT title.[/caption] After 15 seasons in the booth and countless memorable moments, Mike Sexton’s run as the voice of the World Poker Tour is at an end. The WPT announced Sexton’s retirement today as he transitions into the next stage of his poker career. Sexton’s final season as co-commentator of the World Poker Tour was one to behold. The Poker Hall of Famer notched his first career WPT Main Event win in November at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal and was in the thick of the WPT Player of the Year race where he eventually finished third. As a result of his win, Sexton is eligible to play in the event he played a major role in creating, the WPT Tournament of Champions, each year. Replacing Sexton in the booth is the former host of WPT’s Raw Deal, Tony Dunst, who has previously subbed in for Sexton in a limited capacity. Dunst will officially start as Vince Van Patten’s new partner when the first taping of Season XVI takes place this later this summer from Choctaw. Although Sexton is longer with the World Poker Tour, there is plenty to celebrate as Sexton’s role as a broadcaster and ambassador helped launch the WPT to where it is today. “Today is a bittersweet day in WPT history. As we announce the end of Mike Sexton’s incredible tenure as WPT co-commentator, the World Poker Tour celebrates the internal promotion of Tony Dunst to one of poker’s most visible positions. Mike, along with Vince Van Patten, is more than just a part of one of the longest-running commentating pairs in sports broadcast history.Mike will forever be a cherished member of the WPT family, and his impact will forever shape the core of this company and the entire industry, ” said WPT CEO Adam Pliska. Dunst’s role grows with his movement into the booth after first joining the WPT in Season IX. Dunst won an open casting call to host WPT Raw Deal and appeared in over 140 segments in the time since. A former online professional, Dunst is also a member of the WPT Champions Club thanks to his Season XII win in St. Maarten. WPT is yet to announce a new Raw Deal host and Dunst is being welcomed to the broadcast team with open arms. “Tony has become a friend over the years, and I have increasingly come to admire his talent and dedication. Tony’s knowledge of the game was highly evident during WPT Raw Deal segments and occasions when he joined Mike or me in the booth, and it is without question that his commentary will elevate World Poker Tour broadcasts. It is my pleasure to welcome Tony into the booth full time, and I look forward to another great partnership starting with Season XVI,” said Van Patten. Sexton is far from finished being an ambassador for the poker world, as his new position with partypoker entails. His formal title with the company is yet to be announced, but it is known that Sexton will be taking on an executive role. The voice of a poker generation, Sexton’s contributions to the game are unmatched. Sexton has been with the World Poker Tour from when they first launched in 2002 and leaves on a high note. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the World Poker Tour since its inception in 2002. When the World Poker Tour launched, it was a dream come true, and to be there from the beginning and see how the WPT changed the poker world forever by essentially turning poker into a televised sport has been amazing.It's been quite a ride over these 15 seasons, and one that I've been extremely blessed to take,” said Sexton “I’d like to thank Steve Lipscomb for his vision to create the World Poker Tour, Adam Pliska for bringing the WPT to incredible heights, and the entire WPT family for all they do and have given me. I'd like to mention everyone, but there’s simply too many to name. They know who they are, and without them, the WPT wouldn’t have become what it is today.”
  13. [caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour Season XV broadcasts begin Sunday on Fox Sports (WPT Photo/Joe Giron)[/caption] Fret not poker fans. New episodes of the World Poker Tour are coming to Fox Sports Regional soon. Really soon actually. Beginning this Sunday, March 12, Fox Sports Regional will begin airing 27 episodes from Season XV of the World Poker Tour. This marks the beginning of a five-year extension that WPT signed with Fox Sports in late 2016. “Thanks to our award-winning production team, the World Poker Tour continues to raise the bar as the premier name in internationally televised gaming and entertainment," said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour. "Season XV of the World Poker Tour promises some truly legendary moments, including the first-ever King of the Club series and the second edition of the prestigious WPT Tournament of Champions.” The action kicks off with the first episode of the WPT Choctaw final table. A total of nine events will hit the airwaves this season. Along with Choctaw, viewers will see the final tables from the Legends of Poker, Borgata Poker Open, bestbet Bounty Scramble, WPT Montreal, Five Diamond World Poker Classic, LA Poker Classic, Bay 101 Shooting Star and the debut of the Tournament of Champions. As well as the Season XV episodes, the ClubWPT.com 'King of the Club' series will make its TV debut. The two 'King of Club' episodes feature six different ClubWPT.com qualifiers playing for a piece of the $37,500 in prize money. All of the familiar faces from previous WPT seasons will be back. Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, who have been in the broadcast booth since the beginning, are both back calling the action together in all but one episode. Raw Deal analyst Tony Dunst fills in for Sexton for one event - but we won't spoil why.Lynn Gilmartin is also back as WPT anchor this season. Episodes air each Sunday at 8/11 PM local time with repeats throughout the week
  14. [caption width="640"] Daniel Strelitz beat out a stacked final table to win the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic (WPT photo/Joe Giron)[/caption] Former World Poker Tour One to Watch Daniel Strelitz lived up to the billing Thursday night in Los Angeles. The 27-year-old overcame a final table that included a poker living legend and two other WSOP bracelet winners to take down theWorld Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic and walk away with just over $1,000,000 in prize money. It took just seven hands to go from six players to five. The action opened with Strelitz raising to 85,000 from the button. Action folded to Richard Tuhrim in the big blind and he moved all in for 545,000. Strelitz called and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"] but was behind Tuhrim's [poker card="as"][poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="7d"][poker card="4c"][poker card="3d"] flop didn't change anything and neither did the [poker card="9h"] turn but the [poker card="kh"] river gave Strelitz top pair and sent chess prodigy Tuhrim to the rail in sixth. The next elimination came in a blind vs blind battle almost 60 hands later. Action folded to Jesse Martin in the small blind and he moved all in for 745,000 and Jared Griener called from the big blind. Martin showed [poker card="qh"][poker card="6c"] and Griener tabled [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"][poker card="4d"][poker card="4h"][poker card="ah"] to eliminate Martin. Coming in to the final table all eyes were on WPT commentator Mike Sexton. Just a few short months after winning his first WPT title in Montreal, Sexton was at the LAPC final table seeking a second victory but it was snuffed out by Strelitz. Sexton moved all in from the button for 670,000 and action folded to Strelitz in the big blind. He called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="7s"] while Sexton showed [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"]. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="js"][poker card="7c"] flop was bad news for Sexton though and neither the [poker card="9c"] turn or [poker card="as"] river were any help and Sexton was out in fourth. Three-handed play lasted 65 hands. Strelitz opened to 225,000, Simeon Naydenov called from the small blind but Jared Griener moved all in from the big blind for 1,755,000. Strelitz got out of the way before Naydenov called and showed [poker card="8s"][poker card="8h"]. Griener had [poker card="ad"][poker card="qd"] and needed help. The [poker card="as"][[poker card="9c"][poker card="8d"] flop paired Griener's ace but gave Naydenov a set of eights. The [poker card="js"] turn gave Griener extra outs to a straight but the river was the [poker card="qc"] and he was out in third place. When heads-up play began Naydenov had 8,475,000 in chips to Strelitz's 7,150,000 but a key full house over flush hand early on changed the dynamic and paved the way for Strelitz's win. On the 38th hand of heads-up action, Strelitz raised to 260,000 and Naydenov called. After the [poker card="qs"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6s"] flop, Naydenov check-raised to 975,000. The [poker card="8h"] turn got Naydenov to check, Strelitz bet 1,350,000 and Naydenov raised all-in to 3,860,000. Strelitz called and showed [poker card="5h"][poker card="4s"] tor a turned straight while Naydenov had [poker card="kc"][poker card="qd"] for top pair. The [poker card="4d"] river changed nothing and Strelitz picked up his third elimination of the final table to win the first major title of his career. Final Table Payouts Daniel Streliz - $1,001,110 Simeon Naydenov - $672,190 Jared Griener - $431,340 Mike Sexton - $300,690 Jesse Martin - $230,380 Richard Tuhrim - $191,490
  15. [caption width="640"] The third annual American Poker Awards go February 23 in Beverly Hills, California[/caption] Wednesday morning saw the announcement of all nominations for the third annual Global Poker Index American Poker Awards, which take place Thursday February 23 at the Sofitel Beverley Hills in Los Angeles. It’s World Poker Tour host and all-round legend of the game Mike Sexton who headlines the nominations with three. Sexton is up for Tournament Performance of the Year and Moment of the Year for his win at the WPT Montreal. Away from the tables, Sexton has also been recognized in the Best Media Content category for his book Life’s a Gamble. Joining Sexton in the Tournament Performance of the Year category are Ari Engel for his Aussie Millions Main Event win, Kristen Bicknell for her bracelet victory in the WSOP No Limit Hold'em Bounty event, and Maurice Hawkins for his WSOP Circuit Cherokee Main Event success. Engel and Hawkins are also both nominated for Breakout Performance of the Year, along with Ankush Mandavia and Sam Soverel. PocketFives’ very own President and Editor In Chief Lance Bradley is up for two awards: Best Media Content for his article Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey, and for Media Person of the Year. “It’s such an honor to be nominated for two American Poker Awards. In both categories I’m thrilled to find myself amongst people that are not only colleagues, but friends as well,” said Bradley. “The fact that my piece about Bob and Charlie has resonated with so many, both inside and outside of the poker world, means the world to me. Being able to write stories like that is one of the many, many reasons I love covering poker.” Up against Bradley for Media Person of the Year are Sarah Herring, Joe Stapleton and David Tuchman. Meanwhile, joining Sexton and Bradley in Media Content of the Year recognition are Matthew Showell for Stu Ungar’s Last Chance Gone Wrong and Jason Somerville for his Aussie Millions Twitch stream. The Moment of the Year category is sure to be an interesting one. You have Griffin Benger’s infamous AA vs KK clash with William Kassouf in the WSOP Main Event; Jason Mercier’s WSOP heater that saw him win two bracelets, come second in another event (and almost bank an extra $1.8 million from Vanessa Selbst); David Peters finishing third at EPT Prague to snatch the GPI Player of the Year title from Fedor Holz; and the aforementioned Sexton WPT victory. Two new awards have been introduced this year: Twitch Streamer of the Year and Podcast of the Year. The nominees for Twitch Streamer are a line-up of the usual suspects: Jason ‘jcarverpoker’ Somerville, Jaime ‘PokerStaples’ Staples, Kevin ‘KevinMartin987’ Martin and Parker ‘TonkaaaP’ Talbot. Daniel Negreanu (Full Contact Poker) is up against Joe Ingram (Poker Life Podcast), Matthew Parvis and Sarah Herring (PokerNews Podcast) and Adam Schwartz, Terrence Chan and Ross Henry (TwoPlusTwo PokerCast) in the Podcast of the Year category. The only awards that have already been decided go to David Peters and Cate Hall for GPI Player of the Year and GPI Female Player of the Year, respectively. For all nominations, see below. TOURNAMENT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR Kristen Bicknell, WSOP No Limit Hold’em Bounty Ari Engel, Aussie Millions Main Event Maurice Hawkins, WSOP Circuit Cherokee Main Event Mike Sexton, WPT Montreal MOMENT OF THE YEAR Griffin Benger’s AA vs William Kassouf’s KK showdown in the WSOP Main Event Jason Mercier goes on historic one-week heater at the World Series of Poker David Peters, needing 3rd at EPT Prague to take GPI PoY from Fedor Holz, does exactly that Mike Sexton mounts incredible comeback to win first WPT title in Montreal BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR Ari Engel Maurice Hawkins Ankush Mandavia Sam Soverel EVENT OF THE YEAR Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, FL Super High Roller Bowl, ARIA, Las Vegas WSOP Main Event, Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Bellagio, Las Vegas MID-MAJOR CIRCUIT OF THE YEAR Heartland Poker Tour Mid-States Poker Tour WPTDeepStacks WSOP Circuit INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR Tony Burns, Seminole Hard Rock Tournament Director Jack Effel, WSOP VP International Poker Operations & WSOP Director Sean McCormack, ARIA Director of Poker Operations Matt Savage, WPT Executive Tour Director & TDA Founder MEDIA PERSON OF THE YEAR Lance Bradley Sarah Herring Joseph Stapleton David Tuchman PODCAST OF THE YEAR Full Contact Poker (Daniel Negreanu) Poker Life Podcast (Joe Ingram) PokerNews Podcast (Sarah Herring, Matthew Parvis) TwoPlusTwo Podcast (Terrence Chan, Ross Henry, Adam Schwartz) MEDIA CONTENT OF THE YEAR Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey (Lance Bradley, PocketFives) Life’s a Gamble (Mike Sexton) Stu Ungar’s Last Chance Gone Wrong (Matthew Showell, PokerListings) Twitch coverage of the Aussie Millions (Jason Somerville) TWITCH STREAMER OF THE YEAR Kevin Martin 'KevinMartin987' Jason Somerville 'jcarverpoker' Jaime Staples 'PokerStaples' Parker Talbot 'tonkaaaP' *Finalists for Twitch Streamer of the Year were selected by Twitch, however the members of the GPI American Poker Awards Jury will select the winner of this year’s Award.
  16. [caption width="680"] Dusk Till Dawn is hosting the partypoker Millions event of 2017.[/caption] Dusk Till Dawn Casino in Nottingham, England, and partypoker are teaming up for the largest live event in partypoker history. The partypoker Millions is a £6,000,000 guaranteed event with a £5,300 buy-in and online qualifiers start at just $0.01. The partypoker Million event in Sochi, Russia drew record crowds with more expected this time around. The Phase 1 stage of the event is ongoing on partypoker online with multiple flights running each day. Satellites are available starting at just $0.01 with the option to buy in directly for £550. The Phase 1 qualifiers contain 12-minute blinds and players start with 100,000 chips in pursuit of their Day 1 seat. All players who qualified either online or live for £550 now have either option available to them as they start the process of making April 20th’s live Day 2. Even if you can’t make it to Dusk Till Dawn until April 21st’s Day 3, there are Day 1 and Day 2 flights available to play at one of the Dusk Till Dawn’s many live partners. The first online Day 1 ran on April 9 and another will be kicking off on Sunday, April 16. The live versions inside Dusk Till Dawn are taking place on April 16,18, and 19. Both processes of qualification require a £5,300 buy in, for which players will receive 1,000,000 chips and play 10 60-minute levels. Buy ins are available up until the start of Level 19 on Day 2 when players still have the option to buy in for £5,300 for the same chip amount. All players who advance from their respective Day 2 sessions, will return to Dusk Till Dawn on April 21 as the full three-day portion of onsite play kicks into gear with a champion being crowned on April 23. Phase 1 satellites started to run on partypoker starting in October, giving players the chance to qualify for the chance at a £1,000,000 guaranteed first place prize for just $0.01 World Poker Tour host and partypoker ambassador Mike Sexton is enthralled with the prospects of this unique event and the opportunity it gives players from around the world to play for such a large prize pool at a fraction of the cost. “I am absolutely thrilled to host and bring back the partypoker MILLIONS in its original format with £1,000,000 guaranteed to the winner," said Sexton. "This multi-venue, live and online event gives players the chance to qualify all over the world and win a share of the huge £6,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. This will be THE event of 2017 which I will not be missing and means a lot to me as this is how my partypoker journey started.” Indeed, this event is a can’t miss and the massive turnout thus far is a sign that more of these partypoker events will be appearing on future schedules. In the next few months, there are partypoker Million events taking place in Montreal at the Playground Poker Cluband in Rozvadov, the Czech Republic at King’s Casino. If you're not playing on partypoker.com yet, what are you waiting for? By signing up today you'll not only be eligible for this exclusive leaderboard, but you'll also get a 100% bonus on your first deposit up to $500. Sign-up right now!
  17. [caption width="640"] Ema Zajmovic overcame a field of 380 to win the WPT Montreal event. (WPT photo)[/caption] There was plenty of intrigue heading into the final table of the World Poker Tour Montreal event at the Playground Poker Club. Former WPT champion Eric Afriat was gunning for a second WPT title while Ema Zajmovic, who made the final table of the previous WPT held at the Playground, was playing to be the first woman to win an open WPT event. In a long battle among the final tablists, Zajmovic outlasted them all to win the WPT title and $200,769. In her only two WPT cashes, Zajmovic now has two final tables and one championship to her name in one of the greatest back-to-back accomplishments in the history of the WPT. It was an arduous final table that took over 250 hands to complete and 36 hands to eliminate the first player. That unlucky competitor was Jean-Pascal Savard, who started the final table in the middle of the pack but quickly slid down the leaderboard. In his final hand of the final table, Savard raised to 100,000 from the hijack and Jean-Francois Bouchard called on the button. Savard bet 130,000 on the [poker card="4d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"] flop and Bouchard moved all in. With 750,000 behind, Savard called with [poker card="jh"][poker card="jc"] and needed to hold against Bouchard's two draws with [poker card="as"][poker card="4s"]. The [poker card="8s"] on the turn ended the hand and Savard hit the rail in sixth place. It took 74 more hands for the next bust out and Mekhail Mekhail was the victim. Mekhail raised to 225,000 from the cutoff and Zajmovic went all in from the button. Mekhail called for a few hundred thousand more with [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"] and was an underdog to the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kd"] of Zajmovic. A jack hit the flop but that was all the help Mekhail would get as Zajmovic moved into the chip lead with the elimination. The next to go was Tam Ho, who took his leave 65 hands later. Ho shoved all in for 11 big blinds with [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"] and was called by Zajmovic from the big blind who had [poker card="ah"][poker card="2h"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="9h"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Zajmovic the nut flush and she eliminated her second opponent of the final table. Only 19 hands later, the event was down to heads up play. Bouchard doubled through Afriat, leaving the latter with less than one big blind. Bouchard opened for 300,000 from the button and called the three-bet of 700,000 from Afriat. Afriat continued for 450,000 on the [poker card="jd"][poker card="9s"][poker card="2d"] flop and Bouchard called. On the [poker card="ah"] turn, Afriat slowed down with a check and Bouchard bet 900,000. Afriat check-raised all in for effectively 2,250,000 and Bouchard called with [poker card="as"][poker card="js"] which had the [poker card="ad"][poker card="6h"] of Afriat drawing dead. Afriat was eliminated on the next hand by Zajmovic and heads up play began shortly after. Zajmovic started the match with Bouchard with 30 big blinds to Bouchard’s 46. It took 33 hands for Zajmovic to claim the chip lead and she closed out the title shortly after. On the 256th hand of the final table, Zajmovic took out Bouchard and claimed the title. Bouchard was all in for 20 big blinds with [poker card="as"][poker card="9s"] against the [poker card="ks"][poker card="qs"] but fell behind on the [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"][poker card="7c"] flop. The turn and river changed nothing and Zajmovic completed her incredible run. With the win, Zajmovic locks up a spot in the WPT Tournament of Champions and secures herself a place in the history of the WPT. Final Table Payouts Ema Zajmovic - $200,768 Jean-Francois Bouchard - $130,208 Eric Afriat - $83,608 Tam Ho - $55,131 Mekhail Mekhail - $42,462 Jean-Pascal Savard - $35,146
  18. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES PocketFives.com Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark wrap up the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, talk about Mike Sexton moving on from his 15-year run with the World Poker Tour and spend a good amount of time talking all about the upcoming Super High Roller Bowl.
  19. Sometime next spring, loyal World Poker Tour fans will tune into the WPT Choctaw broadcast on Fox Sports and might be a little bit startled, not so much by what they see, but rather what they hear. After serving as the lead commentator and de facto voice of the WPT for 15 seasons, Mike Sexton retired before the start of Season 16. When it came to filling that void, WPT executives and producers didn't have to look far. Tony Dunst, who had been hosting The Raw Deal segment during WPT broadcasts since 2010, was ready and willing to take on the challenge. So when Season 16 begins airing in 2018, with action from WPT Choctaw as the first televised event, it’ll be Dunst working alongside Sexton’s longtime broadcast partner, Vince van Patten. WORKING FOR PEANUTS Choctaw, Oklahoma is approximately 850 miles from Madison, Wisconsin, but the same city that gave the world Phil Hellmuth, is actually where Dunst’s journey to the WPT commentary booth began. It’s where Dunst grew up, and looking back now at his childhood, he knows he was different from the other kids in a lot of ways. “I was definitely a very weird kid. I would get obsessive about things to a degree that was sort of unnatural for a kid,” said Dunst. “In high school, for example, I got very obsessive about dieting and lifting, and I would eat the same 4-5 meals every day for months on end, to the point that my friends would tease me.” None of the teasing ever really bothered Dunst. He was hyper-aware that his approach to learning new things or conquering goals was different than most of his peers and he had a gut feeling early on that, even though he didn’t know which direction it would ultimately take, he was going to have a very unique career path. “Even back then, I had an ability to focus on things in a very singular way, and I also remember thinking pretty early on in life that the usual 9-5 job, with a boss, a sort of ‘more safe’ career, was not for me,” said Dunst. “I can remember thinking that at a very young age.” Like a lot of kids, he grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete of some sort. And like most kids, he eventually realized he wasn’t a good enough athlete for that to ever become a reality. He worked some part-time jobs through high school and they ended up shaping his thinking towards what he wanted to do with his life - or maybe more importantly, what he didn’t want to do. “I started working at 13, selling peanuts at the stadium, and then I worked at Subway making sandwiches and then I sold shoes in the mall,” said Dunst. “All these kinds of jobs where you’re getting $5 or $6 an hour, and being told what to do by the people above you, and I was like, ‘Man, there’s gotta be something better than this’.” Even though he didn’t want to pursue a corporate-type job, early on he toyed with the idea of becoming a stockbroker. Admittedly, Dunst says he was attracted to the risk involved, but also the potential for making enough money to afford a certain type of lifestyle. Nice suits. A nice car. All of that good stuff. LUNCH MONEY TO BIG MONEY [figcaption=https://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/admin/albums/article-images/596074-tony-dunst-wpt-main-red.jpg]After working for Subway and selling shoes, Tony Dunst decided a regular career just wasn't for him.[/figcaption] While the money would certainly have been nice, the Wall Street dream came with too many rules and too many bosses. He never really pursued it after he realized that didn’t fit with his personality. His desire for a high risk-high reward career never wavered though. “When I was 16, I was reading books about blackjack and card counting and became absorbed in the casino world and stories about gamblers,” said Dunst. “At 17, poker started to become popular, the World Poker Tour came on TV and my friends always wanted to play these home games.” With buy-ins of just $5 and $10, it’s hard to imagine these high school home games were anything but buddies just trading the same money back and forth, week after week, but Dunst figured out very quickly that he was doing pretty well in these games. Tony Dunst the Home Game Crusher was making way more money than Tony Dunst the Sandwich Artist and having way more fun than Tony Dunst the Shoe Salesman. It was 2002, and online poker was in its infancy. Chris Moneymaker was still doing the books for some restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee and the world was over a year away from the Boom. Dunst was already playing online poker though. He discovered sites like Paradise Poker and Planet Poker while looking up poker strategy online. “I had already started to buy strategy books, and was really curious as to how you win at this game. Back then most people were just playing for fun, it was just kind of a ‘mess around’ type thing,” said Dunst, who began winning online almost immediately. “Early online poker was pretty laughable at the low stakes.” Even though Dunst, by this time a senior in high school, had found an early version of his personal utopia, his parents still had expectations that Dunst would get a college education. “My parents were, of course, concerned that being a professional gambler was not a realistic career choice,” said Dunst, who attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he majored in theater arts. Dunst eventually dropped out of college to play full time. To say his parents didn’t approve would be an understatement. “They were terrified, of course, and I think a lot of players in my generation experienced that and it created some riffs in the relationships between players my age and their parents at times,” admitted Dunst. Getting his parents to change their mind wasn’t easy, but Dunst simply relied on the obsessive nature he first displayed as a teenager. That, combined with a little help from PocketFives, got them to come around. “I just kept playing for years and they just sort of grew to accept it,” said Dunst. “I eventually had such consistent success online that my mom would see the results on PocketFives and would send me a message, ‘I saw you won that tournament for $20,000. That’s great!’.” GETTING RAW It was around that time that another opportunity, one that looked and felt more like a real job than anything he’d ever really had, came along. Despite Dunst’s previous dislike of a corporate job, he pursued this one with vigor. “The last nail in the coffin was getting the job with the World Poker Tour, because then it wasn’t just ‘you’re a gambler relying on this very unstable form of income. Now you’ve turned it into a career’,” said Dunst. Dunst’s Raw Deal hosting job almost didn’t happen though. In 2010, while trying to revamp their weekly shows, the WPT put out an open casting call for a new segment. They were looking for somebody who could dissect hands on camera in an entertaining and edgy way. Dunst was definitely interested, but had a scheduling conflict that meant he couldn’t get to the live audition that the finalists were asked to attend. The WPT was keen on Dunst though, and made arrangements for him to come in a week later and audition on his own. He nailed it. “It was the first audition I ever went out for. It was the first job interview I ever had pretty much my entire adult life,” said Dunst. Hosting the Raw Deal meant being willing to critique other people’s play, a challenge he was more than willing to accept thanks his extensive playing experience. “I tried out for that job at 25, so I had already been in poker for eight years. I’d played a lot online and live. I hadn’t been that successful live but, especially in my early 20s, I thought I was hot shit. So, I probably walked in there feeling like, ‘of course I belong here’.” Over the next seven years, Dunst become a valued member of not only the broadcasts, but also of the WPT organization. Through all of it, Dunst learned that while he probably wasn’t cut out to be a stockbroker riding the subway to get to the office for 7 am, he enjoyed working with others and creating something unique. “I learned how much I enjoy collaborating with other people. I liked the social element of having a job,” said Dunst. “I enjoyed the creative process of watching this footage and saying ‘Okay, how are we going to turn a poker hand into enjoyable or funny commentary?’ How do you highlight something interesting about the decisions these people are making, be they positive or negative, and do it in a way that your casual viewer is going to both enjoy and understand.” Along with doing the the Raw Deal segments, which he shot in studio in Los Angeles, Dunst also handled commentary on some of the live streams that WPT did at various events. While it gave Dunst exposure to an even bigger audience, it also allowed him even more opportunities to work with the WPT producers and talent. “You’re working in an environment where you’re all working towards a common goal, a shared goal with your co-workers,” said Dunst. “You’re relationship with those people is going to be as important to your success in that endeavor as the product or commentary that you create.” [figcaption=https://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/admin/albums/article-images/596075-tony-dunst-playing-wpt.jpg]With nearly $3 million in live earnings, Tony Dunst brings a wealth of playing experience to the booth.[/figcaption] None of this meant that Dunst stopped playing poker though. Just the opposite. He continued to travel the world, and even began playing more WPT events. He posted his first WPT cash in the Five Diamond Poker Classic in 2011, finishing 18th in what is one of the toughest fields of the year. Then he final-tabled the Jacksonville bestbet Open, finishing fifth. He posted another pair of cashes during the next season before pulling off the dream scenario. In November 2013, Dunst, who played online under the name ‘Bond18’ made the final table of the WPT Caribbean event at a hotel named ‘Casino Royale’ - the name of the Bond film where the super spy finds himself playing high stakes poker. He went on to win the event, adding a signature win to his resume and $145,000 to his bankroll. He continued to add to that resume by making back-to-back final tables of the WPT Championship event in Atlantic City, finishing third in 2014 and sixth in 2015. All told, Dunst has cashed in 11 WPT main tour events, earning $984,779. He's also had success outside of the WPT, including a World Series of Poker win in 2016. That came just over five months after he finished runner-up in the Aussie Millions Main Event. His career earnings now sit at $2.9 million. A WISE INVESTMENT [figcaption=https://www.pocketfives.com/profiles/admin/albums/article-images/596073-dunst-punta-booth.jpg]Tony Dunst will now work alongside Vince van Patten to bring the action to life on WPT broadcasts.[/figcaption] While the Raw Deal gig helped him convince his parents that he’d made the right career choice, it also gave him valuable experience that wound up paying off later. While each segment was only a couple of minutes long, the time it took to film each one gave Dunst time to get comfortable working with the lights and cameras bearing down on him. “Speaking on camera is something that you gradually get better at over time. You learn to not let your eyes move down on a teleprompter. You speak more coherently, more smoothly. You learn the timing,” said Dunst. “It can be tempting when you first start speaking on camera, to talk really fast. You have to calm your nerves. And that dissipated over time.” Dunst isn’t quite sure how many Raw Deal segments he filmed over the years, but estimates it’s close to 150. That means there were at least that many players whose play Dunst was publicly critical of. Being candid and critical, knowing that he’d be talking to those players at some point on tour is also something he’s taking with him to his new role. “(The Raw Deal) was great practice, both the collaborative process of working with other people, but also understanding the nuance of interacting with players after you do commentary or criticism of them,” said Dunst. “That’s going to be important, because in these events, I’m in the fields, I’m hanging around at the events, I have to have relationships with these players, and then I’m expected to critique them at a very sensitive time for them.” The days of micro-analyzing and critiquing just a single hand from every final table are over for Dunst. Working alongside van Patten as commentator means he’s going to be calling the action now and making sure the viewers at home know exactly what’s happening at all times and what it means as the final table plays down to a champion. “It’s more of a play-by-play (role) now. I think it’s pretty hard to make a deep dive in strategy when we’re trying to keep the action moving on the show, and it’s just not my responsibility the way it was with the Raw Deal,” said Dunst. Stepping into a role that a Poker Hall of Famer and one of poker’s greatest ambassadors held for a long time isn’t something Dunst did lightly. Having already established himself on the broadcasts made the decision to take the new job even easier - but some kind words from Sexton also put Dunst at ease. During a WPT dinner honoring Sexton, he went out of his way to make sure the WPT staff in attendance knew that Dunst was ready for the new role. “He just had some very kind, encouraging words, which he said publicly in front of a lot of people,” remembered Dunst. “He said, ‘WPT has nothing to worry about - they’re in really good hands with Tony’.” While calling the action of every televised WPT final table is the nitty gritty of the job, Dunst has been around long enough to know that filling Sexton’s shoes involves much more than getting the suits of the cards on the flop, turn and river right every time. He has a legacy to live up to. “I think it adds some pressure to uphold the image of an ambassador that Mike projected so well in his time with the World Poker Tour,” said Dunst. “I think that if you’re going to have that role with the WPT, I think there is an expectation that you will always portray poker in a positive light.” With that in mind, Dunst plans on being at as many WPT events as he can - including the non-televised variety. Even making appearances at WPT National or WPTDeepStacks events is something Dunst plans to do, if only to give him an opportunity to mix it up with poker players and fans at all levels. “I think also being willing to to share your experiences in the poker world is important in this role as part of the standard that Mike set,” said Dunst. “Coming after somebody with the presence of Mike Sexton is a challenge in a way, but on the plus side, Mike himself, the WPT, the players, they’ve all helped make this transition feel pretty natural and welcoming for me.” ALL IN THE FAMILY Inside the WPT itself is where Dunst sees his third and final transition that comes with the new job. If the Raw Deal gig cast Dunst as the cool big brother in the WPT family, being the commentator means it’s time to take on something bigger. “My role in the family is a little more in a position of leadership I guess you would say now,” said Dunst. “I think that just being present for almost everything that we do is really important. Even if I don’t have a very active role in whatever that activity is, or the event is that day, being present when you’re in my position is really important.” More visibility on the broadcasts, an expectation of ambassadorship in the poker industry, and a position of leadership within the walls of the WPT is a lot for anybody to take on. When Dunst was offered the job, he embraced everything that came with it. All to live out a fantasy he had as a high schooler watching the WPT on TV while beating his friends in those $5 and $10 home games. “It’s one of, if not the best position in the entire poker industry. I watched this show when I was a kid. Back then I was like, ‘Oh I hope I can be on the WPT one day as a player’. As a host, seemed almost too good to be true,” said Dunst. “I enjoy this kind of work, I enjoy this type of role. I knew what taking it meant. And I felt like, I already live out of a suitcase and just hang out at poker tournaments all the time. So if you want to pay me to do it, no problem, man.” Photos provided by World Poker Tour and Joe Giron/
  20. [caption width="640"] partypoker Millions is back in 2018 with seven events on the schedule[/caption] The partypoker Millions series premiered in 2017 to great praise from players and casino partners with huge guarantees being set and hit on a regular basis across the world. With the start of 2018 in sight, the official calendar for next year’s Millions series has been released with over $100 million in guaranteed prize pools lining the schedule. Five events carry a guarantee of $10 million, making partypoker one of the foremost leaders in the industry in that category. All five events with a $10 million guarantee also include guaranteed prizes of at least $1 million for first, second and third. partypoker is also guaranteeing 250 places paid and a minimum payout of €10,000. As with the 2017 events, there will be multiple ways to qualify via satellite as well as online and live Day 1 flights. There are seven events in total lined up between the end of Season 1 and Season 2 with six played live and one online. Many of the familiar cities visited in 2017 are back once again with Sochi, Russia, Nottingham, England, and Montreal, Canada all featured. The last event on the 2017 calendar is a $5 million guaranteed online event run entirely on partypoker.com. The $5,300 buy-in tournament runs from December 3-6 and will have satellites starting on November 1 for players to qualify in hopes of ending their year a millionaire. The largest addition to the schedule comes in one of poker’s premier stops in Barcelona, Spain. From April 7-15, the end of Season 1 takes place as part of the Millions Grand Final which features a €10 million guarantee. partypoker claims the event to be the first of the year where three players will become millionaires. The first 200 players to qualify for December's $5 million guaranteed online event will be entered into a last longer pool where the winner will earn a $15,000 package to the Millions Grand Final. Season 2 starts only a week after Season 1 ends with Montreal playing host to their second running of partypoker Millions. The $10 million CAD guaranteed event is double the guarantee from 2017, that drew a total of 1,168 entries. The buy-in of $5,300 CAD remains unchanged. The Millions UK event ran at Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, UK was in April of this year and is scheduled for September 29-October 9 in 2018. The 2018 schedule wraps up with the $10 million Caribbean Poker Party from November 10-18 at a location to be determined. partypoker Live President John Duthie created the former European Poker Tour series and has unleashed a new giant in the partypoker Millions series. Said Duthie on the 2018 schedule, “The response to the partypoker MILLIONS series has been incredible and I think the increased prize pools next year are going to take the events to a whole new level. It’s going to be very exciting.” The Chairman of partypoker, Mike Sexton, added, “The MILLIONS series has brought a great deal of excitement to the live and online poker world and really engaged players with a very competitive environment so I can’t wait to see the impact of even bigger prize pool guarantees in 2018.” The full partypoker Live 2018 schedule will be released soon with Grand Prix’s and other events listed. DateEventGuaranteeUSD Guarantee Dec 3-6, 2017Millions Online$5,000,000$5,000,000 Feb 10-18, 2018Millions Germany - Rozvadov€5,000,000$5,800,000 Aprl 7-15, 2018Millions Grand Final - Barcelona€10,000,000$11,700,000 Apr 21-29, 2018Millions North America - Montreal$10,000,000 CAD$7,900,000 Aug 4-12, 2018Millions Russia - Sochi$5,000,000$5,000,000 Sept 29-Oct 9, 2018Millions UK - Nottingham£6,500,000$5,000,000 Nov 10-18, 2018Caribbean Poker Party$10,000,000$10,000,000
  21. [caption width="640"] Mike Sexton looks to defend his WPT title in Montreal starting on November 10[/caption] It was roughly one year ago when poker legend and former World Poker Tour commentator Mike Sexton bested the field of 648 players at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal to win the partypoker.net WPT Montreal Main Event for over $317,000 US and his first WPT title. On Friday, November 10, the WPT is set to return to the scene of last year’s historic tournament for the sixth WPT Montreal at the beloved Playground Poker Club. The five-day $3,850 CAD Main Event features a $2,000,000 CAD (over $1.5 million US) guarantee and will be both filmed for television as well as live streamed around the world. The Montreal stop has been a staple of the WPT since its initial appearance on the schedule back in Season XI. The tournament was the first time a WPT Main Event was held on Canadian soil since 2008 and in a gripping conclusion, Canadian Jonathan Roy bested countryman Pascal Lefrancois to take home the inaugural WPT Montreal title and a career-high cash of $779,210 USD. Joining Roy, popular pros Jeff Gross and Gavin Smith made appearances at the 2012 final table. In fact, WPT Montreal has a healthy history of final tables full of poker’s brightest minds. The year after Roy’s victory saw, Lily Kiletto and Mukul Pahuja, who won the WPT Season XII Player of the Year that year, playing for the title. Pahuja final tabled the same event the very next year, joining Main Event mainstay Kevin McPhee and, the eventual winner of WPT Montreal in Season XIII, Jonathan Jaffee. Season XIV’s Final Table featured the first player not hailing from Canada or the U.S. when German phenom Rainer Kempe finished in third. Then, again, just last year, Sexton’s victory was over hometown favorite, Canadian Benny Chen, perhaps best known as the gold bracelet winner in the WSOP’s inaugural 2013 Millionaire Maker. WPT Montreal's frenzy of action begins with three Day 1’s, November 10-12, with re-entries being allowed on subsequent days. Players have the ability to fire secondary and tertiary bullets in additional Day 1s even if they survived their first with the largest surviving chip stack of any day moving forward to Day 2. There is plenty of opportunity for players to show up early and satellite into the Main Event as well. On November 9, Playground Poker Club is offering three different mega-satellites. This includes a massive 20-seat guaranteed tournament for $385 + $35 CAD at 8:00pm local time. As the Main Event begins, there are additional times to win your way in on both Day 1a and Day 1b. In total, 50 seats will be guaranteed to go to live qualifiers. There's little question of if WPT Montreal will be big – but how big will it be in Season XVI? Certainly, there will be plenty of notable names in the field vying for the massive guarantee. One player to keep an eye on that has confirmed his attendance is current WPT Player of the Year points leader Art Papazyan. Papazyan has a huge lead in the POY race after winning a pair of WPT events this season, but if he wants to keep those who would usurp his claim to the WPT POY crown he needs to keep on cashing. Joining Papazyan will be the reigning, defending WPT Montreal champion himself, Mike Sexton. The WPT Montreal Main Event kicks off on November 10 and plays to a final table of six players which will be live streamed on November 16.
  22. 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. As family and friends gather during the holiday season, what are some of the favorite foods poker players are filling up their plates with? We caught up with Jeremy Ausmus, Shannon Shorr, 'Boston' Rob Mariano, Felipe 'mojave14' Ramos, Vince Van Patten, and Mike Sexton about their favorite holiday eats. "I grew up on this family recipe of homemade rolls that are phenomenal," Ausmus, a WSOP gold bracelet winner with more than $6 million in live tournament earnings, said. "I think it's about all I ate as a kid at holiday dinners. Now, I make them. Fresh out of the oven, with butter - nothing is better." Shorr recently relocated to Las Vegas from Alabama, and we're hoping he packed the recipe for his aunt's holiday dish that was his all-time favorite because it sounds like a great one. "Growing up in Alabama, my all-time favorite holiday food had to be sweet potato casserole that my Aunt Pat made," Shorr said, "It was loaded with all the things a 14-year-old boy loves: pecans, chocolate, marshmallows. Unfortunately, I can't get away with eating like that anymore." Mariano, winner of Survivor: Redemption Island for $1 million who now frequents poker events around the world, does not disappoint when it comes to his family’s holiday meals. It's a two-day affair across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day featuring some delicious-sounding menu items. "I'm Italian, so there's no shortage of food around my house during the holidays," Mariano said. "Christmas Eve is usually reserved for seafood - everything from lobster to crab and the traditional Italian-style salted cod dish called Baccala. Then on Christmas Day, we always have some type of macaroni with a special homemade red sauce (gravy) and usually eggplant Parmesan, which is my wife’s favorite." Ramos, a Brazilian, is also accustomed to large holiday meals with family, but a recent lifestyle change has caused him to switch up from one holiday favorite to another. "Talking about tradition, my favorite food was always whatever my Grandma was cooking," Ramos said. "In Brazil, we are very attached to the family tradition, especially because we are Christians, so this date means a lot to us. As the world's second-largest meat producer (behind the USA), we are meat lovers and tradition always told us to have a turkey at the table and many more meat options. Recently, like two-and-a-half years from now, I have been trying to go vegan, knowing of the problems that meat production are causing to the world, and much more. I have made my transition to veganism now and I still love my family and friends, but my favorite meal is not meat anymore. My favorite foods are nuts and dried fruits, truly. I love all kinds, especially cashews and walnuts, figs and apricots. Roasted cauliflowers are part of my favorite meal, with a lot of spices. I think that will be my favorite holiday food from now on." For Van Patten, the energy behind bringing the World Poker Tour TV show into homes every single week, he said his family mixes it up but that he enjoys a little traditional simplicity. "We mix it up, but for tradition, it's turkey, dressing, popovers, and gravy," Van Patten said. Van Patten's former longtime partner in the WPT commentary booth for 15 years, Sexton, said he and his family enjoy doubling down on their Thanksgiving feast but with a little bit of a twist. "My favorite holiday food is Christmas dinner, which is the same at our house as Thanksgiving but we usually substitute ham for turkey," Sexton said. "Mmmmm!" Do you have a favorite holiday food? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Don’t forget to share the recipe so we can cook it up ourselves! Happy Holidays! *Photos courtesy of Run It Up and the World Poker Tour.
  23. 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’s that special time of year and what better way to get in the festive spirit than to take a look around the poker world at some of the favorite holidays' traditions players celebrate with. This holiday season, we spoke with Phil Hellmuth, Mike Sexton, Maria Ho, Jonathan Little, and Jeff Gross. For Phil Hellmuth's holiday tradition, poker takes center stage. There's even a gold bracelet involved, according to the 15-time World Series of Poker champion, and it sounds as though the entire Hellmuth family knows how to win on the felt. "In the Hellmuth Family, all five of us (one brother and three sisters) would bring our families to Madison, Wisconsin, for Christmas," Hellmuth said. "We did this for 25 years! Then we would have the family poker championship, usually on the evening of the 24th. We even have a gold bracelet (pictured), with all of the winners’ names engraved. Nowadays, the family is too far flung to meet in Madison, but we still have the tourney whenever we get together. "My sister Kerry won it this year, in August, in Chicago. My son Phillip won it, I won it, my wife Kat won it. And my son Nick has three second-place finishes - ouch!" For Mike Sexton, longtime poker commentator, Poker Hall of Fame member, and now chairman of partypoker, he keeps it simple with the family. "My favorite tradition is the day we get the tree, put on Christmas music, and decorate the house," Sexton said. Sexton won’t be the only poker player celebrating the holidays in Las Vegas. Maria Ho and her family traditionally travel for the holidays to spend it together in a new place, but this year that place is Las Vegas. "My family has never been too into traditional gift giving for the holidays, but in our adult years we always make time to take a family vacation together," Ho said. "The destination changes, but this year the only place that really worked for all of us happens to be Las Vegas!" We’re sure that with all of the poker happening in Vegas during the first couple weeks of December, Ho will be in the mix quite a bit, so look for her to put up some poker results this holiday season in between time with her loved ones. Jonathan Little has a handful of reasons to celebrate this holiday season, and it’s more than just celebrating this wonderful time of the year. Little’s birthday and his son’s birthday both fall close to Christmas, and he and his wife are currently expecting another child. "Our tradition is to celebrate birthdays," Little said. "My birthday is December 22 and my son James' is December 24. I am having my second child any day now, so he will be born in December as well. I should go ahead and forget about celebrating mine from now on!" Lastly, Jeff Gross said his holiday tradition also involves a bit of travel, as he heads down to Brazil every year to visit with his wife’s side of the family. It comes with a special holiday twist, though, and Gross was introduced to a new meaning of "sweating" his first trip. "A holiday tradition has been to go to visit my wife’s family in Brazil," Gross said. "Each year, someone dresses up as Santa Claus for the nephews and nieces. In 2014, it was my first time there, which meant it was me! I was a bit nervous being the first time I met Emilia’s large family and I didn’t speak much Portuguese. I remember being in Brazil during Christmas (their summer) sweating in this Santa suit in front of what is now my Brazilian family and my youngest niece at the time crying when I came out (laughs)! It felt like a Southwest Wanna-Get-Away commercial at the time, but we had a good laugh after!" Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Happy Holidays! *Photos courtesy of the WPT.
  24. 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. We've covered the favorite holiday traditions, favorite holiday eats, most memorable gifts, and even the top holiday movies from those within the poker world. Now, we're going to hear some of the favorite places to spend the holiday season. In the poker world, it’s no secret that the holiday season is one of the best times to be in Las Vegas, and that’s where WPT champion and WSOP bracelet winner David Williams loves to be. "I would say Las Vegas," Williams said. "You get the WPT Five Diamond, which is one of the best tournaments of the year, and it’s truffle season, so all the top Vegas restaurants have white truffles available on their menus. My mother moved here, so I also get to spend it with my mother and daughter, so no other choice." As you can imagine, family was a big theme no matter the location. Williams mentioned it, so did others, including Felipe 'mojave14' Ramos. "My favorite place to be was always with family in Brazil, but not every time is it possible to be with them, even though I have traveled across the world so many times just to be with there, even last minute," Ramos said. "But now, I am starting my own family and also have to think about my fiancés family. This year's Christmas I will be spending in Las Vegas with Natalie, and my favorite place to be is now with her. I wish I could have every one of my family and friends together at the same place, at least for this time of the year. Life is such a rush and we miss a lot these precious time, so I am trying to build my life and family, but also can't forget my roots." Arguably poker's greatest ambassador, Mike Sexton, also makes the case for Las Vegas where he lives, but he knows the value of showing his son a winter wonderland during this time of year, too. "I love being home for Christmas, but a couple years ago we wanted our son to experience a ‘White Christmas’ so we went to Park City, Utah, and it was truly fantastic," Sexton said. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be known to drive people crazy. You’re trying to decorate, make every party or plan your own, buy gifts for friends and family, and do it all while living your regular day-to-day life. Vince Van Patten, longtime commentator for the World Poker Tour, likes to take it easy this time of year, at home. "I love staying home in L.A., hanging with the family, swimming in cold water, and seeing some of the best movies of the year during this time," Van Patten said. "I like to slow down and be thankful." Whereas Van Patten may be slowing down, Dan O'Brien loves the city that never sleeps. "New York City," O'Brien said. "It has a special buzz around Christmas and my family has a tradition of enjoying dinner and a play every year. Great spot to be." Ronnie Bardah, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner who was once the victim of one of the most incredible bluffs of all time by a former Miss Finland, stays true and says the holidays are best spent back where it all began. "The holidays are best spent in the hood you grew up in, where childhood memories were created," Bardah said. "Growing up Jewish, we celebrated Hanukkah on Christmas Day and mom would try to keep the Jewish tradition in the house. I love Christmas, and if I could choose, I would always spend it in Boston! Walking around malls, singing Christmas music, and throwing snowballs at punk kids. These days, New Year’s is always somewhere new. This year, though, I’ll be in Vegas bringing it in with Papa Smurf!" Lynn Gilmartin, anchor of the World Poker Tour, is also on board for her favorite place being home. For her, that's Down Under in Australia, but it's doesn't mean it's going to be cold. "My favorite place to be is at home in Melbourne with my family and friends," Gilmartin said. "It's summertime in Australia, so the holidays revolve around barbecues and the beach. I love it and couldn't imagine having a cold Christmas!" Do you have a favorite place to spend the holidays? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Happy Holidays! *Photo courtesy of PokerStarsLIVE.
  25. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance and Donnie return with an all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast to discuss all of the latest news and results from around the world of poker. This week, the guys remember and celebrate the life of poker legend, Hall of Fame member, and World Poker Tour commentator, Mike Sexton, who passed away this week at the age of 72. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event has concluded this week with Bulgaria's Stoyan Madanzhiev winning a record $3,904,685 first-place prize, the largest single payday in online poker history. Plus, the guys break down the winners of the first of the 2020 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker. Listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher

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