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Found 66 results

  1. It’s not easy to crack into online poker’s worldwide top-100 rankings. But for Americans who play inside U.S. borders on regulated sites, it’s even tougher. United States-based players don’t have access to the massive player pools and huge guarantees that some of the top players grind in order to rack up leaderboard points. For these pros, it takes a doubling-down of volume and effort in order to earn their spot and recognition among online poker’s best. And this week, four of America's best have succeeded in doing just that. Frank ‘thewholefunk’ Funaro Jr. (#52) New Jersey’s Frank Funaro is the current #1-ranked player in the United States and currently sits at #52 in the world. Funaro is in the midst of a career run, sitting just one spot off his career-high ranking and speed toward $1 million in total online poker earnings. Funaro has been stockpiling PLB points all summer including 19 PLB-qualifying scores in August. However, he really heated up after he took down the September 14 edition of the WSOP.com $100,000 Player Appreciation tournament for $19,741 and 325.69 PLB points. Just two weeks later, Funaro grabbed gold again by winning the WSOP.com $2,000 buy-in $150,000 guaranteed NLH High Roller for another $44,489 and 446.65 points. For the entire month, Funaro pulled in 38 cashes for a total of just over $102,000 in earnings. After a solid two-month grind, Funaro has been taking it easy. With just 11 cashes in October and, as of yet, no major recorded scores in November, he’ll find himself slipping down the rankings soon. But after all his hard work, he’s still likely to have a spot in the top-100 for a little while longer. David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman (#62) David Coleman has just added to his long list of accomplishments, which includes a win in the New Jersey WPT Online Poker Open earlier this year, by reaching a career-high worldwide ranking of #62. Coleman, who is perpetually in the conversation when one talks about the best U.S. online poker players, has been steadily picking up PLB points throughout September and October. However, on October 28 he really received a boost with a pair of five-figure scores. Coleman just narrowly missed out on picking up a WSOP Circuit ring with a third-place finish in the WSOP Circuit Event #13 ($100,000 NLH High Roller, 6-Max) for $25,183 and 273.63 PLB points. The same day, he took down the WSOP Tuesday Showdown for another $17,302 and 246.39 PLB points. Coleman has continued his grind into November, already picking up some key PLB points including a win in the PokerStars NJ $250 Super Tuesday for $5,318. As more results come in, Coleman has a clear shot at cracking the top 50. Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon (#90) World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Yong Kwon currently sits at #90 in the world having been ranked as high as #47 just last year. Known for his dedication to grinding, Kwon has spent years being known as one of the most dominant players from the Garden State racking up accolades and often times holding the #1 U.S. ranking for months at a time. After taking the first two weeks off in October, Kwon racked up 47 in-the-money finishes with 15 scores of four-figures or higher. His heavy PLB point push came as the month was coming to a close with back-to-back victories on WSOP.com. First, he took down the $20,000 Weekly Thursday for $7,162 and 157.16 PLB points. Then he added a win in the $10,000 Weekly Friday for another $2,800 plus 100.00 PLB points. His spotlight score took place in the WSOP.com PLO Mania Event #13 ($25,000 PLO) for $9,770 and 193.29 points. Kwon kicked November off with a fast start taking third place in the PokerStars NJ Sunday Special for another $4,721 adding to his more than $3.75 million in lifetime online earnings. Angel ‘ChromeKing’ Lopez (#92) Angel Lopez broke through into the top 100 this week for the first time, rising 16 spots to a career-high ranking of #92. Lopez used a flurry of PLB-qualifying cashes in recent weeks to propel himself up the rankings. It got started with a third-place finish in the October 21 edition of the WSOP.com Tuesday Showdown for $6,398. He followed that up with a run in the WSOP Circuit Event #11 ($250,000 NLH Main Event) for $1,319. Then, he went on a three-tournament tear in earl November picking up points in bulk. First, a deep run in the November 2 WSOP.com $100,000 GTD Sunday brought him $2,707. He followed that up two days later with a third-place finish in the PokerStars NJ $250 Super Tuesday for $2,707. Finally, he capped it all off with a victory in the BorgataPoker.com Mega $535 Tuesday and taking home the $5,759 first-place prize. Players qualify for the online poker worldwide rankings by adding their screen names to their PocketFives profile.
  2. [caption width="640"] Mike 'JohnnyDrama' Haberman lead in the New Jersey rankings shrunk during January.[/caption] A lot can change in a month and it has in the PocketFives New Jersey Online Poker Rankings. Players have dropped, some farther than others, and players have risen, with the majority of that change occurring towards the middle of the top ten. That’s because Michael 'JohnnyDrama' Haberman has held his spot atop those rankings as the calendar shifts into February, albeit by a much smaller margin than the last time these rankings were updated. One of the main reasons Haberman has kept pole position on the rest of New Jersey is thanks to his two wins on WSOP.com in the middle of January. Haberman won the $2,500 NJ High-Roller on January 14th and followed that win with a 3rd place finish in the same event later that week. He wasn’t done though, as he won the $5K Nightly on WSOP.com to finish that week off, earning just under $6,000 for his scores in that week alone. That week-long stretch of success wasn’t it though, as Haberman has been one of the most successful and consistent players throughout the New Jersey sites over the last few months. He’s recorded over 45 top ten finishes over the last two months, in a wide variety of tournaments. That success put him well ahead of the rest of the field early this year but that field looks like they're starting to make a push to the top. Last month, it was Jon 'itsmejon' Borenstein who was hot on Haberman’s tail but after a month of nearly no online activity, compared to his high volume standards, he’s fallen completely out of the New Jersey top 20. Borenstein’s been on the live grind and won't be too upset with his ranking downslide, as he added $86,000 to his bankroll thanks to a 6th place finish in the 5,101 player $2,000,000 Winter Poker Open event held last month at Borgata. So while 'itsmejon' falls, Keith 'donnysack' Donovan climbs and becomes the player closest to Haberman. Donovan is now just over 40 PLB points away from the top spot in New Jersey and that rise is mostly helped by Donovan’s recent WSOP.com $30K Sunday Major win, a victory that netted him $9,391 and nearly 165 PLB points. The uptick continued for players below Borenstein, as Yong 'ykwon17' Kwon moved up to the #3 slot. Kwon has nine podium finishes in 2016, including five wins, the biggest of which came in the January 12th $10K on WSOP.com. That win was good for just under $3,200 and someone who knows a little something about winning those $10K events is Daniel 'RedsoxNets5' Sewnig. [caption width="640"] Daniel 'RedsoxNets5' Sewnig enters the New Jersey rankings in the top five after a torrid January (photo credit Will O'Connor).[/caption] Sewnig has been crushing in 2016, with an insane amount of volume resulting in one of the best month-long stretches we’ve seen push himself into the #4 spot on the New Jersey rankings. Sewnig has 22 podium finishes over the last month with six outright wins, including three in the WSOP.com nightly $10K. He’s now just shy of 150 PLB points behind New Jersey’s leader 'JohnnyDrama', meaning that the next few weeks could and should only continue to shake up the leaderboard. That shakeup seems to have already begun towards the bottom half of the top ten though, as Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano has quickly moved himself into the #5 spot heading into February. Mike 'MikeyCasino' Azzaro has also moved himself into the top ten, with a complete list of the Garden State top ten listed below: JohnnyDrama - 2,552.01 donnysack - 2,510.82 ykwon17 - 2,497.02 RedsoxNets5 - 2,399.31 Gags30 - 2,300.41 ol muggins - 2,264.33 Mergulas - 2,258.67 PocketProfits - 2,194.44 No_Xcape - 2,161.60 MikeyCasino - 2,160.60
  3. [caption width="640"] The PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker Takes Over the New Jersey ONline Poker scene for the next 16 days.[/caption] The PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker is going to fill up the calendars of New Jersey online poker players over the next couple of weeks. NJCOOP runs October 15 - 31 and includes a total of 43 events and a total of $1.2 million in guaranteed prize pools. This marks the second COOP series to run in New Jersey. The first was in May when the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker had 52 events spread across two weeks. NJCOOP Schedule HighlightsEverything gets underway Saturday, October 15 with two warm-up events and then gets real on Sunday, October 16 with five events in one day. The marquee event that day is the $250 buy-in Sunday Special Special Edition which comes with a $100,000 guarantee. Just six of the 43 events on the schedule are Pot Limit Omaha, but the tournaments offered should offer enough value to keep the biggest PLO junkie happy. The first PLO event is Event #6, on Tuesday, October 6, and the $100 buy-in tournament has a $15,000 guarantee. There is also a $100 buy-in PLO Heads Up event on Wednesday, October 26. The second event on the calendar that comes with a six-figure guarantee is Event #28, the $1,000 buy-in Six Max High Roller. That goes Tuesday, October 25 at 6 pm. And that’s just a prelude to the Main Event. Sign-up now for PokerStarsNJ.com and get a free NBA Swingman jersey. Details here.NJCOOP Main EventThe $500 buy-in Main Event is set to run over two days beginning Saturday, October 30 and it comes with the biggest guarantee of all, $200,000. The Saturday start is designed to allow more recreational players who would otherwise be working on Monday the chance to play the two-day event without fear of having to make arrangements on Day 2. For comparison, the Main Event of the first event PokerStarsNJ Spring Championship of Online Poker last May had a buy-in of $500 and a $200,000 guarantee and drew 392 players to just meet out on the guarantee. The LeaderboardIt wouldn’t be a PokerStars COOP series without a leaderboard. Players who finish in the top 15 for the NJCOOP Leaderboard will earn their share of $10,000 in tournament dollars, with the best performer earning T$2,000. 2016 PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker Schedule Start TimeEvent #TournamentGuarantee Saturday, October 15 6:00 PM1$100 Nightly Stars - NJCOOP Warm-Up$15,000 8:00 PM2$200 NL Hold'em (Turbo) - NJCOOP Warm-Up$10,000 Sunday, October 16 3:30 PM3$150 NL Hold'em (Progressive Super KO)$30,000 5:00 PM4$250 Sunday Special SE$100,000 7:00 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1A)$50,000 8:00 PM6$100 PL Omaha (8-max)$15,000 10:00 PM7$150 Sunday SuperSonic SE (Hyper)$15,000 Monday, October 17 6:30 PM8$100 NL Hold'em (Speed-Down)$20,000 7:30 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1B)$50,000 8:00 PM9$500 PL Omaha High Roller (6-max)$30,000 Tuesday, October 18 6:30 PM10$100 NL Hold'em 1R1A$20,000 7:30 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1C)$50,000 8:30 PM11$300 NL Hold'em (Heads-Up)$20,000 Wednesday, October 19R] 6:30 PM12$100 NL Hold'em (Progressive Super-KO)$20,000 7:30 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1D)$50,000 8:00 PM13$200 Limit Hold'em (6-max)$10,000 Thursday, October 20 6:30 PM14$500 8-Game (6-max)$20,000 7:30 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1E)$50,000 8:00 PM15$50+R NL Hold'em$20,000 Friday, October 21 7:00 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1F)$50,000 8:00 PM16$200 TRiple Stud$10,000 9:30 PM17$50+R NL Hold'em (3-Max, Hyper, Rebuy)$7,500 Saturday, October 22 5:00 PM18$100 NL Hold'em (Deepstack, 8-max)$15,000 7:00 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1G)$50,000 8:00 PM19$200 NL Hold'em (Ante-Up)$10,000 Sunday, October 23 2:00 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-max, Day 1H)$50,000 3:30 PM20$100 Mixed NLHE/PLO (6-max)$15,000 5:00 PM21$350 Sunday Special SE$75,000 7:00 PM22$200 NL Hold'em (Progressive SuperKO)$35,000 8:00 PM5$50 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 2)$50,000 9:00 PM23$100 NL Hold'em (Shootout, 6-Max, Turbo)$10,000 9:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 1A)$35,000 Monday, October 24 6:00 PM25$300 NL Hold'em (4-max)$30,000 8:00 PM26$75+R PL Omaha Hi/Lo (Rebuy, 8-max)$10,000 9:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 1B)$35,000 Tuesday, October 25 6:00 PM27$150 NL Hold'em (1R1A)$25,000 7:00 PM28$1,000 NL Hold'em (High Roller, 6-max)$100,000 8:00 PM29$100 FL Omaha Hi/Lo (8-max)$5,000 9:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 1C)$35,000 Wednesday, October 26 6:00 PM30$25+R NL Hold'em (Rebuy)$20,000 8:00 PM31$100 PL Omaha HU$5,000 9:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 1D)$35,000 Thursday, October 27 6:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 1E, Turbo)$35,000 7:30 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 1A)$50,000 8:30 PM24$150 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Day 2)$35,000 8:00 PM33$50+R PL Omaha (6-Max, Rebuy)$10,000 9:00 PM34$150 NL Hold'em (Turbo)$20,000 Friday, October 28 7:00 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 1B)$50,000 8:00 PM35$100 PL 5-Card Omaha (8-max)$7,500 9:00 PM36$200 NL Hold'em (Deep, Hyper)$15,000 Saturday, October 29 6:00 PM37$300 NL Hold'em (6-max)$30,000 7:00 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 1C)$50,000 9:00 PM38$75 NL Hold'em (Zoom)$15,000 Sunday, October 30 2:00 PM39$100 NL Hold'em (Big Antes)$15,000 5:00 PM40$500 NL Hold'em Main Event (Day 1)$200,000 7:00 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 1D)$50,000 8:00 PM41$15+R NL Hold'em (6-max, Turbo, Rebuy)$10,000 10:00 PM42$75 Sunday Supersonic SE (Hyper)$10,000 Monday, October 31 6:00 PM40$500 NL Hold'em Main Event (Day 2)$200,000 6:00 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 1E, Turbo)$50,000 8:00 PM32$100 NL Hold'em (Day 2)$50,000 9:00 PM43$150 NL Hold'em (Deep-Hyper, 6-Max)$15,000
  4. [caption width="640"] The New Jersey Championship of Online Poker runs for 16 days in October.[/caption] While the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker winds down for the site’s global player base, New Jersey poker players will soon have a championship tournament series of their own to look forward to. The Isle of Man-based gaming giant announced the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, which plays out from October 15-31 and feature 43 events with buy-ins ranging from $15 to $1,000. The 16-day series, which is only available to players physically located in New Jersey, culminates with the $500 buy-in, $200,000 No Limit Hold‘em Main Event on October 30-31. PokerStars bills NJCOOP as New Jersey’s richest ever online poker tournament series, and highlights the event as proof of its commitment to growing online poker in the Garden State. The schedule features an array of poker variants, including Pot Limit Omaha, Eight Game and Triple Stud, to be played in a variety of structures and formats. Players can also look forward to a $100,000 guaranteed No Limit Hold‘em High Roller event with a $1,000 buy-in, and a PLO High Roller tournament with a $500 entry fee. Team PokerStars Pro and poker streaming pioneer Jason Somerville played several events in this year’s WCOOP while outside the US and broadcast all of his play on his popular Twitch channel. For NJCOOP he will be back in New Jersey hoping to win even more cash during some of his marathon streams. “I’m so excited that PokerStars is bringing the Championship of Online Poker to New Jersey,” Somerville said. “It’s great that players in the region can experience playing in this prestigious festival and the buzz that comes with chasing big prize money and major tournament titles. I’m looking forward to playing and streaming NJCOOP on Twitch in my hunt to win a title in its debut year.” Daily online qualifiers to all NJCOOP events are already running on PokerStarsNJ.com, with satellite tournaments to the larger buy-in event starting at just $1. Players can also take part in special $2.50 Spin & Go tournaments from September 26 to October 30, which award $500 Main Event tickets and cash prizes. Player of the Series Leaderboard Top performers at this year’s NJCOOP can win even more cash and prizes through the Player of the Series Leaderboard. Up to $10,000 in prizes will be given away to the site’s most consistently successful players, with the overall winner taking home $2,000 in tournament dollars. What’s more, PokerStars is also giving NJCOOP players the opportunity to win one of 20 PokerStars Festival New Jersey 2016 Main Event seats worth $1,100. Players who take part in the five NJCOOP events below will be entered into an All-in Shootout freeroll the following day to try and win their seat. 01 $100 Nightly Stars 04 $250 Sunday Special SE 08 $100 NL Hold'em [Speed-Down] 12 $100 NL Hold'em [Progressive Super-KO] 21 $350 Sunday Special SE
  5. [caption width="640"] Mike 'Lav519' Lavenburg recently had his biggest live score to date in a Parx event.[/caption] The world of online poker can be a blurry and mysterious one, as a player can garner a following and reputation without anyone actually knowing who that player is. 'Isildur1' is and was the most well known case of that happening but when New Jersey online poker went live a few years ago, ‘mygame’, a player on WSOP.com and BorgataPoker.com, had the same anonymity. In a relatively small player pool, Mike Lavenburg was eventually identified as the player behind the super aggressive, super successful handle. Lavenburg has since kept up that success into 2016, nearing the midway point of the year second in the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings leaderboard, thanks to a strong two month stretch to open the spring calendar. Lavenburg seems to thrive in the bigger buy-in, higher guaranteed tournaments in New Jersey and since March has taken down six ‘Sunday Major’ or $10,000 daily events. Heading into the summer though, Lavenburg is planning on taking on a bigger live tournament schedule, something that got off to a great start in early May. Lavenburg recorded a career-best live score in the Parx Big Stax XVI 300, finishing 2nd for a nearly $50,000 result. For a lot of the New Jersey online community, that run finally put a face to a name that has been tormenting them for the last few years and could be a sign of things to come. "I’m really excited for this summer. I’ve never been to Vegas and it will be my first full World Series, minus a few days for a friend’s wedding." Lavenburg said when talking about what is next after that Parx score, something that he’s been thinking about since the start of his poker career. That was pre-Black Friday, where Lavenburg used the basic knowledge of the game he learned from his grandmother playing Rummy, Stud and a few other games to transition to online poker. He found online poker when he was enrolled in college and from that point on, he had one goal in mind. "My plan and goal was to study and grind to try to get to the top of the poker world. It was the freedom, the competition and the money that came with it that drove me to study my ass off and become as good as I could,” he said. But then, like so many other poker journeys, it was cut short. Without a steady bankroll and interest in playing live, Lavenburg put the poker dream on the back burner, instead taking a job with his father’s electrical company. While working for the aptly named Lavenburg Electric, he knew that there was something more out there to stimulate his mind and competitive nature much more. Eventually, he got back into poker, thanks to Jake ‘jitsnakes’ Perry, who “got my ass in gear”, as Lavenburg puts it. ‘mygame’ returned to the virtual felt in New Jersey and began his ascent up the leaderboards, as he started as more of a cash game player. He then made the jump to tournaments and over the last year has seen many improvements in his game. “I think online poker is an invaluable tool to become good and fast. You just can’t substitute the experience and feel for the game you obtain live by playing online because of how many hands per hour you get.” he said, adding, “That being said, it’s the same game live and online. There are some differences though and I’m finally getting comfortable with them.” Those differences include game flow and dealing with opponents that are actually at the table, something Lavenburg struggled with when he first took the live felt. “People staring at you is weird and really sucks for people with anxiety. There’s legit been times where I felt I was having a seizure at the table. That was embarrasing.” he joked. Lavenburg has thankfully gotten past those live tournament problems and heading into the summer, the focus will be on that live game. “Staying on top of the POY race doesn’t really interest me that much, it’s cool but I think it’s more plus life EV to get out, travel and take advantage of every opportunity this profession has to offer.” That profession has taken an interesting path for Lavenburg to be where he is right now, a few weeks from his first full summer in Las Vegas. Starting out as anonymous online crusher to someone that the East Coast player pool knows and better watch out for over the next few years, Lavenburg is slowly but surely proving that poker is his game.
  6. [caption width="640"] The PokerStarsNJ NJSCCOP schedule is officially released with 35 events on the calendar.[/caption] It seems like PokerStars owns the month of May in the online poker world, and now that includes New Jersey. After opening PokerStarsNJ shop last March, the site quickly unveiled the NJ Spring Championship of Online Poker to great adoration from those within the state and the temporary transplants who made their way in from the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast regions. Now in its second year, the 2017 NJSCOOP schedule has been released and contains more than $1,200,000 in guarantees in 35 events running from May 6-22. Similar to the three buy-in tiers of its worldwide big brother SCOOP, NJSCOOP offers a High and Low variety for each event on the schedule. Players have asked for a variety of games to be offered and have been granted their wish. Outside of the many, No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha MTTs that line the calendar, HORSE, Eight Game, Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Hi-Lo, and Five Card PLO are all available for mixed game lovers. The NJSCOOP Main Event, as with all NJCOOP finales, is a two-day event with both a High and Low option. The High variation is a $500 buy-in $200,000 guaranteed event while the Low is offered at $50 with a $30,000 guarantee. Both main events start on May 21 and conclude on May 22. Satellites are already underway on PokerStarsNJ for the main event with Spin & Gos also awarding seats starting at just $4. Among some of the highest buy-in and guaranteed events on the schedule are the $300 buy in $20,000 guaranteed NLHE Heads Up event, $300 buy in $40,000 guaranteed NLHE Four Max on May 15, and the $1,000 buy in $85,000 guaranteed NLHE Six Max on May 16. Additionally, there are two Sunday Specials in play, both with guarantees knocking on the door of six figures. The first one is running on May 7 with a $300 buy-in and $85,000 guarantee with the next one in the air on May 14 with a $350 buy-in and $65,000 guarantee. Once the series gets started, PocketFives will provide recaps of all major events along with updates to the New Jersey rankings that are sure to be shaken up during the series. Check out the complete 2017 NJSCOOP schedule.
  7. [caption width="640"] Michael Gagliano is one of the top spokespeople for online poker in New Jersey through his relationship with BorgataPoker.com.[/caption] The heyday of online poker provided many players with the chance to earn money and gain notoriety by representing a site through wearing a patch while playing. We all know why that stopped becoming a fad but players in New Jersey have been granted that opportunity through the regulation of online poker in the state. Out of all of New Jersey’s websites, BorgataPoker.com has the most “ambassadors” with Michael 'Gags30' Gagliano among them. Gagliano’s online reputation needs little introduction as the online coach is well-respected by many of his peers and the results of his former students, including 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Joe McKeehen, speaking volumes. Along with his $2,700,000 in online tournament earnings and WSOP bracelet, which he won in 2016 for a $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event, Gagliano is about as well-rounded of an online and live player that a site could want to represent them. When online poker first became regulated in New Jersey, BorgataPoker.com was among the first clients to make their product available and Gagliano was excited to be able to represent a company from his home state. “As soon as the opportunity to work with Borgatapoker.com came up I knew I wanted to do it. I've been a huge fan of their live poker room and tournament series for quite some time and knew that working with their online team would be a great experience. It's great to have regulated poker in NJ, and even better having a site like Borgatapoker.com where they're constantly working to get the players the best experience possible.” Being a representative of a site generally means that the “ambassadors” become public figures who put themselves out there in ways that other poker players might not. Gagliano and his popular Twitch stream have given him the opportunity to interact with players from within New Jersey, which Gagliano says is one of his favorite parts of working with BorgataPoker.com. “The best part is getting to interact with all the other players in NJ. A lot of players know me from being represented by BorgataPoker.com, while others just know me from my stream, or even just from seeing my name at the tables. I constantly have players reaching out to me to ask me questions or to just that they enjoy my stream or to congratulate me on a score. It's just really cool knowing that there's such a community of players that support me and enjoy playing online here in NJ.” Although Gagliano enjoys being part of a website now, he did not feel the same as he rose through the ranks of the online world. Gagliano says he was more focused on playing poker than anything else but thought it would be a “good experience” should the right circumstance present itself. The New Jersey online poker community is a strong one and Gagliano is in some ways, the face of one of the top online sites in a poker-crazed state. Gagliano’s teammates on BorgataPoker.com includes accomplished professionals like Matt Stout and Vinny Pahuja, but the state of New Jersey has formed a unit around Gagliano. One that supports their favorites son everywhere he plays. “Wherever I go to play live, I’m never alone. Even if I don't know anyone there, there's nearly always someone who's looking to talk to me and ask questions, it's like I have friends in every cardroom on the East Coast. It's a pretty cool experience most players just don't get.”
  8. [caption width="640"] A trip to the desert might be exactly what Mike Azzaro needed to turn his summer around.[/caption] The record heat in Las Vegas this week didn’t stop the masses from heading down the highway to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the annual Electric Daisy Carnival music festival. Mike Azzaro was among those participants who made the pilgrimage. Azzaro’s summer has lacked on the felt with only three cashes and a high point score of $1,178. That hasn’t waned his enthusiasm about his prospects for the remainder of the summer and Azzaro thinks his trip to EDC is just what he needs to turn things around. “I had an amazing time at EDC! I cleared my head and ready to finish the off the summer strong.” That finish line starts this week at the Venetian. The $1,600 buy in $2,000,000 guaranteed event has the attention of the No Limit crowd for this week and Azzaro championing the prospects for what he calls “best non-WSOP event of the summer.” Even if that event doesn’t pan out for Azzaro, he has the $1,500 Shootout to look forward to. Always a well-attended event, Azzaro believes his shorthanded experience gives him an edge over what is a consistently talented field. “The $1500 shootout on Thursday [June 22] should be a lot of fun. I like the SnG gameplay.” Overall, Azzaro is the first to admit that he hasn’t played his best this summer. The multiple distractions immediately at hand have hindered Azzaro’s play but he has a plan to change that. “I haven't played as well as I can so far this summer. I need to focus more on staying off my phone and paying attention to what's going on.” Azzaro says he doesn’t feel any immediate pressure to change his results and is confident the variance will balance out before all is said and done. The time away from the felt has been made the most of by Azzaro which has resulted in him not studying when he’s not playing. That might be a curse or a blessing depending on the point of view, but for all the time Azzaro spends reviewing hands when he is in New Jersey, some time away might be warranted. “I've played a decent amount of poker but I'm also out here enjoying my summer. I have no regrets about any hands this summer.” There have been countless stories of players who have struggled through the earlier to mid portions of the summer and then turned it around in one single event. That could easily be Azzaro should the right things break his way. Last year, Azzaro had only three cashes before making Day 5 of the WSOP Main Event. A few weeks remain before Azzaro’s full summer fate is realized but no matter how it turns out, he will have a smile on his face when it’s all said and done.
  9. [caption width="640"] Norman 'slystyle012' Michalek spent the first part of 2017 rebuilding his bankroll online and then hit a major live score at the Spring Poker Open.[/caption] The Spring Poker Open at the Borgata wrapped up early Saturday morning with 21 different champions being crowned over the past three weeks. The Almighty Stack event drew the second largest field of the entire series as 1,764 players took their chance at a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. The tournament ended in a seven-way chop and as a result of ICM configurations, Norman ‘slystyle12’ Michalek took second place and over $56,000. The deal gave Michalek the largest score of his tournament career that has stretched over the better part of a decade and included heavy volume both online and live. Even though he has had a successful career by a variety of metrics, Michalek’s tournament history is checkered with close calls in high equity spots. Those close calls hit a peak last summer when Michalek came in on Day 2 of the Colossus as the chip leader before finishing just inside the top-100 and followed that result up by finishing 16th in Millionaire Maker just a week later. Despite the near-misses over the years, Michalek’s confidence remains as high as ever heading into NJSCOOP and the live poker mecca of the summer. “[My] confidence is the same as it’s ever been. Have always been strong in confidence. As far as the schedule goes for this summer I'm looking to play a similar schedule as last summer. I'm hoping this recent result at least changes other people’s confidence in me. I am capable of playing just as well as anybody else. I truly believe it and hope people realize it soon as well.” Michalek’s bankroll hit a downswing during January’s Winter Poker Open and he opted to rebuild it by grinding online in New Jersey. Online poker is a field Michalek takes himself seriously in and last year, Michalek decided to temporarily relocate to Costa Rica to live with friends while playing the best tournaments the world has to offer. Since recommitting himself to the virtual playing field in New Jersey, Michalek has picked up a few things that he used as assets in his Almighty Stack run. “I used to take all of the spots I can take and I learned that this is often not necessary. I pick and choose them more carefully. I have gone deep countless times and have gotten involved in many unnecessary marginal spots. I was determined to not let this spot go in vain.” Indeed, Michalek did not, as he battled up on Day 3 from being sixth in chips out of 14 players to finish with the second-biggest prize of the deal. There was a lot of money on the line with a six-figure score initially set aside for first place. Michalek admits the money was on his mind as he continued to advance deep in the tournament but put those thoughts aside and played his most optimal game. “As I was getting deeper in the almighty the money was always at the back of my mind because I didn't want to be stuck with another 10-20th finisA. However, I believe I was able to separate that from the focus needed to ‘let the results take care of themselves’.” In a former life, Michalek traveled the live tournament circuit but eventually got sick of the variance and expenses that come with that lifestyle. Now a staple of the New Jersey online scene, Michalek is comfortable with his new lifestyle and will continue living it even with his large score. “There is so much more variance in live since sample sizes are drastically different. From the beginning of this year, I was determined to play less live and focus more on online and making money. Live variance is insane and level of expenses I've been keeping up with is an unsustainable kind of living. I hope to keep online volume high and live volume minimal with the rare few local series and summer in Vegas.”
  10. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro's summer is off to a slow start but that hasn't dampened his confidence.[/caption] The first full week of the 2017 World Series of Poker is in the books and the wave of thousands who took their shot in the Colossus have come and gone from the Amazon Room. New Jersey's Mike Azzaro was among that group of hopefuls and he fired five times in pursuit of millionaire glory. Despite the volume put in, Azzaro came away with just a single min-cash to show for his efforts. Azzaro’s expectations were tempered coming into the event and he was realistic about his chances knowing how much of a crapshoot the event is. “My expectations weren't too high for the Colossus. 20,000 players and a shitty structure all I can do is put the chips in and pray.” His prayers may not have been answered during Colossus and they have yet to reach a higher calling during the first couple of events Azzaro has played in. In his second week of the summer, Azzaro is still yet to make a Day 2 of a bracelet event. Azzaro played three $1,500 buy-ins over the last few days but hasn’t found the bag just yet at the Rio. He made Day 2 of the Venetian $400K but busted short of the money there as well. Thankfully for Azzaro, there is plenty of time for him to get his summer back on track but not before he takes his first break away from the felt. Electric Daisy Carnival weekend is on the immediate horizon in Las Vegas and many of the players in town for the series will be making their way over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for three nights of electronic music bliss. Azzaro will be in attendance and hopes that the time away will clear his head for the next part of the summer. “EDC is halftime for my WSOP. I unwind for the weekend have a blast and don't think about poker at all. Come back for the second half and looking to finish strong.” When Azzaro returns from his three days of ecstasy, the Monster Stack will be the first major event on the schedule. The $1,500 event will put together another first place prize of over $1,000,000 and perhaps this is the one that Azzaro makes his first deep run of the summer in. Azzaro knows it’s a long grind before the finish line hits in mid-July and there is a long line of events waiting for him. Once the first opportunity comes, Azzaro will be bound to strike. “The thing I have to remind myself about every summer is that it's a long summer and there are a ton of events. Take your time don't panic and have fun.”
  11. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro is taking a leave from the online world this summer to battle in Las Vegas and prove his chops on poker's biggest stage.[/caption] New Jersey online poker is producing some of the best players on the East Coast and a few of them are out in Las Vegas this summer to take their shot at a full schedule. Among those players is Mike ‘MikeyCasino’ Azzaro. Currently, Azzaro is the #8-ranked player in New Jersey and has put together a live tournament resume of $310,000 in earnings. Azzaro has been on the precipice of his tournament breakthrough for a few years now and he plans on putting in a full schedule this summer in pursuit of live poker glory. Throughout this summer, PocketFives will provide readers with exclusive insight into Azzaro’s summer as he looks to capture treasure in the desert. Mike Azzaro’s summer starts as an unknown quantity. Everyone who comes to Las Vegas is full of optimism that this is “their year.” And why wouldn’t they be? Millions of dollars are up for grabs in properties across Sin City and the only way to win it, is to be in it. That is what Azzaro plans on doing as he starts his summer grind. The World Series of Poker bracelet remains the crown jewel for all poker players and this summer, the WSOP has 74 of them up for grabs. Azzaro knows the prestige of bracelet is worth quite a bit but he’s realistic about his chances of claiming poker’s top prize. “My goals for the summer is to play well and not do anything stupid with my money. I would love to win a bracelet and a million dollars but if I don't I won't be disappointed since it's extremely tough to do so.” The tough part for players who are in the midst of the grind each and every day is finding a life balance along with maintaining a sustainable healthy lifestyle. As he prepared himself for the Colossus, the largest tournament of the summer in terms of field size, Azzaro kept active in hopes that peak physical condition might lead to increased mental acuity. “I got to Vegas about two weeks ago and haven't played much. I'm taking a break until Colossus begins. The first two weeks all I've been doing is going to the gym, playing basketball, and swimming.” Along with maintaining himself physically, Azzaro also has the peace of mind of having a good relationship with his roommates for the summer. In fact, they are the same roommates he lives with in New Jersey. Chris Horter and Jamie Kerstetter made the trip out to Las Vegas in what has become an annual tradition in their RV. Azzaro drove back them across the country last summer and flew out to meet them in the desert this year. That comfort gives Azzaro an added level of mental stability knowing he can trust those living with him around his most valuable commodity this summer, money. “When I'm playing I know I can trust the people I live with to not steal or do anything crazy. I can't live with strangers [and] I don't trust most people.” Azzaro’s schedule is jam-packed and he feels like his previous years of experience and success already had in 2017 puts him in a great position to achieve glory this summer. “The last few summers I played a ton of SNGs and good value MTTs. I feel that I'm playing the best poker I've ever played and have a ton of momentum heading into the summer.”
  12. [caption width="640"] Yong 'ykwon17' Kwon's ascension to #1 marks the latest change in NJ Online rankings. (Will OC photo)[/caption] There is yet another shakeup on top of the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings as Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon has taken the #1 spot from Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo. For the last few months, Kwon has been a familiar face near the top of the rankings but now wears the crown after completing a stellar month. Kwon won nine events in February and earned one of the largest scores of his online career when he won the WSOP.com $500 buy-in $15,000 guaranteed Tuesday Showdown for a cash of $7,845. After starting the month at number five, Kwon worked his way up the leaderboard and will look to become the first player in 2017 to be #1 in consecutive months. Despite falling from the #1 spot to second place, it was another productive month for Lupo, who made 10 trips to the podium and notched two first place finishes. It will be an interesting race for #1 in March as Kwon beat out Lupo by a mere three points. Jeremy ‘Jermz’ Danger fell one more spot in the rankings to number three. Danger continues to put in as much volume as anyone in the Garden State and finished the month with 14 victories. The largest of Danger’s dozens of cashes came in the WSOP.com $215 buy in $50,000 guaranteed Ultimate Warrior, which earned him $7,875 for taking second. Even with all the turmoil going on around them, Craig ‘craigruby’ Rubinstein and Daniel ‘wildman75’ Buzgon held their respective fourth and sixth place positions. Rubinstein earned five victories during February and Buzgon made two trips into the winner’s circle. Falling two spots is David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman, who was on the podium last month but is now in fifth. It was still a good month for Coleman as he finished February with nine total wins. The biggest jump, ranking-wise, belongs to Mike ‘Lav519’ Lavenburg, who is now among the rankings at number seven after finishing just outside in February. Among Lavenburg’s six wins was a gold medal finish in the PokerStars $500 buy in $15,000 guaranteed Sunday High Roller, which was worth $8,868. As a result of Lavenburg’s ascension, Fred ‘BiggDaddy’ Ferrell and Michael ‘JohnnnyDrama’ Haberman both dropped one spot to eighth and ninth, respectively. Rounding out the top-10 is Andrew ‘Mergulas’ Glauberg, who also moves down a single notch on the leaderboard, narrowly beating out Ryan ‘hags021’ Hagerty for the final spot in the rankings. New Jersey Online Poker Ranking Top 10 ykwon17 – 3,752.79 (+4) centrfieldr – 3,749.08 (-1) Jermz – 3,680.00 (-1) craigruby – 3,630.07 (-) dehhhhh – 3,535.56 (-2) wildman75 – 3,479.66 (-) Lav519 – 3,141.01 (NR) Biggdaddy – 3,107.28 (-1) JohnnnyDrama – 2,985.43 (-1) Mergulas – 2,800.17 (-1) Dropped Out of Top 10 – hags021 Just Missed – hags021 (#11), 7douche (#12), donnysack (#13)
  13. [caption width="420"] David Coleman is already one of the top online players in New Jersey after starting to play tournaments full-time in 2016.[/caption] If you are a regular follower of the monthly PocketFives New Jersey Online Rankings, you may notice that the age group of those in the top-10 more or less meet a certain consensus. The general range spans from players in their late-20s to late-30s with the occasional outlier sprinkled in. The latest of those outliers is 23-year-old David 'dehhhhh' Coleman, who surged into the eighth place spot at the start of December and has since climbed to number six, as of publication. Coleman graduated with a degree in finance from Rutgers University in New Brunswick in December 2014 with his eyes sight on working for a major bank. When he realized his lack of work experience would prevent him from achieving that goal in the immediate future, Coleman utilized his “mathematical brain” and started playing poker professionally. If Coleman’s ascension up the New Jersey rankings comes as a surprise, it is because he did not start playing online tournaments on a consistent basis until this year. Online cash games were Coleman’s former bread and butter but the unique elements of tournament poker caused Coleman to make the shift. “In all of 2015 and most of 2016, I didn't play many online tournaments. During that time period, I put in a lot of volume playing online cash games, mostly on WSOP, where I had a lot of success. After playing almost solely online cash games for over a year and a half, I started getting a little bored of them. Tournament poker, on the other hand, excites me much more. Each decision you make in tournament poker is different than any other decision you've ever made, due to the varying stack sizes at the table, the stage of the tournament you're in, the players at your table, etc.” The transition has been a success to this point for Coleman with November marking his full arrival into the upper echelon of New Jersey’s tournament poker scene. Coleman won two events on PokerStarsNJ for a shade over $10,000 each with his current online earnings on the cusp of eclipsing $250,000. Poker is an “enormous” part of Coleman’s life but he has been able to maintain a quality balance outside of the five days a week when he is playing. Coleman is able to do this by combining his love of sports with spending time with his family, which includes three brothers. “When the weather is nice, I like to spend as much time outside as possible. I played a ton of sports in my life [and] still play basketball and soccer pickup games, which I enjoy a lot. I am currently in a men's volleyball league which plays once a week. My dad and brother are both on the team which makes it a lot of fun. It’s important to me to spend as much time with my family as I can since we all still live in New Jersey,” said Coleman. Coleman’s live experience hit a peak in 2016 when he made a few trips to the payout cage in various Borgata Poker Opens, including a near final table finish in a field of over 2,300 in the Summer Poker Open kickoff event. Expanding his horizons farther beyond the shores of Atlantic City, Coleman says he plans to travel “around the world” to play live tournaments in 2017. Since making tournaments his poker mainstay, Coleman’s success has given him plenty of reason to have high hopes for the new year. Before he gets too far ahead of himself, though, Coleman is setting moderate goals in order to keep his winning ways going at a sustainable rate. “I would like to continue to see steady improvement in my game and keep putting in lots of volume online. I don't have concrete numeric goals for 2017, you can't be 'results based' as a poker player. As long as I'm playing to the best of my ability, steadily improving my game within my bankroll, I'll live with the results.”
  14. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro is running out of time to turn his summer around.[/caption] Poker tournament professionals are keenly aware of the fact that downswings are inevitable. The duration of them is a complete unknown but when they hit, there is no telling when the sun will shine once again. Mike Azzaro struggles continue this summer as he’s only put together a ledger of $3,850 in tournament earnings. July is right around the corner and Azzaro is running out of chances to earn the big score he came out to Las Vegas seeking. Azzaro’s struggles haven’t intensified to the point where he has had to consider lowering his volume or buy in range and that is due to healthy bankroll management practice. “BR management is key for not going broke. I don’t play tournaments where I don’t feel like I have an edge. It’s smart for players to sell action even if they don’t need to. You can reduce variance and not be so financially invested in a specific tourney where you can play with ease.” When some players are mired in a losing spell, they turn their attention to more consistently profitable cash games, but not Azzaro. The arduous days of tournament grinding have prevented him from doing so. There’s always a new tournament each day so even when Azzaro busts one, he is looking toward the next. A major item for Azzaro in keeping a healthy perspective on his downswing is the ability to keep his tournament results separated from his personal happiness. In a previous interview, Azzaro said he was lucky to play poker for a living and he stands by that even during this rough summer. “I don’t let poker results determine my happiness. I’m so lucky to be playing this game every day and not working a shitty dead-end job.” The hands that have resulted in Azzaro ending up a spectator are not memorable to him. As he says, he hasn’t played in that many meaningful pots and no specific hands stand out. Azzaro is playing the Dog Days of Summer Poker Jam Main Event at Binion’s this week and he says that if he wins the $200,000 guaranteed event, his bankroll might be back into the black for his Las Vegas stint. The summer schedule is littered with other events for the next few weeks and Azzaro should be in the mix for most of the six-figure guaranteed events leading up to the WSOP Main Event. Azzaro’s patience in waiting for his breakthrough payout of the summer has been tested and thanks to his keen money management, should pay dividends beyond July.
  15. [caption width="640"] After a stellar year of tournament results, Jason Rivkin is nearing the point of leaving poker as a full-time living. (Will OC photo)[/caption] There are many schools of thought about how to be a successful poker player on a long-term basis. Some suggest specializing in a single game and increasing your edge as much as possible while others would say it is better to have a diverse background to have an edge in many games. Jason 'RivJ' Rivkin has chosen to go with the latter approach and it is paying off wonderfully for him. The 29-year-old Rivkin’s background is in high-stakes cash games but in 2016, he had his best year playing No Limit tournaments. Rivkin finished second to Tony Dunst in the final $1,000 buy in event of the World Series of Poker and earned over $209,000 for his effort. Fast forward a few months later, Rivkin took home another silver medal in the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Cherokee. There is more to Rivkin that just poker. Rivkin started an MBA program at Monmouth University in 2014 with the intention of being able to work full-time once he graduated, and supplement his income with poker. As Rivkin puts it, he was in a prolonged downswing and "couldn’t justify torturing myself for a living just to get by." Rivkin came up in the online mixed game world and the first live cash game he ever played in was the $20/$40 Seven Card Stud game at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He prefers to play mixed cash. “I like the speed of the game and the controlled environment. You can never lose your stack in a hand. Disciplined play is valued over wild aggression,” said Rivkin. That same disciplined play that Rivkin refers to is necessary to run deep in tournaments. Rivkin claims that No Limit Hold’em tournaments were always an "afterthought" to him but as he started to notice the large prize pools forming around them, he decided to adjust his schedule to play more. The pivot in Rivkin’s game obviously paid off over the summer when he nearly achieved his dream of winning a World Series of Poker bracelet. Rivkin was disappointed he was unable to close out the victory but overall, he is satisfied with the result. "My dream in poker has always been to win a bracelet. For 13 years I’ve dedicated myself to the game; a process that I assumed wouldn’t be validated until I won a bracelet. But as I grew older, dreams encountered reality. As bitter as a second place finish feels from a competitive standpoint, the reality is that the money earned gives me much more than a bracelet or a ring ever could. Just to be on poker’s biggest stage is a thrill of a lifetime." In total, Rivkin earned over $455,000 in tournaments last year and is now, according to him, set up for future success thanks to the financial independence that his results have given him. Rivkin isn’t planning on increasing his tournament schedule based on his 2016 but is instead more focused on going back to his bread and butter of mixed cash and preparing for the long-term future. "It was hard to set expectations for 2017 since tournament success is extremely unpredictable. I want to keep my bankroll healthy by playing cash. I want to improve myself and strengthen my relationships. I want to set myself up for the next 20 years. My success in 2016 has allowed me to play the high stakes cash games I can thrive in," said Rivkin. "From a personal standpoint, I have enjoyed the freedom of financial independence. I never have to doubt why I started to play this game in the first place. As an added bonus, I will have my MBA by the end of the year." Many poker players dream of a day where they have enough money stuffed away to not have to play the game for a living and Rivkin is heading in that direction. He will have a world of options open to him once he receives his MBA and it will be interesting to see what the future holds as that step in his life completes. "Now as I’m finishing up my degree, my goals have changed. I hope to use my business acumen to start and manage a business. Everything is moving in the right direction. Momentum is a real thing in poker."
  16. [caption width="640"] Ryan Hohner has a chance at capturing an elusive six-figure score when play resumes Friday for the Winter Poker Open.[/caption] The Event Center inside The Borgata has been buzzing this entire week with players taking their shot in the Winter Poker Open $2,000,000 guaranteed opening event. Over 4,000 entrants are anticipated to register when all is said and done, with a crop of top New Jersey online players among them. Already through to Friday’s Day 2 is Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner, one of the up-and-coming players among New Jersey’s youthful online base. Hohner anticipates that he will be playing most of the major events at the Borgata during this WPO series and has a plan to keep himself fresh during the three-week long grind. “During the WPO, I'll typically make a couple trips back home to spend time with friends and family to kind of hit the reset button if I'm not playing well. After you [register] tournament after tournament after tournament, it can become mundane and with long Day 1's, fatigue can definitely be a factor.” Hohner credits his friend and fellow New Jersey online grinder, Ryan ‘hags21’ Hagerty, with introducing him to yoga. As Hohner notes, yoga “has gone a long way towards making me feel much more relaxed and ready to take on long days.” The 25-year-old Hohner says he started playing online poker as far back as 2008 and during his first two years of college at Ramapo College, he started to commit to the game as a means of making a long-term living. Once Black Friday hit in 2011, though, Hohner soon saw his bankroll vanquished and with it, his vision at that time for being a professional poker player. Despite the life downswing, Hohner remained optimistic he would have another chance and took advantage when the opportunity presented itself. “During the final years of my college education, I worked nights at a local grocery store and continued to pursue a degree in journalism, but knew I wasn't finished playing poker. I continued to work, save money, and sure enough, a door opened up here in New Jersey to play online, and I never looked back.” Hohner has gradually grown more accustomed to the live game in the last year and acknowledges the stark differences between the two. “The foundation to beating live is having an overall good core understanding of game theory and being able to step into the ring psychologically to beat your opponents.” New Jersey online Sundays offer five-figure guarantees on a weekly basis but for live series like the Winter Poker Open, multi-million dollar prize pools are up for grabs that draw players in from up and down the East Coast. With fields numbering in the thousands, some players have a certain strategy for outlasting the masses. Hohner, on the on the other prefers to base his strategy on his the immediate opponents he is up against. “Poker is so very dependent on your opposition and being able to adjust accordingly to fit whatever playing style will win you the most chips. I'd say the biggest aspect as I continually progress my game, as well as my students (since I have recently begun coaching NLH), is being increasingly aware of your opponents at the table and the manner in which they perceive you.” First place prizes numbering in the hundreds of thousands do not come around often and Hohner has a chance to secure the largest tournament cash of his career should he advance deep in the WPO kickoff. Hard work has a tendency to pay off and Hohner is hopeful the time he has invested will pay dividends by week’s end. “It's hard to put into words what exactly making a deep run and notching a significant score would mean to me. This past year, I've put so much work into progressing my life on and off of the felt. A title would be bittersweet and prove to myself that the countless hours of studying amounted to a significant result.”
  17. [caption width="640"] Mike Azzaro made Day 2C of the Main Event and is looking to better his Day 5 finish of a year ago.[/caption] Over 7,000 entrants jumped in this year’s WSOP Main Event and roughly half of them returned Wednesday for Day 2C. Mike Azzaro is one of those players and is making his second straight Day 2 appearance. Last summer, Azzaro made a Day 5 run that wound up with him earning his best tournament result from his 187th place finish. Azzaro brings 30,300 into Day 2 and despite being under starting stack, knows that it’s a long road ahead to best or exceed his place from a year ago. “It's hard not to think about where I was last year. I'm going to take it one hand at a time and focus on bagging one day at a time. I bagged 30,000 which is below starting stack but I still have 50 big blinds. My intention for Day 2 is to bag again.” The Main Event is different from nearly all other tournaments in that it doesn’t reach the money until Day 3 or Day 4, compared to others that reach that checkpoint by Day 2. With so many players returning for Day 2C, it’s effectively another Day 1 and Azzaro recognizes the importance of having to put another good day of poker together in order to reach the $15,000 min-cash. “Both days are very important as you need to play well and bag chips if you want to reach the money and eventually the final table.” In the week leading up to his Day 1C Main Event entry, Azzaro cashed in three events, his best streak of consistent success in the last few weeks. Azzaro believes the “momentum” of reaching the payout cage helps in confidence heading into the best tournament of the year. In order to best prepare himself for what will be an arduous grind, Azzaro is planning to relax, take his time, and be mentally prepared for whatever might lay in front of him. He’s made the climb up the mountain before and Azzaro has the tools at his disposal to chip up on Day 2 and potentially leave Las Vegas in the black for the summer.
  18. [caption width="640"] PalaPoker.com announced it is out of "Beta" and adds new Mega tournaments to their schedule[/caption] New Jersey poker players have yet another choice on where to play online with Monday's announcement that Pala Interactive, the online, real money gaming arm of the Pala Casino Spa & Resort, are officially removing the “beta” tag from their new online poker product, PalaPoker.com, making it an official entry into the Garden State marketplace. The initial slate of tournaments, Sit & Go’s and cash games includes Texas Hold’em, Omaha as well as Seven Card Stud. Mike O’ Malley, Pala Interactive’s Chief Operating Officer, seems to understand that while they are off to a good start it will be through the feedback of their customers that their product will continue to expand. “While we still have a robust roadmap of features and functionality to add to our online poker product, we are encouraged enough by the stability and performance of our platform to move past the beta stage,” said O’ Malley. "We look forward to continue to work with New Jersey poker players to refine our offering.” One of the first things PalaPoker.com did when taking off the “beta” tag was also announce three new weekly Mega tournaments with bankroll building guaranteed prize pools. Each of the three Mega tournaments will have a $2,000 guaranteed prize pool and an initial buy-in of $30, with rebuys available. Every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night these guaranteed tournaments will run at 7:30pm ET and for those who would like to try and win their way into the Megas, PalaPoker.com will be offering daily Hyper Turbo satellite tournaments for only $3.30. In addition to the three Mega tournaments, the initial schedule of tournaments features over 60 weekly guaranteed tournaments in an effort to be a part of the New Jersey players daily grind. “The Pala Mega events will provide a constant opportunity for players to have a destination tournament on PalaPoker.com where they can substantially add to their bankroll,” O Malley continued. “The new feeder structure we have created will allow players of all bankroll levels an opportunity to participate.” The initial tournament schedule on PalaPoker.com starts everyday at 4:00pm ET and consists of roughly 14 daily tournaments. But for those looking to put in some volume just for fun, there's at least one freeroll per day. As an incentive to give their new platform a try PalaPoker.com is offering new players a 100% match deposit bonus up to $500 as well as $50 in registration bonuses. The free $50 sign-up bonus includes poker tournament dollars to register for MTTs or Sin & Go’s as well as $5 to splash around in their cash games. PalaPoker.com is available as a downloadable client for Mac/Win, to play on a mobile device or as an in-browser experience. Sign-up now for Sign-up now for PalaPoker to get a $50 registration bonus and 100% match bonus on your first deposit up to $500.
  19. [caption width="640"] 888poker.com's New Jersey Poker Classic Series starts on November 10[/caption] 888poker.com is making waves in the New Jersey market with the upcoming New Jersey Poker Classic Series. The online festival runs from November 10-20 and features 38 events with $500,000 in guaranteed prize pools. Recent numbers in the PokerStarsNJ NJCOOP series and partypokerNJ Garden State Super Series suggest the state has a market that can support multiple major events and 888poker.com is putting that to the test this month. The largest guarantee on the schedule is the $500 buy-in $100,000 guaranteed Main Event. 888poker.com has put a Championship Beltup for grabs to the winner of the event. Also on the schedule is a $1,000 Six-Max event with a $50,000 guarantee. This tournament runs on November 14 and should feature some of New Jersey’s best battling at the final table. As is expected, the Sunday schedule is jam-packed with major events and large prize pool warranties. The Sunday Biggy on November 12 is just that event with a $320 buy-in putting a $65,000 minimum prize pool to battle over in Event 7. Also on November 12 is Event 8, a $4,500 guaranteed Six-Max featuring a small buy-in of $20. This event is likely to attract one of the largest fields in the New Jersey Poker Classic Series. The majority of the NJPCS schedule is comprised of No Limit Hold’em events. The exception to the rule is Event 10 and 21, which are Pot Limit Omaha tournaments. Event 10 is a $100 8-Max $8,000 guarantee. Event 21 is a $50 buy-in with an add-on option and rebuy availability. Satellites are currently running for all events on the schedule, with freeroll qualifiers in play every day of the series. At least five seats are awarded each day to an event running the following day. In total, over $8,000 in freeroll seats are being given away through the freerolls. The freeroll satellites run through November 19 and start at 6:00 pm ET. EVENTDATETIMEBUY-INGUARANTEE #1 - The Deep$tack [Re-entry]10/11/20177:00 PM$75$6,000 #2 - NJPC Warmup [Re-entry]10/11/20178:00 PM$150$10,000 #3 - The Super Addon [R&A]10/11/20179:00 PM$20$6,000 #4 - The Classic Freezeout11/11/20177:00 PM$50$3,000 #5 - 8 Max at 8 [Re-entry]11/11/20178:00 PM$250$15,000 #6 - Saturday's Turbo [R&A]11/11/20179:00 PM$75$6,000 #7 - Sunday Biggy [Re-entry]12/11/20175:00 PM$320$65,000 #8 - 6 Max at 6 [R&A]12/11/20176:00 PM$20$4,500 #9 - Sunday Spectacular [Re-entry]12/11/20177:00 PM$500$30,000 #10 - The Omaha 100 [Re-entry, 8 Max]12/11/20178:00 PM$100$8,000 #11 - Turbo Deep$tack [Re-entry]12/11/20179:00 PM$100$8,000 #12 - The Classic 50 [R&A]13/11/20176:00 PM$50$4,000 #13 - The Classic 100 [Re-entry, 8 Max]13/11/20177:00 PM$100$8,000 #14 - Little Monday [R&A]13/11/20178:00 PM$30$7,000 #15 - Knock 'em Out14/11/20176:00 PM$75$2,500 #16 - NJPC High Roller [Re-entry, 6 Max]14/11/20177:00 PM$1,000$50,000 #17 - Tuesday Throwdown [Re-entry]14/11/20178:00 PM$250$15,000 #18 - The Show Me [R&A]15/11/20176:00 PM$10$1,000 #19 - The Deep$tack II [R&A]15/11/20177:00 PM$75$6,000 #20 - Wednesday 2AND115/11/20178:00 PM$50$5,000 #21 - The Omaha 50 [R&A, 8 Max]15/11/20179:00 PM$50$3,000 #22 - The Deep$tack III [R&A]16/11/20176:00 PM$20$3,000 #23 - Thursday 2AND116/11/20177:00 PM$30$2,500 #24 - For The Win [4 Max, R&A]16/11/20178:00 PM$50$5,000 #25 - Turbo Deep$tack II [Re-entry]17/11/20176:00 PM$50$4,000 #26 - Knock 'em Out II17/11/20177:00 PM$150$5,000 #27 - The Classic 100 II [Re-entry]17/11/20179:00 PM$100$8,000 #28 - Deep$tack & Super Addon [R&A]18/11/20177:00 PM$50$8,000 #29 - Saturday's Best [Re-entry]18/11/20178:00 PM$320$25,000 #30 - Saturday's 6 Max [Re-entry]18/11/20179:00 PM$150$10,000 #31 - The Main Event [Re-entry]19/11/20175:00 PM$500$100,000 #32 - Just 30 [R&A]19/11/20176:00 PM$30$7,500 #33 - The Sunday Funday [Re-entry]19/11/20177:00 PM$250$25,000 #34 - The Classic 100 III [1R1A]19/11/20178:00 PM$100$10,000 #35 - Sunday's Late [Re-entry, Turbo]19/11/201710:00 PM$75$5,000 #36 - The Last 100 [1R1A]20/11/20177:00 PM$100$10,000 #37 - Monday's 6 Max [R]20/11/20178:00 PM$50$4,000 #38 - Fast and Last [Re-entry, Super Turbo]20/11/20179:00 PM$75$5,000 When the series gets started on Friday, New Jersey’s online community will be attempting to get their hands on a piece of the $500,000 in play over the span of two weeks.
  20. [caption width="640"] Online poker players in New Jersey should be making plans for NJCOOP in early October.[/caption] Just as soon PokerStars’ World Championship of Online Poker is wrapping up, the world’s largest online poker site is all set to fire up a new poker series and this time...it's all for you, New Jersey. The New Jersey Championship of Online Poker returns September 30 - October 16 and they are bringing with it an all-encompassing 46-events spread out over 17 days and $1.2 million in guarantees. The New Jersey series, like the WCOOP before it, aims to provide a variety of tournaments to suit every type of poker enthusiast. Of course, there’s a healthy dose of No Limit Hold’em, but also plenty of poker variants are spread throughout the schedule. Pot Limit Omaha, Triple Stud, Eight Game Mixed and Limit Hold’em all have NJCOOP titles up for grabs. Additionally, all of the popular formats are blended into the mix as well - Progressive KO, Six Max, Turbos, Hypers and Deepstack - so no matter what you enjoy, there’s a title on the line for you to take a shot at. The buy-ins for the championship series range from $50 up to the $1,000 High Roller. While you can, of course, buy your way directly into any contest you choose, there are plenty of satellites to help you punch your ticket for less. Standard satellites, which you can jump into right now, start for as little as $1. PokerStars is also offering special edition $4 Spin & Go’s where you could find yourself awarded entry to the $500 NJCOOP Main Event on October 15. Members of Team PokerStars are also planning on being out in force to support the Garden State. According to PokerStars, Chris Moneymaker, Jason Somerville, Jennifer Shahade and one of the newest Team PokerStars Online Pros, Jeff Gross, are all set to jump in the action. Look for both Somerville and Gross to stream much of the action on Twitch. NJCOOP will also include daily Second Chance Freerolls. Players who don't make the money in any given tournament are going to get a little something extra to pick their spirits up. In any NJCOOP tournament when a player fails to cash, that will get awarded an entry into the daily Second Chance Freeroll which awards tickets into satellites or even direct entry into another NJCOOP event. While there will be plenty of money to be won online, PokerStars will be doubling down in New Jersey in October when they run the PokerStars MEGASTACK mini-series at the Resorts Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City. From October 6-8, PokerStars is putting on a pair of live No Limit Hold'em tournaments (the $220 Sunday Special and the $120 Cheap And Deep) that, combined, will have $120,000 in guaranteed prize pools. Whether you play poker online, live or both PokerStars is bringing the action to NJ and all you need to do in order to participate is simply find yourself located in New Jersey. Start DateStart Time (ET)Event #TournamentGuaranteed Prize Pool 9/3018:0001$100 Nightly Stars - NJCOOP Warm-Up$20,000 9/3020:0002$200 NL Hold'em [Turbo] - NJCOOP Warm-Up$10,000 10/114:0003$200 NL Hold'em [Progressive Super KO]$30,000 10/115:3004$150 NL Hold'em [Deepstack, 8-max]$25,000 10/117:0005$250 NL Hold'em [Sunday Special SE]$85,000 10/120:0006$100 PL Omaha [8-max]$15,000 10/122:0007$150 Sunday SuperSonic SE [Hyper]$15,000 10/218:3008$100 NL Hold'em [Speed-Down]$20,000 10/220:0009$75+R PL Omaha Hi/Lo [8-max]$15,000 10/319:0010$250 NL Hold'em [Super Tuesday SE]$30,000 10/320:0011$300 NL Hold'em [Heads-Up]$20,000 10/321:3012$100 NL Hold'em [Bubble Rush]$10,000 10/418:3013$100 NL Hold'em [Progressive Super-KO]$20,000 10/420:0014$200 Limit Hold'em [6-max]$10,000 10/518:3015$300 8-Game [6-max]$10,000 10/520:0016$50+R NL Hold'em$20,000 10/521:3017$100 NL Hold'em [Turbo]$10,000 10/620:0018$200 Triple Stud$10,000 10/621:3019$50+R NL Hold'em [3-Max, Hyper, Rebuy]$10,000 10/717:0020$100 NL Hold'em [Deepstack, 8-max]$20,000 10/720:0021$200 NL Hold'em [Bigstack, Turbo]$15,000 10/814:0022$100 Mixed NLHE/PLO [6-max]$15,000 10/815:3023$150 NL Hold'em [Win the Button]$20,000 10/817:0024$350 NL Hold'em [Sunday Special SE]$80,000 10/819:0025$200 NL Hold'em [Progressive SuperKO]$35,000 10/821:0026$100 NL Hold'em - No Late Reg! [Shootout, 6-max, Turbo, CAP 216]$10,000 10/918:0027$300 NL Hold'em [4-max]$40,000 10/920:0028$500 PL Omaha [High Roller, 6-max]$30,000 10/1018:0029$150 NL Hold'em [1R1A]$20,000 10/1019:0030$1,000 NL Hold'em [High Roller]$80,000 10/1020:0031$100 NL Omaha Hi/Lo [8-max]$10,000 10/1118:0032$25+R NL Hold'em [Rebuy]$15,000 10/1119:0033$200 NL Hold'em [Win the Button]$20,000 10/1220:0034$50+R PL Omaha [6-Max, Rebuy]$10,000 10/1221:0035$150 NL Hold'em [Turbo]$20,000 10/1320:0036$100 PL 5-Card Omaha [8-max]$10,000 10/1321:0037$200 NL Hold'em [Deep, Hyper]$15,000 10/1418:0038$300 NL Hold'em [6-max]$30,000 10/1421:0039$75 NL Hold'em [Zoom]$15,000 10/1514:0040$100 NL Hold'em [Big Antes]$15,000 10/1517:0041$500 NL Hold'em Main Event [Day 1]$200,000 10/1518:0042$50 NL Hold'em [Main Event Structure]$35,000 10/1520:0043$100 NL Hold'em [Win the Button]$15,000 10/1522:0044$75 NL Hold'em Sunday Supersonic SE [Hyper]$15,000 10/1619:0041$500 NL Hold'em Main Event [Day 2]$200,000 10/1619:0045$150 NL Hold'em [Nightly Stars SE - NJCOOP Wrap-Up]$20,000 10/1621:0046$100 NL Hold'em [Deep-Hyper, 6-Max]$10,000
  21. [caption width="640"] The 2017 WSOP Main Event final table includes Ben Lamb, Antoine Saout and New Jersey's own Scott Blumstein (WSOP photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] Scott Blumstein came out to Las Vegas to play the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event because he felt like he was ready. He had hopes of cashing. Instead, the New Jersey native finds himself as the chip leader heading into the final table. “Surreal. I don’t even know how it happened. It’s been a crazy ride,” said Blumstein. “Seven days I’ve somehow bagged more chips than I’ve started with every day by a significant amount. I just keep going up in chips.” Blumstein started Day 7 with the eighth largest stack but worked his way up to the chip lead. The biggest hand came against Jack Sinclair at the unofficial final table. John Hesp raised to 1,600,000 from the hijack, Blumstein called from the cutoff and Sinclair made it 5,400,000 from the big blind. Hesp got out of the way, but Blumstein called. Sinclair bet 4,000,000 after the [poker card="9d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="3s"] flop and Blumstein called. Sinclair then bet 7,500,000 after the [poker card="6s"] turn and Blumstein called again. The river was the [poker card="ac"] and Sinclair bet 13,000,000. Blumstein thought over his options and eventually called, tabling [poker card="tc"][poker card="td"] while Sinclair mucked [poker card="jd"][poker card="4h"]. That pot put Blumstein into the lead, while Sinclair dropped all the way from third to seventh. Every Main Event final table seems to have one “everyman” that fans at home can cheer. Filling that role this year is England’s John Hesp. The 64 year old sits second in chips with 85,700,000 after spending a good chunk of Day 7 as the chip leader. The final table features four Americans, two Brits, two Frenchmen and for the first time in history, an Argentinian. It also includes two former November Niners and, for the second consecutive year, a former #1-ranked player on PocketFives. Joining Blumstein as the American representation are former Bryan Piccioli, Dan Ott and Ben Lamb. France is represented by Benjamin Pollak and Antoine Saout while Damian Salas is the Argentinian. For Lamb and Saout, this marks a return to the final table for the second time in their career. Lamb finished third in 2011 while Saout also finished, two years earlier. Piccioli, who was #1 on PocketFives in May 2011, doubled through and all but eliminated his good friend, Michael Ruane. Action folded to Ruane and he moved all in for 17,300,000 before Piccioli tank-called all in from the button. Ruane showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"] while Piccioli tabled [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. The board rand out [poker card="jh"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5d"][6][poker card="7h"] to give Piccioli 34,000,000. Ruane was eliminated by Salas two hands later. Christian Pham started the day as the chip leader but was one of the earliest eliminations on Sunday. On his final hand of the night, Pham raised to 900,000 from UTG, Pollak raised to 2,350,000 from the cutoff. Pham called and then checked the [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"][poker card="td"] flop. Pollak bet 2,600,000 and Pham called. The turn was the [poker card="7h"], Pham checked again and Pollak moved all in. Pham eventually called and tabled [poker card="ah"][poker card="3h"] and watched his chips disappear as Pollak showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="as"]. Pham’s 19th place finish earned him $263,532. Other notable Day 6 eliminations included Jake Bazeley (25th - $263,532), Marcel Luske (23rd - $263,532), Jonas Mackoff (21st - $263,532), and Scott Stewart (13th - $535,000). The nine players now take the next two days off before resuming action at 5:30 pm PT on Thursday. The ESPN2 broadcast begins at 6 pm. The plan is to play through three eliminations on Thursday and Friday before playing to a champion on Saturday night. Final Table Chip Counts Scott Blumstein - 97,250,000 John Hesp - 85,700,000 Benjamin Pollak - 35,175,000 Bryan Piccioli - 33,800,000 Dan Ott - 26,475,000 Damian Salas - 22,175,000 Antoine Saout - 21,750,000 Jack Sinclair - 20,200,000 Ben Lamb - 18,050,000
  22. [caption width="650"] David 'dehhhhh' Coleman has done well both in live and online tournaments in June.[/caption] The poker action has shifted west over the last few weeks for many of New Jersey’s top online players. Quite a few of them have come to Las Vegas to put their live skills to the test but the action has still been profitable for a few back home. For the third straight month, David ‘dehhhhh’ Coleman is #1 in the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings. Coleman’s June included 11 victories across New Jersey’s online sites. He also has cashed three times in the World Series of Poker with a payday earned in the $3,333 High Roller event played on WSOP.com. In the last week alone, Coleman has cashed for $21,000 in World Series of Poker events. Up one spot from third to second is Yong ‘ykwon17’ Kwon, who earned 12 victories in June. Kwon’s wins were highly profitable as he won two PokerStars Sunday Specials with the each victory worth over $10,000 apiece. Rounding out the top-three is Mike ‘Lav519’ Lavenburg. Lavenburg made seven total trips to the winner’s circle along with 10 additional podium finishes. Back in for another month in fourth place is Daniel ‘centrfieldr’ Lupo. The former NJ #1 picked up three victories with his largest score coming as a fourth place finish in the PartyPokerNJ $215 buy in $40,000 guaranteed RE + Bonus. Lupo earned $3,600 in that event. There are three newcomers to the Poker Rankings this month with Josh ‘thejberg’ Rothberg and John ‘Selurznug’ Cosgrove coming in at fifth and eighth, respectively. Rothberg won four NJ tournaments in June while Cosgrove took down 10 of his own. Dan ‘wildman75’ Buzgon and Jeremy ‘Jermz’ Danger each fell one spot and are now sixth and seventh. Buzgon has spent the month playing live in Las Vegas and has three cashes so far this summer. Danger took down 11 titles in June. Falling two spots from seventh to ninth is Craig ‘craigruby’ Rubinstein, who made four top-three finishes. Coming in at #10 is the final newcomer to the rankings, Matt ‘papamat25’ Iles, just edging out Sri ‘sri100k’ Sangannagari. New Jersey Online Poker Ranking Top 10 dehhhhh – 4,202.52 (-) ykwon17 – 4,060.20 (+1) Lav519 – 3,594.55 (-1) centrfieldr – 3,385.54 (-) therealjberg – 3,119.69 (NR) wildman75 – 3,100.38 (-1) Jermz – 3,062.80 (-1) Selurznug – 3,061.41 (NR) craigruby – 2,923.40 (-2) papamat25 – 2,892.85 (-) Dropped Out of Top 10 – MikeyCasino, Biggdaddy, JLaw Just Missed – sri100k (#11), JLaw (#12), Biggdaddy (#13)
  23. [caption width="640"] Playing on playMGMpoker this month could send you to the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic (WPT photo)[/caption] For November only, PocketFivers in New Jersey can win one of three $535 World Poker Tour Five Diamond super satellite tickets simply by playing tournaments on playMGMpoker.com. Players can earn leaderboard points by cashing in tournaments on PlayMGMpoker.com throughout the month of November. Points are awarded based on the PocketFives.com Leaderboard Formula and only results from PlayMGMPoker count towards the leaderboard. Points are earned only AFTER players opt in to the leaderboard. The three players who earn the most leaderboard points during this time will each win a $535 WPT Five Diamond Super Satellite ticket good for entry to the December 3 Super Satellite. That Super Satellite awards one $12,000 WPT Five Diamond package, including $10,400 buy-in and $1,600 travel, for every 24 players entered and at least one seat is guaranteed. This is the first time that New Jersey players have been able to qualify for a Las Vegas WPT event. "The leaderboard is just another way for us to give back to our loyal New Jersey community," said Lance Bradley, PocketFives President and Editor in Chief. "We'd love nothing more than for one of our members to turn that $535 ticket into a World Poker Tour title." One of the most prestigious WPT events on the schedule, the Five Diamond Poker Classic, which has a $10,400 buy-in, is set to take place December 5-10 at the Bellagio Resort and Casino. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to extend this to a national offering, with playMGMpoker sponsoring our online satellite program into the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic; allowing for participants in New Jersey to compete amongst the best players at an MGM Resorts Destination in Las Vegas,” said Ray Stefanelli, Executive Director of Online Gaming for playMGMpoker. Players who finish 4th - 10th on the leaderboard each receive a PocketFives hooded sweatshirt. To be eligible for this promotion you must have your PlayMGMpoker screen name listed on your PocketFives.com profile. Click here to do that (be sure to select “PlayMGM” from the list of sites). Once you've done that, make sure you visit the PlayMGMpoker WPT Five Diamond Leaderboard and click the green OPT IN button.
  24. [caption width="640"] The Bellagio plays host to the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic[/caption] Through the recently announced partnership between the World Poker Tour and playMGMPoker, New Jersey players have the unique opportunity to satellite online into one of the most esteemed live tournaments in any given year - the World Poker Tour Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. For the first time, New Jersey residents can qualify for the major Las Vegas tournament by winning a $12,000 package that includes an entry into the $10,400 Main Event, $1,600 in cash to help cover travel and accommodations, and the first-night-free stay at one of the flagship MGM properties, the Bellagio Hotel & Casino. Whether you are a deep-pocketed shot taker or a value-seeking grinder there are a number of ways for playMGMpoker players to earn their shot at what will likely be the seven-figure first place prize at the WPT Five Diamond. It all starts for as little as $10. Looking to work your way to the top? playMGMPoker is running $10 Daily Qualifiers into the $55 Bellagio Qualifier. The first step starts every day at 5:40pm and 8:40pm ET where the $10 tournament guarantees at least two entries into the $55 step. Roughly one out of roughly every six entries into the $10 starter tournament will win entry into the $55 Bellagio Qualifier. The $55 Bellagio Qualifier is also running every day. At 7:20pm ET, players compete to win their way into main $535 Bellagio Super Satellite to WPT Bellagio Five Diamond. With at least one seat to the main satellite guaranteed, approximately one out of every 11 participants will gain entry and get their shot at the $12,000 package. In addition to the daily $55, there is a once-a-week Turbo Qualifier taking place on Sundays at 5:20pm. The turbo takes place right before the $535 Super Satellite is set to begin. Players can win or buy their way into the to the final step, the $535 Super Satellite to WPT Bellagio. There are four more opportunities left to vie for the grand prize at 6:20pm ET on the following Sundays: November 12 November 19 November 26 December 3 Roughy one out of every 24 will pick up a $12,000 package, escape the New Jersey winter and be on their way to sunny Las Vegas for the Main Event. Whether it's daily qualifiers or buying directly into the Super Satellite, playMGMPoker has a path for those looking to make their dreams of playing the WPT Five Diamond a reality.
  25. [caption width="639"] Joseph Galazzo is one of a handful of players who won their way into the WPT Five Diamond via satellites on playMGMpoker.[/caption] If you look at Joseph 'JOEYdaMUSH' Galazzo’s Hendon Mob profile, a couple of things stand out. The first, all of his cashes are in East Coast tournaments. Most are at Borgata. Some are at Parx. The second, is about a month ago he hit a $110,011 cash after posting a second-place official finish in the Borgata Fall Poker Open opening event. It was his biggest score ever. Thanks to a $535 satellite win, Galazzo has a chance to change both of these this week in Las Vegas at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic. The 37-year-old, ranked #52 in New Jersey, won his seat on playMGMpoker.com. He tried working his way up through the steps, but couldn’t make it happen, so he bought straight into the Super Satellite. “I jumped right in. I tried to ladder up a couple of times, because they had those $55 ones, and I couldn’t make any tickets out of those. I think it was the third one that I played because they had five or six. Third time was a charm,” said Galazzo. The win allowed Galazzo to head out to Las Vegas for the first time in his career. “I just never felt comfortable coming out here bankroll-wise, I was just waiting for the right spot,” said Galazzo. “I had my biggest score, about a month ago at Borgata, a six-figure score, so it felt right to expand my horizons beyond the East Coast.” The boost to the bankroll was nice, but Galazzo also admitted that getting that deep in a big event came with a confidence boost that he’s hoping pays off this week. He was one of 400+ players seated at the start of Day 1 and said all the nerves were gone after the first few hands. “I have a pretty good table. I have Mohsin Charania on my left, but I’m trying not to get mixed up with him too much. Everybody else I don’t recognize,” said Galazzo, who also has ClubWPT qualifier Bill Mynatt at his table, which has made things interesting. “He’s limping a lot of pots and it’s making for an interesting dynamic, because everybody’s trying to iso him and I actually paid him off, three streets, he flopped top two on me, I had ace-king and paid him and the camera was rolling. I don’t mind - he seems like a good guy,” said Galazzo. Almost immediately upon landing, Galazzo did something that is almost a rite of passage for Las Vegas virgins. He hit up the In-N-Out burger. “It was amazing. Half the people say it was overrated and the other half say it’s the best thing,” said Galazzo. “It was definitely the best non-gourmet burger I’ve ever had. Way better than Five Guys and everything else. It was amazing. I loved it.” That wasn’t the only touristy thing he’s done since getting into town on Monday night, but he doesn’t plan on doing too much - he wants to save some for a return trip. “I went and saw the fountains at the Bellagio. I didn’t really do anything too crazy yet, I’m only here for a week,” said Galazzo. “I’m definitely coming back in the summer, I’m going to play the World Series. So in the summer I’m going to do a lot of that other stuff, going hiking in the desert.” Even though it’s six months away, Galazzo believes now is the time to make his WSOP debut. “I just feel like I’m playing really well, and it’s just such good value tournaments, not just at RIo, but also at Venetian and Planet Hollywood and just try to cash in on playing well,” said Galazzo.
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