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As 2019 draws to a close, PocketFives takes a look back at the year that was in poker news, going month-by-month through the biggest and most important stories of the year. In May, the poker world was surprised when it was announced that Daniel Negreanu, the face of PokerStars, was no longer going to be an ambassador for the online site. Daniel Negreanu And PokerStars Part Ways One of the most stable relationships in the poker world ended in May as Daniel Negreanu and PokerStars announced that they would be going their separate ways. Right before the World Series of Poker and only days after his high-profile wedding to Amanda Leatherman, Negreanu took to Twitter and posted a short video that announced that he would no longer be patched up for the online poker giant. Negreanu began representing the PokerStars brand in 2007 and quickly became the face of the company, including taking on plenty of criticism during PokerStars' controversial termination of the SuperNova Elite program in late 2015. “Daniel has been one of the most influential faces of poker and indeed PokerStars for 12 years,” said Stars Group Public Relations associate director Rebecca McAdam. “It has been wonderful to have his passion, support, and insights throughout our relationship. We wish Daniel the very best for the future, as well as wedded bliss and tons of run good this summer.” Six months after the end of his deal with PokerStars, Negreanu announced he would now be representing upcoming online poker site GGPoker in a deal that is believed to be worth even more than his contract with PokerStars. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] PocketFives Counts Down Top 50 Ahead of the 50th Annual World Series of Poker, the PocketFives editorial staff released their list of the 50 Greatest Players in World Series of Poker History. From old-school legends to internet grinders, the list is a snapshot of not just the history of the WSOP, but also of poker itself. Take a look back at our top 10 list of the players who made their name on the World Series of Poker stage. 10. Jason Mercier 9. Michael Mizrachi 8. Chris Ferguson 7. Erik Seidel 6. Daniel Negreanu 5. Johnny Chan 4. Phil Ivey 3. Stu Ungar 2. Doyle Brunson 1. Phil Hellmuth Phil Hellmuth Is Not Satisfied, Never Will Be With the 2019 World Series of Poker right around the corner, 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth spoke with PocketFives about what it means for him to hold all the records and what the 1989 Main Event winner was hoping would happen at the series, 30 years after his career-defining victory. “It’s in my nature, it’s in my DNA,” Hellmuth said of his drive to be the best. “I'm super competitive, and I’m competing against the best players in the world, in this era, and past and future eras, for greatest poker player of all time.” partypoker Invades Sin City Summer in Las Vegas belongs to the World Series of Poker. But in 2019, partypoker decided to get in on the action and announced that their partypoker MILLIONS series would be headed to the ARIA Hotel & Casino, marking the first time they’ve held a tournament in America. “We’re looking forward to MILLIONS making its debut this summer at the record,” said ARIA Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack. “Our team is excited to add an event of this magnitude to our extensive summer schedule.” The partypoker MILLIONS had a $10,300 buy-in and a $5 million guarantee. The tournament ended up crushing the guarantee with Thomas Marchese taking home the $1,000,000 first-place prize of the over $5.36 million prize pool. Alex ‘SploogeLuge’ Foxen Wins May PLB Live or online, when it comes to poker Alex ‘SploogeLuge’ Foxen has proved he can do it all. In May, he took down the PocketFives Leaderboard for the first time. The former GPI #1-ranked player spent plenty of time in Canada this year, grinding some of the biggest online poker tournaments which helped him reach a career-high ranking of #4 in the world and soar past $5 million in lifetime online earnings.
2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. Stu Ungar BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 5 16 $2,081,478 13 Brilliant. Troubled. Arrogant. Genius. All of these worlds have been used to describe the three-time World Series of Poker Main Event champion Stu Ungar. Widely regarded as one of the best No Limit Hold’em players of his generation, Ungar's prodigious understanding of poker and the people that play it made him one of the most feared players of his era and his untimely death in 1998 cut short a legendary career of a player that many call the best to ever play the game. Ungar arrived in Las Vegas an accomplished gin player, by many accounts the greatest gin player in history. Routinely taking down gin tournaments and besting all comers in the game, Ungar was forced to turn his attention to poker when all of his action in gin dried up. Ungar’s first result at the series was in 1980, he finished as the runner-up in a 30 person, $5,000 Seven Card Stud tournament for $45,000. It was his first recorded poker cash. One week later, Ungar played in the $10,000 Main Event where he defeated a table full of legends including Johnny Moss, Jay Heimowitz and Doyle Brunson, who finished in second place. “People talk about Stu’s talent, but few knew how great it really was,” Doyle Brunson said about Ungar. Before there was Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu or Joe ‘The Kid’ Cada, Ungar had earned the nickname ‘The Kid’ both for his fresh-faced appearance at poker tables full of old-school gamblers but also for becoming, at the time time, the youngest player ever to win the WSOP Main Event. A title he would hold until Phil Hellmuth captured it in 1989. Ungar returned to the series in 1982, taking down his second bracelet in a $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball event where he defeated Bobby Baldwin heads-up to take down the $95,000 first-place prize. Just days later he defended his WSOP Main Event title, going back-to-back and winning his third bracelet and $375,000. Ungar is often credited with being ahead of his time, using a loose hyper-aggressive style that put his opponents on edge. His on-the-felt style of attack allegedly matched his fiery personality, one that was as competitive as they come. “He was one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever known,” Brunson has said of Ungar while at the table. “I almost got into two or three fights with him.” However, off the table, Brunson thinks of Ungar as “generous to a fault.” “In his craft, nobody was quicker, nobody was smarter and nobody was better,” Mike Sexton has said of Stu Ungar. Ungar is often credited with the quote “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” something he simply didn’t do too much of while playing poker. In 1983, he won his fourth bracelet in three years when he won the $5,000 Seven Card Stud tournament for another $110,000. Ungar’s World Series of Poker results became sporadic after 1983. There are a number of cashes, a few final tables, but his WSOP prowess waned as his addiction to drugs and his private life sent his life and health into a downward spiral. In 1990, Ungar entered the WSOP Main Event and once again headed into the final table with the chip lead on Day 3. But he never made it to the final table. He was found in his room suffering from a cocaine overdose. His stack was blinded off and he received over $25,000 for a ninth place finish. Seven years later, 1997, seventeen years after his first WSOP Main Event win, Ungar made another return to the Main Event. Staked by his good friend and poker legend Billy Baxter, Ungar made yet another run to the final table. “Stu Ungar won the tournament in 1980 and 1981 and he’s re-emerged,” Gabe Kaplan said announcing the final table was televised on ESPN. “I would equate it to Jack Nicklaus in 1986 at the Masters, they hadn’t heard those footsteps for a while but when they started to hear them on the back 9, everyone started to get a little intimidated.” The final table played outside on Fremont Street in front of Binion’s Horseshoe. Ungar, decked out in his trademark circular blue shades, ran over the final table en route to his record third Main Event victory, his fifth bracelet overall, and a $1,000,000 payday. While Johnny Moss is credited as the only other person to win the WSOP Main Event three times, the first time Moss won it, it was awarded to him via a vote. Ungar is the only player to have won three Main Events by playing it out. Ungar passed away the next year, at age 45 on November 20, 1998. Unable to stay clean, Ungar’s death was thought to be of a heart condition brought about through years of drug abuse. Ungar’s legacy at the World Series of Poker is that of a three-time champion, and, although troubled, one of the best players to ever enter a tournament.