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  1. The Season XVIII World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic crowned its winner on Saturday, with Alex Foxen topping the record-breaking field of 1,035 entries to win the $1.694 million first-place prize. "It feels, I don't know… surreal," Foxen said in the moments following the win. "It’s kind of hard to put into words, but it feels amazing. The last time I got to this spot, I was a little bit disappointed in the way that I played heads up. It’s just incredible to get the opportunity again and be fortunate enough to pull out the win. I don’t have words." Back in Season XVI, Foxen found himself heads up with Ryan Tosoc in this very event. Tosoc had finished runner-up the year before and was back in heads-up play with a chance to better his previous result. Back then, Foxen couldn’t overcome Tosoc in what was a very lighthearted heads-up battle with plenty of fun had between the two and he had to settle for a second-place payout of $1.134 million. "I do feel like I was so excited about having that opportunity," Foxen said of the difference between his two WPT Five Diamond heads-up appearances. "I think that score I locked up was already five or six times my biggest score to date at that point, so there was an element of me feeling like I lost a little bit of focus and maybe didn’t take it as seriously as I should have because, regardless of the outcome of heads-up play, it was such an amazing result that in the moment I didn’t see the severity of that situation. I definitely didn’t make that same mistake twice." Much like Tosoc had redeemed his second-place finish with a victory the following season, Foxen came back two seasons after his runner-up finish to get the job done and capture the WPT Five Diamond throne. The victory gave Foxen his first WPT title. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Final Table Results 1st: Alex Foxen - $1,694,995 2nd: Toby Joyce - $1,120,040 3rd: Seth Davies - $827,285 4th: Peter Neff - $617,480 5th: Danny Park - $465,780 6th: Jonathan Jaffe - $355,125 Foxen came into Saturday’s final table in second position on the leaderboard with six players remaining. In fewer than 30 hands, Foxen had improved to the chip lead. Shortly after gaining the top spot, he knocked out WPT Champions Club member Jonathan Jaffe in sixth place. Although others did some damage of their own, such as Toby Joyce knocking out start-of-day chip leader Danny Park in fifth place and Seth Davies busting Peter Neff in fourth place, Foxen never gave up the lead once he had it. Three-handed play between Foxen, Joyce, and Davies lasted for quite some time. Even though both Joyce and Davies scored double ups during the battle, things never appeared to get away from Foxen as he stayed strong behind the wall of chips he built. Eventually, Davies’ stack shrunk and he got the last of his money in against Foxen in a dominated position. Foxen had the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] to Davies’ [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"]. Davies, a WPT Champions Club member, did flop some outs to a chop but he was ultimately done in thanks to the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="3s"][poker card="As"][poker card="8d"] board. Entering heads-up play with Joyce, Foxen had the chip lead with 29.5 million to Joyce’s 11.9 million, and the match was never really close. Joyce narrowed the gap ever so slightly at the beginning of the duel, but Foxen’s dominance was too much and he quickly started to distance himself. On the final hand, Foxen had limped on the button with the blinds at 200,000/400,000 with a 400,000 big blind ante. Joyce checked and the dealer fanned the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop. Joyce checked, Foxen bet 400,000, and then Joyce check-raised to 1.1 million. Foxen put in a raise of his own and made it 2 million to go. Joyce called to see the [poker card="Kc"] land on fourth street. Joyce checked and Foxen shoved all in, for what was effectively 4.5 million because he had Joyce covered. Joyce tanked and used four 30-second time extensions to think things through. Joyce eventually made the call with the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="9c"] for a pair of jacks, but Foxen had him out-kicked with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Js"]. The river was the [poker card="4c"] to seal the deal for Foxen. For his runner-up finish, Joyce scored $1.12 million in prize money. Fourth Consecutive Record Turnout for Five Diamond It was the fourth consecutive record-setting turnout for WPT Five Diamond, and this season’s 1,035 entries topped last season’s 1,001. The seasons prior to that were 812 entries for Season XVI and 791 entries for Season XV. In this event, the top 130 finished reached the money. Included in those to cash were Eric Afriat (9th - $168,005), Darren Elias (14th - $107,840), Chino Rheem (22nd - $60,435), Cary Katz (44th - $37,670), Kitty Kuo (67th - $26,220), Cliff Josephy (74th - $23,830), and Maria Ho (116th - $19,345). Also running deep was Timo Kamphues, who placed seventh in the Season XVIII WPT Five Diamond for $273,695. He has had quite the week of poker in Las Vegas, as just a few days prior to his run at Bellagio, Kamphues won the Wynn Poker Winter Classic $1,100 NL $500,000 Guarantee tournament for $202,787. Foxen Takes Player of the Year Lead With the victory, Foxen moved to first place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings. Both Foxen and Joyce have the same amount of points, 1,400, but Foxen holds the tiebreaker of most money won. Joyce earned his second cash of the season and is currently second in the race. 1st: Alex Foxen - 1,400 points 2nd: Toby Joyce - 1,400 points 3rd: Donald Maloney - 1,300 points 4th: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,275 points 5th: Geoffrey Hum - 1,250 points 6th: Milen Stefanov - 1,200 points 7th: Kevin Albers - 1,200 points 8th: Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points 9th: Peter Neff - 1,150 points 10th: Seth Davies - 1,100 points WPT Gardens Poker Championship Up Next Up next for the WPT Main Tour is the WPT Gardens Poker Championship at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. The $10,000 buy-in event kicks off January 9, 2020, and runs through January 13.
  2. The World Poker Tour just completed its Season XVIII trip to Casino Sochi in Russia, with Aleksey Badulin winning the WPT Russia title for $261,571. Badulin topped a field of 489 entries to become the newest member of the WPT Champions Club and he’s earned a $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. WPT Russia Final Table Results Aleksey Badulin - $261,571 Vlada Stojanovic - $185,831 Ernest Shakaryan - $135,833 Vahe Martirosyan - $102,488 Sergey Kharlamov - $78,837 Roman Timergazin - $60,254 [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] The final day of the event began with 12 players remaining, including one of Russia’s top tournament players, Anatoly Filatov. After the elimination of Mikhail Sokolovskiy in 12th place, Filatov was next out the door in 11th. He was done in by Roman Timergazin. Badulin started the final day in fifth chip position and quickly got to work building his stack. Early on the final day, he added about a million in chips to the 1.79 million he started with, and it was a nice cushion to have when Vahe Martirosyan double through him. When the tournament was down to nine players, Badulin was sixth in chips, and then when they got down to six players, he sunk to the bottom of the leaderboard. Vlada Stojanovic was the player to extend a big lead during six-handed play, but it was Ernest Shakaryan and Badulin scoring the first two knockouts at the official WPT final table. After Shakaryan busted Timergazin in sixth place, Badulin took out Sergey Kharlamov in fifth. Against Kharlamov, Badulin held the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="8s"] against the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="Js"] and the money went in preflop. Badulin spiked an ace on the flop and held from there to score the elimination. With four players left, Badulin scored a pivotal double up against Martirosyan. Badulin had limped in from the small blind with the blinds at 100,000-150,000 with a 150,000 big blind ante, and Martirosyan shoved all in from the big blind. He had Badulin covered and Badulin quickly called with the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Kc"]. Martirosyan had the [poker card="4h"][poker card="2h"]. The kings held for Badulin and he improved his stack to 4.3 million. Martirosyan would then bust in fourth before it was Badulin picking up pocket kings to knock out Shakaryan in third place. Once again, Badulin was in a very good spot, as his [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Kh"] was up against the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qd"] for Shakaryan. The kings held and Badulin soared to more than 10 million in chips. Badulin took the heads-up chip lead against Stojanovic very early in the match and then worked to extend the lead from there. As was the theme of this WPT Russia final table, Badulin picked up kings again and won a big pot off Stojanovic to further extend his lead. Shortly after that, it was all over. On the final hand, Badulin’s [poker card="As"][poker card="2c"] held against Stojanovic’s [poker card="Qh"][poker card="2d"]. WPT Player of the Year Update Winning WPT Russia earned Badulin 1,000 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race for Season XVIII, but he’s still a ways away from the top of the leaderboard, sitting in 22nd place. The player leading is Brian Altman, who recently won the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. Altman is the leader with 2,100 points. Winning WPT Lucky Hearts gave 1,200 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. He also picked up 200 points for a third-place finish in WPT Maryland at Live! Casino and 200 points for a 10th-place finish in the WPT Legends of Poker. Altman’s lead is a rather healthy one, as he’s 700 points ahead of Alex Foxen and Toby Joyce, who sit in second and third places, respectively, with 1,400 points each. Foxen holds the tiebreaker of money won over Joyce. Brian Altman - 2,100 points Alex Foxen - 1,400 points Toby Joyce - 1,400 points Donald Maloney - 1,350 points Geoffrey Hum - 1,300 points Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,275 points Milen Stefanov - 1,200 points Kevin Albers - 1,200 points Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points Peter Neff - 1,150 points WPT Borgata Running Now The Season XVIII WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open is next up for the World Poker Tour in Season XVIII. In fact, it’s running now, January 26-30, at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. The $3,500 buy-in event has a prize pool guarantee of $3 million and the final table will be filmed for television. The official WPT final table of six will be set on January 30 and then those final six players will be on hiatus until April 1 when they’ll play for the title at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas.
  3. Heading into Wednesday's World Series of Poker Online event, Ireland's Toby Joyce had cashed in 11 previous WSOP events this year but had only found himself anywhere near a final table once. That was in Event #35 ($5,000 PLO Championship) back on July 21 when he finished 13th. Joyce not only made the final table of Event #66 ($800 PLO) on Wednesday night, but he navigated his way from a middle-sized stack when the final table began all the way to the title. It was 15 minutes after players first got seated at the final tabel that one of the final nine was required to give up his seat. Wilder Brito raised to 350,000 from the hijack and Ruslan Nazarenko re-raised to 1,150,000 from the small blind. Brito called all in and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="kd"][poker card="7s"][poker card="2c"] while Nazarenko tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"][poker card="9s"]. The [poker card="ad"][poker card="9h"][poker card="4s"] flop gave Nazarenko two pair. Neither the [poker card="th"] turn and [poker card="3d"] river were the only card in the deck that could save Brito and he was eliminated in ninth place. Rahul Gupta was the next to go. The India-based grinder raised to 420,000 from UTG and action folded around to Mark Herm, who called from the big blind. The flop came [poker card="9s"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2s"] and Herm fired out 900,000. Gupta responded by moving all in for 2,228,900 and Herm called. Gupta showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"][poker card="qh"][poker card="9s"] and Herm flipped over [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"][poker card="6s"][poker card="3c"]. The [poker card="qd"] turn gave Herm top set and left Gupta drawing to one of two kings. The [poker card="th"] completed the board on the river and Gupta was out in eighth. Seven-handed play went on for nearly 90 minutes before losing a player. Maksim Fomin raised to 700,000 from the hijack, Grzegorz Derkowski moved all in fro 1,410,572 from the cutoff and Fomin called. Derkowski showed [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"][poker card="kh"][poker card="qh"] which put him ahead of Fomin's [poker card="kc"][poker card="kd"][poker card="2c"][poker card="2s"]. The [poker card="tc"][poker card="8s"][poker card="2h"] flop reversed Derkowski's fortune and the [poker card="4h"] turn and [poker card="jd"] river sealed his fate with a seventh place finish. Just a few minutes later, one of the short stacks was shown the exit. Jonas Kronwitter raised to 420,000 from late position before Giorgiy Skhulukhiya moved all in for 468,589 as the next to act. Nazarenko folded the small bilnd before Fomin moved re-raised to 4,925,767 from the big blind. Kronwitter folded. Skhulukhiya turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"][poker card="5s"] while Fomin tabled [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"][poker card="6d"]. The [poker card="qh"][poker card="6c"][poker card="2c"] flop gave Fomin top two pair. Neither the [poker card="3d"] turn or [poker card="9s"] river were able to save Skhulukhiya from a sixth place result. Skhulukhiya's elimination allowed Nazarenko to ladder up one spot before being shown the door. Fomin raised to 459,999 from UTG and Nazarenko moved all in for 1,464,648 form the big blind. Fomin called and showed [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"][poker card="7s"][poker card="3c"] while Nazarenko had [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"][poker card="jd"][poker card="4s"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="8c"][poker card="5c"] to give Fomin a pair of sevens to eliminate Nazarenko in fifth. A battle of the blinds 15 minutes later lead to the next bustout. Mark Herm raised to 720,000 from the small blind and Kronwitter re-raised to 2,160,000 from the big blind. Herm clicked back to 6,480,000 and Kronwitter took just over a minute before moving all in for 6,543,972. Herm called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"][poker card="5d"][poker card="3h"] which put him in control against the [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"][poker card="5s"] of Kronwitter. Neither player improved on the [poker card="js"][poker card="8h"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7c"][poker card="2s"] runout and Kronwitter was eliminated in fourth place. For the next 45 minutes, Joyce, Fomin and Herm battled before Joyce sent the tournament to heads up. Fomin raised to 736,000 and Joyce called from the big blind. Joyce checked the [poker card="kd"][poker card="9s"][poker card="6d"] flop and Fomin bet 1,632,000. Joyce raised to 5,344,000 and Fomin called all in. Joyce had [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"][poker card="9d"][poker card="5d"] while Fomin showed [poker card="ks"][poker card="tc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="6c"]. The turn was the [poker card="7h"] and Fomin remained in front with two pair but the [poker card="9h"] river gave Joyce trip nines and eliminated Fomin in third place. Thanks to that pot, Joyce held 56% of the chips in play when the heads-up battle began. Herm briefly held the lead but Joyce battled back to regain the lead and after 16 minutes of play, eliminated his final opponent. Joyce opened with a raise to 2,400,000 and Herm re-raised to 7,200,000. Joyce re-raised to 16,400,000. Herm called of the last of his stack and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"][poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"] while Joyce tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"][poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="jd"][poker card="5s"] flop gave Joyce two pair. The [poker card="qc"] turn gave Joyce a full house and the [poker card="2c"] river made Herm's runner-up finish official. Final Table Payouts Toby Joyce - $139,452.91 Mark Herm - $109,908.88 Maksim Fomin - $79,760.85 Jonas Kronwitter - $57,882.52 Ruslan Nazarenko - $42,005.21 Giorgiy Skhulukhiya - $30,483.23 Grzegorz Derkowski - $22,121.61 Rahul Gupta - $16,053.71 Wilder Brito - $11,650.21

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