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  1. 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. Even though it was August, the WSOP Main Event was back in the headlines, as a player that was disqualified from the tournament had a terrorism charge brought against him and another player was being sued over a staking deal. Ken Strauss Arrested and Charged for Terroristic Threat Ken Strauss, who was disqualified from the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event, was taking into custody and charged with making terroristic threats against a Las Vegas casino. The charge stemmed from Strauss’ social media activity at the end of July. In a tweet, Strauss threatened the Venetian Resort. WSOP Main Event Seventh-Place Finisher Sued Another big story from August that had WSOP Main Event ties was a lawsuit involving seventh-place finisher Nick Marchington. The 21-year-old Marchington won $1.525 million for his result, but he was soon hit with a lawsuit from two men who claimed to have bought a 10% piece of his WSOP Main Event action. David Yee and Colin Hartley, partners in C Biscuit Poker Staking, alleged that Marchington attempted to back out of a staking deal after he had agreed to sell 10% of his action to them for the WSOP's $5,000 Six Max No Limit Hold’em and Main Event tournaments. There were many questions surrounding the situation, most of which focused on the conversations had between the two parties and if the deal was on or off. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Aaron Zang Wins Poker’s Richest Tournament With a buy-in of £1.05 million, the Triton Million: A Helping Hand for Charity became poker’s richest tournament. It was also set to award some absolutely mammoth paydays. Topping the field of 54 entries was Aaron Zang, who won £13.779 million. But, Zang wasn’t the event’s biggest winner. A heads-up deal between Zang and Bryn Kenney saw Kenney take home £16.89 million. The conversion rate put the score north of $20.4 million for Kenney, making him the holder of poker’s largest single score from a live tournament. Triton Million Results 1st: Aaron Zang - £13,779,791* 2nd: Bryn Kenney - £16,890,509* 3rd: Dan Smith - £7,200,000 4th: Stephen Chidwick - £4,410,000 5th: Vivek Rajkumar - £3,000,000 6th: Bill Perkins - £2,200,000 7th: Alfred DeCarolis - £1,720,000 8th: Timothy Adams - £1,400,000 9th: Wai Leong Chan - £1,200,000 10th: Chin Wei Lim - £1,100,000 11th: Winfred Yu - £1,100,000 *First and second prizes as a result of a heads-up deal. For more on this incredible tournament, go back and read the PocketFives recap. Bryn Kenney Doing His Own Thing and Crushing Speaking of Bryn Kenney, PocketFives’ Lance Bradley had the opportunity to sit down with Kenney for an interview. Even though he’s younger, Kenney isn’t often thought of as the same wizard-like player that his peers are. Kenney would be the first to admit it, too, but with a style all to his own he put together a tremendous year of poker in 2019. Checking in on Kenney’s stats on Hendon Mob, we can see that Kenney has more than $56 million in live tournament earnings and is atop poker’s all-time money list. As we mentioned before, he’s also the holder of poker’s largest single score from a live tournament. In 2019, Kenney won more than $30 million. Take some time and read the special feature story on this special player. PSPC Going To Barcelona in 2020 The first-ever PokerStars Players Championship was a smashing success, becoming the largest $25,000 buy-in event in poker history. PokerStars wanted to run it back, only in a different location, and announced that the PSPC would be heading to Barcelona, Spain. Taking place August 20-24, the 2020 PSPC will be part of the European Poker Tour stop in Barcelona that is ever so popular with players. Platinum Passes are back and currently being given out through a variety of promotions from PokerStars, and this event is anticipated to be even larger than the first. ‘Girafganger7’ Wins Monthly PLB in August 'Girafganger7,' a former top-ranked online poker player in the world, earned his second PocketFives Monthly PLB title by topping the leaderboard in August. He put in a ton of volume and accumulated 2,399 points from more than 120 results. He won just over $125,000 from those results. His August was highlighted by a win in the PokerStars High Roller Club: $530 Bounty Builder HR for $13,519.
  2. 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. When July comes around, the focus of the entire poker world turns to the most prestigious poker tournament of the year, the World Series of Poker Main Event and 2019 was no different - for a number of reasons. This WAS the Main Event! "This is the best feeling that I’ve had in all my life and my entire career. I am so happy I am here with the bracelet in my hand. What can I say? What can I say?" That was what 55-year-old Hossein Ensan had to say moments after winning the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event for $10 million. Ensan defeated Dario Sammartino heads-up to finish off the three-day final table coverage on ESPN and PokerGO. Sammartino walked away with a $6 million score. 2019 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results Hossein Ensan – $10,000,000 Dario Sammartino – $6,000,000 Alex Livingston – $4,000,000 Garry Gates – $3,000,000 Kevin Maahs – $2,200,000 Zhen Cai – $1,850,000 Nick Marchington – $1,525,000 Timothy Su – $1,250,000 Milos Skrbic – $1,000,000 Massive Turnout Leads to Near-Record Field Ensan's win earned him just the third $10M+ score in Main Event history because 8,569 players made the 2019 Main Event the second-largest one of all-time. As the close of registration crept closer on July 7, tournament organizers were hoping for a last-minute rush of entrants that would allow it to surpass the 8,773-player field from the 2006 Main Event. The 344 players who did register on Day 2C pushed the total registrants past 8,000 for just the second time ever and helped create an 8.83% growth over the 2018 field. Flight Entries % of Field 1A 1,334 15.57% 1B 1914 22.34% 1C 4877 56.91% 2AB 100 1.17% 2C 344 4.01% "Truly an incredible cherry on top of a wonderful 50th World Series of Poker," Seth Palansky, Vice President of Corporate Communication for Caesars Entertainment, said. "The numbers this summer speak for themselves. Poker is alive and well and we can’t thank the players enough for continuing to support the World Series of Poker brand. Seeing an eight as the first number of the Main Event really did seem unfathomable with the majority of the U.S. shutout from playing the game online. But the WSOP Main Event has always been special and we’re incredibly grateful for those that came from six different continents to participate in this year’s Main Event." Player Disqualifications Steal Headlines The 4,877 players that packed the Rio on Day 1C almost guaranteed that things wouldn't go smoothly for tournament staff, but none of them would have predicted the chaos that ensued and eventually lead to two players being disqualified. The first instance involved a player, later identified as Georgii Belianin, moving chips from another player's stack into his own. Belianin admitted to being intoxicated and believes that a language barrier may have played a role in the disqualification as he claimed he was joking around with tablemates. Belianin took responsibility for his actions. https://twitter.com/GBelianin/status/1147717240445235200?s=20 The second disqualification ended up being much more serious and involved the eventual disqualification of Ken Strauss. Here's how PocketFives detailed the action at the time: According to those in the area, the player was all in blind and began yelling while standing next to the table, causing quite a scene. The player proceeded to pull down his shorts with his back facing the table and yell some more. Patrick Eskandar, who was involved in the hand, informed PocketFives that the all-in player had actually moved all in blind before any of the cards were dealt. According to Eskandar, once the cards were dealt out, the all-in player also briefly exposed his cards to reveal queen-three. A player to act before the all-in player, received a ruling and was informed that the all-in bet would stand if no raise was made ahead of the all-in player. This player then limped in forcing the blind all-in bet to stand. Action moved to Eskandar and he thought over his decision but told PocketFives that he was more concerned with the limper than the blind shove. He knew the player who shoved blind had queen-three, but, due to the ruling, felt the player who limped could be trapping. While Eskandar was thinking, the player who was all-in blind removed his shoes and socks and even threw a shoe towards Eskandar, with the shoe landing in the dealer tray. Eskandar then folded his hand, which was pocket fives. The player who limped exposed his hand to show that he had ace-three, which dominated the all-in player’s queen-three. Much to the surprise of Eskandar and those in the area who were watching, he didn’t expose his hand as a call. He folded his hand face up. This allowed the all-in player to win the blinds and antes before he was disqualified and promptly removed from the tournament and property. https://twitter.com/chanian/status/1147250112936067072 Strauss even went as far as to expose himself to the table before being removed forcibly from the Rio. "While these incidents are unfortunate, they do happen every year," WSOP officials told PocketFives. "We disqualify players who violate rules and in the case of the individual who stole another players chips, he’s lost the privilege of playing at the WSOP in the future, too. We have zero tolerance for theft of any kind." In the weeks that followed, more details about Strauss' behaviour that day, which also included him exposing himself once more at another Las Vegas casino, became apparent as he was charged with domestic terrorism. Negreanu Details WSOP Winnings Before the start of the 2019 WSOP, Daniel Negreanu offered poker fans the opportunity to buy a piece of his WSOP action. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, Negreanu published a complete balance sheet following the conclusion of the 2019 WSOP summer events. Negreanu made $2,042,752.92 during the summer, showing a 168.78% return-on-investment for those who were fortunate enough to secure a piece of the two-time WSOP Player of the Year winner. That came from 16 cashes and $760,000 worth of tournament buy-uns. The net return for his investors was $481,026.82 after all fees were removed.
  3. Chino Rheem is about as polarizing of a figure as you’ll find in today’s world of poker, but for all of the issues he’s had over the years, there’s no denying his ability to perform on the game’s largest stages. Rheem has won three World Poker Tour titles, final tabled the WSOP Main Event, and amassed more than $10.5 million in live tournament earnings. Coming off a first-place score for more than $1.5 million in the 2019 PCA Main Event, Rheem recently became the 41st poker player in history to win more than $10 million from live poker tournaments. Here’s a look at the five biggest scores of Rheem’s poker career. 7th in 2008 WSOP Main Event ($1,772,650) Rheem had been around the poker world for a handful of years before the 2008 World Series of Poker, and he even had a second-place finish in a gold bracelet event in 2006 that earned him $327,981. He truly made waves in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, though, when he aggressively splashed his way through the 6,844-player field to reach the final table in what was the first-ever WSOP November Nine. Rheem entered the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table in sixth position on the leaderboard. His run ultimately ended in seventh place after he got the last of his money in with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Kc"] against Peter Eastgate’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qd"]. A queen hit the flop, and that was all she wrote for Rheem, who was sent to the rail with a $1.772 million prize. 1st in 2019 PCA Main Event ($1,567,100) The 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event attracted 865 entries. With six players left, Rheem entered the final day with the chip lead. He busted all five of his opponents to win the 2019 PCA Main Event and capture its $1.567 million first-place prize. This result proved to be, at the time, the second largest of Rheem's career, just behind his WSOP Main Event seventh-place finish. It also moved him to more than $10.5 million in live tournament earnings and he became the 74th player to eclipse the $10 million earnings mark, per HendonMob. 1st in WPT Five Diamond ($1,538,730) Rheem was one of 497 entries in the World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic event at Bellagio in 2008. The event was part of Season VII of the WPT and featured a buy-in of $15,400. The prize pool was $7.231 million, of which Rheem got the most of when he scored the $1.538 million top prize. It was the first of Rheem’s three World Poker Tour titles and came just a month after he finished seventh in the World Series of Poker Main Event. At this final table, Rheem had stiff competition in the form of Justin Young, Evan McNiff, Steve Sung, Amnon Filippi, and Hoyt Corkins. 1st in WPT World Championship ($1,150,297) To conclude Season XI of the World Poker Tour, Rheem won the $25,500 buy-in WPT World Championship. The event was held at Bellagio in Las Vegas in 2013 and attracted 146 entries to create a $3.54 million prize pool. In the end, it was Rheem against Erick Lindgren for the title, with Rheem coming out on top to win a $1.15 million payday and his second WPT title. 1st in Epic Poker League Event #1 ($1,000,000) Currently standing as the fifth largest score of Rheem’s poker career is a victory in the now defunct Epic Poker League. Rheem won the EPL’s first title, defeating a field of 137 entries in the $20,000 buy-in tournament to score the $1 million top prize. At the final table, Rheem out-battled runner-up Erik Seidel and third-place finisher Jason Mercier en route to the title and million dollar payday.
  4. If you blinked, you might have missed one-handed satellites to the World Series of Poker Main Event. Yes, one hand to determine whether or not a person will be able to enter poker's most prestigious tournament, which this year came with the promise of a $10 million first place prize. Why sit and grind a satellite when you can determine your fate in under 30 seconds? --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play now for a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- ESPN's Andrew Feldman posted on Twitter on Monday, "One hand satellites being run at this time. Same guy won the last two. Desperation/gambling at its finest." One person responded with a picture that had a caption reading, "Guy on the right won 2 in a row. Going for 3." Feldman posted a video on Vineof players being dealt cards, a board being run out, and one man, Frankie Flowers, fist-pumping in delight. He wrote, "And this is how you flip for a @wsop main event seat. Congrats to Frankie Flowers." Flowers, by the way, wrote on Twitter, "Flip for 10k. I got the 4d6h. Four diamonds on the board. I win 4-high flush." In case you're wondering how a one-handed satellite works, Feldman wrote in a blog on ESPN's website, "The dealer shuffles for high card, then gives everyone a hand. Nobody looks at their hand as the dealer runs out a board. One by one, the players look to see if they hit, and in less than 20 seconds, someone wins their seat into the Main Event." In a game where skill predominates, there's apparently a little room for Lady Luck to rear her head. Flowers told Feldman, "I've played in smaller events, but have no scores. The satellites have been good, though." One-handed satellites, a 25-seat guarantee on WSOP.comin Nevada, and a $10 million advertised first place prize all helped boost this year's Main Event to nearly 6,700 entrants, the fifth largest Main Event ever held. As Feldman said on Twitter, "Seeing Main Event growth in today's poker world is huge and will help push the industry forward. Don't underestimate that." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. If you're thinking of heading to the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio on Monday for the long-awaited restart of the World Series of Poker Main Event or are planning on watching the gala unfold on television, expect "the craziest year yet," according to Caesars Interactive Entertainment Vice President Seth Palansky. --- PocketFives' WSOP coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. PocketFivers will love playing in the site's €1 million guaranteed iPOPS series, which runs through November 9. Visit William Hill today! --- "This is going to be the craziest year yet," Palansky told PocketFives this week in an exclusive interview. "We've never had more support from the players' rails than we'll have this year. That will impact the general public's ability to get in initially on Monday. Some will get in, but it'll probably take losing a player or two before we can take all of the general public that's interested in attending." The Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio seats 1,200. According to Palansky, players' families and friends will take up about 1,000 of those seats, or 83%. That leaves just 200 spots for the general public out of the gate. Bruno Politano (pictured), from Brazil, is bringing what should be a very rowdy rail of 120, the largest of anyone. Expect Carnival to invade the Rio next week. "We have never given away more seats to the players themselves than we did this year," Palansky revealed. "We don't have a short stack this year. We don't have a dominant chip leader, either." Therefore, the pace of the Main Event, at least at the outset, could be rather sluggish. This author has been to several November Nine finales. The atmosphere is unlike any other, as you're watching poker being played at the most prestigious level possible. The number of fans in attendance is also pretty remarkable considering the less-than-rapid pace of poker in general. Palansky explained, "You'll have enlarged big screens inside the theater showing you the table and updated chip counts. We'll have some pomp and circumstance to introduce everyone." Speaking of introducing everyone, reigning Main Event champ Ryan Riesswill give the ceremonial "Shuffle Up and Deal" command on Monday, while ring announcer Bruce Buffer will handle those duties on Tuesday. The November Nine is available on a 15-minute delay on ESPN2 on Monday night, with every hand shown and hole cards being revealed on-screen. Therefore, why would someone venture to the Rio to catch the action in person when they can sit and home in their pajamas and watch on TV? "If you're a poker fan or have ever played, to witness poker on this stage in this environment is unlike anything you've ever seen," Palansky argued. "You can be a fan of poker, absorb this setting, and be up on that stage next year playing for the bracelet." There are six countries represented in the November Nine this year, which should give the tournament's finale a World Cup flair. Prepare to see a potpourri of football jerseys as well as signs in various languages. There should be plenty of incoherent singing and fans draped in the flags of their home countries. One of the major storylines this year is Mark Newhouse (pictured) becoming the first player to make back-to-back November Nines, doing it in fields of 6,382 in 2013 and 6,683 in 2014. "I'm rooting for him to be successful," Palansky said of Newhouse. "Ultimately, the cards will dictate your fate. I've seen Phil Ivey go out with A-K versus A-Q. I've seen 2-2 beat J-J. I've seen Q-Q lose to 7-7. Anything can happen. He's achieved something incredible and will walk away from next week's experience having done something that probably won't be done again in the history of poker." Catch all of the action from the Main Event starting next Monday on ESPN2 and right here on PocketFives. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. The last new, prepackaged episodes of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event aired on Sunday night on ESPN against some pretty stiff competition: the Kansas City Royals' Game 5 World Series win on Fox and a battle of 6-0 NFL teams between Green Bay and Denver on NBC. Nevertheless, PocketFives caught the action for an hour starting at 9:00pm ET. It was still Day 7 of the Main Event, the final day of action in July. The hour began with Justin Schwartzbusting out in a set-over-set situation. Then, Joseph dude904McKeehen, who had kings, bet 2 million on the river of a 10-J-4-6-4 board after betting the turn and checking the flop. Daniel Negreanu (pictured), who had Q-J for top pair, said, "You got it" upon flipping over his hand and shed two-thirds of his stack. ESPN poker commentator Lon McEachern said McKeehen was "running hotter than the sun." McKeehen was in the top four of the start-of-day chip counts on Days 4, 5, and 7 of the Main Event. After the hand against Negreanu, he was in second place with 13 left. Negreanu later doubled through McKeehen much to the delight of the crowd. Then, a segment about Max Steinberg(pictured) aired in which he preached his passion for daily fantasy sports. Steinberg explained, "It's sort of like a poker tournament in a sense that you have a bunch of players putting up the buy-in and then whoever does the best gets the money." Steinberg won his way into the Main Event via a satellite on DraftKings. Patrick Chan4bet all-in before the flop with A-Q of hearts and turned a flush to double up through Pierre Neuville, the oldest player left in the field. Also doubling was Federico Butteroni, who committed his chips with 8-7 on a board of K-7-8-4. Fellow European Alexander Turyansky insta-called with A-8 and Butteroni's hand held. Watching the play, Norman Chad asked, "An insta-call with that hand?" Matt Guan ran queens into aces to bust out in 13th. McKeehen, who didn't deliver the knockout blow but was seated at the same table, told Guan, "You played insanely well all those days." To close out the hour we caught, Zvi Sternraised to 675,000 before the flop with 10-8 of spades, George McDonald re-raised to 2.2 million with queens, and Stern bluff-shoved for 12.1 million. McDonald called all-in and tragically lost to a turned flush. A couple of days earlier, Stern had similarly cracked aces with 8-7 of spades and continued running hot. The November Nine resumes this Sunday, November 8 starting at 8:30pm ET. The action will be "live" on a 30-minute delay from Las Vegas and beamed around the US on ESPN. Coverage will continue on Monday at 8:00pm ET and Tuesday at 9:30pm ET. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  7. [caption width="640"] Gordon Vayo's journey to the November Nine is a familiar tale (WSOP photo / Joe Giron)[/caption] There have been plenty of documented cases of poker players lying about their age to play in cardrooms before they turned 21. Gordon Vayo, however, was lying about his age so that he could play online before he turned 18. At just 27 years old, the Illinois native cut his teeth on the virtual felt and has been playing poker professionally for over a decade. After earning over $1.4 million in online tournament earnings under the screen name “holla@yoboy,” Vayo comes into this year’s November Nine third in chips and has a chance to etch his name into live poker’s history books. Vayo found his love for the game during his time in high school. He was only 15 years old when the Moneymaker boom happened, but his core group of friends were a few years older and they got him involved. It started with a group of around 30 students from the three local high schools playing a regular game at rotating homes, but soon, Vayo found himself taking it much more seriously and putting in a ton of time honing his craft online. “I had another friend who started taking it seriously,” said Vayo. “He was playing online and everybody would go through that phase when you start playing poker that you think online poker is rigged or whatever. Then I saw him play and I was like ‘Okay, maybe it’s not rigged.’” After Vayo took down one of the home games, he gave one of his friends some cash to have it transferred online. Vayo took the deposit and ran up the stakes online. He was hooked and never looked back. As a 15 and 16-year-old playing online poker, Vayo met some resistance from his family when they found out what he was doing in his spare time. “I was hiding it as much as possible from my family,” said Vayo. “But I mean, when I started to actually have success at it, it was impossible to hide. I didn’t really try to hide it from people besides my parents, but once it kind of got out, there was no putting it back.” Despite his parents’ objection to his online poker playing, Vayo found ways to play and continue his success. From online winnings alone, Vayo was able to buy a car and rent an apartment before he was out of high school. “At that time, I was not going to not do It,” said Vayo. “I was too motivated to do so and it wasn’t that difficult for me to find places to play. It just wasn’t that difficult.” Like many young players at the time with little financial responsibility, Vayo’s main goals were to continue to play higher and higher and be the best he could be. The money and the gambling aspect of poker were not what was attractive to him. It was the strategy behind the game and the drive to get better. “For me, it was never about running up a bunch of money,” said Vayo. “When I was younger, I was barely cashing out. I was just trying to see how high my account could go. It was like a high score or something. “I was really active on PocketFives and stuff when I was really really young. The ratings and getting the respect of my peers and the people on the forums and the people that I was playing tournaments with, that was my motivation.” At one point during the early stages of his poker career, variance got the better of Vayo and he went on a prolonged downswing. One of his first poker friends, Jared Hamby, convinced him to reach out to a backer. Hamby suggested Vayo get in contact with the current chip leader of this year’s November Nine, Cliff Josephy. Josephy, better known as 'JohnnyBax' online, was well-known for his stable of successful tournament grinders. "I reached out to him on PocketFives and he gave me an email address,” said Vayo. “I sent him a hand history and he was very enthusiastic about wanting to back me. He said that this was the fastest he’s ever wanted to back someone. But I was like 16 at the time and he was like a king to me. That meant a lot and it boosted my confidence for sure." Vayo contends that Josephy had no idea he was underage and he told everybody that he was 18 and in college. After about a year of being backed by Josephy, Vayo went back out on his own and continued to crush online tournaments. Now, more than a decade later, they will be sitting across from each other playing for poker’s biggest prize. Even with some history between the two, Vayo tends to laugh the situation off, almost chalking it up to variance. “I don’t think there is going to be huge implications or anything emotionally,” said Vayo. “Cliff and I were always friendly and when he was backing me, we would like chat and stuff on a much more personal level. “We’ve been friendly ever since, but it’s not like this deep student meets master or anything. We almost never talk poker strategy really. I mean this endearingly, but he’s almost like a poker dad to me. Especially for me because I met him at a really young age. It was never really like a student-teacher relationship. It was more like a friendly relationship.” Like almost all online players of that era, Vayo was heavily affected by Black Friday. Vayo opted to stay in the country and start playing more live poker. Initially after Black Friday, Vayo, in his own words, was not very good at live poker. He left Illinois the following winter after Black Friday and headed out to the San Francisco area. He was able to play more live poker in both Northern and Southern California, which helped his growth as a live pro, eventually leading him to the 2016 November Nine. With over $2.5 million in live tournament earnings following a successful online career, Vayo has just as much poker experience as anybody else at the table. But dealing with emotions while playing for $8 million is the one question mark he has when cards get in the air. “I think that’s the thing I’m most anxious about because that is the one thing you can’t prepare for,” said Vayo. “At the end of the day, the one thing you can’t prepare for is the moment. I think it’s something I’m going to have to live and adapt to in the moment. You’re going to have to experience it and do your best to not let it be overwhelming.”
  8. [caption width="640"] Poker fans can bid on a chance to play an important role on poker's biggest stage.[/caption] For poker fans and players alike, making it to the WSOP Main Event final table is a dream come true and, for most, completely unrealistic. Now, thanks to Charity Buzz, a site that puts once-in-a-lifetime experiences up for auction in the name of charity, some lucky soul is going to get a chance to get exclusive access to the 2016 November Nine. Dubbed “Shuffle up and Deal,” the package promises the winner front row seats to the taping of the WSOP final table plus a behind-the-scenes tour of the WSOP production facilities. Also included is a private poker lesson with pro Frank Kassela, a former WSOP Player of the Year. But maybe best of all is that the auction's winner will be the one giving the "Shuffle Up and Deal" command prior to the start of poker's most prestigious final table, and the moment will be part of the ESPN broadcast. All proceeds from the auction benefit the One Drop organization. The winner will spend three nights in a deluxe room at The Cromwell, “Las Vegas’ newest boutique hotel,” and dine at Giada, an exclusive restaurant opened by famed chef Giada De Laurentiis. Finally, the highest bidder will get the chance to have his photo snapped holding the coveted Main Event gold bracelet. According to Charity Buzz, the package has an estimated value of $10,000. At the moment, viewers have made seven bids, bumping the price up to $2,502. On March 18, the auction will go offline and conclude at a live event called “One Night with One Drop.” The One Drop charity was founded by the billionaire creator of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, and strives to provide clean drinking water to communities in need. It views water as a “transformative force to improve living conditions,” which also helps give the vulnerable the ability to better care for themselves. Those who attend the annual One Night for One Drop event will be treated to a one-night-only exclusive Cirque du Soleil performance and hobnob with celebrity sponsors like Michael Phelps, John Legend, Shania Twain and Pamela Anderson. "We’ve worked with One Drop since 2012 and have seen first-hand that the cause they are working hard to address has a real meaningful impact," said Seth Palansky, Caesars VP of Corporate Communications. "So for us, when One Drop asks us to support their silent auction, it really was an easy decision." One Drop and the WSOP have worked together for years to raise money for the nonprofit. Leveraging his connections in the high-stakes poker world, Laliberté partnered with Caesars to create the Big One for One Drop, a $1 million buy-in WSOP tournament which set aside a portion of players’ buy-ins for charity. The event debuted in 2012 and quickly sold out, creating a massive top prize of $18.3 million, with $5.33 million going to One Drop. Poker pro Antonio Esfandiari bested the tough field that night and walked away from the inaugural event with the eight-figure first place payday. The WSOP VIP package is just one of many which Caesars has graciously donated. "We’re happy to help, and as you will see on Charity Buzz, Caesars as a whole has offered several different experiential packages for this cause," continued Palansky. "We are fortunate that we have some very unique and engaging entertainment options and we are sure bidders will enjoy the opportunity to get up close with the WSOP and our other unique options." Poker legend Phil Hellmuth raised money for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation on a similar website in 2014. The package included five different levels of experiences with the 14-time bracelet winner. Prices ranged from $16,700 to $42,900, with the high level giving you the chance to set up a two-hour private game with the pro and your closest friends.
  9. [caption width="640"] Rafael Moraes is one of two Brazilian players in the top three on Day 2C of the WSOP Main Event[/caption] Just two days after the World Series of Poker announced that Brazil would be hosting a WSOP Circuit stop as soon as October, two Brazlian players rose to the top of the chip counts on Day 2C of the 2016 WSOP Main Event. Gustavo Lopes finished with the biggest stack on Day 2C, bagging up 630,700. That puts him 59,800 ahead of countryman Rafael Moraes, who finished with 571,900. In between the two Brazilians is Italy’s Raffaele Castro with 587,900. The top American stack on Wednesday belongs to a player who has had his share of Main Event success over the years, Michael Mizrachi. The two-time Poker Players Championship winner finish with 549,900 - good enough for fifth best. “I usually have a good performance in the Main Event,” said Mizrachi, who has cashed three times in the Main Event, including a fifth place finish in 2010. “There’s so much play in this tournament, so I can get away with playing so many more hands. Here you can grind, you’ve got a much bigger stack - it’s two hour levels and you have a lot more play and a lot worse players.” Reigning World Champion Joe McKeehen managed to move on to Day 3 with 183,900. Joining him as former World Champions moving on to Day 3 were Phil Hellmuth and Ryan Riess. Other notables to move on to Day 3 include Ole Schemion with 438,400, recent bracelet winners Tony Dunst (388,300) and Kristen Bicknell (381,500), Dan Heimiller (402,000), Liv Boeree (364,400) and Max Silver (361,600) Just 1,416 of the 3,252 players who started the day moved on to Day 3. They’ll join up with the 760 players that survived Day 2AB on Thursday and for the first time during the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, all remaining players will be playing at the same time. The Day 3 restart was moved from 11 AM to Noon to allow players on extra hour of sleep. Former #1s Still in the Hunt Former #1-ranked PocketFivers had themselves quite a day on Wednesday. No fewer than six of them were among the top 500 chip counts when play ended for the night. Griffin Benger - 394,500 Chris Hunichen - 371,100 Sorel Mizzi - 369,800 Paul Volpe - 219,300 Tim West - 197,700 Cliff Josephy - 196,000 Cliff Josephy is just happy to be in the Main Event, but after a big day on Wednesday, a deep run could be on the horizon. Folding Quads - Face Up In what is bound to be one of the most talked about Main Event hands ever, WSOP.com reported that Kyle Bowker, facing an all in bet from his opponent, had the clock called on him with the board showing [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"]7x7x[poker card="js"].Bowker eventually folded the two remaining sevens face up. End of the Line for Some Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey were both eliminated on Day 2C as was $111,111 One Drop High Roller winner Fedor Holz. Top 10 Chip Counts Gustavo Lopes - 630,700 Raffaele Castro - 587,000 Rafael Moraes - 571,900 Albert Daher - 570,200 Michael Mizrachi - 549,400 Samuel Roussy-Majeau - 545,500 Kilian Kramer - 513,800 Benjamin Vinson - 503,600 Lorenzo Lavis - 483,800 Caufman Talley - 474,000
  10. [caption width="640"] Johnny Chan has been quietly grinding away at the 2016 WSOP Main Event[/caption] It’s the last mid-level break of the night on Day 4 of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event and hidden among the 300 names in the chip counts is Johnny Chan. ThatJohnny Chan? Yes, that Johnny Chan. While the only other two former Main Event champions still in the field, Greg Raymer and Ryan Riess, are playing on the ESPN main stage for what will be part of a future broadcast, Chan is at a table almost as far way from the spotlight as possible. As the seconds tick down on the level, Chan grabs his bag, steps out a side door and hurriedly makes his way to the back lot, again taking a route different from most of the other players sneaking outside for some fresh air or maybe a cigarette. Or Chan’s case, a few quick puffs on a cigar. Chan first came to prominence with his win in the 1987 WSOP Main Event. He won his second title the next year in a hand made famous in Rounders against Erik Seidel. The first person he runs into in the back lot is a dealer, who ask Chan a question he’s clearly been asked hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times. “They gonna make Rounders 2, Johnny?,” the dealer asks. Chan's appearance in Rounders that helped create the Chan legend is now part of poker lore. The hero Mike McDermott finds himself in a hand with Chan and after bluffing Chan, decides its time take his shot in the biggest underground game in New York City. “It’s never going to happen,” said Chan. “It’s already been ten years.” The idea of producing a sequel to the cult classic poker movie has been bounced around for ten years, even going so far as having studios greenlight the project. With Rounders writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien busy with Season 2 of their hit Showtime drama Billions, finding time write the script and deliver Rounders 2 seems highly unlikely. Surrounded by poker players that have probably seen the movie dozens of times and would love the chance to use McDermott’s famous “Sorry John, I don’t remember” line after beating him in a pot, Chan is left to his own devices. While the movie might have helped the Chan legend, he’s fine being hidden in the corner of the room. The Main Event is the only WSOP event he’s played this year and he makes no bones about why he chooses to take time away from the lucrative Bellagio and Aria cash games to play the event. “There’s a lot of extra dead money in it,” said Chan. “And of course, you get to play with players from around the world.” Having won the event twice, finished runner-up to Hellmuth in 1999, and cashed a total of seven times, you’d think the Main Event was something special for Chan. Not quite. “I try. I enter, I’m going to try and win, right?” said Chan. “I try to play my best, but it’s just another day at the office.” A win for Chan would make him the third player to capture the Main Event three times, joining Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar.
  11. The PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship kicked off Sunday at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas. Anticipation for the event was through the roof in the days leading up to its start, and the energy only heightened as the hundreds of poker players shuffled into the tournament room before the start of play. All day long, there has been an electric buzz in the Bahamian air and PocketFives spoke to a few players about the atmosphere surrounding the PSPC. "It’s crazy,” Christian Harder said of the event’s atmosphere. “I was actually talking to someone earlier and I was like, ‘Is this the biggest tournament outside of the WSOP Main Event in the history of poker?’ It's up there." Harder is no stranger to playing events of this level, but this event seems to have a different feel to it than others with a similar $25,000 price tag. “It definitely has much more of a main event feel than a high roller,” Harder, winner of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event, said. “Usually, the 25K price point is more pros or [recreational players] that are used to playing bigger buy-ins. It definitely has much more of a feel as a 5K or a 5K main event, which is great.” Another player with plenty of experience in big buy-in poker tournaments is Jason Somerville, and he’s also in the Bahamas to compete in the PSPC. Like Harder, Somerville compared the PSPC to having an atmosphere like the WSOP Main Event. “This has been amazing,” Somerville told PocketFives. “It’s very interesting. It’s kind of like the World Series of Poker Main Event. You’ve got a lot of qualifiers, people you haven’t seen before. So many people I would never see play a tournament like this have ‘reemerged.’ Most people stopped coming to the Bahamas when Black Friday happened, so it’s great to see. Awesome energy, huge prize pool - it’s awesome.” Somerville was posted up at the main feature table for the first two levels of the opening day and commented on how his table was playing after he wasn’t sure what type of playing environment the PSPC would bring. “I was just at the feature table for two hours and I think only Sam Greenwood and I talked, and Sam doesn’t talk that much,” Somerville said. “Everybody feels a little nervous. Even me when I first sat down, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is a serious poker tournament.’ I wasn’t sure if we were going to get that giddy chattiness or if you were going to get the scared silence, but my table at least was the scared silent type. It’s OK with me. I’ll just hang out, watch the Chargers win, and we’ll go from there.” Matt Stout also made the trip down to the Bahamas, as he has many times before, and in similar fashion to Harder and Somerville, he likened the PSPC to having the feel of the WSOP. “It’s obviously a lot softer,” Stout said. “It’s going to have a lot of people that have never played a 25K before and are never going to play a 25K again, but it’s also kind of cool because it has that Colossus or World Series of Poker Main Event vibe, where there’s a lot of people that this is their one and only shot. It’s a lot of fun. “I saw one guy, who was a qualifier, walking in and as he was walking past the trophy setup in the lobby I heard him say to his mother, ‘Hey, mom! Take a picture of me in front of this real quick.’ That just warmed my heart. This is just great for poker. It’s a really, really fun event. It has a special vibe to it. It’s really exciting.” Stout wasn’t always planning on coming to the PSPC, though. His first child was recently born in December, but ultimately he decided to make the trip because of the can’t-miss nature he felt regarding the PSPC. “I wasn’t planning on traveling much after the birth of my son, Asher, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play a tournament like this that’s one-of-a-kind and may literally never happen again,” Stout said.
  12. Five years ago, Greg Merson won two World Series of Poker Bracelets, $9.75 million and WSOP Player of the Year, but the things that happened to him off the felt just before and after that summer have had a bigger impact on his life. As people go through life, they mentally circle important dates on the calendar in permanent ink. Memories pile up as each calendar page turns, but celebrating or remembering the important ones is only half of the process. Adding new dates as you reach new milestones makes up the other half and over the last five and half years, Greg Merson has built up an impressive collection. Five years ago, Greg Merson was one of thousands of online poker players who made their living – and built their reputation – sitting in front of a computer screen. The 2012 World Series of Poker changed all of that for Merson, but not before a far more important milestone began his path to poker stardom and ultimately saved his life. December 10, 2011 It was early December 2011, and a lot of poker players were in Las Vegas for the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio. Merson was sharing a room at Aria with two of his better friends, Tony Gregg and Christian Harder. Merson was in the room alone when his two friends returned to find him sitting upright in the bed, unconscious. “I really don’t remember that much. Last thing I really remember is eating goldfish (crackers),” said Merson. “I just remember being scared and then immediately being like, ‘Alright, he’s alive’, and then telling him, ‘Greg, you can’t do this bro’ and then just him having a breakdown,” said Harder, who realized his friend and fellow Maryland poker pro had come ridiculously close to dying of an overdose in that hotel room. “I just completely nodded out, which is somewhat close to overdosing, where you just kind of fade out, and if your heart stops beating, then you’re going to die,” said Merson. “I don’t remember nodding out, but I just remember them telling me that I was positioned like that, like I was dead. So that was a big wake up call for me.” As Harder remembers that day, Merson got himself together, grabbed his phone and headed for the hallway where he called his mom, in tears. He had just turned 24 years old, but Merson was smart enough to recognize he needed to get his life together in a hurry. He took the unusual step of locking himself in his hotel room for three days to get the drugs out of his system and start over. It worked, but it certainly wasn’t easy. “I remember the depression being by far the worst, like ten times worst than anything I had ever experienced, and how sick I was,” said Merson. “But for all that, I can only imagine what it would have been like if I continued to use for a long time.” A little less than a month ago, on June 10, Merson quietly celebrated 5.5 years of sobriety. His life is very different now than that day where he woke up in a hotel room with uneaten Goldfish crackers all over his shirt. Not long after detoxing himself in his hotel room, Merson made the decision to move to Toronto to get back to doing the thing he loved more than anything. “He got clean, he went through some stuff and he was like, ‘alright, I’m going to bury my head and play online constantly’,” said Harder. “So he went to Canada, it was post-Black Friday and he just played online a million hours a day.” It wasn’t the only thing he did though. While in Toronto, Merson took up yoga and began attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. When he wasn’t doing that, he was playing upwards of 24 tables of No Limit cash games with stakes as high as $5/$10. Through all of that, Merson never forgot one very important fact that he was going to have deal with the rest of his life. “You have to stay focused on the fact that you are an addict and you are not going to ever be cured of this. So you just have to constantly remind yourself that one bad decision could mean falling back into some bad habits,” said Merson. It might be over 5.5 years ago now that two of his closest friends walked in on him and probably saved his life, but Merson still looks back once in a while at the way he was before he got clean. “I think about it sometimes. I don’t dwell on the past, but I am also not embarrassed about my past, because similar to poker, you just need to keep moving on,” said Merson. “I don’t really regret anything that happened. I’m not super spiritual or think that everything happens for a reason, but for me, it ended up working out so I could not really change anything if I wanted to.” July 6, 2012 As the 2012 was drawing closer to the Main Event, Merson had a cashed a couple of times, including bubbling a final table, when the event Merson describes as his personal “Super Bowl”, the $10,000 Six Max No Limit Hold'em Championship began. After three days of play, Merson had just one opponent standing in between himself and a WSOP bracelet; Keith Lehr. Merson woke up on July 6, knowing he had to be at the Rio for 1 PM. Only 11 hours earlier, Merson had bagged up a 2-1 chip lead over Lehr. The event was scheduled to end that night, but tournament staff wouldn’t allow the pair to finish it out. Merson and Lehr played exactly one hand on the extra day, with Merson beating Lehr to win the first bracelet of his career and $1,136,197. The previous six months had been a long journey, but seeing the fruits of his labor was more than enough for Merson to break down in tears during his post-win interview. It was just his fifth career WSOP cash and third that year. Harder didn’t even know how many WSOP events Merson, who prefers to play high stakes cash games, had planned to play that summer, but definitely saw a much-improved version of his friend before the WSOP began. “I just knew that he was in a better place and was playing everyday. That’s the best thing for him, if you ask him, just getting in a groove of playing all the time. That’s when he’s playing his best,” said Harder. “Then the World Series came around. I didn’t know he was going to play any tournaments because Greg barely played any tournaments.” Merson wasn’t done there though. Ten days later he made his way through the Main Event field to make the final table. Thanks to the U.S. Presidential Election, the November Nine was moved up a week and became the October Nine, but Merson still had a 3.5-month break before the final table began, so he did what any online grinder would have done; he went back to Toronto and went to work. After two months of that life though, Merson headed back to his hometown of Laurel, Maryland. The drive should have taken just about nine hours, but Merson had a planned stop to see a friend that he’d known since he was in high school, Julie Sosenko. Greg and Julie had met at the beach years earlier and stayed in touch via Facebook and email. They hadn’t seen each other since 2005, but Julie’s hometown was the halfway point of the trip, so Greg messaged her on Facebook to see if she’d want to grab dinner as he drove through town. Even though they’d been friends on Facebook for a while, Julie didn’t really know much about what Greg was up to. She knew he was into poker, but not much beyond that. And she knew nothing of his addiction issues. The pair had first met before Merson was doing drugs and this reconnection was coming almost a full year after he’d cleaned up. “At dinner I was kind of waiting for her to bring up either one, and it was not happening and then I brought up the poker thing without trying to sound like I was bragging,” said Merson. “She was like, ‘Yeah, I saw some stuff on Facebook, but I didn’t know what that meant’.” The poker side of his story was the easy one to tell, the other part came up after dinner when Julie suggested they go to a bar for drinks. Greg told her he didn’t drink and next thing he knew, he was explaining the rest of the story to her. “I didn’t really flag it as anything concerning, mostly because I’ve been around it here and there before,” Julie said. “Of course, there were concerns, it’s scary. Nothing you ever want to think about, but me personally, I don’t know him as that. I hope to never know him as that.” Not long after that reconnection, the pair began dating. It went against what Merson was looking for at the time as he was solely focused on preparing for the Main Event final table and wanted to avoid any possible unnecessary distractions. “I can’t be falling in love and then have the girl break up with me two days before,” said Greg. “But it just kind of happened.” “We kind of both dove in pretty quickly. We were both very hesitant to get into a relationship at all,” said Julie. “We both assumed, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna be friends,’ which is kind of funny because immediately our friends could tell we were inseparable. Something about him made me trust him a lot and I think he felt the same way.” Six weeks later, Merson sat down on stage at the Penn & Teller Theatre to play the WSOP Main Event final table while he and Julie, who was studying to be a physical therapist at the time, were well into a relationship. October 31, 2012 With poker fans around the world watching, Merson plowed through the other eight Main Event final table players to win his second bracelet of the year, $8,531,853 and WSOP Player of the Year. His total earnings for the 2012 WSOP topped $9.75 million. That type of windfall boost to somebody’s net worth can change people at their core. Those closest to Merson don’t see him acting any differently today than he did before he won those two bracelets and the money. ‘I don’t know if he’s that different, honestly. He loves the game. He loves poker more than anyone. People don’t know because they don’t see him out in tournaments, but no one plays more than Greg,” said Harder. “I talk to him almost everyday, he’s just playing on New Jersey sites. He’s content to just grind.” Obviously winning nearly eight figures in a single year affords one a different type of lifestyle, but Merson doesn’t feel like he can sit back and not continue to work hard. “The financial freedom is awesome. I struggle with being afraid of not being able to make money. I have no degree. I have no backup plan. I want to take advantage of my skill set in the industry as much as I can,” said Merson. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing because it makes me work a little too hard sometimes if you ask people close to me.” Now 29 years old, Merson still loves the game as much as he did when he was in his early 20s, playing online after dropping out of college. That passion is something only those closest to him get to see on a regular basis. “He plays a lot, wins at a high rate, at stakes where people would not expect somebody with that much money, that many accomplishments,” said Harder. “That’s the Greg I first met and he was off drugs, then he relapsed and he wasn’t the same Greg. Then before the (2012) Main he was in the zone. It still crazy that until this day, not one sliver has he let up.” September 25, 2017 In just under three months, Merson is heading into surgery to fix both of his hips, a degenerative issue that has caused him a lot of pain the last couple of years – so much so that it’s actually prevented him from playing live for the better part of the last 12 months. “I would have had the surgery earlier, but with the Series … I just wanted to deal with the pain and then get the surgery in the fall,” said Merson. While he delayed the surgery in part to be able to play the WSOP this summer, he didn’t come out to Las Vegas until mid-June. “I literally cannot sit for more than a couple of hours without being in a lot of discomfort. That’s why I haven’t been playing any live poker for the last year,” said Merson. “I’m just going to deal with the pain for the tournaments.” Having both hips operated on at the same time – a rarity for somebody as young as Merson – also presents a challenge that is simply just a fact of life for any former addict. He’s going to come out of surgery and have a lot of pain to deal with and he’s going to be prescribed painkillers. A few years ago, he had his Achilles operated on and went through that recovery process without any prescription medicine. “I just have no idea what kind of pain I’m going to be in, and my Achilles was fucking awful for two days of not having anything. So, if I need them, I’m not going to hold back from using them,” said Merson. He won’t have easy access to them though. Julie will be the one responsible for giving Greg the drugs and keeping them out of reach when he doesn’t need them. Julie is happy to act as the checks and balances for Greg, but she thinks he’s more than capable of recognizing any potential problems himself. “He tells me, ‘Hey, do you mind taking care of these? Give them to me if I ask for them and we’ll go from there’,” said Julie. “I don’t see it being an issue. If I were concerned, I would address it with him, but I also feel like he would see that.” July 22, 2017 Earlier this year the WSOP announced that the November Nine concept was being retired and that the 2017 WSOP Main Event would play out live on ESPN in late July. Every poker player made note of the new scheduled date of the final table and told friends and to expect to be busy that day. Except Merson. He panicked. July 22 – the day that the 2017 Main Event champion will be crowned – is the same day that Greg and Julie are getting married in Morristown, New Jersey. After dating for just over four years, Greg popped the question and the two picked a date they though wouldn’t conflict with the already-announced dates for Main Event. “It’s not even just me though, it’s half of my groomsmen are going to be in the tournament,” said Merson. The new schedule calls for the final nine players to begin play on July 20 and play down to six. Those six return on July 21 and play down to three. The final three return on July 22 and play down to a winner. The announcement from the WSOP came early one morning in mid-May. Harder jokingly texted Merson, but he’d already seen the news and was reading it to his soon-to-be-wife who wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. She just reassured herself that the chances Greg or any of his friends made it to the final table were slim. “Once I got past the confusion and taking the whole idea in, I was like ‘Wow, that sucks’. From there I thought, ‘You know what? It’s like one in a billion chance that he’ll get to the final table again,” Julie said. “Then people tried to make me feel better. He was like ‘Really? It’s like 1 in 900.’ and I thought ‘Oh, great’.” “It’s not even just me though, it’s half of my groomsmen are going to be in the tournament, and then other close friends,” said Greg. “If one of our super close friends make the final three, she just feels like it takes away from our wedding, since people are going to be watching (the final table) on their phones.” Even with the wedding planned and everything already paid for, Merson is a poker player and can’t help but dream about the possibility of repeating his performance from five years ago. “It’s so unlikely to affect anything and I think it would just be such an awesome thing if I were in the final three, obviously,” said Merson. “Who the fuck cares that I’m punting all of this money we spent on the wedding because it’s just not going to matter.” Julie might not be a poker player, but she understands the odds are actually in her favor. Still, she’s come up with a contingency plan should Greg still be in the tournament on July 22. “The wedding is probably get canceled or put on hold for however long,” said Julie. “I fly to Vegas with my wedding dress and probably sit behind him in my wedding dress until he’s done.”
  13. Most people who play the World Series of Poker Main Event don't even think of bringing their work with them when they come to chase poker immortality. Ben Mintz isn't most people though. Mintz, who hosts a drive-time sports radio show in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, is onto Day 3 of the Main Event but has also made time to get on air while in Las Vegas, even having former #1-ranked PocketFiver Ari Engel on as a guest. Mintz last played the Main Event in 2013, long before the radio show was something he'd even considered. Mintz, also a PocketFiver, used to make his living grinding online. After Black Friday he attempted to make the transition to live poker, but it didn't quite go as he'd hoped. "I was living down in New Orleans and travelling the circuit, just kind of wasn't managing it right. I don't think it was a question of me not having enought talent, it was more about living above my means after online went down," said Mintz, who decided to leave poker behind and return to college to finish off the finance degree he'd left behind to play poker. "Then I got a huge break, my buddy used to run ESPN radio in North Louisiana and I didn't have any experience and all and I hooked up with drive-time sports radio in Shreveport-Bossier," said Mintz, whose show is called Mixin' It Up with Mintz. That was three years ago. Mintz has been building the show's audience and business up ever since and in January decided that the show was in a place where he could start traveling the circuit for poker again. He picked up some decent scores early which boosted his confidence after time away from the tables. "I made the final table of the WSOP Circuit New Orleans Main Event, I got seventh, I made a deep run in Durant, cashed the Tunica main. It's been a steady build up on the comeback," said Mintz, who just turned 35 years old. "Getting back here to the Main Event, I used to not appreciate it in my late 20s. Now I'm just so grateful to be able to play again and I found a great balance in life and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world." While completing his finance degree, Mintz had taken on a part-time job and that experience as much as anything has allowed him to appreciate his return to poker even more. "It took five years to build it back, to get to this point. Now I'm back and I've got the radio show with me too," said Mintz. "Even though I haven't played this in five years I've fallen right back into poker like I never left, except I actually have an income now to sustain it." Mintz cashed in the 2011 Main Event, finishing 75th. His winnings from that event are almost secondary to his memory of running deep - including a spot where he got to outplay one of the game's best players. "I can't even believe I did this. (Patrik Antonius) sat down at our table and just didn't recognize anybody so he just started raising 90% of the hands and we had a hand that I'll never forget. At 1,200/2,400, he made it 7,200 in the cutoff and I had king-queen on the button and I made it 18,500 and he's like, 'Who the hell is this kid?' and makes it 63,000 - went real, real big," remembered Mintz. "I had around 200K and he had 160K and I was about to fold and I remember looking at him and thinking 'This dude just doesn't think I've got the heart to put it in without kings or aces' and I bombed king-queen and he folded. I showed it and everybody just laughed at the table." Even though most people will tell you that poker, in particula No Limit Hold'em, has changed dramatically since 2013, Mintz says he hasn't felt like he was behind at all, even though he expected to find some speed bumps. "I thought I was going to have more of an adjustment coming back, but a lot of these kids now, they didn't cut their teeth during the online heyday. When I was playing Full Tilt and Stars, it was against all the top guys in the world," said Mintz. "I think that these kids coming up now on the circuit - I'm not saying they're not good players - but they didn't cut their teeth like we did. So as I came back it wasn't as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be." No matter how the rest of the Main Event goes for Mintz, he knows he's in a much better position to enjoy the ride now than he's ever been. "If you had told 12-year-old me that I was going to get to do a sports radio show 15-20 hours a week and get to play poker 15-20 hours a week? That's unbelievable. I wake up skipping out of bed every day. I love it," said Mintz.
  14. Late Saturday night in the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event, 1,182 players stood cheering the elimination of Matthew Hopkins in 1,183rd-place. His elimination burst the bubble and sent the remaining players into the money. It also ended Day 3 and In Sun Geoum bagged up 1,696,000, good enough for the chip lead. Right behind him is Frank Flowers with 1,624,000. The only woman to ever make the Main Event final table also finished with a top 10 stack. Barbara Enright, who famously finished fifth in 1995, ended the day with 1,260,000. The day began with 2,786 players still believing they had a chance at taking home the $8.8 million first-place prize money but over the course of just over ten hours of play, 1,604 players were sent packing. The math behind that is somewhat staggering. Every 23 seconds a player had their Main Event run with nothing but a story. Included in that group were Jason Mercier, Greg Merson, Matt Waxman, Matt Berkey, JC Tran, Tom Marchese, and Steffen Sontheimer. Phil Hellmuth, who began the day by showing up almost a full hour late and was dealing with some controversy for his actions in one of the final hands of play on Day 2C, was eliminated by Jans Arends. Hellmuth was all-in preflop with [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] and Arends called holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="9d"]. The flop and turn were both clean for Hellmuth but the river was the [poker card="9h"] and he was eliminated well before the money. His elimination seemed to go over well with other players watching the live coverage on TV while playing in other Las Vegas poker rooms. There are still a number of prominent players still in contention and now hoping to turn their guaranteed cash into something better. Ben Yu (1,040,000), Paul Volpe (989,000), Chris Moorman (969,000), Chino Rheem (904,000), Phil Ivey (827,000) and Kelly Minkin (795,000) all finished with a top 100 stack. Another player who bagged up chips is four-time World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias. While he's had an impressive amount of success on the WPT, this marks the first WSOP cash of Elias' career. "It's good. I've kind of had a curse in this event, so to finally make the money after 10 tries feels good," said Elias. "I think it's just variance and over the years I probably haven't played my best in this event. I've had bad players play hands well against me and me not play hands well." Action resumes at 11 am Las Vegas time and will play a full five two-hour levels. Top 10 Chip Counts In Sun Geoum - 1,696,000 Frank Flowers - 1,624,000 Alexander Wong - 1,431,000 Samuel Bernabeu - 1,418,000 Eric Sfez - 1,390,000 Michael Lavenburg - 1,356,000 Julius Malzanini - 1,292,000 Alexandro Tricarico - 1,289,000 Kaylen Lebaron - 1,284,000 Barbara Enright - 1,260,000
  15. [caption width="640"] Winning your way into the 2017 WSOP Main Event is a lot more lucrative now thanks to 888poker.[/caption] Over the last ten years, winning theWorld Series of Poker Main Event has been worth between $7.6 million and $10 million to the eventual champion. It's life-changing money for sure, but now the folks over at 888poker want to make you even richer. As part of their Supersize ME promotion, any player that qualifies for the 2017 WSOP Main Event through 888poker will be eligible to win $10,000,000 if they go on to win the Main Event. That's because 888poker will make up the difference between the standard WSOP payout for first and $10,000,000. "This makes an already exciting tournament even bigger and more incredible. Imagine getting to the final table of the WSOP Main Event with the possibility of winning a full 10 million dollars," said Kara Scott, 888poker Ambassador. "The prize money for the champion is already huge but this takes it one step further and gives all the 888poker qualifiers an even bigger prize to shoot for." Martin Jacobson is the only WSOP Main Event winner to walk away with $10,000,000 in the last 10 years. YEARCHAMPWINNINGSENTRANTS 2007Jerry Yang$8,250,0006,358 2008Peter Eastgate$9,152,4166,844 2009Joe Cada$8,547,0426,494 2010Jonathan Duhamel$8,944,3107,319 2011Pius Heinz$8,715,6386,865 2012Greg Merson$8,531,8536,598 2013Ryan Riess$8,361,5706,352 2014Martin Jacobson$10,000,0006,683 2015Joe McKeehen$7,683,3466,420 2016Qui Nguyen$8,005,3106,737 The promotion is open to anybody who wins their way to the WSOP Main Event through 888poker. The online poker operator ran a similar promotion in 2016, but it was only for a limited number of satellites and guaranteed an additional $5 million to the winner. Only 30 players were eligible, but Romanian Joldis Cosmin gave the company a real sweat by making it to Day 5 before busting out in 85th place. There were two 888poker qualifiers who made it to the November Nine though. Former PocketFives #1-ranked Griffin Benger and amateur Fernando Pons both won their seats online and turned that into a seven-figure score. Players who qualify for the WSOP Main Event through 888poker get a package worth $12,500 that includes the $10,000 Main Event buy-in, $1,200 travel and expenses allowance, five nights at the Vdara Hotel Las Vegas and an 888live poker kit. Winning your way to the 2017 WSOP Main Event starts with satellites for just one cent. Work your way through six steps to get into the $1,050 WSOP satellite. To help, PocketFives has put together a comprehensive guide on how to play each step. How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $0.01 How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $0.10 How to Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event for Just $1 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $5 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $30 How To Qualify For the 2017 WSOP Main Event For Just $160 If you don’t have an 888poker account yet, sign up through this link and you’ll get a 100% bonus up to a maximum of $700. You'll also get a free $10 on top of the first $10 you deposit available to you right away!
  16. On more than one occasion, it has been said that winning the World Series of Poker Main Event is every poker player's dream. For most though, plunking down $10,000 just for a ticket to the big show is a tough pill to swallow. That’s where satellite tournaments come into play. Year after year, players of every skill level take their shot in satellite tournaments, hoping that they can earn a seat into the WSOP Main for a fraction of the cost. After all, there’s no better feeling than being able to play for the big money while still maintaining your bankroll. No doubt in 2018 there will be plenty of players looking to become the story of the series by grabbing a huge score. Players hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of the most notable players who ever made major career moves by winning their way into the ME and grabbing some WSOP glory. Tom McEvoy Even twenty years before the poker boom, the World Series of Poker was a big deal to fans of the game. Some of the biggest names to ever play poker had claimed WSOP Main Event titles - Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Doyle Brunson, Bobby Baldwin and Stu Unger, just to name a few. In 1983, in only the second year that the Main Event drew over 100 players, Tom McEvoy made his mark on the series by becoming the first person to ever win the Main Event after winning his seat through a satellite. McEvoy won $540,000 for first that year and while he’d been a professional player for a number of years prior, it helped him continue his poker journey. McEvoy continues to enjoy a career of over $3 million in lifetime earnings. The Nevada resident can still be spotted in a variety of events in the Las Vegas tournament poker scene, always remembered as a champion. Fernando Pons If he could have cashed out he would have. But after Spain’s Fernando Pons played a €30 satellite tournament on 888poker he was forced into the next step, a 250 satellite. According to the 888poker blog, Pons claims that had he been able to take the cash - that would have been the end of it. But he did play, he did win and the Spaniard did turn that original €30 into a seat into the Main Event. What Pons ended up with was something beyond his wildest dreams. He battled through seven days of poker and claimed a seat in the 2016 November Nine. He found himself seated alongside players like Griffin Benger, Kenny Hallaert, Cliff Josephy and eventual winner Qui Nguyen. Pons' run ended in ninth-place for which he earned $1,000,000 - far and away a career-high score. Since that time, Pons has continued to play, mostly in Spain. He did, however, take down a summer side event at the Wynn in 2017 for over $40,000. Tommy Yates Another great story of maximizing one’s ROI is that of Tommy Yates. In 2015, the Grecian bar owner began grinding $0.01 satellites online in an effort to win his way into the Main. An eight-year poker vet, the game was a part-time passion for him. After a number of attempts, he found himself in the final stages of the steps satellites, on the cusp of winning a seat. With four players left, three who would win seats and the fourth a $6,000 return - Yates thought about just trying for the cash. After all, he was in for just $2.18. He was convinced otherwise and played it out. Yates won his seat, went to the show and played his heart out - finishing well within the money bubble. Yates turned his $2.18 investment into a $19,500 payday. Shaun Deeb In 2012 when high-stakes mixed game cash pro Shaun Deeb entered the $25,000 satellite for a seat to the inaugural $1 million Big One For One Drop, he scored a major victory - without actually winning the event. At the final table, after the departure of fan favorite Jason Sommerville in third-place, Deeb found himself up against three-time World Poker Tour winner Gus Hansen. There was one final seat in the tournament up for grabs. Second place would receive a million dollar payday, but be unable to participate in the tournament. Deeb decided that cash was king and it quickly became obvious that a deal was struck between the two. He raise-folded the majority of his stack to Gus who ended up closing it out and winning the seat. Deeb was then gifted his first million dollar cash score. Legend has it that the Rio, rather than cut out cool million in stacks, decided to pay Deeb in tournament lammers. The lammers, which have zero cash value and can only be used to enter tournaments at the Rio, would have been nearly impossible to use up if the idea had stuck. In the end, Deeb was allowed to cash out those lammers and take home the million in cash. Hansen ended up busting out of the One Drop without cashing. Chris Moneymaker No list of epic satellite winners would be complete without the accountant from Tennessee, Chris Moneymaker. Moneymaker sparked the powder keg that was the “poker boom” in 2003 with his WSOP Main Event win and fortuitous name. He was also the first player to win the Main Event after having won his way into the Main through an online site. Moneymaker is the dream. You know the story: He wasn’t the best player in the tournament and he wasn’t the most experienced at the final table but he got in for the minimum, made the maximum and from there his career took off. He has kept his sponsorship of 15 years with PokerStars, he’s still one of the game’s most recognizable faces and has gone on to amass over $3.7 million in lifetime live earnings. Satellites run around the clock at the World Series of Poker and online sites like 888poker offer players way to win their way into the Main Event. Will this be the year another satellite winner takes it all down?
  17. [caption width="640"] Marinus Hoogma got into the 2017 WSOP Main Event for just .[/caption] Just a few weeks ago Marinus Hoogma and his brother Joep were just hanging out together watching 888poker ambassador and Twitch streamer Parker ‘tonkaaaa’ Talbot stream some poker. Joep, 22, has been playing online poker for a while now, but Marinus just more or less watched from the sidelines. Talbot was hyping up a freeroll he was running and Marinus figured he’d give it a try. “My brother’s like, ‘You should try it out as well, play some poker with me’, and Toknkaa had something going on where you could get a $10 bonus if you register,” said Marinus. “So I made my account and I lost there, sadly, in the tournament that (Talbot) organized.” Normally that could be the end of the tale, but not this time. Marinus decided to have a bit of fun. “I was like, ‘okay, let’s do some BLASTs’,” said Marinus. BLASTs are the lottery-style sit-n-go on 888poker that feature four players playing for a randomly drawn prize. Marinus played a $10 BLAST and after all four player registered the spinning wheel that determines the prize had a bit of fun with Marinus. One of the prizes available was a 2017 WSOP Main Event package. “It was spinning, my brother was sitting next to me, and it was like ‘Oh, we didn’t get it’ but then it shot back. So we were like ‘what?’,” said Marinus. The wheel in the center of the table stopped on the WSOP prize package spot. It took only a few minutes, but Marinus was suddenly making plans for a trip to Las Vegas. “I won that one against three other players. It was a bit of luck, I won a couple of hands that, statistically, I shouldn’t have won but that’s poker,” said Marinus, who decided to bring his brother with him on the 5,000 mile trip. “I actually got into poker because of my poker. He plays it more than me, he’s actually a little bit better than me,” said Marinus. Having never played live poker before, Marinus jumped into a couple of smaller tournaments at home. “I played two tournaments in Hollands Casino in the Netherlands to get a feeling for live poker, because I have never played live before in my life,” said Marinus, who admits to having sweaty palms now that he’s on to Day 2 of the Main Event. “I’m quite nervous, because I know that I’m that the level that’s here is much higher than I can play. I know that. I’m trying to keep telling myself it’s only $10, but it’s hard,” said Marinus. “Somewhere in the back of my mind, the min cash is $15,000 - for me that’s a lot of money. I played a $10 blast tournament and there’s a reason that I played for $10, my bankroll isn’t that big.” Joep has been on the rail, lending support and some advice for his brother when it’s needed. “I think it would have been better had he actually won the tournament, because he’s more experienced but he also likes it more than I do,” said Marinus. “I’m enjoying it, it’s a fun game, but because I’m not that experienced, it’s hard to enjoy something that you don’t really know.” Even if he doesn’t cash - he starts Day 2C with 22,800 - the 26-year-old knows he’s managed to experience something that he wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford and doing it with his brother makes it even more special. “Being here together, it’s amazing. Staying at Vdara, for us that’s once in a lifetime, I think and that’s why I really enjoy the fact that I’m here,” said Marinus.
  18. The structure for the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event has been released. From previous announcements, we know that the amount of starting chips went from 50,000 in 2018 to 60,000 in 2019, a big blind ante format will be used and registration has been extended until the start of Day 2. Now, let's dive a little deeper into the details and break down how the WSOP Main Event structure in 2019 compares to 2018's version. 2019 WSOP Main Event Structure Buy-In: $10,000 Starting Chips: 60,000 Level Duration: 120 minutes Late Registration Period: Start of Day 2 Re-Entry: None Click here for structure sheet DATE EVENT DAY START TIME (PT) DAY LENGTH 7/3 Day 1A 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/4 Day 1B 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/5 Day 1C 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/6 Day 2A/B 11 a.m. 5 levels 7/7 Day 2C 11 a.m. 5 levels 7/8 Day 3 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/9 Day 4 12 p.m. 5 levels 7/10 Day 5 12 p.m. 5-6 levels 7/11 Day 6 12 p.m. 5-6 levels 7/12 Day 7 12 p.m. To nine players 7/14 Day 8 6:30 p.m. To six players 7/15 Day 9 6:30 p.m. To three players 7/16 Day 10 5:30 p.m. To winner *Per WSOP structure sheet: Adjustments may be made to the numbers of levels played each day. Once again, the WSOP Main Event is a 10-day competition with three starting flights. Registration is open until the start of Day 2 and players will play five 120-minute levels on Day 1. You can see the levels during the registration period in the 2019 WSOP Main Event structure table below, plus one additional level that you'd start playing if you registered right before registration closed. LEVEL ANTE BLINDS BB DEPTH M 1 - 100-200 300 200 2 200 100-200 300 120 3 300 200-300 200 75 4 400 200-400 150 60 5 500 300-500 120 46.15 6 600 300-600 100 40 With 60,000 chips to start, players in the 2019 WSOP Main Event begin with 300 big blinds. That is fewer big blinds than players started with for 2018, but the decrease only lasts one level. You can also see that if you enter right at the close of registration (start of Day 2) and head into Level 6 with a fresh 60,000-chip starting stack, you'll have 100 big blinds and an M of 40 to work with. In a further comparison of the two structures, the table below is a year-by-year look at the two structures through the registration periods. The starting stack for the 2018 WSOP Main Event was 50,000, so 10,000 less than what it will be in 2019. It's not the massive increase to the starting stack we've seen in some of the other WSOP events for this year, but it's an increase that benefits the players early on in the structure, past the first level. For "ante," we took the standard ante from the 2018 structure and multiplied it by nine to show the cost of a full round of antes at a standard nine-handed table. This was done to align the comparisons better. 2018 Structure Compared To 2019 Structure LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS BB DEPTH M 1 2018 0 75-150 333.33 222.22 2019 0 100-200 300 200 - - 2 2018 0 150-300 166.67 111.11 2019 200 100-200 300 120 - - 3 2018 225 150-300 166.67 74.07 2019 300 200-300 200 75 - - 4 2018 450 200-400 125 47.62 2019 400 200-400 150 60 - - 5 2018 Reg. Closed 2019 500 300-500 120 46.15 - - 6 2018 Reg. Closed 2019 600 300-600 100 40 The 2019 WSOP Main Event registration period has been extended and will allow players to register until the start of Day 2. Looking at the above table, you can see that there are three levels that overlap with 2018's registration period. In two of those three overlapping registration periods, the structure benefits players with deeper stacks. The first level was actually deeper in 2018, but the difference isn't anything astronomical that players should be up in arms about. In fact, some players have suggested the WSOP Main Event is a little too slow at the beginning. When comparing the end of registration in both years, players would be deeper in 2018 had they entered at the last chance to start Level 4 with a fresh stack of 50,000. That would make for 125 big blinds and an M of 47.62. If players registered to start Day 2 with a fresh 60,000-chip stack in 2019, they'd start with 100 big blinds and an M of 40. That's two full, 120-minute levels later, and in some cases a full day later for the latecomers. What Happens After Day 1? First, let's take a look at how the two years compare for Day 2. In both years, Day 2 begins with Level 6 and the schedule calls for playing five, 120-minute levels. Remember that for the 2018 ante, we took the standard ante from the structure and multiplied it by nine to show the cost of a full round of antes at a standard nine-handed table. LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS 6 2018 900 300-600 2019 600 300-600 - - 7 2018 900 400-800 2019 800 400-800 - - 8 2018 900 500-1,000 2019 1,000 500-1,000 - - 9 2018 1,800 600-1,200 2019 1,200 600-1,200 - - 10 2018 1,800 800-1,600 2019 1,600 800-1,600 The blinds are exactly the same for 2019 as they were in 2018, the only difference per level is the number of antes paid per round. In 2018, a player at a full, nine-handed table would pay more per round in antes in four of the five levels on Day 2. The only level that fewer antes were paid in 2018 versus 2019 is Level 8. On the surface, this tells us that players will have more play overall on Day 2. When you factor in that players begin the tournament with 20% more chips in 2019, the average stack on Day 2 should be larger, and that adds even more play than 2018. Now, let's take a look at Day 3-6. DAY 3 LEVEL YEAR ANTE BLINDS 11 2018 2,700 1,000-2,000 2019 2,000 1,000-2,000 - - 12 2018 3,600 1,200-2,400 2019 2,400 1,200-2,400 - - 13 2018 4,500 1,500-3,000 2019 3,000 1,500-3,000 - - 14 2018 4,500 2,000-4,000 2019 4,000 2,000-4,000 - - 15 2018 4,500 2,500-5,000 2019 5,000 2,500-5,000 DAY 4 16 2018 9,000 3,000-6,000 2019 6,000 3,000-6,000 - - 17 2018 9,000 4,000-8,000 2019 8,000 4,000-8,000 - - 18 2018 9,000 5,000-10,000 2019 10,000 5,000-10,000 - - 19 2018 18,000 6,000-12,000 2019 12,000 6,000-12,000 - - 20 2018 18,000 8,000-16,000 2019 16,000 8,000-16,000 DAY 5 21 2018 27,000 10,000-20,000 2019 20,000 10,000-20,000 - - 22 2018 36,000 12,000-24,000 2019 24,000 12,000-24,000 - - 23 2018 45,000 15,000-30,000 2019 30,000 15,000-30,000 - - 24 2018 45,000 20,000-40,000 2019 40,000 20,000-40,000 - - 25 2018 45,000 25,000-50,000 2019 50,000 25,000-50,000 DAY 6 26 2018 90,000 30,000-60,000 2019 60,000 30,000-60,000 - - 27 2018 90,000 40,000-80,000 2019 80,000 40,000-80,000 - - 28 2018 135,000 50,000-100,000 2019 100,000 50,000-100,000 - - 29 2018 180,000 60,000-120,000 2019 120,000 60,000-120,000 - - 30 2018 180,000 80,000-160,000 2019 160,000 80,000-160,000 For Day 5-6, we assumed five levels to be played, but note that the structure sheet does say "5-6 levels." If you look at the blind levels for Day 3-6, you'll notice the small blind and big blind amounts are all the same as they were in 2018. The change comes with the ante, and you'll notice the cost of one round of antes is less in the majority of blind levels in 2019 when compared to 2018. Of the 20 levels from Level 11 to Level 30, only three times does the 2019 structure call for a higher price for a round of antes. In several spots, each pot is going to be one small blind or greater less than was played in 2018. For example, Level 13 on Day 3 in 2019. In 2018, this level was 1,500-3,000 with a 500 ante. That put 9,000 in the pot at each nine-handed table to start the hand. In 2019, Level 13 is the same 1,500-3,000 but with a 3,000 big blind ante. That's 7,500 in the pot to start the hand for a difference of 1,500 fewer chips. Another example is in Level 29. In 2018, this level was 60,000-120,000 with a 20,000 ante for 360,000 in the pot to start the hand. In 2019, the level is 60,000-120,000 with a 120,000 big blind ante for 300,000 in the pot to start each hand. More Chips Plus Big Blind Ante Means More Play In conclusion, the larger size of the starting stack and the way the big blind ante format works with the structure will allow for a deeper, slower structure in 2019 compared to 2018 in the WSOP Main Event. Want to know more about the 2019 World Series of Poker? Check out 'Everything You Need To Know About the 2019 WSOP.'
  19. 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. Erik Seidel BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 8 107 $5,388,532 42 Before the 1998 WSOP Main Event, nobody in poker had heard of Erik Seidel. He was a regular at the Mayfair Club in New York City and was grinding out a living playing in those games. He was part of a larger group of New Yorkers who came to Las Vegas for the 1998 Series and he made a lasting impression. Seidel's first WSOP cash was his runner-up finish to Johnny Chan in the 1988 Main Event - a moment forever immortalized in Rounders. Rather than fade into WSOP history, that moment actually served as a launch pad for an all-time great. “I really didn’t know what to expect when I went out, and there wasn’t a great distance between my game and the people I was playing with, which was nice to see,” Seidel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015 about his first time out to Las Vegas for the WSOP. “For me, it was a big moment because it gave me a certain amount of confidence that I could do it, and that I could play. I hadn’t really felt that way about my game before that.” That confidence paid off in a big, big way. In 1992, Seidel won a $2,500 Limit Hold'em event, beating Phil Hellmuth heads up, for his first career bracelet. He returned to Binion's a year later and added his second bracelet, this time from a $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event. He continued his streak the very next year when he won the $5,000 Limit Hold'em event, making him just the fifth player in WSOP history to win a bracelet over three consecutive years joining Bill Boyd, Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, and Gary Bergland. Heading into the 2019 WSOP, Seidel sits sixth on the all-time bracelets list with 8 and fourth on the all-time cashes list with 108. He's one of just five players to have entered triple-digit territory for cashes. Of those in-the-money finishes, 42 of them (39%) were top 10 finishes. He's also one of the most game diverse players in WSOP history, having cashed in 15 different poker variants during his career. Seidel has two bracelets in No Limit Deuce to Seven, Limit Hold'em, No Limit Hold'em, and one in each Omaha Hi-Lo and Pot Limit Omaha. The fourth bracelet of Seidel's career came in 1998 when he beat a final table that included Doyle Brunson, David Grey, and eventual runner-up Wil Wilkinson in the $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven event. It took three years for Seidel to find the winner's circle again. In 2001, he got a modicum of revenge on Chan, beating him heads up to win a $3,000 No Limit Hold'em event for the fifth bracelet of his career. That win marked the beginning of a run that saw Seidel pick up a new bracelet every two years until 2007. In 2003, he won a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event. Two years later, it was a $2,000 No Limit Hold'em event that resulted in him hitting the biggest WSOP score of his career ($611,795) before winning the eighth bracelet of his career in 2007, another $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven event. That win made him just the fifth person to reach eight bracelets. While many casual poker fans might remember him most for that runner-up finish in 1988, Seidel has an impressive 8-3 record when he gets heads-up for a bracelet. His other two second-place finishes came in 1991 ($5,000 Limit Hold'em) and 2013 (€2,200 No Limit Hold'em). In 2010, Seidel was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. He's recorded 45 WSOP cashes since then.
  20. Day 1C of the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event was definitely one for the record books, but it was also one of the strangest days in the 50-year history of the event. As more and more players piled into the Rio, two were escorted out by police and then Mother Nature had her say as well, as an earthquake shook Las Vegas and disrupted the tournament in an unprecedented way. Starting Flight Record Broken, Overall Record Close Last summer, 4,571 players made Day 1C of the 2018 Main Event the largest starting flight in the history of the WSOP. That record fell on Friday, as 4,879 players joined the Main Event. That group, combined with the 3,250 players from Day 1A and 1B, makes this year's event the second largest Main Event of all-time, with registration open until the start of Day 2C on Sunday. Earthquake Shakes Up Day 1C At 8:19 PM PT, Las Vegas was shaken by an earthquake that caused tournament officials to pause the tournament clock and send players on an early dinner break to assess any possible damage to the building. The 7.1 magnitude earthquake was centered in Ridgecrest, California and is the second one in 48 hours. In the moments after the quake hit, some players left their tables to find safety either in the hallways our outside of the Rio. Andy Frankenberger chose to leave the room he was in while in the middle of a hand only. "Never felt anything like it being my first earthquake experience," Ronnie Bardah, a WSOP gold bracelet winner, told PocketFives. "Felt like I was out at sea but instead in the middle of the Main Event at the Rio. Felt like my life was out of my control for a few seconds. Not to sound dramatic, but whoa. Made sure to get away from under the moving stuff hanging up above. Day 1c of the 2019 WSOP Main Event will never be forgotten." Play resumed after an 80-minute break and carried on for another two hours and 40 minutes before ending for the day. James Henson Bags Lead, Mike McDonald Second Just three players managed to get through the five levels of play with more than 300,000 chips. James Henson finished with 316,100 to end up on top of the 3,664 Day 1C survivors. The player right behind caused a lot of pain for his opponents on Friday, but if he goes on to win the Main Event, he could cause a lot more pain for other top pros. Mike McDonald finished Day 1C with the second biggest stack at 306,300. The Canadian poker pro booked himself against a lot of other top players and stands to win an additional seven figures in side action. Right behind McDonald is Joshua Ray with 304,200. Easy Come, Easy Go for Phil Ivey Phil Ivey's 2019 WSOP Main Event run didn't last long. The 10-time bracelet winner was eliminated in the first level of play on Friday. Ivey got the last of his chips in on a flop of [poker card="ts"][poker card="9h"][poker card="7s"] holding [poker card="as"][poker card="4s"] against his opponent's top two pair. The turn and river were bricks, eliminating Ivey. Two Players Disqualified in Different Manners Ivey was eliminated in the traditional way, but two other players found very different ways to have their Main Event end. Georgii Belianin was the first of the two to be removed from the tournament. The Russian poker pro was disqualified moving another player's stack into his own. The second involved a player exposing himself to the table and throwing a shoe at his opponent and the dealer. READ: World Series Of Poker Disqualifies Two Players Kevin Martin Bags Up 220,600 The list of players who bagged and tagged on Day 1C includes the usual list of big names. Partypoker Team Pro Kevin Martin finished with 220,600 for a top 50 stack. Coming off of winning his third bracelet, Nick Schulman ended with 141,200. Peter Traply, who recently overtook Chris Moorman for the all-time online tournament earnings lead, also made it to Day 2C with 128,500. Other notables moving on include Dzmitry Urbanovich (196,900), Maurice Hawkins (183,600) Chino Rheem (170,900), Andrew Lichtenberger (141,200), Ali Imsirovic (102,500), Danielle Andersen (102,300), and Maria Konnikova (100,900). End of the Road for More than a Few Familiar Faces Joe Cada won't be making a return to the Main Event final table this year. After finishing fifth last year, Cada couldn't make it through the opening day and was one of the more notable eliminations. He was joined by Dietrich Fast, William Kassouf, Martin Jacobson, Doug Polk, and Shaun Deeb, Jason Koon on the outside looking in. PokerStars Players Championship winner Ramon Colillas wasn't able to recreate the magic on Friday and was eliminated. Mike Leah, who skipped most of the WSOP after the birth of his first child, had a short-lived return on Friday and was one of the 1,225 players eliminated. Former #1s Represent Well Chris Hunichen, Calvin Anderson and Christopher Brammer all finished with stacks well above average. Hunichen leads the way with 181,000 but Anderson isn't far behind with 178,100. Brammer ended with 169,200. They weren't the only former #1-ranked PocketFivers who ended Friday on the good side. Cliff Josephy (111,500), Tim West (49,600), and Fedor Holz (35,900) also moved onto Day 2C. Top 10 Chip Counts James Henson - 316,100 Mike McDonald - 306,300 Joshua Ray - 304,200 Robert Kokoska - 285,000 Mohamed Mamouni - 284,000 Barry Donovan - 280,100 Robert Layne - 280,000 Dylan Meier - 277,700 Yervand Boyadjian - 277,400 Tom Cannuli - 275,000
  21. Richard Seymour’s run in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event was one for the ages. He finished 131st out of 8,569 entries, resulting in the top finish for a major professional athlete. Late on Day 5, Seymour moved all in for 725,000 in Level 26 with the blinds at 25,000-50,000 with a 50,000 big blind ante. The player in the small blind, Zhen Cai, called, and then the player in the big blind, Anuj Agarwal, moved all in for around 2.7 million total. Cai quickly called to create a three-way all-in pot. Seymour had the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="4d"], Cai had the [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Qh"], and Agarwal had the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="3d"]. The flop came Seymour the lead with the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="6h"][poker card="2d"] falling, but the turn was the [poker card="Qs"] to give the hand to Cai. The [poker card="Ks"] on the river meant nothing. Seymour’s run earned him $59,295. After starting Day 5 with 2.75 million and in 35th place among the 354 players left, the three-time Super Bowl champion and seven-time Pro Bowl selection jumped out to a hot start. Seymour was seated with another former NFL player, Eric Stocz, to begin the day. After Stocz busted early, Seymour went to work building. He moved to 3 million about 15 minutes into the day, then hit 3.8 million another 15 minutes later. That’s where he stayed until he was moved to the main televised table. Once moved, things started to go the other way for Seymour. "As a competitor, you always want to still be in it," Seymour said following his elimination. "You know, sometimes you just try to go out and make the best decisions possible and today was just a day where I had to fold a lot of hands. Just some pretty sick spots. It just happens that way sometimes. I'm happy with a lot of my decisions and that's all you can do in this game. You let the cards fall where they may and it just didn't go my way today." Seymour called his run "bittersweet." A couple of days prior, he told The Fives Poker Podcast that he was elated to cash on his sixth time competing in poker’s greatest tournament. The result also gave Seymour his second best payout from a live poker tournament, behind the $376,360 he earned for finishing third in the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 High Roller. "I got a ton of outpour and support from a lot of friends of mine and I’m very grateful for that," Seymour said. "As a competitor, you always want to win. In tournament poker, it’s really only going to be a handful of guys that are truly happy at the end of the day, but that’s what we signed up for. I knew that coming in. It was a tremendous event and I’m very happy with coming out and playing." Right before his run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, Seymour competed in the $400 buy-in Colossus tournament that drew a field of 13,109 entries. In that one, Seymour finished 300th. "I may be one of the only guys who played in the $400 Colossus and the $10K at ARIA and the $10K here," Seymour said. "I just really enjoy this and playing the game, and that won’t change. So we’ll just go back to the drawing board and see what’s next." Tournament poker can result in plenty of disappointment, as often deep runs don’t result in winning the tournament, and that’s the ultimate goal. While his fierce competitiveness is highly evident when he tackles the felt, the enjoyment of playing on poker’s biggest stage wasn’t lost on Seymour. "I thoroughly enjoyed it," Seymour said. "My family and friends enjoyed it. It was a fun time. Obviously, like I said, I’m disappointed that it didn’t finish the way that I wanted it to, but there are a lot of positives that I can take away from it as well. It’s a huge field. At the end of the day, if you think you’re going to final table, that’s a sucker bet and I’ll probably bet against you. But, you just come out and play the best and hopefully you can put yourself in the position to make a run. I’m just grateful and humbled." Seymour may not have found the winner’s circle he ultimately dreamed of, and we won’t be seeing him at the televised final table on ESPN starting Sunday, but we’ll be seeing plenty of Richard Seymour in the poker world. His first live tournament cash came in July 2014, so he’s spent a fairly short time in the poker world. He’s befriended some of the best poker players in the world and given a lot of focus to improving his game. "For me, a lot of people always talk about how I go from football to poker or whatever the case, and I just believe at the end of the day that if you’re a champion at heart it doesn’t matter what field you’re in, period," Seymour said. "Being a champion means you just prepare in everything that you do relentlessly as you need to. Just those qualities in life in general I feel like separates good from being great. My time will come for sure."
  22. In what was an entertaining finale to the greatest poker tournament in the world, Hossein Ensan emerged victorious in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event to claim the $10,000,000 top prize. Ensan topped the WSOP Main Event’s second largest field ever, 8,569 entries, and defeated Dario Sammartino in heads-up play to become world champion. "This is the best feeling that I've had in all my life and my entire career," Ensan said in the moments after his triumph. "I am so happy I am here with the bracelet in my hand. What can I say? What can I say?" The victory placed an emphatic exclamation point on the German’s career and gave him his first WSOP gold bracelet. His adds the WSOP Main Event title to a career that includes a European Poker Tour victory and a WSOP International Circuit win. With the win, Ensan moved to seventh on Germany’s all-time money list with $12,673,207 in live tournament earnings. 2019 WSOP Main Event Final Table Results 1st: Hossein Ensan - $10,000,000 2nd: Dario Sammartino - $6,000,000 3rd: Alex Livingston - $4,000,000 4th: Garry Gates - $3,000,000 5th: Kevin Maahs - $2,200,000 6th: Zhen Cai - $1,850,000 7th: Nick Marchington - $1,525,000 8th: Timothy Su - $1,250,000 9th: Milos Skrbic - $1,000,000 "My plan was, every day, step by step, to bag up chips," Ensan said. "My first goal was to [get in the money]. After [getting in the money], my plan was to bag up for the next day." Ensan’s run to the winner’s circle began a week and a half ago, on Friday, July 5, when he hopped into the third and final starting flight of the tournament. Ensan tripled his starting stack on his first day and started his fantastic run. Ensan came into the final table with a huge chip stack of 177,000,000, which was nearly double anyone else in the field. He held onto the lead through the first day of the final table and maneuvered his way up to 207,700,000 in chips. Garry Gates had done well to narrow the gap, but then Monday came and Ensan truly exercised his power as the chip leader. On Monday, Ensan got to work chipping away at Gates, his closest competitor. That helped Ensan stretch his lead to quite a sizable margin and he began to run away with the tournament. Ensan then sent home Kevin Maahs in fifth for $2,200,000 and knocked out Gates in fourth for $3,000,000, allowing him to take a commanding chip lead into Tuesday. Ensan topped three-handed play with 326,800,000 in chips. Alex Livingston was a ways off in second with 120,400,000 and Sammartino was in third with 67,600,000. Just as he began Monday, Sammartino found an early double up on Tuesday’s final day, winning a flip with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Js"] against Ensan’s [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"]. Sammartino gave some chips back following the double but then he turned two pair to double through Livingston’s kings and move back over 100,000,000. At this moment, there was a sense around the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino that Sammartino had the wind at his sails. Sammartino’s rail was as loud as they’ve ever been, pumping energy into the Italian’s veins and he won another pot off Livingston shortly thereafter to move into the chip lead for the first time at the final table. After Sammartino doubled through him, Livingston couldn’t recover and the 13th-place finisher from the 2013 WSOP Main Event went out in third place. Ensan was the player to finish him off. Ensan had the [poker card="As"][poker card="Qd"] and Livingston had the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Jd"]. There was little drama on the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2s"][poker card="9d"] board and Livingston went home with a $4,000,000 payday. Heads-up play saw Ensan start with the chip lead, his 279,800,000 to Sammartino’s 235,000,000. Sammartino immediately seized the lead, though, when he took down a substantial pot on the second hand of the duel. The two then battled for more than four hours of heads-up play. Ensan took the lead back and began to apply pressure to Sammartino. The blinds increased to 2,000,000-4,000,000 with a 4,000,000 big blind ante and Sammartino was below 50 big blinds when hand #301 came up, the final hand of the tournament. Ensan opened with a raise to 11,000,000 on the button and Sammartino called from the big blind. The flop came [poker card="Ts"][poker card="6s"][poker card="2d"] and Sammartino check-called a bet of 15,000,000. The turn was the [poker card="9c"] and Sammartino checked. Ensan bet 33,000,000 and Sammartino moved all in for 140,000,000. Ensan called and turned over the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Kh"]. Sammartino was at risk with a draw holding the [poker card="8s"][poker card="4s"]. The river completed the board with the [poker card="Qc"] and it was all over. "Dario is a friend of mine, a big name, and a very good player," Ensan said of the heads-up match with Sammartino. "Short handed, you need cards, you need hands, you need luck. The luck and hands were on my side, otherwise I would’ve been second. I would’ve been runner-up." As runner-up, Sammartino took home a $6,000,000 payday. "Tomorrow," Ensan responded when asked about what he plans to do with the money. "I need beer and some fun with my friends, then I'll think about that tomorrow."
  23. Garry Gates grew up and went to college in Pennsylvania, but he's always been drawn to Las Vegas. He was also drawn to poker and has been an avid player ever since his father taught him how to play cards in his younger years. After attending Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, it only took Gates half a year to make the leap to Sin City. That was in 2003. In 2011, Gates competed in the greatest poker tournament in the world, the World Series of Poker Main Event, and placed 173rd for $47,107. He also reached the money in the WSOP Main Event in 2015 and 2017, but none of those results came close to his run in 2019 when Gates finished fourth from a field of 8,569 entries to win $3,000,000. With the score, Gates moved to ninth on Pennsylvania poker's all-time money list, according to Hendon Mob, ahead of Aaron Mermelstein and behind Michael Martin. Here are some of the key hands that helped land Gates at the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table and poker's biggest stage, along with his thoughts on the moments he'll likely never forget. Day 5: Pocket Nines Crack Aces On Day 5 of the 2019 WSOP Main Event, with just under 300 players remaining, Gates found himself involved in a four-way pot with Alex Dovzhenko, Chris Wynkoop, and Alex Greenblatt. Dovzhenko had raised to 60,000 from the hijack seat, Gates called on the button with the [poker card="9s"][poker card="9c"], Wynkoop called from the small blind, and Greenblatt came along out of the big bling. The four players saw the flop come [poker card="9h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="3h"], giving Gates top set, and action checked to Dovzhenko. He bet 90,000, Gates called, and both Wynkoop and Greenblatt folded. The turn was the [poker card="Jh"] and Dovzhenko checked. Gates took the initiative with a bet of 150,000 from his stack of 760,000. Dovzhenko check-raised all in and had Gates covered. Gates went into the tank. "I certainly felt a lot more confident about my hand on the flop than I did on the turn, that’s for sure," Gates told PocketFives. "I think I knew deep down I was probably never folding in this spot, but I took my time with the decision regardless. Whenever you're facing a call for your tournament life in the WSOP Main Event, it's important to be confident that you're making the right decision. Alex played his hand fairly face up here, so once I'd made the decision to call, all I could think was, 'Hold, please,' and we did." Gates called with his set of nines. Dovzhenko turned over the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="As"] for an overpaid and a heart flush draw. The river was the [poker card="5c"] and Gates held for the double. Day 6: An Ace On the River To Never Forget On Day 6, Gates called all in for his tournament life with the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"] against Robert Heidorn. Gates had one of the better hands to get all in preflop with in tournament poker, but his German opponent turned up the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kc"] to have Gates dominated. "Obviously it's never a good feeling to find out that you're completed dominated with your tournament life on the line, but I did have an eery calm rush over me in that moment," Gates said. "I was at peace with the result no matter what… I had already bested my previous top finish in the Main, so I was going to be happy regardless. After we completely bricked the flop, I remember thinking about Barry Greenstein's book and saying to myself… 'Ace on the river, maybe?'" The [poker card="Qc"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4d"] flop didn’t give Gates much to be thrilled about. His had whiffed on hitting an ace and was left with just one card to help him make a Broadway straight. When the [poker card="5h"] hit the turn, Gates was pushed further out the door as his chance of making a straight were no longer possible. The only card Gates could hit was an ace on the river. Lo and behold, the dealer found the [poker card="Ad"] to put on fifth street and Gates came from behind in dramatic fashion to double up. "When it hit, I shot out of my chair and ran over to my rail," Gates said. "I couldn’t believe it. Anytime you attempt to navigate through a field of 8,500-plus, you're going to need to get lucky every now and again. But man, that ace gave me new life. When you think about it, it was probably a $2.7 million card." Day 7: Cowboys Against the Chip Leader On Day 7, with 13 players left in the field, Gates was involved in another kings-versus-ace-king confrontation. Again, Gates was at risk, but this time he was the one holding pocket kings - [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"]. Hossein Ensan, who was the big chip leader at the time, had the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"]. The preflop action started with Gates raising to 1.2 million from the hijack seat. Ensan three-bet to 3.75 million out of the small blind, and then Gates made it 10 million. Ensan shoved and Gates called off for 23.5 million total. "The adrenaline was pumping, and I knew that if we held here, I would be very well positioned to make a run at the final table," Gates said. "I remember walking over to Robert Heidorn, who made a terrific comeback after being on the losing hand of this same confrontation, and saying something like… 'I know what you're thinking right now, Robert, and I don't want to experience your pain.' Once all the money gets in though, the rest is up to the deck." The [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"][poker card="3h"] flop missed Ensan and kept Gates in the lead. The [poker card="2d"] hit the turn, followed by the [poker card="Jc"] on the river, and Gates had doubled to fourth place on the leaderboard. "Securing that double-up and celebrating with my rail was a moment I'll remember for a long, long time," Gates said. [caption id="attachment_625802" align="aligncenter" width="903"] Garry Gates with his rail moments after securing a big double up with pocket kings against Hossein Ensan's ace-king (photo: 888poker)[/caption] Day 7: Trip Kings with 13 Players Left Shortly after Gates' double up through Ensan, a 20-minute break took place. On the sixth hand back, Gates tangled with Timothy Su in another pivotal hand. Su raised to 1.3 million from the cutoff position to start the action. Gates three-bet to 3.9 million on the button, and Su called. Su then checked the [poker card="7c"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop. Gates kept his foot on the gas with a bet of 3.5 million, and Su called. The turn was the [poker card="Ks"], and both players checked to see the [poker card="Kh"] pair the board on the river. Su passed the action to Gates once again, and Gates fired 6.5 million. Su took a little time and then called, but he mucked his hand after seeing Gates’ [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qs"] for trip kings with a queen kicker. This pot moved Gates ahead of Su in the chip counts and up to third place on the leaderboard with a stack of 118 big blinds. Day 7: Out-Kicking Henry Lu for the Knockout With 11 players left, Gates was on the main feature table that had five players seated at it. The blinds were up to 400,000-800,000 with an 800,000 big blind ante, and this is when Gates knocked out Henry Lu. Lu raised to 1.8 million from the cutoff seat, Gates reraised to 7 million from the small blind, and Lu called. The dealer fanned the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="Td"][poker card="7s"] flop and Gates bet 4.5 million. Lu called to swell the pot to nearly 25 million. After the [poker card="6d"] fell on the turn, Gates slowed down with a check. Lu bet 7.8 million, leaving himself with 25.8 million behind, and Gates went into the tank. Eventually, Gates shoved all in to put Lu to the test. Lu tanked for a handful of minutes before calling all in with the [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Js"] for top pair. Gates had him out-kicked with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Jh"]. "Yeah, when you check-shove with top pair, top kicker on a board like this, I think you're always happy with a fold," Gates said. "He spent an awful long time in the tank, so my mind was racing a mile a minute. I tried to keep composed and not give anything away. Once he made the call and tabled his hand, I was mostly just happy to find out that my read was correct and knew the rest was out of my hands." Gates gave a slight fist pump when he saw Lu's hand. "It was one of those spots where my intuition allowed me to extract max value in a spot that a lot of pros probably play differently," Gates said. "That, plus I got some phenomenal intel from a good friend who plays with Lu a lot in California, and said he's capable of making the occasional sticky hero call, so in the end it was a case of things lining up just about perfectly for me. All that said, I'm pretty sure I lost a week's worth of life expectancy, due to an increase in blood pressure and stress… I don't know how these guys do this on a daily basis, but hats off to them (laughs)." Gates finished Day 7 in second place in chips, behind only the event's eventual winner, Hossein Ensan. Each of these hands played a pivotal role in propelling Gates to the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table. From there, the man from Titusville, home of John Heisman and the place where the first United States oil boom was sparked, went on to finish fourth for $3,000,000.
  24. If you tuned into the World Series of Poker Main Event broadcast on Sunday, you were mostly viewing a feature table that had Nick Schulman and Loni Harwood as the prominent players. If you stuck around to watch, you likely noticed the player in Seat 2, well-built with a neatly trimmed beard and strong table presence. That's Ryan Pochedly. Living in Pennsylvania, Pochedly got his start in poker "like everybody else." He started playing in college, deposited some money with an online poker site, and never looked back. Today, poker is Pochedly’s profession and he's looking forward to regulated online poker coming to his home state. "I started playing online," Pochedly said. "I put like $30 on Pacific Poker and grinded it up from there." Pochedly performed well under the bright lights and television cameras, picking up chips and confidently building his stack. It was evident that he might’ve done this before. "I was on a live stream once when I final tabled a turbo event at the World Series a few years ago, but this was the first time for me being on live television," Pochedly told PocketFives. "It was really cool and I enjoyed it." Looking up Pochedly’s records, he had a deep WSOP Main Event finish in 2012, taking 182nd for $44,655. Scanning Pochedly’s list of results a little more reveals that he’s had 14 prior WSOP cashes, including the 2012 WSOP Main Event run and a WSOP final table in 2016 when he placed eighth in a $1,000 turbo event. "It definitely helps because I’m not as nervous as I would have been years ago," Pochedly said of how his prior WSOP experience has been helping him this year. "The first time I had a deep WSOP Main Event run, I had trouble sleeping and stuff like that. So far, so good. I’m sleeping like a baby, and I’m not tired or anything." Pochedly's career-best score is $101,105 from 2015 at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. In the Big Stax XI $1,600 event, Pochedly topped the field of 259 entries for the victory. The following year, he won another tournament at Part. This time it was the Big Stax XIX $340 tournament for $78,244. In that one, Pochedly topped a much larger field of 1,722 entries. In May 2019, just before the World Series of Poker, Pochedly finished fifth for $50,797 in the WPTDeepStacks Big Stax XXIX $340 event. All of those results are live tournament scores, but Pochedly is as excited as anyone about the thought of PA online poker opening up soon. When he was asked about how he felt about it, a smile came across his face before he gave his answer. "I'm probably one of the most excited guys about [online poker returning to Pennsylvania]," Pochedly said. "I used to play a lot online, and I’m looking forward to playing cash and then tournaments on Sundays and pretty much every day." Pochedly finished Day 2c of the 2019 WSOP Main Event with 182,000 in chips and will be back in action on Monday at 12 p.m. PT.
  25. Dates for the 2020 World Series of Poker were announced on Wednesday, and the 51st WSOP is scheduled for May 26 through July 15, 2020. The 2020 WSOP will once again be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, with 51 action-packed days of poker planned, despite the recent sale of the property. Although the full schedule of events is yet to be released, the WSOP did give the dates for the WSOP Main Event, the BIG 50, and the Seniors Championship. Main Event Scheduled for July 1-14 The 2020 WSOP Main Event runs July 1-14. It kicks off on Wednesday, July 1, for the first of three starting flights. The second and third flights are scheduled for Thursday, July 2, and Friday, July 3, respectively. Competitors to advance from either of the first two flights will resume action on Saturday, July 4, and those to advance from the third flight will play their Day 2 on Sunday, July 5. All remaining entrants will combine into one field on Monday, July 6. Play is scheduled to continue each day through Friday, July 10, when it is anticipated that the final table will be reached. The final players will have an off day on Saturday, July 11, before resuming the competition on Sunday, July 12. A winner is expected to be crowned on Tuesday, July 14. The 2020 WSOP Main Event will look to draw off the success that was delivered in 2019, when it attracted the second largest field size in the event’s history at 8,569 entries. It was only the second time ever that the field size for the WSOP Main Event topped 8,000 entries, and it was the fourth consecutive year that the Main Event field size increased. The 2019 WSOP Main Event winner was Hossein Ensan, who took home the mammoth $10 million first-place prize. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] BIG 50 Scheduled for May 28-June 4 The beginning of the 2020 World Series of Poker will feature the incredibly popular $500 buy-in BIG 50 tournament. It’s the second year for this event and big things are expected after the 2019 edition absolutely shattered the record books with 28,371 entries. The 2020 WSOP BIG 50 is scheduled to start on Thursday, May 28, and wrap up on Thursday, June 4. In 2019, it was Femi Fashakin finishing in first place from the enormous field. Fashakin took home the lion’s share of the $13.509 million prize pool, winning $1.147 million. Seniors Champions Scheduled for June 18-21 The third event that WSOP officials did confirm in the announcement is the $1,000 buy-in, single reentry Seniors Championship. Scheduled to take place June 18-21, the WSOP Seniors Championship is open to all participants age 50 or older. In 2019, the WSOP Seniors Championship drew 5,916 entries. Howard Mash, a 50-year-old financial advisor from Florida was triumphant, scoring $662,594. Online Satellites Already Running At the time of the announcement, the start of the 2020 WSOP was five and a half months away, so there’s plenty of time to get ready for what should be another record-setting series. The 2019 WSOP was the biggest ever, with 187,298 total entries and more than $293 million in prize pool money generated. The 2020 edition is likely going to set new records, and part of the reason why is because online satellites are already running on WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey. Will Pennsylvania Be Involved? Pennsylvania could certainly be involved with the 2020 WSOP, at least to some capacity. With regulated online poker now up and running in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State could become a player when WSOP.com is up and running, although there is no WSOP.com online client available in Pennsylvania at the time of this announcement. When WSOP.com becomes available in Pennsylvania, we should expect there to be online satellites running that will function to qualify players for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. What we shouldn’t expect is for PA online poker players to be able to play in online gold bracelet events with players from Nevada and New Jersey from within Pennsylvania state lines. Although Nevada and New Jersey share player pools, Pennsylvania is not yet involved in any interstate compacts, so they’ll likely have to wait to compete for an online gold bracelet from within the State of Pennsylvania.

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