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  1. 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.
  2. We're three months away from the resumption of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Eventfrom the Rio in Las Vegas. The final nine features players from six countries including, for the first time ever, Brazil, whose representative, Bruno Politano, recently signed with 888 Poker. --- 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 nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- The 2014 WSOP November Nine also features Mark Newhouse (pictured), who became the first two-time November Niner and the first player to make back-to-back Main Event final tables since Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004. At stake is a $10 million first place prize, with every person remaining guaranteed $730,000. In a thread that popped upin recent weeks on PocketFives, posters talked about who their pick is to win poker's most prestigious tournament. Despite being in eighth place, Sweden's Martin Jacobsonwas a popular choice. As PocketFiver JDougfrom the UK put it, "Have to fancy Jacobson if he can manage to double early. Dangerous player with chips!" PocketFives' New Jersey pokercommunity was largely pulling for William Tonking (pictured), who calls Flemington, New Jersey home and formerly attended the University of South Carolina. New Jersey player mikewebb68 wrote in the thread, "Rooting interest is Tonking since he is from NJ and plays on the regulated NJ online sites, but have to think Newhouse is the player to beat." Newhouse finished ninth in the Main Event last year and won the 2006 Borgata Poker Open. This article's author wrote in the same thread that Newhouse was the man to beat come November: "I like Newhouse to win it this year. I'm still blown away by someone making back-to-back November Nines." In case you're wondering what sports books think could happen, here are the latest odds to win from Ladbrokes: Jorryt van Hoof: 3/1 Felix Stephensen: 4/1 Mark Newhouse: 9/2 Martin Jacobson: 6/1 Dan Sindelar: 8/1 Andoni Larrabe: 8/1 William Pappaconstantinou: 11/1 William Tonking: 16/1 Bruno Politano: 18/1 Here are the chip stacks and home countries: 1. Jorryt van Hoof - 38,375,000 (Netherlands) 2. Felix Stephensen - 32,775,000 (Norway) 3. Mark Newhouse - 26,000,000 (USA) 4. Andoni Larrabe - 22,550,000 (Spain) 5. Dan Sindelar - 21,200,000 (USA) 6. William Pappaconstantinou - 17,500,000 (USA) 7. William Tonking - 15,050,000 (USA) 8. Martin Jacobson - 14,900,000 (Sweden) 9. Bruno Politano - 12,125,000 (Brazil) Who do you think will win the 2014 WSOP Main Event? Comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. On Friday, PocketFives' co-founder Cal Spearswas playing cash games in the mammoth Pavilion Room at the Rio in Las Vegas, one day before the start of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Out of the hundreds of tables set up in the room on the US Independence Day, only a few were in use. Finding Cal when this author woke up was easy; he was the only one there. --- PocketFives' WSOP coverage is brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Play Real Gaming, real money poker on any device. Play now for Final Table Freerolls. Skip straight to the final table and win cash daily. --- Let's fast-forward one day to the beginning of the Main Event on Saturday. Poker players from across the world will pony up a buy-in of $10,000 with the hopes of winning this year's tournament, which has a top prize of $10 million guaranteed. Members of the media and community at large genuinely seem pretty excited about the prospects of one poker player being awarded an eight-figure top prize. The booths lining the convention center hallway were a ghost town on Friday, as was the Voodoo Zipline on top of the Rio (which is awesome, by the way), but by Saturday morning, a buzz was in the air. Booths were staffed with people hawking goods and services and the hallway was jam-packed with life. It was a bright, sunny, windless morning with just a few clouds in the sky. Last year, the Main Event attracted 6,352 entrants, the eighth largest Main Event in history. With a $10 million guaranteed winner's take, we fully expect this year's contest to surpass that number by several hundred. Our guess is around 7,000 players and it remains to be seen how close to the record-breaking turnout of nearly 9,000 that came in 2006 we can get. On Twitter, members of the poker community were pumped to play on Saturday. Poker pro Bernard Lee was celebrating a milestone of sorts this year: "The @WSOP Main Event begins today, Will be my 10th." 2003 WSOP Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker (pictured) added, "Just had a Main Event breakfast. Cooked 6 eggs and 8 pieces of bacon. Yum." Andrew Feldman of ESPN, who may have hustled this author while betting on the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Friday, was humming a tune 24 hours later, Tweeting, "A sign? Our @WSOP theme song playing @RioVegas right now, hours before the start of the Main." We'd like to send a special shout out to Feldman's partner in crime, Bluff's Lance Bradley. We'll keep you posted on the latest as the Main Event begins. The cards hit the air at Noon PT on Saturday for Day 1A. Don't forget that if you're in Las Vegas, come bowl with PocketFives on Sunday, July 6 at the Gold Coast Bowling Center from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. We'll have free bowling, free food, and free drinks. No RSVP is necessary; just show up and bring a friend if you'd like. In other WSOP news, Bryn BrynKenneyKenney (pictured) won a $1,500 Ten-Game Six-Handed event for his first gold bracelet. Kenney has logged four cashes at this year's WSOP, three of which have been for final tables. He told WSOP officials, "It feels great. I would have been really upset if I didn't take this tournament home. I'm happy I could win it for me, my family, and all my friends." Kenney started the final day of play, when nine players were left, in second place to New Zealand's Jan Suchanek, who ultimately finished as the runner-up. Kenney's victory was worth $153,000, which helped push his career WSOP cash total to $1.2 million: 1st Place: Bryn BrynKenneyKenney - $153,200 2nd Place: Jan Suchanek - $94,618 3rd Place: Fabio Coppola - $61,396 4th Place: Dan Zack - $40,550 5th Place: Andrey Zaya Zaichenko - $27,033 6th Place: Randy mavsrule3 Ohel - $18,923 We'll have the latest WSOP newsfor you right here on PocketFives, brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. All three starting days of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event are in the books. A rowdy Day 1C took place on Monday from the Rio in Las Vegas and, although the day wasn't a complete sellout, a record-setting 3,968 players entered, the largest Day 1 starting flight in Main Event history. The previous record was held by Day 1C of the 2013 Main Event, which drew 3,467 players. There were 6,683 total entrants in the Main Event this year, up from 6,352 last year. --- PocketFives' WSOP coverage is brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Play Real Gaming, real money poker on any device. Play now for Final Table Freerolls. Skip straight to the final table and win cash daily. --- This year's Main Event winner will get $10 million, double the second place prize, which means we'll see a heads-up battle for $5 million in real money. Here's how the 2014 WSOP November Nine will cash out: 1st Place: $10,000,000 2nd Place: $5,145,968 3rd Place: $3,806,402 4th Place: $2,848,833 5th Place: $2,143,174 6th Place: $1,622,080 7th Place: $1,235,862 8th Place: $947,077 9th Place: $730,725 The 2014 Main Event is the fifth largest all-time in terms of the number of players: 2006 Main Event – 8,773 entrants 2010 Main Event – 7,319 entrants 2011 Main Event – 6,865 entrants 2008 Main Event – 6,844 entrants 2014 Main Event – 6,683 entrants Phil Ivey (pictured) was one of the hot topics of conversation on Day 1C, ending Monday with the second largest stack at 187,000. According to WSOP.com, "Ivey's day started out rocky, where he had lost about a third of his chips in the first level. Things quickly turned around for Ivey in Level 2 and only got better after the dinner break." He eliminated an opponent late in the day after flopping the nut straight and dodging a Broadway draw. Ivey already won a bracelet this year in a $1,500 Eight Game event. Eric Tracy holds the overall chip lead at 206,000. He is one of only two players to pass 200,000 in chips, with Martin Jacobson being the other. One of the other memorable stories from Monday was that of Pauly "Walnuts" Bianchi, who had to win three hands of blackjack in a row in order to stamp his Main Event ticket. The Chicago area native and his friends had scrounged up just $1,200 to play the $10,000 buy-in tournament, but managed to drive to Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois and, in three hands, turn $1,200 into $9,500. Bianchi drove to the airport, hopped on a plane to Vegas, and played on Day 1C, although his name did not appear in the post-day chip reports, so his gambling adventures may have been for naught. The survivors from Days 1A and 1B will convene on Tuesday at the Rio, while the survivors from Day 1C will play again on Wednesday. Among those Tweeting about their Day 1C experience was former Main Event winner Joe jcada99Cada, who wrote, "Made it though Day 1 of the Main with 66,925. Wish I got to stay at the same table." Former WSOP Europe Main Event winner John Juanda added, "Ended Day 1 WSOP ME with 40,050. Lucky to still be in after KK < AA and set under set! Wednesday will be new and better day!" Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP news, brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. 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. One of the most memorable hands of the WSOP Main Event was Mark Newhouse's bust-out hand. It deserved the attention. Newhouse, after finishing ninth the year before, placed his tournament on the line by turning his pocket tens into a bluff. He made a decision few of us could make, and fewer would know if it were correct. Some, like Antonio Esfandiari while commentating, heralded Newhouse for his heart. Others decried his handling of his second Main Event final table in as many years. All enjoyed seeing some of the ballsiest tournament poker ever played. In this article, I hope to shed some light on what both players were thinking and also offer my own analysis of what could have been going on under the surface. It is good to preface this hand deconstruction by saying I think both players played their hands well. Newhouse is largely going to be the focus of this piece and I admit he is a far better player than I am. I am only guessing at the logic going on between both players and hoping to entertain and educate you all in the process. None of this is meant as a corrective for either player. The hand started with Newhouse having roughly 22.5 million in chips. Blinds were 250K/500K, so Newhouse started with 45 big blinds. Van Hoof raised to 1.1 million and Newhouse decided to call. We could debate just this call for the entirety of the article. I can understand why a player of Newhouse's caliber wouldn't want to play a huge all-in pot here by three-betting. He has a distinct advantage going to flops. Others would argue him flatting this bet a disproportionate amount of the time makes his three-betting-in-position range a hard sell later, as it becomes too polarized. A pair of tens is a hand that in a multi-way pot is more likely to lose, while it does very well heads-up. However, it is difficult in many players' minds for Van Hoof to four-bet fold here. I disagree with these players. I still think it is possible Van Hoof would four-bet/fold here. It wouldn't be a bad move given how little it would cost him and how it would put Newhouse's entire stack at risk. Van Hoof showed a propensity to make gutsier plays and he certainly had the chips for it at this point. That said, 45 big blinds is a lot given the stack distribution at the table and laddering up a few spots means millions of dollars at this final table. A little discretion is more than understandable ICM-wise. Furthermore, according to those who tracked statistics as the players played down to the November Nine, Newhouse had a 1.7% three-bet percentage. That is insanely low. It is probably much harder for him to sell a three-bet bluff here. After Newhouse flats, it's folded around to the big blind, William Tonking, who re-raises to 3.75 Million. A live cash game veteran, Tonking had shown considerable prowess playing post-flop. He hadn't three-bet much leading up to the final table, but his propensity to play tons of hands on Day 7 shows he can be creative and mix it up. While it wasn't extremely likely Tonking was three-bet bluffing here, he certainly had the skills to do so. Newhouse, in my view, correctly called. Given the great price Mark Newhouse was getting and the superior position he had, he needs to call. He shouldn't four-bet because the call/re-raise move is the strongest in Hold'em. It would be hard for Tonking to make a light five-bet. The board comes J-4-2 rainbow and Tonking makes a small continuation bet of 3.5 million into the roughly 9.5 million-chip pot. The sizing is great here. This is a very hit or miss board. Most players are not capable of raising a top pair here for value. It's unlikely Newhouse would raise a set either on such a dry board. It's anyone will raise this small bet; they know they will be representing nothing. This bet also keeps in smaller pairs and J-X. Newhouse makes a good call on the flop. He is calling 3.5 million to win 13 million. To find out how much equity he needs to call here, we divide 3.5M by 16.5M because that's the size of the pot (with his call added in) which he will receive should he win the pot. 3.5/16.5 = 0.2121. Newhouse needed 22% equity or more to flat on this flop. Even if we give Tonking a three-betting range which contains no under-pairs, but only TT+, AKo+, A-Qs+, half the combinations of AQo, and one suited connector bluff, Newhouse has 44.9% equity on this board. He has more than double what he needs to call on the flop. Now it's worth noting that AQo offsuit here in Newhouse's position has about 22% equity. Does that mean you should call? Well, realize if you're calling with 22% equity and you needed 21.21% equity, you need to realize your equity close to 100% of the time here. This can be difficult, as No Limit Hold'em isn't a one street game. If he ever bets you off of your outs on the turn, you're not realizing that equity. If you can bluff on future streets, it is possible you can realize more than the equity you need, but this is a pretty hard board to bluff typically. It's very dry. Small pairs stick to people's hands. If you're not going to be able to bluff much, you need to know your opponent has a turn and river betting frequency of 0%. That is a tall and unrealistic order. Newhouse's hand only needs to realize it's equity around half the time. That seems plausible. After Newhouse's call, the turn comes a four, putting two hearts on the board. Tonking curiously checks. I say curious because that card is a decent blank. It's unlikely Newhouse (pictured) has a four. It makes it much less likely he connected with a small pair on the flop. Newhouse has shown a propensity to call down before. He's very loose post-flop. You're probably still getting a call from J-X, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, and maybe 7-7 if you double barrel here. Of course, many do not like betting because then if you check the river out of position you are waving a white flag that says, "I likely don't have much better than one pair." The hope is that the turn will get checked through and you can play a smaller pot with one pair, but sometimes that's not realistic. I humbly believe the check is ill-advised. You should go for three streets. It's possible Newhouse slow-played aces or kings, but statistically that's a very small part of his range. If you check to a great player like Newhouse as well, he will have a better idea of where you're at. Your double-barrel range will be more difficult to interpret. It's likely that Tonking would double barrel a flush draw here, so when he checks, he's telling Newhouse a river heart or overcard is a great card to bluff, as he's probably not check calling ace-highs all that often. This is a very dangerous situation to put yourself in. Mark Newhouse makes a 4.5 million bet into the pot, which is pretty small. I don't mind it's sizing because it's unlikely to encourage Tonking to check-raise bluff; the stacks are too shallow, and there's too much money on the line. I refer to these kind of bets as a move to "buy the showdown." When Newhouse bets small here, he could get value from smaller pairs, flush draws, and ace high, while also insuring his opponent normally checks the river to him. The problem with this bet is did Tonking really three-bet that many smaller pairs? His three-bet percentage didn't crack 4% before the final table. Also, is he calling down with ace highs? I'm doubtful of both of these scenarios. Tonking calls. The river comes an offsuit jack, pairing the board, and we realize one of the benefits of Mark Newhouse's turn bet: if he wishes to fire the river as a bluff, his "value" line is more credible. Tonking checked. This is where the hand becomes really interesting and debatable. Many said Tonking didn't look that confident when he saw the river. I would wonder if he would have taken a few seconds more to consider shoving the river if he did indeed have a jack in his hand. You could certainly see why Newhouse wanted to bluff this card. Newhouse declared all-in fairly quickly. He threw his body into it a bit. In my experience, this is players having to get their nerve up. This is why I commented after I saw the hand that, "Newhouse isn't going to regret this shove. He's going to regret he didn't think through the river more." However, that doesn't help Tonking much. He is left with essentially a bluff catcher. Newhouse isn't jamming tens assuming nines or eights will call him. That would be too thin of a value jam. It's hard to believe Newhouse would have the gall to bluff here, which gives the play credibility. He said frequently how much he didn't want to go out ninth again. He's betting 10.8 million into 25.5 million. His jam isn't even for half the pot. Tonking would have to call 10.8 million to win 36.3 million. That's an insanely good price. He will only need to be right 23% of the time to make this call. However, contextually there's much going against Newhouse here: His history of blowing millions shows others he's capable of riskier moves. His itchy and constant movement at the final table. His active image. His admittance he didn't play any poker before the final table. His kneejerk reactionary way he shoved. This is a guy who does what he wants, when he wants. If you know you made an obviously dejected check here on this river, then it stands to reason Newhouse could be bluffing more than a quarter of the time. That said, this is not an easy call. Esfandiari said he loved the shove and that it showed an incredible amount of heart. I agree completely. This showed Newhouse had the attitude of a winner; he was going for it, his last year's finish be damned. I have been in Tonking's spot and have folded, many times. I think many high stakes regulars have. It certainly not inconceivable that Tonking decides, given the stakes, Newhouse is not bluffing here ever and lays down his hand. This is the part of poker that is so difficult. This river play is not easily defeated with numbers. It does come down to a feel. This guy doesn't like his hand, but can he fold given this great price? Nothing Newhouse did in the hand wasn't explainable or necessarily incorrect. Like many hands where he's profited greatly from, he was operating on the margins, the gray areas. It just goes to show how difficult it is to really paint the black and play for a championship when everything is on the line. This article is brought to you by Assassinato Coaching and CardRunners. Sign up now to take advantage of an exclusive deal for Alex's followers. With bonus code FREEMONTH, you'll get two months of access to CardRunners for just $30, a $130.00 discount! That is more than 80% off of what you'd usually pay to see over 2,000 training videos from the best minds in poker today! In addition, don't miss the recordings of Alex's private webinars You Flat Too Much and Why Pessagno Is Right. The hardcore should also be sure to check out Alex's live sweat series, where Alex recorded every hand of his recent WCOOP with live commentary. See every hand of his $215 Second Chance Win! To receive every new article of Alex's, please write in to [email]assassinatocoaching@gmail.com[/email] and ask to subscribe to our mailing list. For private lessons, consult this link. Listen to Alex's free podcast at Oneouter.com, and follow him on Twitter @TheAssassinato and Facebook.
  7. We have a winner! Martin Jacobson (pictured) has won the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, defeating Felix Stephensen heads-up after starting with nearly a 3:1 chip lead. Jacobson received a bundle of praise for playing a near-perfect game from many in the poker community throughout the night. The final tabled last 328 hands. --- 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. Visit William Hill today! --- After several shoves and would-be all-in confrontations heads-up, Stephensen opened for 3.5 million and Jacobson pushed, putting his opponent all-in. Stephensen called for about 25 million more and flipped over A-9 of hearts, while Jacobson showed 10-10. ESPN commentator Norman Chad noted that the cards basically played themselves. Stephensen's coach, Scott Seiver, continued to coach his student throughout the hand. WSOP's coverage detailed the rowdy scene, which appeared on ESPN on a half-hour delay: "With Stephensen at the disadvantage, each player's rail took to their feet and began chanting excessively. 'Ten for ten! Ten for ten!' shouted Jacobson's rail. 'Ace! Ace! Ace!' responded Stephensen's rail." Jacobson hit the flop hard, nailing a set, and Stephensen was drawing dead by the river. Jacobson's rail burst into cheers and included the likes of PocketFivers Jason JAKoon1985Koon, Mark AceSpadesRadoja, JC PrtyPSuxAlvarado, Connor blanconegroDrinan, and Mohsin chicagocards1 Charania. That's a lot of brainpower. Stephensen and Jacobson watched the final card from the stage together. Since Joe Cada in 2009, no player had gone from beginning chip leader of the event to champion, but Jacobson did so after finishing on top of the counts way back on Day 1A, according to WSOP officials. Additionally, Jacobson, at 27, is the oldest player to win the Main Event since Jerry Yang in 2007. Among those saluting Jacobson's performance in the 2014 WSOP Main Event was Mike Matusow, who said on social media, "Martin Jacobson has played mistake-free poker for 2 days, truly awesome to watch as a professional poker player." David "ODB" Baker gave his take: "Seriously impressed by everything about Jacobson. Great demeanor. Seems to have healthy confidence but not arrogance. Respect for opponents." Jean-Robert Bellande praised, "This Jacobson is such an amazing decision maker." Jacobson was down to a measly seven big blinds at one point during the final table, but stayed patient and chose his spots wisely. He knocked out November Nine chip leader Jorryt Van Hoofin third place after seemingly setting Van Hoof up with A-10. Read the hand. Stephensen raked in $5.1 million for second place and Jacobson captured the coveted WSOP Main Event bracelet and $10 million. 2014 marked the 14th time that a WSOP Main Event's winning hand had been a pocket pair; it has still never been aces. Jacobson was the second shortest stack entering the November Nine. We'll have more for you on Wednesday right here on PocketFives. Congrats to Martin Jacobson on making poker history! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. Who are you rooting for? The 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event restarts at 8:30pm Eastern Time from the Penn and Teller Theater in Las Vegas, with the rest of the world able to catch the action on a 30-minute delay starting at 9:00pm Eastern Time on ESPN and other outlets. Jorryt Van Hoof(pictured) will be your chip leader when play resumes at 89.6 million. Following him are Martin Jacobsonand Felix Stephensen. --- 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. Visit William Hill today! --- Former Main Event winner Greg Merson seemed to be rooting for all three of the survivors, Tweeting on Tuesday morning, "All 3 of these guys would make a deserving champ. Excited to welcome one of them to the fraternity." Bruce Buffer will give the ceremonial "Shuffle up and deal" command to start three-handed play. We'd expect that crowd seats will be much easier to come by on Tuesday than on Monday, when only 200 seats were initially available for the general public. Dylan Pokerl)evil Hortin was among those watching on Monday night and posted on Twitter, "I'm sufficiently tired, very confident Jacobson wins this tomorrow/tonight. I think the 3 best players at the ft are 3-handed. Gnight!" Hortin added, "Officially a Martin Jacobson fan, his table presence, poise, and completely unemotional/accurate decision making are something to strive for." Jacobson was a popular choice among the poker community. PocketFiver Sam TheSquid Grafton posted on Twitter, "Let's go @Martin_Jacobson. What an unbelievable boss that man is." Just to recap, here are the chip stacks of the three remaining players: Jorryt van Hoof - 89,625,000 (74 big blinds) Martin Jacobson - 64,750,000 (54 big blinds) Felix Stephensen - 46,100,000 (38 big blinds) One of the toughest eliminations of the night apparently belonged to New Jersey's William Tonking, who finished in fourth place after rising up the chip counts early on in the evening. ESPN's Andrew Feldman said on Twitter, "Tonking elimination interview was a tough one. He wanted no part of it for obvious reasons and walked away into the arms of 100s of friends." David "ODB" Baker was among those watching the action unfold from the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio and singled out Billy Pappas (pictured), a foosball champion whose unique look and infectious positivity shined throughout the Main Event: "Pappas definitely one of the big winners tonight. Came off fantastic on TV. Would have been a great ambassador." Who are you rooting for tonight? Leave a comment here and let us know! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. After previously making a decision that brought the ire of the poker community, officials at Caesars Entertainment and the World Series of Poker have removed the $10 million guarantee for first place in this year's Main Event. "The dream of life-changing money is core to the DNA of the WSOP Main Event and we also want to make it easier to experience playing in poker's Big Show," said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. "Our players understand numbers and 2015 now presents the best odds ever to leave the Main Event a winner." With the removal of the $10 million guarantee for this year's World Champion, WSOP officials have instead decided to pay out the top 1,000 finishers. The flattened payout structure, using the numbers from last year's Main Event, would guarantee that the entire final table would receive a $1 million payday, with first place earning $8 million. The entire final table being paid at least $1 million is something that hasn't occurred since 2009, when ninth place finisher James Akenhead earned $1,263,602. Although it would be unthinkable to believe that it could happen, WSOP officials put a minimum player number on the prospective 2015 Main Event field before they will pay out 1,000 players. If the tournament does not crack the 5,000-player mark, something that hasn't happened since 2004, then the 1,000-player payout guarantee will be removed. The minimum payday in the 2014 Main Event from the 693 players who earned a cash was $18,406 (three players split the 693rd place money). If the same number of players participate in the 2015 tournament, the 694th through 1,000th place players would receive $15,000. The change reflects some softening of the stance of WSOP officials. Traditionally, poker tournaments only pay the top 10% of the finishers, and rarely do tournament officials deviate from that mark. By expanding the payouts to almost 15% of the field for the 2015 WSOP Main Event, WSOP officials hope that the move will encourage more participation from new playersand, as a result, increase the overall prize pool. The reason for the change goes a bit further than that, however. After announcing in December that the $10 million guarantee would return this year, debate immediately began over the decision. Many in the poker community felt that the WSOP would be better benefitted by paying more players rather than a massive prize up top for the eventual champion. That charge was led by none other than one of poker's loudest voices, Daniel Negreanu (pictured). Read Negreanu's thoughts. Soon after the WSOP proposed the $10 million guarantee for the 2015 Main Event, Negreanu was quick to shoot it down. Negreanu opined that the world's greatest poker tournament would benefit more from having more players paid out than having a guaranteed first place prize. "When the bubble is smaller, players won't stall as much and bring the game to a halt," Negreanu explained. "More people come out of the tournament a winnerand it keeps the money flowing to a wider group of players so they can continue to play the next series of events." What impact the players' comments or Negreanu's outreach had on the change by WSOP officials is unknown, but it is interesting that the removal of the $10 million guarantee and the payout of 1,000 players is basically in line with what Negreanu was suggesting for the 2015 Main Event. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. Facing several years of declining World Series of Poker Main Event participation, the tournament's organizers sought a new marketing strategy that would create a splash and attract new faces. Their solution, implemented last year, was to bump the first place prize up to a massive $10 million and entice new players with the promise of an eight-figure payday. The approach seemed to work and after all was said and done, the 2014 Main Event saw its first increase in numbers in years. But not everyone is a fan of the new top-heavy structure; six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu has argued that the improving economy, not the extra cash, contributed more to the success of last year's event. Read Negreanu's thoughts. WSOP organizers seem to have taken note and have requested that players give their opinion on the prestigious tournament in a short survey. "We always value the feedback of the players and thought it prudent to survey them on this issue as a result of recent chatter," WSOP VP Seth Palansky told PokerNews. "We will analyze the data and determine the best course of action moving forward in part based on that input." In the survey, the WSOP revealed that it is considering paying more places in the 2015 Main Event and asked that players consider the following scenario: "Last year, the WSOP Main Event paid 693 places, with 693rd receiving $18,406, 100th place getting $52,141, and 10th getting $565,193. If we pay 1,000 places using 6,683 entrants as the benchmark, 1,000th would possibly receive $15,000, 693rd would then get $16,750, 100th spot would hypothetically receive $50,000, and 10th would get $525,000. Are these pay adjustments an acceptable compromise to increase the percentage of the field paid out from a standard 10% to more along the lines of 15%?" The survey also questioned how much the min-cash should be, from $11,000 to $20,000, and what percentage of players should be paid in total, starting at 7.5% and going up to 20%. The questions seem specifically written in response to Negreanu's blog post. In it, he urged the WSOP to pay more places by lowering the minimum prize. He believed that the smaller minimum payout would have few psychological repercussions for most players. "When Billy Bob goes back to his wife and says, 'Honey, I'm in the money,' the fact that he is guaranteed $15,000 rather than $22,000 is an afterthought. The celebration is in the win, no matter how small," he said. Phil Hellmuth backed the idea on Twitter: "Agree 100%: Flatter payouts [are] more important than $10 million guarantee for 1st," he said. Negreanu even suggested a few new slogans for the Main Event: "The richest tournament in poker history is about to create nine new millionaires. Could you be one of the nine? Only one way to find out." "The Main Event payouts are being discussed again prior to pre-registration opening and this data will be one of several factors we consider," said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart (pictured). "We're interested in getting a broad swath of feedback, which ideally includes and segments both returning customer and potential customers. So, we hope players and fans will help us get the word out quickly about our interest to hear from them." It remains to be seen what changes, if any, will be made as a result of the survey. "If there is a way to make the WSOP better, the playing experience better, that's what we are here to do," said Palansky." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  11. In a recent blog post, six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (pictured) argued against the top-heavy $10 million guaranteed first place payout in the WSOP Main Event this year. "I think it's in poker's best interest long-term to have flatter payout structures that pay more spots, while also making that min-cash worth no more than 1.5 times the buy-in," he wrote. To back up that reasoning, Negreanu cited a study involving a rat which sometimes received a piece of cheese for choosing a specific tube, but other times was given an electrical jolt. "They alternated between cheese and electric shock before ultimately providing the rat only electric shocks," he said. "The rat continued down the second tube repeatedly until it died." In Negreanu's opinion, a player who enters 10 tournaments with top-heavy payout structures and doesn't cash is far less likely to continue playing than someone who occasionally cashes for the minimum. Furthermore, Negreanu believes that reducing the min-cash award would not have any negative effect on a player's perception of the accomplishment. "When Billy Bob goes back to his wife and says, 'Honey, I'm in the money,' the fact that he is guaranteed $15,000 rather than $22,000 is an afterthought. The celebration is in the win, no matter how small." After several years of decline, the 2014 WSOP Main Event saw an increase in participants. But Negreanu attributed that rise to the improving economy, not the "sexy" lure of an eight-figure payday. "If you look at the numbers when it comes to the economy in the last years, coupled with the refund checks from FTP arriving, things are looking up," he said. The Toronto native further illustrated his argument by imagining a winner-take-all Main Event. With such a structure, Negreanu estimated that roughly 150 players would buy in, with that number decreasing each year "as one guy gets rich and sucks money out of the poker economy, while 149 others end up losers." Negreanu realized that companies like the WSOP are a business and don't exist to simply provide free tournaments. With that in mind, he advised poker players to think of their profession as a small business and tournament organizers as their partners. The companies hosting these events are, after all, doing so in order to make money. If those interests aren't appeased, there would be no tournament at all. Seeing an increase in entrants in 2014, the WSOP is not likely keen on doing away with the top-heavy structure. However, organizers have made a number of changes for this year's series, including offering a tournament dubbed "The Colossus." The $565 buy-in event will be the lowest that the WSOP has offered in 35 years and guarantees $5 million in prize money. Organizers expect a huge turnout of some 13,000 entries. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  12. Once again next year, the World Series of Poker Main Event will carry a $10 million guaranteed first place prize. First making an appearance this year, the eight-figure guaranteed payday for first place helped draw in 6,683 entrants, with Sweden's Martin Jacobson taking down the title proudly draped in a flag from his home country. WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel took to Twitter on Friday to thank players for their feedback on the preliminary 2015 WSOP schedule, which was released earlier this week. In response, he was met with a bevy of payout suggestions about the Main Event, several questioning the need to guarantee $10 million to first. "Everybody loves the $500 and the MM, everybody hates the $10m GTD first place. Listen to your customers. You're above gimmicks," wrote Eric jakz101pokerCrain. David Davidp18 Peters added, "1/6 going to 1st in this big of field is absolutely insane. Payouts in MTTs are way too top-heavy as it is, don't make it worse." Last year, the tournament had a $62 million prize pool, with $10 million, or 16%, going to Jacobson. Here is the Tweet from Effel: What do you think? Leave a comment here and let us know. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  13. Last week, 888 Pokerhosted the PocketFives Open. We had well over 200 players enter including two 888 sponsored pros: Bruno Politano (pictured) and Sofia Lovgren. The former finished eighth in last year's World Series of Poker Main Event and said of that experience, "It was the best experience of my life. It was amazing! I wish all professional poker players could live that experience one day in their lives. It's unreal." Politano made almost a million dollars from the WSOP Main Event and said he learned that life is "full of good times. We should take of all of them the best possible way; we need to enjoy all of the good moments." He has since final tabled a Six-Max WSOP event in Australia. Let's get back to the PocketFives Open for a minute. 888 generously added $2,500 in cash to the prize pool. While it certainly didn't come close to the WSOP Main Event, Politano told us, "The Open was a good experience. There were a lot of players talking with me in the chat, which was a lot of fun." He busted in fourth place after an ill-fated semi-bluff. Impressively, his 888 partner in crime, Lovgren, also cracked the top 15 and finished 11th. The Brazil pokercommunity on PocketFives has almost 3,000 registered members, who have combined winnings in excess of $250 million. "I believe poker in Brazil has changed," Politano commented about the game in his home country. "Everybody now plays poker and tries to find tournaments to play online. Poker has also won a lot of space on media channels like magazines and radio." Brazil is #4 in PocketFives' Country Poker Rankingswith a combined PLB score of its top 20 members of 99,930 points. It owns 12 PocketFives Triple Crowns and its members have logged almost exactly 400,000 cashes over the years. In total, poker seems to be exploding in the South American nation. Politano got started in poker 12 years ago with his friends from university. While he was coming up in the game, he was concurrently working in the pharmaceutical industry for the US-based company Sanofi. According to ESPN, his promising poker career took a wrong turn at the 2011 WSOP. After a lackluster run in Las Vegas, "He began concentrating on a company, Couro & Cia, that sells handbags, shoes, and leather accessories. As the business expanded, he opened up a store in the chic downtown area of Sao Paulo. The timing of this store was perfect, as Brazil regulated poker in 2012 and one of the most active poker cities was San Paulo." Politano remains about as determined as it gets in the poker industry. Accordingly, his advice for other players is to "study, study, study. Success in poker is in the information." If you don't have an 888 Poker account, sign up through PocketFives' linksto get an enhanced 100% up to $600 deposit bonus (regularly 100% up to $400) and one free month of Tournament Poker Edge or CardRunners poker training. Click here to get started. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  14. Just one month removed from finishing third in the World Series of Poker Main Eventfor $3.8 million, Jorryt Van Hoof (pictured) hit it big in the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up, winning the weekly tournament for $91,000. He plays on PokerStars under the screen name TheCleaner11 and entered the nine-handed final table in third place out of almost 3,000 entrants. PocketFiver Griffin Flush_Entity Benger was eliminated in seventh from the Warm-Up and was one of the big-name opponents standing in Van Hoof's way. Benger lost a race with 4-4 versus A-9 on his final hand after his opponent flopped two pair and hit a full house on the river. The Canadian earned $13,000 for his seventh place finish. Third place went to Malta's Bjorn kleathKleathersson, who dropped a pot worth nine million in chips to Van Hoof before shoving one hand later with A-8. DonTrustMe78called with 6-6 to set up another race, but this time, the pocket pair held after DonTrustMe78 flopped a set. Kleathersson earned $48,000. Van Hoof held a 3:2 chip lead entering heads-up play against DonTrustMe78 and, in the final hand, the latter pushed with 9-8 and Van Hoof woke up with A-Q. Van Hoof flopped three aces and rivered a boat for good measure to win the Sunday Warm-Up and $91,000. Van Hoof never relinquished the chip lead heads-up: 1. Jorryt TheCleaner11van Hoof (United Kingdom) - $91,814.29 2. DonTrustMe78 (Germany) - $68,421.60 3. Bjorn kleath Kleathersson (Malta) - $48,550.09 4. dan82mur (Romania) - $33,626.00 5. yeres (Chile) - $25,146.40 6. A.Saout (United Kingdom) - $19,298.40 7. Griffin Flush_Entity Benger (Canada) - $13,450.40 8. Jengleleg (Netherlands) - $7,602.40 9. FLBonatto (Brazil) - $4,678.40 Van Hoof was quite elated when he won, posting on Twitter: In addition to his third place finish in the 2014 Main Event, Van Hoof finished eighth in the EPT London High Roller Event in October for $78,000. He also took third in a Turbo Six-Max event during the same series for another $43,000. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  15. It was a stormy afternoon in Las Vegas on Monday. This author's plane took off shortly before 4:00pm PT, but within a couple of hours, pictures on Twitter surfaced of a rain storm soaking Las Vegas. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- Tournament organizers began the dinner break of Day 1B of the World Series of Poker Main Event ten minutes early due to a flash flood warning and the roof of the Brasilia Room started leaking. Trash cans were hauled into the playing area to catch the cascading water and several tables were covered with tarps to protect them from getting wet. By the time I landed, WSOP officials were moving players out of the Brasilia Room following the dinner break. One message read, "With the heavy storm outside, water has leaked into a corner of the Brasilia Ballroom where playing tables were located. As a result, 23 tables are being relocated after dinner to the Amazon Room." Then there was Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 WSOP Main Event champion, who was stuck down the street from the Rio at Fukuburger, where PokerStars was giving away free food. Moneymaker, who was playing on Day 1B, was stranded alongside Brad Willis, who Tweeted, "I am trapped with @CMONEYMAKER and many others in a flash flood. We're fine, but this is no joke." A screen shot from a video Moneymaker took is pictured. Weather aside, Day 1B attracted 1,716 entrants. Combined with Day 1A's 741 entrants, that means we're up to 2,457 poker hopefuls thus far, with one more starting day on tap for Tuesday. Day 1C will be the largest starting day by far, but it seems possible that the Main Event could fail to reach 6,000 entrants for the first time since 2005. Last year, 6,683 players turned out for the $10,000 buy-in tournament. There were 2,915 entrants after Days 1A and 1B. Reigning WSOP Player of the Year George Danzer started the festivities on Monday with the "Shuffle up and deal" command. Hamid Feiz ended the day with the chip lead at 182,675, almost 30,000 ahead of the next closest player. Survivors of Days 1A, 1B, and 1C will return to the Rio on Wednesday for Day 2. Among those finishing near the top of the pack on Monday was Dominik bounatirouIMO Nitsche (pictured), who took third in an Eight-Max event last month for $220,000 and won a bracelet last year in a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament. In May 2014, Nitsche took down the WSOP National Championship in Atlantic City. The three-time bracelet winner has $4.4 million in live tournament winnings according to the Hendon Mob, good for tenth place all-time in Germany. 2004 WSOP Main Event winner Greg Raymer was also in the field on Day 1B and bagged the 72nd largest stack at 92,200. Raymer took down a 4bet pot late on Monday after continuation-betting on the flop. David Singer called the clock on his opponent, who ultimately folded. Raymer has two in the money finishes at the WSOP this year, but has not hit a six-figure score at the WSOP since 2009. Finally, we wanted to touch on Mike Gags30 Gagliano, who was seated in the Brasilia Room when the skies opened up and was relocated across the hall to the Amazon Room. He ended the day with a stack of 56,450, good for #332 on Day 1B. Gagliano won a pot with a full house late in the day and Tweeted, "56,450 to end the day. Coming back to 250/500 on Wed. Day off tomorrow. Gl to friends playing tomorrow." We should know the final attendance number for this year's Main Event around 9:00pm PT on Tuesday. Best of luck to all PocketFivers! Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  16. After a slow Day 1Aand a rain-soaked Day 1B, the World Series of Poker Main Event featured the largest single-day starting flight in its history on Tuesday. A field of 3,963 players turned out, keeping WSOP staff busy and pumping the tournament's attendance up to 6,420, down 4% from last year. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- Over the course of all three starting flights, 4,389 players advanced to Day 2. According to WSOP officials, "The 6,420 entries created a prize pool of $60,348,000. The top 1,000 places will be paid, with a min-cash worth $15,000. All players who make the November Nine will earn seven-figure payouts and the winner will take home $7,680,021." Last year, Martin Jacobson outlasted a field of 6,683 entrants en route to a $10 million first place prize. Here's how attendance in the Main Event has looked since the record-setting 2006 version: 2006 (Jamie Gold): 8,773 players 2007 (Jerry Yang): 6,358 players 2008 (Peter Eastgate): 6,844 players 2009 (Joe Cada): 6,494 players 2010 (Jonathan Duhamel): 7,319 players 2011 (Pius Heinz): 6,865 players 2012 (Greg Merson): 6,598 players 2013 (Ryan Riess): 6,352 players 2014 (Martin Jacobson): 6,683 players 2015: 6,420 players Some of the hubbub on Tuesday was about one table that featured both Phil Hellmuth (pictured) and Phil Ivey, who own a combined 24 WSOP bracelets. Ivey doubled up through Hellmuth after the former shoved all-in on a board showing K-10-4-2 with three spades. Ivey showed K-J for top pair, while Hellmuth had As-Q. A red 4 completed the board and Ivey survived. Hellmuth ended Day 1C with 79,725 in chips, while Ivey was at 22,350. World Poker Tour host Tony Bond18 Dunst also doubled up late in the day on Tuesday. He 5bet all-in before the flop with A-K and received a taker who had kings, but rivered a wheel to double up. Dunst ended Day 1C with 50,750. Twitter was ablaze with players reporting on their Day 1C progress. James FlushyDempsey was among them, Tweeting, "Bagged 15k going into day 2, nobody in the world would have bagged from my seat." Zachary HustlerGrune Gruneberg told his followers, "Bagged 47,125 in the Main Event. Near tournament peak, super happy with it." Jason JCarverSomerville (pictured), Twitch master, Tweeted, "Made day 2 of the @WSOP Main Event with a peaceful 50,250 from 30k starting chips. Back Thursday for day 2!" Finally, we wanted to touch on longtime PocketFiver and bracelet winner Cliff JohnnyBax Josephy, who ended the day with over 80,000 in chips. "Bax" Tweeted at one point, "Flopped bway v top set AAA and got all the chips in on the turn. I held to bust him and he awkwardly stayed in his seat for 5+ mins." On Wednesday, the survivors of Day 1A and 1B will combine for their Day 2. On Thursday, the survivors from Day 1C will return to do the same. Then, on Friday, the field will combine for the first time on Day 3. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  17. 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.
  18. It's hard to believe that we'll have a winner in the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event in just two short months. New Jersey's Joshua asdf26Beckley (pictured) holds the seventh largest stack in the tournament. His total lifetime live winnings heading into the Main Event were just north of $200,000 and he's making his first WSOP final table. He has been a staple of our New Jersey poker community. PocketFives: We understand you're in Florida. Tell us what you're doing there. Josh Beckley: I am not playing poker, really. I'm taking a little break. I'm eating right and working out, trying to prep my mind and body for the Main Event. I'll have better endurance at the tables and will be sharper. I'm eating cleaner too, so I won't be fatigued. PocketFives: How much do you think playing regularly online in New Jersey has helped you with this deep run? Josh Beckley: Online poker doesn't help that much because the structure is different. What have helped are the Parx Casino live tournaments. I would go up there for the deep stacks tournaments; they have the best structures. I played $5/$10 PLO cash a few times a week as well. PocketFives: What is the biggest adversity you have faced recently in your poker career? Josh Beckley: I'm growing every time I play. This year's WSOP was my first time in Las Vegas, so that whole experience brought my game to the next level. I played almost every day, took a week break, and then came back for the Main Event. I was rested and had learned so much. PocketFives: What did you think of Las Vegas? Josh Beckley: I loved it. I felt alive with all of the poker going on. I liked the really hot weather too. I liked laying at the pool. I'll try to go back out more often in the future. I'll definitely be there for next year's WSOP. PocketFives: How have you spent the time between July and now? Have you played a lot of poker? Josh Beckley: No, not much poker. I have been relaxing and doing whatever. I came down to Florida for the Hollywood Poker Open and that might have been it tournament-wise so far. I can carry all of the summer knowledge over to November. It's always there in my mind, but I needed a break after July. I'm beginning to want to play again and there will be a WSOP Circuit Event down here soon, so I'll go test how I'm doing. I'm playing a little bit online too. PocketFives: We understand you're starting to stream on Twitch. Josh Beckley: Twitch allows me to get out to the fans and it's a good platform. I've been playing online with shorter blind structures and it's really different than the Main Event, so I'm not worried about exposing any strategies by playing on Twitch. I play both games totally differently. The Main Event final table will be unlike any other poker tournament. You can't compare it because of the pressure and I'll be using live reads too. Online poker is mostly odds and shoving and hoping your hand holds up. It won't be like that in the Main Event. I think people there will be tighter. PocketFives: Have you been playing a lot of sit and gos? Josh Beckley: I wish there were sit and gos online. None of them fill up. For some reason, there's not enough traffic. PocketFives: Have you hired any consultants, psychological, strategical, or otherwise, to prep you for the tournament? Josh Beckley: Not yet, but no matter how good you are, having a coach helps you. Asking questions and going over things would benefit me. I can go over hand histories and certain situations that come up. PocketFives: What are your thoughts on the November Nine format? Josh Beckley: I like the waiting period because it's needed for filming and showing the Main Event on television. It's good for the sport for it to be filmed and edited correctly. I benefit because I can relax and prepare really hard for it. I can also get sponsored. I would have been really tired if we played it out in July, but would have done okay. I was playing optimally the whole time. PocketFives: What do you think it'll be like playing in front of several thousand people in the Penn and Teller Theater? Josh Beckley: I was at the featured table for a couple of days. I was also on "Poker Night in America," so I am used to the cameras. The cheering will be something new, however, but I'll have friends and family there. I will have my parents in the front row to help me. PocketFives: What was the November Nine bubble like? Josh Beckley: It was pretty incredible. It was so crazy. I didn't really realize what happened at first. I desensitized myself as to what was going on because the pay jumps were so big. I was focusing on playing regular poker and not considering anything else. I was in shock for sure, but it felt good because I knew I made it. PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the Main Event money? Josh Beckley: I bought a new car: a 2015 BMW 328. I have a place in Florida for a couple of months too. I was living with my parents before and will move out. Maybe I'll take a vacation, but a house and a car are fine with me. PocketFives: How do you feel you'd be as an ambassador for poker if you won the Main Event? Is this needed from a Main Event winner? Josh Beckley: I don't think the winner has to be a good ambassador, but it's good for the game if they are and I think I would be a good one. I think I could promote the game well and put out a good image for it. It's about not doing anything negative and trying to get more people out to poker games. PocketFives: Talk about Joe dude904McKeehen (pictured), who is another East Coast PocketFiver and has a commanding chip lead in the Main Event entering the November Nine. Josh Beckley: His play was pretty good. He doubled up through me on Day 6 for his tournament life with AQ versus my AK. I'm still in the tournament, so that was okay I guess. I think he'll be aggressive and he's on my left, so I'll have to notice how aggressive he's being and find out what his range is. We hung out a little at Hard Rock Hollywood and did "Poker Night in America" together.
  19. When the November Nine finally reconvened at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Sunday night in Las Vegas, all eyes were on overwhelming chip leader Joe dude904 McKeehen. The 24-year-old poker pro did nothing to disappoint. McKeehen eliminated Patrick Chan, Federico Butteroni, and Pierre Neuville to get the table down to just six players before play ended for the night. Sure, other players were active and there were some memorables on the broadcast, but the show belonged to McKeehen. It was the second hand of the night that saw Chan eliminated, having to call off the rest of his stack with Ks Qc after McKeehen had moved all-in from the button with Ad 4h. The board ran out dry for both players and McKeehen increased his chip lead. The second elimination took a little longer, but again it was a case of McKeehen having the chip stack to pick on the shorter stacks. McKeehen opened to 1,000,000 from the button with As Ks and Federico Butteroni moved all-in for 2,400,000 with Ah Jc. McKeehen called and again the board ran out with no help for him or his opponent and McKeehen was now sitting on a stack over 70,000,000, while Italy's hope at a Main Event champion to call their own was gone in eighth. The final elimination of the night took a few more hours. After needing no help from the dealer in the first two eliminations, McKeehen got a bit of luck to end the night. The shortest remaining stack, Neuville, moved all-in over the top of McKeehen's open for his final 3,000,000 and McKeehen called. Neuville was ahead with Ac Jc to the Jh 6h of McKeehen, but the Qd Td 3h Qh Th board gave McKeehen a flush and sent Neuville home in seventh. While McKeehen's performance on Sunday night will garner him his fair share of praise, his fellow tablemate Zvi Ofer Stern was widely criticized for the amount of time he spent in the tank in numerous spots throughout the night. According to Phil Hellmuth, who is providing analysis for ESPN, the Israeli amateur was given a warning by tournament director Jack Effelabout the amount of time he was taking on nearly every decision. Play resumes Monday night at 7:30 pm ET with the "live" broadcast on ESPN2 beginning at 8:00 pm ET. Chip Counts Joe McKeehen – 91,450,000 Ofer Zvi Stern – 32,400,000 Neil Blumenfield – 31,500,000 Max Steinberg – 16,000,000 Josh Beckley – 10,875,000 Thomas Cannuli – 10,425,000
  20. For the last 116 days, Joe McKeehen and the rest of the 2015 WSOP November Ninehave been waiting patiently for the World Series of Poker Main Event final table to resume. Sunday night, live on ESPN, the cards are back in the air with the final nine players all chasing the $7.68 million first place prize money and the highly coveted bracelet. The Chip Counts Name Country Chip Count Big Blinds % of chips Seat # Joe McKeehen USA 63,100,000 157.75 32.75% 6 Ofer Zvi Stern Israel 29,800,000 74.50 15.47% 1 Neil Blumenfield USA 22,000,000 55.00 11.42% 9 Pierre Neuville Belgium 21,075,000 52.69 10.94% 2 Max Steinberg USA 20,200,000 50.50 10.49% 4 Thomas Cannuli USA 12,250,000 30.63 6.36% 5 Joshua Beckley USA 11,800,000 29.50 6.13% 3 Patrick Chan USA 6,225,000 15.56 3.23% 7 Federico Butteroni Italy 6,200,000 15.50 3.22% 8 The Players The Chip Leader Joe McKeehen The 24-year-old poker pro from Pennsylvania, known on PocketFives as dude904, has spent nearly four months patiently waiting for the chance to get back to work. He hasn't been sitting idly by, though. In October, McKeehen won the $1,500 Wynn Fall Classic for $90,125. Already an accomplished player, McKeehen starts the final table with more chips than the next two players combined. The Chaser Ofer Zvi Stern At a final table that includes some accomplished tournament pros, the man in best position to take down McKeehen is the one who almost didn't play the Main Event this year at all. Ofer Zvi Stern only played after finding a sale that would get him from his native Isreal to Las Vegas at a discount. The amateur poker enthusiast has had WSOP success before, making two final tables in 2006 in smaller buy-in events. The Peloton Neil Blumenfield Amateurs at home looking for a potential hero need look no further than 61-year-old Neil Blumenfield. As the COO of a San Francisco software company, Blumenfield isn't able to play a full schedule, but he did have just over $130,000, including a previous Main Event cash, in earnings before this summer. But making the November Nine allowed Bluemenfield to retire and make the transition to playing poker full-time. Pierre Neuville In most years, Blumenfield would have been the oldest player at the final table, but he's a good 11 years younger than former Hasbro executive Pierre Neuville. It's also nearly impossible to give Neuville the amateur label. Since retiring from his job with Hasbro, the Belgium grandfather has become a mainstay on the European Poker Tour and in early 2015, he was given the Lifetime Achievement award at the European Poker Awards. Max Steinberg If any of the November Niners are already used to the spotlight provided by the WSOP Main Event on ESPN, it's 27-year-old poker pro Max Steinberg. Just a few years ago, Steinberg eliminated Phil Ivey from the Main Event on the feature table in one of the most talked-about hands in recent memory. Now, Steinberg, a professional poker and daily fantasy sports player, is hoping to turn his middle-of-the-pack stack into a bracelet and a brighter spotlight. Joshua Beckley McKeehen isn’t the only November Niner to book a win during the break. Joshua Beckley, known on PocketFives as asdf26, won his first WSOP Circuit ring in September at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, beating out 317 players in the $365 Monster Stack. He's going to need some of the magic if he hopes to win this bracelet, though. Sitting seventh in chips, the 25-year-old finds himself surrounded by bigger stacks, with Steinberg and Cannuli on his left and Stern and Neuville on his right. The Short Stacks Patrick Chan Patrick Chan is the smallest stack of the four East Coasters at the final table (McKeehen, Cannuli, Beckley), but might just have the most upside of them all. The cash game grinder is reportedly playing on his own dime, meaning he could have a high percentage of himself depending on any swaps he made after play started. He's already had a fairly successful tournament run this year, previously highlighted by a second place finish to Loni Harwood at the Parx Casino Big Stax $2,500 Championship in January. Federico Butteroni A week before the 2015 Main Event began, Federico Butteroni got his first taste of victory inside the walls of the Rio. It wasn't a WSOP bracelet event, though; it was a $235 Daily Deepstack with 857 players. The 25-year-old Butteroni traveled all the way from his hometown of Rome, Italy back to Las Vegas to play the shortest stack in hopes of spinning it up to another win. The Structure Level Small Blind Big Blind Ante 35* 200,000 400,000 50,000 36 250,000 500,000 50,000 37 300,000 600,000 75,000 38 400,000 800,000 100,000 39 500,000 1,000,000 150,000 40 600,000 1,200,000 200,000 41 800,000 1,600,000 200,000 42 1,000,000 2,000,000 300,000 43 1,200,000 2,400,000 400,000 44 1,500,000 3,000,000 500,000 45 2,000,000 4,000,000 500,000 46 2,500,000 5,000,000 500,000 47 3,000,000 6,000,000 1,000,000 *There are 57 minutes and 36 seconds remaining in Level 35. Action resumes on ESPN in the United States at 5:30 pm PT. If you're outside of the United States, check out the complete WSOP Main Event international broadcast schedule.
  21. Rumor has it that poker is a young man's game and the run of 20-something WSOP Main Event champions just might be proof of that. But, 72-year-old Pierre Neuville came into the 2015 WSOP Main Event final table hoping to win one for the older crowd. Unfortunately, a few key hands - and of course a final confrontation with chip leader Joe McKeehen - ended any hope of Neuville taking the bracelet back to the Belgium. On the fourth hand of the night, Neuville opened to 850,000 from UTG with Td Ts. Neil Blumenfield three-bet from the small blind with Q Q to 2,500,000. Neuville took a minute to consider his options and eventually found a fold to leave himself with just over 20,000,000. The oldest November Niner ever found himself in a dream scenario on the 30th hand of the night. Blumenfield raised to 1,100,000 from the cutoff with As Qs before Ofer Zvi Stern made it 3,150,000 to go with Kh Jh. Neuville took a moment to consider his options again. This time, he came out with a cold four-bet to 7,750,000 with Ac Ah. Both Blumenfield and Stern folded their hands and Neuville was suddenly fourth in chips with just over 24,000,000. Trouble found Neuville later on thanks to a made Broadway straight. From the cutoff, Neuville raised to 1,275,000 with Qc Qs and Tom Cannulicalled from the big blind with Kh 9h. The flop came Ah Jd Th and both players checked. Cannuli made his flush with the 4h turn, bet 1,000,000, and Neuville called. The river was the Kd, completing Broadway for Neuville. Cannuli bet 3,200,000 of his remaining 5,900,000 and Neuville called to see the bad news. That was only the beginning of the horror show that was Neuville's night. Blumenfield raised to 1,200,000 from UTG with 4c 4h and Neuville called with Ac Kh to see a flop of Ks Qs 4d. Blumenfield bet 1,600,000 with his flopped bottom set and Neuville called. The Qd on the turn gave Blumenfield a full house and both players checked. The 3s fell on the river and Blumenfield resumed the aggression, betting 4,000,000. Neuville called and mucked when Blumenfield tabled his hand. The Belgian was down to just 7,500,000, or 15 big blinds. After being responsible for finishing off Chan and Butteroni, it's no surprise that McKeehen had a hand in ending Neuville's run. McKeehen opened to 1,200,000 with Jh 6h and Neuville fired his final 3,000,000 into the middle with Ac Jc. With everybody else out of the way, McKeehen called. The board ran out Qd Td 3h Qh Th to give McKeehen runner-runner flush and eliminate Neuville in seventh, earning him $1,203,293.
  22. [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.
  23. Leading up to this Main Event final table in July, Ofer Zvi Stern was one of the more aggressive players late on Day 7, using a "kill or be killed" strategy that saw him accumulate a nearly 30,000,000-chip second place stack coming into Sunday night's November Nine restart. Stern kept up his aggression Sunday, playing a few sizable pots with some of the other big-stacked players, including Neil Blumenfield, who was involved in a few pre-flop leveling wars with Stern. None of those hands altered Stern's standing coming into Monday's six-handed restart, though, as he more or less stayed near the 30,000,000 mark and returned for Day 2 of the final table still second in chips. After the elimination of Tom Cannuli on the second hand of the night, the pressure of the short stack shifted to Josh Beckley, as Stern, Blumenfield, and Max Steinberg were all hovering near the 40 big blind mark. That logjam didn't last long, though, as the 98th hand at this final table brought the first all-in and double, as the previous all-in encounters resulted in short-stack eliminations. In a blind-versus-blind encounter, Stern announced himself all-in from the small blind and after he re-checked his cards, Beckley snap-called in the big blind and tabled As Ah. Stern held Ts 9s and, for the second time, someone was at risk for their tournament life with pocket aces. Pocket aces didn't hold the first time, but they did the second, as Beckley held through the 7d 5d 2c flop and then locked up his double when the 3s fell on the turn. The river bricked out and Beckley, who had been patiently working a short stack for the better part of the last two days, was suddenly playing just shy of 30,000,000. Stern, on the other hand, was cut down to just 18,225,000, his lowest standing in recent memory. With the high blinds and antes costing players just over 1,500,000 per orbit, Stern went card dead after that double-up, dropping below the 20 big blind mark over the next few hands and eventually getting down to just 15 big blinds. Those 15 bigs more or less got into the middle in the 121st hand, when Stern bet 11,500,000 from under the gun, leaving himself just 425,000 behind. Blumenfield moved all-in after the table folded to him and Stern called for the rest of his stack only to see that he was in big trouble, as Blumenfield held Ac Ks to Stern's Ac Jh. The 7h 5s 3d flop kept Blumenfield's Big Slick in the lead and Stern was officially drawing dead after the Kd spiked on the turn. The Qd completed the board and Stern's elimination was confirmed. After being one of the more talked-about players leading up to this final table with his aggressive and unconventional play, and the most talked about player during Sunday’s ESPN broadcast where he tanked time and time again, Stern bowed out in 5th place, making $1,911,423 for his WSOP Main Event run.
  24. [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.”
  25. [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.
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