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  1. It’s official. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event on GGPoker has been certified as the largest prize pool for an online poker tournament by the Guinness World Records. The $5,000 Main Event took place from August 16 - September 6 and drew a total of 5,802 entries which boosted the prize pool to $27,559,500, crushing the originally posted $25 million guarantee. When all was said and done, Stoyan Madanzhiev from Bulgaria etched his name in the online poker history books by taking home the largest-ever first-place prize of $3,904,685. “This Guinness World Records title was on our radar from the very beginning,” said Steve Preiss, Head of Poker Operations at GGPoker. “Players and fans of poker expect nothing less than record-breaking prizes when it comes to the World Series of Poker, and GGPoker delivered.” After “reviewing the evidence and going through all the details”, Michael Empric, an Official Adjudicator for Guinness World Records, placed a video call to GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu to deliver the news.  “Breaking a Guinness World Records title show what happens when you combine GGPoker’s amazing platform with the World Series of Poker brand,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP Director. “This will be a tough record to beat,” Stewart is likely right. The Main Event had 23 starting flights and allowed players to enter three different times which helped them set the new record. The previous record for an online poker prize pool was established by partypoker in 2018 with their $5,300 buy-in $20 million guaranteed MILLIONS Online tournament in which the company spent the better part of the entire year qualifying players to ultimately reach a prize pool of $21,780,000. In 2019, partypoker took a shot at their own record by offering the same tournament with a $10,300 buy-in. However, they missed the mark falling just short with a prize pool of $21,090,000. Online Poker All-Time Largest Prize Pools [table id=115 /] Even though the new prize pool record was widely recognized by the poker industry, GGPoker and the WSOP took the extra step of getting their achievement stamped by Guinness. And they are far from the first in poker to officially set a recognized world record. While many have claimed to have played longer, Phil Laak is the official record holder of the longest live cash game session when he played for 115 hours straight at the Bellagio back in 2010. Perhaps that is what inspired the Netherlands’ Tom Maaswinkel to get into the record book with his 24-hour session of online poker in May of 2019. There are other niche poker records in Guinness as well. Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew put his multi-tabling talent on display for his world record for most online poker hands played in eight hours (14,548) back in 2012. Former PokerStars ambassador, and current GGPoker pro, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier still holds the record for the most online poker tables played in one hour when he played 62 tables back in 2009 (a record unlikely to be challenged with modern-day table limits.) The Guinness World Records also acknowledges Joe Cada as the youngest WSOP Main Event champion and Antonio Esfandiari as having won the single-largest first-place prize for his $18.3 million score at the 2012 Big One For One Drop. While many of poker’s Guinness World Records are centered around some of the game’s biggest events, for individuals looking to set their own records, Guinness World Records is ready to review the achievement. According to their website, all it takes is an attempt at creating a new record or breaking an existing record (with evidence) plus an application fee of $800-$1000.
  2. We're three months away from the second-ever running of the World Series of Poker's Big One for One Drop, a charity tournament with a hefty $1 million buy-in that last took place in 2012. The steep price tag certainly hasn't stopped people from signing up in droves, as 23 poker players, businessmen, and qualifiers have already confirmed their attendance: 1. Antonio Esfandiari 2. Guy Laliberté 3. Bobby Baldwin 4. David Einhorn 5. Phil Galfond 6. Philipp Gruissem 7. Phil Ivey (pictured) 8. Jason treysfull21 Mercier 9. Paul Newey 10. Bill Perkins 11. Vivek Psyduck Rajkumar 12. Brian tsarrast Rast 13. Andrew good2cu Robl 14. Erik Seidel 15. Brandon Steven 16. Sam Trickett 17. Noah Schwartz 18. Anonymous Businessman 19. Anonymous Businessman 20. Anonymous Businessman 21. Aria Resort Satellite Seat 22. Bellagio Resort Satellite Seat 23. World Series of Poker Satellite Seat The first 17 players on the list above all participated in 2012, the first and only other time the Big One for One Drop has taken place. The tournament sold out at 48 entrants last time and, with the addition of another eight-max table this year, 56 players can be accommodated. If the tournament sells out once again, as expected, the first place prize could reach $20 million. Antonio Esfandiari (pictured), who won the 2012 installment and became poker's all-time money leader in the process, commented in a WSOP press release, "I can't wait to defend my title. The event was life-changing, but so was my trip to El Salvador after it with the One Drop organization to see first hand what a difference the money raised from this event can do for those in dire need of help." WSOP officials plan to reach out to additional players to recruit them to the One Drop field after already contacting everyone who played in 2012. The tournament is scheduled for three days beginning June 29 and $111,111 of each buy-in goes to charity. If the event sells out, the prize pool would be around $50 million. Anyone interested in playing is encouraged to contact WSOP officials. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. Forty-two players showed up for this year's $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop at the World Series of Poker. After officials thought the tournament might sell out, there were more than a dozen openings in the 56-max tournament. Nevertheless, a cavalcade of brand name players turned out, including Sam Trickett (pictured), who has a pace-setting stack of 13.4 million entering Day 2 on Monday. --- 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. --- Trickett recorded the first elimination of the tournament to set the tone for the first day. Coverage on WSOP.com explained, "Trickett clashed with David Einhorn in a hand where the former turned the nut straight against the latter's flopped set of jacks. Einhorn was eliminated from play and Trickett suddenly held double the starting stack." Then, Trickett cracked the pocket queens of Igor Kurganov after hitting a straight on the river. From there, WSOP.com added, "Trickett and Vanessa Selbst played an 8 million chip pot where the three-time WSOP bracelet winner six-bet shoved with A-K. Trickett called with pocket kings and the two endured a roller coaster of a run-out. Trickett finished on top and the first-ever woman to participate in the Big One for One Drop was eliminated from play." Although this author swore up and down that 13-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth (pictured) would participate in this year's One Drop, "The Poker Brat" was a no show. He spent the weekend trying to raise $600,000 of his $1 million buy-in, at one point posting on Twitter, "This would make a great reality show: me raising $600,000 in the last couple hours for a poker tournament!" However, Hellmuth's meal ticket never came to fruition, as he Tweeted, "Thought I had $1 million, went over to buy into One Drop, but $130,000 that was supposed to be at cage wasn't there!" Thus, Hellmuth, who finished fourth in the 2012 One Drop, will watch this year's version from the sidelines. Trickett finished second in the One Drop in 2012 and the man he lost out to, Antonio Esfandiari (pictured), has the fifth largest stack after Day 1 this year. Esfandiari doubled up early on during Sunday's play courtesy of Dan KingDan Smith, who checked on a board of A-K-4-10-8. Esfandiari shoved and Smith, after asking for a count, called and turned over A-K for aces-up. Esfandiari had him beat with 4-4 and moved up to over 3 million in chips. Here's how the One Drop field looks as play begins on Day 2 at 1:00pm PT: 1. Sam Trickett - 13,400,000 2. Tom Hall - 9,125,000 3. Phil Ivey - 7,675,000 4. Daniel Colman - 6,875,000 5. Antonio Esfandiari - 6,725,000 6. Noah Schwartz - 6,275,000 7. Rick Salomon - 5,890,000 8. David Doc Sands Sands - 4,615,000 9. Phil Galfond - 4,390,000 10. Daniel Negreanu - 4,270,000 11. Erik Seidel - 4,250,000 12. Brandon Steven - 4,205,000 13. Tobias Reinkemeier - 4,125,000 14. Doug Polk - 3,885,000 15. Connor blanconegro Drinan - 3,685,000 16. Gabe Kaplan - 3,475,000 17. Tony Gregg - 3,415,000 18. Isaac Haxton - 3,370,000 19. John Juanda - 3,215,000 20. Cary Katz - 2,945,000 21. Paul Newey - 2,845,000 22. Bill Klein - 2,840,000 23. Erick Lindgren - 2,175,000 24. Christoph Vogelsang - 2,060,000 25. John Morgan - 1,800,000 26. Talal Shakerchi - 1,685,000 27. Daniel Cates - 1,670,000 28. Greg gregy20723 Merson - 1,625,000 29. Scott Seiver - 1,165,000 30. Guy Laliberte - 1,030,000 31. Jean-Robert Bellande - 1,005,000 Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP news, sponsored 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. On Tuesday, Dan Colman won the Big One for One Dropat the World Series of Poker for $15.3 million. While Colman might have won the battle, Daniel Negreanu (pictured) won the war, becoming tournament poker's all-time money leader according to the Hendon Mob. Negreanu passed Antonio Esfandiari, who won the 2012 One Drop. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- "Kid Poker" has a staggering $29.7 million in career tournament winnings after picking up $8.2 million for finishing second in the One Drop on Tuesday. Last September, he took second in the EPT Barcelona High Roller for $352,000 and followed that up with a win in the WSOP Europe High Roller for $979,000, a final table in the Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge for $492,000, and a fourth place finish in the Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge for $1.1 million. He has amassed $10.2 million in tournament winnings this year alone. Negreanu told WSOP staff after finishing second in the One Drop on Tuesday, "The $8 million is [a good consolation prize], but… it's really important to reinforce [that] $4.6 million was raised for charity. Otherwise, it's a bunch of rich people with too much money gambling for stakes that are obscene." He posted on Twitter when the $1 million buy-in One Drop had finished, "Thanks for all your support everyone and congrats to those who bought a piece of my action! I'm happy with how I played and proud too… Had a blast battling Daniel Coleman! Actually joyful and amazing experience. What a great player and great kid. Congrats to him." Negreanu is second to Carlos Mortensen (pictured) on the World Poker Tour's all-time money list at $5.7 million and has failed to pass $1 million in tournament winnings in a year just three times since 2004, according to the Hendon Mob. Negreanu has six bracelets, tied for ninth all-time, and has 78 WSOP in the money finishes, good for fifth all-time. Here are the top 10 players on the tournament poker all-time money list, according to the Hendon Mob. You'll notice that Colman, this year's One Drop winner, is already in sixth place: 1. Daniel Negreanu - $29,796,381 2. Antonio Esfandiari - $26,244,377 3. Phil Ivey - $21,431,318 4. Erik Seidel - $20,445,359 5. Sam Trickett - $20,065,545 6. Daniel Colman - $18,200,842 7. Phil Hellmuth - $18,146,522 8. John Juanda - $16,052,904 9. Michael Mizrachi - $14,579,583 10. Scott Seiver - $12,607,348 Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest poker news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. WSOP Big One for One Drop champ Antonio Esfandiari (pictured) and fellow poker pro Phil Laak have hooked up with the Discovery Channel to create the pilot episode of "Underground Poker," a show which they say goes against the grain of traditional poker programming. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- In the episode, the two longtime friends travel to New Orleans and use their connections to buy into real, private home games. "We called around to some people and said, 'Hey look, we want to come and play, are there any games?"' Esfandiari told PokerNews. "They said there were a few games. They had to be okay with being on camera, but we wanted real players, real money, and real games. Not a single hand is staged. Everything is legit." Laak emphasized that the show wouldn't be completely focused on poker hands. "I think the entire show is 24 minutes and they only show between two and five hands," he said. "It's not a lot. It's more about the feeling a pro has as he drifts around the city trying to find home games to play in, the 'who do you know' aspect." "Underground Poker" was born when the pair met producer Jennifer Killoran while filming a cameo for the movie "Runner Runner." While their scene never made it into the final cut, Esfandiari and Laak became fast friends with Killoran, who found the pair to be highly entertaining together. "She said, 'You guys need a TV show."' Esfandiari revealed. "We said we already had one and she said, 'Well, you need another one.' We said that's great, but nobody ever makes it happen. She said she could make it happen and the next thing you know we have a TV show." Esfandiari explained that the show started out as a five-minute teaser that was lengthened to 13 minutes before the production company finally decided to pull the trigger on a full pilot. So far, only the initial New Orleans episode has been filmed. If reaction is good and the series is picked up, the two pros will travel to different cities looking for new games and filming their antics along the way. "We could go to any city where there are private poker games - Atlanta, Charlotte, San Francisco, Vancouver - there are cities all over the world that have poker games, so it could be anywhere," Esfandiari said. Laakis pictured. "Underground Poker" won't be the first time the two friends have appeared on television together. In 2007, the pair starred in "I Bet You," a series in which the two made high-stakes prop bets on anything and everything in their path. Two seasons of the series aired on MOJO, with the third having been filmed, but left unaired. The pros have also appeared on "Poker After Dark" and in movies like "Lucky You," "Deal," and "Freelancers." "The more viewers we have, the better chance we have of having the show picked up and really creating something new," added Esfandiari. "You can never judge a series by the first show. You have to develop the characters. If we get the poker community behind us, we will have a show on Discovery for sure. Hopefully, people will like it and won't bash it too much. We want minimal bashing." You can catch "Underground Poker" on Wednesday, September 10 at 10pm Eastern Time on the Discovery Channel. Esfandiari and Laak will be tuning in and Tweeting live with fans during the episode. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. Have you ever dreamed of getting a private poker lesson from Daniel Negreanu or partying with One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari in Vegas? Well, now you can, but it'll cost you. A company called If Only is in the business of offering what it calls "extraordinary experiences for good," where fans of sports stars, musicians, world-class chefs, and more can pay to hang out with their favorite celebrities. The company, which donates a portion of its sales to charity, recently added famous poker players to its roster, but the pricey packages on offer have raised eyebrows. Poker fans have their choice of spending time with six well-known poker personalities: Liv Boeree, Phil Laak, Jamie Gold, Phil Hellmuth (pictured), Negreanu, and Esfandiari. But it was Hellmuth's profile in particular which drew the attention of the poker world, which had a lot to say about the "Poker Brat's" high-priced options. The 13-time WSOP bracelet winner offers fans five experiences, ranging from $16,700 to $42,900. At the low end, you can meet Hellmuth at the WSOPand "have a drink with Phil as he poses for photos and signs autographs." At the high end, you can set up a two-hour private game with the outspoken pro and five friends, where "Phil will share the tactics and strategies that made him one of poker's most dangerous players." In addition, Hellmuth offers his time as a motivational speaker and will serve as the master of ceremonies at your poker tournament for an undisclosed price. A portion of his payment will go to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation. Many poker players were shocked at the high prices and pointed out that one could simply catch up with the personable pro at the Rio for no charge. "Considering Phil will take a picture and sign an autograph for free, that's one hell of an expensive drink," said "1p0kerboy." "AdamSchwartz" agreed, replying, "or you could fly to Vegas for $300, walk up to Phil, hand him a drink, and ask him what it's like to be back at the WSOP. Save yourself about $16,300." Others pointed out the high prices charged by poker players compared to the cost of meeting world-famous celebrities on the site. Miley Cyrus (pictured), for example, offers a $2,000 backstage concert package where fans can meet the singer and receive VIP treatment during the show. Pop sensations Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga offer similarly priced packages. "These guys are so full of themselves… They do know they are poker players right?" said "beauvanlaanen." But some defended the inflation, like one poster who recalled an event at which Hellmuth was paid to emcee. "The organizers paid Hellmuth $25,000 to appear. He schmoozed, he was funny, went table to table with a microphone," he said. "He gave all the players a nickname and ragged on everyone. He ended up coming in third and hung out for an hour after and everyone loved him." Other poker players on the site charge similar prices, like Esfandiari, who will take you out for a "VIP Vegas night" for $35,800, and Negreanu, who will sit down with you and your friends for a private game for $42,900. A portion of Esfandiari's payment will go to Guy Laliberte's One Drop organization, while Negreanu's donation will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Other experiences include a private game with Laak for $42,900, a poker lesson with Main Event bracelet winner Gold for $16,700, and a hike along Red Rock Canyon with European Poker Tour winner Boeree for $5,000. Hellmuth has a stellar career at the WSOP, nearly snagging his 14th gold bracelet in this year's $1,500 Razz event, but coming up short against Ted Forrest to take second place. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. Daniel Negreanu's recent blog post on Full Contact Poker lauding Choice Centerhas once again brought his association with the self-help organization into light, prompting a debate over whether the institution's primary focus is exploiting its members for financial gain. Read the post. Choice Center describes itself as a "leadership university" for successful people, offering a 100-day course "designed to take you to your next level of performance and in the fastest time possible." Negreanu (pictured) had positive comments about the program, which he outlined in his post. In one session on "emotional intelligence," he explained the result of having defined three specific goals for himself in a three-month period. "One of those goals was poker-related, getting back in the top 15 of the GPI, and quickly after completing the course, I jumped to #1 and held that spot for about 19 weeks," he said. According to the 39-year-old, the program also teaches students "the value of making a difference in the world via a legacy project." In his own project, Negreanu and his team were able to raise $280,000 for St. Jude's Children's Hospital in just one week. Other poker pros have taken Choice Center courses as well, including Nick Binger and Antonio Esfandiari (pictured). Binger described his experience in a TwoPlusTwo post: "Going into it, I knew that there was a broad spectrum of LGAT-type trainings that range from the craziest cults imaginable to really boring mainstream business development courses… From the beginning, I was on the lookout for violations of integrity that would signal time for me to go, but I never saw anything that would qualify." In the end, he summed up the course as "very interesting, fun, and generally a catalyst for positive life changes." Esfandiari seems to have found working with Choice Center to be even more impactful. After going on to take first and $18 million in the inaugural WSOP Big One for One Drop, the Iranian-born pro credited two people for his success: his father and his life coach Robyn Williams, the Founder and CEO of Choice Center. But not everyone is a fan of the organization's methods or what they say is an aggressive recruiting campaign to sign up new students. Brian tsarrast Rast is another poker pro who was convinced to take classes at the urging of a friend, but after a few sessions decided not to go back. In an interview with Bluff, Rast called the $2,700 program "interesting," but believed that Negreanu and Esfandiari were assigning too much credit to Choice Center for their success and too little to themselves. "It's basically a crash course in psychology and group therapy," he said, recalling his experience. "I think anyone can benefit, whether it's at Choice or not, or going and doing meditation with Buddhist monks for three days. Choice was valuable… but I don't think it's special in that it's the only way you could help yourself." He was also concerned that the program's methods of "tearing students down" before "building them back up" could lead to people being dependent on the Center for their happiness. "The whole point of Choice is great… but I'm not going to replace my family with Choice Center," he said. Furthermore, since Choice Center is for-profit, students are "basically turned into recruits," he said. "You could make an analogy that it's like a self-replicating virus or bacteria if you want to put it in a negative spin." Negreanu was quick to respond to Rast (pictured) in his own video and reiterated that out of 100 of his friends who had taken classes, only four had decided to quit early, while the others had a great experience. He said that since Rast had only finished a small portion of the class, it would be hard for him to be critical of it. Whatever you think of Choice Center or its methods, Negreanu's recent results in the poker world speak for themselves. Since 2013, the Canadian pro has earned nearly $5 million in tournaments worldwide. This year, he is banking on the fact that Phil Ivey or he will win a bracelet in this year's WSOP, offering a $5,000 minimum wager on the proposition. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. According to co-host Antonio Esfandiari (pictured), Discovery Channel has passed on the opportunity to air additional episodes of "Underground Poker." The show, which starred Esfandiari and longtime cohort Phil Laak, profiled underground card games and the pilot took place in New Orleans. The first and only episode aired last month and its opening credits emphasized that it wasn't your regular brand of reality show: "Everything you see on this show is 100% real. No mock-ups, no makeup, no nothing. We're going to show you how the pros make money outside the casino." The pilot received generally solid reviews from the poker community and, while it felt scripted and forced at times, the chemistry between Esfandiari and Laak helped carry the day. When asked on Twitter whether "Underground Poker" would continue airing on Discovery Channel, Esfandiari responded, "Looks like a no go." Later, "The Magician" told PokerListings, "With any TV series, the first show is never going to be great. If we had a full season, I think we could deliver a great product. It has a lot of potential and I think Phil and I can do better. The production value was high." Esfandiari added that "Underground Poker" was being pitched to other networks, although if anyone has taken the bait is not known. "The producers have a lot of contacts in LA," explained Esfandiari. "It’s life. Some things work. Some things don't. What can I do? Dwell on the fact it didn't work out?" Reaction from the PocketFives community in the comments section of our original article recapping "Underground Poker" was fairly positive. One poster wrote, "Finally! A good poker show that doesn't cast it in a bad light and make it look like the only people playing are a bunch of crazy, criminal, degens. Truly great ambassadors for the game." Another opined, "It was kind of eh, but it's a poker show, and I love poker, and Antonio and Laak (pictured) are awesome." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. On Wednesday, "Underground Poker" featuring Phil Laak (pictured) and Antonio Esfandiari aired on the Discovery Channel. If you've never heard of the show before, check out our official preview. This article is a recap of the one-hour pilot, which aired at 10:00pm Eastern Time in case you missed it. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- The opening credits featured Esfandiari telling the audience, "Everything you see on this show is 100% real. No mock-ups, no makeup, no nothing. We're going to show you how the pros make money outside the casino." The setting for the pilot was New Orleans, with Laak coming off a six-figure pummeling in Los Angeles. Laak and Esfandiari met a chef named "Spikey Mike," who said the games in the "Big Easy" were slow after two guys were busted marking cards with ultraviolet ink. He said he knew of a smaller game in a bad neighborhood and, despite the risks, Laak agreed to play. The players' faces in the underground game, as well as the building's exterior, were shown on camera and the crew was allowed to film the game itself. Speaking of the first game, at one point, Laak was dealt K-K in a $750 pot and went all-in, leading Esfandiari(pictured), who was chatting it up with two women on the rail, to say, "For a game this small, that's huge." A tense moment saw the person to Laak's direct left stand up and yell, "How much money do you need before you leave town" in a rather angry voice reminiscent of really bad acting in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Laak jokingly responded, "Maybe a little bit more." Later, Laak told Esfandiari that he was up $700 and Esfandiari advised him to lose a couple hundred back before quitting the game. Flash-forward to Bourbon Street, the pulse of New Orleans, where Esfandiari and Laak met a man called "505," nicknamed so because at one point he was charged with 505 felony counts. 505 said Laak and Esfandiari could come to a game he's involved in if they brought a fish and Laak agreed, ultimately meeting with a lawyer who said he was in. The game was in a building where you entered through the basement and went down an elevator, but despite the dingy atmosphere and staunch security, cameras were allowed. In that game, Esfandiari picked up two aces and shoved with $4,000 in the pot headed to the river, but his opponent had a set. The lawyer then referred Esfandiari and Laak to a wealthy man in the boondocks whose yard had glass bottles hanging from the trees with bones in them, which he attributed to his belief in voodoo. Scary. That game featured Pete "The Greek" Vilandos (pictured), who was mostly seen laughing hysterically and came off looking like a Batman villain. He has three WSOP bracelets. The buy-in was $10,000 and the game was PLO. Laak was dealt 7-J-J-8, but folded with $30,000 in the middle, leading "The Greek" to show a bluff and, once again, laugh like a crazy person. As Esfandiari put it, "I think the universe just took a big dump on Phil." Later in the game, Esfandiari was dealt the second highest straight and two pair versus the aforementioned lawyer with $22,000 in the pot. The lawyer ended up with a straight of his own, but Esfandiari improved to a boat to win the hand. There are no future episodes of "Underground Poker" planned at this time. We'll keep you posted on whether the Discovery Channel picks up the show. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. Broadcast in recent days on the Poker Life Podcastwas an interview with Lex Veldhuis (pictured), who donned his PokerStarspatch in what would turn out to be a rather controversial two-hour sitting. It began with Veldhuis lambasting 2012 World Series of Poker One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari. "I had some run-ins with him whereI just decided he's worthless," Veldhuis explained. "The first time I came to Vegas [to play a live tournament eight years ago], I was tournament-hungry and wanted to win a bracelet… I got there really motivated, played the WPT at the Mirage, final tabled a side event, and got pretty deep in the Main. Then, I played Mandalay Bay and [Esfandiari was] sitting to my left." Cue the fireworks. Veldhuis continued, "I was playing [what was] standard back then for European players… He was sitting to my left. Regardless, I was shitting on him all day in a combination of my style and the cards. He played very predictably." When the day ended, Esfandiari asked his new friend to dinner to talk a little poker strategy. Veldhuis responded in the affirmative, but wanted to bring his own friends along, as they had plans to go out. Rather than accommodate the request, Esfandiari countered, "You're new here, and I'm asking you to dinner, and you're about to turn me down?" "I'm not going to ditch my friends because you're Antonio and I should be grateful you're asking me to dinner," Veldhuis thought, along with a few other not-appropriate-for-TV comments. Five years later, Veldhuis and Esfandiari (pictured) were at EPT Vilamoura. A group that included Daniel Negreanuand Liv Boeree asked Veldhuis to dinner, but, similar to the time before, Veldhuis said he wanted to bring a friend who was in town. Esfandiari, who was in charge of the reservation, retorted, "We're trying to keep it exclusive," and Veldhuis thought, "Not this fucking shit again." Veldhuis also called out Esfandiari's demeanor in tournaments, saying, "He has no empathy for the situation people are in if he wants attention." He added, "He'll put somebody on the spot… His deal is his deal… The fact that he involves other people just to try to be funny when they're really vulnerable, that's what annoys me… That's part of the reason I don't like live tournaments… There's this entitled, look-at-me, stupid bullshit." He singled out Esfandiari's actions when players are all-in during high-stakes events, among other examples. "I don't have beef with him; I just don't like him," the PokerStars pro concluded. Posters on Two Plus Two were commenting on Esfandiari in general, with one person saying, "Antonio is living proof that you can get a huge number of fanboys in poker by always being an attention-whoring douche." Others called out Veldhuis, including one person who said, "Lex did himself no favors by publicly airing this immature, childish, negative rant on Antonio. He sadly comes across as a total douche." What do you think of Veldhuis' appearance? Comment here and let us know:
  11. Twenty-six players remain in the $1,500 Extended Play No Limit Hold'em event at the World Series of Poker. At stake is a $478,000 first place prize and bracelet winner Barny Boatman (pictured) owns the lead with a stack of 1.15 million in chips. --- 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. --- Antonio Esfandiari was the chip leader when we checked in on Monday night, but Boatman crippled him. Coverage on WSOP.com detailed what happened when Boatman faced a 4bet from Esfandiari pre-flop: "There has been a bit of recent history between these two players and now they are in a blind-on-blind confrontation. The action is on Boatman and he looks in no mood to give up to Esfandiari's aggression and slides out his own raise to 174,000." Esfandiari asked for a count and responded by shoving all-in. Boatman called with K-K only to see Esfandiari had aces, but a flop of 5-5-K put the Brit out in front for good. The hand moved Boatman to almost one million in chips. Shortly thereafter, Esfandiari was eliminated. After doubling up late in the day on Monday, Jonathan FieryJustice Little went busto after 3betting all-in before the flop with 6-5 of diamonds and getting a call from a player with 8-8. Little flopped a straight draw and turned a flush draw, but couldn't connect on the river and earned $11,000 for 28th place. Yevgeniy Jovial GentTimoshenko (pictured), the chip leader entering Monday's restart, is now the second shortest stack in the room at 226,000. He gave some chips to Nick Duvall late in the day after Duvall was all-in on a board of 9-8-6-K. Timoshenko questioned, "Do you have a flush draw? What do you want me to do? Are you going to show if I fold?" Timoshenko ultimately folded and Duvall showed 7-6. Timoshenko said he had an overpair. Here's how the field looks. The blinds were 5,000-10,000-1,000 when the action stopped: 1. Barny Boatman - 1,152,000 2. Luis elpim Duarte - 1,079,000 3. Artem Metalidi - 1,056,000 4. Yehoram Houri - 895,000 5. Anthony ott-man87 Diotte - 817,000 6. Ross Gottlieb - 780,000 7. Enrico Rudelitz - 732,000 8. Auddie Reynolds - 605,000 9. Patrick pleno1 Leonard - 581,000 10. Adrian Apmann - 574,000 11. Kurt Lichtman - 554,000 12. April Facey - 498,000 13. Nicholas Duvall - 495,000 14. Gabriel Andrade - 493,000 15. Daniel Buckley - 481,000 16. Andrew Mackenzie - 426,000 17. Leonardo Oliveira - 390,000 18. Johnathan Dahlberg - 390,000 19. Justin win0rgohome Zaki - 381,000 20. Joshua Reynolds - 379,000 21. Konstantin Puchkov - 367,000 22. Ryan Lee - 323,000 23. Craig Roberts - 254,000 24. Ruslan Gazaev - 250,000 25. Yevgeniy Jovial Gent Timoshenko - 226,000 26. Yuri Ishida - 223,000 The Extended Play event restarts at 1:00pm PT on Tuesday. 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.
  12. There are 115 players remaining in the World Series of Poker's $1,500 Extended Play No Limit Hold'em event. It began with over 1,900 entrants on Saturday and a bracelet should be awarded on Tuesday. In the meantime, Yevgeniy Jovial Gent Timoshenko (pictured) is out in front with a stack of 405,000. He's the only person to cross the 400,000-chip mark. --- 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. --- The Extended Play event is brand new to the WSOP this year and features 90-minute levels instead of the usual 60. As you might expect, and as has been the theme of the WSOP this year, the cream of the crop has risen to the top. Timoshenko, for example, has almost $5 million in career online tournament cashes and won the 2009 WCOOP Main Event. He also took down that year's World Poker Tour Championshipfor over $2 million. Timoshenko is #69 on the all-time money list and was ranked #1 on PocketFives in 2007. Timoshenko also scored big on prop bets on Sunday, winning $2,300 after throwing a water bottle into a trash can 30 feet away. As coverage of the bet on WSOP.com detailed, "It sails through the air, dodges the bottom of the Pius Heinz banner, and hits dead center. A cheer goes up and the loser of the bet goes to his wallet to hand over $2,300." He Tweeted when all was said and done, "Ran hot and bagged the chip lead heading into Day 3 of #WSOP42. All credit goes to my lucky #TiasHope card protector!" Right behind Timoshenko on the leaderboard with a stack of 368,000 is Antonio Esfandiari (pictured). He's #2 on poker's all-time money list thanks to a win in the inaugural Big One for One Drop in 2012 for an incredible $18 million. He has three bracelets and two WPT titles. On Sunday, Esfandiari stacked chips courtesy of Blair blur5f6Hinkle, also a bracelet winner. On a board showing 9-J-A-5, Hinkle checked and Esfandiari pushed out a bet of 17,600. Hinkle check-raised to 55,000, Esfandiari shoved, and Hinkle tossed his hand into the muck. Fourth place in the Extended Play event belongs to Patrick pleno1 Leonard. He was ranked #1 on PocketFives last year and bagged 354,000 in chips on Sunday night. Leonard is searching for his first career five-figure cash at the WSOP, but has almost $2 million in career online tournament winnings. The winner of this tournament will get $478,000 and everybody still in is guaranteed $3,500. 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.
  13. At this year's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, no matter how big a tournament's field is, brand name pros are rising to the top. We've already seen pros like Phil Hellmuth, Phil Galfond, and Shaun Deebwin bracelets this year. Now, we could have bracelet #1 from Chris moorman1 Moorman (pictured), the most successful PocketFiver in history. --- 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. --- Kai Yang from Plano, Texas leads the way with a stack of 1.35 million in chips as we enter Day 3 of a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event (#30). He's one of two players to bag more than one million in chips on Day 2, along with Artur jaggalo1231 Rudziankov. Twenty-one players remain. Then there's Moorman, who has the third largest stack in the tournament at 966,000. Moorman, the owner of a record 25 PocketFives Triple Crowns, already has a World Poker Tour title. He has been the runner-up in two bracelet events during his career, but is still looking for his first WSOP win. Moorman busted Ronald Lee in 25th place on Monday after his pocket sixes beat Lee's pocket fives. The money went in before the flop and both players hit full houses. That hand sent Moorman's stack to almost one million. 2012 Big One for One Drop winnerAntonio Esfandiari (pictured) is also still alive and has the 15th largest stack at 249,000. "The Magician" luck-sacked his way to an elimination of Fernando Brito late on Monday after he spiked a king with K-Q against Q-Q. He has $21.1 million in career WSOP winnings and is #2 on poker's all-time money list. Eleventh place belongs to Bertrand ElkY Grospellier, who has a stack of 471,000. The French bracelet winner will record his first 2015 WSOP cash in this tournament and is seeking his first final table since 2013. Finally, we wanted to single out PocketFivers Jordan Jymaster0011Young and Jason JAKoon1985Koon, who are at #17 and #14 on the leaderboard, respectively. Young was #1 in the PocketFives Rankings in 2011, while Koon cracked the top 40 in 2009. Both are in search of their first bracelet. The $1,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament restarts at 1:00pm Pacific Time on Tuesday from the Rio in Las Vegas. 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.
  14. Episodes 3 and 4 of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event on ESPNaired on Monday night, going head-to-head with the offensive debacle known as Monday Night Football. There were 416 players left on Day 4 when coverage began and Joe dude904McKeehen held the chip lead. Joe Hachem was the sole Main Event winner left. --- 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. --- Whereas last week's episodes were all about Phil Hellmuth, this week Daniel Negreanu (pictured), who was seated at the featured table, was the centerpiece. The first episode began with Phil Laak calling all-in pre-flop against Christian charder Harder. Laak had A-K to Harder's aces and couldn't pull out the win, ending his Main Event run. Then, inaugural One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari (pictured) had a player with 6-6 all-in before the flop. Esfandiari showed K-J of diamonds and hit a jack on the flop, winning the critical flip and boosting his stack by 55%. Former blackjack dealer Lance kingpin023 Harris checked on the river of a J-5-A-7-J board with A-K. An opponent with 9-8 bet 155,000 and Harris called, raking in the pot. Back at the featured table, Negreanu, holding pocket sevens, raised to 22,000 and Austin Lewis3bet all-in with A-K of spades. Lewis called Negreanu's hand before "Kid Poker" rolled over his hole cards and the board came 10-5-10-9-4. Negreanu boosted his stack by 22% amid phrases like "You might be just doing that bully thing on me too" and "I wonder what would happen if I stuck this fork in my eye." To start the second episode, Hachem moved all-in with jacks, but ran into aces. His opponent spiked a set on the flop and Hachem was drawing dead after the turn. It was his first Main Event cash since 2009. Negreanu remained busy, putting a player who had bottom two pair all-in when Negreanu had a flush. His opponent wisely folded and Negreanu's stack soared to over 1.1 million. Fellow pro Esfandiari, meanwhile, called all-in pre-flop with pocket tens and held against A-K of hearts. His father, Bijan, cheered him on from the rail as Esfandiari yelled, "Holy **** I won a flip. It's been like three years." Three-time Olympic medalist Fatima Moreira de Melo (pictured) made a deep run in this year's Main Event, but bit the dust on Day 4 after running A-6 into A-10. Then, PocketFiver Josh asdf26 Beckley triple-barreled with a busted flush draw, but got his opponent to lay down second pair. Monday night's coverage ended with Esfandiari putting a player all-in who had 8-8 when "The Magician" held Q-7 of clubs. Esfandiari fell short and his stack dropped to five big blinds. However, he doubled up with A-10 against A-J and again with 10-6 against K-J to stay in the hunt as the screen faded to black. New WSOP on ESPN episodes will air on Wednesday, September 30 at 9:00pm ET. Then, the action permanently moves to Sundays starting October 4. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  15. After several delays, Joe "Chicago Joey" Ingram finally was able to bring poker pro Antonio Esfandiari (pictured) to his "Poker Life" podcast after the conclusion of the 2015 World Series of Poker. Over the span of roughly 45 minutes, the duo talked about a wide array of subjects that were poker and non-poker related. The podcast got off to a fun start as Ingram joshed with Esfandiari, telling the audience that they had been trying to pull something together for "Poker Life" since December. "I didn't want to have to give you that $5,000 freeroll if I didn't show up this time," Esfandiari poked back at Ingram as they sat in the family room of Esfandiari's condo. After a bit more small talk, they broached a subject that has had the poker world buzzing of late. A few episodes prior to Esfandiari's appearance, Ingram welcomed European poker pro Lex Veldhuis. On that program, Veldhuis talked about Esfandiari, in particular calling him out for being phony. Apparently, the situation dated back to dinner arrangements at a tournament nearly a decade ago and it seems that Veldhuis was still steamed about the situation. Esfandiari spent far less time talking about the flap with Veldhuis, stating, "It was many years ago. I've kind of moved on since that time." After Ingram, who had a friendship with Veldhuis and admitted it to Esfandiari, spelled out the actual problem Veldhuis had, Esfandiari effectively ended the conversation by saying, "I really don't care what Lex thinks." After those tense moments, the conversation between Esfandari and Ingram (pictured) lightened as the former talked about his early life. "When I was growing up, my home country (Iran) was involved in a war with Iraq," he said. "It was consistently nerve-wracking to have to deal with bombings on a daily basis, the fact that a home just down the street from you was destroyed and your house was still standing… My father took a huge chance getting our family out of Iran and I wake up every day glad to be in America." Known for his hard-living lifestyle when he was younger, Esfandiari admitted that he didn't take poker as seriously in the past. "I wanted to enjoy my youth as much as possible, and I did," he said to Ingram. "I really didn't start to take poker seriously until about three years ago." Even though he may not live the "rock star" life that he used to, Esfandiari passed along several tips about how to do Las Vegas right ("the biggest tip I can pass along is always use a professional host to get things set up"). Almost as well-known as his partying life is Esfandiari's relationship with Phil Laak. "He's one guy who has made life fun," Esfandiari said about Laak as he regaled Ingram's audience with a particularly funny story about their show "I Bet You" and an Ambien challenge that never made it to the air. Esfandiari also revealed that Laak was the man who taught him about money management. "We were in New York and I spent like $4,000 while we were there," Esfandiari said. "I only had about $3,000 more to my name and I said to Phil, 'I got to go home, I'm about out of money.' He said 'For the trip' and I replied 'No, altogether!" Esfandiari laughed. "You've spent more than 60% of what you're worth on this trip," Esfandiari remembered Laak (pictured) saying. "At that exact moment, Phil sat me down and taught me everything about money management." Capping off the show was a visit from the aforementioned Laak, indicating that the friendship between the two is still strong. Laak showed off a video of lake surfing at Lake Mead, but Esfandiari joked that "no one cares about watching you surf on your cell phone." The discussion between Esfandiari and Ingram may not be groundbreaking in its technical or strategic content, but it does feature a man who has become comfortable in the game as it has exploded over the past decade. The podcast can be found on iTunes or YouTube and is worth a look. Click here to watch it. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  16. [caption width="640"] Antonio Esfandiari is no stranger to high stakes, high pressure situations.[/caption] There are a number of ways in which a poker player can be disqualified from a tournament. On Sunday, Day 2 of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event, Antonio Esfandiari was disqualified and it had nothing to do with anything the Poker Tournament Directors Association has ever made a rule for. Esfandiari was disqualified for urinating into a bottle while at a table. You read that right. Mother nature called and rather than leave the table and head to the men's room, Esfandiari took care of business at the table. It turns out getting from the table to the men's room would have been all too painful thanks to a prop bet Esfandiari had made with Bill Perkins. To win the bet, Esfandiari had to lunge everywhere he went for 48 hours. Sunday was the second day of the bet and Esfandiari was apparently feeling the effects of lunging around the Atlantis Resort for two days straight. Before Day 2 began, Esfandiari took to Twitter to give an update on the prop bet and ended up foreshadowing the big incident of the day. Esfandiari's punishment was only for the Main Event and he is allowed to play other PCA events beginning Monday.
  17. [CAPTION=100%]Only four players remain in the WPT Champions Challenge.[/CAPTION] After three weeks of fan voting the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge is down to just four players. And surprisingly, there isn't a single number one seed remaining. When the voting closed for the Elite Eight, Antonio Esfandiari beat out Spades region number one Gus Hansen, Barry Greenstein beat out Diamonds region top seed Anthony Zinno, Phil Ivey dusted off Erik Seidel in the Hearts region and Jonathan Little, fresh off of beating out Daniel Negreanu, beat Doyle Brunson to advance. That round sets the final two matches with Esfandiari up against Ivey and Greenstein squaring off with Little. Each player brings a solid WPT resume to the penultimate round. Antonio Esfandiari WPT Earnings: $2,956,243 Wins - Final Tables - Cashes: 13 - 8 - 2 Antonio Esfandiari burst onto the WPT scene in 2002 with a near-miss third place finish at the Gold Rush event in Colma, CA and then solidified his place in the game with a win at the 2004 LA Poker Classic. That event had a field of 382 players with Esfandiari beating out Vinny Vinh heads up for the title. Nearly seven years later he added a second title to his resume, beating out a stacked final table with Ted Lawson, Kirk Morrison, John Racener, Vanessa Rousso and Andrew Robl to win $870,124. Phil Ivey WPT Earnings: $4,027,221 Wins - Final Tables - Cashes: 14 - 10 - 1 Phil Ivey is the only player in the final four with just one WPT title to his credit, but he has the most final tables out of all of them. Ivey made eight WPT final tables before broke through and won the LA Poker Classic in 2008. He has one runner-up finish, three third place finishes, two fifth and two sixth places. At the 2008 LAPC Ivey beat out a final table that included Konstantin Puchkov, Scott Montgomery and Nam Le to win $1,596,100. Barry Greenstein WPT Earnings: $2,427,428 Wins - Final Tables - Cashes: 20 - 5 - 2 During the poker boom Barry Greenstein made a name for himself as the "Robin Hood of Poker" on the World Poker Tour after donating a good chunk of his WPT winnings to charity. And there were a lot of winnings early on. In January 2004, Greenstein won $1,278,370 after taking down the World Poker Open in Tunica, MS. Two months later he finished fifth at the PartyPoker Million III for just under $200,000. Greenstein's second title came in 2006 at the WPT Invitational in Los Angeles. Jonathan Little WPT Earnings: $ 3,695,510 Wins - Final Tables - Cashes: 21 - 4 - 2 Jonathan Little won two WPT titles in 2007, spread over two seasons. His first win came at the Mirage Poker Showdown where he beat out Ivey, Darrell Dicken and Cory Carroll to win $1,091,795. He found himself in the winner's photo again six months later, this time at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Casino. There he beat out Mike Matusow, David Pham and Jonathan Jaffe to earn $1,120,310. He almost won a third title that year, finishing second behind Scott Clements at the North American Poker Championships in Niagara Falls. Final Four voting is open now through Friday, April 1. Voting for in the championship round runs April 1 - April 8 and the winner will be announced on Monday, April 11.
  18. With over $26 million in live tournament winnings, high-stakes pro Antonio Esfandiari (pictured) is one of the most successful poker players of all time. He has captured three World Series of Poker bracelets, including one for the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop, where he won an eye-popping $18 million for his first place finish. To promote his upcoming "Pokerography" documentary on Poker Central, the Las Vegas-based grinder answered questions from fans in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread, discussing everything from crazy prop bets to the players he fears most at the tables. Esfandiari hadn't always dreamed of playing poker for a living. Before he won millions of dollars at the tables, his goal was to become a professional magician. Soon after the money started coming in from Texas Hold'em, however, his career in magic became an afterthought. While known as a fierce opponent in live tournaments and cash games, Esfandiari was never much into online poker. "I was an online fish," he said. "Online was just never my thing. I don't like playing when I can't see my opponents." These days, his opponents include some of the best poker minds in the world, many of which he faced during the 2012 Big One for One Drop tournament. He cites that year's final table lineup as the toughest he has ever faced: "Ivey, Seidel, Marchese, Ben Lamb, Nick Schulman, among others. I never felt like I had an edge. They're all wizards," he said. He also listed several other players whose game he respects, like Scott Seiver (pictured), whom he described as "pretty tough to crack," and Brian tsarrast Rast, whom he referred to as the "best and toughest" grinder around. In a strange hypothetical, Esfandiari was asked to pick one player to play in a deep-stack tournament against the top 200 other players in the world. "If your player loses," "DatGreg" said, "the Earth will explode immediately." After first jokingly responding with "Hellmuth," he chose poker pro Niklas Heinecker, calling him "a boss." There were several questions on how much total money Esfandiari had won through poker or had saved or invested. Instead of answering them directly, he told the story of a prop bet he lost against actor Don Cheadle. "[We] played a heads-up match where if I lost, I had to do a full-blown magic show at his house in a top hat for him and his guests," Esfandiari said. "If I won, he had to come over and cook for me and up to 25 of my guests in a chef's apron. Of course, I lost, and now I owe him a magic show." The 36-year-old also spoke about his work as a commentator at this year's WSOP Main Event final table. "I didn't like my commentary on day one, but I thought I did well day two and three," he said. He added that he loved the buildup provided by the November Nine final table format and touched on how to fix the excessive "tanking" prevalent in this year's finale. "The best fix is a shot clock much like they had in the Super High Roller Bowl," he said. He also advised making other changes, like banning "anything that hides you," including hoodies and sunglasses, both of which were prohibited in the Super High Roller Bowl this year. While he only admitted to reading just two poker books in his life – "Super System" and "Winning Low Limit Hold'em" – Esfandiari wrapped up the AMA with a little nugget of advice for aspiring poker pros. "Always fold when you know you're beat. Money saved is money earned," he said. Check out Esfandiari's Pokerography episode on Poker Central this Sunday at 8pm ET. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  19. [caption width="640"] A little over one year after launching, StakeKings co-founder Tyler Hancock has seen the company grow to be a respected part of the poker community.[/caption] Buying and selling pieces of poker players has a long, storied history. While some of that history includes fantastic moments, like Joe Cada hugging his backer, Cliff Josephy, as the dealer dealt the river card sealing Cada’s 2009 WSOP Main Event victory, there’s also been horror stories of players overselling, taking a stake from a backer and then disappearing or flat out refusing to pay after a big score. Over the last year though, an avid poker player and entrpreneur, has been working night and day with his partners to take the staking world from hand-written notes and handshakes to a more digital offering, with player protection and transaction transparency in mind. “I had been playing poker and running a variety of staking related sites/small staking stables for quite awhile when I met two people who were looking to launch a poker staking app,” said Tyler Hancock. “A lot of things weirdly fell into place and the three of us hit it off as if we had been working together on this idea for years.” And with that, StakeKings.com was born. Rather than build the product they thought players would want, Hancock and his partners actually reached out to a number of respected players and involved them in the development process. “We were able to work together to launch the beta, and shortly after brought on board Dylan Hortin, Rupert Elder, and Jeff Gross to be the pros who tested out the beta platform by selling action to their fans/viewers on Twitch,” said Hancock. “I can honestly say that if someone had told us up front all of the initial hurdles and stress that would come with getting StakeKings off the ground, I don't know if we would have even made the attempt.” Over the last year Hancock says he’s learned a lot about himself and business as the company went from cool idea to company to market leader. What he’s most thankful for though is that the company has earned the trust of users – sellers and buyers – in a market that desperately required it. “We have created incredible software that makes buying and selling action extremely simple and secure. Seeing that we only work with trusted players that are all under contract, there has never been a case of someone not paying in the nearly 10,000 packages that have been sold,” said Hancock. “We pride ourselves on having the most responsive customer service that I think you can find anywhere in the poker industry. If there is one thing that we are most proud of during our first year it is how accessible we are to our users and how responsive we have been to user feedback.” The site is built on user feedback. Not just the standard websites of any website in any industry, but probably more importantly, the pricing of the product. Players selling packages on StakeKings are able to set their own prices. “Pros are able to set their own markups, and if a pro happens to be selling their markups too high then the market usually lets them know that fairly quickly,” said Hancock. “We work with an incredible group of pros who are looking to engage with poker fans from around the world and give them a sweat, so this is rarely an issue that we personally need to step in and deal with.” One of the biggest growth factors for StakeKings has been the popularity of poker on Twitch. Poker fans went from just watching their favorite players to having a rooting financial interest that always has the potential to pay off in a big way. “The users on our site who are buying action range from low limit grinders to hedge fund managers and celebrities looking for a fun sweat,” said Hancock. “The majority of the users are looking to get a small piece of some of their favorites pros and Twitch streamers who sell action, which makes watching the tournaments much more exciting when you have a piece.” Fans at home buying pieces of a player and then sweating along with them on Twitch is one thing, but last October the company hit a bit of a homerun when they partnered with one of the November Nine to sell action to the WSOP final table. Only problem was, in a table full of players with backgrounds in online poker, it was the unknown Qui Nguyen that they partnered with. Still, fans loved the idea and bought action and then watched as Nguyen took down the title, winning $8 million in the process. Five Biggest Score from Pro Packages That Sold 1%+ on StakeKings Qui Nguyen - WSOP 2016 Main Event - $8,000,000 Brian Rast - WSOP 2016 Event #55 PPC - $1,296,097.00 Charlie Carrel - PSC Bahamas Super High Roller $100,000 - $1,191,900 Brian Rast - Aria $100K High Roller - $971,000 Antonio Esfandiari - WSOP One Drop High Roller - $263,312 While Nguyen’s hit was a one-time deal, there are a group of strong successful pros that have been most active on StakeKings including two former #1-ranked players on PocketFives, Bryan ‘bparis’ Paris and Chris ‘Gettin Daize’ Oliver, Twitch star and 888poker ambassador Parker ‘Tonkaaaa’ Talbot, as well as Gross and Carrel.
  20. In what might go down as one of the strangest endings to a day in World Series of Poker Main Event history, play was halted nearly 90 minutes early on Monday night as a Las Vegas storm caused a power outage inside the Rio Hotel & Convention center. The lights in the Amazon Room went dark at 11:20 pm PT, forcing tournament staff to reach WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel by phone to discuss options. Players were sent on an unscheduled break that lasted until 11:40 pm when they were told they'd be bagging up to return to play on Tuesday. The biggest stack heading into Day 6 is Houston's Michael Dyer with 12,180,000. Dyer is the only player to end up with eight-figure stack. Dyer was responsible for the elimination of former November Niner and #1-ranked PocketFiver in 123rd when his ace-king outran Josephy's pocket kings. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Brian Yoon bagged up the second biggest stack with 8,395,000. While he might be almost four million behind Dyer, he leads the third biggest stack, belonging to Jeff Trudeau, by just 95,000. Isreal's Hari Bercovici sits fourth and Belgium's Bart Lybaert ended up fifth. There were 201 players eliminated on Day 5 including the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, Scott Davies, Ivan Demidov, Paul Volpe, Ben Yu, Rocco Palumbo, Jonathan Hilton, Kyle Julius, Ema Zajmovic, Chino Rheem, Jake Schwartz and Daniel Alaei. Action resumes at 11 am PT Tuesday. Top 10 Chip Counts Michael Dyer - 12,180,000 Brian Yoon - 8,395,000 Jeffery Trudeau - 8,305,000 Hari Bercovici - 7,650,000 Bart Lybaert - 7,530,000 Karen Goncalves - 6,940,000 Peter Campo - 6,935,000 Konstantin Beylin - 6,930,000 Alexander Gross - 6,755,000 Artem Metalidi - 6,525,000
  21. The World Poker Tour will close out 2018 action with the prestigious WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The tournament, held at the iconic Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be the eighth WPT Main Tour stop of Season XVII. It’s an event that comes with a $10,400 buy-in and has been a part of the World Poker Tour schedule since the very first season. The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,400 Main Event kicks off Tuesday, December 11, 2018, and runs through Saturday, December 15. The format calls for 40,000 in starting chips, big blind ante, registration until the start of the 12th level, and unlimited reentry until the close of registration. Levels will be 60 minutes long on Day 1 and 90 minutes long on Day 2, 3, and 4. The final table will be played with 60-minute levels until heads-up play. The full tournament festival begins Thursday, November 29. Rich Prizes, Storied History, and Legendary Champions The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic was the very first event on the World Poker Tour, held all the way back in 2002 when the WPT got its start. In that inaugural event, 146 players ponied up the $10,000. The one and only Gus Hansen emerged victorious to claim the $556,460 top prize and his first of three WPT titles. In Season III, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic had a $15,300 buy-in and an incredible first-place prize of more than $1.77 million. Winner the event was none other than Daniel Negreanu after he defeated the popular Humberto Brenes in heads-up play. Season V of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic attracted 583 entries and awarded a first prize of more than $2.2 million. Walking away with the title was Joe Hachem, who had just won the World Series of Poker Main Event one year prior. With the WPT Five Diamond victory, Hachem became the fourth player in poker history to own both WSOP Main Event and WPT titles, alongside Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen, and Carlos Mortensen. More stars of the game captured WPT Five Diamond titles in Season VI, Season VII, and Season VIII of the World Poker Tour. First, it was Eugene Katchalov winning in Season VI for $2.482 million. In Season VII, Chino Rheem took the title and $1.538 million. For Rheem, it was his first of three WPT titles. In Season VIII, Daniel Alaei scored first place for $1.428 million. As if the likes of Hansen, Negreanu, Hachem, Katchalov, Rheem, and Alaei weren’t enough, Antonio Esfandiari earned his second WPT title when he won the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Season IX for $870,124. Esfandiari returned to the final table the following season and earned a sixth-place finish worth $119,418. Then in Season XI, Esfandiari was back at the final table, taking fourth for $329,339. To date, Esfandiari has cashed six times in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, earning more than $1.4 million in total from the event through its first 16 editions. Dan Smith earned the WPT Five Diamond title for $1.161 million in Season XII. Then in Season XIII and Season XIV, both Mohsin Charania and Kevin Eyster won WPT Five Diamond for their second World Poker Tour titles. Charania won for $1.177 million, and Eyster won for $1.587 million. Record-Breaking Turnouts and Tosoc’s Back-To-Back Success In Season XV, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic drew a mammoth field of 791 entries, setting a new record for the WPT Five Diamond tournament and tying the all-time record for a $10,000 buy-in event in WPT history. That tournament created an enormous prize pool of more than $7.67 million and saw the top two places walk away with seven-figures scores - first place earned $1.938 million and second place won $1.124 million. James Romero defeated Ryan Tosoc in heads-up play to win the event. The following season, an even larger field turned out for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, with 812 entries setting new records for the largest turnout in the WPT Five Diamond event and a $10,000 buy-in WPT event. Nearly $7.9 million was up for grabs, and once again the top two places earned seven figures - first place took home $1.958 million and second place earned $1.134 million. In a jaw-dropping back-to-back run, Tosoc, who placed second the year before for $1.124 million, won the event for $1.1958 million. From the two-season WPT Five Diamond run, Tosoc earned $3.082 million in total prize money. Big Buy-In Events Galore In addition to the $10,400 Main Event, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic schedule features several big buy-in tournaments. Included in the Season XVII schedule are seven other events with buy-ins of $10,000 or more. They are, as follows. - Wednesday, December 5, at 2 p.m.: $10,000 buy-in Bellagio 10K PLO 02 - Thursday, December 6, at 2 p.m.: $10,000 buy-in Bellagio 10K PLO 03 - Friday, December 7, at 2 p.m.: $15,000 buy-in Bellagio 15K 8-Game 01 - Saturday, December 8, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 01 - Monday, December 10, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 02 - Friday, December 14, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 03 - Saturday, December 15, at 2 p.m.: $100,000 buy-in Bellagio 100K 01 There are also two $5,200 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments on the schedule. The first starts on Sunday, December 9, at 1 p.m., and the second starts on Thursday, December 13, at 1 p.m. *Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour.
  22. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Donnie is back from his wedding weekend just in time to talk about one of the strangest weeks in poker history. The guys cover the million dollar debt that Randall Emmett apparently owed to 50 Cent, the childish Twitter war between Daniel Negreanu and Shaun Deeb and some sort of boxing match between Antonio Esfandiari and Hollywood heavyweight Kevin Hart. They also talk about Negreanu's big announcement that he is selling action for the 2019 World Series of Poker with no markup. And it just wouldn't be an episode of The Fives in 2019 without an update on the dwindling fields in the PokerStars Sunday Million. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  23. The 2019 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro is in the books, and several huge winners emerged from the high-stakes poker series held at the Maestral Resort & Casino along the Adriatic Sea. Chief among them was Bryn Kenney, who won more than $4.1 million total and jumped to No. 4 on poker's all-time money list, per Hendon Mob. Kenney only cashed twice in the series, but both times he won the tournament. In the first, Kenney topped a field of 79 entries to win the HK$500,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event for HK$11.23 million ($1.43 million). In the second, he topped a field of 75 entries in the HK$1 million Main Event to win HK$21.3 million ($2.71 million). With those two wins, Kenney improved to just shy of $34.8 million in career live tournaments earnings, of which he's won more than $9.1 million in 2019 alone. Kenney’s previous best year on the live tournament felt was in 2017 when he won more than $8.5 million. Other big winners to come out of the 2019 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro include Rui Cao ($3.61 million), Paul Phua ($3.59 million), Nikita Badziakouski ($2.91 million), and Daniel Dvoress ($2.71 million). Both Phua and Dvoress cashed five times in the series and a total of 12 players earned combined prizes of more than $1 million. Top 10 Triton Poker Series Montenegro Money List Bryn Kenney - $4,145,235 Rui Cao - $3,611,013 Paul Phua - $3,594,983 Nikita Badziakouski - $2,912,467 Daniel Dvoress - $2,717,155 Arnaud Romain - $2,130,372 Daniel Tang - $1,976,217 Sam Greenwood - $1,943,613 Peter Jetten - $1,865,303 Ben Lamb - $1,192,009 Just outside of the top 10 were Kenneth Kiang and Seng 'Ivan' Leow, who cashed for $1.08 million and $1.06 million from the series, respectively. Triton Poker Series Montenegro Results HK$250,000 Eight-Handed NL Turbo Entries: 45 Prize Pool: HK$10,575,000 Steve O'Dwyer - HK$3,708,784 ($472,788) Isaac Haxton - HK$2,901,216 ($369,841
) Linus Loeliger - HK$1,720,000 ($219,262) Kok Beh - HK$1,240,000 ($158,073) Sam Greenwood - HK$1,005,000 ($128,115) [caption id="attachment_624174" align="alignnone" width="1354"] Bryn Kenney won two tournaments at the recent Triton Poker Series in Montenegro (photo: Triton Poker)[/caption] HK$500,000 Six-Handed NL Entries: 79 Prize Pool: HK$37,130,000 Bryn Kenney - HK$11,230,000 ($1,431,376) Daniel Dvoress - HK$7,430,000 ($947,028) Seng 'Ivan' Leow - HK$5,070,000 ($646,222) Sergio Aido - HK$3,820,000 ($486,897) Jason Koon - HK$2,970,000 ($378,556) Christoph Vogelsang - HK$2,300,000 ($293,158) Richard Yong - HK$1,820,000 ($231,977) Daniel Tang - HK$1,410,000 ($179,719) Cheong Ieng - HK$1,080,000 ($137,657) HK$100,000 Short Deck NL Ante Only Entries: 70 Prize Pool: HK$6,580,000 Winfred Yu - HK$2,040,000 ($259,952) Isaac Haxton - HK$1,370,000 ($174,576) Peter Jetten - HK$920,000 ($117,233) Leon Tsoukernik - HK$700,000 ($89,199) Steffen Sontheimer - HK$540,000 ($68,811) Ihor Shkliaruk - HK$420,000 ($53,520) Tam Lon - HK$330,000 ($42,051) Jordi Urlings - HK$260,000 ($33,131) HK$1,000,000 NL Main Event Entries: 75 Prize Pool: HK$70,500,000 Bryn Kenney - HK$21,300,000 ($2,713,859) Daniel Tang - HK$14,100,000 ($1,796,498) Peter Jetten - HK$9,600,000 ($1,223,148) Nikita Badziakouski - HK$7,260,000 ($925,005) Sam Greenwood - HK$5,650,000 ($719,873) Paul Phua - HK$4,440,000 ($560,609) Erik Seidel - HK$3,460,000 ($440,842) Matthias Eibinger - HK$2,680,000 ($341,462) Jason Koon - HK$2,050,000 ($261,193) HK$250,000 NL Turbo Entries: 37 Prize Pool: HK$8,972,500 Henrik Hecklen - HK$3,410,000 ($434,500) Alex Foxen - HK$2,200,000 ($280,323) Timothy Adams - HK$1,460,000 ($186,032) Daniel Dvoress - HK$1,052,500 ($134,109) Michael Watson - HK$850,000 ($108,306) HK$1,000,000 Short Deck NL Main Event Entries: 98 Prize Pool: HK$92,120,000 Rui Cao - HK$26,300,000 ($3,351,130) Paul Phua - HK$17,100,000 ($2,178,871) Arnaud Romain - HK$11,800,000 ($1,503,549) Daniel Dvoress - HK$9,070,000 ($1,155,694) Kenneth Kiang - HK$7,200,000 ($917,420) Ming Liu - HK$5,620,000 ($716,097) Choon Siow - HK$4,400,000 ($560,645) Isaac Haxton - HK$3,400,000 ($433,226) Timofey Kuznetsov - HK$2,630,000 ($335,113) Nikita Badziakouski - HK$2,300,000 ($293,065) Guang Lu - HK$2,300,000 ($293,065) HK$200,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Entries: 37 Prize Pool: HK$6,956,000 Hing Chow - HK$2,640,000 ($336,383) Ben Lamb - HK$1,706,000 ($217,375) Viacheslav Osipov - HK$1,130,000 ($143,982) Henrik Hecklen - HK$820,000 ($104,483) Wai Chan - HK$660,000 ($84,096) HK$200,000 Short Deck NL Ante Only Turbo Entries: 64 Prize Pool: HK$12,032,000 Quek Sheng - HK$3,700,000 ($471,416) Peter Jetten - HK$2,500,000 ($318,524) Paul Phua - HK$1,700,000 ($216,596) Kenneth Kiang - HK$1,292,000 ($164,613) Wai Chan - HK$980,000 ($124,861) John Gabe Patgorski - HK$770,000 $98,105) Daniel Dvoress - HK$610,000 ($77,720) Rui Cao - HK$480,000 ($61,157) [caption id="attachment_624175" align="alignnone" width="1354"] John Juanda was among the winners at the recent Triton Poker Series in Montenegro (photo: Triton Poker)[/caption] HK$250,000 Short Deck NL Ante Only Entries: 65 Prize Pool: HK$15,275,000 John Juanda - HK$4,720,000 ($601,358) Daniel Dvoress - HK$3,160,000 ($402,604) Wai Yong - HK$2,150,000 ($273,924) Peter Jetten - HK$1,620,000 ($206,398) Sergey Lebedev - HK$1,250,000 ($159,258) Daniel Cates - HK$980,000 ($124,858) Christopher Soyza - HK$780,000 ($99,377) Paul Phua - HK$615,000 ($78,355) HK$750,000 Short Deck NL Ante Only Entries: 52 Prize Pool: HK$38,122,500 Nikita Badziakouski - HK$13,300,000 ($1,694,397) Sam Greenwood - HK$8,600,000 ($1,095,625) Qiang Wang - HK$5,700,000 ($726,170) Paul Phua - HK$4,400,000 ($560,552) Andrew Robl - HK$3,422,500 ($436,021) Xuan Tan - HK$2,700,000 ($343,975) [caption id="attachment_624173" align="alignnone" width="1354"] Ben Lamb was another big name to score a victory at the recent Triton Poker Series in Montenegro (photo: Triton Poker)[/caption] HK$500,000 Short Deck NL Ante Only Entries: 42 Prize Pool: HK$20,080,000 Ben Lamb - HK$7,650,000 ($974,634) Arnaud Romain - HK$4,920,000 ($626,823) Seng 'Ivan' Leow - HK$3,250,000 ($414,060) Xuan Tan - HK$2,350,000 ($299,397) Timofey Kuznetsov - HK$1,910,000 ($243,340) HK$300,000 NL/Short Deck Mix Entries: 27 Prize Pool: HK$7,857,000 Daniel Cates - HK$3,930,000 ($500,682) Jason Koon - HK$2,367,000 ($301,556) Rui Cao - HK$1,560,000 ($198,744) Effect On Poker’s All-Time Money List The big results coming out of the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro caused plenty of shifting towards the top of poker’s all-time money list. As already mentioned, Kenney jumped to No. 4 overall. Jason Koon, who cashed three times in Montenegro for just under $1 million, slid up one spot ahead of Antonio Esfandiari to be No. 8. Isaac Haxton, who, like Koon, won just under $1 million from this series, is now No. 13 and Badziakouski jumped to No. 15. John Juanda, who won an event in Montenegro for just more than $600,000, actually dropped back to No. 14. Then, looking a bit further down the leaderboard, Phua can now be found at No. 62 on the list after winning $3.59 million in Montenegro. High roller and super high roller events are as plentiful as they have ever been on the poker circuit. Numerous stops have $25,000 or $50,000 buy-in events, and some even push the envelope even further with $100,000 price tags on the schedule. Then, there are several festivals a year that are solely dedicated to ultra high-stakes players, such as the Triton Poker Series festivals. If there was ever a 'steroid era' in poker, similar to what baseball went through for an extended period of time, most commonly referred to as the latter half of the 1990s and into the 2000s. It's not that poker players are using performance-enhancing drugs to boost their earnings, but rather that there’s such an injection of these super high buy-in small-field events that are causing grand shifts in money lists. It doesn’t appear that these events and festivals are going anywhere, so poker will need to go through a bit of a market correction and rankings adjustments to correctly account for the juiced results.
  24. 2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. Before jumping into who made #31-40, make sure you check out the names of the players who made #41-50. #40 - Jay Heimowitz BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 6 43 $1,526,281 22 New York’s Jay Heimowitz has captured six bracelets over the course of four decades, the first of which he won back in 1975 ($1,000 No Limit Hold'em). His sixth bracelet was won 26 years later in 2001, taking down the $1,000 Seniors’ Championship 26. At 81 years old, Heimowitz continues to make the trek to the World Series of Poker, having cashed in each of the last three Seniors events as he continues to add to his $1.5 million in WSOP career earnings. “Modern day players may not know the name Jay Heimowitz as he wasn’t one of the pre-Moneymaker grinders to make it big on TV during the boom. However, his resume speaks for itself and his consistency and dedication to the WSOP, having played and cashed in the series in every decade in its history, makes him one of the greats.” – PocketFives Senior Writer, Jeff Walsh. #39 - David ‘Chip’ Reese BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 25 $2,246,089 16 The man that Doyle Brunson once declared as “the best poker player that ever lived” was David ‘Chip’ Reese, winner of the WSOP's very first $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament for over $1.78M. After Reese’s death in 2007, the WSOP honored him by putting his name on the trophy for the prestigious event (later named the Poker Players Championship). Widely considered one of the best cash game players of his era, Reese made a lasting impact on the WSOP by winning three bracelets and over $2.2 million over the course of his 25 cashes. #38 - Chris Bjorin BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 2 92 $2,630,156 33 Sweden’s Chris Bjorin is a model of World Series of Poker consistency. His first WSOP cash came back in 1991 and he’s had a presence at the series ever since. Amassing 86 cashes in Las Vegas, and another six during the WSOPE, Bjorin has earned over $2.6 million from WSOP events, helping him to the #2 on Sweden’s All Time Money List, right behind WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson. Bjorin picked up bracelets in 1997 ($1,500 Pot Limit Omaha) and 2000 ($3,000 No-Limit Hold’em). "The consistent nature that Chris Bjorin brings to the WSOP is remarkable. He's one of Europe's most distinguished players and has been recording numerous cashes each summer at the WSOP for decades now. His success, done so through performances across all variants, served as a model for European players at the WSOP." - PocketFives Managing Editor Donnie Peters #37 - Sammy Farha BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 11 $2,586,105 6 Legendary gambler Sammy Farha’s contribution to the explosion of poker in the early 2000’s simply cannot be overlooked. With his unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth, Farha’s one-of-a-kind personality made almost as much impact on the WSOP as the man he sat across from at the final table of the 2003 Main Event. Farha, as we all know, finished runner-up to Chris Moneymaker, an event that served as ground zero for the poker boom. After that, Farha remained a fixture of the WSOP. He showed up and played in some of the biggest events of the series. He picked up two of his three gold bracelets after 2003, winning one in 2006 ($5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo) and another in 2010 ($10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo or Better Championship). "The character that is Sammy Farha is as important to WSOP history as is Sammy Farha the poker player. He epitomizes the gambler and his legend only grows in that regard when you realize his game of choice is and will always Omaha. Farha only has 11 WSOP cashes, but that's largely because he focuses on high-stakes cash game play and only really plays tournaments when they are Omaha. Even so, six of those 11 cashes have resulted in top 10 finished and three of them were bracelet wins. Omaha is the second most popular variant in WSOP history and Farha is one of the most iconic Omaha players the WSOP has ever seen." - Donnie Peters #36 - Jonathan Duhamel BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 41 $14,647,089 12 The first of the modern day Main Event winners to grace this list, Jonathan Duhamel seemed to come out of nowhere when he took down the 2010 Main Event for $8.9 million. That victory alone is not enough to land in the top 50 of all-time, however, Duhamel was more than a one-hit wonder. He continued to make the trip to Las Vegas and in the years since has tacked on two more bracelets. First, he won the $111,111 High Roller For One Drop in 2015 for another $3.989M and then added a WSOPE bracelet in the same year in the €25,600 NLHE High Roller for $628K. Duhamel has over $14.6M in WSOP earnings with 11 final tables over the course of 40 cashes. #35 - Dan Harrington BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 2 13 $3,534,237 5 Despite his limited WSOP resume, Poker Hall of Fame member “Action” Dan Harrington (and his iconic green Boston baseball cap) was an important presence during some of the biggest moments of the WSOP. In 1995, Harrington bested the 273 player field to take home the $1,000,000 first-place prize of the Main Event. He then made it back to the final table in 2003, finishing in third place to Farha and Moneymaker for $650,000. He navigated the field in 2004 to reach his third Main Event final table, finishing in fourth place for $1.5 million. “Harrington may only have 13 cashes at the World Series of Poker, but this results made a major impact on the WSOP brand and poker itself. His back-to-back final tables in the Main Event came just as cameras captured the birth of poker boom and Harrington’s Boston toughness at the table is something that still resonates with those in the pre-Moneymaker generation. Having had the opportunity to play with Harrington once, I can attest to his on-the-felt charisma that was broadcast to millions in 2003.” - Jeff Walsh #34 - Layne Flack BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 6 52 $2,803,470 20 The first time Layne Flack went to the World Series of Poker in the late ’90s, he was there to work as a dealer. After one week in the box, he switched sides and started his WSOP career as a player. Now, over 20 years later Flack has won six WSOP titles and over $2.8 million in earnings. Although he earned his nickname of ‘Back-to-Back’ Flack before 2003, Flack lived up to his moniker after winning a bracelet in the $2,500 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo and then jumping right into a $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout and taking that one down as well. #33 - Brian Rast BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 35 $6,012,256 11 Las Vegas pro Brian Rast has proven himself to be a favorite in just about any tournament he enters, having picked up four bracelets in his career and earned over $6 million at the WSOP. One of only two people to have won the prestigious $50,000 Poker Players Championship more than once, Rast picked up his first PPC victory in 2011, denying Phil Hellmuth the win, and taking home $1.7M for first. Then in 2016, he bested current All-Time Money List leader Justin Bonomo to pick up his second Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and another $1.29M prize. "Rast is a very special breed of poker player. He doesn't play a 30-40 event schedule each summer in pursuit of Player of the Year points. He picks and chooses the events where he has an edge and then crushes them. Having won the Poker Players Championship twice, Rast has proven his mettle against the best players of his era. If we do this list again in ten years, I suspect Rast will be higher up the list." - Lance Bradley, PocketFives Editor in Chief. #32 - Jeff Madsen BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 68 $2,958,415 13 In 2006, when 21-year-old Jeff Madsen won his first gold bracelet in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $660,948, he became the record holder for the youngest bracelet winner in history (a distinction that now belongs to Annette Obrestad). Madsen followed that performance in the same year with a victory in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Six Max for another $643,381. His success in his first year earned him WSOP Player of the Year honors. Madsen has returned to the Rio every year since 2006, accumulating 73 cashes for nearly $3M in earnings and adding another two bracelets in 2013 and 2015. #31 - Antonio Esfandiari BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 48 $21,835,096 9 One of the most popular players on the planet is the bracelet winner of what was the largest tournament ever held at the World Series of Poker, the 2012 $1M buy-in Big One For One Drop. ‘The Magician’ was literally lifted in the air, on the shoulder of his rail, after claiming the first-place prize of $18.3M, the current record for largest payout ever at the WSOP. The iconic image of a barefoot Esfandiari basking in the victory of a lifetime is the current peak of a WSOP career that dates back to 2003. Esfandiari claimed his first bracelet in 2004 ($2,000 Pot Limit Hold’em) and added a third bracelet after his One Drop win, by taking home a €1,100 No Limit Hold’em title from World Series of Poker Europe. In addition to his 48 cashes and over $21M in lifetime earnings, Esfandiari’s personality has been affiliated with the WSOP brand in front of the camera, both on the felt and in the commentary booth on ESPN. For more discussion on PocketFives' Top 50 Greatest Players in WSOP History, check out the latest episode of The Fives podcast. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher Stay tuned to PocketFives as we continue to count down the 50 greatest players in WSOP history leading up to the start of the 2019 festival.
  25. The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame finalists includes nine World Series of Poker bracelet winners, three former Main Event champions, and for the first time ever, a magician. Well, The Magician. Antonio Esfandiari, once known as 'The Magician, is the only first-time finalist in the group of 10 players selected by the WSOP Hall of Fame Committee that will now be voted on by living Hall of Fame members and a select panel of poker media and industry personnel. The top two vote-getters will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame later this summer. Voters are tasked with considering the following criteria when awarding their votes: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. The other nine finalists are Chris Bjorin, David Chiu, Eli Elezra, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Mike Matusow, Chris Moneymaker, David Oppenheim, and Huck Seed. The final group of 10 was put together by the "WSOP Hall of Fame Committee". In years past, the public was invited to submit names for inclusion with the 10 most-suggested names being the finalists. This marks Bjorin's seventh time as a finalist. No other player has been nominated as often as the two-time bracelet winning Swede. Now 71, Bjorin has earned $5.75 million in lifetime earnings. He's been nominated in seven of the last eight years. Chiu has now been a finalist six times, including the last three in a row. The 58-year-old has five WSOP bracelets, won the WPT World Championship in 2008, and has just over $8,000,000 in lifetime earnings. Ferguson, Moneymaker, and Seed are all former Main Event champions. For Ferguson, this marks a return to the list of finalists. His only previous nomination came in 2010, before Black Friday and the Full Tilt Poker scandal. He's since won WSOP Player of the Year, a sixth bracelet and cashed 65 more times. Moneymaker was previously a finalist in 2016 and 2018. The 2003 WSOP Main Event champion is credited with being an integral part of poker's explosion in popularity in the mid-2000s. So much so, that it's often called 'The Moneymaker Effect'. Seed has four bracelets, including the 1996 Main Event championship. He also won the 1998 Carnivale of Poker and the 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Matusow, who has four WSOP bracelets, is a finalist for the fifth time. He won the 2013 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship and has just over $9.5 million in lifetime earnings. Six WSOP bracelets, an NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship title, and a World Poker Tour victory are just the highlights from Forrest's tournament resume. He was also an integral figure in the Andy Beal cash games in the mid-2000s. Fresh off of winning his fourth bracelet, Elezra's nomination is his second. He was a finalist first in 2016. Oppenheim is the only player nominated that has not won a WSOP bracelet. Mainly a cash game player, Oppenheim has $1,866,190 including just nine WSOP cashes, three of which came in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. The 2019 Poker Hall of Fame inductees will be announced during the WSOP Main Event in early July.
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