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Found 14 results

  1. Not everyone is ready for a return to live poker in Las Vegas but for those that are, there are plenty of games to choose from. More than six months after the Sin City Strip was forced to close its doors in response to the coronavirus crisis, many of the most popular card rooms in the city, including Bellagio, Aria, and The Venetian, have adapted to new health standards and found a way to get back to business. It’s not just the poker rooms that have been forced to readjust. The players who have made the decision to venture back into the casinos are returning to a game drastically different from the one they left. New regimented cleaning protocols, short-handed tables, limited room capacity, and plexiglass barriers have all been put in place and have quickly become the new norm. And, of course, wearing a mask is non-negotiable. With so much uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19, it’s understandable why many would opt to stay away. However, some professional and recreational players have reconciled with the current reality in order to get back to the live grind. “I think the concern with COVID is actually pretty low,” said professional poker player Christian Soto, talking about the vibe around the table. “At least at the Bellagio, where it seems like it’s doing a relatively good job. Every dealer change they wipe down a table. Every time a person quits, they wipe down that area. There’s the plexiglass, all that stuff, that kind of eases the concerns of COVID just because of how much effort is going into that.” “And I think that partially they amped that up because early on there were two or three cases of COVID right away at Bellagio.” Soto’s a self-described ‘live pro’, an instructor at the Solve For Why Academy, and frequent tweeter of threads that capture his high-stakes cash game journey. He’s been putting in a lot of hours as of late, getting up early to ensure himself a seat in his game of choice. But before he was able to get back in action he had to feel right about returning. “So, initially I was, ‘Okay, well how does it get transmitted? How easy is it to go from one person to another?’ And once we got a little bit more information, it’s not airborne and you really have to contract it by somebody coughing or sneezing or leaving it on the table…once we got that information, then I was, ‘Okay, well I think certain casinos are doing a pretty decent job at the table. As long as I’m doing my part, using hand sanitizers, stuff like that, then I think we’re good,” Soto said. For a pro like Soto, a return to the tables is part of his livelihood. For "Anthony" (who preferred to not have his real name used), a recreational player from New York City, it was an invite from his Zoom online poker group to go to Las Vegas in early September that marked the first time he’d done any real venturing out into the world in six months. “I don’t know. I think at a certain point, I think that we’ve got far enough in it where I felt like if I keep my mask on in public, and I have hand sanitizer and I’m not in really close quarters with anyone, like close quarters in terms of socializing in a large group, I felt like it was probably safe,” Anthony said. “I was not expecting there to be very big crowds. They were bigger than I expected, but I also was ready to leave if I needed to, if I felt unsafe.” Depending on who you talk to, perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the Las Vegas live scene are those crowds. With limited capacity, to ensure social distancing, rooms are experiencing long waitlists and are granting reduced lobby times for in-game players to keep their short-handed games running. “There’s more demand that there is availability in my opinion,” Soto said. “I’ve had to show up at Bellagio at six in the morning because if you don’t get there early you’re not going to get a seat for many, many, many hours. It’s insane. I’m not even joking, if you show up at 1:00 p.m. you’re going to have to wait three or four hours.” A floor supervisor who is currently working in a Las Vegas poker room and wished not to be named agreed that, while there are plenty of players who have decided to avoid the poker rooms, the demand for poker is there. “There is certainly a level of demand for poker in Las Vegas currently, even in its current state,” they said. “There are some pros willing to play under these conditions, but a good number have stayed away for the time being for various concerns. The pros I’ve spoken to recently remark that the games they have to choose from are ‘softer’ due to the reduction of pros populating them presently.” The supervisor speculates that pros are spending more time online or in the much talked about Las Vegas private games which is leading to a group of players at the table who “have never stepped foot in the room” before. They are also of the opinion that some of the early games in returning from the shutdown may have played higher with an influx of “pandemic money”, funds that may have been received from unemployment or severance, combined with people headed into Las Vegas to take advantage of cheap room rates aimed at rebooting the gaming economy. “There is a very limited level of concern expressed by players in the room. For the most part, the folks who are uncomfortable with being here, simply aren’t here. We still get phone calls from time-to-time asking what safety measures and precautions are in place, but the folks actually stepping foot in the room, they’re sated by the measures in place or don’t voice their concerns.” The players aren’t the only ones affected by the threat of COVID as the dealers and staff are also asked to deal with the current conditions. Unlike the players, these individuals are required by their employment to be on the premises. “When we all shut down in March I was apprehensive about what measures would be in place upon re-open, and was unsure how comfortable I was going to be spending time in a setting that - let’s face it - has never been highly regarded for its hygiene,” they said. “When the glass was put up, the masks became mandatory for everyone, the cleaning of the tables and cards, etcetera…it all came to fruition, I felt as though everything that could be done realistically was being done,” they said. ”I commend the time and thought put forth by the majority of operators in town. My apprehension has given way to being comfortable in a day-to-day routine. I know what to expect, which leads to peace of mind I suppose. “The majority of the staff at this point is on the same page, the only real difficulty is playing whack-a-mole with the players being lax on wearing masks properly. It tends to be exhausting. There are always people who pretend to be drinking their tea for 45 minutes at a time, with their mask hanging off an ear, things like that. It is an additional burden placed upon the floor staff, mainly because while we ask dealers to enforce the masks, they fear being militant with players about masks will impact their tips.” [caption id="attachment_632777" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] A busy Caesars poker room on Labor Day, 2020. (photo credit: @LuckysLasVegas Twitter)[/caption] While there may be some who are in opposition to masks, unconcerned with the comfort or safety of those around them, the enforcement of sanitary standards is part of what is keeping the live scene in action. That and the large plastic barriers which keep a group playing together also isolated from each other. For many, poker is considered a social game, where one would think barriers would dampen the enjoyment of playing. “I think some people that I play against are actually more comfortable with the plexiglass and the mask and things like that,” Soto said. “Generally, poker players are rather introverted. So this just gives them another barrier and they’re actually a little bit more comfortable than they normally are, which is a weird thing. It’s backward thinking, but it’s somehow, giving them more barriers, ends up being a good thing for them. They’re more comfortable and actually more relaxed than they usually are. “It could be something like that where it almost feels they're just very similar to being at home in front of a computer where they're just kind of in their own box. They're not necessarily around anybody. So, they feel a lot more comfortable than usual.” For Anthony, the barriers not only help soothe some health concerns but they also removed some of the other negative elements of live poker. “I pretty quickly liked them a lot,” Anthony said. “Some people complained about the dividers and not being able to hear, but I didn’t feel like it was that big a problem. There were very few instances where a hand was turned over before it should have been because the person couldn’t hear. “I personally loved having all the space. There were some of those stereotypical issues of the person sitting next to you smelling or taking up too much space or being too loud. A lot of that was mitigated by them. Did I like that it hurt some of the table talk? That was definitely reduced, except for a couple of very social, loud people.” Anthony took it a step further saying he was “hoping the dividers are here to stay” and that he enjoyed his week-long experience of playing short-handed poker in Vegas, even in a pandemic. “I did have a good time. I would have had a better time if I won a little more,” he said. “It was nice to be back. “I don’t know if I ever felt 100% comfortable. It’s going to be a long time before we ever feel comfortable. I think until the fire is under control and you feel comfortable in the people running the country. So at a certain point, you have to be like ‘We got to get on with our lives.’ Part of that is the entertainment of stress relief. “Are there better choices than going to Vegas? Almost certainly.” Since returning home to New York, Anthony has tested negative for both COVID and its antibodies. photo credit: @LuckysLasVegas
  2. The man who allegedly used a BB gun to brazenly rob a cashier at the Bellagioin Las Vegas last weekend has been apprehended and charged with a myriad of offenses. --- 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! --- Scott Carmitchel (pictured), 34, appeared in court on Tuesday with a spit mask on his head and a blanket covering his body. He was charged with one count of interference with commerce by robbery at the Bellagio and one count of armed bank robbery at the City National Bank on East Tropicana Avenue. Carmitchel didn't speak a word and kept his eyes shut throughout the entire hearing. Authorities say the 34-year-old walked up to the cashier's cage of the Bellagio at 8:30pm on Friday, pulled an orange-tipped gun out of his backpack, and demanded cash from a female employee. The woman handed over $43,500 to the suspect, who promptly fled the scene. Detectives were led to Carmitchel when a tourist told police that the man had offered him $300 to rent a room for him at the Hard Rock Hotel. Investigators set up surveillance on the room and were able to detain and question four prostitutes who left the suite. They said that they had been hired to "socialize" with the man and carried wads of cash, some of which were labeled "Bellagio Count Team." They also said the man had taken them on a shopping spree at the Forum Shops in Caesars and had been acting erratically. One described the suspect as "an average to unfortunate looking white male with an athletic build." The women were arrested and charged with trespassing. Authorities later entered the room and found the clothing the assailant had worn during the robbery, a BB gun, $10,000 cash, Louis Vuitton shoes, and other luxury clothing items. Carmitchel claimed the women were simply workout buddies and that he had found a bag of money in the Bellagio parking lot. When confronted with a picture of the suspect from a surveillance camera, the man said it was him, but denied taking part in the robbery. "I was smoking too much I guess," he told detectives. From the evidence found at the hotel room, police were also able to link Carmitchel to a bank robbery that had taken place just three days earlier. Security footage showed that a man wearing the same outfit as the Bellagio suspect and donning the same orange-tipped BB gun entered a branch of the City National Bank demanding money. "I want you to put all your money in this backpack," he allegedly told a cashier, who handed over $4,355. This isn't Carmitchel's first brush with the law. The 34-year-old is a Kansas Department of Corrections parolee who served time for battery against a law enforcement officer in 1998. Last year, he was also convicted of making a criminal threat in the state. Authorities initially suspected Jesse Jones, a 6'2", 250-pound man with the words "white pride" tattooed under his eyebrows. They apprehended Jones due to the fact that his fingerprints were found at the scene of another bank robbery that took place in June. The man is no longer a suspect in the Bellagio incident, but remains a person of interest in the June heist. Carmitchel's public defender, Mike Wilfong, has stated that he would need a social worker to help with his combative client while he prepares his defense. Carmitchel is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday morning to face two counts of battery against a protected person. "I have not had any conversations with the US Attorney's Office about them taking the lead or us taking the lead," Wolfson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We filed charges. We're proceeding towards a preliminary hearing date." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. According to PokerNews, Todd Brunson (pictured) took $5 million off billionaire Andy Beal over the weekend. The game was $50,000/$100,000 Heads-Up Limit Hold'em inside Bobby's Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. PokerNews explained, "Each bought in for $5 million and when all was said and done, Brunson held all the chips." Poker pro Kyle Loman was on-hand for the action, although shut out of the room itself, and reported via Twitter on Friday and Saturday. He ended with, "Thanks everyone for the love and follows about the HU match last night. I play for a living and am still a super fan. So fun 4 me to see it." Todd Brunson's father, Doyle Brunson, was in attendance for part of the heads-up session, which began with 20 people in Bobby's Room. The younger Brunson was up $7 million to $3 million early on before Beal rebounded, according to Loman. However, Brunson went back on the offensive, with Loman Tweeting, "Todd: 7 Beal: 3. There are only 3 people in Bobby's Room now: Todd, Beal, and the dealer." Beal battled back to even once more before the tide shifted permanently in favor of Brunson. Loman Tweeted when all was said and done: Beal has a history against both Brunsons, as the two were part of the famed "Corporation" that went toe-to-toe with the billionaire about 10 years ago. PokerNews explained, "Despite winning a massive $11.7 pot on May 13, 2004, Beal ended up quitting the game, only to return in February 2006 for more action. He quickly lost $3.3 million; went on a three-day, $13.6 million upswing; and then lost $16.6 million to Ivey in a separate three-day match. It was at that point Beal claimed he was done with poker." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. [caption width="640"] James Romero earned almost million and etched his name on the WPT Champions Cup with his Season XV Five Diamond Win.(WPT photo/Joe Giron)[/caption] The World Poker Tour Five Diamond Poker Classic is one of the tougher WPT fields each year. The Bellagio event draws some of the best poker players in the world to Las Vegas each December and the list of previous champions is a testament to that. Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, Mohsin Charania, Dan Smith and Antonio Esfandiari are just a few of the players who have captured the title. The record-sized field that showed up in Las Vegas this past week for the Season XV Five Diamond Classic was star-studded, but in the end it was a relatively unknown player, playing his first WPT event, that managed to capture the title and the nearly $2,000,000 first place prize. James Romero topped a final table that included Justin Bonomo, Igor Yaroshevskyy and Jake Schindler to earn the first live win of his career. Romero came in to the final table with over 40% of the chips in play and never relinquished his lead, eliminating four of the five players that stood between himself and the title. Yaroshevskyy was one of just two players at this final table and came in*with the fourth largest stack, but that didn't stop him from being the first*player eliminated. With blinds at 50,000/100,000, Yaroshevskyy moved all in*from UTG for 1,420,000 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="ts"] and Romero called from the big blind with*[poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"]. The [poker card="7h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2d"] flop left Romero ahead and when Yaroshevskyy failed* to connect with the [poker card="9c"] turn or [poker card="3d"] river he was out in sixth place. The*$268,545 sixth place cash is he third biggest of his career, falling behind his*second place in a 2015 World Series of Poker $5000 NLHE Turbo ($303,767) and a*fourth place finish at the 2015 WPT LA Poker Classic ($333,680). Two hands later Justin Bonomo joined Yaroshevskyy in the payouts line.*Schindler raised to 225,000 from the cutoff before Bonomo moved all in for*995,000. Schindler called and tabled [poker card="7c"][poker card="7d"] while Bonomo showed [poker card="5h"][poker card="5s"]. The*[poker card="qc"][poker card="jc"][poker card="7s"] flop left Bonomo needing runner-runner fives. The turn was [poker card="ad"] to*officially seal Bonomo's fate before the [poker card="ah"] hit the river. Three hands later Romero found himself another victim. Action folded to Alex*Condon on the button and he moved all in for 1,170,000 with [poker card="qc"][poker card="9c"] and Romero*called from the big blind with [poker card="5c"][poker card="5s"]. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="jh"][poker card="8h"] flop gave Condon*extra outs but neither the [poker card="as"] turn or [poker card="7d"] *were any help and he was*eliminated in fourth place. After three eliminations in the span of five hands, the pace slowed down but at no point Romero continued to build up his lead. After 2.5 hours of three-handed play, and with Romero holding almost 75% of the chips, he used his overwhelming lead to bust another player. Ryan Tosoc folded his button, Romero called from the small blind before Schindler moved all in for just over 4,000,000 from the big blind. Romero called and tabled [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"] while Romero showed [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"]. The board ran out [poker card="kd"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2c"][poker card="8d"][poker card="2s"] to give Romero the pot and eliminate Schindler, the only other player with a WPT final table appearance, in third place. Heads up action between Romero and Tosoc began with Romero holding a 7-1 lead. Tosoc managed a nearly full double early, but it only took 16 hands for Romero to end the party. Down to just 2,000,000, Tosoc moved all in pre-flop and Romero called. Tosoc tabled [poker card="5c"][poker card="5s"] but found himself up against Romero’s [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"]. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="jd"][poker card="9c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="6c"] run out made the elimination official and crowned Romero as champion, eliminating Tosoc in second place for $1,124,051. The $1,938,118 first place score doesn’t even push Romero’s lifetime live tournament earnings over $2,000,000. The 27 year old was previously focused on online poker and Las Vegas cash games. The event drew a field of 791 players, a record for this event. The previous largest Five Diamond field was in 2007 when 664 players entered the then-$15,000 buy-in event. The buy-in was lowered to $10,000 in 2010. The next WPT event is the Borgata Winter Poker Open in January. Final Table Payouts James Romero - $1,938,118 Ryan Tosoc - $1,124,051 Jake Schindler - $736,579 Alex Condon - $494,889 Justin Bonomo- $345,272 Igor Yaroshevskyy - $268,545
  5. [caption width="640"] Chris Moorman played the Bellagio ,000 High Roller and found himself in a tough spot against Sergio Aido (888poker photo)[/caption] I F*cked Up is a PocketFives series where the game's best tell stories of where they got it wrong. Mistakes happen every day in poker and let these players be the first to tell you it happens to everyone. Chris Moorman didn’t become the highest all-time winning online tournament player by making mistakes. Moorman’s career is filled with accolades and he added to them by winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet this summer. Moorman is in the midst of winding down his busy 2017 and entered the Bellagio Five Diamond $10,000 High Roller event last week. "I don't normally play high rollers, but I was playing good and it was a lower buy-in. I felt like testing myself," Moorman said. The tournament up to that point was relatively smooth for Moorman until he found himself tangled up in a pot with Sergio Aido. Moorman had it in his mind that he was about to win a big pot but not adjusting well to an unlucky river card dashed those plans. The Hand At an eight-handed table with the blinds at 1,000-2,500 with a 2,500 big blind ante, Moorman opened off of about 300,000 to 5,500 in the hijack with [poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"]. Aido three-bet to 20,000 out of the big blind and Moorman, who said he had folded previously to a few three-bets, decided to call in position. Aido continued for 17,000 on the [poker card="9c"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3h"] flop and Moorman called. “I like my position to call with my over cards and the flush draw. I’m also too deep to raise,” Moorman said. Moorman’s flush came in on the [poker card="6h"] and Aido fired 38,000 more. “I expected him to check,” Moorman said. “He doesn’t have many flush combinations. I thought he might have aces or ace-king with the ace of hearts. Maybe pocket kings or queens. He may fold if I shove if he doesn’t have a heart. There aren't many bad rivers and he doesn’t have many full houses. I called again.” The river came the [poker card="kh"], and Moorman called the fourth heart on board “disastrous.” Aido moved all-in for 90,000 and the thoughts Moorman had of becoming a dominating chip leader were in peril. “A lot of his range I put him on had the ace of hearts in it. At the time, I felt like I leveled myself and rushed into a position. I don’t play against these guys often and If I fold here, I could easily get exploited.” Moorman wound up making a “sigh call” and Aido showed him pocket aces with the ace of hearts. The hand took a major chunk out of Moorman’s stack and he wound up not cashing in the event. The Aftermath Moorman points out that in a high stakes tournament like the $10,000 event, it becomes easy to level yourself in certain situations. Among the players at Moorman’s table included Isaac Haxton and Ben Tollerene. It was paramount for Moorman to avoid being exploitable, thus making him a target for the table filled with elite talent. “I’ve played with Sergio online and know people who play with him in Macau. The situation can get in your head. If I fold to three three-bets in a row, it looks weak. You can easily level yourself. It’s a tough tournament with no easy spots. If you’re playing weak, they can go after you.” The Lesson The worst river card hit for Moorman and his dreams of winning a substantial pot were dashed. Moorman says he got ahead of himself during the hand and struggled to establish himself within the new reality of the fourth heart on board. The river call was made not out of pure poker sense, but out a little bit of frustration as well. Even a well-seasoned pro like Moorman is capable of suffering from a lapse in judgment. “It’s a weird situation that most people struggle with; I struggle with this,” Moorman said “When you have the nuts, you get ahead of yourself. I might be chip leader. The worst river card comes, and you’re like ‘what do you do?’ It shouldn’t happen to anyone, but it does. I was getting ahead of myself and then I just have a bluff catcher. In a sense, I felt frustrated and justified it by saying if I’m folding, I’m only calling with the ace of hearts.” Moorman suggests players try as much as they can to remove the emotion of the situation itself from the decision making process. "If you start trying to list hands you can beat and you can’t list many, you should fold. On the turn card, with weaker hands, is he really betting without a high heart? Once the king of hearts comes on the river, you don’t really have anything. It’s only two-thirds pot and you have to sort of save the chips. It’s hard to do because it’s tough mentally.” When confronted with the frustration of the moment, Moorman texted a few folks to get the hand off his chest and recommends that source of conflict resolution to others. This hand, as thousands before it, will serve as a lesson for Moorman and he will put his skills to the test again next week in the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event.
  6. [caption width="640"] Playing on playMGMpoker this month could send you to the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic (WPT photo)[/caption] For November only, PocketFivers in New Jersey can win one of three $535 World Poker Tour Five Diamond super satellite tickets simply by playing tournaments on playMGMpoker.com. Players can earn leaderboard points by cashing in tournaments on PlayMGMpoker.com throughout the month of November. Points are awarded based on the PocketFives.com Leaderboard Formula and only results from PlayMGMPoker count towards the leaderboard. Points are earned only AFTER players opt in to the leaderboard. The three players who earn the most leaderboard points during this time will each win a $535 WPT Five Diamond Super Satellite ticket good for entry to the December 3 Super Satellite. That Super Satellite awards one $12,000 WPT Five Diamond package, including $10,400 buy-in and $1,600 travel, for every 24 players entered and at least one seat is guaranteed. This is the first time that New Jersey players have been able to qualify for a Las Vegas WPT event. "The leaderboard is just another way for us to give back to our loyal New Jersey community," said Lance Bradley, PocketFives President and Editor in Chief. "We'd love nothing more than for one of our members to turn that $535 ticket into a World Poker Tour title." One of the most prestigious WPT events on the schedule, the Five Diamond Poker Classic, which has a $10,400 buy-in, is set to take place December 5-10 at the Bellagio Resort and Casino. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to extend this to a national offering, with playMGMpoker sponsoring our online satellite program into the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic; allowing for participants in New Jersey to compete amongst the best players at an MGM Resorts Destination in Las Vegas,” said Ray Stefanelli, Executive Director of Online Gaming for playMGMpoker. Players who finish 4th - 10th on the leaderboard each receive a PocketFives hooded sweatshirt. To be eligible for this promotion you must have your PlayMGMpoker screen name listed on your PocketFives.com profile. Click here to do that (be sure to select “PlayMGM” from the list of sites). Once you've done that, make sure you visit the PlayMGMpoker WPT Five Diamond Leaderboard and click the green OPT IN button.
  7. [caption width="640"] The Bellagio plays host to the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic[/caption] Through the recently announced partnership between the World Poker Tour and playMGMPoker, New Jersey players have the unique opportunity to satellite online into one of the most esteemed live tournaments in any given year - the World Poker Tour Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. For the first time, New Jersey residents can qualify for the major Las Vegas tournament by winning a $12,000 package that includes an entry into the $10,400 Main Event, $1,600 in cash to help cover travel and accommodations, and the first-night-free stay at one of the flagship MGM properties, the Bellagio Hotel & Casino. Whether you are a deep-pocketed shot taker or a value-seeking grinder there are a number of ways for playMGMpoker players to earn their shot at what will likely be the seven-figure first place prize at the WPT Five Diamond. It all starts for as little as $10. Looking to work your way to the top? playMGMPoker is running $10 Daily Qualifiers into the $55 Bellagio Qualifier. The first step starts every day at 5:40pm and 8:40pm ET where the $10 tournament guarantees at least two entries into the $55 step. Roughly one out of roughly every six entries into the $10 starter tournament will win entry into the $55 Bellagio Qualifier. The $55 Bellagio Qualifier is also running every day. At 7:20pm ET, players compete to win their way into main $535 Bellagio Super Satellite to WPT Bellagio Five Diamond. With at least one seat to the main satellite guaranteed, approximately one out of every 11 participants will gain entry and get their shot at the $12,000 package. In addition to the daily $55, there is a once-a-week Turbo Qualifier taking place on Sundays at 5:20pm. The turbo takes place right before the $535 Super Satellite is set to begin. Players can win or buy their way into the to the final step, the $535 Super Satellite to WPT Bellagio. There are four more opportunities left to vie for the grand prize at 6:20pm ET on the following Sundays: November 12 November 19 November 26 December 3 Roughy one out of every 24 will pick up a $12,000 package, escape the New Jersey winter and be on their way to sunny Las Vegas for the Main Event. Whether it's daily qualifiers or buying directly into the Super Satellite, playMGMPoker has a path for those looking to make their dreams of playing the WPT Five Diamond a reality.
  8. [caption width="640"] Players will pack the Bellagio tournament area in pursuit of the WPT Five Diamond title[/caption] Dating back to 2002, The World Poker Tour's Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas is arguably the most prestigious event on the WPT calendar. This year, New Jersey online poker players can qualify for the event through PlayMGMPoker.com. This marks the first time NJ players can qualify for an out-of-state WPT event. The WPT Five Diamond is set to take from December 5-10 and take place at MGM property, the Bellagio Resort and Casino. Even though it's in Nevada, New Jersey players can win a $12,000 package that includes a $10,400 seat in the Main Event as well as $1,600 in cash, deposited directly into the playMGMpoker account, to help with travel expenses to Las Vegas. As an added bonus, all online qualifiers will have their first night's stay at the Bellagio included for free. Prior to this partnership, online satellites of this nature have been primarily used to qualify players into WPT events taking place at The Borgata. “The ability to qualify New Jersey online gaming players into desirable land-based Borgata poker events has been an extremely valuable resource in helping our poker network grow and succeed within the market.”said Ray Stefanelli, Executive Director of Online Gaming for playMGMpoker. With the aforementioned success, new opportunities have become available for players in New Jersey according to Stefanelli, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to extend this to a national offering, with playMGMpoker sponsoring our online satellite program into the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond Poker Classic; allowing for participants in New Jersey to compete amongst the best players at an MGM Resorts Destination in Las Vegas.” There are a number of ways for players to qualify and step into the $535 Super Satellite to WPT Five Diamonds to play for the $10,400 seat and it starts for as little as $10. Every day at 5:40pm and 8:40pm ET, players can jump into a $10 qualifier where approximately one out of every six players will win a $55 ticket to the Bellagio Qualifier for the Super Satellite. Each of these contests guarantees at least two $55 entries. Also running daily, at 7:20pm ET, the $55 Bellagio Qualifier runs. One out of every 11 entries wins their $535 ticket to the Super Satellite with one seat being guaranteed. The same tournament runs in a turbo format on Sundays at 5:20pm. The $535 Super Satellite to WPT Bellagio Five Diamond takes place on the following Sunday eveningsat 6:20pm ET: November 12, 19, 26 and the final chance on December 3. At least one $12,000 prize package is guaranteed in each tournament. In total, including the previously run Super Satellite, at least five New Jersey online grinders will find their way into one of the biggest live events of the year. Not only is the WPT Five Diamond one of the largest events, routinely awarding seven-figure first-place prize money throughout its rich history, but it's also the tournament where many top-ranked professionals made a name for themselves. The inaugural WPT Five Diamond, in 2002, saw 'The Great Dane', Gus Hansen, win his very first, of three, WPT title. Two years later Daniel Negreanu would go on to win the event for what would hold as a career-best victory for the better part of a decade. In 2006, World Series of Poker Champion Joe Hachem cemented his legacy as more than a one-hit wonder by taking down the Five Diamond for over $2.2 million. The list goes on: Eugene Katchalov, Chino Rheem, Daniel Alaei, Dan Smith, Mohsin Charania and Antonio Esfandiari all have their names etched in the WPT Trophy as victors of the World Poker Tour Five Diamond.
  9. Season XVI on the World Poker Tour enters its last hurrah this month in Las Vegas. The race to the finish line starts with the Bellagio Elite Poker Championship from May 1-6. The $10,400 event was added in March to the WPT Main Tour calendar along with a $25,000 high roller. The Elite Poker Championship harkens back to past seasons of the WPT where multiple events were hosted at the Bellagio. Festa al Lago last ran in Season IX and the WPT World Championship moved from Bellagio to the Borgata after Season XII. The field should be strong with the summer on the horizon. The final days of the Elite Poker Championship overlap with the special edition WPT Bellagio High Roller. The $25,000 event follows up on the Rockstar Energy High Roller from March at the L.A. Poker Classic that brought in 50 runners. The Bellagio High Roller runs May 5 and 6 with the final table delayed until May 25. The final table is going to be filmed for television at the Esports Arena Las Vegas inside Luxor along with the Bobby Baldwin Classic and WPT Tournament of Champions final tables. Play for the high roller event starts with both the big blind ante and Action Clock in effect. Registration is open until the start of Level 11 on Day 2. All levels are 60 minutes and players open their High Roller accounts with a starting bank of 100,000. The $10,400 Elite Poker Championship Main Event is a six-day slog to find a winner. The structure is reminiscent of the Five Diamond Classic. Blinds are 90-minutes all the way up to the final table and registration is open until the start of Level 9 on Day 2. The field welcome to unlimited re-entries. A formal announcement awaits on whether or not the final table is to be televised or live streamed. The Elite Poker Championship could have major ramifications for the WPT Player of the Year race. Art Papazyan still holds a wide lead with 2,450 points but one more deep run from some of the contenders could put his title hopes in peril. Papazyan cashed in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown last week to add to his point total solely earned from his two titles. Expect to see Papazyan in attendance at the Bellagio. Derek Wolters is in second-place thanks to two third-place finishes. Wolters sits on 1,850 points and WPT Winter Poker Open champion Eric Afriat is right behind with 1,750. WPT Maryland runner-up Zach Donovan did the biggest favor of all the contenders in Florida for his POY hopes. Donovan added 400 points for 10th place to move up to 1,450 for the season.
  10. Dylan 'ImaLucSac' Linde entered the Season XVII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic final table second in chips among the last six competitors. A dominating performance from Linde followed that earned him his first World Poker Tour title and a $1.631 million payday. "Incredible… I'm stunned, I'm stunned," Linde said after the victory, noticeably searching for the right words in the winning moment. "I was in for a lot of bullets in this tournament - I was in for five bullets - and all I wanted to do was get even. I was like, 'OK, I need to get 24th place and then I make like 8K, that’s great.' Then I got to there and it just felt like freerolling. I just was confident, I played my game - I mean, I'm still… I’m still in shock." Linde entered the final table of the record-setting event with just more than $2 million in live tournament earnings to his name. He nearly doubled that total thanks to scoring the largest live tournament score of his career. Not only did Linde earn a $1.631 million payday, but he claimed the title in one of poker’s most prestigious events, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio. Linde now goes down in history alongside players such as Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Joe Hachem as a champion of this event. "Incredible!" Linde said once again, more emphatically. "Besides having played a lot of poker for the past 10 or 11 years, I’m a gargantuan poker fan. I watch every single everything on PokerGO, I watch all broadcasts. Even weird cash games that have been televised, I consume it all. I love poker. To be there, to be here playing in the studio, it’s incredible. It's just incredible. I watched the Super High Roller Bowl Cash Game this morning before I came to play." What's more is that Linde topped a record-breaking field in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The event attracted a field of 1,001 entries, nearly 200 more than the previous record of 812, and generated a prize pool of $9.709 million. "It was like a roller coaster," Linde said of firing multiple $10,000 bullets in the event. "The first one or two, it was like, 'Ehhh, OK.' And then when I busted bullet three, I was pretty sad and I kind of tilted. Then when I busted bullet four, I was just like, 'Ya know? Whatever, this tournament is really good and I need to fire.' At that point, I've already passed my pain threshold so now it doesn’t matter. I just try and it almost helped me to be in for five." WPT Five Diamond Final Table Results 1st: Dylan Linde - $1,631,468* 2nd: Milos Skrbic - $1,087,603 3rd: Andrew Lichtenberger - $802,973 4th: Ping Liu - $599,147 5th: Lisa Hamilton - $451,880 6th: Barry Hutter - $344,529 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Barry Hutter was first knocked out at the final table when his top pair ran into the bottom two pair of Milos Skrbic on the [poker card="8s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5s"] flop. Hutter's [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8d"] couldn’t come from behind against the [poker card="6h"][poker card="5d"] of Skrbic, leaving Hutter with a sixth-place result worth $344,529. Next to go was Lisa Hamilton in fifth place, and she was eliminated when her pocket fives couldn't hold up against the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Td"] of Linde. The money went in preflop and Linde flopped top pair, turned trips, and rivered a full house to send Hamilton to the payout desk to collect her $451,880 in winnings. Eliminating Hamilton in fifth place gave Linde the chip lead. This is when he really began to press on the gas in order to put distance between himself and his opponents. It also helped when Linde busted Ping Liu in fourth place with the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="2c"]. Action folded to Linde in the small blind, and he moved all in against Liu's big blind. Liu was short stacked and called with the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="4h"]. The board ran out[poker card="Kh"][poker card="7h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="Kd"] to eliminate Liu in fourth place for a career-best $599,147. Andrew Lichtenberger was the shortest stack entering three-handed play. He fought as hard as he could to get himself back into the match against Linde and Skrbic, but ultimately it wouldn’t be in the cards for the player so widely known as "LuckyChewy." Lichtenberger flopped top pair with the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="5h"] on the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="7s"][poker card="3c"] flop against Skrbic holding the [poker card="Tc"][poker card="6c"] for a flush draw. The two bet and raised back and forth to get all the money in, leaving Lichtenberger needing to fade the draw to stay alive. Skrbic quickly completed his flush on the turn with the [poker card="8c"] and the river completed the board with the [poker card="4d"]. For his efforts, Lichtenberger scored $802,973. Linde held the chip lead entering heads-up play, with his 22.375 million to Skrbic’s 17.675 million. Linde dominated the duel and took just 35 hands to dispose of Skrbic. On the final hand, Linde's pocket jacks held up against the pocket fives for Skrbic after all the money went in preflop and that was all she wrote. Skrbic, who entered the event with less than $500,000 in live tournament winnings, took home $1.087 million for his runner-up result, and Linde was crowned champion. "I'm pretty much going to keep doing the same thing I've been doing," Linde said when asked where he takes his poker career from here. "I'm a big believer in the amount of money that I have doesn’t really dictate the games that I should be playing. I’ll have some more action of myself in tournaments rather than selling more. I’m not going to start playing super high rollers or anything. I’ll just play the cash games I normally play here (in Las Vegas) and play tournaments. I’m pretty happy with my life at the moment, as far as poker. I play fairly high stakes normally anyway, and I don’t really need to go battle against my friends in the 25Ks and 100Ks who I know are slightly better than me or a lot better than me. At one point, maybe I will, but for now, I just want to keep improving, use this to make my life more comfortable, and hopefully make it so that I feel more confident and can just play my A-game more consistently." With the victory, Linde earned a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. He also picked up 1,400 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race, although that only puts him in third behind Tony Ruberto's 1,850 points and Liu's 1,550 points. Next up on the WPT Main Tour is the $10,000 buy-in WPT Gardens Poker Championship in January at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. That tournament runs January 12-16, 2019.
  11. The record-setting WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic wrapped up at Bellagio in Las Vegas, with the $10,400 Main Event attracting a huge field of 1,001 entries and featuring some of poker's biggest names. In addition to the Main Event, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic schedule featured several events with five-figure buy-ins and one with a six-figure price of entry. Here are the winners from a tremendous week of poker in Sin City. The biggest winners overall from these high buy-in events, excluding the $10,400 Main Event, were Jake Schindler, Jason Koon, Seth Davies, Chris Hunichen, and Dominik Nitsche. Although he didn't earn the most money, it's certainly worth noting that Sam Soverel cashed in four of these events for a total of $314,500. No one else cashed in more than two. Ladines Wins First $10,000 PLO Event The first two high roller events on the schedule were both $10,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha tournaments. The first one attracted 35 entries for a $350,000 prize pool and saw the top five places make the money. Joshua Ladines took the event’s title and $128,090 top prize, with both Brian Rast and Sam Soverel finishing in the money. Joshua Ladines - $128,090 John Riordan - $102,910 Jonathan Abdellatif - $56,000 Brian Rast - $35,000 Sam Soverel - $28,000 Soverel Takes Second $10,000 PLO Event In the second $10,000 PLO event, a group of familiar faces was back in the money. Soverel topped the field of 29 entries to win the title and $116,000, Ladines finished third for $46,400, and WPT Five Diamond wonder boy Ryan Tosoc scored fifth for $23,200. Tosoc notably finished second in the Season XV WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $1.134 million before going on to win the event in Season XVI for $1.958 million. Sam Soverel - $116,000 Jonathan Depa - $75,400 Joshua Ladines- $46,400 Michael Song - $29,000 Ryan Tosoc - $23,200 Hennigan Captures $10,000 8-Game Mixed Title If you know Bellagio, you know it’s home to the most iconic high-stakes poker room in the world, Bobby’s Room. It’s where the game’s elite compete for astronomical cash-game stakes, but during WPT Five Diamond some of those players shifted their focus to tournament play, specifically in the $10,000 buy-in 8-Game Mixed High Roller. The tournament generated 24 entries, and it was none other than five-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner and WPT Champions Club member John Hennigan taking home the top prize of $110,400. John Hennigan - $110,400 Ben Yu - $67,200 Randy Ohel - $38,400 John Racener - $24,000 Loeser and Fox Chop First $25,000 High Roller In the first of three $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments on this year’s WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic slate, 42 entries were generated to create a prize pool of $1.05 million. The top six places paid, and the top two spots went to Manig Loeser and Elio Fox in a chop that earned each player more than $300,000. Loeser scored first place for $321,300, and Fox took second for $308,700. Manig Loeser- $321,300 Elio Fox - $308,700 Jake Schindler - $168,000 Dan Smith - $105,000 Cary Katz - $84,000 Nick Petrangelo - $63,000 Petrangelo Wins Second $25,000 High Roller The second $25,000 buy-in tournament attracted 47 entries and generated a $1.175 million prize pool. The top seven places reached the money, with several notables cashing. None earned more than Nick Petrangelo, though, who chopped the event heads up with Sergio Aido to take home the winning prize of $289,944. Aido scored $287,634 for second. Petrangelo was coming off a sixth-place result for $63,000 in the first $25,000 event of this series. Soverel, who finished in the money of the first two high rollers on the schedule, including winning one for $116,000, finished sixth in this event for $70,500. Nick Petrangelo - $289,944 Sergio Aido - $287,634 Seth Davies - $256,672 Ben Yu - $117,500 Kazuhiko Yotsushika - $94,000 Sam Soverel - $70,500 Rainer Kempe - $58,750 Davies Victorious in Third $25,000 High Roller The third and final $25,000 high roller tournament on the WPT Five Diamond schedule drew 50 entries for a $1.25 million prize pool. The top eight places reached the money, and it was Seth Davies taking the title and $341,920 in first-place prize money. The win came just days after Davies took third in the previous $25,000 high roller event during the series of $256,672, as you can see above. Davies did a deal with Isaac Haxton in second place, who earned $320,580. The money was filled with notable high rollers, including Alex Foxen taking third for $175,000. Foxen has had himself quite a 2018 and is closing it strong both on the live felt and the virtual felt. In the online world, Foxen recently achieved a new all-time high in the top 100 of the PocketFives Online Poker Rankings. You'll also notice Soverel's name appearing in the in-the-money places once again, this time for fifth place, worth $100,000. Seth Davies - $341,920 Isaac Haxton - $320,580 Alex Foxen - $175,000 David Peters - $125,000 Sam Soverel - $100,000 Christoph Vogelsang - $75,000 Rainer Kempe - $62,500 Elio Fox: $50,000 Schindler Defeats Koon for $100,000 Super High Roller Victory The final big buy-in event from the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic schedule this year was the $100,000 Super High Roller. The event drew 37 entries to Bellagio for a $3.7 million prize pool and the top six spots reached the money. Earning the $1.332 million first-place prize was Jake Schindler. Adding that score to the $168,000 he won earlier in the series for taking third place in one of the $25,000 high rollers, Schindler scored $1.5 million in prize money at Bellagio this December. Schindler beat out Jason Koon for the win, and Koon took home $888,000 for his second-place finish. Jake Schindler - $1,332,000 Jason Koon - $888,000 Chris Hunichen - $592,000 Dominik Nitsche - $370,000 Ben Tollerene - $296,000 Talal Shakerchi - $222,000
  12. In an undisclosed location somewhere in Las Vegas, Nevada right now, pro poker player Rich Alati is hard at work trying to win another $100,000. Friends and family are tuning in from home. He’s not sitting at a poker table working his way through a tournament or grinding a cash game against some tourists, though. Alati is locked in complete darkness in a bathroom where he has to stay for 30 days without any communication with the outside world. It’s the latest crazy prop bet that has the poker world talking. If Alati finishes the 30 days, he’ll profit $100,000 - but if he quits, fellow poker pro Rory Young pockets the cash. The bet came together a few months back at the Bellagio poker room where Alati and Young are often playing cash games. This isn't a basic run of the mill game of global poker with a bunch of newbies. “One day, there was this young dude sitting at an empty table with like $40,000 in front of him and I sat down and we started playing heads up,” said Young. “We started getting along okay and then over the next couple of days we were talking at the table and stuff. I play a lot of Lodden Thinks and this is one of my go-to questions, ‘How long do you think you could last in a dark room, with no human interaction?’” Young has heard all kinds of answers and believes most people often overestimate their own abilities when answering. Responses are usually in the 20-25 day range, but Young says Alati surprised him with his answer of 30 days. “I was like, ‘Oh, that's interesting - would you ever consider putting any money on it?’ and he said, 'Yeah, but it would have to be a large amount to make it worthwhile,’" said Young, who found out that amount meant somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. “We talked a little bit more and within an hour we had something booked.” Each of them escrowed $5,000 with somebody they both knew and trusted. Alati had six months to attempt the bet. If either of them decided not to proceed with the bet, the other took home the $10,000. If the bet went forward, they each got their $5,000 back. “The conditions are complete darkness, so no electronics, no light-emitting devices, no drugs of any kind,” said Young. “He is allowed any type of food that he wants. He has a bed in there, he has a shower and a bathtub. He has pretty lavish toiletries like Epsom salts, sugar scrubs, that kind of stuff.” Along with food from Flower Child (a Las Vegas restaurant), some sliced fruit, almond milk, cereal, and Pop Tarts he has in his fridge, meals are being delivered to Alati during the 30 days, but not on a regular basis so as not to give him any indication as to how much time has passed. “Food is delivered every three to six days and we've randomized what days it'll be delivered and we'll drop off six days worth of food so he doesn't know how long it's been,” said Young. “It could be three days, it could be six days. He'll have no idea of how long it's been, so no watches or clocks or things like that.” There are five night-vision cameras broadcasting around the clock and the only privacy Alati gets is when he’s in the shower or the toilet cubicle. Alati’s family and a few select others have access to the feed. Young thinks that he’s getting by far the best of it - especially at even money. “I don't think he ever thought to ask for odds,” said Young. “He just kind of wanted to do it. He didn't think about it. I guess I was lucky in that regard. I feel like the true odds are between 5- and 10-to-1. His hourly throughout the whole thing, if he wins, is only $140. That's a good hourly, but it's not a good hourly for this and he loses a decent amount of the time.” When they were finalizing the terms of the bet, Young included a clause that subjected Alati to a cavity search before entering the bathroom. Believing that would deter Alati from even attempting to smuggle something into the bathroom he shouldn’t have, Young felt he didn’t have to enforce that clause. Alati does have to provide urine samples throughout the 30 days for drug testing, though. With six figures on the line, Young thought Alati would do some advance research and prepare himself for the prolonged isolation, but that’s not at all what happened. “He spent, I believe, 10 minutes in a dark bathroom,” said Young. “He was in the Bahamas for the partypoker event, flew back, and within 24 hours he was in the bathroom. He hadn't prepared any of his food, he hadn't gotten anyone to bring his food in, so I've had to do it. I think he's done zero preparation.” The around-the-clock footage is being recorded and Young and Alati are hoping to turn it into a reality show and find a home for it once all is said and done. One of those watching the live feed is Alati’s sister. Young has talked to her on a near-daily basis since the bet started on November 21. Not surprisingly, his sister, a lawyer, tried to get him to back out and just give up the $5,000. “They tried to get him to not do it but he doesn't listen to anybody but himself. She tried very hard to get him to pull out and he wasn't having it. She's pretty worried,” said Young, who admits to having some worries over potential health issues for Alati during and after the bet. “I'm a firm believer in that there are two consenting adults and if it doesn't do any harm to a third party, then it's morally justifiable,” said Young. “I don't have any hangups about the ethical side of this. I think it's different if it was a freeroll. I think I can have some ethical concerns there. “I have a bit of concern for his eyesight, but we're taking all of the necessary conditions.” Young likes his side of this prop bet so much that the terms for him to be in Alati’s shoes would be quite different with a much, much bigger payoff. “It would have to be a freeroll or crazy odds like 50-1 where it's essentially a freeroll,” said Young. “My number on a freeroll would be $5,000,000. I'm pretty comfortable, I enjoy my life as it is and I don't think my life would change that much if I had an extra $5,000,000. I'm not crazy wealthy or anything, but I'm already pretty happy and I don't think it would improve my happiness enough - it's torture.” With word of the prop bet making its way through the Las Vegas poker scene, Young heard from somebody else wanting to take on the challenge, but for far more money. “The other night, I get a phone call from a random number and it's Huckleberry Seed. Long story short, he wants to do it for a million, but he wants much tougher conditions,” said Young, who said he’d consider taking the former WSOP Main Event champ up on the offer if a broadcast partner or other third party put up some of the money. “[Seed] said he wants to do it with no bed, no food for the first 21 days, he'd do it for a total of 40 days, and just water. Also, he said I could put some cockroaches in the bathroom.”
  13. 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.
  14. The Season XVIII World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic crowned its winner on Saturday, with Alex Foxen topping the record-breaking field of 1,035 entries to win the $1.694 million first-place prize. "It feels, I don't know… surreal," Foxen said in the moments following the win. "It’s kind of hard to put into words, but it feels amazing. The last time I got to this spot, I was a little bit disappointed in the way that I played heads up. It’s just incredible to get the opportunity again and be fortunate enough to pull out the win. I don’t have words." Back in Season XVI, Foxen found himself heads up with Ryan Tosoc in this very event. Tosoc had finished runner-up the year before and was back in heads-up play with a chance to better his previous result. Back then, Foxen couldn’t overcome Tosoc in what was a very lighthearted heads-up battle with plenty of fun had between the two and he had to settle for a second-place payout of $1.134 million. "I do feel like I was so excited about having that opportunity," Foxen said of the difference between his two WPT Five Diamond heads-up appearances. "I think that score I locked up was already five or six times my biggest score to date at that point, so there was an element of me feeling like I lost a little bit of focus and maybe didn’t take it as seriously as I should have because, regardless of the outcome of heads-up play, it was such an amazing result that in the moment I didn’t see the severity of that situation. I definitely didn’t make that same mistake twice." Much like Tosoc had redeemed his second-place finish with a victory the following season, Foxen came back two seasons after his runner-up finish to get the job done and capture the WPT Five Diamond throne. The victory gave Foxen his first WPT title. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zgone="888poker NJ"][ptable zone="GG Poker"] Final Table Results 1st: Alex Foxen - $1,694,995 2nd: Toby Joyce - $1,120,040 3rd: Seth Davies - $827,285 4th: Peter Neff - $617,480 5th: Danny Park - $465,780 6th: Jonathan Jaffe - $355,125 Foxen came into Saturday’s final table in second position on the leaderboard with six players remaining. In fewer than 30 hands, Foxen had improved to the chip lead. Shortly after gaining the top spot, he knocked out WPT Champions Club member Jonathan Jaffe in sixth place. Although others did some damage of their own, such as Toby Joyce knocking out start-of-day chip leader Danny Park in fifth place and Seth Davies busting Peter Neff in fourth place, Foxen never gave up the lead once he had it. Three-handed play between Foxen, Joyce, and Davies lasted for quite some time. Even though both Joyce and Davies scored double ups during the battle, things never appeared to get away from Foxen as he stayed strong behind the wall of chips he built. Eventually, Davies’ stack shrunk and he got the last of his money in against Foxen in a dominated position. Foxen had the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] to Davies’ [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"]. Davies, a WPT Champions Club member, did flop some outs to a chop but he was ultimately done in thanks to the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="3s"][poker card="As"][poker card="8d"] board. Entering heads-up play with Joyce, Foxen had the chip lead with 29.5 million to Joyce’s 11.9 million, and the match was never really close. Joyce narrowed the gap ever so slightly at the beginning of the duel, but Foxen’s dominance was too much and he quickly started to distance himself. On the final hand, Foxen had limped on the button with the blinds at 200,000/400,000 with a 400,000 big blind ante. Joyce checked and the dealer fanned the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop. Joyce checked, Foxen bet 400,000, and then Joyce check-raised to 1.1 million. Foxen put in a raise of his own and made it 2 million to go. Joyce called to see the [poker card="Kc"] land on fourth street. Joyce checked and Foxen shoved all in, for what was effectively 4.5 million because he had Joyce covered. Joyce tanked and used four 30-second time extensions to think things through. Joyce eventually made the call with the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="9c"] for a pair of jacks, but Foxen had him out-kicked with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Js"]. The river was the [poker card="4c"] to seal the deal for Foxen. For his runner-up finish, Joyce scored $1.12 million in prize money. Fourth Consecutive Record Turnout for Five Diamond It was the fourth consecutive record-setting turnout for WPT Five Diamond, and this season’s 1,035 entries topped last season’s 1,001. The seasons prior to that were 812 entries for Season XVI and 791 entries for Season XV. In this event, the top 130 finished reached the money. Included in those to cash were Eric Afriat (9th - $168,005), Darren Elias (14th - $107,840), Chino Rheem (22nd - $60,435), Cary Katz (44th - $37,670), Kitty Kuo (67th - $26,220), Cliff Josephy (74th - $23,830), and Maria Ho (116th - $19,345). Also running deep was Timo Kamphues, who placed seventh in the Season XVIII WPT Five Diamond for $273,695. He has had quite the week of poker in Las Vegas, as just a few days prior to his run at Bellagio, Kamphues won the Wynn Poker Winter Classic $1,100 NL $500,000 Guarantee tournament for $202,787. Foxen Takes Player of the Year Lead With the victory, Foxen moved to first place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings. Both Foxen and Joyce have the same amount of points, 1,400, but Foxen holds the tiebreaker of most money won. Joyce earned his second cash of the season and is currently second in the race. 1st: Alex Foxen - 1,400 points 2nd: Toby Joyce - 1,400 points 3rd: Donald Maloney - 1,300 points 4th: Aaron Van Blarcum - 1,275 points 5th: Geoffrey Hum - 1,250 points 6th: Milen Stefanov - 1,200 points 7th: Kevin Albers - 1,200 points 8th: Simon Brandstrom - 1,200 points 9th: Peter Neff - 1,150 points 10th: Seth Davies - 1,100 points WPT Gardens Poker Championship Up Next Up next for the WPT Main Tour is the WPT Gardens Poker Championship at the Gardens Casino in Southern California. The $10,000 buy-in event kicks off January 9, 2020, and runs through January 13.
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