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One might think that with the holidays on the horizon December would be a quiet month of people spending time with their family. Not for the world of poker. December 2018 was full of record-breaking tournaments and huge headlines. Here are some of the names that made the news in December. Dan Smith Makes A Difference For the past five years, regular high-roller Dan Smith has been collecting donations for various charities at Christmas time. This year, Smith and his collaborators amassed $1.29M for the Double Up Drive and that they would use to match donations to spread to 10 carefully cultivated charities. They nearly got that amount in a single day when DFS champion Tom Crowley promised to give 50% of any winnings he might make from the DraftKings World Championship Final. Crowley, known as ‘ChipotleAddict’, went on to win the event for $2 million and over the weekend hauled in a total of $2.254 - half of which was donated to the Double Up Drive. The donation was ‘surreal’ but Smith wants to make sure people knew that donations of any size are welcome. “I want to clarify that any amount makes a difference,” Smith told PocketFives. “People in Uganda are living off 65 cents a day, an amount we don’t even consider at all.” READ: Dan Smith Charity Drive Gets “Surreal” $1.1M Donation via DFS Champ Isaac Haxton Wins Super High Roller Bowl V The fifth edition of the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl saw Isaac Haxton best the field of 36 elite players to earn a career-high cash of $3.672 million dollars. “This is easily the best tournament result I’ve ever had and it’s an event I love. It feels great to win here at ARIA. This is the highlight of my tournament career, no doubt,” said Haxton after the win. The final table was replete with talent including Poker Masters champion Ali Imsirovic, Igor Kurganov, Adrian Mateos, Talal Shakerchi, Stephen Chidwick, and eventual runner-up Alex Foxen. Foxen took home a career-best $2.1 million for his second-place finish. This capped off an amazing year that saw him earn 12 cashes of six-figures or better as well as rise to become the #1-ranked player on the GPI. READ: Isaac Haxton Wins Super High Roller Bowl for $3.672 Million READ: Alex Foxen’s Drive Takes Him to the Super High Roller Bowl The World Series of Poker Releases 2019 Dates Just before Christmas the World Series of Poker delivered players an early present by announcing a partial schedule of the 2019 WSOP. This summer will be the 50th anniversary for the longest-running tournament series and to help commemorate the occasion the WSOP is planning a number of special events for the players. The schedule included the announcement of the ‘Big 50’, a $500 buy-in tournament with a $5 million guaranteed prize pool and a $1 million guarantee for first place. Additionally, in an extra effort to “make the 2019 WSOP a better value all-around” many of the marquee events of the summer have an increased starting stack. This includes the WSOP Main Event which is increasing their starting stack to 60,000. READ: WSOP Releases 2019 Dates, New ‘Big 50’ Event - $500 Buy-in, $5M GTD Dylan Linde Wins WPT Five Diamond for $1.6 Million The crypto crash of 2018 has some in the industry fearing that the numbers for the World Poker Tour’s highlight event, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, might see a dip in registration. However, just the opposite happened as players flocked to the Bellagio in record-setting numbers. The event attracted 1001 runners and generated a prize pool of $9.7 million. In the end, longtime poker pro Dylan ‘ImaLucSac’ Linde (who re-entered five times in the event) dominated a stacked final table that included Andrew Lichtenberger, Ping Liu, Lisa Hamilton, Barry Hutter and runner-up Milos Skrbic. Linde won a career-high $1.6 million and earned the title of WPT Champion. READ: Dylan Line Wins Record-Shattering WPT Five Diamond Title for $1.6 Million Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio, Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede Chop 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online. partypoker’s 2018 $20M GTD MILLIONS Online did not disappoint. The incredible online tournament surpassed its posted guarantee and set the record for the largest single online tournament in history with players vying for a first place prize of over $2.6M. In the end, after one hand of heads-up play, Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio and PocketFiver Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede settled on a lightning-fast chop that awarded both players over $2.3M. Rubio, technically, earned the victory, taking home $20K more than De Goede and now owns the record for the single largest online payday in history. READ: Manuel ‘Sheparentao’ Ruvio and Pim ‘ForMatherRussia’ De Goede Chop partypoker MILLIONS Online A December To Remember December was just one of those month’s where huge news seemed to break every day. Here are some of the other must-read major headlines in December. Michigan opens its doors to online poker. READ: Michigan Becomes Fifth State to Regulate Online Poker The poker world loses a legend in the passing of Thor Hansen. READ: Thor Hansen Passes Away at 71 The pitch black bathroom bet comes to an abrupt end. READ: The $100K Bathroom Prop Ends Early; Alati, Young Agree on $62K Buyout Bay 101’s Shooting Star returns without the WPT behind it. READ: After a Year Away, Bay 101 Shooting Star Returns With New Look
With Christmas just a few short days away, Michigan online poker players woke up to an early present on Friday morning. Overnight, Michigan lawmakers passed a bill that legalizes online poker - as well as online casino games - within their state. The bill, H 4926, passed the Michigan State Senate by a 33-5 vote and it was sent back down to the Michigan House of Representatives for concurrence. Just after 3 am local time, the bill passed by a 71-35 margin. The final step is the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder which is expected to happen in the coming days. Once signed, online gaming, including poker and casino, will now fall under the control of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The bill was first put forward by Rep. Brandt Iden in September 2017. In June, the bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations before appearing Thursday night as part of a number of last-minute bills passed before the business year closed. While the passage of the bill is good news, players are going to have to be patient. Players won't be playing on regulated sites until 2020 at the earliest. The bill includes a 15-month waiting period before any operator can launch. This gives the newly-created Divison of Internet Gaming 12 months to create appropriate regulations and vet potential licensees. The legislation also allows for Michigan to join other states - namely Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware - in sharing online poker liquidity. Pennsylvania, which passed online gaming regulations earlier this year, is also expected to be part of the interstate network. The combined population of those five states is nearly 36 million.
Ben Palmer helped set a record on Tuesday night in Las Vegas and ended up picking up a career-best score and a World Poker Tour title in the process. Palmer emerged victorious at the WPT event in Las Vegas Tuesday night after surviving a 268-hand final table - the longest of season XVII - to win $431,655 and a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions in June. Will Givens started the final table with 50 big blinds, but over the course of the first 68 hands of play that number dwindled. Down to just 12 big blinds, Givens raised to 1,100,000 from the cutoff. Mark Ioli moved all in from the big blind and Givens called all in. Ioli tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="8c"] and Given had two live cards with [poker card="kh"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="as"][poker card="ts"][poker card="7h"] flop gave both players a pair but the [poker card="ad"] turn clinched the hand for Ioli and as the [poker card="qd"] hit the river, Givens was out in sixth place. Despite picking up those chips from Givens, Ioli was the next to hit the rail. Action folded around to Palmer in the small blind and he raised to 500,000 and Ioli called from the big blind. The flop came [poker card="qd"][poker card="9c"][poker card="5s"] and Ioli called Palmer's bet of 350,000. The turn was the [poker card="8h"] and Ioli called Palmer's bet of 575,000. The river was the [poker card="kc"] and Palmer moved all in and Ioli called all in. Palmer showed [poker card="7s"][poker card="7s"] for a turned straight while Ioli showed [poker card="qs"][poker card="9h"] for two pair. Ioli was out in fifth place. Another player was sent packing a few hands later. From UTG, Orlando Barrera raised to 600,000 and Tony Gargano called from the big blind. After the [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"][poker card="7h"] flop, Gargano check-called after Barrera moved all in for 1,250,000. Gargano quickly tabled [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"] for flopped quads while Barrera showed [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"] and was drawing dead.The [poker card="jc"] and [poker card="8d"] completed the board and Barrera was officially out in fourth place. Three-handed play lasted nearly three hours before Gargano picked up another elimination. Gargano raised to 750,000 from the button and Danny Qutami responded by moving all from the big blind for 7,300,000 and Gargano called. Qutami found out he was dominated after tabling [poker card="ac"][poker card="8h"] and seeing Gargano show [poker card="ah"][poker card="qh"]. The [poker card="as"][poker card="jd"][poker card="7s"] flop gave both players top pair but neither the [poker card="2c"] turn or [poker card="4c"] river were able to save Qutami from a third place finish. Gargano started heads up play with 57% of the chips in play and over the first hour of play, he actually increased that lead significantly. Palmer eventually doubled up and then re-took the lead he held earlier in the day. Palmer then continued to apply pressure and eventually found himself with a 2-1 lead. On the final hand, Gargano moved all in from the button for 9,500,000 and Palmer called. Gargano flipped over [poker card="ah"][poker card="4c"] and Palmer showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"]. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="th"][poker card="9c"] flop moved Palmer in front. The [poker card="6c"] turn gave Gargano extra outs but the [poker card="qh"] river wasn't one of them and he was eliminated in second place. The $431,655 score is the biggest of Palmer's career. His previous best came in 2008 when he won a Festa Al Lago side event at the Bellagio for $189,975. Final Table Payouts Ben Palmer - $431,655 Tony Gargano - $277,760 Danny Qutami - $204,810 Orlando Barrera - $152,690 Mark Ioli - $115,105 Will Givens - $87,760