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  1. Brandon Cantu (pictured) reportedly nearly came to blows with another player at his table during a heated incident in Event #41 at the World Series of Poker late last week. --- 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. --- The argument went down during a hand of 2-7 Triple Draw in the $1,500 Dealer's Choice Six-Max event. According to witnesses, a miscommunication took place when Cantu checked his hand to high-stakes pro Matt Szymaszek. Believing his opponent had checked behind, Cantu began to flip his cards over when suddenly Szymaszek shouted that he hadn't, in fact, checked. "I had a 9-8 something, so obviously I don't want to face a bet," Cantu told PokerNews. "I mean, he probably didn't mean to check, but he did. It's happened to me; it's happened to everybody." Then, according to Cantu's version of events, Jesse Martin, a friend of Szymaszek's, started yelling at Cantu, calling him an "angle shooter" and saying that "no one liked him." "If you call someone an angle shooter, especially a poker player, most people are going to get cracked right in the face," he added. That's when those near the table saw Cantu rush at Martin, with some saying that the pro actually landed a blow or slap to Martin's face. Security quickly rushed in and broke up the melee, penalizing Cantu for one round with the stipulation that he apologize to Martin. "If I apologize to him, I'm not really sorry. I'll have to say it to stay in the tournament," he said. "He's truly just a piece of shit, he really is," continued Cantu. "He's such a scumbag." But Martin's recollection of the event put Cantu as the one who started screaming and hurling insults at Szymaszek. Martin(pictured with Sarah Grant of PokerNews) described his friend as an honest and mild-mannered high-stakes cash regular who is not as comfortable playing tournaments as someone like Cantu, a two-time bracelet winner. When Cantu began screaming at Szymaszek, calling him an angle shooter and a liar, Martin came to his defense, shooting back the same insults. "He has a terrible reputation in poker," Martin told PokerNews in his own interview. After referencing Cantu's own interview where he admitted to shooting an angle five years ago, Martin brought up the pro's past affiliation with Ultimate Bet. "He backed Ultimate Bet for many years, and while not all who did are bad, it's still a huge stain against your record," he said. He also claimed that Cantu owes a lot of money to people in the poker community. "All I was doing was defending a very good friend of mine because he needed defense, everyone was crowding around him, and I know he's right," he continued. Martin then implied that Cantu was the one who was trying to angle shoot with a mediocre hand by taking advantage of their dealer's inexperience dealing Draw Games. "She's a very good Texas Hold'em dealer, but unfortunately doesn't understand well the mechanics of the Draw Games. It was clearly her mistake," he said. Martin was resolute in his belief that his friend would never have made the mistake of accidentally checking in that situation due to the fact that he has so much experience playing Draw cash games. You might recall that Cantu has already reportedly been in a scuffle during the 2014 WSOP, exchanging words with Jeff Lisandro (pictured), allegedly over an unpaid debt. In a TwoPlusTwo thread, poker players were largely on Martin's side. "Poker world needs more Jesse Martins and fewer Cantus for sure," said "Scary_Tiger". "Cantu has been involved in numerous incidents at WSOP over the years and is always the instigator," posted "abracadabrab". Martin confirmed that Cantu ended up apologizing, but it was clear he didn't mean it. "That's fine. I can exist in the Rio without talking to him again, not that we ever really talked before." Check back 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.
  2. According to many outlets, including Twitter, Two Plus Two, and Bluff Magazine, poker pros Jeffrey Lisandro (pictured) and Brandon Cantu apparently engaged in an argument at the World Series of Poker over an unpaid debt by Cantu. "Apparently, the guy's got a gambling problem, I guess," Lisandro said on Monday to Bluff Magazine. "I guess he's gambled with other people's money and would like to keep some self-respect." See the video. "I feel sorry for him," Lisandro continued in the brief interview. "This is the world we live in, though. Some people can't control themselves. There weren't any punches thrown, but it was a bit of a shouting match. The gambling world's tough and if you want to gamble, you got to have the money." Apparently Lisandro vouched for Cantu so the two-time WSOP bracelet winner could get a loan that would allow for him to continue playing. Lisandro, a five-time bracelet winner, didn't say whether Cantu welched on the loan, but said, "I feel sorry for all gamblers; this sort of industry doesn't suit everyone." He also added later in the Bluff video that he believes "you should always pay your debts, respect people… Unfortunately, in this new world, it doesn't happen anymore." Lisandro, who confessed he has "mellowed" in the past five to 10 years, isn't a stranger to altercations at the WSOP. In 2006 during the Main Event, he clashed with Prahlad Friedman over whether Lisandro had put his ante into the pot during one of the hands. After a review confirmed that Lisandro had, in fact, put the chip into the pot, Friedman continued to needle Lisandro over the incident. Despite the dealer telling Friedman to drop the issue, Friedman escalated it, calling Lisandro a "thief," at which point Lisandro responded by saying he would "take (Friedman's) head off." The battle has brought up one of the gray issues in the poker world, having a person stake your play for a percentage of wins or borrowing money from people you'll pay back when you hit a big score. "Lisandro is absolutely right about not lending money to people," one poster on Two Plus Two commented. "Aside from the fact that you are unlikely to get it back, it makes no sense to lend money to a good poker player unless you are self-defeating and just want the games to be tougher. Just allow these bums to burn out and go (bust). What is so hard about that?" Others note that Cantu(pictured) has over $4 million in live tournament poker earnings, according to the Hendon Mob, but apparently needed to borrow money to play. Consequently, some assume that Cantu is being less-than-honorable. "I normally feel sorry for hopeless gamblers, but he has had some serious problems," one person wrote. "If (Cantu) handled his finances even slightly correctly, he would be in a great position. People… can only dream of some of the results he's had. What an… imbecile." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. The World Poker Tour was back at Gardens Casino in Southern California for the second time in Season XVII, this time for the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. Six players remain from the 253-entry field, and it was Frank Stepuchin who bagged the chip lead. Stepuchin was joined at the official final table by Shannon Shorr, Steve Sung, Brent Roberts, Ray Qartomy, and Jonathan Abdellatif. The $10,000 buy-in event was the first WPT Main Tour event to feature the delayed TV final table format. After playing down to the final six players on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, the tournament was put on ice for what will be nearly two months before play resumes on Tuesday, March 12 - 55 days, to be exact. That is when the final six will compete for the $548,825 top prize at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Stepuchin, who hails from Park City, Utah, and entered this event with $354,625 in live tournament earnings, bagged the chip lead in a very large way, with 4.065 million in chips. The next closest was Shorr with 1.71 million. Belgian player Jonathan Abdellatif, who held nearly $1.7 million in live tournament earnings entering the Season XVII WPT Gardens Poker Championship, finished as the short stack with 555,000. WPT Gardens Poker Championship Final Table Seat 1: Shannon Shorr - 1,710,000 Seat 2: Frank Stepuchin - 4,065,000 Seat 3: Brent Roberts - 1,385,000 Seat 4: Jonathan Abdellatif - 555,000 Seat 5: Ray Qartomy - 820,000 Seat 6: Steve Sung - 1,580,000 Road To the Final Table Stepuchin emerged as a big stack right out of the gate. He finished as the Day 1a chip leader and was second in chips entering Day 2. At the time, he was behind another player that reached the final table, Qartomy. Stepuchin finished sixth in chips after Day 2 when Shorr bagged the chip lead, then Stepuchin led the final 19 players after Day 3 before riding that chip lead into the final table. On Day 4, Stepuchin eliminated Toby Lewis in seventh place and Allen Pock in 15th place. Eliminating Lewis in seventh set the official WPT final table, and it came just before 10 p.m. PT on Wednesday when the tournament was in Level 24 with the blinds at 15,000-30,000 with a 30,000 big blind ante, according to WPT coverage. Shorr had opened with a raise from the cutoff seat to 60,000, Lewis called from the button, and Stepuchin called from the small blind. The flop was [poker card="Jc"][poker card="5h"][poker card="2h"] and action checked to Lewis. He bet 75,000 before Stepuchin check-raised to 190,000. Shorr folded, but Lewis made the call to see the [poker card="Kd"] land on the turn. Stepuchin fired 360,000 and Lewis called to see the [poker card="3d"] appear on the river. Stepuchin bet all in, having Lewis and his remaining 360,000 covered. Lewis called with the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Jh"] but saw the bad news when his two pair was second best to Stepuchin’s pocket fives - [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"]. For Shorr, Sung, and Roberts, they’re second, third, and fourth in chips, respectively. Shorr ended Day 2 with the chip lead, but it wasn’t without a couple of very eventful hands that saw Shorr with plenty of chips on the line. First, he was all in with pocket kings against the pocket queens of Dan Smith and earned a double up. After that, Shorr took out Mike Eskandari, but did so with an inferior hand when his pocket sevens came from behind against Eskandari’s queens. On that hand, all of the money went in preflop and Shorr flopped a set. Qartomy reached the final table as the second shortest stack remaining, but he could’ve been knocked out by the lowly [poker card="9c"][poker card="4d"] in seventh place had his [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Qd"] not held up. Qartomy three-bet jammed for 410,000 over a raise to 60,000 from Stepuchin. Stepuchin called, but Qartomy’s hand held strong to give him the double up. On Day 3 of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, Qartomy was the player to send everyone into the money, doing so when he knocked out Raul Lozano in 33rd place. Qartomy held the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qs"] and was behind Lozano’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Ks"], but a queen flopped and Lozano couldn’t come back from it. Some of the notable players to cash in the event but fall short of the final table were Garrett Greer (8th - $66,955), WPT Champions Club member Marvin Rettenmaier (11th - $43,220), Ricky 'RatedGTO' Guan (13th - $35,550), and Nicole Schwartz (20th - $25,225). Schwartz won her way into the event by winning a $100 charity event. She fired an additional $100 bullet in that event, so her $10,000 seat cost her $200, but she then turned that into more than $25,000 in prize money. Can Shorr, Sung, and Roberts Finally Break Into the WPT Champions Club? Shorr, Sung, and Roberts are no strangers to tournament poker. They’ve been around the game for a long time and have impressive career résumés. Entering this event, Shorr had nearly $6.7 million in live tournament earnings, Sung had more than $5.5 million, and Roberts was just over $2 million. All three have experienced podium finishes in WPT events, but none have won a WPT title. Shorr’s best WPT finish was a second-place result in the Season XII WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. In a field of 415 entries, Shorr finished runner-up to James Calderaro and took home $190,039. "I'm on cloud nine after reaching the Gardens final table," Shorr told PocketFives. "I've been putting a ton of work into my poker game and my mind and body lately, so to have a big result like this in a major tournament is really special, personally." Shorr also placed fourth in the Season IX WPT Southern Poker Championship and fifth in the Season VII WPT World Championship for $144,985 and $408,550, respectively. "Winning a WPT title would be incredible," Shorr added. "I've had tons of final tables in big events worldwide but haven't won a 'major.' Maybe this is the one." Sung has three official WPT final tables on record, with his best result coming in the Season VI WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star event when he took second to Brandon Cantu and won $585,000. "It feels amazing to have reached the Gardens final table, to be able to enjoy the next couple months knowing that the final table will always be there," Sung said. "I always wanted to experience making the 'November Nine,' and this is the next best thing, the 'March Six!'" Sung also has a pair of fourth-place finishes on the World Poker Tour, first in the Season VI WPT Spanish Championship for €117,400 ($164,943) and then in the Season VII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $396,205. “Winning a WPT title means that my goal has been finally accomplished,” Sung said when asked what a winning a WPT title would mean to him. “I've expected to win one over a decade ago and had to come back from self-inflicted setbacks in multiple aspects of my being.” Roberts does have a WPTDeepStacks title from back in 2016, but a WPT Main Tour title has eluded him. His best WPT Main Tour finish was in the Season XIV WPT Legends of Poker when he took third in a field of 786 entries to win $251,035. Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications The final six have locked up 600 points in the Season XVII Hublot WPT Player of the Year race, currently led by Tony Ruberto with 1,850 points, and there are 1,200 points up top. The points could mean the most to Qartomy, who already has 650 points on the season and is in 40th place on the leaderboard. A win would vault him to the same 1,850 points as Ruberto, but Qartomy would hold the tiebreaker of most money won as he’d have $652,474 to Ruberto’s $530,692. Sung also stands to benefit well from the Hublot WPT Player of the Year points earned at this final table. Entering the event, Sung has 450 points and was in 57th place. He’s guaranteed to move to 1,050 points, which would put him in the top 15, and has upside to move into second place in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race with a victory. Sung now has five WPT Main Tour cashes in Season XVII, including a ninth-place finish in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival that kicked off the season. Stepuchin entered this event with 100 points, Shorr 100 points, Roberts 175 points, and Abdellatif 50 points. Champion To Be Crowned on March 12 The final six competitors have locked up $110,225 for reaching the final table and will be back in action on March 12 in Las Vegas to compete for the $548,825 top prize. First place includes a $15,000 buy-in into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. "It's a bizarre feeling traveling to LA for five days, playing nonstop in a tournament, and to not know my result upon leaving," Shorr said. "I really like the format, though, and am all for anything that helps grow the game." "I'm going to enjoy the next 55 days like no other!" Sung said.
  4. The first gold bracelet won every summer at the World Series of Poker is always a special one. For the winner, it’s an unbelievable thrill, a tone setter, a bankroll booster, and a stress reliever all at once. For the media and fans, it’s the first of many headline-grabbing triumphs. For other competitors, it represents that there is gold at the end of the long rainbow. All of those things are great, but does success beget further success? Here’s a look at how the first gold bracelet winner of the summer has performed throughout the rest of the WSOP. For this article, PocketFives examined the results of the first winner of an individual open gold bracelet event going back to 2004. This time period can be commonly referred to as the "modern poker era." 2004: James Vogl At the 2004 WSOP, James Vogl topped a field of 834 entries to win the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $400,000. Vogl would go on to cash twice more that summer, but the scores were much smaller than his victory. Vogl finished 27th in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $7,160 and 12th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $12,660. 2005: Allen Cunningham Five-time gold bracelet winner Allen Cunningham was the winner of the first bracelet in 2005. Not only was his victory a big one, as Cunningham won the 2,305-entry $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $725,405, but it ignited quite the summer for the seasoned professional. After the opening win, Cunningham cashed four more times, and each of the additional cashes came in $5,000 buy-in events. First, he took fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em and fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha events for $89,865 and $141,245, respectively. Cunningham then placed 29th in the $5,000 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em for $8,490 and seventh in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo for $42,110. All told, Cunningham earned $281,710 after his opening win that summer. Cunningham’s performances were enough to win him the 2005 WSOP Player of the Year award. 2006: Brandon Cantu After Brandon Cantu won the opening $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $757,839, he didn’t cash for the rest of the 2006 WSOP. 2007: Steve Billirakis Like Cunningham, Steve Billirakis opened with a win and then earned four cashes afterwards. His opening win was worth $536,287 after Billirakis topped a field of 451 entries in the $5,000 Limit/No Limit Hold’em tournament. He then scored 45th-, 29th-, 16th-, and 33rd-place finishes in future events. Whereas Cunningham won nearly $300,000 in additional prize money, Billirakis’ four other cashes only totaled $57,458. That’s not bad, but it’s not nearly the year Cunningham had. 2008: Nenad Medic Nenad Medic opened the 2008 WSOP with a bang, scoring first place in the stacked $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament for $794,112. Medic only cashed once more that summer, taking 24th in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em for $16,496. 2009: Thang Luu Not only did Thang Luu kick off the 2009 WSOP by winning the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low tournament for his second gold bracelet, but he did so after winning the same event the previous year. In 2009, Luu’s win was worth $263,190. After this, Luu cashed just once for $8,983. 2010: Michael Mizrachi The year 2010 was a banner year for Michael Mizrachi at the WSOP. He opened things up in enormous fashion by winning the famed $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $1.559 million. Mizrachi then put together quite an impressive string of four more cashes and was challenging for the WSOP Player of the Year award that ultimately fell to Frank Kassela. Additional scores were had that year by Mizrachi when he took sixth in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship for $68,949, eighth in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $49,732, and 26th in the $2,500 Mixed for $6,324. Mizrachi wasn’t done there, either. He reached the final table of the WSOP Main Event and scored fifth place for a whopping $2.332 million. 2011: Jake Cody After Jake Cody opened the 2011 WSOP by winning the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship for $851,192, he only cashed twice that summer and both were for less than $20,000. Cody did, however, place seventh in the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event for €150,000 ($200,379). 2012: Brent Hanks Brent Hanks won the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event to kick off the 2012 WSOP. That event drew 2,101 entries and Hanks scored $517,725. Hanks’ only other cash that summer at the WSOP was a 282nd-place finish in the WSOP Main Event for $38,453. 2013: Trevor Pope The opening to the 2013 summer was a big one for Trevor Pope, as he scored first place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $553,906. Pope came to the final table with an incredibly large chip lead and rode it all the way to the winner’s circle. After that, Pope cooled off and only cashed two more times. He finished 48th in the $2,500 Four-Max No Limit Hold’em for $5,253 and 13th in the $5,000 Six-Max Pot Limit Hold’em for $19,646. 2014: Vanessa Selbst Vanessa Selbst scored a big victory to open the 2014 WSOP when she won the $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em to the tune of $871,148. Following her opening win that summer, Selbst only cashed once more. Her second cash was a 38th-place finish in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo worth $5,517. 2015: Nick Petrangelo Nick Petrangelo had a great 2015. It was his first breakout year that saw him win more than $3.4 million on the live felt. Included in that was a $201,812 gold bracelet victory at the World Series of Poker. Petrangelo won the first piece of jewelry that summer by taking down the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout atop 308 entries. Despite his big year and first gold bracelet win, not much materialized for Petrangelo over the remaining WSOP events that year. In Las Vegas, he cashed in the $10,000 Main Event for $17,282, and then he took 26th in the €3,250 No Limit Hold’em event at WSOP Europe for €6,035 ($6,863). 2016: Kyle Julius Like Cunningham, Billirakis, and Mizrachi, Kyle Julius, winner of the first gold bracelet in the summer of 2016, cashed four additional times following his trip to victory lane. Julius opened the summer with a win in the $1,000 Top Up Turbo No Limit Hold’em for $142,972. He then record small cashes in the Colossus and $1,500 No Limit Hold’em before returning to a top-10 result in the $5,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em. In that event, Julius took ninth from a field of 524 entries and won $35,636. That summer, Julius would also take 21st in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop to add $187,576 to his bankroll. 2017: Upeshka De Silva Upeshka De Silva stormed out of the gate in 2017 with a victory in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout for $229,923. He then put together four more cashes - just like Cunningham, Billirakis, Mizrachi, and Julius did in prior years - but De Silva couldn’t quite make it back to a WSOP final table that summer. He did place 30th in the 1,759-entry $2,620 Marathon tournament for $17,491, but that was De Silva’s deepest run outside of his opening gold bracelet win. 2018: Elio Fox In 2018, it was Elio Fox, winner of the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, who took the first gold bracelet of the summer. Fox won the $10,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em event for $393,693. From there, Fox would put together a decent list of three more cashes. He took second in the $100,000 High Roller for $1.798 million, finished 92nd in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker for $8,976, and took ninth in the $50,000 High Roller for $139,699. $357,937 Won and 2.4 Cashes On Average Looking at the whole of it all, the first gold bracelet winners each summer, going back to 2004, averaged $357,937 won and 2.4 cashes that same summer following the gold bracelet win. None of these players were about to earn a second gold bracelet in that same summer, but some did come close by returning to a WSOP final table. Those to perform the latter were Cunningham in 2005, Mizrachi in 2010, Cody in 2011 if you count WSOP Europe, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. Both Cunningham and Mizrachi made it back to three final tables following their opening win. In total, players to win the opening gold bracelet of the summer cashed 36 additional times at the WSOP that year, again that’s if you include WSOP Europe. Of those 36 cashes, six were worth more than six figures and two were in the seven figures. Three times a player landed a score for more than the gold bracelet win, too. Those three times came with Mizrachi in 2010, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. What Does This Mean for Brian Green? The question now is, what does this all mean for Brian Green? He won the first gold bracelet at the 50th annual 2019 World Series of Poker when he topped a field of 204 entries in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty event. Green won $345,669. Green now has 25 WSOP cashes. A few times, he put together a nice handful of in-the-money finishes during the summer, so we’ll likely see a fair amount of volume from him given his successful start to the 2019 WSOP. In 2014 and 2015, Green cashed five times each summer at the WSOP. In 2016, he cashed four times. Although he failed to record a WSOP cash in 2017, Green added four more trips to the money in 2018. He frequents the higher buy-in No Limit Hold’em events a lot, so if he makes any additional noise in 2019 it will likely come from one of those tournaments. If we were to take a guess as to how Green will do for the remainder of the 2019 WSOP, we’d say he’ll land three or four more cashes and that there’s a high probability one of those is a score in the six figures.
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