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  1. [caption width="640"] Only three of the four top seeds are moving on to the WPT Champions Challenge Sweet 16.[/caption] Even though they've had little trouble this year, number one seeds don’t always breeze through the NCAA tournament. Upsets happen. It seems that the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge is no different. Carlos Mortensen, top seed in the Hearts Region, was beaten by poker hall of famer and eight seed Erik Seidel in the Round of 32. The other three top seeds, Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Negreanu, all advanced to the Sweet 16. The Champions Challenge is a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other with each match-up decided by a fan vote on WPT.com. The field of 64, and the seeding, were determined by taking into account the WPT success of each player. In the Sweet 16, Hansen is matched up against Alan Goehring, while Zinno takes on Mohsin Charania and Negreanu has Jonathan Little as his opponent. There was only two other upsets in the second round, but poker fans might not call one of them that. Doyle Brunson, seeded 11th in the Clubs region, beat Darren Elias, a three seed, to advance to the third round. While Brunson’s popularity is unquestionable, his WPT resume isn’t quite as polished as Elias’. Brunson has one WPT title, three WPT final tables, eight WPT cashes and $2,081,824 in earnings, but Elias has two WPT wins, five final tables and 19 cashes and he only trails Brunson’s lifetime WPT earnings by $189,000. Still, Brunson earned enough fan votes to move on. The other upset came in the Spades region as 11 seed Phil Laak beat out 3 seed Freddy Deeb. Laak’s victory sets up a third round match-up that will probably end up as the most talked about of the round. Laak now faces his best friend, Antonio Esfandiari, in the Sweet 16. The pair have been good friends since long before their WPT success. Those two aren’t the only good friends facing off in the next round though. After upsetting Elias, Brunson now faces Hoyt Corkins for a chance at moving on to the Elite Eight. Like Elias, Corkins brings a better-than-Doyle WPT resume to the table, but his two WPT titles, six final tables, 19 cashes and $3.5 million in earnings might not be enough to overcome Brunson’s popularity. This round of voting is open until Friday at 5 pm ET. The WPT Champions Challenge Sweet 16 Clubs Region Daniel Negreanu vs. Jonathan Little Hoyt Corkins vs. Doyle Brunson Diamonds Region Anthony Zinno vs. Mohsin Charania JC Tran vs. Barry Greenstein Hearts Region Erik Seidel vs. Marvin Rettenmaier Phil Ivey vs. Michael Mizrachi Spades Region Gus Hansen vs. Alan Goehring Antonio Esfandiari vs. Phil Laak
  2. [CAPTION=100%]All four #1 seeds advanced to Round 2 in the WPT Champions Challenge.[/CAPTION] Just like March Madness, the first round of the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge was all about the upset. Eight of the first 32 first round match-ups ended with the lower seed advancing to the second round. The Champions Challenge is a bracket-style tournament pitting some of the greatest performers in WPT history against each other in a contest driven by fan voting. It's structured identically to the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament with the winner announced on April 11. Four of the upsets came from the Spades region, with the biggest highlight being #10 seed Tony Dunst beating out #7 seed Howard Lederer. Season 9 WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger, the #12 seed, beat out #5 Tommy Vedes, #11 Phil Laak eliminated #6 Matt Giannetti and #9 David Williams beat out #8 Nenad Medic. The biggest upset came in the Hearts region as #15 seed Dan Harrington beat out #2 seed Erick Lindgren. The only other upset in that region had #11 Nick Schulman come out ahead of #6 Aaron Mermelstein. The other two regions only had one upset each. In the Diamonds region, #11 Vivek Rajkumar bested #6 Randal Flowers and in the Clubs region #11 seed Doyle Brunson ousted #6 Kevin Eyster. And just like March Madness, number one seeds had no trouble in the first round. Carlos Mortensen, Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Negreanu all moved on to the second round. Looking through the 16 second round match-ups, there are a few that stand out as worth watching. Clubs Region #1 Daniel Negreanu vs. #8 Gavin Smith It's an all-Canadian battle as Season 3 WPT Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu goes up against Season 4 WPT POY Gavin Smith. Negreanu has two WPT titles, both coming in Season 3 when he won the Borgata Poker Open and Five Diamond Poker Classic. Smith won the Mirage Poker Showdown in Season 4 and followed that up with a third place finish at the North American Poker Championship and a fourth place finish at the World Poker Open. Negreanu has a huge edge in lifetime WPT earnings, having banked $6.4 million to Smith's $2.6 million. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #7 Scotty Nguyen There may not be a closer match-up in the second round than JC Tran against Scotty Nguyen. Tran has two WPT titles to Nguyen's one and has $1.3 million more in earnings, but Nguyen has eight WPT final tables to Tran's seven and 18 cashes to 16. The bulk of Nguyen's success came early in his career. Six of his first eight WPT cashes were final tables including his win at the World Poker Open in Season 4. Tran's first win came in Season 5 at the World Poker Challenge in Reno. He returned to the winner's circle in Season 12 when he won his hometown Rolling Thunder event at Thunder Valley. Hearts Region #1 Carlos Mortensen vs. #8 Erik Seidel Carlos Mortensen is a #1 seed thanks to his three WPT titles, but he may be in for a rough ride in the second round as he goes up against Erik Seidel. Mortensen's three wins are spread out over three different seasons. He won the North American Poker Championship in Season 3, the WPT World Championship in Season 5 and the Hollywood Poker Open in Season 8. He's cashed 21 times for $6.7 million in earnings. Seidel won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6 and has cashed 22 times with seven final tables and $2.3 million in earnings. Spades Region #2 Antonio Esfandiari vs. #10 Tony Dunst Tony Dunst took out Howard Lederer in the first round, but beating one the poker world's biggest villains is an easier task than taking on one of its most popular players. That's the challenge in front of Dunst, though, as he takes on #2 seed Antonio Esfandiari. Dunst has one WPT title to his credit, the Season 12 WPT Caribbean event, but has four final tables. Esfandiari has two WPT titles, the LA Poker Classic in Season 2 and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Season 9. He has nearly $3 million in WPT earnings and eight final table appearances. Second round voting is open until Monday, March 21 at 3 pm PT. Vote here.
  3. [caption width="640"] The WPT Champions Challenge pits some of poker's biggest stars up against each other[/caption] Sure, everybody at your workplace is focused on just how awesome their NCAA March Madness bracket is. Paul from accounting is convinced that the six-seed he’s got going to the Elite Eight is his key to victory. You’ve got a bracket too – everybody does – but thanks to the World Poker Tour you’re also looking at another bracket. That’s what the WPT is hoping for anyway with their launch of the WPT Champions Challenge, a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other. The contest is interactive, with each match-up decided by a fan vote. The 64-player field was determined using WPT titles, final table and earnings as criteria. Given that, it should be no surprise to see four players who have taken turns dominating the WPT over the years as the top seeds in each “region“: Clubs bracket: Daniel Negreanu Diamonds bracket: Anthony Zinno Heart bracket: Carlos Mortensen Spades bracket: Gus Hansen Just like the NCAA bracket, the WPT Champions Challenge goes from 64 down to 32, down to 16, down to eight, down to four and then down to two before a winner is determined. Voting opened on WPT.com on Friday and continues until a winner is announced on Monday, April 11. The WPT Champions Challenge Schedule Round of 64: March 11 - 16 Round of 32: March 16 -21 Sweet 16: March 21 - 25 Elite 8: March 25 - March 29 Final Four: March 29 - April 1 The Championship: April 1 - 8 The winner will be announced on April 11. Check out the complete WPT Champions Challenge bracket. FIRST ROUND MATCH UPS TO WATCH Spades Region #7 Howard Lederer vs #10 Tony Dunst It’s hard to argue that Howard Lederer wasn’t one of the most successful players on the World Poker Tour in the early days. He won two events in the inaugural season and has cashed a total of seven times. Meanwhile Tony Dunst represents the online player generation that was most victimized by Lederer’s mismanagement of Full Tilt Poker and could easily pull the upset here with the support of his fellow former online grinders. Hearts Region #8 Erik Seidel vs. #9 Shawn Buchanan Each year one of the more intriguing first round matchups of March Madness pits the #8 seed vs. the #9 seed. That’s certainly carrying over to the WPT Champions Challenge as Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel is up against Shawn Buchanan. Seidel has 22 WPT cashes, seven WPT final tables and won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6. Buchanan is no slouch either. The Canadian poker pro goes 16-4-1 in WPT events with his win coming at a stacked Mandalay Bay Poker Championship in Season 6. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #15 Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier Each player in the field was chosen based on their success at World Poker Tour events. JC Tran has multiple WPT titles to his credit while Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier has just one, but both players have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success outside of the WPT and that may sway some voters based on their loyalties. Tran has over $12 million in lifetime earnings with just under $4 million coming at WPT stops. Grospellier has nearly $11 million in lifetime earnings with $2.2 million coming via the World Poker Tour. Clubs Region #5 Chino Rheem vs #12 Keven Stammen If the Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan matches of the 1990s left you disappointed, maybe seeing one WPT World Champion up against another WPT World Champion can satisfy your appetite. That’s what we have in the Clubs region as Season 11 champ Chino Rheem takes on Season 12 champ Keven Stammen. Rheem, who also won the Five Diamond Classic in Season 7, is the higher seed but Stammen has 15 cashes to Rheem’s four, three final tables to Rheem’s two. If you’re looking for a more traditional NCAA bracket to fill out, check out PocketFives' free-to-enter March Madness contest with $500 in prizes from FanDuel.
  4. [caption width="640"] Ten players worth considering as the Poker Hall of Fame public nomination process opens[/caption] The public nomination process for the Poker Hall of Fame to determine the top ten candidates for official voting for the Class of 2016 opened earlier this month. The nomination period allows poker fans around the world to submit the names of players they think should be considered for inclusion in the Poker Hall of Fame. The Criteria: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. And while everybody has an opinion on who should or shouldn’t get in, PocketFives has created a guide for you of 10 names you should consider nominating. Keep in mind, many thought Phil Ivey would be a shoo-in this year, but turns out he's not quite eligible yet. With that in mind, we’ve broken the names into three groups: Obvious Choices, Dark Horses and Long Shots. Obvious ChoicesChris Moneymaker Rule of thumb – if an era is named after someone, then that person is probably a Hall of Famer. Chris Moneymaker was the right guy, at the right place, bluffing at the right time when he won the WSOP Main Event in 2003. ESPN audiences drank up a 20-something accountant from Tennessee facing down Sammy Farha for $2.5 million dollars. Moneymaker not only won, but somehow graciously handled the media firestorm of attention that no one could be prepared for. He was the face of the poker boom that followed and soon every line cook in the country was hosting a home game. Moneymaker wasn’t a flash in the pan, since his historic win he’s earned $1.1 million in tournaments and solidified himself as one of the top ambassadors of the game, greeting every critic with a smile. But his influence goes beyond a player and undoubtedly “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game.” Carlos Mortensen Carlos Mortensen first rose to poker fame after winning the 2001 WSOP Main Event but he is also the all-time leading money winner in World Poker Tour history thanks largely to his three WPT titles. His lifetime earnings are just north of $11.8 million. Mortensen has two bracelets in 35 WSOP cashes with another 20 cashes and seven WPT final tables. Should he get into the Hall of Fame, he would undoubtedly be the most WPT-centric player in the Hall of Fame to date, Mike Sexton withstanding (almost all tournament success in WSOP events). But with his banner hung in the Amazon Room the stewards of the HOF can breathe easy. Bruno Fitoussi One can’t discuss French poker without mentioning Bruno Fitoussi’s name. He was one-part Mike Sexton, one-part Mori Eskandani and one-part Chris Moneymaker when poker boomed on TV in France. He was one of the operators of The Aviation Club – one of Europe’s premier poker rooms – and the lack of European inductees is one of the PHOF’s most warranted criticisms. As a player he’s won $2.8 million around the world while logging 20 WSOP cashes. He finished runner-up in the 2007 $50,000 HORSE Championship for $1.2 million and finished 15th in the 2003 Main Event. Ted Forrest The six-time bracelet winner’s name keeps coming up in this conversation. He’s one of five players to win three bracelets in a year, nine of his 34 WSOP cashes were in events with a $5,000 buy-in or greater. Forrest doesn’t have the flash that screams Hall of Famer but he’s got a track record in all the games, was a part of “The Corporation”, the group of top level pros that took on billionaire banker Andy Beal, and as far as standing the test of time is concerned – he’s got 21 years between his first and most recent bracelet. David Chiu David Chiu just passed the $8 million in career earnings mark and he has five WSOP bracelets, 25 final tables and 73 cashes in the WSOP alone and finds himself in rarified air among the five-bracelet club, he’s one of three or four players that could arguably keep adding to his total. His game hasn’t aged like many in his age bracket – he’s cashed in six $10,000 or greater events since 2014, including the 2015 $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. Dark HorsesChris Bjorin Chris Bjorin’s grandfatherly smile and non-threatening demeanour masks that he’s won $5 million, two bracelets and a European Poker Tour title and it took Martin Jacobson winning $10 million in the 2014 WSOP Main Event to top him on Sweden’s all-time money list. Huck Seed If there was a Hall of Fame of Not Giving a Sh*t, Huck Seed would be there. There’s certain politicking and campaigning many nominees endure to gain entry, but that’s something this former Main Event Champ and four-time bracelet winner just won’t do. Todd Brunson Todd Brunson isn’t discussed much in after-hours PHOF talk but has won $4.2 million and has 50 WSOP cashes. He has spent most of his career focused on high stakes cash games. The largest strike against him is that he has just one bracelet and while nowhere in the requirements does it say “multi-bracelet winner”, it’s implied. Mike Matusow Mike Matusow’s life shows highs and lows of the life of a professional gambler better than any Hollywood flick ever could. He’s a true blue-collar player that’s won and lost at least $8.6 million, has four bracelets, spent time in jail and battled life-threatening medical problems all while being a big star in the TV boom era. The Long ShotIsai Scheinberg International poker politics are a curious thing, and while the entity that owns the PHOF prefers their own version of worldwide poker history, most everyone else recognizes Isai Scheinberg as the single most influential businessman in poker the world will probably ever see. Scheinberg was the former CEO of PokerStars and directed the company during its profitable and expansive rise to the top of the online poker world. The private ownership allowed Scheinberg and his management team room to innovate and become the overwhelming leaders in the industry. Photos courtesy of World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour.
  5. [caption width="640"] Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson are the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2016 (WPT photos)[/caption] The Poker Hall of Fame officially has two more members as Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson were announced as the Poker HOF Class of 2016 on Thursday morning. The two were chosen by the voting panel consisting of living members of the Poker Hall of Fame and select media members. WSOP officials, who oversee the PHOF, called the 2016 voting process the closest in years. Mortensen and Brunson will be officially inducted on October 26 at a ceremony at Binion's Gambling Hall in Downtown Las Vegas. Mortensen is the only player in history to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event and the World Poker Tour World Championship and is also the leading money winner in WPT history, having won $6,738,670. In 2001, Mortensen topped a 613-player field, and a final table that included Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, and runner-up Dewey Tomko, to capture the WSOP Main Event for the first major win of his career. Two years later he captured his second WSOP bracelet in a $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. Mortensen is also one of only three players to have won three WPT titles. His first came in 2004 when he won the inaugural Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In 2007 he won the WPT World Championship at Bellagio for $3,970,415 - the largest single score of his career. He then won the Hollywood Poker Open in 2010 for his third WPT title. "I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” said Mortensen. “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish. I've always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame. To be included with the legends makes me very happy. I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me. I take this honor very seriously." Mortensen is the first European-born player to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. While Mortensen has been the model of success for tournament players of his era, Brunson has found the most success at the highest stakes cash games available. The son of poker legend Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson was a key figure in the heads-up limit hold'em matches against Texas billionaire banker Andy Beal in 2004 and 2006. In 2015 he reportedly won $5 million from Beal in 2015 inside Bobby's Room at Bellagio. Brunson has had some tournament success over the course of his career. He won his only WSOP bracelet in 2005, beating 358 other players to win a $2,500 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo event. He's had two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes in WSOP events over the course of his career. His lifetime tournament earnings of $4,291,671 put him 69th on the all-time list. "It's a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson. “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members. To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime. Todd and Doyle Brunson are the only father-son combination in the Poker Hall of Fame. The eight nominees that were not inducted this year, Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage and David Ulliott are eligible for nomination in 2017 and beyond.
  6. [caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is one of 10 nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame (PokerStars photo)[/caption] The list of players eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2016 include two former WSOP Main Event champions, a highly respected tournament director, five players with strong ties to the success of poker in their home country and the son of a current Hall of Famer who has dominated cash games in Las Vegas for the better part of the last 15 years. The World Series of Poker, which oversees the Poker Hall of Fame, announced the list of 10 nominees for the Class of 2016 on Friday and the biggest name on the list might just be 2003 WSOP Main Event winnerChris Moneymaker. The one-time "accountant from Tennessee" is largely credited with helping ignite the poker boom following his Cinderella story win in 2003 after qualifying online. Moneymaker, who turned 40 earlier this year to become HOF eligible, is one of three new names on the list this year. Todd Brunson and Eli Elezra, who both play high stakes cash games in Las Vegas, were also nominated for the first time. Brunson, son of Doyle Brunson, has one WSOP bracelet to his credit while Elezra has three. The rest of the nominees have all been nominated before but none more so than Swedish poker pro and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Chris Bjorin who has been nominated every year since 2012. Carlos Mortensen, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2001 and WPT World Championship in 2007, is nominated for the third time after failing to be inducted in 2013 and 2015. David 'Devilfish' Ulliott, who passed away in April 2015, and Max Pescatori were nominated for the first time in 2015 while Bruno Fitoussi has now been nominated in three straight years. Costa Rica's Humberto Brenes rounds out the nine players nominated for induction this year. The only nominee who is not a player is WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. Savage, who co-founded the Poker Tournament Director's Association, is one of the most highly respected tournament directors in the world. He was first nominated in 2015 and is hoping to become the second tournament director inducted into the HOF joining 2014 inductee Jack McLelland. The list of 10 nominees will be sent to 45 voters, comprised of 25 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 20 members of the media, for consideration. Voters will consider the following criteria when voting: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time For non-players: contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. Voters have until October 7 to submit their ballot and the two nominees receiving the most votes from the 45 voters will be inducted on Wednesday, October 26 at Binion's in Downtown Las Vegas.
  7. There’s a proud contingency of top-tier poker players that have their roots in the country of Spain. One of the most well known live poker players in the world, former World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Carlos ‘The Matador’ Mortensen, helped put the Kingdom on the map in the world of poker. Nowadays, the game thrives there and he’s joined by a whole host of big-time talent that continues to elevate the game in Spain including high-roller Sergio Aido, World Series of Poker Europe Champion Marti Roca de Torres, Leo Margets and, of course, the Global Poker Index’s #1-ranked player in 2017 Adrian Mateos. The young Mateos is more than a national phenom for Spain, he’s ranked #1 on Spain’s All-Time Money list and #30 in on the All-Time List. He was the youngest ever to win three World Series of Poker bracelets and he captured the title during the European Poker Tour’s Season 11 Grand Final. However, in addition to all of Mateos' live results, he's also a prolific online player. Now, with Spain having moved forward with sharing player pool liquidity with France, Portugal, and Italy, there’s an emerging crop of players who would love nothing more than to follow in Mateo’s footsteps. ‘cuquejo25’ stands as the current #1 ranked online player in Spain. He shot up the rankings thanks in part to a hot start to 2018 that has seen him accumulate eight podium finishes, with four of them outright wins, that brought in over $5,000. Right on his heels though is the #2 ranked Spaniard, ‘Neowaca’. A relatively new PocketFiver, ‘Neowaca’ sits just shy of 220 PLB points from taking the pole position on this list. All he would need to do is repeat a performance like when he took down the PokerStars.ES $12 El Clasico for $5,878 and 144.87 PLB points in September of 2017 to truly make a run at the top spot. Sitting just inside the top 2000 players in the world is Spain’s #3 ranked grinder, ‘timote203’. Hailing from the city of Caceres, he recently eclipsed over $250,000 in lifetime earnings. In the first week of February, he earned his highest PLB point total for the period with a final table finish in PokerStars.ES FRESH-26 for $2,748 and 123.30 PLB points. ‘joslopgon’ checks in at #4, as he makes a run at a major career milestone. The Andalusian is just over $10,000 shy of $400,000 in lifetime earnings. It won’t be long before he gets there should he continues to do as he did when he finished in fourth place in the 50 PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up for $4,270.42 on February 11. Closing out Spain’s top 5 is ‘craizyfinn’. The player from Palma has accumulated ten PLB qualified cashes since the start of 2018 and sits just over $16,000 shy of earning an official $250,000 in lifetime cashes badge. Both ‘iceman_xddd’ (#6) and Guillem ‘camelCase’ Ulltstre (#7) are in a position to breach the top 5 and they find themselves within 35 PLB points of each other and both less than 100 away from ‘craizyfinn’. Daniel ‘PKdani1989’ Martines Sanz is currently ranked #8. Sanz is a small stakes tournament grinder that is looking for more scores like his February 6 $565 on PokerStars.ES, to help him move up in stakes. ‘twister88’ (#9) and San Sebastian’s ‘jounas14’ complete the current crop of top 10 players out of Spain. Spain's Online Poker Rankings Top 10 RANK PLAYER POINTS 1 cuquejo25 2,017.61 2 Neowaca 2,017.61 3 timote203 1,715.50 4 joslopgon 1,652.76 5 craizyfinn 1,542.09 6 iceman_xddd 1,478.41 7 camelCase 1,444.74 8 PKdani1989 1,403.20 9 twister88 1,391.13 10 jounas14 1,387.17
  8. 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.
  9. The PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship is one of the most highly anticipated poker tournaments ever. The event comes with a rake-free $25,000 buy-in, hundreds of Platinum Pass qualifiers and $1 million added to first place prize. The momentous event takes place January 6-10 in the Bahamas and the PocketFives team will be there to cover it from start to finish. The biggest question ahead of the event is, of course, just how big will it be? Poker pro Chance Kornuth recently asked the question on social media and it appears many are pegging PSPC to be enormous. https://twitter.com/ChancesCards/status/1078708641665073152 The largest $25,000 buy-in poker tournament in history was the Season V World Poker Tour World Championship. The event took place in 2007 when poker was booming all across the globe. It attracted a whopping 639 entries who ponied up $25,500 each to create a $15.495 million prize pool. Carlos Mortensen won the event for $3.97 million, and the top three spots each took home seven-figure paydays. If the PSPC generates 640 entries, it will become the largest field ever in a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament. That would also set the record for largest prize pool from a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament, but the fact that the PSPC event is a rake-free tournament means it needs just 620 entries to set the record for largest prize pool generated by a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament. Here's a look at the top 10 largest prize pools in poker history from live tournaments at the $25,000 buy-in level. YEAR TOURNAMENT ENTRIES PRIZE POOL 2007 Season V WPT World Championship 639 $15,495,750 Winner: Carlos Mortensen ($3,970,415) 2006 Season IV WPT World Championship 605 $14,671,250 Winner: Joe Bartholdi ($3,760,165) 2008 Season VI WPT World Championship 545 $13,216,250 Winner: David Chiu ($3,389,140) 2005 Season III WPT World Championship 452 $10,961,000 Winner: Tuan Le ($2,856,150) 2018 partypoker MILLIONS World 394 $10,000,000 Winner: Roger Teska ($2,000,000) 2004 Season II WPT World Championship 343 $8,342,000 Winner: Martin de Knijff ($2,728,356) 2004 Season VII WPT World Championship 338 $8,196,500 Winner: Yevgeniy Timoshenko ($2,149,960) 2014 EPT10 Grand Final High Roller 214 $7,257,852 Winner: Philipp Gruissem ($1,378,059) 2016 EPT12 Grand Final High Roller 231 $6,531,825 Winner: Alexandru Papazian ($1,381,499) 2015 PCA High Roller 269 $6,456,000 Winner: Ilkin Garibli ($1,105,040) Another question some have had is whether or not the PSPC will replace the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. That seems unlikely. It's more likely that the PSPC is a one-off event that doesn't happen every single year. That said, what does the PSPC need to do in order to become the largest prize pool in PokerStars Caribbean Adventure history? Here's a look at the biggest prize pools to come out of the PCA. YEAR TOURNAMENT ENTRIES PRIZE POOL 2011 PCA Main Event 1,560 $15,132,000 Winner: Galen Hall ($2,300,000) 2010 PCA Main Event 1,529 $14,826,800 Winner: Harrison Gimbel ($2,200,000) 2009 PCA Main Event 1,347 $12,674,400 Winner: Poorya Nazari ($3,000,000) 2012 PCA Main Event 1,072 $10,398,400 Winner: John Dibella ($1,775,000) 2014 PCA Main Event 1,031 $10,000,700 Winner: Dominik Panka ($1,423,096) 2013 PCA Main Event 987 $9,573,900 Winner: Dimitar Danchev ($1,859,000) 2008 PCA Main Event 1,136 $8,562,976 Winner: Betrand Grospellier ($2,000,000) 2015 PCA Main Event 816 $7,915,200 Winner: Kevin Schulz ($1,491,580) 2007 PCA Main Event 937 $7,063,842 Winner: Ryan Daut ($1,535,255) 2015 PCA High Roller 269 $6,456,000 Winner: Ilkin Garibli ($1,105,040) The largest prize pool in PCA history belongs to the 2011 PCA $10,300 Main Event. That year, the PCA Main Event drew 1,560 entries and generated a $15.132 million prize pool, with a $2.3 million first-place prize that went to Galen Hall. The PCA Main Event was also above $10 million in prize pool money for the years of 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014. The largest first-place prize in PCA history went to Poorya Nazari, who won $3 million when he took down the 2009 PCA Main Event. So there you have it. For PSPC to become the largest prize pool for a $25,000 buy-in tournament, it needs to surpass the WPT World Championship's figure of $15.495 million. To become the largest field size ever in a $25,000 buy-in poker tournament, it will need 640 entries. To become the largest first-place prize from $25,000 buy-in tournaments, the $3.97 million that Mortensen won is the number to beat. For PCA-only records, PSPC will need to surpass a $15.132 million prize pool and a $3 million first-place prize. Action from the Bahamas kicks off Sunday, January 6, 2019, with the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship from Atlantis Resort & Casino. PocketFives will be on site all the way through until the event's final day on January 16, so stay tuned for more coverage from the 2019 PCA poker series.
  10. 2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. Doyle Brunson BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 10 37 $3,038,079 26 Doyle Brunson has always been the 'Godfather of Poker.' Now, he's the #2 greatest player in World Series of Poker history. Brunson has one of those seen-it-all, done-it-all types of careers that would put him at the top of any industry. He’s the proud owner of 10 WSOP gold bracelets, two WSOP Main Event titles, and a reputation so immense that it transcends the game. Although he comes in at #2 on this list, there would be shame shame if he ranked #1 on yours. Brunson came up in Texas and was quite the athlete in his younger years. In fact, he was likely going to become a member of the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA until a knee injury ended those dreams. They say "what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure" and Brunson certainly became one of the poker community’s greatest treasures quickly after he took up the game full time following his injury. A career as a salesman just wasn’t cutting it for the competitive Texan. Brunson has been playing at the World Series of Poker since its start, and his first WSOP cash was in the 1972 WSOP Main Event where he placed third. There is a great story about this event and if you dig up the results, you would find that Brunson and second-place finisher Puggy Pearson each earned more money than the winner, Thomas 'Amarillo Slim' Preston. As the story goes, Brunson and Pearson didn’t want to win because they didn’t want to take on the spotlight. Preston accepted the honor and took the title, which he ran with and became an ambassador for poker players and gamblers alike. Brunson won his first gold bracelet in 1976. That year, he actually won two. He first won the $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw and then he captured the WSOP Main Event title. The following year, Brunson sung the same tune, winning two gold bracelets including a successful title defense of his WSOP Main Event victory. Brunson’s streak of consecutive years winning WSOP gold continued in 1978 and 1979. In 1980, he was blanked on WSOP wins, but he came second in two events, with one being the WSOP Main Event. Incredibly so, Brunson took fourth in the 1982 Main Event and third in the 1983 Main Event. There was a gap in Brunson’s WSOP wins from 1979 to 1991, with him winning the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament in 1991 for $208,000. He then won his eighth bracelet in 1998, ninth in 2003, and 10th in 2005, and it’s the latter two that could be argued as just as impressive as any of the others. Poker was exploding in the early to mid 2000s. Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event in 2003 and helped ignite the poker boom, but even in 2003 the field sizes were getting bigger and tougher than ever before. That year, Brunson won the $2,000 H.O.R.S.E. event that had Scotty Nguyen and Chip Jett at the final table, plus Allen Cunningham, Carlos Mortensen, and Phil Hellmuth made the money. Brunson then won the $5,000 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event in 2005, topping a field of 301 entries and winning $367,800. At 71 years old, clearly Brunson still had plenty of game left. That was the last time Brunson earned WSOP gold, in 2005, but it wasn’t the last time he cashed or reached a final table. He took eighth in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. in 2006, sixth in the $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha in 2007, and seventh in the $10,000 World Championship Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo in 2009. Then later in 2009, although it wasn’t a final table appearance, Brunson finished 17th in the WSOP Europe £10,000 Main Event from a stack field of 334 entries. Notably, Brunson reached the final table of the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw in 2018 and finished in sixth place. He then announced he would be retiring from tournament poker and only sticking to cash games if he was going to play. Any way you slice it, Brunson is hands down, without argument, one of the greatest, most influential poker players in WSOP history. He’s meant an incredible amount to poker and without him, the game wouldn’t be what it is today.
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