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  1. Every year, the World Series of Poker is enormous fun for fans of the game as poker heroes such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Shaun Deeb take each other on for the biggest prizes and bragging rights associated with winning the much-coveted Player of the Year title as well as individual bracelets.   This year sees the return of the $25k Fantasy Draft, where players and fans alike can invest their hard-earned money in the performances of their poker idols. But how does the $25k Fantasy Draft work and who are the best people to ask?   We’ve delved into poker’s biggest sweat in Las Vegas by speaking with Remko Rinkema and Donnie Peters, who this year are the two men behind Team Pocket Fives, as well as chatting to Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks, who both represent Team No Gamble, No Future. For the first time, investors can buy a piece of the action from both teams direct from the Pocket Fives site. Remko Rinkema can see the benefits of following the website to keep track of which players are selling their action.   “There are people who have posted action on Pocket Fives,” he says. “If we can see that a player is playing a big buy-in tournament, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing a full schedule. The staking marketplace on Pocket Fives has brought all that to one platform.”   Jeff Platt couldn’t agree more. The man who made award-winning content at the last World Series of Poker is excited about how easy it is to advertise the package.   “While it’s a thrill for us to run the team, it’s even more exciting to be able to get fans involved with the squad, via the Pocket Fives Staking platform,” he says. His teammate, Brent Hanks, agrees.   “A few years ago, Remko and I did this thing together and it dawned on both of us that we were actually sharp when it comes to the WSOP and determining the value and pricing of players. Fast forward, Jeff and I have been very fortunate to be immersed within the poker industry.”   Making the Best Picks   "Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this." ~ Remko Rinkema   The two teams know all about the process of picking players, but what strategy is the right one? As both teams confess, experience is no guarantee of success.   “Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this. We know better than anyone how it works and haven’t won a thing!” laughs Rinkema, who won a Global Poker Award earlier this year for his spectacular feature on the life of Stu Ungar told through his daughter Stephanie’s memories for PokerGO.   “It’s very different from playing a tournament or cash game,” says Donnie Peters, Rinkema’s right-hand man on Team Pocket Fives. “You’re betting on other players. It’s fantasy football transitioned to poker. They didn’t run the $25k fantasy last year because of the vaccine or mask mandates, but we’ve been doing this $25k for several years.”   As Rinkema explains, knowing that a player will put in the volume no matter what is key to making the right buys on Draft night.   “The first tier is how much are they going to play,” he explains. “Then how likely are they to stick to that schedule based on outside parameters such as cash games and skill level compared to their opponents. Anyone can win a tournament on a given day; Jeff Platt made a final table last year - that says it all.”   This theory applies to the biggest players, as the men who know poker best tell us. Volume is by far the biggest factor and while some stars of the game like Daniel Negreanu will play every game, others such as Phil Ivey might take four or five days off if a juicy cash game kicks off elsewhere on the Strip.   The Origins of the Game   "We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP." ~ Donnie Peters   The notion of playing a $25,000-entry Fantasy Draft for poker started in 2011. At that stage, Daniel Negreanu was the man behind it, but interest in the idea quickly snowballed. Podcasters Quad Jacks, who were huge in 2012 interviewed Rinkema for their show and the latter then discussed the idea with Peters on a PokerNews podcast episode.   “We thought it didn’t seem like they understood draft strategy,” says Peters. “We joked that we’d max the auction on Phil Ivey, spending 193 on Ivey then fill in the rest of our players with $1 players. Some people got wind of it on social media.”   The pair were encouraged to take part the following year, raising the money from several investors. Despite their knowledge and background in the game - both men have lived and breathed poker for well over a decade - they are yet to profit... but believe this is the year.   “The last time it was organized in 2019, I had a team with Poker Central,” says Rinkema. We were a min-cash shy of finishing in the top three [with] probably the best team ever assembled. We had Jeremy Ausmus, Dan Shak, Rob Mizrachi, Jon Turner, Stephen Chidwick, James Obst, Justin Young and Bart Lybaert was our one-dollar player.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft, or rather ‘gambling on gamblers gambling well’ as Rinkema says, is, as all four men admit, the funniest thing imaginable. Investors are betting money on poker players not only showing up with their own money, but finding ways to win. Variance is huge, and Team Pocket Fives are well aware that players ‘grind for years and never make the final table’. The variance is so high that it’s the reason never to give up. Anyone can win it.   “If you’re investing in Team Pocket Fives, you’re investing in Remko and I. We’re the brain trust. Similar to if you’re backing me in a poker tournament, you invest in me and take a leap of faith with your dollars. Remko and I lean on our expertise. We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP, we’re there every single day and have studied these players over the years.”   [caption id="attachment_638190" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Who'll pick the best team when Daniel Negreanu hosts the $25k Fantasy Draft at the PokerGO Studio at ARIA?[/caption] Fireworks Guaranteed   The $25k Fantasy Draft will be presented by Daniel Negreanu on May 30th and looks set to be held on a live stream on PokerGO too, with a live auctioneer of Tim Duckworth and an electric atmosphere in the room. With huge money on the line and poker heroes captaining many teams, Rinkema explains it can be nerve-wracking for debutants.   “It is one thing betting on fantasy football sitting behind your computer, but quite another being in a room where Daniel Negreanu bids $73 for Stephen Chidwick and I raise my hand and shout ‘$75!’ It’s quite the vibe that you’re stepping into.”   Rinkema explains that team cohesion is everything on the night when the lights are on the teams and marginal decisions need to be made. Whatever the team’s spending limit on players before the auction can change in a second if a big name goes for cheap or sleeper picks gather traction.   “It’s a really cool atmosphere,” says Rinkema. “It’s for the true hardcore. If you’re a podcast fan and love the WSOP, it’s the coolest thing ever. If you’re a true fan of the game, it’s ‘can’t miss’ content and provides an amazing sweat during the WSOP.”   Peters admits that every year, walking into the room for the Draft sends a shiver down his spine.   “You’re going up against a lot of people in the industry and you want to do well. You walk in there and its game day you got your stats, you’ve done your research, but every year people are winging it! They want to borrow your computer it’s like ‘No, you should have done your own research!’ If players don’t go for as many dollars as they think they’re worth, they go crazy."   Peters says the pair get messages from players thanking them for being drafted and promising how hard they’ll try. Not everyone ends the draft delighted with proceedings, though.   "One year Phil Hellmuth went for fourth or fifth most expensive player," recalls Peters. "Obviously, he’s the most decorated WSOP player of all time. He lost his mind that he wasn’t the most expensive player drafted that year!”   [caption id="attachment_638191" align="aligncenter" width="857"] Walking through the famous PokerGO studio doors is inspiring and daunting on Draft night.[/caption] Talking Tactics   "We know when well-known players are looking to play." ~ Brent Hanks   When it comes to individual players, how does each team decide who goes for who? In every case, the process is different, only adding to the variance across the board.   “We both have endless contact information for domestic and international players alike,” says Hanks about his and Platt’s tactics. “We know the sort of volume that goes under the radar and when well-known players are looking to play.”   This isn’t always foolproof, as Rinkema reminds us. It’s not always about the quality of the player.   “I would love to have Jeremy Ausmus on our team every year, but I have a feeling he’ll be one of the highest-priced players bid on. He plays a lot of tournaments, he’s extremely good looking; these factors are important.”   Others won’t be playing a full series, as Rinkema reveals to everyone who reads this.   “Darren Elias, I know without asking him, always takes a break to fly back to the East Coast to hang out with his family. We don’t want those family men on our team. We want dedicated grinders who do not leave the parameter of the valleys and lock in to play every single tournament. Jeremy Ausmus, by the way, big time family man.”   Rinkema has already been sharking Twitter for new names and admits to having found ‘a couple of gems’ in the hunt for a great value breakout player.   “Jason Mercier is a really good example,” says Peters. “He was crushing this thing for so long but, from 2018, hasn’t really played, so you have to find the next people who are coming up. Hanks can’t contain his excitement about the next two months on and off the felt.   “The 25k Fantasy Draft is something that Jeff and I absolutely had to be a part of,” he gushes. “It’s the perfect fit for No Gamble, No Future and what we’re trying to create for our show and brand.” “Yeah, Brent and I have been discussing innovative ways to relaunch No Gamble, No Future,” agrees Platt. “Having a $25k WSOP fantasy team is the perfect complementary piece to that puzzle.” A Rowdy Rail is Guaranteed   "Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table." ~ Jeff Platt   Part of the fun for Pocket Fives investors or players on each team is the guaranteed entertainment that either participation or investment in either Team Pocket Fives or Team No Gamble, No Future brings.   “Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table,” laughs Platt in a reference to the last time Hanks and Platt lit up Twitter after the latter ran very deep at the World Series. “We’ll have so many social media updates so that rail can really feel like they have a good sweat. We plan to feature short interviews with our squad, and love looking at our best sweats throughout the course of the WSOP.”   “Players on our team are going to get our undying support for the duration of the WSOP,” says Peters. “We’ll do almost daily podcasts from Bally’s and Paris, the podcast has nine topics going to every show with nine players on our team. It’s going to generate some major content.   Brent Hanks couldn’t agree more and is determined to bring the same party mood that he did last year to every step of the $25k Fantasy Draft.   “Not only do we absolutely love being a part of this experience, we also know our fans will have a blast alongside us. Not only will this be a fun sweat, but we fully expect to win the damn thing! When our horses make a final table, we guarantee a wild rail as we cheer our team on.”   The last word goes to Rinkema before each of the four go back to their spreadsheets, social media messages and other contacts to continue work on building the perfect $25k Fantasy Draft.   “It’s the most fun content to do during the WSOP,” he says. “There are sweats, players going deep, and having a little skin in the game every morning when you wake up to see how your team is doing is a fun way to make the WSOP even more exciting.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft takes place in less than a fortnight. Before then, you can invest in both teams right here:   https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1526657824532701184
  2. Today, Daniel Negreanu is known as one of the most popular players in poker, a de facto spokesperson for many in the game. Known as ‘Kid Poker’, Negreanu has appeared in movies, televised poker games, podcasts, radio shows and live streams and played at the top table for over 20 years. With hundreds of thousands of followers on his social media channels alone, Negreanu is perhaps the most popular mainstream player poker has seen. Back in 1999, Negreanu was a comparative unknown. Identified as ‘Kid’ - “not 'The Kid', that was Stu Ungar’s moniker” - the Canadian was a young man who was starting to become successful. Despite this, he had never played poker on television, so when he sat down at the final of the U.S. Poker Championship in Atlantic City, it was his first time playing under the glare of television lighting. Some hands give a poker player the confidence to walk that little bit taller. Heads up with John Bonetti, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu was about to play the hand that would change his life. The Young Buck Rises Through the Herd "I knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time." Back in December 1999, while the world was petrified of Y2K and just a fortnight away from a new millennium, Negreanu was ploughing through the field in the U.S. Poker Championship. A year earlier, Negreanu had played events at Foxwoods, in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas leading up to the WSOP where he won his bracelet. Now was the big one - a first TV appearance at a final table. “I was making a name for myself,” he describes. “In 1999, capping that off with a televised final, I went from the young rookie to the established threat, a real pro on the tour." There wasn’t the wall-to-wall poker coverage in 1999 that there is today. Other than Cardplayer Magazine and the odd ESPN appearance, players only had forums that were in their infancy with which to spread the word about their skills. It made the biggest tournaments all the more important. There were only two $10k buy-ins - the WSOP Main Event and the U.S. Poker Championship. Making it all the way to the final two, Negreanu was taking on someone he considered something of a mentor. “I was 25 years old, a young buck on the scene,” says Negreanu. “I was travelling the poker circuit and knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time. I took a liking to him. He had a mafia vibe, but he was a jokester, always having fun.” It was Negreanu’s first time on television, and he looked the part. Introduced to the poker world on ESPN, he was wearing what he called his ‘Andre Agassi tracksuit’ and topped off the look with an earring and Nike hat. That was very much Negreanu’s self-styled image back in the 20th century. “I always wore a tracksuit for tournaments, and I got a little fanny pack for all my money and stuff. I had my cash, wallet, room keys, poker notes, results - it was before cell phones were a thing! I was oddly really comfortable immediately on camera. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an actor. I didn’t feel nervous. I remember that being strange." The Protégé Takes on The Master “I talked about taking big risks. This was an opportunity [where] I can win - I’m drawing live.” Thanks to his first bracelet win in 1998, Negreanu had made his name among his poker peers already but winning a huge tournament on TV would mark a major breakthrough. The final table went well, Negreanu eliminating third-placed Jason Viriyayuthakorn to send play heads-up. Against Bonetti, however, things weren’t going to plan. “We got heads up and I started to feel like the underdog against him. I felt like he was playing better than I was. Sometimes you can just tell; the guy was winning all the pots in the trenches, digging out these situation shots, I was getting outplayed. I made a strategy shift. I understood that if I wanted to win, I’d have to take some risks.” Pre-flop: Daniel Negreanu: [poker card="Qs"] [poker card="9s"] John Bonetti: [poker card="Ac"] [poker card="Tc"] Negreanu raised the button with his suited cards and Bonetti called with ace-ten. Flop: [poker card="Ts"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3c"] “I bet the flop, he shoved and I relaxed that in that moment.” Negreanu was a 45% shot to win the hand with two cards to come, so it was a huge decision for his stack. But of course, he didn’t know that. It was at that moment that Kid Poker had to have a conversation with himself about that change of strategy. Such alterations are easy in theory, but it always comes down to whether you can commit the chips to the decision. “I talked about taking big risks,” Negreanu smiles. “This was an opportunity that no matter what he has I can win - I’m drawing live. I called. We were basically even in chips, he had three or four big blinds left [over].” Turn: [poker card="Ah"] Suddenly, Negreanu went from near a coinflip to being a worse than 4:1 dog in the hand. It’s easy to presume that any emotions Negreanu felt at the time were heightened due to his age, but that’s not the case. “I have them even more now!” he laughs. “The turn was the ace of hearts [made me] little anxious, like ‘Oh sh**, did I screw up? He turned aces and tens.... then I hit a spade.” River: [poker card="8s"] On seeing the fifth spade to complete his flush slide into the river position on the felt, Negreanu stood quickly, turning to his opponent, whose face fell. In that instant, it is as if the jovial, chatty nature of Bonetti is transferred like a baton between relay runners. The passing of the torch. “I busted him on the very next hand,” says Negreanu. I still have the check (pictured below), it’s on my wall. After I got that money, I jumped right into an $800/$1,600 game. This is before wiring money. I won some more and on the way home, I’m carrying the check, while in my bag was a pile of laundry and under that, all the money. I’m going back to Vegas literally advertising what I’d won.” [caption id="attachment_638113" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Daniel Negreanu's famous winners check for winning the 1999 U.S. Poker Championship still takes pride of place in his home. (courtesy of Daniel Negreanu).[/caption] Life Is Never the Same “I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever.” That hand didn’t just change Negreanu’s life. It changed Negreanu. Unafraid of strolling through the airport with a bag full of dollars for a journey back home, life was never going to be the same again. His old life simply didn’t exist to return to. “It put me front and center in the poker world,” he tells us. “When you win a big buy-in tournament with a $210,000 top prize... that was a lot of money back then. It brought me more into the mainstream. I started to write for Cardplayer as a result and became a voice in the game. I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever. I just enjoyed winning. I’ve always felt, if anyone ever took the money, it would be fine. I’d just win more anyway.” Negreanu says he has 'never thought' about what might have happened if Bonetti's two-pair held and he came second, but the Canadian certainly had his fair share of moments that didn’t go right. "The year Carlos Mortensen won the [WSOP] Main Event, I came 11th and was chipleader with 12 left, losing a key hand. If I’d won that hand, who knows? But everything seemed to work out pretty good.” To say the least, that is an understatement. Daniel Negreanu, the most well-known poker face on the planet for the last two decades sits third on the all-time money list. On losing or painful moments, Negreanu is philosophical. “Any time you have a breakdown in life, it’s an opportunity for a breakthrough. Going broke or having traumatic losses drives me to be better. Just in the last couple of years, I went through - from a luck perspective in all-ins - the worst period in my career. It’s been really difficult. My wife always says I’m resilient.” Winning at Life “I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted.” Negreanu is a major part of poker history but you get the impression that he hasn’t lived in the past for one day in his life. His passion for the game of poker is rooted in tournaments thanks to his formative years. “Cash games are a job; you punch in, punch out, you win money, but there’s no leaderboard, no point to it,” he says. “Ever since I was a child, I created my own tournaments. I created leaderboards with my wrestlers. I’d create a bracket of 16 of them, roll a die and keep track. The guy who won the tournament got 50 points, second place got 40, I’d keep a record. My Mom would be like ‘What are all these papers?’. Today, that love of playing with a leaderboard in mind is part of what brings Negreanu back to the table. “I just played the U.S. Poker Open because there was a Player of the Series award,” he says. “What PokerGO is doing in the studio is really fun; they create a system so that by the last event, which is worth a lot more, a whole bunch of people are in the running. That’s what gets me to go. That’s why the World Series of Poker is the most fun for me.” Negreanu admits that he has changed hugely in the last two decades, not just in how he behaves, but in his own perception of himself, and how much he cares. “In your twenties, you definitely care what other people think. No doubt, it matters. In your thirties, you care but a little bit less. You realise not everyone is going to like you. In my forties, I give zero f***s. I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted. I am the authentic version of myself. I always had a cinematic view of things and how to sell it, but as you get older you realise that what sells is authenticity.” The life and soul of the table in 1999 was a man called John Bonetti, who sadly passed away in 2008. In the penultimate hand of the U.S. Poker Championship, Bonetti’s enthusiasm for the game was infectious and you can see how his flair rubbed off on the ‘Kid’ sitting opposite him at the felt. You can watch the hand that changed Daniel Negreanu’s life right here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_U_lRqEJHI[/embed]  
  3. The third episode of PokerGO’s latest season of High Stakes Poker continued to bring fans the nosebleed action they crave with Doyle Brunson showing off his skills over a multi-hand heater while Tom Dwan struggled to break out of his multi-episode downswing. The majority of the same cast that finished the last episode remained in play the start of the next hour. Phil Ivey, Jonathan Gibbs, Brunson, Jean-Robert Bellande, Dwan, and Patrik Antonius all sat in their same seats. Daniel Negreanu slid to the opposite side of the table with the notable absence of 2021 WSOP Main Event champ Koray Aldemir who racked up and exited in-between shows. Hot Start For Dwan After being on the losing end of a pair of six-figure flips in the first two episodes, Dwan was looking to build some momentum in order to claw back some of the chips currently sitting in other players’ stacks. Dwan started off by winning the first three hands of the night including a hand that played out like a session from when Dwan first burst onto the scene. Brunson put in a raise to $1,400 from middle position with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"] and Dwan, in the cutoff, made the call with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="2c"]. Antonius came along on the button holding [poker card="7d"][poker card="4d"] and Negreanu called from the small blind with his [poker card="6s"][poker card="6h"]. It was four ways to the [poker card="th"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"] flop and after Negreanu checked, Brunson fired $3,200 with top pair. Bottom pair was good enough for Dwan to call and both Antonius and Negreanu released their hands. The turn was [poker card="7s"] and Brunson checked it over to Dwan who took the lead and bet $8,000. Brunson made the call and the dealer put the [poker card="jd"] out on the river, improving Dwan to two pair. Brunson checked and Dwan value bet for $16,000. Brunson quickly called and was shown the winner by Dwan who dragged the $60,800 pot. DNegs Downs Dwan, Again Dwan’s resurgence was short-lived, however. On the very next hand, Dwan and Negreanu clashed again resulting in Dwan shipping another six-figure pot in Kid Poker’s directions. Dwan open-limped the $400 from early position holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="js"], bringing a raise from Antonius to $2,000 with the [poker card="ts"][poker card="8s"]. Negreanu was next to act and he flatted with [poker card="ks"][poker card="kh"]. Bellande tried to get in on the action from the big blind by calling with his [poker card="ad"][poker card="5d"] but Dwan limp-reraised to $14,000. After Antonius let his hand go, Negreanu sat stoically for a few moments before announcing a four-bet to $32,000. Dwan shot Negreanu a couple of quick glances while shuffling some of the $120,000 in chips he still had in his stack. Eventually, Dwan made the call and the flop came [poker card="jd"][poker card="tc"][poker card="4h"] giving Dwan top pair and setting him up for trouble. Dwan checked to Negreanu who when for a $20,000 bet. The pot was $88,000 at this point and Dwan had just over $100,000 behind when he announced he was all-in. Negreanu didn’t take but a second before grabbing a stack of yellow $1K chips and shoving them in the middle to call. Once again, the pair ran it twice. The first board was completed with the [qh turn and][poker card="4c"] river. The second board ran out the [poker card="qs"] turn and [poker card="7s"] river and Negreanu, who is known for having a tough time on HSP, took down another monster pot, this time it was good for $272,600. As Dwan reloaded for another $100,000, Negreanu and Ivey started chatting. “You having some fun, you enjoying yourself?” Ivey asked Negreanu who couldn’t hold back his glee from winning. “Didn’t you say one time I’m the worst winner ever,” Negreanu replied. “Pretty bad winner, yea,” Ivey joked back. “I can’t help but giggle when I win a pot,” Negreanu said, clearly enjoying sitting on a stack of nearly $350,000. Jean-Robert Gets There The very next hand was the only other six-figure pot of the episode and once again Negreanu was involved. Negreanu put in a raise to $1,000 with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] as the conversation continued. After taking a verbal shot at Brunson, calling him “lousy winner” and “grumpy, grumpy, grumpy”, Bellande casually three-bet to $4,000 with his [poker card="kc"][poker card="qd"]. Back on Negreanu, he said “I’m running hot” as he splashed his chips in to complete the call. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="jh"][poker card="9s"] flop gave Negreanu top pair, but it was Bellande who was betting. When checked to, JRB fired $4,000 which Negreanu quickly called. The [poker card="4d"] on the turn changed nothing, and after Negreanu checked again, Bellande went for a large bet of $14,000 into the $16,800 pot. Again, Negreanu just called. Everything changed however on the [poker card="tc"] river, bringing in the gutshot straight for Bellande. Bellande overbet, throwing out $60,000. “That card might have saved me a lot of money,” Negreanu mused, audibly breaking down the hand. In the end, Negreanu made the correct laydown and the $104,800 pot (inflated by JRB’s final uncalled bet) was pushed to Bellande. Brunson Can’t Lose After that last hand, there were only 11 more hands shown in the episode. Doyle Bruson won six of them and chopped another one. Even if, by the show’s standard, the pots weren’t for major amounts of money, it was a long stretch where Brunson was in every pot, making all the right moves, and stacking up the chips. After five small wins, Brunson wanted to bump up the action and so he put on the straddle to $800. He turned to Bellande and gave him the old “um…Hello??” and Bellande noticed the $800 straddle was on and instantly made it $1,600 to go saying “Doyle, you don’t have to ask me twice.” Dwan was first to act and made it $5,000 to go with his [poker card="6s"][poker card="3s"], Negreanu joined in calling the $5K with the [poker card="qd"][poker card="9d"]. With $13,200 in the middle, Brunson, from the first straddle, looked down at [poker card="7s"][poker card="7h"] and made it $30,800 to continue. Bellande folded, Dwan quickly let his small suited gappers go, and Negreanu laughed as he surrendered as well. A big smile came across Texas Dolly’s face as he exposed his pocket sevens. “That’s how you feel it,” Antonius said. “That was pretty sweet there, Doyle,” Bellande said. “Still works at 88.” Brunson, Bellande, Negreanu, and Dwan all return for more High Stakes Poker action next Monday night at 8 p.m. ET, exclusively on PokerGO.
  4. This weekend, Tony Sinishtaj saw off the challenges of players such as final table chip leader Vanessa Kade, Alex Livingston and Tony Tran to claim the biggest score of his poker career so far, winning $1.65 million by taking down the Wynn Millions Main Event. In the aftermath of Sinsihtaj's stunning victory, however, he was criticized in some quarters for a winners’ photo that showed no emotion, featuring him holding the trophy and staring at the camera without the obligatory posed grin. It was on Twitter that a post by 'Cookie Monster Poker' saw an image of Sinishtaj holding the Wynn Millions trophy on their Twitter page accompanied by the comment: “Why poker is now totally non-marketable can be summed up in one picture of a player who just won 1.6 MILLION dollars.” Shared by many in the industry, some with comment, some without, did they have a point or were they way out of line? Poker Twitter, perhaps predictably, blew up in Sinishtaj's defense. https://twitter.com/3kingme3/status/1503102404018917376 The Winner Weighs In "That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play; I thought I was going to steamroller them." When we spoke to Tony Sinishtaj, he was back in his native New York after arriving home from his lengthy 10-day stint in Las Vegas. He looks back on the final table with pride on the effort he put into what was a tough final table from the first card. “I started the final in a terrible seat compared to other big stacks,” he says. “I was healthy with 75 blinds, but the people to my left had more and I was handcuffed. I was playing pretty tight.” Despite that initial situation, a hand where Sinishtaj turned a full house with jacks over queens against chip leader Vanessa Kade, he showed his rail the hand. He thinks that hand contributed to Kade eventually losing her stack to him. “To the table, I can look like a maniac. On the six-five hand, I flopped the flush draw and turned a flush with the queen of spades. I led out pretty big and she had two red aces. The river pairs the queen and I have about a pot-sized bet behind and put her all-in. I guess she felt like I was getting out of line before that pot and I really wasn’t.” Kade called and busted and the hand gave Sinishtaj 30 million of the 43 million in play. “As the overwhelming chip leader it’s negative pressure to go from chip led to not having it and you can feel like ‘this guy is taking advantage’. I could understand her position and call; it’s a tough spot, especially since she had no idea what I had the previous hand. That hand got me two-thirds of the chips in play; I thought I was going to steamroller them. I went from 30 back down to 8 million. We played three-handed for a long time.” At the end of that epic denouement, Sinishtaj had got the better of Alex Livingston and then Isaac Kempton after initially starting the heads-up behind. As he explains, it was an epic period of 10 days for him, and it was finally over. “I played the satellite to get in, I got in. I played 1a on the satellite, I lost. I played 1b, I lost. I played 1c, I made it. There was a day off on 2a, but I literally played 10 days, with 13-hour days here and there. The last thing I want to do is take a picture.” Sinishtaj admits that the photo was not a one-off and that he has had a hard time posing for pictures ‘my whole life, let alone after 10 days of poker’. “My wife always gives me a hard time about pictures,” he says. “I don’t take good pictures, sorry, I just don’t! The person taking the picture was like ‘Smile!’ and I’m sure there are pictures of me smiling, but they picked that one. I read the Twitter stuff, my buddies sent it to me. I deleted Twitter months ago and it’s because of threads like that. Even reading other stuff about other people, I got tired of it and I’m glad I didn’t have it through this whole thing. People want to figure out what my mental state was like at the time and if I was unhappy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life! It doesn’t have to show in my face.” From Goofballs to Gold “There was a big incentive in the past to be a goofball." As Sinishtaj remarks, the life of a modern poker player is all about keeping emotion out of the game. That’s a direct flip from the past in his eyes. “There was a big incentive in the past to be a goofball,” he says. “You got an endorsement deal, you got Full Tilt Poker or PokerStars to throw you half a million dollars just to wear a patch. There were people playing the World Series in 2004 and 2005 who were making animal noises when they won a pot. You don’t see that anymore. They wanted attention, and they made more doing that than playing the tournament. I wouldn’t have done it back then, let alone now when there’s nothing on the line.” When the tournament ended, Sinishtaj says he just wanted to ‘Get outta Vegas’. He hadn’t seen his young family in 10 days and had missed his child’s birthday on the day of the final table. “I have a three-month-old baby,” he says. “My wife is there with the kids alone; obviously she wants me home and I want to get outta there. My job was done. Sometimes, your partner is like ‘It’s over for you now, get home, it’s time to come back’. When I’m at home, I’m a dad first. When I go away, I try to get into that poker mindset. You can’t be a dad and poker player at the same time; you can try, but you’ll do both poorly. We were in the process of buying a house, but this clearly makes it much easier. This is going to change my life for the better. If I could set the family up with a nice place to live and school, then I’m doing my part.” Sinishtaj’s family inspiration is not exclusive to the generation of three young children he is raising with his wife. Just before his first major win on the World Poker Tour in 2017, Sinishtaj lost his father a few months after becoming a father for the first time himself. “He was my biggest fan in poker," Sinishtaj says. "Until then, I really hadn’t won anything. I’d had a second-place to Joe McKeehen and a Circuit Main Event result for $100,000 that was my biggest score, but nothing crazy. He was always there rooting me on. I don’t remember exactly when it started but playing this tournament, I really felt his presence like I’d never felt it before at the table.” Deep into the Wynn Millions Main Event on Day 3, Sinishtaj could hear his father’s voice. It kept him grounded and inspired him to believe he was destined to win, it was a lot to deal with whilst trying to negotiate a tough field. “It was a little overwhelming to deal with while playing, but I really felt like I was going to win. When I was all in with jacks six-handed against ace-king, an ace comes then a jack. I’m all in against Livingston four-handed with king-jack on jack-three-deuce and he has jack-three; the board runs out eight-eight. The third hand of heads-up, I get aces, the kid gets jacks. The whole tournament felt that way. It’s a surreal experience to run so well in one of the biggest tournaments you’ve played.” Sinishtaj tells us ‘I truly played my best’. The day before the final, he confided in a friend that if there was one thing he wanted to make sure of it was that he wasn’t going to ‘let poor play ruin my chances’. Determined to bring his A-game, Sinishtaj felt like his Dad was out there under the lights with him when he achieved his lifelong dream. ‘And then they wanna take pictures, y’know!’ he laughs. Do Poker Players Have a Responsibility to Entertain? “I was right there with the Moneymaker Boom.” One player might occasionally say or do something that initiates a spike in growth or popularity of poker. But watching the old names on High Stakes Poker has to co-habit with looking for new heroes that come from the modern age. Poker is so much bigger than it has ever been and that juxtaposition of welcoming the new while treasuring days gone by exists within the grasp of the media as well as with players and fans. Daniel Negreanu has joined the discussion on Twitter, saying: “Lara Ni Si correctly points to a troubling trend. The no celebration, no emotion, too cool for school culture is tough to sell. That’s just an indisputable fact.” Sinishtaj agrees but says it's not his responsibility to sell the game. “Is it better if a recreational player who looks and acts like he’s a recreational player wins? Probably," agrees Sinishtaj. "It might want to make someone think ‘If that guy can do it, so can I.’ Maybe they look at me and don’t see that, but that’s not my job.” Ironically, Sinishtaj was exactly that guy more than two decades ago. “I was right there with the Moneymaker Boom”, he says. “When he won, I fell in love with the game. In 2003, I was 22 years old. Maybe you needed a Moneymaker to win to get me interested in the game. It really became my dream. I get it and understand where Negreanu is coming from, but I’m sorry that’s not me. I can’t change my personality because it might generate more buy-ins to poker. I’m not gonna be somebody I’m not. I wouldn’t know how to.” Sinishtaj correctly points out that while the Wynn Millions is one of the biggest tournaments around, the event is not televised and there are no hole cards on display to fans. “I know it’s expensive for productions teams, but if you really want to market the game, we could have played the final table at the PokerGO Studio. That’s how you market the game, the game isn’t marketed by the winner’s photo. People want to watch it and see my cards. Could one player really market the game now as Moneymaker once did? Sinishtaj laughs. “It’s definitely not going to be me! The game is not what it used to be, a lot of work needs to be put in. I’m always trying to get better because everyone else is getting better. I don’t play the small field big buy-in high rollers. To play this and win is almost unreal and there wasn’t even a chop made. I would have been happy to make one. When we got four-handed, [Kempton] politely said ‘I don’t chop’, and there was never any talk about it at all. Your opponent has to be someone like that to outright win one of these.” Sinsihtaj agrees that of the many photos taken of him during the game, the ones where he’s actually playing poker look more like the real him, saying ‘I always look better in those pictures’. Perhaps the traditional winner’s photo is a thing of the past. Tony Sinishtaj deserves his moment in the spotlight as much as the next player, whether he is smiling or not.
  5. Every player from Joe Public to Daniel Negreanu has attempted to call poker cards before they are revealed, but it so difficult that to do so consistently invites ridicule. Get it right and you look like a wizard, get it wrong and you can look like the biggest fool at the felt. Doing so may be fraught with danger, but last night on PokerGO’s High Stakes Poker, Jean-Robert Bellande managed to predict his two hole cards, drawing gasps from some of the best poker players in the world. It's time we compare JRB’s moment as some sort of poker clairvoyant to others who have managed to put their opponents on exact hands or called even more unpredictable random cards to come. What Did Bellande Do? Of all the players to take part in Season 9 of High Stakes Poker, Bellande is the easiest to watch purely for the drama and frequency with which he takes on his opponents. No one is safe from JRB until he’s folded his cards, no matter what he has. One of the most experienced cash game players at the purple felt, the Long Islander was in the mood for fun on Episode 8 of the latest season of dollar-brick action continued. As commentators AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan described, what Bellande asked for, he got. Pre-flop, Bellande said that all he wanted was two queens. When he revealed them to the table at the end of the hand, Phil Ivey’s reaction was one of the best ever seen in the history of High Stakes Poker. As Daniel Negreanu said, "That is just creepy." https://twitter.com/PokerGO/status/1513675401893072901 Bellande calling both cards is impressive, but is it the best card-calling in poker history? It turns out that despite the impressive nature of the clip, it’s not even close. Bellande doesn’t call the suits, and although the odds are long, it’s not like he specified the exact cards. We've found even better in the archives. A History of Calling Cards Sticking with pocket queens, picking them to jump out of the pack is one thing, but what about if it’s another player’s cards? Well, there are numerous examples of that, so let’s get our head around one. Daniel Negreanu, who recently told us about the hand that changed his life, calls his opponent’s ladies out of nowhere and saves himself valuable chips by doing so. Kid Poker has enjoyed some highly intuitive moments during his career, but this is right up there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9rZQWYqgWQ Romanello Reaches Deep to Save His Stack Both our previous examples are from cash games, but what about doing it in a tournament? It doesn’t get much bigger than the World Series of Poker Main Event's feature table, where the eventual Triple Crown winner Roberto Romanello made the fold of his lifetime with jacks full. Here’s how it went down, with Mike Matusow watching along the whole time. "As the commentary went at the tie, 'If he lays this down, I'll move to a Franciscan monastery and become head chef.'" https://youtu.be/5I62m9RvvN4?t=414 Seeing Through a WSOP Main Event Champion Both those previous reads necessitate that the opponent has a huge hand, but what if the player whose cards need to be read for this sort of hero fold are more polarized? It doesn’t get much better than this ridiculous fold four years ago from Ian Steinman against former WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen. The hand took place on the World Poker Tour and left the commentary team stunned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InFMhKlDIxU As it was observed at the time, Steinman made the fold of a lifetime. The fold is only correct if McKeehen has either pocket aces or queen-ten, meaning the latter is so well disguised that Steinman’s ability to make the fold qualifies as wizardry. Sadly for him, all that hard work may have been enough to get the better of McKeehen, but Steinman would finish second in the event after leading heads-up by 2:1 in chips. Still, $201,428 and the reputation for possibly the sickest fold ever is a fine consolation prize. https://twitter.com/MattClarkPoker/status/971186130581204993 What Are the Odds? Finally, what about being able to predict all five community cards? Yes, it really has happened, and on a live stream too. Take a look at the amazing powers of American poker player Troy Clogston during The Lone Star Poker Series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH1fq5Eb834 The reactions around the room at Champions Poker Club in Houston from the other players are incredible. They’re justified on the final two cards, due to the specific card and suit, with the [poker card="4s"] and [poker card="2h"] called out just before they land. The huge action pre-flop gives the mystic player the notion that premium cards are already in the players hands who remain interested. Choosing the flop cards, even without calling the suit, is extremely unlikely. Add in the exact turn and river cards, and it’s no surprise to see the other players get out of their seats and head for the nearest cold drink. Bellande choosing both queens to come out of the pack would be likely to happen once in 221 hands. Therefore, if Bellande called out "two queens" each time the dealer shuffled the pack, then playing 30 hands an hour, he’d only have to be at the felt for an average of less than a 9-5 shift to be proven right. There have been well over a hundred episodes of High Stakes Poker to date, so if there were two predictions in each episode, then we should have already seen a player get it right by now. Jean-Robert Bellande managed to get the better of Ivey with the pocket queens he called in pre-flop. Whether he’ll be about to see out the next five episodes of High Stakes Poker Season 9 to stay in profit by the time the curtain comes down is still up for debate, but calling cards for this kind of reaction should really catch on among the elite. Make it a prop bet, but make it happen.  
  6. The recent PokerGO Heads-Up Showdown featured 32 of the best poker players on the planet. After three days at the felt, it was Chino Rheem who emerged victorious to claim $400,000 and the title as the end of an important chapter in his chequered poker career was brought to the happiest of conclusions. Daniel Negreanu is in Pre-WSOP Form Though he missed the money, Daniel Negreanu came into the PokerGO Tour Heads-Up Showdown with a tough path ahead of him. In the first round, Kid Poker took care of Jared Bleznick on the feature table, building a sizeable lead before finishing off his opponent and progressing to a meeting with Tamon Nakamura. Nakamura provided a stiff challenge, but an early pot for Negreanu when his pocket tens turned top set against the Japanese player’s inside straight draw and flush draw worked the Canadian to almost level in chips and he would eventually prevail at the feature table. He may have lost to Darren Elias, but Negreanu is warming up for the World Series of Poker nicely. [caption id="attachment_638152" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Daniel Negreanu performed well at the felt, looking happy with his form and the game in general.[/caption] Elsewhere on Day 1, in the ‘Spades’ section, there were unexpected defeats for Sam Soverel and Shaun Deeb, who slid out after a dramatic and high-quality defeat to long-time rival, Shannon Shorr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTi3JEAcEuw Darren Elias Knows How to Close The four-time World Poker Tour winner Darren Elias had an excellent run in the event, making it all the way to the final showdown, where he eventually lost out for the runner-up prize of $200,000. It could be argued, however, that Elias’ performance was the strongest in the entire Showdown, with his opponents among some of the best players ever to have looked down at hole cards. In the opening round, Elias took care of Landon Tice in the first match to conclude, with the final hand seeing Elias’s ace-king beat Tice’s dominated ace and ease the former’s progress. The second round didn’t get any easier for Elias, however, as he faced - and beat - Erik Seidel. The former WSOP Main Event runner-up proved a tricky opponent, but Elias again prevailed, only to face Daniel Negreanu in the next round, with his Round of 16 and quarterfinal opponents having won over $85 million in tournaments between them. Elias got the better of Negreanu and then took on the impressive Justin Young, who had beaten two of the favorites for the trophy on his way to the semifinals. Now in profit, Elias once again came out on top, making the final when he had worked himself 3:1 up in chips before winning a flip with ace-queen against Young’s pocket threes. The Big Guns Are Out for Hellmuth "My opponent gave me the double bird, and was out of line [with] his verbal attacks." ~ Phil Hellmuth There was no question about the most dramatic fall-out from the opening round inside the PokerGO Studio at ARIA. Phil Hellmuth was the favorite to progress against Eric Persson in the $25,000 buy-in event. That result didn’t materialize, however, and when Persson won, a disgruntled Hellmuth trudged off complaining of the behaviour of his opponent. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1517361856779759616 While the verbal sparring had been even, Hellmuth perceived Persson’s flipping of the[ ‘double bird’ to be over the line, leading to a small explosion on Poker Twitter. Eventually, however, Hellmuth, ever the bigger man after the event, made a live apology during Persson’s next round victory over Dan Shak. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1517620869693988865 Persson might have triumphed against the Poker Brat and much-fancied Shak, but couldn’t make profit as he lost out to the whirlwind that is Isaac Kempton. Favorites Can Still Lose to Underdogs Many of the PokerGO Heads-Up Showdown games went against the favorite pre-match. Ali Imsirovic came into the Showdown on the back of perhaps his most difficult week in the game and exited immediately after being busted by Jake Daniels in the opening round. Others faced the same fate, with stars of the game such as Alex Foxen losing to Justin Young in the quarterfinals, Scott Seiver falling in the opening round to Isaac Kempton and Jeremy Ausmus losing inside the PokerGO Studio as he became one of Chino Rheem’s many victims on route to the title being decided. By the time the event reached the semifinal stage, it was one where every player was guaranteed a return of $100,000 on their stake of $25,000. Darren Elias was the only player of the four to have put his action on sale on Pocket Fives, once again making huge profit for investors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp2dhO_jn8Y Chino Rheem is on the Redemption Trail "We’re back on the right track. God willing." ~ Chino Rheem Chino Rheem’s victory came with more than a heavy dose of irony in a week overshadowed for many by the cheating allegations that have peppered Twitter all week. Rheem, who openly admitted many of his problems early in his career came down to his reliance on drink or drugs, credited his sponsor and his many supporters in helping him turn his life around. “We’re back on the right track. God willing, thank God, if I can just stay there,” he said after the final victory against Darren Elias. “Honestly, once I made the money, once I won the first three matches, I was like, ‘whatever happens from here it’s all good.’ Things went my way, and I’ll take it, obviously. I can’t complain at all.” In achieving some inner peace, Rheem has proved something of a redemption story in the game and during a period in poker where many are being asked to look for the same sort of redemption by acting in good faith in the here and now, Rheem’s win confirms it can be done. With one of the toughest sets of players to win against, his victory against Darren Elias saw a superb tournament close out in dramatic fashion as four men made the money and in Rheem’s case, win his 14th ranking tournament victory across a rollercoaster poker career. PokerGO Heads Up Showdown Final Results: Chino Rheem - $400,000 Darren Elias - $200,000 Isaac Kempton - $100,000 Justin Young - $100,000
  7. Poker is a game that is enjoyed by millions worldwide. In this series, we’ve featured players who play the game of poker for their profession, have made fortunes by doing so and become legends of the sport. However, poker’s all-encompassing nature appeals to people from all walks of life. One player who has trodden many different paths over two decades of success on national television is Robert Mariano, better known as 'Boston Rob'. Back in 2004, having just appeared on Survivor for the first time, Mariano met his now wife and then-fiancée Amber on the show. They were invited to Hawaii to take part in a charity game to raise money for the U.S. military. Mariano would leave the island with a new found and lifelong passion for poker that has remained ever since. From Penny Games to the Main Event "Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!" Rob Mariano played poker for pennies long before he would do so for thousands of dollars. When he first learned the game, it was at his grandfather’s knee. It immediately got him hooked on the notion of gambling and this quickly led to an understanding of a need to get better. “I’ve always loved action,” says Mariano. “From pitching quarters in the schoolyard to gambling on tennis, I went broke a hundred times as a kid. The first hand that got me hooked [on poker] was a penny game of five card stud that my grandfather taught me how to play. I figured out that the same people always win, and they have an edge. Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!” Flashing forward two decades, Mariano struck fame on the eighth series of the hit television show, Survivor. For the uninitiated, the show centers around contestants who are stranded on a remote island. Mariano made it all the way to the final challenge, where he lost out to Amber, who he proposed to just before the decisive vote. She said yes, of course, and the couple have since become TV legends thanks to the fame they gained during the show and subsequent on-screen appearances together. One year after meeting, the couple were engaged and took what turned out to be an important phone call. “Online poker was all the rage in the States and like a lot of people, I watched Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker Main Event. Since then, we’ve become friends as an ironic side effect of being on television, but what a great guy. Paradise Poker reached out to Amber to see if she wanted to play poker and sponsor her in one of the events.” Amber didn’t play the game, but both Mariano and Amber's father were fans, with the latter teaching his future son-in-law the game. The pair of them were taken to Las Vegas and put into the 2004 WSOP Main Event, the last to be held on the Strip until this coming summer. “I’ll be honest - I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!” laughs Mariano. “I was sitting there with Sammy Farha, Marcel Luske and all these legends at my table. I made two pair, aces up, and I was outclassed, the other guy had a set. My first introduction was on the biggest stage.” Mariano may not have won any money, but the seed had been sown. A short time later, the game was about to truly get him hooked. [caption id="attachment_638178" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Rob Mariano cut his teeth playing poker for the first time in the WSOP Main Event (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Bringing the Party to Hawaii "I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble." After his Main Event exertions, Mariano was on the radar of online poker sites as they popped up everywhere. One of those sites, Bodog, invited both Rob and Amber to Hawaii and an exclusive charity event. “They had comedians, Colin Farrell, Wanda Sykes and Cheryl Hines,” says Mariano. “Josh Arieh was there too. He had just finished third in the WSOP Main Event and David Williams was there too having just finished second.” Mariano’s meeting with Arieh in particular lit a fire that still burns to this day. After watching a concert featuring Snoop Dogg, the party went into the night and the cards came out. “We played $50 Sit N Gos from late night into the early morning,” says Mariano. “Playing all night long until the sun came up, I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble. That’s when I became fascinated with the game.” It was a landmark moment for Mariano, who realized at that moment that the game he’d always sought was right there in front of him. It appealed to his nature as a competitive person who danced between adventurous situations like the light from fires lit during those Hawaii nights. “The original intention of going to Hawaii was to raise money at the concert. The poker was a bonus on top of it all, but I feel like poker has embraced and accepted me into the community for what I want out of it; to play competitively but also recreationally. I love to play but at the end of the day, this is a passion of mine, not my life’s work.” The Competitive Edge of a New Father "I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it." Mariano freely admits that he’s not a good loser. He was born not only to win, but to pursue victory, to adapt, improve, to get the top and be ‘relentless’ in his pursuit of the summit. If he was to play poker, however, it would need to fit in around becoming a Dad. “Survivor aired on television in 2004 and we married in 2005,” says Mariano. “We had four kids in five years. In the beginning, it was madness, but it’s so great and they’re so close... and Daddy’s girls!” The Mariano’s were clearly made for each other and celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary last month, but back in the day, having caught the poker bug, Boston Rob headed online mostly. “I played poker pretty seriously when my kids were really young,” he says. “I started to play cash games and grind, playing the local circuits from Biloxi to Jacksonville [as well as] the World Series.” One of the most important traits Mariano has got is his ability to adapt to any situation. He passes this lesson onto his own children, four girls he adores now aged between eight and 12. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how you get up. Even if you don’t get the desired result, you’re learning what not to do again. I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it. A person living their whole life on a train gets from A to B. I’d rather ride the rollercoaster, but we get to the same place. My wife reels me in when I’m too far and likewise I think I bring a bit of adventure.” [caption id="attachment_638179" align="aligncenter" width="886"] Rob and Amber Mariano have grown up on television as they've built a life together (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Running It Up Mariano’s poker career has run parallel to his record-breaking six appearances on Survivor and presence on other shows such as The Amazing Race, which he entered with his wife. His passion for poker has sustained many gaps in his results purely through children being born or his participation in TV shows. He is a huge fan of tours such as the Run Good series. "I got to be really good friends with Tana Karn, who Runs the Run Good events, a super great guy and what a group of people. I feel like that’s where I fit in best. I want to play five or six different competitive events a year. I love the [WSOP] Main Event." Mariano's experience of Survivor has stood him in great stead for the game of poker, with many skills transferring from the island to the felt. "I’ve played more Survivor than anyone else on the planet, playing six times in 20 years. In that time, the game of Survivor has evolved and changed. In the beginning, your ability to do well in challenges, how you provided around camp and if you were a good teammate mattered a lot. Now the game is more social than anything else; your ability to perceive how you’re perceived by others is paramount.” Mariano can’t wait for the next live poker game these days, and post-pandemic, is excited for an ‘explosion’ of live poker that he assimilates to the poker boom that followed Moneymaker’s legendary success in 2003. “The game is growing again like it was in the early 2000s,” he claims. “There’s a sense of family between not only the Run Good people but among the community at large. Everyone’s going back to a 9-5 on Monday morning but for a weekend, they’re going to do whatever and those are my people.” Adapting to the Game “You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out.” Poker has changed and Mariano has been part of the game for long enough to understand that his ability to adapt and compete has been called upon in multiple eras at the felt. “You used to have a good hand, then it became not what you have but what they have, then they converted to small ball then it became an all-in festival!” laughs Mariano. “It’s changed a lot and you see at the different levels how much its changed. There are similarities between poker and Survivor. You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out. At the same time, you can do everything right and still not win because you get unlucky.” According to the former Survivor winner, you have to be able to fade the variance, maintain your focus and not let it affect your mental wellbeing in both games and it’s that changing dynamic that Mariano loves. “Its constantly changing and so hard - that’s what intrigues me to it. I want to sit down and have a social experience with other people at the table - that’s what I love about poker. We’re getting back to that and away from the hoodies and sunglasses.” Mariano has signed up to host home games for PokerGO and admits the draw of the PokerGO Tour is ‘huge’. He’ll join in with some live events, but don’t expect him to be taking a seat in the nosebleeds. “I’m not going to be playing the super high rollers, but hopefully I can bring another audience to the game. I couldn’t sit down and play a $250,000 tournament, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. But if we grow the game the way the smaller tours are doing it, it will flourish again. When everyone sees poker as I do, it becomes fun for a lot of people!” Mariano may be a household name to many from his work in television but his background before Survivor catapulted him to fame was as a construction worker and stonemason. He remains humble to his roots and with a bunch of friends in poker, is an asset to the game which only now is poker starting to tap. The motto of Survivor is ‘Outwit, outplay, outlast’. ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano has proven that he has been able to adapt to the games presented to him in his life with flair and style. Boston Rob's future in poker looks set to bring even more exciting challenges for his many fans to enjoy.
  8. It didn’t take long for the new season of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO to find its footing as the superstar lineup that includes Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Patrick Antonius, and Tom Dwan took turns getting involved in massive pots early and often. It was a tough night to be a Dwan fan as the HSP legend found himself with the second-best hand time and time again during Episode 2 of Season 9. On the flip side, those looking for a glimpse of Ivey, who hardly made a sound in the first episode, enjoyed him making his presence felt by getting more involved in the show. Speaking of getting involved, this week featured the arrival of Jean-Robert Bellande, as the HSP favorite made his way onto the set and quickly broke the silence with his patented table talk. Ivey Picks Off Dwan After an early position raise to $1,200 from Dwan holding [poker card="qs"][poker card="ts"], Ivey called from the button with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="9h"]. Professional online slots player from Sweden, Kim Hultman came along from the small blind with the [poker card="jh"][poker card="td"], but Koray Aldemir let go of his big blind. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"][poker card="4c"] flop offered Dwan a straight flush draw, Hultman a gutshot straight draw as well, and Ivey middle pair. Hultman checked to Dwan who bet $2,000, and both Ivey and Hultman made the call. The turn was the [poker card="ad"], giving two pair, but it was Dwan who kept betting. Dwan fired another $8,000 and this time, just Ivey called. The [poker card="ac"] river gave Ivey a full house and Dwan, left with a busted flush draw checked it over to Ivey who put out a bet of $25,000. Dwan shot a look skyward and folded sending the pot of more than $51,000 over to Ivey. Bellande Makes It Look Easy Just a few more hands into the episode, James Bord, who doubled up through Tom Dwan on the premiere, collected his chips and made way for Jean-Robert Bellande. Bellande, a regular in the Las Vegas high-stakes home games, gave Brunson a fist bump, took a seat, and found himself immediately in action. Dwan opened to $1,200 from under the gun with his [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"] and it folded all the way back to Bellande in the big blind with the [poker card="jh"][poker card="8s"] and the newcomer made the call. The flop came [poker card="qh"][poker card="ts"][poker card="3h"] putting Dwan in the lead with top pair, but Bellande had a gutshot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. Bellande checked it over to Dwan who bet $2,000, which Bellande called. The turn came the [poker card="9c"], turning the tables and giving Bellande the straight. He checked it over to Dwan, who was drawing dead, who made it $5,000 to go. Bellande didn’t take long before making it $16,000. Dwan made the call and the river came the [poker card="qs"], giving Dwan trips. Bellande targeted exactly that, overbetting the pot for $51,000. Dwan seemingly sussed it out, and laid it down giving Bellande an early boost to his stack with the pot of $90,000. Gibbs Gets There Right after that hand, Hultman announced he was done for the day and racked up to make room for Jonathan Gibbs. Like Bellande before him, Gibbs got involved right away, playing a big hand against Dwan. The straddle to $800 was on, and Dwan raised to $2,500 with the [poker card="8d"][poker card="6d"]. Gibbs three-bet to $4,300 with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="ks"] and when the action got back to Dwan he was the only one to make the call. The flop came [poker card="td"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3d"], missing both players but offering Dwan a flush draw. Dwan checked it over to Gibbs who slid out a continuation bet of $9,000. Dwan made the call and the dealer put out the [poker card="7s"] on the turn, giving Dwan even more outs. Dwan checked it again, this time Gibbs checked back. The river was the [poker card="kh"], giving Gibbs top pair, but it was Dwan who was looking to bet. Dwan fired $16,000 and was snapped off by Gibbs and his ace-king. Once again, Dwan was shipping chips as Gibbs collected just over $60,000. More Rungood For JRB The first of three six-figure pots took place when Patrick Antonius put the straddle on to $800 and Ivey opened to $2,500 in early position with the [poker card="7d"][poker card="5d"]. It folded to Bellande holding [poker card="th"][poker card="td"] and he just called. Antonius woke up with the [poker card="as"][poker card="ks"] in the straddle and three-bet to $10,800. Ivey took a moment but ultimately let his small suited one-gapper go. Bellande, with over $200,000 in his stack, four-bet to $81,500 which was more than Antonius had behind. Antonius unceremoniously made the call and the pair decided to run it twice for the $166,300 pot. They watched as the dealer put out the [poker card="kc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="8h"] as the flop for the first board, putting Antonius way ahead for at least half the pot. The [poker card="3s"] hit the turn but the river came the [poker card="ts"] improving Bellande to a set and locking up the first half of the pot for him. The second board of [poker card="7c"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4h"][poker card="8d"][poker card="qc"] was just as good for Bellande who scooped the entire pot leaving a frustrated Antonius looking for a rebuy. Daniel Downs Durr The High Stakes Poker troubles continued for Dwan when he and Negreanu got involved in the biggest pot of the episode. The straddle to $800 was on. From early position, Aldemir made it $2,100 to go with his [poker card="7s"][poker card="7d"]. When the action reached Dwan, he flatted with his [poker card="as"][poker card="kh"]. Antonius folded and Negreanu looked down at the [poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"] and put in a chunky three-bet to $12,700. Aldemir quickly counted his own stack and looked like he was thinking about calling, but ultimately he laid his pocket sevens down. When the action returned to Dwan, he took a few moments before grabbing the $50K stack of cash and announcing that he was all-in for roughly $168K. Negreanu shrugged, took just a second, and slapped a stack of yellow $1K chips in the middle to indicate a call. Like the hand before, the players agreed to run it twice. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="9c"][poker card="3c"] flop gave Dwan top pair and, like Antonius on the last hand, put him in solid position to take down at least half the pot. Negreanu began to move all his money in the middle when the dealer put out the [poker card="8h"] on the turn, giving Kid Poker a set. Negreanu pulled his cash back as the [poker card="kc"] completed the board. With two of Dwan’s six outs burnt on the last board, there was little drama when the second board came [poker card="7c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="6h"]. Dwan took another massive hit, doubling up Daniel who dragged the $228,100 pot. Ivey Closes The Show The final hand of the session was another six-figure clash. This time it was between Ivey and Negreanu. Ivey opened to $1,200 with his [poker card="qd"][poker card="td"] and Brunson made the call in middle position with the [poker card="ad"][poker card="7d"]. Negreanu made the call in the big blind with the [poker card="6s"][poker card="6c"] and it was three ways to a flop of [poker card="kd"][poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"]. Negreanu checked and Ivey continued for $2,500 which Brunson called. Negreanu then check-raised to $7,500. Ivey didn’t take long before sliding out a $5K call, but Brunson, with the superior flush draw, made the laydown. The turn was the [poker card="js"], keeping Negreanu’s pocket sixes slightly ahead and giving Ivey an open-ended straight draw to go with his flush draw. Negreanu fired $12,500 and Ivey, going nowhere, put in the call. The river was the [poker card="8d"] giving Ivey the flush but Negreanu, first to act, fanned out a bet of $36,000. Ivey double-checked his cards and counted out a call and stuck it in the middle, good for a $118.700 pickup to end the episode. High Stakes Poker continues every Monday Night for the next 12 weeks, exclusively on PokerGO.
  9. The wait is officially over for all-new episodes of High Stakes Poker as the opening hour of Season 9 premiered on PokerGO on Monday night. It brought nearly everything that fans love about the show - the biggest stars, the highest stakes, and even $50,000 bricks of cash right there on the table. However, the first episode, while entertaining, was more of a reintroduction as to what HSP could be. The cast, a high-powered lineup that featured Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, 2021 WSOP Main Event Champion Koray Aldemir, James Bord, Kim Hultman, and Daniel Negreanu spent most of the episode feeling out the table out as opposed to lighting it up. There were some clashes, a couple of healthy pots, and a big bluff by Negreanu but for the most part, commentators Gabe Kaplan and A.J. Benza seemed to be waiting in anticipation for something jaw-dropping to take place. But while they were, some pretty fun hands were played. Dwan Gets It In Early The biggest pot of the night took place on the show’s third hand. After Brunson opened the pot to $1,200 with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"], Bord flatted holding the [poker card="qs"][poker card="qh"]. Dwan, on the button, picked up [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] and bumped it up to $5,500. It folded back to Brunson who let his hand go and Bord quickly put in a chunky four-bet to $25,000. Dwan, with $93K behind, took some time but eventually moved all in. Bord quickly called and the duo were flipping for a pot of $192,600. They agreed to run it twice and Bord’s queens held through both runouts. The first [poker card="8h"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2c"][poker card="9d"][poker card="qd"], Bord spiked a set on the river. On the next board, he flopped a full house on a [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="th"] flop, which stood up through the turn and river, making Bord one the night’s biggest winners. Negreanu Makes Moves On The River Negreanu, who had won a small pot earlier in the night, played a big hand against Kim Hultman - a Swedish YouTube streamer whose “Let’sGiveItASpin” channel focuses on casino games. Negreanu opened to $1,600 in early position with the [poker card="6d"][poker card="4d"] and Hultman flatted on the button with his [poker card="qc"][poker card="js"]. Brunson completed in the big blind holding the [poker card="9h"][poker card="8s"] and the three took a flop of [poker card="ts"][poker card="9s"][poker card="6s"]. After Brunson checked his middle pair, Negreanu, with bottom pair, made a bet of $1,500. Hultman, open-ended with the jack-high flush draw flatted as did Brunson. The turn was the [poker card="as"], bringing in Hultman’s flush. Brunson checked again and Negreanu didn’t slow down, firing $5,500 into the pot. Hultman again called but Brunson released his hand. The river was the “inconsequential” [poker card="6h"], giving Negreanu trips but Kid Poker's hand was still second best. Kaplan then said “When world-class players smell weakness, they act on it.” and that’s exactly what Negreanu did, overbetting the $21,900 pot with a bet of $36,000. Hultman, with $72,000 behind, smiled but was viably uncomfortable. Eventually, the Swede let it go and Negreanu dragged the pot, his second of the night. Rough River For The Champ The very next hand saw Antonius battle against Aldemir, who was making his HSP debut after his WSOP Main Event victory. Aldemir opened to $1,000 holding the [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"]. Antonius, who had been the most aggressive player during the first episode, put in a three-bet to $4,000 with his [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"]. Negreanu let go of pocket fives, sending the action back to Aldemir, who made the call. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="th"][poker card="2s"], giving Aldemir top pair and Antonius a straight draw to go with his two overs. Aldemir checked it over and Antonius slid out $6,000, which Aldemir called. The turn was the [poker card="9d"], giving Antonius the nuts. Aldemir checked it over again and this time, Antonius checked it back. The river [poker card="ah"] was a bit of a disaster for the Main Event champ, and after he checked it over to Antonius, Aldemir was faced with a $30,000 overbet. But having rivered two pair, Aldemir couldn’t get away and made a quick call sending the $80,800 pot over to Antonius. Ivey Gets Involved A stoic Ivey spent the better part of the episode folding marginal hands and staying out of the action. As the episode was winding down Ivey finally found his spot. He open-raised to $1,200 with the [poker card="2s"][poker card="2d"] only to be three-bet by Hultman who made it $5,500 to go with his [poker card="kd"][poker card="th"]. Ivey shot Hultman a glance and tossed out a call. The flop came [poker card="ks"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6h"] and Ivey checked it over to Hultman, who opted to check back his top pair. The turn, however, was the [poker card="2c"], improving Ivey to a set and he didn’t waste any time trying to build a pot, betting $8,000. Hultman made the call and the pair watched as the [poker card="9s"] completed the board. As seen many times in this episode, a river overbet came as Ivey bet $30,000 into the $28,000 pot. Once again, Hultman was in the blender, but unlike his hand against Negreanu, Hultman made the call and was shown the set. A pained look stretched across Hultman’s face before he said “Nice hand, Phil” and watched Ivey drag the $88,000 pot. Of the 13 hands shown on the episode, Brunson led the pack, dragging four pots. Bord scored the biggest single-hand win in his $192,600 flip against Dwan and Aldemir was the only player not to win a hand. The High Stakes Poker action continues every Monday for the next 13 weeks, exclusively on PokerGO. *** Don't miss out on the High Stakes Poker action on PokerGO! Sign up for a subscription using promo code "SWEAT" and earn a free $20 into your PocketFives Staking account.***
  10. Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, and Tom Dwan are just some of the poker superstars who will be featured when High Stakes Poker returns to the PokerGO airwaves beginning on Monday, February 21. Season 9 of the popular poker programming is shaping up to be one of its best with 14 consecutive episodes of non-stop action every Monday night at 5 p.m PT (8 p.m. ET). The game will play at nosebleed stakes ranging from $200/$400 up to $500/$1000. "Season 9 of High Stakes Poker is arguably the best season yet, and we cannot wait for poker fans to enjoy the game in its purest form at breathtaking stakes," said Mori Eskandani, President of PokerGO. "In addition to the star-studded lineups, fans will be pleased to see a revamped set that aims to capture the traditional authenticity of this legendary show and the return of $50,000 bricks of cash on the table." The stacks of cash aren't the only thing making a return as longtime HSP commentators Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza will be back in the booth, calling all the high-stakes action. The sessions, which were filmed at the beginning of December 2021, will not only feature the mainstay players like Negreanu, Ivey, and Dwan, but will also have an injection of new blood including 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Koray Aldemir, current leader of poker’s All-Time Money List Bryn Kenney, and high-stakes phenom Garrett Adelstein. Fan favorites Jean-Robert Bellande and Jennifer Tilly will also get in the game this season as revealed in prior social media posts. “Starting February 21, every Monday isn’t just poker night, it’s High Stakes Poker night,” Eskandani said. High Stakes Poker can be seen exclusively on PokerGO. New viewers who sign up for an annual subscription can use the promotional code “SWEAT” and not only get access to every episode of High Stakes Poker but will also get a free $20 deposited into their PocketFives Staking account to help them get started staking future live tournaments.
  11. Sean Perry went wire-to-wire with the chip lead at the final table of Event #8 ($50,000 NLHE) to take down the 2022 PokerGO Cup finale, his second win in the series, for $640,000. At the same time, Jeremy Ausmus, who started the day as the short stack, advanced to finish in third-place for $256,000 and earned enough points to lock down this year’s PokerGO Cup overall championship and the $50,000 leaderboard prize. “It’s tough, I mean it’s very grueling too,” Ausmus said after winning the PokerGO Cup championship. “A lot of the best players in the world are here. It’s only eight events but, I went deep in a lot of them obviously, but I was playing ten to fourteen hours a day for the last six, seven days. I was worn out, tired…I didn’t know it could be so grueling.” “When I played this before I bricked everything and I was getting good sleep…home by dinner,” he said right before hoisting the trophy. There were plenty of storylines to keep an eye on during the last day of the series as every player at the final table had a chance to elevate up the series leaderboard for a shot at the Cup. Four of the five players, including Perry, Ausmus, Daniel Negreanu, and Brock Wilson had already won a prior event while Nick Schulman was at his third final table of the series. The dynamics of the overall series leader could be seen throughout the final table as the day wore on, giving an added touch of strategy to the table dynamics. Negreanu was going to need everything to go right for him to repeat at the PokerGO Cup overall champion. He needed Ausmus to bow out in fifth and he needed to win it all. However, in some respects, everything went wrong for ‘Kid Poker’ at this final table. He stared the day third in chips, but after an early confrontation with Wilson in which he lost a healthy pot holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] against Wilson’s [poker card="td"][poker card="tc"] on a [poker card="qc"][poker card="ts"][poker card="5h"][poker card="7h"][poker card="8s"] board, Negreanu slipped to the short stack. With the blinds at 15,000/30,000 (30,000 ante) Negreanu picked up [poker card="7s"][poker card="7c"] and with just 550,000 chips remaining, he opened from under the gun to 250,000. Wilson, on the button, once again had [poker card="th"][poker card="td"] and three-bet to 450,000. When it folded to Negreanu, he decided to just call the three-bet and leave himself with a little less than three big blinds behind. The flop came [poker card="kh"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5s"] and Negreanu took a moment, talked it out, and put in the rest of his stack. Wilson quickly called and Negreanu was looking for help to survive. A path opened when the [poker card="ks"] hit the turn, giving Negreanu backdoor spades outs. But the [poker card="8d"] river spelled the end for Negreanu’s run, eliminating him in fifth place for $112,000. With four players left, Ausmus was on the short stack. However, he found a double through the chip leading Sean Perry to climb back over 35 big blinds. Schulman slipped to the short stack and help a little over fifteen big blinds at 20,000/40,000 (40,000 bb ante). When it folded to Ausmus in the big blind, he looked at the [poker card="kc"][poker card="6c"] and open-ripped on Schulman’s big blind. Schulman snapped Ausmus off with the [poker card="ts"][poker card="tc"] and put himself at risk with the dominating hand. The flop came [poker card="js"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2c"], keeping Schulman out front and leaving Ausmus looking for a favorable turn card. The [poker card="5c"] was exactly that, adding both flush and straight outs for Ausmus. And when the [poker card="9c"] completed the board, Schulman was out in fourth place for $176,000. Additionally, with Ausmus advancing to the top three, Perry’s shot at the overall series title evaporated leaving just Ausmus and Wilson to battle for the Cup. Perry applied maximum pressure with three left, building his chip stack to more than 4.5 million. Both Ausmus and Wilson slipped below 1 million as the blinds climbed to 25,000/50,000 (50,000 bb ante). After Wilson folded his button, Perry open-shipped his [poker card="ts"][poker card="7d"] on Ausmus in the big blind. Ausmus looked down at [poker card="ah"][poker card="2c"] and went deep in the tank. After roughly a minute, Ausmus made the call looking for a double. The flop came [poker card="th"][poker card="8h"][poker card="5d"], putting Perry in a position to eliminate Ausmus who needed some help on the turn. The [poker card="8s"] made it so Ausmus needed an ace and an ace only to remain in play. However, the [poker card="5h"] hit the river and Ausmus was eliminated in third place for $256,000 and now had to sweat to see if he would win the Cup. After the elimination, Perry held a 7:1 chip lead over Wilson, who needed to come back and win in order to win the series leaderboard. However, Perry was not going to be denied his second 2022 PokerGO Cup victory. It took just a few hands for the pair to get it all in the middle. Perry made it 125,000 to go with his [poker card="js"][poker card="jc"] and Wilson shipped all-in for 810,000 holding the [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"]. Perry made the call, flipping for the win. The board ran out [poker card="th"][poker card="8d"][poker card="6s"][poker card="4h"][poker card="8c"], giving Perry his second win of the series. Wilson, who was staked by more than 100 backers in the PocketFives Staking marketplace, ended up with a $416K score. Perry walked away with a $640,000 payday. With the elimination of Wilson in second place, Ausmus, who was sweating the action, was named the 2022 PokerGO Cup champion with a victory, a runner-up finish, and two third-place finishes over the eight events. PokerGO Cup Event #8 Final Table Results Sean Perry - $640,000 Brock Wilson - $416,000 Jeremy Ausmus - $256,000 Nick Schulman - $176,000 Daniel Negreanu - $112,000 PokerGO Cup Leaderboard Top 5 Jeremy Ausmus - 658 points Sean Perry - 616 points Brock Wilson - 570 points Cary Katz - 346 points Ali Imsirovic - 300 points
  12. GGPoker is pulling out all the stops to celebrate two years of their flagship weekly freezeout online tournament - the GGMasters. On Sunday, March 20 GGPoker will host the GGMasters Overlay Edition, the buy-in remains $150 but this edition features a mammoth guarantee of $5 million. “$150 buy-in. Five million guaranteed. No rebuys. There’s no way this tournament is not going to have an overlay,” said Daniel Negreanu, GGPoker Global Ambassador. “This is GGPoker’s flagship freezeout tournament and you won’t want to miss out on the value this March 20.” There’s not a single tournament player in all of poker that doesn’t love overlay. The gap between the money the players generate for the prize pool to the minimum guaranteed prize pool offered by an operator or tour. When there’s overlay, players are picking up free equity and GGPoker is branding this anniversary Overlay Edition of the GGMasters as the “highest value tournament ever.” Of course, it’s not 100% certain that there will be overlay but with the event needing 33,334 individual players - without GGPoker taking any rake - in order to cover the $5 million number, it’s as close to a lock as you’re going to get in poker. Plus, Negreanu is willing to make another promise that there’s going to be free money in this event. “I’ll shave my head if this thing goes over five million, shave it all off,” Negreanu said in the promo video. “This is going to be great value for you.” https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1493329238451122177?s=20&t=mUH08GdRYuxp_3u81kka-Q There are three starting flights to choose from so matter where you are in the world (as long as online poker is available to you) you’ll have a convenient time to play: Flight 1: 12:00 UTC [Asia Flight] Flight 2: 17:00 UTC [Europe Flight] Flight 3: 22:00 UTC [Americas Flight] It’s important to remember that the GGMasters is a freezeout. So, a player can choose any starting flight they wish but if you bust that’s it, there's no entry on another starting flight. Those who make it through the first flight will reconvene to play on Monday, March 21 at 17:00 UTC for Day 2. Satellites for the GGMasters Overlay Edition are already running in the client, with players able to earn a seat for as little as $2. “This is just like free money, ok…so come get it.” For more information on the GGPoker Overlay Edition, visit the GGPoker website right here. https://twitter.com/GGPoker/status/1493557874395693059?s=20&t=mUH08GdRYuxp_3u81kka-Q
  13. Daniel Negreanu’s hope of defending last year's PokerGO Cup overall title looked a little brighter after he won Event #6 ($25,000 NLHE) of the 2022 PokerGO Cup and picked up the $350,000 first-place prize. Prior to his win, Negreanu’s 2022 PokerGO Cup journey had proven to be a frustrating one. Throughout many of the early events, Negreanu had been building large chip stacks on a single bullet during the late registration period, only to be eliminated just before making the money. With only eight events in the series and with no results through five events, it looked to him like he didn’t have much chance of a repeat performance. But with a win in Event #6, Negreanu is back in the race. He picked up 210 points, good for the eighth spot on the leaderboard and trailing Jeremy Ausmus who has 407 points in first. However, should Negreanu do well in the final two events he’s got a shot to get back to the top. “I feel great right now. Now I’m back in it and the key is that I knew the $50K is where it’s at,” Negreanu said. "So today’s event is important, obviously, but it’s really going to be about the $50K.” After the victory, Negreanu spoke with PokerGO and talked about what it was like to turn his fortunes around during the series. “It feels really good. People who play tournament poker get this, especially live…you go through periods where you just feel like the poker gods are spitting on you because they’ll beat you in hands in such ways, like on the river, where it’s the most emotional. And I’m an emotional guy, I don’t hide it very well.” Brock Wilson started the final table in the middle of the pack, third in chips. And just when it looked like the PocketFives Staking favorite was going to jump into the chip lead, a brutal break sent him out the door. With the blinds at 15,000/25,000 (25,000 bb ante), Sean Winter picked up [poker card="ah"][poker card="3h"] in the cutoff. With more than 1.7 million in chips and all three of the short stacks to his left, Winter open-ripped putting max pressure on the table. Negreanu folded the [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"] on the button and Stephen Chidwick let go of his small blind. But when came to Wilson in the big blind, he looked down at the [poker card="as"][poker card="ac"] and quickly snap-called his 900K stack. Winter was dominated, but when the flop came [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"][poker card="9h"], he found new life, slapping the table and said “What do you think about that, papa?!”. The turn was the [poker card="jh"], bringing Winter the flush and a huge hold on the hand. With Negreanu folded the other ace, only one of two nines would have saved Wilson. The river came the [poker card="5s"] and Wilson stood, put his backpack on, and went to the cage to collect his $61,250 for fifth place and enter Event #7. During four-handed play, Negreanu picked up key hands against Chidwick and Winter, taking the chip lead for the first time. With the blinds at 20,000/40,000 (40,000 bb ante) Chidwick was sitting on six big blinds when he moved all-in from the button with the [poker card="tc"][poker card="9d"]. In the big blind, Winter quickly called holding the [poker card="as"][poker card="td"] leaving Chidwick dominated and needing help. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2h"] flop left the door open for a backdoor flush, with Chidwick holding the only club. The turn came the [poker card="4c"] and all of a sudden Chidwick was 25% to win heading into the river. However, the [poker card="qs"] was the right color, wrong suit, and Chidwick was forced to settle for fourth place and a $96,250 payday. Negreanu expanded his chip lead during three-handed play, sparing with Winter and avoiding major all-ins. The blinds were at 25,000/50,000 (50,000 bb ante) when Negreanu picked up [poker card="kh"][poker card="kc"] on the button and made it 125,000 to go. Vikenty Shegal was sitting with roughly thirty big blinds, a stack in between Negreanu and Winter, and he looked down at the [poker card="th"][poker card="tc"] and announced he was all-in. Winter folded his [poker card="9c"][poker card="7c"] big blind and Negreanu snap-called putting Shegal at risk. The flop came [poker card="qc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4c"], keeping Negreanu way ahead. The turn came the [poker card="ac"] and Shegal was needing a ten to continue. The river came the [poker card="2s"], ending Shegal’s event in third place for $140,000 and giving Negreanu roughly 80% of the chips in play. With a better than four-to-one chip lead and the blinds at 30,000/60,000 (60,000 bb ante), Negreanu called on the button with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"]. In the small blind with 900,000 in his stack, Winter made it 180,000 to go with the [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"]. Back on Negreanu and he moved all-in and Winter made the call. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8d"], giving Negreanu top pair and leaving Winter looking for running cards or a jack to make a straight. The turn was the [poker card="kh"], leaving Winter just three outs. When the river came the [poker card="th"], it was all over. Winter ended up as the runner-up for $227,500 and Negreanu picked up his second PokerGO Cup career victory and the $350,000 first-place prize. PokerGO Cup Event #6 Final Table Results Daniel Negreanu - $350,000 Sean Winter - $227,500 Vikenty Shegal - $140,000 Stephen Chidwick - $96,250 Brock Wilson - $61,250
  14. The high rollers return to the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas this week for the second annual PokerGO Cup, an eight tournament high-stakes No Limit Hold’em series building to the $100,000 buy-in Main Event. The PokerGO Cup keeps the action of the PokerGO Tour going strong following the success of the recently completed Stairway To Millions, which saw Nick Petrangelo go back-to-back in the final two events and take home the more than $1 million top prize. The PokerGO Cup is PokerGO’s first pure high-roller series of the year, starting out with three $10,000 buy-in events. The rest of the series includes a single $15,000, two $25,000, a $50,000 and the $100,000 finale. The final table of every event will be livestreamed on PokerGO starting at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) from February 3-10. Results for every event of the series will accumulate points for the PokerGO Tour and help crown the winner of the PokerGO Cup and take home an additional $50,000 on top. Last year, Alex Foxen, Ali Imsirovic, Jake Schindler, and Jason Koon were among the event winners. However, the series was most notable for when Daniel Negreanu broke through a winless drought and took down the penultimate $50,000 buy-in for a $700,000 score and then followed that up with a deep run in the finale which ultimately locked up the PokerGO Cup title. Negreanu has already stated that he’ll be back in action, looking to defend his title. Plenty of other notable names are expected to try and dethrone Negreanu including current PGT points leader Petrangelo, as well as PokerGO regs Imsirovic, David Peters, Seth Davies, Chris Brewer, and PokerGO founder Cary Katz among others. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1487205995713421313?s=20&t=xI3XDLy_T201LwCwVmBniw Not only can you watch the PokerGO Cup, but you can also pick up a piece of the action with a number of the high-rollers offering action in the PocketFives Staking Marketplace. Daniel Negreanu, Ali Imsirovic, and four-time WPT champion Darren Elias have all offered fans a way to sweat the action from home. Plus, if you are looking for an annual subscription for PokerGO, sign up today and use the promo code “SWEAT” and receive a bonus $20 in your PocketFives Staking account so you can watch the action and have a piece of it too. 2022 PokerGO Cup Schedule [table id=287 /] [stakingupcoming]
  15. This year we’re doing something a little different and breaking down our annual Poker Year In Review into three different parts - the Flop (January-April), Turn (May-August), and River (September-December). We’re wrapping up 2021 by taking a look back at some of our biggest stories, winners, and surprises that unfolded in one of the most unique years in the history of the game. January Although we were officially in 2021, some of the most important business of 2020 had yet to be decided at the beginning of January as Damian Salas and Joseph Herbert met at a mostly empty Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to play heads-up for a million dollars and determine who will earn the official title of 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion. The finale was not without its detractors as an online version of the WSOP Main Event had been played out on GGPoker earlier in 2020, but Salas - who had made a previous live WSOP Main Event final table in 2017 - proved to be a worthy winner, taking home an extra $1 million and the WSOP Main Event bracelet. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal,” Salas said after his win. “My basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” READ: Desire To Remain Elite Drives New World Champ Damian Salas While January continued to be full of interesting player news, including Chance Kornuth surrendering to Phil Galfond in the Galfond Challenge, Ilyas Muradi taking down the wildly successful WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open, and Jack Hardcastle winning the WPT Montreal Online Main Event for $447K, it was poker industry news that dominated the first month of the year. READ: Chris Moneymaker Reflects on 17 Years as Poker’s Everyman Ambassador For the fourth time in 12 years, the World Poker Tour had been sold in a deal with Element Partners, LLC for more than $78 million. “This deal will allow the World Poker Tour to do a number of things that its always wanted to do,” World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska said at the time the deal was announced, unable to completely expand on the nature of the takeover. “What I can say, however, is that for myself and my management team, we’re still here and it’s business as usual and we look forward to this exciting next chapter of the World Poker Tour.” That same week, perhaps one of the biggest stories of the year broke when The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission in their case against the U.S. Department of Justice, reversing a revised opinion of the Wire Act. In short, it was a big win for online poker players in the U.S., setting the stage for a potential boom of online poker in the United States in years to come taking away legal barriers for would-be states to get in on the action and even join multi-state compacts to expand the total liquidity for Americans. Almost as if on cue, PokerStars officially launched PokerStarsMI.com, becoming the first operator to offer Michiganders (and visitors to the state) the option to play online poker, legally and regulated, from inside the state. To close out the month, Brazil’s Brunno Botteon kept his 2020 hot streak in tact and ended up as the Online Player of the Month for January. February February started off with a bang. The months-long heads-up grudge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk came to an end after 91 days and 25,000 hands. Polk wrote his name in the history books, soundly defeating Negreanu and walking away a winner of roughly $1.2 million. “I’m very happy that I spent so much time preparing and I felt it really ended up helping me tremendously and that I got to execute at such a high level over such a long period of time,” Polk said just moments after the last hand of the challenge. Over the course of the match, the feud between the two seemed to morph into a respectful rivalry and Negreanu gave credit where it was due when it was over. “He deserved it. He played well. I thought he made really good adjustments. I thought he improved as the match went on. I thought he got better and better and sharper, in a lot of different lines,” Negreanu said. But that wasn’t the only high-profile high-stakes poker taking place in February as Tom Dwan emerged to take a seat in the newest iteration of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO and picked up a $300,000 win. Dwan’s appearance was a thrill for fans who were equally excited to have the popular programming back “on the air”. [caption id="attachment_637576" align="alignright" width="250"] Phil Hellmuth[/caption] READ: Hellmuth Rants, Palihapitiya Wins Big On Latest High Stakes Poker High Stakes Poker wasn’t the only poker mainstay to make a return in February as, after more than a year away from Las Vegas, the World Poker Tour was back in Sin City for the first time with WPT Venetian. The final table featured the aforementioned Jack Hardcastle, as well as the 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen, but it was Qing Liu who took home the trophy and the $752,880 first-place prize. Brazil’s Yuri Dzivielevski was climbing into contention for the worldwide #1 spot in the Online Poker Rankings (something he ended up holding for the better part of 2021) and he also walked away with Online Player of the Month honors for February. March Polk and Dwan weren’t done keeping the poker world entertained as the season of High Stakes Poker stretched into March and both high-profile players continued to impress. Polk made what some have called “one of the best laydowns ever” in a massive hand against Phil Hellmuth that had the poker world buzzing for days while Dwan’s domination earned him another half-million win, showing that despite not being in the public eye he wasn’t showing any sign of rust. READ: Tom Dwan, Bryn Kenney Star in Biggest Pots of High Stakes Poker S8 Another massive winner in March was Vanessa Kade. Coming off her high-profile social media clash with Dan Bilzerian, Kade took that energy into the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary online event and walked away with the win for a life-changing $1.5 million payday. Looking to replicate the same fervor of Polk and Negreanu’s heads-up battle, former #1-ranked online pro Fedor Holz sparked a beef with high-stakes cash game crusher Wiktor Malinowski and the pair agreed to take their feud to the felt. The feud was likely manufactured, and the heat wasn’t very hot, but fans were treated to a pair of high-stakes pros dedicating some time to entertaining viewers with the four-session challenge. Brunno Botteon lost his grip at the top of the Online Poker Rankings as Bert ‘Girafganger7’ Stevens took his third turn at the top but by the end of the month he made way for the surging Yuri Dzivielevski who took control and held on it in for the next six months. In case you missed these popular profiles of some of poker’s best we talked with Alex Butcher about becoming the #1-ranked player in the United States and the work he needed to do on himself in order to get out of his own way and be open to success. Speaking of success, Kevin Rabichow opened up about what led him to switch gears from being one of the world’s top online cash game grinders to taking up tournaments and dedicating himself to success. By the end of the month, Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira took home the title of March Online Player of the Month. April One of our most popular articles of the year was published in April when PokerStars found Isai Scheinberg agreed to be interviewed for the first time after settling all of his legal troubles stemming from Black Friday. Scheinberg stepped into the spotlight and talked about the early days of PokerStars, the beginning of the poker boom, the fallout from Black Friday, and what he’s doing with his life after selling the company for nearly $5 billion. “I valued privacy, but I was not secretive. That’s not the same thing,” Scheinberg said talking to the media for one of the very first times. “I was working hard. I was very busy and I’m not the type of guy to go out and do PR.” READ: Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted Both The heads-up craze continued in April as Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu played in the first of three High Stakes Duel matches on PokerGO. The first was, for many, the most memorable as Negreanu had Hellmuth down to a 19-1 chip disadvantage. But Hellmuth used his #WhiteMagic to spin it back up and defeat Negreanu in what was about to become a reoccurring theme for High Stakes Duel. Both PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker and GGPoker’s Spring Festival took over the online poker scene, both offering massive guarantees and non-stop action in the middle of the pandemic. One person who couldn’t get enough was former #1-ranked Niklas Astedt who couldn’t keep himself out of the headlines, taking down multiple GGSF titles and adding to his SCOOP Legacy. Speaking of former #1’s performing in the spring, Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson picked up two SCOOP titles on the same day. Plus, Chris Moorman finally added a SCOOP title to his resume, after taking home the first SCOOP in his career. READ: Joakim Andersson Ships GGSF MILLION$ Main Event for $1.5M READ: SCOOP: Series Concludes As ‘kZhh’ Wins $10L Main Event TItle, $878K With an accumulation of a massive amount of leaderboard points, high-stakes legend Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro took down the Online Player of the Month title in April. The 2021 Poker Year In Review continues in Part 2.
  16. This year we’re doing something a little different and breaking down our annual Poker Year In Review into three different parts - the Flop (January-April), Turn (May-August), and River (September-December). We’ll be wrapping up 2021 by taking a look back at some of our biggest stories, winners, and surprises that unfolded in one of the most unique years in the history of the game. May One of the craziest stories of the year broke in May when it was revealed that high-stakes poker pro Chad Power had been victim to a home invasion robbery of nearly $1,000,000 in cash and casino chips. However, the Henderson Police Department arrested a suspect who was charged with multiple felonies including Burglary with a Deadly Weapon, Conspiracy Home Invasion, and Theft after the suspect went out and purchased a Dodge Hellcat Charger with a $30,000 cash down payment and also purchased a 2018 Maserati Levante SUV under his mother’s name with another $60K in cash. On the felt, Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu returned for Round 2 of High Stakes Duel II with Negreanu looking to get even, however, once again, Hellmuth pulled off the win. Negreanu promised that there would be a third match sooner than later leaving Hellmuth still feeling slighted despite his back-to-back wins. “I’ve given Daniel credit the whole way from start to finish and I haven’t said one negative word about him. He was pretty condescending in the first match. I felt it was super condescending, and this match he handled himself much better,” Hellmuth said. “But even still, he’s preaching down to me about ranges, and I’m thinking to myself, I’ve just won 24 out of 26 heads-up matches against pros and they have me rated as a fucking underdog every match. It just blows my mind, but I just never quite get that respect, and that’s ok with me. I just want to keep winning.” There were plenty of other winnings taking place in May with a trio of World Poker Tour events coming to a conclusion. The pandemic had forced the WPT to delay a number of its high-profile final tables for more than a year and in the middle of the month, they gathered in Las Vegas to crown three consecutive champions. First up was Veerab Zakarian who took down the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $674,840. “Waiting this long, you didn’t know what to expect. You don’t know, you keep waiting for it,” Zakarian said after the tournament ended. “Most people, after the pandemic, they didn’t have anything to look forward to so I was glad to have something to look forward to.” [caption id="attachment_637581" align="alignright" width="250"] Brekstyn Schutten[/caption] The next day it was Balakrishna Patur’s turn in the spotlight as he won the delayed 2020 WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1,015,000, defeating Matas Cimbolas in heads-up play. It was the second year in a row that Cimbolas finished as the LAPC runner-up. Finally, Brekstyn Schutten took down the largest event in the 19-year history of the WPT when he won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $1,261,095. While all of that is nice, the most prestigious contest of the year came to a conclusion in May when Niklas Astedt was named, by the poker community and his peers, as the All-Time #1 Number One. For the better part of a month, PocketFives ran a social contest asking the poker community to vote, March Madness-style, to see which of the (then) 60 former worldwide #1-ranked online pros stood above the rest. The finals came down to Astedt and online great Chris Moorman with Astedt edging out Moorman with 54% of the vote. “The PocketFives rankings really motivated me over the years,” Astedt said after being crowned the winner. “I’m super happy and proud that so many people voted for me.” Speaking of Chris Moorman, he was one of three popular player profiles to be featured this month. Moorman reflected on his career and his recent winning of his first SCOOP title. READ: “Old Guy” Chris Moorman Happily Proves He’s Still Got It Sami Kelopuro had been on an amazing heater and talked with PocketFives in a rare interview on the secret to his recent success and how he planed on taking it easy after his intense grind. READ: After Winning $4.4M, Sami Kelopuro is Taking It Easy - For Now Finally, after winning the first-ever GGPoker Spring Festival Main Event, Mathias ‘KingKongJoel’ Joelsson talked about what it was like to win a seven-figure score. READ: Mathias Joelsson Has ‘King Kong’ Plans After $1.25M GGSF Score By the end of the month, another Brazilian earned themselves an Online Player of the Month title, as Dalton Hobold took the title in May. June It had already been announced that the World Series of Poker was going to be moved to the fall, but in the middle of June, the complete schedule (before the addition of online events) of the last WSOP at the Rio was announced. It was an 88 gold bracelet schedule that hoped to bring back a sense of normalcy after a year away. READ: 5 Things: The WSOP Schedule Gives Players a Comfortable Return Home While players had the WSOP to look forward to, the 2021 U.S. Poker Open was taking place in the PokerGO Studio with familiar faces winning large sums of money. Stephen Chidwick, Jake Schindler, Ali Imsirovic were all at the top of the earners list for the series but David Peters dominated them all, winning more than $2.6 million and taking home the Golden Eagle trophy. READ: David Peters, Old Guard, New Faces Shine Bright as U.S. Poker Open Hellmuth’s three-peat over Negreanu was completed earning him the $400,000 prize and bringing his series record to 6-0 and bringing High Stakes Duel II to an end with Hellmuth opting to cash out and start over in the coming months. Brian Altman also notched his third win, but for him, it was taking home his third World Poker Tour Main Tour title at WPT Tampa at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. The reigning WPT Player of the Year put himself in the race for WPT all-time title, just one behind Darren Elias’ four, and picked up $613,225 in the process. READ: WPT POY Brian Altman Writes His Own Script For Success In other WPT news, the 2021 WPT Online Series Main Event reached a conclusion as well with Christian Rudolph earning his first WPT title and $487,442. Plus, the WPT held its WPT Heads Up Poker Championship in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. An online tournament, it featured some of the biggest names in the game including Doug Polk, Tow Dwan, Sam Greenwood, Anthony Zinno, Brad Own, and eventual winner Phil Ivey who took down the invite-only event for $400,000. Another popular profile published in 2021 was on poker vlogger Jaman Burton and his recent move to Las Vegas. In it, he discusses how the social climate in St. Louis pushed him to make a move, the future of his vlog, and finding new inspiration in Sin City. READ: Jaman Burton and The Drawing Dead Find New Life In Las Vegas The string of Brazilian crushers taking down the Online Player of the Month continued in June as Geraldo Cesar Neto earned the honor for the first time in his career. July The poker world was shocked and saddened in July when six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, Layne ‘Back-to-Back’ Flack unexpectedly passed away at age 52. An outpouring of condolences for Flack’s family poured out from the poker community as a mainstay personality from the early days of the poker boom will be certainly be missed. Before that, Daniel Negreanu was back making headlines. After his loss to Doug Polk earlier in the year and then falling three times to Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel, Kid Poker’s ability to close in a big spot was being questioned by some in the poker world. He quickly responded with a victory during the PokerGO Cup series, not only winning the $50,000 NLHE event for $700,000 but, with a little thanks to Cary Katz in the final event of the series, taking the PokerGO leaderboard title and trophy for an additional $50,000 score. READ: The Anatomy- and End - of Daniel Negreanu’s Tournament Futility All month long, the World Series of Poker was running online bracelet events with some notable names adding to their poker resume including David Peters, Manig Loeser, and Chris Moorman who grabbed the victory in one of the final events of the series for his second career bracelet. But the big WSOP news was the rumor (which turned out to be true) that the World Series of Poker would be on the move in 2022, leaving its long-standing home of the Rio to set up shop on the Strip at Bally's and Paris. [caption id="attachment_637583" align="alignright" width="250"] Andrew Moreno[/caption] July also saw a pair of celebrated live wins as Andrew Moreno battled through the 1,325-entry field of the first-ever $10K Wynn Millions to walk away with a life-changing $1.460 million score. The final three agreed to chop the majority of the prize pool, creating two more millionaires as Clayton Maguire finished as the runner-up for $1.443 million and Toby Lewis grabbed the bronze for $1.235 million. Dapo Ajayi also earned a career-defining win after taking down WPT Choctaw for $558,610, making it the second time that Viet Vo would come up just one spot short in the same tournament, finishing in second place for $372,415. Brazil’s Dalton Hobold earned Online Player of the Month honors in May, in July he opened up about how he was almost scammed out his entire career by someone he trusted. READ: Rising Star Dalton Hobold Almost Had Poker Career Derailed by Scam Another month, another Brazilian at the top of the Online Player of the Month leaderboard, as Renan Carlos Bruschi took home the honors in July. August August was another massive month when it came to online poker as PokerStars announced the start of their biggest World Championship of Online Poker with $100 million guaranteed and the World Series of Poker Online kicked off on GGPoker. Both series featured poker superstars taking home titles including Christian Rudolph and Ivan Zufic taking down early WCOOP titles and Joao Simao and Samuel Vousden earning gold bracelets. It was also the month where Erik Seidel made history, taking down 2021 WSOP Online Event #11 ($10,000 Super MILLION$ High Roller) for $977,842 and his ninth career gold bracelet, tying Johnny Moss. Soon after, he talked with us about winning his ninth bracelet online made it special for him. “Winning any WSOP event is special,” Seidel said when asked where his online bracelet ranks. “This one was extra great for me because it was so unexpected. Getting through 600+ players and then the prize was close to one million, which I think is my biggest WSOP cash, felt really amazing. Might be my favorite.” READ: Erik Seidel’s Online WSOP Bracelet Victory Might Just Be His Favorite In addition to Seidel winning the WSOP edition of the Super MILLION$, a pair of perennial champions added to their MILLION$ resume. Niklas Astedt scored his third title and Michael Addamo kept the all-time wins record with his fourth. For Addamo, it was just a sign of things yet to come. READ: 50 Things To Look Forward To At The 2021 WSOP After Phil Hellmuth vanquished Fox Sports commentator Nick Smith in a bottle episode of High Stakes Duel, the re-match everyone was waiting for was booked. The Hellmuth vs. Tom Dwan hype train was rolling and the show did not disappoint. However, after seven wins in a row, Hellmuth was defeated as Dwan dethroned Hellmuth to become the new High Stakes Duel champion. READ: Three Takeaways From Tom Dwan's Victory Over Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel III [caption id="attachment_637584" align="alignleft" width="250"] Brock Wilson[/caption] A pair of profiles proved to be popular this month as 26-year-old high-stakes tournament pro Brock Wilson talked about his major move from New York to Las Vegas to pursue the poker dream. Plus, Ryan Hagerty scored an online bracelet in July and sat down to talk with us about his roller coaster of a year grinding the tournament scene. A victory for Alex Theologis in the WSOP $25,000 Super High Roller Championship locked up the August Online Player of Month. Finally, after six years as the President and Editor-in-Chief of PocketFives Lance Bradley stepped away to pursue new opportunities and left by spotlighting some of his favorite stories he published over the years.
  17. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. In the aftermath of the Polk-Negreanu high-stakes, heads-up challenge, news of two more high-profile challenges have emerged and Lance and Donnie break both of them down on this week's episode of The FIVES! First, 15-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner and season one High Stakes Duel winner Phil Hellmuth looks poised to be Daniel Negreanu's next challenger. But what will the format be when (and if) it takes place and will it be enough to satisfy the fans? At the same time, 21-year old poker phenom Landon Tice and high-stakes businessman Bill Perkins have publically agreed on a 20,000 hand challenge to start in May. Tice has also agreed to spot Perkins a 9bb/100 advantage - meaning in order to win, Tice will need to win more than $720,000. Finally, the guys discuss all of the most important breaking news from this week in the world of poker. Listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  18. PokerGO’s revival of High Stakes Poker is set to return in 2022 for Season 9 and over the weekend fans were given a first look at some of poker’s high-powered players that have officially locked up a seat in the game. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1467256348643500035?s=20 After sitting on the sidelines for Season 8, Daniel Negreanu - who played in all of the first seven seasons of the show - confirmed his return to HSP via Twitter. Then, hours later, Jennifer Tilly posted one of the first cast photos, much to the delight of poker fans everywhere. RELATED: Chemistry Lessons: Building The Perfect High Stakes Poker Cast https://twitter.com/JenniferTilly/status/1467576251716018183?s=20 As you can see, some of the biggest names in the game will be in action including cash game legends Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan, both of whom were featured last season. Joining them in a return are Jean-Robert Bellande and Bryn Kenney, who made their High Stakes Poker debut in Season 8. Taking a seat for the first time and pictured to the right of Kenney is Hustler Casino Live regular Krish, who is often introduced as an entrepreneur and collector of rare casino chips. And finally, on the far left, is Garrett Adelstein, one of the most prolific live stream high-stakes cash game players of today. RELATED: Three Takeaways From Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan’s Appearance on Hustler Casino Live It’s Adelstein’s first invitation to High Stakes Poker but not his first encounter with the likes of Ivey and Dwan. Earlier this year, Hustler Casino Live broadcast two days of high-stakes play that featured all three players and captured on camera the first meeting of Adelstein and Ivey. However, that’s not the only members of the cast that were confirmed. Tilly commented on how much fun it was playing with Rail Heaven legend Patrik Antonius... https://twitter.com/JenniferTilly/status/1467173525244891136?s=20 ...and Xuan Liu was sure to snap a selfie with the legend Doyle Brunson. https://twitter.com/xxl23/status/1467208721168154627?s=20 On Monday night, World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Koray Aldemir added some more names to the High Stakes Poker confirmed list when he posted this photo of after his time on set. https://twitter.com/kooraay90/status/1468017193359069186?s=20 Traditionally, High Stakes Poker features minimum stakes of $200/$400 with an $800 straddle or simply $400/$800 blinds, making it one of the highest stakes cash games available for fans to sweat. Of course, all the players are sworn to secrecy on the results of the taping but it was curious that Negreanu, who has admitted in the past to running badly in his seven seasons (roughly a $2 million loser according to some calculations) posted the following: https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1467631154320662530?s=20 No firm date for the airing of High Stakes Poker Season 9 has been announced, but unconfirmed rumors has it dropping in February 2022. We’ll have to wait and see however, whenever it does return, High Stakes Poker Season 9 will be available on subscription site PokerGO. [original article updated 5:10 pm PT 12/6]
  19. The World Series of Poker Winter Online Circuit returns to GGPoker this month highlighted by 18 Circuit ring events and at least $100,000,000 in total guaranteed prize money up for grabs across all events. The series runs from December 12 through January 9 and encompasses hundreds of side events as well as the ring events, 13 of which come with a guarantee of $1 million or more. “WSOP Circuit events are great, they give every player the chance to win a big prize and a gold ring while enjoying a taste of the WSOP experience,” said GGPoker Global Ambassador Daniel Negreanu. “This time around, there’s also the not-insignificant matter of $100,000,000 in prizes to enjoy as well. It might be getting cold outside but the action is just heating up at GGPoker!” The series highlights include the BIG 50 MILLION$, a multi-flight $50 buy-in that comes with a $1 million guarantee. The $100 buy-in MILLION$ Mini Main Event with $2 million guaranteed. A special $3 million guaranteed $10,300 Super MILLION$ and a $1,050 GGMasters High Roller with $1.5 million guaranteed. The series will conclude with the $525 Main Event with a massive $5 million guarantee. Day 1 flights for the Main Event begin on December 27 with plenty of additional opportunities for players to make Day 2, which takes place on January 9. Satellites for most of the major events are running around the clock in the client and, for some events, start for as little as $0.50. In total, the 18 ring events account for more than $26 million of the total series guarantee. In addition to vying for a WSOP Circuit ring, there are plenty of other incentives on the line during the WSOP Winter Online Circuit. Every time a player participates in a ring event or side event (which makes up for the bulk of the schedule) leaderboard points are awarded. The top 100 players on the leaderboard will split $100,000 in added bonus prizes. Additionally, any player who wins a Circuit Event will automatically for the live WSOP Million Dollar Freeroll in Las Vegas (tie and date to be announced). The WSOP Million Dollar Freeroll is a change of format for the WSOP that, in the past, had awarded seats to the year-end WSOP Tournament of Champions to the top 100 players on the WSOPC yearly leaderboard with two seats at each live stop being awarded to the Player of the Series and the winner of the Main Event of any given Circuit stop. But now, any WSOP Circuit win - including one of the international Online variety - earns a ticket to the year-end event. Finally, for the fans, two of the 18 ring events will be a part of the GGPoker live stream schedule with Randy ‘Nanonoko’ Lew and Kevin ‘Rotterdam’ van der Kooi calling the action. Tune in on Tuesday, December 21 to catch the high rollers in action for the $3 million GTD Super MILLION$. Then, the final table of the $525 Main Event will play out on Saturday, January 15th. For a complete schedule of events, including all Day 1 starting flights for multi-flight events, visit GGPoker. WSOP Winter Online Circuit Ring Event Schedule [table id=278 /]
  20. Justin Bonomo has retaken the top spot on the Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List after his victory in the Bellagio’s Five Diamond $100,000 No Limit High Roller earned him $928,200 and sent his career earnings north of $57 million. https://twitter.com/JustinBonomo/status/1467013552238043136?s=20 It’s been 28 months since the last time Bonomo was last recognized as the worldwide leader in tournament earnings. Back in August 2019, Bryn Kenney and Aaron Zang chopped up the £1,050,000 Triton Million for Charity which allowed to Kenney lock up a massive $20,563,324 prize as the runner-up. The unprecedented score was more than enough to send Kenney to the All-Time Money List lead by roughly seven million. Bonomo responded quickly, taking down the Triton London £100,000 No Limit Short Deck for $3.2 million just days after Kenney’s win. He may have even retaken the lead within the week, had his second-place $4.1 million score in the Triton London £250,000 Short Deck not been a private event. However, just months later, the live circuit came to a standstill in the face of COVID-19 and, like many, Bonomo essentially retreated from playing any live poker for the better part of 21 months. Bonomo made his return to the live felt at the end of September to make a run at a fourth title in PokerGO’s $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl. He showed no sign of rust, finishing in second place, just behind Michael Addamo, for a $1,890,000 score. And that was just the beginning of his current hot streak. Less than a month later, Bonomo was again battling Addamo heads-up for a massive score. This time it was the 2021 WSOP’s $50,000 NLHE High Roller. While Bonomo couldn’t deny Addamo another victory, he did pick up $700,228 for his runner-up finish. Bonomo was back in the mix. He's recently been spending some time at the Aria playing in their regularly running $10Ks. According to the Hendon Mob, he scored a victory on November 6 for $171,000 and a second-place finish 10 days later for another $94,600. Bringing him within striking distance of retaking the ATML title. It should be noted, that during this time Kenney was also playing sparingly. His first result since the beginning of 2020 was last week when he picked up a $503,880 score for his runner-up finish in the Seminole Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open $25,500 High Roller. However, Kenney’s six-figure score just wasn’t enough to hold off Bonomo. On Friday night, Bonomo defeated the small field of 19 runners, which included Kenney, in the Five Diamond $100,000 and with the $928,200 he has eclipsed Kenney by a mere $139,869. https://twitter.com/TheHendonMob/status/1467021120905912323?s=20 At the stakes and in the fields that Bonomo and Kenney regularly play, the All-Time Money List lead may be a two-horse race for quite some time with the pair taking turns at the top depending on which one of the two is in the money more recently. It would take some doing for anyone else in the top 5 to join the party with Daniel Negreanu currently sitting in third place, roughly $12 million behind pace, and Erik Seidel almost $19 million behind Bonomo’s current total.
  21. The holidays are here and that means it’s time, once again, to pick out a few choice items that make for a perfect gift for the poker players in your life. After the garbage year that was 2020, 2021 proved to be a little bit better and therefore deserving of a better gift guide. So here are a few suggestions of gifts for the poker player in your life that will make these holidays one to remember. RELATED: The Definitive Poker Player Holiday Gift Guide Gifts To Get Better For many poker players, the best gift they can receive is getting real help in getting better at the game. In turn, performing better when playing produces the real results they want and nowadays, there’s no shortage of ways to help a poker player improve and they all make for great gifts. Poker Training Sites Looking to help someone who really wants to improv? Check out Upswing Poker, Run It Once Poker, Learn Pro Poker, or Daniel Negreanu’s Masterclass. All of these will provide important base-layer strategies for improving at poker. All these courses are led by top-tier, well-known coaches and, for the most part, start at less than $100. For someone who is process-oriented, look first at Negreanu’s Masterclass and Upswing Poker. For the player who enjoyed watching non-stop videos, Run It Once and LearnProPoker are packed with content. Poker Books More of an old-school student? D+B Publishing pretty much has the market cornered on poker books. From No Limit Hold’em to Mixed Games, there’s a poker strategy book that makes for the perfect gift. Try any one of Jonathan Little’s books including Excelling At No-Limit Hold’em, Exploitative Play in Live Poker by Alexander Fitzgerald, or Mastering Mixed Games by Dylan Linde. D+B offers many of these titles as audiobooks for those long drives to the card room. Want to shop outside of D+B? Check out the trio of books by PocketFiver Dara O' Kearney with poker media superstar Barry Carter: Poker Satellite Strategy, PKO Poker Strategy, and Endgame Poker Strategy - all under $20 on Amazon. Not for nothing, a good non-strategy poker book makes for a great gift as well including Poker Brat by Phil Hellmuth, The Pursuit of Poker Success by Lance Bradley, or The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova. Poker Apps For the player who is always on their phone check, a gift card with a recommendation for any of these apps would likely delight: Dominik Nitsche’s DTO Poker Trainer offers a free version that allows players to train by playing hands and it will evaluate your play against GTO standards. There’s an upgrade available that allows for more in-depth studying. The PokerGO app (it’s actually a complete website of content) gives you the ability to watch a nearly endless amount of poker content anywhere you go. Perfect for the poker fan who can’t get enough of poker on TV. A one-month sub is just $10, a full year can be purchased for $100. Poker Income Tracker is a good way to see all of the stats that true poker junkies are into including sessions, wins and losses, how one performs at different stakes. This might not make much sense to someone who isn’t into poker, but for the player, these stats are the scoreboard of their poker journey. Gifts To Look Better In general, poker players aren’t known for their style. Oftentimes, whatever clothes are nearest to them when they wake up are what they are showing up to a final table in. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a couple upgradable items of essentials for the live poker player. Poker Vlogger Merch If you know which poker vlogger is their favorite - grabbing some merch could look like a very thoughtful gift. Hundreds of thousands tune in to the on-the-felt adventures of Brad Owen, and he has signature hoodies and shirts that support his empire available right here. Andrew Neeme’s FVRBL apparel offers shirts, hats, hoodies, and more. Maybe grab a pair of Greg Goes All In signature sunglasses for the meme lover in your life or a “Folding Is Boring” shirt courtesy of Rampage Poker. Hoodies As cliche as it is, hoodies are essential. If you forgo one from the aforementioned Vlogger collection check out the Rocky Eco-Fleece Zip Hoodie from Alternative Apparel - it's a super lightweight, eco-friendly hoodie that can be worn everywhere, all day. Or, for those looking for some more Ali Imsirovic vibes, check out the wild designs at Zipy Hoodie to make a greater impact while at the table. Sunglasses Sunglasses at the table are a little bit controversial. But for some players, it’s the security blanket they need to play their best and keep their opponents guessing. In the past, we’ve recommended the classic Ray-Ban Original Wayfarers and this year we’re sticking with that clean look and picking the Oakley Holbrook design. It comes in all different colors and lens styles, but there’s no doubt that if you pick something other than black-on-black these Red Iridium Lenses would offer that distinctive, memorable look. Gifts To Be Better Now let’s put it all together. You see, for a poker player, it’s playing part that they really want. So, here are a couple of big ideas to get them into the game. ClubGG Subscription Some players want to play but don’t ever want to lose. Fair enough. ClubGG gets them very close to that. The app allows players to play as much as they want for $50 but the best part is they can qualify for live events including the World Series of Poker. Recently, ClubGG also announced partnerships with the Mid States Poker Tour and the RunGood Poker Tour, offering players even more opportunities to win their way into a big live event for just the monthly payment. Not for nothing, at the 2021 WSOP, there was also a ClubGG Poker Lounge where free snacks and drinks were available, which was likely worth the price of the app that month alone. A Trip to the WSOP Of course, this is the big-ticket item, but no gift guild would be complete without mentioning that it’s nearly every poker player’s dream to play in the WSOP. But for the uninitiated, one might think that gift is going to cost an unreasonable $10,000 - not realizing that it’s a whole series of events and not just the Main Event. But that’s not the case, the upcoming WSOP will likely have upwards of 90 live events with the smallest buy-in coming in around $500. Not cheap, but not necessarily going to break the bank. And with the WSOP moving to The Strip this summer, it’s going to be a historic series that would make for an unforgettable experience.
  22. It came down to the final week of the 2021 World Series of Poker but, in the end, Daniel Negreanu dug himself out of a half-million-dollar WSOP hole and booked a win for himself and more than 300 supporters who purchased a piece of his series-long staking package. “I give people a chance to take the ride.” Two months ago, Negreanu announced that he would, once again, be offering shares of his entire WSOP campaign. He was honoring a promise to those fans who missed out on his 2019 campaign and had yet to have an opportunity for a series-long sweat. He gave those people the chance to "take the ride" with him at the WSOP. And what a ride it was. Starting with WSOP Event #2 ($25,000 H.O.R.S.E.) Negreanu dedicated himself to a non-stop grind. He fired in 46 of the scheduled 88 live events, plus all 10 of the online events. He posted a total of $1,052,773 in buy-ins (of $1,627,484 potential) and, in the end, cashed in 18 of the 56 events - a 32% in-the-money record for the series. Daniel Negreanu’s 2021 WSOP Cashes [table id=276 /] The total of those cashes adds up to $1,451,297.68. But there’s a bonus $500 added in from a bounty captured from Event #71 making the total $1,451,797.68 - a profit of $399,024.68. When that is added to the unplayed amount collected at the beginning of the stake ($574,711) the end result is a profit for backers of 24.52%. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463675183202373635?s=20 So, for every $20 investment, there was $24.90 returned. For those who put in the maximum amount upfront of $1,000, they took home $1,245.18. [table id=275 /] The Million Dollar Swing When Negreanu first offered the action this year he decided to forgo the High-Medium-Low tier of investments that he used in 2019 because “I want all of us to win together, or…if I lose, we all lose together.” That turned out to be beneficial for all Negreanu’s backers. As the series was coming to a close, Negreanu was looking at a near half-million deficit. The entire stake was riding on a series of high rollers - two $50Ks, a $100K, and the $250K Super High Roller. The buy-ins alone could have pushed Negreanu under $1 million if he wasn’t able to make something happen. But after picking up a small cash in Event #80 ($3,000 PLO), Negreanu rode that momentum into Event #84 ($50,000 PLO High Roller). He busted his first bullet but fired again, and this time he shot straight. He took his second chance all the way to the final table. It looked like he might capture bracelet #7, but after some hands didn’t go his way, he bowed out in third place. His $519,764 score turned the tide for the stake and put him within $10,000 of being even. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1462831012145098753?s=20 He was right back at it the next day in Event #85 ($50,000 NLHE High Roller). There were 113 entries, but Negreanu only fired one shot. The momentum from the PLO High Roller carried over and the sweat became real as he made back-to-back final tables. Unfortunately, Negreanu fell in third place again, unable to break through to the bracelet. But he added a critical score of $661,041 to not only climb into the positive but ensure that he would be profitable with only four total events left on the schedule. It was a million-dollar swing in the course of 72 hours and for those following along, it was the reason for backing Negreanu in the first place. Not just the profit, which is of course nice, but the entertainment of being a part of an epic run with a fantastic finish. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092?s=20 The World Series of Poker may be over but keep your eyes on PocketFives Staking for plenty of future opportunities to be a part of the action of your favorite players.
  23. The 2021 World Series of Poker was a wild ride and not just for those players who made the trip to Las Vegas. As the schedule in the series began to wind down, the pressure ramped up for players to close out the fall with a nice score and, for many of those who chose to take the ride by picking up a piece of the action on PocketFives, there were some great gains to be made. Arieh Shares Sun Run With Supporters You don’t have to look further than newly crowed 2021 WSOP Player of the Year (and PocketFives own) Josh Arieh. Arieh was relentless on the felt and generous in offering pieces of his amazing sun run to his followers. For example, Arieh put up 5% of his $10,000 Main Event at zero markup. Clearly a favorite against the field, the 50 backers who were able to quickly snap up their .1% (just a mere $10 to get a sweat on) all saw a return of $30 - an ROI of 200% - when he finished in 411th place for $30,000. He was nowhere near finished. Arieh’s run to the POY included two more notable cashes, but the one his backers certainly appreciated was his final table finish in the $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller. Arieh had crushed every PLO tournament he played in this year, including famously helping some of his backers turn $15 into $2K. Another nice return was in order for the 141 backers who supported him. Arieh sold 10%, again at no markup, and ended up finishing in seventh place for $165,452. That’s an ROI of 230.90% with $16,545 headed back to his backers. If every backer had an equal share, that would look like a $35 stake yielding more than $117. He had another 200+% ROI in the $10K Stud 8 where 43 backers picked up 10% of his action and turned every $10 increment into just over $30 as well. https://twitter.com/robcpoker/status/1463094577083019266?s=20 RELATED: Negreanu, Arieh, and Glantz Help Backers Clean Up In WSOP $50K Poker Players Championship Seidel Just Hits Home Runs Erik Seidel was also a home run hitter down the stretch. The nine-time WSOP bracelet winner jumped on PocketFives to sell for just two events late in the schedule. Both times he sold out and both times he came through. He sold 50% of his action, strictly for the fans, in the same $10K Seven Card Stud 8 where Arieh finished in ninth. Seidel made it to the final table and ended up finishing in 7th place for $46,140. His ROI - 361.40%. Collectively, his 29 backers turned the $5,600 (Seidel sold at 1.12 markup) into $23,070 and every 1% of the stake ($56) turned into $230. https://twitter.com/PocketFives/status/1460030971340734464?s=20 It worked so well in the Stud 8, Seidel picked up more run good by running it back in the $10K Razz Championship. Again he sold 50% and. again, he made a final table. In back-to-back tournaments, Seidel finished in 7th place and this time cashed out for $39,987. If each of his 35 backers had the same share, they’d have turned $160 into more than $570. Negreanu’s Fantastic Finish Right up until the last tournament, Daniel Negreanu was challenging Josh Arieh for WSOP Player of the Year. He finished the series second in total cashes with 18 and was selling action all along the way. After his deep run in the $50K Poker Players Championship, Negreanu booked four more cashes, but for backers, his deep run in the $50K Pot Limit Omaha was the most important, and perhaps the most surprising. In it, Negreanu made the final table and, once again, came so close to winning bracelet #7. Eventually, he bowed out in 3rd place which was good for $519,764. Unfortunately, since it was on his second bullet it didn't count for those who supported him as a single event. However, for the more than 300 backers of his complete package it brought him close to being even for the series. That score set him up for his biggest score yet. While he didn’t sell action explicitly for the $50,000 NLHE High Roller, this was a critical event for the hundreds of people who were involved in his series-long package. In the event, he made another sick final table run, again nearly locking down a bracelet, but ended up in third place for more than $660,000 and turned his total series package from negative to a huge profit. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092?s=20 [Correction: an earlier version of this article indicated that Negreanu had cashed in the $50K PLO for his single event backers, however, it was on his 2nd bullet which meant it only counted for the series long investors. We apologize for the error.] With that, the 2021 WSOP and the ride for investors came to an end. But be on the lookout for more from PocketFives Staking as the end is really just the beginning.
  24. [Editor's Note: At the time that this article was written, it had been announced that Josh Arieh had clinched the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. However, an online tournament result had not yet been included, leaving open the possibility for Ben Yu to win the POY on the last day of the series. We are leaving the article as written and today's events will be reflected in tomorrow's recap.] On a dramatic final day of the race to become WSOP Player of the Year, Josh Arieh finally saw off the dogged challenge of Phil Hellmuth as Arieh, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner in 2021 and four-time bracelet holder in his career, earned the coveted title of 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. In additional action, the final high roller of the series found a familiar name at the top of the leaderboard as Michael Addamo took charge of the $100K NLHE headed into the final day of the series. Addamo Adds Up Chip Lead Once Again The final two events of the 2021 World Series of Poker are racing towards the line as Michael Addamo and Ben Yu have put themselves in pole position to win big as they take leads into the last two final tables of the WSOP in Las Vegas. The $100,000-entry Event #87 is a High Roller event that saw players able to late register up until the start of Day 2, and stars such as Brian Rast, Ole Schemion, Elio Fox, Stephen Chidwick, Dominik Nitsche, Mark Herm, Jason Koon, David Szep, Sean Perry, Jeremy Ausmus and Rok Gostisa all got involved before the first deal, with the field confirmed at 64 players in total, with just 39 remaining at the start of play. That number was reduced almost immediately, with Shaun Deeb crashing out to David Coleman and Brian Rast almost on the rail in his first hand as he shoved for 600,000 chips at blinds of 20,000/40,000 with [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"], a hand called by Cary Katz with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"] which held to double up and leave Rast on fumes. Rast, a five-time WSOP bracelet winner after his win earlier this series, would later rally, but still missed out on the money places, as did Phil Hellmuth, who quickly realized that he needed to win or come second in Event #88 to win the Player of the Year race. Hellmuth wasn’t the only one on the rail without money as David Peters, David Coleman, Jason Koon and the aforementioned Cary Katz all missed the money, along with Mark Herm, who was busted on the bubble in 11th place. Arieh wisely chose to give late-regging for $100,000 a miss. Fedor Holz was the first player to make money as he was eliminated in 10th place for $167,869 when his ace-high shove couldn’t hold against Sorel Mizzi’s king-queen, a queen on the river winning the Canadian the pot and sending the German to the rail. Addamo had the lead as the nine-handed final table kicked off, with 9.5 million chips to Sam Sovrel’s closest stack of just over 6 million. Bill Klein was the first player to depart the final nine as he busted with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Jc"] to Addamo’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qc"]. The money all went in on the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="7d"][poker card="2h"] flop, but neither the [poker card="6c"] turn or [poker card="8h"] river could save him and he cashed for $186,909 in ninth place. He won his first-ever WSOP bracelet earlier in the week, but he busted in eighth place for $217,274 when his shove with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="8h"] ran into Addamo’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9s"] to bust on a board of [poker card="Kc"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="Td"][poker card="Ks"]. Sam Grafton was the next player to lose his stack as he busted in seventh place for $263,227. Calling a raise from Henrik Hecklen, Grafton went to a flop of [poker card="Th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4s"] and both players checked it. Grafton checked the [poker card="9s"] turn too, but Hecklen didn’t, firing a bet that the British player called. On the [poker card="6d"] river, Grafton check-called Hecklen’s shove after using several time extension chips, but the Brit’s time was up as he called, showed [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9d"] for a pair of nines and was shown Hecklen’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="8h"] for a rivered straight. After an extended period of play where Addamo used his stack to chip up even more, Mizzi was the player to miss out on the final day as he shoved with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="7c"] and was called by Addamo with [poker card="Qs"][poker card="7s"]. The board ran out [poker card="8h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="9d"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="9s"] as the unfortunate Mizzi saw his dominating hand overtaken on the turn to end play for the night and give Addamo a big lead heading into the final day, holding as many chips on his own as his four opponents do combined. WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 High Roller Final Table Chipcounts: Michael Addamo - 19,620,000 Henrik Hecklen - 5,445,000 Sam Soverel - 5,165,000 Kevin Rabichow - 4,250,000 Sean Perry - 3,920,000 Ben Yu Leads Final Day in $5,000 8-Handed Event #88 The drama was palpable in the $5,000-entry NLHE 8-Handed Event #88, the final live event on this year’s WSOP schedule in Las Vegas. Phil Hellmuth, who could not reach the latter stages of the $50,000 or $100,000 events of the past couple of days, needed a deep run in the event. In fact, once Arieh crashed out, Hellmuth quickly established what he needed to do. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463030770637754368 Arieh was still in the building and as the tension built, the leader of the POY race busted, giving him a chance to join the anti-rail. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463006906285391874 Sadly for Hellmuth and his many fans, the Poker Brat fell short as he called all-in with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="5h"] on a board of [poker card="Ts"][poker card="8h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2d"] against Jason Brazeau’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="4c"] for a pair of eights. Hellmuth’s elimination saw the 16-time record WSOP bracelet winner concede defeat and congratulate Arieh on his victory. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463061249034358784 Arieh replied, “You're always gonna be the goat [Greatest of All Time] buddy! I appreciate you more than you know.”, tweeting a picture of the title celebrations. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463079737480253441 After Hellmuth’s departure, many big names fell, as players such as Faraz Jaka, Romain Lewis, Joao Simao, Andrew Kelsall, Dominik Nitsche, Justin Lapka, Justin Saliba, and Brandon Sheils all missed out on the final day. With just 30 players bagging up Day 2 chips from the 531 entries in total, Ben Yu (2,515,000) leads the final day field. Uri Reichenstein (2,070,000) is his closest challenger, while there are top 10 stacks for some of the best players to have sat down at the felt this World Series in Shaun Deeb (1,680,000), Ramon Colillas (1,500,000), and Alexandre Reard (1,048,000), who will shoot for his second 2021 bracelet tomorrow afternoon. WSOP 2021 Event #88 $5,000 8-Handed NLHE Top 10 Chipcounts: Ben Yu - 2,515,000 Uri Reichenstein - 2,070,000 George Wolff - 1,770,000 Shaun Deeb - 1,680,000 Matyas Kende - 1,635,000 Ramon Colillas - 1,500,000 Danny Wong - 1,330,000 Justin Liberto - 1,285,000 Clayton Maguire - 1,100,000 Alexandre Reard - 1,048,000 Daniel Negreanu’s World Series of Poker came to a close and ‘Kid Poker’ was happy to post his scores from his final rollercoaster ride at the Rio. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092 Owais Ahmed commented that “It's sick, almost unfathomable, how many final tables and top 3 appearances [Negreanu] has at the Rio, but never won a bracelet in the building. I'm sure he'll be happy to see a location change.” in a comment liked by Negreanu himself. Bring on Bally’s. Everyone has made the ‘walk of shame’ from the famous poker venue for the last 17 years, but for Martin Jacobson, the Swedish WSOP Main Event winner whose best result of his career came inside the Rio, it was emotional. https://twitter.com/Martin_Jacobson/status/1463073395499692039 Finally, not everyone is going to be sad to see trips to the Rio go down and the temperature go up from May next year at Bally’s and Paris. https://twitter.com/kittykuopoker/status/1462932645155782661
  25. With the World Series of Poker Main Event completed and a new World Champion in Koray Aldemir crowned, one of the last major awards of the series to be handed out this fall will be to the winner of the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. Headed into the last weekend of the 2021 schedule, there is plenty of drama left to be had as the final WSOP events to take place at the Rio all have the potential to shake up the leaderboard and provide a potential surprise ending to this year’s tightly-run race. One person, looking for as little drama as possible is current POY frontrunner (and PocketFives’ own) Josh Arieh. After a series performance that includes two bracelet wins and a final table appearance in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, Arieh simply needs to hold in order to have his banner hanging in the halls of the new home of the WSOP when it moves to the Strip in the summer of 2022 READ: Q&A With Josh Arieh: Enjoying Life, Seeing Success At The WSOP While a nearly 600 point lead is substantial, it’s by no means insurmountable. He understood this when, earlier in the week he announced on Twitter that he had to make his way back to Atlanta and that his WSOP was over - meaning that he wouldn’t have an opportunity to improve his position. But days later, circumstances changed for Arieh and he booked a flight back to Las Vegas in order to try and regain the heat had throughout most of the series and lock down a place in WSOP history. One of those players Arieh needs to contend with is the 16-timer Phil Hellmuth who, after an in-the-money finish in the $777 WSOP Online event and a final table appearance in the $10K Razz Championship, has vaulted right back into the race. He currently sits in second place, and has made it well-known that he’s angling to win the POY award. Although he’s sitting in a solid position right now, the remaining schedule doesn’t quite favor Hellmuth. His reputation for being “less than” at mixed games has been obliterated during the 2021 series, but unfortunately for him, there are no more small field/big point mixed game Championships for him to run deep in. Now, in order to make up the points he needs to catch Arieh, he’s going to have to get back to basics and dominate in No Limit Hold’em. Of the nine events that he can still register for while in Las Vegas, eight are NLHE with the lone stand out being the $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha. Perhaps the route for Hellmuth is to focus on grinding out a deep run in one of the larger field, smaller buy-in events like The Closer, the $1,000 Turbo, and the $5,000 8-Handed. This brings up another, and perhaps the most interesting aspect of the late POY race - the emphasis on High Rollers late in the schedule. Of those nine events, four have a buy-in of $50,000 or more. While both Hellmuth and Arieh are regular runners in the $50K PPC, playing in the NLHE shark-infested waters of the $50,000-$250,000 NLHE events is a totally different game. The fields will be replete with the biggest crushers in the game today, including the likes of Michael Addamo, Ali Imsirovic, and Justin Bonomo. Fields that some of those that are looking to close the POY race may not have a lot of experience against. There’s a lot of leaderboard points at stake in these remaining High Rollers and if someone can put together a run, as Michael Addamo did in PokerGO’s Poker Masters and Super High Roller Bowl prior to the WSOP, there’s plenty of points there to upend the POY leaderboard. That bodes well specifically for someone like Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu, sitting near the top of the Total Cashes leaderboard with 16 in the series, currently sits in 16th place on the POY leaderboard - one of the highest positions for the tight-knit crew of nosebleed MTTers. He’s 1,200 points behind Arieh and it would be a tough task to rack up that many points in such a short amount of time. However, in the $250,000 Super High Roller - in which he still has a shot to win - there are no less than 1,228 points for first place. There will likely be more than 1,100 points up for grabs for all of the High Rollers and should Negreanu keep cashing at his current pace it may just be enough to make a last-minute surge. Another player that the same scenario holds true for is Scott Ball. Ball, an NLHE specialist, has two WSOP bracelets - both won this series - and now has plenty of bonus bankroll to chase the POY. He took down the $5K Six-Max (one of the toughest tournaments of the series) for $562,667 and then best the massive field in the Little One For One Drop for another $396,445. He’s also proven he’s not afraid to fire $50Ks, scoring an 11th place finish an earlier $50,000 buy-in NLHE this series for $87,500. Ball, having a career series, is just over 700 points away from the lead and if his heater continues he could be a dark horse late in the race. Other storylines that have the potential to emerge include early POY favorite Anthony Zinno, making a deep run in the $50Ks, as we know he plans on playing them. Look to see if Aldemir, currently in fourth place, returns to the series well-rested after his marathon win in the Main Event to fire in high rollers which have been his bread and butter for years. Finally, Shaun Deeb, currently sitting in tenth place, would love nothing more than to make a deep run in the $50K PLO to upend one of his best friends in Arieh and make history for himself by becoming a two-time POY winner. The best part about this race is that it ends in Las Vegas. Despite WSOP Europe kicking off this coming week, the winner will be determined at the Rio, as it is meant to be. To view the current 2021 WSOP Player of the Year standing - click here.
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