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  1. Brand new to Full Tilt Pokerare Flipout Tournaments, which consist of two rounds. In the first, players go all-in automatically on every hand, with one player per table progressing to the second round. Anyone who reaches the second round of a Flipout Tournament will already be in the money and get a piece of the prize pool. A standard betting structure exists in the second round, which means you can play like normal and know you're already past the bubble. Sarne Lightman, Full Tilt Poker’s Head of Marketing, commented in a press release, "Full Tilt Poker is dedicated to the continual evolution of online poker to keep it fun, fresh, and exciting, not just for our existing players, but also to help attract the generations coming up. Flipouts are a game changer – literally unlike any other online poker tournament. Perfect for the time-poor player who wants to jump straight to the post-bubble action with a stack and blind levels that give them plenty of play." Tournaments marked with a purple "F" in the Full Tilt lobby are Flipout Tournaments. In celebration of the new poker format, Full Tilt is holding a Flipout Festival from March 21 to 24. There are 12 events and 108 tournaments in total, with a range of buy-ins for every event. All tournaments during the Flipout Festival are Multi-Entry and there's $25,000 in added cash and prizes on the line. Full Tilt Poker is holding a special Final Flipout Freeroll on March 29 that includes prizes like an iPad Air and plenty of Full Tilt gear. According to Full Tilt's website, "You'll get a ticket for the Final Flipout Freeroll for every five tournaments you buy into but don't win a prize in." If you don't have a Full Tilt Poker account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus plus one free month of PocketFives Trainingwith no sign-up fee. E-mail support@pocketfives.com to claim your Training. Get started here! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. In recent days, Paul Vas Nunes (pictured), better known on PocketFives as pvas2, was part of a five-way chop of the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl and earned $29,000. The online poker player from the UK took down his fourth Sunday Major in the process, a pretty impressive accomplishment, and was gracious enough to spend a few minutes talking about his latest score. Oh yeah, we got to talk a little squash, so get excited for that. PocketFives: Congrats on the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl chop. How are you feeling about it? Paul Vas Nunes: I'm feeling pretty good. It was my first big win on Full Tilt, where I haven't played as much or had nearly as much success as I have on PokerStars. The Brawl is one of my favorite tournaments of the week, so it's nice to win it, although I feel I should have tried to get a better deal or played it out without one. It's probably natural to feel that way after winning when you chop five-handed though. PocketFives: How did the five-handed chop come about? That's a lot of people to agree on something. Paul Vas Nunes: I was the chip leader and had just doubled someone up. I thought it was worth reducing the variance to get a good-sized win guaranteed and everyone clicked to discuss a deal. We were all fairly similar in chips at the time. I tried to get a bit more than ICM, but they wouldn't agree on it. PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the money? We believe this is your fourth Sunday Major win. Paul Vas Nunes: Nothing specific. I won the Warm-Up in February for $100,000, so this is a nice bonus. I typically don't make any big purchases because MTT poker has a lot of ups and downs. I had been on a big online downswing last year (over $100,000), so I have made some adjustments to my game and am trying to avoid those sorts of swings. I want to have enough money saved up to keep most of my own action in the good tournaments. PocketFives: Do you mind sharing what adjustments you've been focusing on? Paul Vas Nunes: I used to be very lazy with studying for poker or doing anything other than playing. I've always had quite a lot of success playing on Sundays, which are obviously the best days of the week, so I didn't put much effort into getting better because I had been crushing so effortlessly. I got Holdem Manager 2 about six months ago. I started playing more often, watching more training videos, and going back to basics. I don't have a very big group of people I talk poker with on a regular basis because I won the Sunday Million when I was still very much an amateur player, so all of my poker friends at the time weren't capable of talking much about hand histories of high-stakes MTTs. Consequently, I tried to get out there a bit more, talk to other players at EPTs, and join in some discussions. I neglected a lot of these things before that, which as a professional player you can't really afford to. PocketFives: How did that Sunday Million win change your career? Paul Vas Nunes: When I won it, I didn't even mean to play it. I was studying at university and needed some extra money, so I focused on grinding T$ through the Sunday Million satellites and won something like 14 of them in a week. Then, I won a last-minute satellite that I couldn't un-register for, so I played the Sunday Million and somehow won. I instantly splurged and bought a car, a TV, and a few nice things I couldn't afford as a student at the time, but didn't go crazy and instead wanted to focus on playing more poker. I didn't just jump into the highest games because I knew I wasn't the best in the world or anything like that, so I took my time and played mainly on Sundays with a few days added in here and there. After a few months of learning, I moved up in stakes and it sort of spiraled from there. I didn't start playing EPTs for at least a year after the Sunday Million win, but did play a couple of WSOP Europe side evens in London since it wasn't too far from me. I really loved playing and didn't want to go in over my head too much. PocketFives: Are you headed to the WSOP in Las Vegas this year? Paul Vas Nunes: Yes, I plan to. I went for the entire time last year and didn't have much success, with just three cashes. It was too much being there the entire time. This year, I plan to go for the last four weeks, which is still a long time. Last year, I decided to travel to a lot of stops and see the world, but this year I am more focused on playing in the softer tournaments and making the best financial decisions I can. PocketFives: What do you do away from poker? Paul Vas Nunes: I love to travel with my fiancée and we just moved into a new house, so that hasn't left much time for poker with all of the things that moving involves, but I am trying to stay up-to-date now. I also used to play a lot of squash, which I love, but haven't had a lot of time to recently because of all of the traveling for poker. I was competitive as a junior player and played for my county, so I hope to get back into that. PocketFives: Squash– now that's a niche sport. Paul Vas Nunes: Ha, I suppose it has gotten that way since it keeps missing out on getting into the Olympics when it 100% should be in. It is one of the toughest physical sports in the world at the highest levels. If you don't have a Full Tilt Poker account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Training, a $30 value. Get started here.
  3. According to HighStakesDB, Finland's Patrik Antonius (pictured) has been on fire lately. In fact, Antonius, who plays as "FinddaGrind" on Full Tilt, is up $1.3 million in the last two weeks and a total of $773,000 in 2014. We'll let HighStakesDB describe Antonius' $466,000 win on Sunday, which has helped fuel his recent run: "All of Antonius' winnings came from a 2.25-hour session at FLO8 played against KPR16, Isildur1, and (briefly) Polarizing. The session was already 2.5 hours old when FinddaGrind joined, with Isildur1 sitting on top of a nice $400K stack after winning close to $300K from KPR16. That entire stack was soon to be with FinddaGrind, however, as the Finnish pro won a total of $466.5K from the session. KPR16 ended up down $173.2K, with Blom losing $272.5K." Antonius followed up his $466,000 win on Sunday with another $106,000 in profit on Monday, the third highest total of anyone. According to HighStakesDB, Antonius' "FinddaGrind" account is up nearly $5 million at the cash game tables on Full Tilt since the tracking site began following it seven years ago. Over that time span, Antonius is up $2.8 million at Fixed Limit Omaha High-Low, $1.6 million at Texas Hold'em, $564,000 at Eight-Game, and $549,000 at Pot Limit Omaha. He is in the red, albeit slightly, in Limit Hold'em and Draw Games. Antonius' largest pot played under his "FinddaGrind" user name came in 2013 at a $250/$500 Pot Limit Omaha table on Full Tilt and was worth $236,000. Antonius has also lit it up on the live scene. Impressively, his last seven in the money finishes in live events have all been for at least $100,000, dating back to 2011, according to the Hendon Mob. In February, he finished fifth in the Aussie Millions AUD $100,000 Challenge for USD $626,000. He finished second in the series' AUD $250,000 Challenge in 2012 for USD $1.2 million. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest high-stakes poker news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. In an article that eGaming Reviewpublished on Friday, Amaya CEO David Baazov (pictured) reiterated his company's commitment to an online casino and sports book following the acquisition of the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The transaction officially closed earlier this month, well ahead of schedule. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsson Poker, a leading global online gaming provider. Betsson Poker is available on Mobile and offers regular promotions to live events around the world along with great bonuses and competitions. Play nowfor a chance to win the a Dream Holiday with the Grand Poker Adventures throughout 2014! --- Baazov was quoted by EGR as saying that the acquisition of the Rational Group "has provided Amaya with a 'strong platform for growth in revenues and profitability.' He also said the deal offered 'an enormous opportunity' to 'take advantage of opportunities in online casino and sports book.'" In order to soothe concerns of those who have pointed out that PokerStars' success in poker has come at least in part because the company has almost exclusively focused on the game, Baazov added, "With respect to the new verticals, we are determined that they do not provide any disruption to the core poker offering and that the new vertical offerings are as robust and enjoyable as Rational's online poker." Last month, Full Tilt Poker dropped the word "Poker" from its domain, which is now simply FullTilt.com. According to PocketFives' article at the time, "A 'fully-featured casino client' is supposedly in the works for later this year and, speaking on the strengths of PokerStars and Full Tilt, Amaya officials said that the two sites 'do not only have the ability to attract new players, but they are also able to offer popular tables and slot games to their millions of players using their poker platforms.'" Rumors have been swirling that PokerStars and Full Tilt could launch in New Jersey, one of three regulated markets in the US, as soon as October, which is a scant two months away. In New Jersey, PokerStars could take on the role of a poker-centric brand, while Full Tilt could offer an array of casino games. The likely land-based casino partner for both brands is Resorts. It should be noted that New Jersey lacks legalized sports betting. Amaya's acquisition of the Rational Group came with a price tag of $4.9 billion and a mountain of debt for the Canadian firm. Nevertheless, Amaya is now the largest publicly traded online gambling firm on the face of the Earth. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. If you blinked, then you might have missed that Full Tilt Pokerhas moved domains from FullTiltPoker.com to simply FullTilt.com. For now, the brand is still called Full Tilt Poker, but with the addition of casino games in recent weeks and a pending purchase by Amaya Gaming, we could see the word "Poker" dropped from the "Full Tilt Poker" brand in the not-too-distant future. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by Betsafe, one of the leading suppliers of online gaming products worldwide and a major sponsor of Gumball 3000. Sign up now for great bonuses, €3,000,000 guaranteed monthly, and plenty of live events! --- A statement given to PocketFives by Full Tilt read in part, "As of Tuesday, July 8, 2014, Full Tilt Poker migrated their .COM and .EU domains from fulltiltpoker.com and fulltiltpoker.eu to the new URLs fulltilt.com and fulltilt.eu." Anyone who regularly sends traffic to Full Tilt was asked to take notice of the change. The casino side of Full Tilt offers blackjack, roulette, slots, and multi-player games, in stark contrast to Full Tilt's sister site, PokerStars, which for the time being remains only poker. In order to make up the debt assumed as part of its $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars' and Full Tilt's parent company, Amaya could elect to license Full Tilt's software, and a re-brand could help the site diversify even more away from poker. To that end, according to a call from Amaya officials following the announcement of the acquisition of Full Tilt and PokerStars, it was revealed that sports betting and social gaming would be focal points for the two newly acquired sites. A "fully-featured casino client" is supposedly in the works for later this year and, speaking on the strengths of PokerStars and Full Tilt, Amaya officials said that the two sites "do not only have the ability to attract new players, but they are also able to offer popular tables and slot games to their millions of players using their poker platforms." Speaking on moving to FullTilt.com and FullTilt.eu, a Full Tilt rep told eGaming Review, "This year, our gaming portfolio on Full Tilt expanded to offer a range of single and multi-player variations of casino games. Therefore, we have now moved the domain from FullTiltPoker.com and FullTiltPoker.eu to FullTilt.com and FullTilt.eu." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  6. In June of this year, Amaya Gaming announced it had purchased the Rational Group, the owners of Full Tiltand PokerStars. The transaction has set off a chain of events including increased rakeat PokerStars' tables, changes to forex policies, and a rumored overhaul of the site's VIP program. The transaction has also increased Amaya's revenues by a factor of six, according to eGaming Review. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. Visit William Hill today! --- EGR detailed in an article published on Friday, "In its first set of results since the acquisition was completed on 1 August, the Canadian company's total revenues for the three months ended 30 September were CA $239 million, up from $39 million in Q3 2013." The company posted a net loss of $26 million, up from a loss of $1.6 million. Expenses at Amaya were also up big. EGR explained, "Total expenses were up 530% from $34 million in Q3 2013 to $214.4 million, driven by general and administrative expenses resulting from the consolidation of Amaya's B2B business and its Diamond Game acquisition, plus non-recurring acquisition costs related to the Rational Group takeover." As part of the Rational Group purchase, Amaya officials announced that the management teams of PokerStars and Full Tilt would largely remain intact. To that end, Amaya CEO David Baazov was quoted as saying, "In these early days, I could not be happier with the initial performance of the business and the professionalism and expertise of the PokerStars management team. They are implementing strategic plans that leverage exciting, innovative poker variants, new gaming verticals, and the mobile platform to increase engagement and new customer acquisition." It was also announced on Friday that Amaya had sold its Ongame B2B arm to NYX Gaming. EGR outlined that the deal was "for up to 8x Ongame's 2015 EBITDA, less any required working capital, as the firm looks to focus on its B2C poker operations… Under the deal, Amaya said it would make a $10 million 'strategic investment' in NYX Gaming Group and would also expand its partnership with NYX subsidiary NextGeb Gaming, which supplies Amaya with online slots content." Amaya is among the rumored suitors for bwin.party, whose executives confirmed that they are exploring a variety of potential business arrangements. PokerStars, meanwhile, announced the Billionth Tournament Carnival this week to celebrate the site's one-billionth tournament. The milestone event will occur on November 30, have a $109 buy-in, have a $2 million guarantee, and shell out $200,000 in added prizes. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. The rumors swirling over the last day or two were true: Viktor "Isildur1" Blom and Gus Hansen (pictured) are no longer sponsored pros of Full Tilt Poker. There had been reports of their likenesses being removed from the Full Tilt website, so the rumors were strong, but no public statement had been made as to whether it was just a site redesign or if, in fact, the two players were really not part of Full Tilt anymore. PocketFives reached out to Full Tilt and the online poker room confirmed that Blom and Hansen are no longer serving as the site's pros. The brief statement is as follows: "We can confirm that Full Tilt's sponsorship of Viktor Blom and Gus Hansen has expired. This follows a year-long review of the Full Tilt brand and a decision to move away from Pro-centric advertising to focus on the experiences and stories of the vast majority of our players. Full Tilt will celebrate the excitement, fun, and intrinsic enjoyment of playing our poker, blackjack, roulette, and slots games. A new TV campaign will launch imminently, representing this new approach. There will be more news on this later in the week. We would like to wish Viktor and Gus all the best in their future endeavors." The reaction to the initial rumors was slightly mixed in the poker community. People were generally disappointed that the two big names would possibly be leaving the nosebleed-stakes tables at Full Tilt, but at the same time, the move by Full Tilt made sense. As poster "Karcsi" on Two Plus Two put it, "Let's be honest,Viktor has practically no marketing value at all since he is not doing any interviews or promoting the site or even the game itself more to the public." When Full Tilt Poker re-launched in late 2012, it did so with three men as the face of the site: Hansen, Blom (pictured), and Tom "durrrr" Dwan. Called "The Professionals," they were three of the biggest high-stakes draws in the game, players who fans regularly logged in to watch. Dwan left Full Tilt in December 2013 after his contract was up. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. Park Jae-sang, better known by his stage name Psy, revolutionized the world of pop music in 2012 with his hit "Gangnam Style." As a matter of fact, its music video was the first to reach a billion views on YouTube and one PocketFiver we're sure couldn't get enough of it was Costa Rica's Peter winwin07Nigh (pictured), who finished third in the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Major earlier this month for $22,000, his fourth largest online tournament score to date. We'll get to big Psy later, but in the meantime, let's dive into our interview. PocketFives: Nice job in the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Major. How are you feeling about it? Peter Nigh: Pretty good. The first couple of weeks of the WCOOP grind had been pretty brutal with several close calls, so it's nice to get back on track and stop the bleeding. PocketFives: Can you walk us through how the tournament went in general and how the field compared to a regular Full Tilt Poker Sunday Major? We know the WCOOP was going on too. Peter Nigh: It was pretty much smooth sailing from the beginning due in large part to running very pure throughout the whole thing. The fields on Full Tilt tend to skew a little tougher these days and even more so during WCOOP. I remember at one point somewhere around the bubble I was at a table where seven of the eight other players were all way, way above average regs. This forced me to focus on picking good spots and not getting too out of line. PocketFives: Do you have any plans for the money? Peter Nigh: Keep grinding away. I'm going to take a week or two off after WCOOP, maybe go to some playoff baseball games, and then hit the live circuit for a bit. PocketFives: You have had lots of PokerStars Super Tuesdaysuccess including a win in 2012 for nearly $100,000 and a final table this year for $59,000. Talk about that tournament and how you've found success in it. Peter Nigh: I remember back in the day seeing the tournament in the lobby and thinking it had to be this nearly impenetrable, elite tournament, but in reality it is surprisingly soft. I definitely make a point on Tuesdays to lower the volume for more complete focus on the tournament, which allows me to more precisely pick up on my opponents' tendencies and exploit them that way. Also, having an awareness of the different stages of the tournament and what strategies are most appropriate for them has allowed me to navigate that field a couple of times. PocketFives: We take it you are originally from the United States? Peter Nigh: Yes, St. Louis, Missouri, born and raised. PocketFives: Tell us about going down to Costa Rica to play poker. How'd that happen and how'd it go? Peter Nigh: After Black Friday, I had originally committed to the live grind, playing mostly WSOP Circuit events around the US. Mike telks Telker (pictured), who had been my good friend and mentor since my early days in the game, invited me down to come live in Playa del Coco with all those sickos. I didn't know very many people in the poker community at the time, so the opportunity to live and learn from guys like Gettin Daizeand Big Huni seemed almost surreal and an opportunity I had to take. As it turns out, it was easily the best decision I've ever made in my life, as I've not only improved tremendously as a player, but also as a person, while making countless new and now very close friends. PocketFives: Talk about what life is like down there. Would you consider moving back to St. Louis if there were regulated online poker in Missouri? Peter Nigh: It's very easy going, a bit of a bubble in a largely hectic world. Everyone is so relaxed and happy. Whether it's getting breakfast on the beach before the start of a grind session or dancing the night away at the clubs, living here gives me ample opportunities to smile and enjoy life. I would definitely spend at least some time back in Missouri if I could grind there, as I do miss my family and friends, but for the foreseeable future Coco is going to be my home base. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker? Peter Nigh: The same story as most guys my age: I saw it on TV and started playing with my friends from school. PocketFives: What were you doing before playing poker for a living? Peter Nigh: Pretending to be a student for a bit and then working a few simple jobs where I spent my downtime studying the game and trying to make the dream of being a professional a reality. PocketFives: Is there anything else you'd like to add? Peter Nigh: Shout out to all of the brothers here in Costa Rica who have been great friends and picked me up when I needed it. Also a shout out to Psyfor the most hypnotic yet irritating piece of pop music this side of the new millennium. I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for Gangnam Style. The Sunday Major runs weekly on Full Tilt. If you don't already have a Full Tilt account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Trainingwith no sign-up fee. Click here to get started. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. Oh, tech problems. This author especially hates technology, like when he strolls over to his computer only to find 10 updates that have to be installed before he can check his e-mail. Also in my camp with a disdain for tech issues is Russia's harrrrmonica, who won the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl in recent weeks for $26,000. There were almost 1,000 entrants in the Brawl and harrrrmonica said he had just come back from playing in his first European Poker Tour event in Barcelona. Therefore, it was his first Sunday session after a mini-break of sorts from grinding online. "After two hours, my Hold'em Manager went nuts," he told PocketFives, "so I had to stop my PC and switch to my laptop, reducing the number of tables I had open." Despite the tech SNAFU, harrrrmonica said having to trim the number of tables might have helped his concentration, but added, "It was not a fun experience. I usually tilt a lot about any tech problems during a session. I stopped registering around the Warm-Up and Brawl and kept my early tables." He persevered through the initial issues and finished tops on the leaderboard. He planned to take the $26,000 and sink a chunk of it into the ongoing WCOOP on PokerStars. He told us, "It's the first time I will be able to play the No Limit Hold'em schedule with a comfortable bankroll, so hopefully I keep running well. I will also try some Limit games if I find time to refresh myself on the rules." If you take a look at his recent scores, you'll notice that he final tabled the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up a month ago for $36,000, his largest online tournament score to date. The Brawl was his second largest cash ever, meaning he has been on a lucrative run as of late. "Any given tournament you run deep in is a lot of luck, but lately I feel much more comfortable psychologically," he told us. harrrrmonica added, "My success is also because of my girlfriend, who helps me in everything I do, as well as my great poker friends." The Russian got started in poker after a career in television production. As he rationalized, "It was a moment in my life when I needed a new challenge. What attracted me to poker the most was the fact that all you earn is yours whether it's success or failure; it's the Wild West. If you start getting lazy and stop working, other guys will come and take all you have. It helps keep your motivation high and forces me not to spend every night of baseball season watching my Rays." PocketFives has over 1,500 registered members from Russia who have combined for $142.2 million in career online tournament winnings, including $11.9 million in the last three months. Russian PocketFivers are closing in on 300,000 total in the money finishes and harrrrmonica is #10 in the massive nation. He is #2 in the western city of Krasnodar. The Sunday Brawl runs weekly on Full Tilt. Sign up for Full Tilt through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Training with no sign-up fee. Click here to get started. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. Over the weekend, you may have noticed a very familiar name atop the leaderboard in the Full Tilt Sunday Major: Jon apestylesVan Fleet (pictured). After undergoing a few life changes as of late, he's on what he calls "a massive heater with very little volume." "It's a good way to start the year for sure," Van Fleet told PocketFives about his big win for $33,000. There were 627 entrants in the field last week and he scooped 20% of the $165,000 prize pool. It was the fifth largest cash we have tracked for him on Full Tilt. He had a "massive" chip lead when six players remained and re-shoved a button opener with 9-3 offsuit. The raiser called and tabled tens, ultimately winning the hand with two pair. "The reason I did it was because there was a stack with 2.5 big blinds," Van Fleet said of the hand. "According to ICM, the villain should only be calling with J-J+. That said, I don't blame his call. I made the mistake of assuming the villain was going to call ICM tight. I also thought he was raising the button way more loosely than he should have." Despite the setback and dropping to fourth place out of four players left, the longtime PocketFives community member mounted a comeback that included running a big bluff and capitalizing on a hand where he was dealt Q-Q. So what happened in his life? What has changed now? "Grinding 70 hours a week became unimportant," Van Fleet said. "Balance, meditation, physical health, friendships, and community service became more important." He volunteers at a drug treatment center, employs lots of meditation, and is headed to a ten-day "silent retreat" soon. Despite all of the extracurricular activities, he is still focused on poker: "I'm trying to solve poker, so I study a lot. I watch a lot of videos and use programs. I'd like to beat Zoom 500 by the end of the year. I'm starting small, though, and analyzing my game a lot." Besides all of the mental and physical changes in his life, Van Fleet is reentering the music business. "apestyles was originally my DJ name," Van Fleet said. "I stopped making music a long time ago. I was thinking about taking it back up as a hobby. I'm not going to worry about doing it professionally, just trying to make stuff I like and have fun with it. Technology has changed so much since I was DJing and making music, so there will be a learning curve, but it'll be fun." We closed by talking about the recently-revealed 2015 World Series of Poker schedule, which features 68 bracelet events, including an online tournament as well as a $565 Colossus event that promises to have one of the largest fields in WSOP history. "The schedule looks like it should appeal to recreational players with some of the smaller buy-ins. I like the deeper stacks of the bigger buy-in tournaments. To be honest, I may stay online. The fields get so nice around WSOP time. I might grind hard and try to scoop up the monies." Van Fleet took third in the Double Vision Sunday Million in December for over $100,000 officially, one of his five career $100,000+ tournament scores online. He is up to $6.6 million in cashes total, the 14th most of anyone in our community. Van Fleet has been a member of our site ever since Year 1 and is #84 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings. He owns one WCOOP and two FTOPS titles and has two victories in the Super Tuesday. Other tournaments he has won over the years include the PokerStars $109 Rebuy (twice), PokerStars $215 Rebuy (twice), Full Tilt $100 Rebuy, and Full Tilt $1K Saturday. Congrats to Van Fleet on his latest win! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  11. In October, Viktor Isildur1 Blom and Gus Hansen parted ways with Full Tilt Poker, ending the re-launched site's experiment with sponsored pros. Full Tilt officials announced at the time, "We can confirm that Full Tilt's sponsorship of Viktor Blom (pictured) and Gus Hansen has expired. This follows a year-long review of the Full Tilt brand and a decision to move away from Pro-centric advertising to focus on the experiences and stories of the vast majority of our players… We would like to wish Viktor and Gus all the best in their future endeavors." Two months later, Blom returned to Full Tilt, according to HighStakesDB, where he recorded a profit of $204,000 at the 2-7 Triple Draw tables on Monday. His first session, according to the tracking site, was against Cort "thecortster" Kibler-Melby, who donated almost $20,000 to the Swede. Then, Blom took another $24,000 off bbvisbadforme. Most of Blom's damage on Monday was done to SanIker. As HighStakesDB narrated, "Isildur1 took on SanIker starting at the $500/$1,000 limit, winning $22.7k in two hours before moving to the $1k/$2k tables, where he won $111.5k in a little under two hours, and finally graduating to the $1,500/$3,000 tables, where he added a further $57k in just ten minutes." The first time Blom was seen at Full Tilt following his departure in October was December 5, when he recorded a profit of almost $100,000. Blom shed Monday's winnings, and then some, on Tuesday before turning in a slightly profitable session on Wednesday. All told, it seems safe to say that Blom is back at Full Tilt and we can look forward to more exciting sessions down the road. In total, HighStakesDB has logged 1.1 million hands for Blom since October 2009. Over that five-year period, he has bled $3.2 million. Blom is down almost $4 million in PLO, but is up $3.5 million in Draw Games. There were rumors last month that Blom was signing with Unibet, but those have yet to pan out. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  12. Last month in the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl, Vancouver's Ankush pistons87 Mandavia (pictured) topped a field of 624 entrants for a $26,000 payday. Six of the top eight finishers that day were members of PocketFives and our community scooped 71% of the prize pool, or $88,000 in real money. "It feels good for sure," Mandavia told PocketFives. "I think I got ninth the last time I played it, so it was nice to get some redemption." He has won other Sunday Majors as well, including the Sunday $109 Rebuy, Sunday Second Chance, and Sunday Mulligan. Heads-up, Mandavia went toe-to-toe with former #1 ranked mindgamer. We asked Mandavia for a scouting report on his fellow PocketFiver and he responded, "He's obviously a great player, but I am more experienced heads-up, so I definitely feel I have an edge on most MTT players." If you don't already know, Mandavia is a former heads-up sit and go regular. He used to play $5,000 sit and gos on a regular basis and made Supernova Elite on PokerStars for three years before shifting his focus to MTTs. He is on the cusp of passing $2.5 million in online tournament scores for his career and was once ranked as high as #29 in the world on PocketFives. We'd think playing heads-up games for $5,000 a pop could mean plenty of pressure to perform. "You just get used to it after a while," Mandavia said of separating the monetary aspect of the game. "Moving up in stakes was part of it too, so it wasn't just jumping into a $5,000 heads-up sit and go right away." If you're wondering why Mandavia would abandon a seemingly profitable heads-up sit and go career, he said, "Heads-up is not as lucrative as it used to be. The competition is fierce and the recreational player pool has dried up quite a bit. I also don't play full-time anymore, so MTTs accommodate that schedule better." His largest tracked score came in September in a $10,300 No Limit Hold'em Eight-Max Re-Entry event during the WCOOP and was good for over a half-million dollars officially. "It was very awesome," he said. "This year has been amazing overall." He has SCOOP, WCOOP, and FTOPS titles and has performed admirably well during major tournament series. In November, Sweden's Martin Jacobson took home $10 million after winning the World Series of Poker Main Event. If you caught the action on television or in person, you might have noticed Mandavia on Jacobson's rail, which he called "one of the coolest poker moments of my career." "We've been friends for a while," Mandavia said of his relationship with the reigning WSOP Main Event champion (pictured). "We both have traveled the circuit in the past. The experience was pretty awesome. Martin going from short stack to winning was insane and a lot of our friends were there. It's the biggest title you can win in poker, so I was honored to be part of it." Jacobson was down to just five big blinds at one point during the November Nine before storming back. He closed by wanting to thank his family and friends for being so supportive. The Sunday Brawl runs weekly on Full Tilt. If you don't already have a Full Tilt account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of Tournament Poker Edge or CardRunners poker training. Get started here. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  13. Late last month, Uruguay's rphtook down the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl outright and banked $25,000. There were over 600 entrants that week and rph was one of 63 to make the money. Even though he has over $3 million in online MTT cashes, this was his largest score on Full Tilt and the second time he final tabled the tournament in January. "I think it's very important to start the year in good shape," the South American told PocketFives in an exclusive interview. "I am happy about getting deep twice in the same tournament in only a couple of weeks with very tough fields. At this point, this is even more important than the money because it allows me to know I remain competitive." In mid-January, rph finished second in the Sunday Brawl for $16,000. Therefore, as he alluded to, he has had a rock solid start to 2015. The time he won, the final table was stocked with poker talent, including Tom hittheholeMiddleton, Ben NeverScaredBWilinofsky, and Mike SirWatts Watson, who finished third, fourth, and sixth, respectively. "All of them are super good," rph said of his fellow PocketFivers. "I have had the opportunity to discuss poker with NeverScaredB many times. He's a fantastic player with a great combination of experimentation and math skills. I got lucky against him in one critical spot. I've had a lot of history against hitthehole too, another very good player who takes unorthodox lines." PocketFivers, led by rph, scooped 70% of the Sunday Brawl's prize pool that week. As far as his share of the money, rph said he'd allocate it towards a house he bought two years ago. "It needed a lot of rehab," he said. "We were able to move in last year and, as usual, it cost more than expected. This led me to sell a percentage of my daily action, which is also good to combat the huge variance of MTTs." rph has a WCOOP Second Chance win, a $109 Rebuy win, and multiple victories in the Bigger $162. The former was worth $112,000 and came in 2013; it's one of four scores over $50,000 we have tracked for him. He officially hit $3 million in online tournament winningslast December and said of the milestone, "My poker career is mostly about study, discipline, and hard work than anything else. I think there are more talented players than me for sure, but I am very stubborn. If something doesn't work the first, second, and third tries, be sure I am going to go for a fourth try." rph is ranked #119 worldwide on PocketFives and is the #1 player in the Uruguay pokercommunity. He plays on PokerStars and PartyPokeras zugzwang16and owns a Master of Arts in Social Sciences. He said, "I still work as a consultant in social research. I am thinking about doing something that combines journalism and social research in the future, but it's just an idea for the moment. Working as a poker pro has many advantages, but I'd like to complement it with things that give someone a bigger sense of social contribution, even though you can do nice things from the poker world like organize charity events and fundraising campaigns. Congrats to rph on his Sunday Brawl win! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  14. Oh yes, the title of this article is most definitely a Nelly reference. It's relevant because earlier this week, Chris Big HuniHunichen (pictured) became the #1 player in the PocketFives Rankings for the first time ever. He's the first player from Costa Rica to top the Rankings in a year and is closing in on $7.5 million in tracked online MTT scores. PocketFives: How does it feel to be #1? We know it has been a goal of yours for a while. Chris Hunichen: As expected, it feels really good. Last year around this time, I made it as high as #2 and then was forced to take a couple months off, so I dropped down pretty far and never really had a shot at #1 again until now. Previously when I got in the top 10, I would follow the Rankings a lot, but this time around it kind of just happened. I had moved into the top 10, but was about to travel around Europe for a bit to play live and then to the Bahamas for the PCA, so I thought I wouldn't have any chance because I didn't expect to play much online. Luckily, I was able to win the Warm-Up on a Sunday while in Amsterdam during one of my first weeks in Europe. Unfortunately, I bricked pretty hard the rest of my Europe trip. At PCA, I invested a lot into myself and final table bubbled the $5K I had chopped the previous year. I bricked everything else including the $25K High Roller twice, so after an expensive couple of months, I immediately came back to Costa Rica and have been putting in a lot of hours trying to recover. I have been running pretty well since I got back and had a couple of good scores, so I had a feeling the Full Tilt Sunday Major win might would propel me to #1 even though I started the week all the way down at #4. PocketFives: Talk about winning the Full Tilt Sunday Major last weekend. Chris Hunichen: The Sunday Major is unique because it has incremental blind increases as the tournament goes on and allows one reentry. The blinds start off at 12 minutes, go up to 15, and then eventually end at 20. I feel like this benefits good players a lot and gives me an advantage over some of the recreational players and satellite winners that were still in the tournament deep. It used to be one of the best tournaments on the internet pre-Black Friday, but since Full Tilt has re-opened, there have been a lot fewer people playing and the prize pools have been much smaller, with fewer recreational players. When I got to the final table, two of my friends were there, Sean Ripp (SirCrafty) and former November Niner Joseph Cheong (subiime, pictured), who are very tough opponents, and the rest of the players I knew absolutely nothing about. Joe ended up going out in seventh, which allowed me to be able to work my position throughout the final table without any problems. I eventually got three-handed with Sean and donkno2and was fortunate to come out on top in a big all-in pre-flop flip, my 6-6 to Sean's K-Q. I won the heads-up match to get my first ever Sunday Major win on Full Tilt. PocketFives: Do you do anything to celebrate these kinds of achievements? Chris Hunichen: Not really. I play a lot of poker, have been playing high-stakes for years, and one thing that's for sure is if you play high volume like I do, you have to win consistently not to go broke. Every day I play, my tournament buy-ins range from $3K to $10K, usually around $4,500 on average, and so it's important to stay consistent in order to be successful. I also quit drinking alcohol over a year ago, so I don't do too much celebrating these days. I stay on the grind and continue to try to improve every day to stay ahead of the curve. PocketFives: Did you ever think when you started in poker that you'd come this far? Chris Hunichen: From the beginning, I always knew this is what I wanted to do. I have always been very competitive and played several sports year-round growing up. After growing up and not being able to play sports competitively anymore, poker allowed me to get that competitiveness back in my life. Add on the fact that I could make this my job if I took it seriously enough and could make a career out of poker and I knew this was for me. After getting my Bachelor's degree in four years from East Carolina University in 2006, I went back for another three years and earned my MBA. I started playing poker my freshman year and continued to play throughout college. After receiving my degrees, I ultimately had to make a life decision whether I would get a real job or play poker professionally. I asked my first ever backer at the time, Matt Graham (mattg1983, pictured), for his thoughts and he told me he was positive I could go the poker route if I worked hard. So, that's what I did and, ever since, I have given my heart and soul to this game and put in many hours to try to give myself a chance to play at the highest level. PocketFives: What advice do you have for up-and-coming tournament players? Chris Hunichen: My advice would be to try to never get backed, always play on your own dime selling action if you need, and be really good with bankroll management. Unfortunately for me, I wish I had people to tell me this because I have made a lot of money that has disappeared in many ways. It's okay to take shots from time to time, but it's very important to keep strict bankroll management, and that has always been one of my biggest flaws. Additionally, make sure to pay your taxes and be very smart about keeping up with write-offs and deductions. If you allow taxes to get backed up, the IRS can make your life pretty miserable. One of the biggest problems I've seen in the poker industry is players getting into tax troubles. It can be very difficult to stay organized and difficult to keep up with records. Once you get behind on your taxes, the fines and fees add up and it makes it very difficult to get back on track. PocketFives: Besides yourself, who is the top online tournament player out there right now? Chris Hunichen: Poker has gotten extremely hard. It's very difficult these days and everyone has become very good. It's hard to say, but if I had to name a few of the people I thought were the best online players in the game right now, it would probably be European, p0cket00, Fresh_Oo_D, s_dot111, cal42688 (pictured), pleno1, and an honorable mention to Zackattak13 because despite a lot of hate, he has consistently crushed year after year and his graph goes straight up. PocketFives: Remind us how you got started in poker. Chris Hunichen: I started out in college playing $20 home games for fun with friends and progressed to online poker mainly for fun as well. I started off on PartyPoker before it was originally banned in the US and played on PokerRoom and Hollywood Poker. I was not very good at the time, but it was where it all started and where I first gained an addiction to play consistently. For a period of my college life, I was too dedicated, had lost touch with balance in my life, and was glued to my screen, but it was all a great learning experience and allowed me to freely live the life that I have now in Costa Rica with my friends and gorgeous girlfriend Heilyn. PocketFives: What else do you do besides poker? What else occupies your time? Chris Hunichen: I have always been a sports fanatic, so I spend a lot of time following sports. Every year, I purchase MLB TV, NFL Sunday Ticket, and the NBA package. I play some daily fantasy sports here and there, but haven't gotten into it too much. My girlfriend's kid just turned two years old and he is a little wild man these days, so most of my non-poker time goes toward my girlfriend, the kid, hanging out with my friends in Costa Rica, playing video games, and tubing or wakeboarding on the boat. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  15. Earlier this month, Justin Ouimette(pictured) came away with the win in the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl, outlasting a field of 573 entrants en route to a $24,000 payday. It was his second largest tracked cash overall and his largest on Full Tilt. He is one victory shy of 100 for his career and told us, "I'm feeling pretty good. It's nice to finally bink a Full Tilt bird." To be fair, Ouimette, who calls Windsor, Ontario home, doesn't play on Full Tilt all that much, and hasn't since Black Friday. However, he hits up the site on Sundays and during major tournament series. This time around, he was among the chip leaders for most of the Sunday Brawl and admitted, "It went about as smoothly as anyone could ask." Bounties are a part of the Brawl, as $40 of each person's buy-in is put on his head. "I mainly focus on how other players react to the bounty aspect, make adjustments to how they play, and counter with what I find works best against everyone," Ouimette said of how he views the bounties. "The $40 bounty doesn't really change much on a Sunday grind. If you get 10 or so, it's nice, but it's nothing to go crazy over. It's not like a Progressive Super Knockout where the bounties are huge and are a lot more of a factor." Ouimette has almost $1.4 million in tracked online poker scores. Consequently, it's hard to believe that $24,000 represents his second biggest score ever, trailing only a $28,000 cash in a WCOOP Second Chance event five years go. "I play a little less volume now than usual because my fiancée just had our first child four weeks ago, but I usually play five days a week. I play everything from the Big $5 to the Super Tuesday. I usually play for 10 hours a day during the week and Sundays are crazy, usually lasting 15 hours or longer." He got started in poker with his friends in $5 sit and gos. "I got super into it and started loading money online," Ouimette said. "I was really broke when I first started. I had never really held down any jobs, so the fact that I could make any money at all was appealing. I would borrow $20 from my dad to play and eventually met some of the right people and starting learning the game on a serious level. I have put in a lot of time studying poker." Away from poker, he spends time with his fiancée and friends. He used to travel quite a bit before the baby's arrival and enjoys golfing when it's warm. Still, his life largely revolves around poker. He explained. "All of my close friends play poker full-time too, so I'm always talking poker or going over hand histories if I'm not playing." He is from the poker factory known as Ontarioand is #16 in the Canadian province. He is #2 in his hometown of Windsor, which is across the river from Detroit, and can be found at #300 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings. He closed by wanting to send shout outs to his friends: Flippa42, ott-man87, frankwhite42, weekesy, KING BAIT, MidEGambler, iamthedeck ftw, lightningdolt, munchenhb, and drinkingbuddy. "I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for my friends," he acknowledged. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  16. According to a variety of sites, including Online Poker Report, Amaya Gaming has asserted that a mobile pop-up alerting players that real money Full Tilt games were available in New Jersey was an error. Call it a Garden State SNAFU that briefly energized the community that Full Tilt was going to enter the market effective immediately. "We have been developing a real money mobile poker app that has been submitted to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement as part of the review process of our application to offer real money gaming under a NJ DGE license," the statement from Amaya read. "Unfortunately, a bug in an update to the Full Tilt play money poker app inadvertently included a pop-up window alerting players in New Jersey that a licensed real money offering was available." According to Amaya, "a very small number of people were exposed to this pop-up before we resolved the issue... At no time was a real money app available. No one had the ability to play real money games, nor register for the ability to play real money games, on Full Tilt." The pop-up in question was shown to players who use Full Tilt's mobile app and proclaimed, "We are pleased to announce that we have a new version of our game software fully licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement offering real money game play on a fully regulated online gaming platform." You can see why the excitement level was briefly elevated. The inadvertent launch seems to have been ahead of its time by about two months, as according to New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak, who has been leading the i-gaming charge in the Garden State, the earliest we'd likely see PokerStars, and presumably its sister site Full Tilt, is March. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  17. In a thread on PocketFives, the Poker Players Alliancehas confirmed that the first round of disputed Full Tilt payments for US players "is on track" to be sent by the end of March. PPA Executive Director John Pappas broke the news and relayed, "This will include payments to about 3,500 FTP customers totaling nearly $3 million in remission. The vast majority of these customers (approximately 3,100) are people who confirmed inaccurate information to Garden City, such as a Social Security Number or bank account information." Pappas said that the other 400 recipients of funds are players with disputed balances: "This would likely include people who had a dispute of less than $500 or a dispute that was no greater than 20% of their balance as provided by Garden City… According to my contact, this leaves about 1,200 customers with disputes that will still need review and remediation. A timeline was not provided for this final wave." At the beginning of January, PocketFives broke the newsthat the first wave of disputed claims would be sent by March, which will likely turn out to be the case. March marks 47 months since Full Tilt exited the US market on Black Friday. Then, the Department of Justice called the site a "global Ponzi scheme." The filing deadline for all Full Tilt petitions was September 3. Garden City Group, the appointed Claims Administrator for US Full Tilt funds, has not released an official statement since October. The first round of US remissions was sent in April 2014. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  18. Last weekend, Nathaniel Falber, who is known on PocketFives as natfalber11(pictured), took down the FTOPS XXVII Main Event outright for $212,000. It was a 333x return on his $635 investment and the largest online MTT score we've tracked for him by a factor of 13. PocketFives caught up with the Brazilian to see what went right that day. PocketFives: Awesome job in the FTOPS Main Event. Tell us how you're feeling about it. Nathaniel Falber: I am feeling amazing. Shortly after I won, there is always that feeling that you're dreaming and it didn't actually happen. I haven't slept at all since my win after I started playing my Sunday session really early. To win this tournament playing against the best in the world (it was one of the toughest fields I have played against) was so sick. PocketFives: Can you walk us through how the tournament went in general? Nathaniel Falber: It was not a very good start. At one point, I was down to 6,500 of a 10,000 starting stack then picked up some key hands. Close to the bubble of the tournament, I had 18 big blinds. An aggressive player opened and I shoved with K-Q offsuit for a re-steal. I got cold-called by the small blind instantly and the original raiser snapped. The small blind had T-T. The raiser had K-K. The flop was Q-X-X, the turn was a blank, and the river was a Q. Then, from ITM to about three to five tables left, I had a very comfortable stack. During heads-up when I had a 9:2 chip lead, the other player disconnected. I had an ethical dilemma whether I would wait for the player to return or simply steal his blinds and finish the tournament. I decided to wait and lost practically all of my time bank for about four minutes until he returned. I did not think winning the tournament by stealing a player's blinds who disconnected would be fair. PocketFives: Talk about the play of Zackattak13, who is a longtime PocketFiver. He finished seventh in the FTOPS Main Event. Nathaniel Falber: I had a sick hand against him on the bubble. He was putting a lot of pressure on everyone, shoving and re-stealing lots of hands. I opened under the gun with 7-7 and he snap-shoved from the big blind. I tanked for about three minutes and folded. I knew he was capable of shoving any pair on me as well as many overcards, but I didn't want to take that kind of gamble on that hand. PocketFives: Will this cash change your poker career? Nathaniel Falber: This win will change my career in so many ways that I don't even know where to start. I was congratulated by many top players here in Brazil. The feeling of getting rewarded for studying the game is fantastic. I had plans to travel less next year because I was coming off a two-month downswing on PokerStars, but with this win, I am definitely thinking about grinding a lot online and going to the PCA and WSOP next year. PocketFives: How did you get started in poker originally? Nathaniel Falber: I started when I was about 16 years old. A childhood friend of mine installed PokerStars and I told him right off the bat that I wasn't interested, that I would uninstall the program when he left. I was curious, though, and started playing play money games, but had no idea at all. It was then that we played a tournament at a friend's house for about $20. We agreed there would be no rebuys. I was the first to be eliminated from the tournament without knowing at all what I was doing and they voted to give me a single rebuy. I ended up winning it for $350. In the short-term, that was the best thing for me, but in the long-run it was the worst thing possible. I think the worst thing for the player who is starting is to win because he starts thinking he has a clue and ends up losing it all back. And that's what I did. I was a recreational, breakeven player who occasionally won, but eventually returned everything. I just turned pro in the middle of 2013. I started being backed by top players here in Brazil who took their time to teach me so many things about the game. PocketFives: What do you do away from poker? What else interests you? Nathaniel Falber: I have a very close group of friends from elementary school and high school. We hang out a lot. I really enjoy going out to restaurants and traveling. I am starting to get interested in chess. One of my backers is an excellent chess player and poker player, Fernando Viana. I considered him my mentor when I started playing professionally. FTOPS runs quarterly on Full Tilt. If you don't already have a Full Tilt account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of Tournament Poker Edge or CardRunners poker training. Get started here.
  19. On Thursday, PocketFives brought you an article about Canadian officials showing up at the offices of Amaya Gaming, the owners of PokerStars and Full Tilt, reportedly due to insider trading associated with the company's purchase of the Rational Group back in June. As you might guess, a visit from the fuzz didn't go over too well with investors. The verdict: the stock's price sank by 18% on Friday. According to a Bloomberg article, "Shares of Amaya slumped to C$28.60 at the close in Toronto trading, the biggest drop since July 2010. The stock had surged more than fourfold this year through yesterday, making it one of the best performers in Canada." The stock had fetched around C$10 a share as recently as the beginning of June, but nearly lapped C$40 last month. In the last 52 weeks, shares of Amaya have traded between C$5.61 and C$39.25. It has a market cap of C$3.7 billion and is currently the largest publicly traded online gambling firm in the world. Amaya officials responded to the raid by saying, "To the Corporation's knowledge, this does not involve any allegations of wrongdoing by the Corporation. Amaya will continue to cooperate, if and as requested, consistent with our practice to always cooperate with regulatory authorities. The Corporation will continue to monitor the investigation if and as it proceeds. The investigation has had no impact on Amaya's business operations, employees, or companies." Bloomberg added, "Amaya, Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., and Manulife Financial Corp. all had offices searched by investigators on December 10 as part of the probe." Amaya has remained focused on bringing PokerStars back to the New Jersey market, which, like the rest of the US, it abandoned on Black Friday. However, the company is in "time out" in New Jersey until Q1 2015 or later. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  20. According to Forbes, Canadian officials raided the offices of Amaya Gamingin Montreal on Wednesday. According to the company, which purchased PokerStars and Full Tilt in June for $4.9 billion, the investigation centers on "trading activities in Amaya securities surrounding the Corporation's acquisition of [PokerStars and Full Tilt] in 2014." Amaya added in a statement that appeared on Online Poker Report's website, "To the Corporation's knowledge, this does not involve any allegations of wrongdoing by the Corporation. Amaya will continue to cooperate, if and as requested, consistent with our practice to always cooperate with regulatory authorities. The Corporation will continue to monitor the investigation if and as it proceeds. The investigation has had no impact on Amaya's business operations, employees, or companies." Amaya's stock predictably shot up with its acquisition of PokerStars, creating the largest publicly traded gaming company in the world. As Online Poker Report put it, such a run-up was bound to, at some point, attract regulatory attention. Amaya's stock price is shown below. Twitter exploded at word of the raid. Global Poker Index's Alex Dreyfus, the head of Zokay Entertainment, Tweeted, "[The raid is] not related to gaming or PokerStars… It should not affect any NJ licensing process, as Amaya is actually the support/victim of the potential trading, not the initiator… So don't get excited about writing/spreading/gossiping about the future of AYA/Stars because of that. It happens to hundreds of companies." Whether the action could affect PokerStars' entry into the regulated New Jersey market remains to be seen, despite Dreyfus' comments. Amaya is currently in "time out" in New Jersey while regulators there reportedly wanted to see if Sheldon Adelson's bid to prohibit internet gambling in the US panned out. It was already booted from the market on Black Friday, although the company has not admitted any wrongdoing. Regarding Canada, Online Poker Report's Chris Grovecast doubt on whether the action was related to PokerStars accepting Canadian players. As Grove bluntly put it, rather than focusing on Canada, "Money was made on information that wasn't public. I'm sure that attracted the interest of regulators." An October article from PokerNews described Canada as "a country where online poker is not explicitly legal and where Amaya Gaming is headquartered." We'll bring you more details on the raid as we get them. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  21. According to the Poker Players Alliance(PPA), the next wave of Full Tilt Poker refunds for US players will be sent out by the end of August at the latest. This time around, 2,000 petitions totaling $4 million will be distributed. PPA Executive Director John Pappas told PocketFives on Tuesday, "The current pool under review includes 1) some petitioners who disputed their petition based on an incomplete withdrawal that we have subsequently been able to match to FTP data; 2) petitioners who filed without login credentials that have been matched to FTP accounts and either claim the balance on record or fall within the de minimus thresholds previously identified by DOJ; and 3) a very small number of pro players who provided appropriate documentation." Additionally, "some petitioners who confirmed their balances and have subsequently provided updated information to GCG as requested" may be part of this wave. Pappas added that refunds could hit players' bank accounts sooner than the end of August, which is a "very conservative estimate" in the words of the DOJ. The audit for the current wave is complete and Garden City Group (GCG) is awaiting the green light from the DOJ, Southern District of New York, and US Treasury before it can send. GCG, the official Claims Administrator for US Full Tilt funds, has not provided an update since early April, when it said that 80% of Full Tilt petitions have been paid. The most recent round of payments came on March 31 and was the first for players with disputed balances. The first round of payments overall came in March 2014. US players were originally separated from their funds on Black Friday and watched in agony as the site went belly-up, was purchased by PokerStars, and then saw its US funds end up in the hands of the DOJ for a fairly laborious refund process. Visit this PocketFives thread for more details about disputed Full Tilt funds. We'll keep you posted on the latest. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  22. A few weeks ago, Jareth jareth3542East (pictured) took down the Full Tilt Sunday Majoroutright for $41,000, defeating a field of 675 entrants. "One word that springs to mind is 'relief,'" he told us following his big hit. "On PokerStars and Full Tilt, I have been making a lot of big final tables recently and getting eighth and ninth place every time. It was getting really frustrating, so to win one feels great." To celebrate, he did what any rational person would do: went to McDonald's for breakfast. His meal of choice: an Egg McMuffin with double sausage and egg. He had a rock solid month of February, so the meal was probably well-deserved too. In addition to the Full Tilt Sunday Major win, he took down the 888 Poker Volcano for $27,000 and won the PokerStars Thursday Thrill for $50,000 during the 28-day period. Those represent three of his nine largest scores all-time. "Last year, I spent a lot of my time playing live," East said of 2014. "After a really good end to 2013, I traveled around the world last year playing poker, including the WSOP. EPT London was a close one where I finished 20th and I'm still waiting for that to be shown on TV where I'll be playing with all of the PokerStars pros. I didn't play much online until the WCOOP; I went on to win one of those to make up for missing most of the year." East has been a member of PocketFives since 2013 and can be found at #32 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings. "The most difficult part has to be the lifestyle," he said of being a professional player. "You have to put up with messed up sleeping patterns and the stress that comes when you constantly get close to that big score, but then get a bad beat. It can really make you feel demoralized." He added, "A typical online grinder like me can easily be up until the early hours of the morning playing a tournament and then end up sleeping all day. The best thing about it is doing something I love and making a living from it, getting to travel the world, meeting new people that you instantly have a common interest with, and moments like this when you get interviewed for winning a tournament." East threw in the fact that playing poker for a living takes a lot more work than outsiders would give credit for. Yes, it's playing cards, but it's also a whole lot more: "They think, 'He has it easy playing cards on his computer earning money,' but it isn't like that at all. Putting in 14-hour shifts, sometimes I wish I were doing a 9-5 job, but I'm secretly kidding myself since I would never do that." Prior to playing poker full-time, East was pursuing a degree in math and planned to become an accountant. "I always saw myself doing something math-related," he told us, "until college where I had my heart set on studying music, but that never manifested." Music-wise, his passion was drumming. We closed by asking East what his advice would be for up-and-coming players, so if you're new to the game, listen up! "Keep studying whenever you're not actually playing," East suggested. "You have to keep studying to stay ahead of the game because so many stables out there hire coaches and the game is changing. People are getting better all the time, so you need to constantly adapt your game to the current curve people are playing on. There are people who used to crush the game seven years ago, but can't beat it anymore because they think they can just play the same and win." He wanted to send a shout out to Rachel Dolan, so we'll make sure to get that in there as well! Congrats to East on his phenomenal February. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  23. After a slew of changes were made to the game mix at Full Tiltlast week, site rep Shyam Markuswas left to admit, "I can confirm it's not a bug. Lots of changes were implemented today, and for sure many won't be popular." If you liked Adrenaline Rush Poker, Irish Poker, and high-stakes games, prepared to get your world rocked. According to PokerNews, the following games have gone the way of the dodo at Full Tilt: Adrenaline Rush (Starting May 1) Cap and Deep-Stack HU NLHE Cap, Deep-Stack, Deep-Stack with Antes 6-Max NLHE Shallow-Stack Full Ring NLHE PLHE HU and 6-Max Full Ring LHE Deep-Stack PLO HU Cap, Deep-Stack, Deep-Stack with Antes PLO 6-max Deep-Stack with Antes 6-Card PLO HU New-to-the-Game Tables for Certain Games Irish Poker HORSE, HA, 7-Game $0.25/$0.50 and $1/$2 PLO Rush Poker Among those commenting on the changes was high-stakes pro Doug "WCGRider" Polk, who lamented the loss of nosebleed-stakes games on what was once the second largest online poker room in the world: According to HighStakesDB, "There are still $1,000/$2,000 and $1,500/$3,000 Limit tablesavailable, which means the action will not dry out completely." Full Tilt was once the epicenter of high-stakes games, but a series of SNAFUs including the site being shut down due to insolvency seemingly forced it to find a new identity. Its one-time rival, PokerStars, is now its sister site under Amaya Gaming's guidance and the room has rebranded to Full Tilt instead of Full Tilt Poker. Its marketing is changing to focus on recreational players and not high-stakes pros. Adrenaline Rush Poker was introduced 15 months ago and was played four-handed. You could only buy in for five to ten big blinds and there was no post-flop betting. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  24. Earlier this month, Jon apestylesVan Fleet (pictured) ran away with the win in the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl and took home $22,000. In the process, he defeated a field of 533 entrants and a final table loaded with former World Series of Poker bracelet winners and European Poker Tour champions. "It was a really nice week overall," Van Fleet told PocketFives in an exclusive interview. "I had a few other scores and one close finish, so it felt great to close one out. I've never won the Brawl before. It's always nice to have a good run before SCOOP because SCOOP has the potential to go really badly or really well." Let's get to the final table now. The group included David BakesBaker, who finished in sixth place, and Steve MrTimCaumO'Dwyer, who took third. The latter won the EPT Grand Final Main Eventtwo years ago for $1.6 million and followed that up with an ACOP victorya year-and-a-half later for another $1.8 million, among other scores. Baker has two WSOP bracelets, which came in 2010 and 2012, and almost $3 million in live tournament winnings. "Both of those guys have been around for a long time, winning for a long time, both live and online, and they continue to adjust to beating the game," Van Fleet said of his two competitors. "Come to think of it, it was kind of an old school final table. I remember I always thought MrTimCaum (pictured) was really good and his results didn't match his talent. Then he went on a mega-heater and I wasn't surprised." Van Fleet disposed of Baker from the final table after Baker put his last eight big blinds in with pocket tens from the cutoff and Van Fleet called from the small blind with K-J offsuit. He said, "It was a marginal call with ICM. However, strategically, if I won the pot, I would become the chip leader and have leverage over the table. If I lost the pot, I would stay in second in chips, so losing didn't change much for me." O'Dwyer, meanwhile, had position on Van Fleet throughout the tournament and played solidly. "Generally, Steve was playing a passive and trappy style versus me, which is a good adjustment," the eventual Sunday Brawl winner said. So what are Van Fleet's plans for the money? He has been highly successful over the years, but told us he has learned an important lesson: "In the past, I used to spend money on fancy stuff that doesn't retain any value. I'm shifting my views towards money. I don't want expensive watches or cars. I respect the guy who has millions and doesn't have to show it off." He even made a "Duck Tales" reference to explain what he's doing with the cash: "The money is going into the vault in all gold coins so I can swim in it like Scrooge McDuck." Love it. Van Fleet has been a member of PocketFives since 2005, our very first year in business. Nowadays, he is saving up for property and learning about investing when he's not playing cards. And like other US PocketFivers, Van Fleet is getting into daily fantasy sports on sites like FanDueland DraftKings. "My life is really full," he told us. "I take on a lot of projects and coaching and feel it helps me grow as a player and as a teacher. I try to strike a balance with outdoor stuff like hiking, community service, and yoga. I'm roommates with Adam Roothlus Levy and we'll probably play some basketball at some point. I just got back heavily into fitness, but the problem is I love to eat." Van Fleet is about to give it the old college try on a new adventure as well, as he's doing a 10-day Vipassana silent retreat. We're fairly certain that much meditation is involved. No talking is permitted during the retreat. Also banned are electronics and books. He closed by sending a shout out to poker mind coach Elliot Roe. "I think one major reason people don't stick around in poker is that the mental leaks are hard to fix and this game can make you go crazy," Van Fleet argued. "I would definitely recommend getting some help with the mental aspects. It can improve the rest of your life as well. The swings and isolation of being a professional online poker player can be really tough to handle." Congrats to Van Fleet on beating a few old school players en route to a Sunday Brawl title! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  25. On the last weekend of April, Russian transplant harrrrmonica, who now lives in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, won the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Brawl outright for $25,000. There were almost 600 entrants and harrrrmonica won the tournament for the second time in eight months. "It feels great to get first," harrrrmonica told PocketFives. "I had a long run, maybe around six months, where almost every time I was deep and felt like the win was close, I'd always get sixth to ninth place." He beat fellow PocketFiver pvas2heads-up in the Sunday Brawl and said of his opponent, "The heads-up part itself was short and I won a flip basically, but earlier at the final table, we had some confrontations." Wait a minute: confrontations? The Sunday Brawl winner said, "He won a huge pot with five left shoving with ace-high over my flop raise in a three-bet pot. It seemed not too savvy to me and I let him know. Later, when I was short, he three-barreled 4-4, small blind versus big blind on an ace-high board, and doubled me up." After that hand, more words were exchanged in the chat. He added, "At the final table of the Sunday Brawl, as often happens deep in majors, we discussed a deal. I preferred to reject it, as I do most of the time, and would like to say that it surprises me that so many guys put on their PocketFives profiles some strong words like, 'I'll play you any stakes, any game,' but basically refuse to play for it as soon as the pay jumps get into the five-figures. No offense to anyone personally, but let's play more three- and four-max for some serious cash. That's the name of the game, isn't it?" harrrrmonica is fresh off moving from Russia to Mexico, so he'll use his newfound winnings to offset some associated expenses. "In Playa del Carmen (pictured), you, as a poker player, get the best quality of life for your money, not accounting for the time zone, which also was a big part of the move. Hopefully the internet connection will not let me down deep in some SCOOP event." He's a foodie and said living in Playa del Carmen "opens a lot of doors" in that department. He's currently the top-ranked player in the poker beach town out of 31 PocketFivers there with PLB scores. Since harrrrmonica is now camped out on the other side of the world from Russia, he wants to travel around the Caribbean and, most notably, head to Cuba. Why? "It's a mix of the old colonial style and the communist era, which it seems like is coming to a logical end." Whatever he's drinking in Mexico seems to be working, as he took down the Super Tuesday one week after his Sunday Brawl win and bagged another $102,000, his largest tracked score to date. He finished third in the Super Tuesday last year and has $1.2 million in online poker cashes across 1,729 in the money finishes. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.

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