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  1. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land poker players were playing, getting in one last hand. The bad-regs were grinding at the tables with care in hopes that some run good soon would be theirs. The locals were nestled, all snug in their seats, with visions of jackpots brought on by bad beats. Playing live on the strip, no PokerBros app. Is that Mike Postle with his phone in his lap? When out in the lobby, someone backed up a truck. I sprang from my seat to see what the f**k. There was Doug Polk celebrating a win, and Joey beside him, a shit-eating grin. The scene was electric, a buzz filled the air. Like Galfond’s big comeback, I’m glad I was there. When what to my bloodshot eyes should appear? A high-stakes affair, the big game was here! With cameras, lights, and high society stacks, a commentary team of Schulman and Platt. As if from a chimney, the great Mori came and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: “It’s Ivey, and Dwan! There’s Doyle and Gus Hansen! Daniel and Bellande! That’s Dan Bilzerian!” They all took a seat Stacking chips with a grin “Splash away! Splash away! Let’s go all-in!” They got ready to play, the rail became deep. I was pushed to the back, it was hard just to see. But then the crowd parted, Daniel stood on his seat, he said “We need one more!” and he pointed at me. Nervous but ready I knew this was my chance. A seat with the best, a trip to the dance. A Perkins-sized buy-in, it’s all on the line. Like Mike versus Teddy, it’s my time to shine. They shuffled and dealt, chips and cards flew. I was tight, I was snug, it was all I could do. The pros were relentless, betting and raising. The pots quickly grew, these guys were amazing. Finally the time to play a hand had arrived. With joy I looked down, I spied Pocket Fives I opened with a raise, but Ivey three-bet. Folded back to me, should I mine for a set? I looked in his eyes, not a read to be had. The poker world will see this, will math nerds be mad? I called and I gulped and awaited the flop. Ivey laughed, turned to Doyle, and said “We’re on for props!” An ace and a queen with a five in the door. Ivey didn’t slow down, he bet even more. Just what I wanted, I set the trap. “Let’s play for it all”, I pushed in my stack. Ivey snap-called, like I hoped he would do. He flipped over his cards, he flopped top two. We just had to hold, I showed down my set. The turn was a deuce, we’re not safe just yet. I used my ”one time”, I prayed to St. Nick The river was dealt, “It’s a brick, it’s a brick!” With the pot pushed my way, Ivey vanished from sight “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
  2. Denmark's therealfuddebuf, known in the real world as Mikael Hansen (pictured), turned in quite an impressive feat last November and December, finishing third in the PokerStars Sunday 500 twice for well over $80,000 officially. He is one of a handful of players from Denmark we've interviewed lately, so is Denmark the new hotbed for poker? We sat down with Hansen, who has one of the coolest full-time jobs ever, to find out. "Final tabling it twice within a short period of time is clearly running good. Even though the tournament is one of the toughest every week, the combination of players taking shots and winning satellites to get in combined with the superb structure gives you a chance to take advantage if you build a stack," Hansen responded when asked what he attributed his Sunday 500 success to. He earned 600 PLB Points total from the pair of third place runs. Even if Hansen is coming out on the right side of variance, he is clearly taking an optimal approach as well. "Early on, I try to play pots in position with hands that flop well to build a big stack," Hansen said of his game plan entering the Sunday 500 each week. "If that doesn't happen, I kind of nit it up, take advantage of the great structure, and wait for my spots. I think it is the major with the best structure, which allows you to be patient." His 2013 was a roller-coaster. He explained that he finished second in a SCOOP event in May for over $50,000 before going on a downswing over the next five months. His two Sunday 500 final tables ended the year, so the money from them will help replenish his bankroll. He stands at $1.5 million in tracked scores from nearly 1,800 in the money finishes, an average of $880 apiece. Let's get to the heart of the matter: the Denmark pokercommunity. "Poker is really popular in Denmark," Hansen relayed. "If you look at the PocketFives Country Poker Rankings, you can see that Denmark is doing really well. There is pretty big pool of gifted players playing online and live here. At one point, Denmark won three EPT Main Events in a row." Who plays online and live poker in Denmark? And why has the game become so popular? "I think online is mostly a young man's game," Hansen said. "Live, you have the usual mix of older grinders and younger online players. Poker was in limbo in Denmark for years. That changed in 2013, when online poker was regulated by the State and now it seems like the environment is good for the game to thrive. You can see the Danish community growing and the results showing up." Hansen got started in poker after watching coverage of the World Poker Tour on television and witnessing fellow Dane Gus Hansen (pictured) railroad the competition. He said, "I remember watching Gus Hansen winning a lot and thinking, 'That looks fun.' I grew up playing a lot of card games, so learning poker came pretty quickly for me. I dabbled online in small-stakes for fun, but then started having success in MTTs. In the last three or four years, I have worked hard on my game and the results are coming now." When we think of poker in Denmark, Gus Hansen and Peter Eastgate (pictured) are the first two names that pop into our head. The former spurned Denmark's thirst for the game, according to our interview subject: "Gus Hansen was huge. I think he is the biggest part of poker taking off in Denmark 10 years ago. Peter Eastgate was, and is, a really well liked member of the Danish community. Everybody thought him winning the Main Event was fantastic, but I don't think it changed poker in Denmark. If you want to speak of a Moneymaker Effect in Danish poker, it was Gus doing so well in the early WPT events." Interestingly, poker is not his full-time gig. Instead, he is a production manager for the largest television network in Denmark. He mainly works at major sporting events where his network is the host broadcaster or has general coverage. As such, he has been juggling playing poker with working 40 to 50 hours per week, a balancing act he described as "hard… Until now, it has worked, so I try to enjoy it while it lasts." When we caught up with Hansen, he was hard at work on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where he was able to take Mondays off in order to play poker. He explained his inner circle's reaction to his success: "Without a really understanding wife and good coworkers, it would not be possible to balance work, my private life, and poker. Sometimes I sell packages for live events or big online tournaments with no markups to my coworkers so they can have a sweat. Sometimes I get 40 or 50 buyers that way. I think that shows most of them believe poker is pretty cool." He wanted to send a shout out to "the grinders out there who combine a normal life with poker. I think it is good for the game not to have just 20-year-old wiz-kids cleaning up online, but also players who show that if you dedicate yourself, you can mix it up with the best of them." The Sunday 500 runs weekly on PokerStars. If you don't already have a PokerStars account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives 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.
  3. Gus Hansen(pictured) is in the midst of the worst online poker downswing on the books. At $17.66 million in the hole, the Danish pro has more than doubled the losses of noataima, the second biggest money loser in recorded online history, according to HighStakesDB. Even so, Hansen continues to do battle with the best players in the world at the highest stakes online, day in and day out. He was gracious enough to sit down for an interview with PokerStrategy's Tobias Frey at the European Poker Tour in Vienna, where he spoke about his high-stakes opponents, his losses, Macau, the WSOP, and more. Hansen was quite candid about his recent battles with German 2-7 Triple Draw specialist Sebastian "taktloss47" Ruthenberg. "He's been beating the shit out of me," Hansen said. "Obviously, he's been playing good and maybe he's been getting the best of the cards lately. But it seems like he's been outplaying me… Unfortunately, I have to admit that. I have to play better." Yet while enduring soul crushing losses, the 40-year-old gave praise to many of the German high-stakes players' commitment to improving their game while questioning his own. "The German players are very professional… I could learn from that," he said. "I'm sometimes a little too relaxed, don't focus enough, maybe play too long hours, and don't spend enough time analyzing my game." He also admitted that he often jumps into long, grueling sessions without being properly prepared. "That's usually when it all goes down the drain," he said. With that said, does Hansen believe he still has an edge on today's young internet prodigies? "Well, that's hard to say with the results I've been having," he said. "I'm trying to improve my game, but it seems like it's not enough. I have to consider what my next move is." On the forums, posters had their own opinions about Hansen's situation. "Will this guy ever run out of money?" said "Pls try to bluf." "Could only imagine where it comes from." Poster "Crane" also chimed in, dubious of Hansen's skill level: "Why do people think Gus Hansen is a good player? Have you ever watched him play?" While it might surprise the railbirds, Hansen emphatically stated that he cares about the money he loses online. But, when questioned about why he still plays high-stakes, he said he couldn't really come up with a good answer. Fortunately, though, it seems he still has the bankroll to continue playing at those levels comfortably. "I can afford to lose, but it's more fun to win. You sleep a little bit better when you win," he said. Would he ever quit playing high-stakes? "It's not impossible, I can't keep losing… At some point, I have to quit." Hansen doesn't spend all his time online. He's also a semi-regular in Macau's ultra high-stakes cash games, where he has apparently been doing very well. He also refutes the assumption that the wealthy businessmen who frequent those games make it one of the easiest in the world. "That's not the case at all. There are some really tough players around. People can put a lot of pressure on you; it's not that easy," he admitted. He won't be spending any time in China during the WSOP, though. The Danish pro said that he would be at the WSOP the entire time this year, but wasn't sure how many tournaments he would enter or if he took his chances in the One Drop. Of course, a win in the $1 million buy-in tournament would do much to offset recent losses. "[A bracelet]is not a high priority for me. I'd rather win the One Drop than win a bracelet," he said. Unfortunately, Hansen's losses don't seem to be abating. Since the interview was published on April 5, he has gone on to lose another $1 million after playing only 3,366 hands, according to a LiquidPoker high-stakes poker report. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. Earlier this week, PocketFives published an article about Dan Cates being up $1.5 million in Triple Draw in a two-week span. The Triple Draw games on Full Tilt Pokerhave been in full swing recently and included a 12-hour marathon session between Sebastian taktloss Ruthenberg and Gus Hansen (pictured) on Thursday. We'll defer to HighStakesDBfor the details on the session itself. The tracking site outlined, "Hansen opened up well, winning $105K in an early morning 1.5-hour session. Just ten minutes later, the pair swapped tables and played for eight hours at table Monarcas, where taktloss built an enormous stack, which at one point was close to $1M. He ended the session up $877.4K. Just 16 minutes later, the players were back at table Monarcas and this time Hansen was the big winner, taking back $239.9K. In total, taktloss47 won $532.3K." What's perhaps even more amazing is that Hansen, who is down nearly $16 million lifetime on Full Tilt, actually ended Thursday in the black, according to HighStakesDB, taking money from players like Ingenious89, BlondieCutie, ronnyr37617, SxMxFx, trex313, and no_Ola at Triple Draw and PLO to offset the bleeding. HighStakesDB's stats on Ruthenberg (pictured) haven't been updated since mid-2011 since he opted out of the site's long-term tracking. What we do know is that this month, he has scooped pots of $82,000, $67,000, $60,000, and $59,000, and stacked a $68,000 pot in January. At one point during Thursday's session, a screen shot on F5 Poker showed Ruthenberg with a $923,000 stack compared to Hansen's $69,000 at a $2,000/$4,000 Triple Draw table. Ruthenberg won the EPT Barcelona Main Event in 2008 for nearly $2 million and has $3.4 million in live tournament winnings, according to the Hendon Mob. He is #10 on the all-time money list for Germany and was #15 worldwide on the money list in 2008. Hansen is #5 on the all-time money list for the World Poker Tour and #11 on poker's all-time money list. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  5. He might be down almost $20 million lifetime in high-stakes online poker games according to HighStakesDB, but Danish poker pro Gus Hansen (pictured) mounted a comeback of sorts on Thursday, recording $731,000 in profit according to the tracking site. He is now down a little over $19 million lifetime. --- 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! --- As HighStakesDB noted, "The vast majority of Hansen's big score came at the $2K/$4K 2-7 Triple Draw tables, with action running for seven hours from 3:00am and featuring the likes of Hansen, taktloss47, Kagome Kagome, OMGClayAiken, samrostan, Follow The Hawk, SanIker, and Trueteller. Hansen made big scores at five tables, ranging between $107K and $183K." Hansen pocketed over $600,000 in the morning sessions to start the day off on the right foot and then increased his bankroll by over $100,000 at Eight-Game. All told, he was up about $731,000 in a single day, cutting his career losses by almost 4%. Hansen has been tracked by HighStakesDB since 2007 and is down $19 million lifetime. The last time he was breakeven, according to the same site, was in 2009. Hansen has bled $7.0 million in Draw Games, $5.6 million in Pot Limit Omaha, $2.6 million in Mixed HA, $1.8 million in Eight Game, and $1.3 million in Limit Omaha High-Low. The Dane is up $430,000 in HORSE, the lone variant HighStakesDB has recorded as being profitable for him. Now for the good news. Hansen is fifth on the all-time money list for the World Poker Tour at $4.0 million and tops Denmark's all-time money list, according to the Hendon Mob. He appeared in the top 30 worldwide on the tournament money list every year between 2002 and 2012 sans four. Hansen has three WPT titles and one World Series of Poker bracelet. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest 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.
  6. About a week ago, PocketFives brought you an article about Dan "jungleman" Cates breaking $10 million in high-stakes winnings at Full Tilt Poker, a major milestone. Over the weekend, Cates (pictured) continued to roll, inching closer to $3 million in winnings on Full Tilt this year, according to HighStakesDB. --- 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! --- As the tracking site published in an article on Sunday, "Cates continued his great 2014 with another big win in yesterday's high-stakes games. Cates brought home $300.7K in the Mixed Games. Most of Cates' profit came before breakfast, as he put in big winning sessions between 1:30am and 7.30am playing against Alexonmoon, PostflopAction, and Gus Hansen. In particular, he fared well at table Bushra, winning over $218.4K. He also made a six-figure sum at table Coventry, winning $117.2K." Cates took down the second largest pot awarded on Saturday, worth $197,800, at a $300/$600 Pot Limit Omaha table. After flopping a set and the nut flush draw, Cates shoved all-in for $61,000, or about two-thirds of the pot, on the river of a board of J-4-K-9-3 with four clubs. Gus Hansen (pictured) called and Cates flashed the nut flush, winning the hand. Cates is up $10.1 million lifetime on the high-stakes tables at Full Tilt, according to HighStakesDB, and has amassed almost $3 million in winnings this year alone. He has not turned in a lifetime loss on Full Tilt since 2010 and is a career winner in every game HighStakesDB tracks sans one (Limit HORSE). Cates was up $300,000 on Saturday alone. In case you're wondering, Hansen has largely trended in the opposite direction as Cates and is down $18.6 million lifetime since HighStakesDB began tracking him. Hansen has bled $3.7 million this year and has not been in the black since the first month of 2014. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  7. According to HighStakesDB, Gus Hansen (pictured) had a solid Sunday on the virtual felts of Full Tilt Poker, winning $546,000 at the cash game tables. However, he is still down almost $18 million since the site began tracking his account in 2006. His damage on Sunday was done at the Eight-Game and Triple Draw tables, according to HighStakesDB: "Hansen played for a couple of hours post-midnight, winning at both the Triple Draw and Eight-Game tables, building a six-figure profit before taking 11 hours away from the tables, returning in the early afternoon, where he added another $87,000, putting his daily profit over $200,000." Hansen didn't sit on $200,000 in profit, however. Instead, he came back for a nighttime session that saw him take $193,000 off an Eight-Game table with the likes of Phil "Polarizing" Ivey, Macau's punting-peddler, Alexander "PostflopAction" Kostritsyn, Alex "Alexonmoon" Luneau, Hac "trex313" Dang, samrostan, and Patrik "FinddaGrind" Antonius. When all was said and done, Hansen walked off with $546,000. As HighStakesDB noted, Hansen is down $17.8 million on Full Tilt since 2006. He is currently one of the lead faces of the site, dubbed the Professionals, and has dropped $7.2 million in Draw Games, $5.7 million in Pot Limit Omaha High-Low, $2.6 million in Mixed HA, $1.5 million in No Limit Texas Hold'em, and $1.3 million in Limit Omaha High-Low. He is up nearly $500,000 combined in Limit HORSE and Eight-Game. The tracking site has logged about 1.5 million hands for Hansen. Despite the bleeding online, Hansen has been a beast on the live tournament felts. The Hendon Mob has logged $11.2 million in career live MTT earnings for the Danish player, who has largely been among the top 100 worldwide on the tournament poker money list since 2002: 2002 Money List: 12th 2003 Money List: 13th 2004 Money List: 70th 2005 Money List: 24th 2006 Money List: n/a 2007 Money List: 20th 2008 Money List: 23rd 2009 Money List: 486th 2010 Money List: 24th 2011 Money List: 394th 2012 Money List: 30th 2013 Money List: 5,149th Hansen is tops on Denmark's all-time money list despite a recent World Series of Poker Main Event winner, Peter Eastgate, also being from that country. He tops the Nordic all-time money list and has one WSOP bracelet. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  8. On Monday, PocketFives published a story about Kagome Kagome being up a half-million dollars in three daysat the online poker tables. To show how quickly fortunes can turn when you're playing for gobs of cash for hours on end, Kagome Kagome is quickly back to even on the week thanks to a $474,000 loss to Alexonmoon (pictured). --- 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. PocketFivers will love playing in the site's €1 million guaranteed iPOPS series, which runs through November 9. Visit William Hill today! --- According to HighStakesDB, Alexonmoon and Kagome Kagome played three sessions on Monday, with the former coming out on top in each one: "The pair battled for over six hours yesterday, with Alexonmoon winning big at each of the three sessions they played. He won $250,000 from an hour-and-a-half morning session, $124,000 from an hour-long lunchtime session, and another $100,000 from a 3hr 45 min afternoon/evening match." By the time the day ended, Kagome Kagome had shipped almost $500,000 to Alexonmoon. In the final session, according to the same site, the pendulum swung back and forth for the first two hours before Alexonmoon caught fire in the final 90 minutes. As it turns out, the win could not have come at a more opportune time for Alexonmoon: "Until [Monday], he was down over $600,000 for the week, so a big win was just what the doctor ordered for Alexonmoon." In the last seven days, Alexonmoon is still down about $200,000 on the high-stakes tables, according to HighStakesDB. The vast majority of his losses have come in Draw Games, while he has also bled about $5,000 at the Eight-Game tables. Alexonmoon is no stranger to the high-stakes tables. His largest tracked pot came in August at a $300/$600 PLO table stacked with the likes of Isildur1, Gus Hansen (pictured), and PostflopAction. In that hand, most of the drama occurred pre-flop to build a pot of over $300,000. After a flop of 8-3-5 with two clubs, the remaining money went in and the pair agreed to run the turn and river twice. 10h-Qc came on the first run, while 9-5 of hearts came on the second go-around. Hansen showed Ks-9d-10s-7d, while Alexonmoon flashed the nut flush to scoop both pots, officially banking $336,000. Alexonmoon is originally from France, but left the country due to the market's ring-fenced limitations, according to HighStakesDB. He lives in London now and, as the same site outlined, "Alex started his poker career with a $5 deposit in 2007 and has never had to look back since. He quickly turned that into $15,000 through NLHE cash games within a few months and, by the end of 2008, he was playing $25/$50 NLHE. He started playing PLO in August 2009 and Mixed/Limit games in December 2009." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  9. After a dismal first half of the year at the nosebleed tables on Full Tilt, German high-stakes pro SanIkerhas put together a huge comeback, winning just under $2 million in less than 60 days. --- 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! --- In his latest string of wins, the young 2-7 Triple Draw specialist booked a $400,000 session on Tuesday to catapult himself into the black and now enjoys a $150,000 profit for the year, according to HighStakesDB, as of Wednesday. During the marathon 14-hour session, SanIker battled with high-stakes regulars Trueteller, PostflopAction, Gus Hansen, Follow the Hawk, and thecortster. While a low six-figure profit is tenuous at tables where single pots can grow to over a quarter-of-a-million dollars, his overall profit for the year must provide some psychological benefit. At his lowest point, SanIker sunk down to $1.76 million in the red in July after a series of bad sessions beginning in April. In May, he took a half-million dollar hit, followed by a $700,000 loss in June. There were a few bright spots during the young grinder's downward slide; the biggest pot he dragged all year came in June, just before his huge upswing. Playing No Limit Hold'em at $300/$600 against Denoking, SanIker held 8c-2c, with his opponent holding K-Qo. SanIker flopped a flush draw and bet $5,400, which Denoking called. The turn came the 6s and the German fired another $16,200 into the pot, which Denoking raised. After calling the raise on the turn, the pair saw the 7s hit the river, completing a one-card straight for SanIker and leaving Denoking with nothing but king-high. SanIker checked and Denoking took a $75,000 shot at the pot. SanIker called the bluff and raked in a $205,000 pile of chips. Denoking soon took his revenge and more. Flopping a set with 4-4, the high-stakes pro bet the flop and turn and fired a $60,000 bet into a one-card straight board to collect a $275,000 pot. In July, the German grinder saw his fortunes improve dramatically. In just one week near the end of the month, SanIker crossed the threshold into the black after banking just over $1 million in only a few sessions. He didn't stay above water for long, though, losing $600,000 in August and then dropping another $100,000 at the start of September. Since that recent low, SanIker has been riding the wave of an $800,000 upswing. Of course with big winners come big losers. Gus Hansen (pictured) continues an epic losing streak that has now surpassed $20 million on Full Tilt. Some wonder if the Danish pro has the skills to beat today's sophisticated high-stakes pros. Even so, Hansen continues to grind and has stated that he still has money, but at some point would have to quit. Phil Ivey is recognized as the biggest winner in recorded online poker history. But this year, the poker legend has taken heavy losses at the table, losing almost $2 million. Under his new Polarizingscreen name, the 38-year-old dropped to a low of $5.3 million after a horrific three-month run in which he lost nearly $1 million a month. But the title of biggest online loser of the year goes to Chun samrostanLei Zhou, who has lost around $6 million so far. Not much is known about Lei Zhou except that he frequents the ultra-high-stakes live games in Macau and enjoys playing the biggest stakes possible. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  10. 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.
  11. While most known for high-stakes poker, Gus Hansen (pictured) is also considered a formidable bridge player. After a break from the tables at Full Tilt, the Great Dane recently surfaced in the Danish press and revealed that he is investing "millions" into a bridge shuffling machine that will speed up play and solve problems unique to the game. Growing up, Hansen was drawn to games of all types, not just poker. He excelled at many, including backgammon, gin rummy, chess, and bridge and points to these games as his "first small steps in the gambling direction," according to a 2006 interview with Bluff. Now, after a very public $20 million+ poker downswing, the 40-year-old is going back to his roots and has turned his focus to streamlining the game of bridge. Partnering with game expert Tom Hanlon and businessman Nils Foss, Hansen has invested millions into a machine called Bridge + Dealer, which is slated to debut at this year's Copenhagen Bridge Invitational. Hansen and Hanlon have been friends for years and teamed up in 2010 to win the Invitational, where they played against opponents like the Prince Consort of Denmark. In the poker world, Shufflemaster dominates the shuffling machine industry; just one of the company's popular machines can set you back thousands of dollars. But with the alternative being shuffling by hand, the high cost is justified for many busy card rooms. With automatic shuffling machines, casinos can speed up the pace of the game, deal more hands, and make more money in rake. Bridge + Dealer will do more than deal; the machine will also analyze hands in tournaments, something that is usually a time-consuming task. In bridge, all players sitting in the "North" square receive the exact same cards. At the conclusion of the game, the results of all players sitting in the "North" position are compared. Therefore, the game isn't so much about receiving a great hand, but rather which player got the most of the cards he was dealt. It remains to be seen how big the market would be for a bridge-specific shuffle machine, but at the right price point, the investment could pay off. The past few years of online poker have been a disaster for Hansen. Last year, he eclipsed noataima to become the biggest loser in online poker history and is currently $20.7 million in the red. "I can afford to lose, but it's more fun to win," he said in a 2014 interview. "You sleep a little bit better when you win." When asked if he would move down in stakes, he replied, "It's not impossible. I can't keep losing… At some point, I have to quit." He added that he was working on his game, "but it seems like it's not enough." Adding insult to injury, Hansen, along with Viktor Blom, was cut from Full Tilt's sponsored roster. In the weeks before he was let go, Hansen bailed on a heavily promoted tournament series against Blom and was replaced by No Limit Hold'em specialist Jake Cody. In light of the Great Dane's massive downswing, many are questioning how much more punishment Hansen's bankroll can sustain. Online poker losses aside, the 40-year-old been part of several successful business ventures. He was a founding partner in the poker site PokerChamps, which he sold to Betfair for $15 million in 2005. Hansen has done quite well for himself in live tournaments as well, banking $11 million according to Global Poker Index. He is also said to consistently profit in private high-stakes poker and backgammon games. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  12. As 2015 officially begins, we take a look back at five of the biggest poker news stories of 2014. At the end of the article, let us know what other headlines you thought were memorable this year. 5. Christian Lusardi Causes Havoc at Borgata with Counterfeit Chips Tournament organizers at Borgata's Winter Poker Open in January were forced to cancel the event after finding that several bogus poker chips had been introduced into play. Christian Lusardi (pictured) of Fayetteville, North Carolina was quickly identified as the culprit and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Lusardi had made out well in the tournament, winning $6,814 with the help of his homemade chips. Authorities caught a break when the staff at Harrah's Atlantic City found even more of the phony chips clogging the pipes of Lusardi's bathroom. After the tournament was shut down, some players were unhappy with the Borgata's settlement and filed a lawsuit against the casino, accusing it of negligence. Lusardi is charged with rigging a publicly exhibited contest, criminal attempt, and theft by deception. 4. Phil Ivey's High-Stakes Baccarat Escapades Last year, Phil Ivey (pictured) went on the heater of a lifetime, winning $12.5 million playing Punto Banco at the posh Crockfords Casino in London. Crockfords, however, refused to pay the 10-time bracelet winner, claiming he had used a prohibited method called edge-sorting to illegally win the cash. Ivey filed suit against Crockfords and asserted that the controversial technique didn't break any laws. In October, a judge sided with Crockfords and ruled that Ivey's manipulative behavior during the baccarat sessions would be considered "cheating for the purpose of civil law." Ivey himself is being sued by Borgata, which also claims the 38-year-old cheated using edge-sorting to pocket $9.6 million. 3. Gus Hansen's Epic Losing Streak High-stakes pro Gus Hansen will not be ringing in 2015 on a high note, at least in regards to poker. The "Great Dane" reached the grim milestone of surpassing $20 million in online losses to become the biggest loser in online poker history. Before Black Friday saw Full Tilt Poker shut down, Hansen had been in the midst of a $7 million upswing. When the site reopened, however, he lost all of it back, plus $10 million more, as he stubbornly refused to move down in limits. Hansen spoke about the losses in an interview, saying, "I can't keep losing… At some point, I have to quit." Hansen and high-stakes legend Viktor Blom were recently stripped of their sponsorship deals with Full Tilt Poker. 2. Dan Colman Wins Millions, Refuses to Promote Poker With over $22 million in winnings in 2014, Dan Colman (pictured) had a year about which most could only dream. The young pro started the year strong, pocketing $2,127,398 for his first place finish in the EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller Event and followed that up with a third place finish for $111,942 at the WSOP. But those big wins pale in comparison to the $15,306,668 Colman banked for besting the tough field in the $1 Million Big One for One Drop. To the chagrin of the poker media, Coleman refused to give interviews or even take pictures after the massive win. Choosing instead to make a statement on 2+2, Colman called poker "a very dark game" and said he didn't "owe poker a single thing." He later unleashed on Phil Hellmuth, calling "The Poker Brat" a "whore" and a "cancer" who would promote anything for money. Seeing his comments quickly spread through the poker world, he issued somewhat of an apology to Hellmuth. 1. Amaya Gaming Buys PokerStars and Full Tilt for $4.9 Billion By far the biggest poker story of the year was Amaya's surprise acquisition of the online gambling giant PokerStars. Rumors of the sale first began to swirl in August, with the all-cash $4.9 billion deal confirmed in June. The purchase helped to elegantly solve the company's issues with breaking into the regulated US i-gaming market. PokerStars was denied a license to operate in New Jersey due to the continued involvement of founders Isai and Mark Scheinberg in the business. The sale to Amaya allowed the father and son to cash out, while allowing the company to present a cleaner image to US regulators. PokerStars has recently begun to make some controversial changes, like cutting loose nonproductive affiliates, raising rake, and reducing its sponsor player roster. It has still yet to break into the US market. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  13. Although he's still down big overall, Gus Hansen (pictured) rebounded slightly over the weekend, banking over a half-million dollars on Sunday at the high-stakes poker tables, according to HighStakesDB. Hansen profited $528,000 on Sunday and is up $636,000 since Saturday night. Fixed Limit Omaha Eight or Better was Hansen's playground on Sunday, as he faced off against Alex "Alexonmoon" Luneau. According to HighStakesDB, FLO8 played to Hansen's strengths, not Luneau's: "Luneau has made no secret of his desire to play Hansen whenever possible, even setting up an alert system to notify him whenever his favorite 'whale' was at the tables. However, the FLO8 tables are an entirely different proposition to Triple Draw, and if nothing else, Hansen has way more experience at them than his French opponent." In fact, Hansen took $81,000 from Luneau in a span of just 50 minutes at the FLO8 tables. Then, in a session later on Sunday, Hansen piled up another $446,000 in profit to end the day up $528,000. Despite his recent winnings at FLO8, Hansen has taken a beating at the high-stakes tables. According to the tracking site, he is down over $20 million since HighStakesDB began tracking him in 2006. In 2014 alone, the Dane is down $5.2 million, but has profited $257,000 in the last seven days. Here's how Hansen has performed over the last eight years in each game HighStakesDB tracks: Fixed Limit HORSE: +$430,000 Fixed Limit Hold'em: Even Fixed Limit Omaha High-Low: -$678,000 No Limit Hold'em: -$1.5 million Eight-Game: -$2.1 million Mixed HA: -$2.6 million Pot Limit Omaha: -$5.9 million Draw Games: -$8.0 million Hansen was the founding member of The Professionals, Full Tilt's former stable of sponsored pros, before parting ways with the site this year as Full Tilt ditched the concept. Hansen has $11.2 million in career live tournament winnings, according to the Hendon Mob, and owns one World Series of Poker bracelet. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  14. [CAPTION=100%]All four #1 seeds advanced to Round 2 in the WPT Champions Challenge.[/CAPTION] Just like March Madness, the first round of the World Poker Tour Champions Challenge was all about the upset. Eight of the first 32 first round match-ups ended with the lower seed advancing to the second round. The Champions Challenge is a bracket-style tournament pitting some of the greatest performers in WPT history against each other in a contest driven by fan voting. It's structured identically to the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament with the winner announced on April 11. Four of the upsets came from the Spades region, with the biggest highlight being #10 seed Tony Dunst beating out #7 seed Howard Lederer. Season 9 WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger, the #12 seed, beat out #5 Tommy Vedes, #11 Phil Laak eliminated #6 Matt Giannetti and #9 David Williams beat out #8 Nenad Medic. The biggest upset came in the Hearts region as #15 seed Dan Harrington beat out #2 seed Erick Lindgren. The only other upset in that region had #11 Nick Schulman come out ahead of #6 Aaron Mermelstein. The other two regions only had one upset each. In the Diamonds region, #11 Vivek Rajkumar bested #6 Randal Flowers and in the Clubs region #11 seed Doyle Brunson ousted #6 Kevin Eyster. And just like March Madness, number one seeds had no trouble in the first round. Carlos Mortensen, Gus Hansen, Anthony Zinno and Daniel Negreanu all moved on to the second round. Looking through the 16 second round match-ups, there are a few that stand out as worth watching. Clubs Region #1 Daniel Negreanu vs. #8 Gavin Smith It's an all-Canadian battle as Season 3 WPT Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu goes up against Season 4 WPT POY Gavin Smith. Negreanu has two WPT titles, both coming in Season 3 when he won the Borgata Poker Open and Five Diamond Poker Classic. Smith won the Mirage Poker Showdown in Season 4 and followed that up with a third place finish at the North American Poker Championship and a fourth place finish at the World Poker Open. Negreanu has a huge edge in lifetime WPT earnings, having banked $6.4 million to Smith's $2.6 million. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #7 Scotty Nguyen There may not be a closer match-up in the second round than JC Tran against Scotty Nguyen. Tran has two WPT titles to Nguyen's one and has $1.3 million more in earnings, but Nguyen has eight WPT final tables to Tran's seven and 18 cashes to 16. The bulk of Nguyen's success came early in his career. Six of his first eight WPT cashes were final tables including his win at the World Poker Open in Season 4. Tran's first win came in Season 5 at the World Poker Challenge in Reno. He returned to the winner's circle in Season 12 when he won his hometown Rolling Thunder event at Thunder Valley. Hearts Region #1 Carlos Mortensen vs. #8 Erik Seidel Carlos Mortensen is a #1 seed thanks to his three WPT titles, but he may be in for a rough ride in the second round as he goes up against Erik Seidel. Mortensen's three wins are spread out over three different seasons. He won the North American Poker Championship in Season 3, the WPT World Championship in Season 5 and the Hollywood Poker Open in Season 8. He's cashed 21 times for $6.7 million in earnings. Seidel won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6 and has cashed 22 times with seven final tables and $2.3 million in earnings. Spades Region #2 Antonio Esfandiari vs. #10 Tony Dunst Tony Dunst took out Howard Lederer in the first round, but beating one the poker world's biggest villains is an easier task than taking on one of its most popular players. That's the challenge in front of Dunst, though, as he takes on #2 seed Antonio Esfandiari. Dunst has one WPT title to his credit, the Season 12 WPT Caribbean event, but has four final tables. Esfandiari has two WPT titles, the LA Poker Classic in Season 2 and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Season 9. He has nearly $3 million in WPT earnings and eight final table appearances. Second round voting is open until Monday, March 21 at 3 pm PT. Vote here.
  15. [caption width="640"] The WPT Champions Challenge pits some of poker's biggest stars up against each other[/caption] Sure, everybody at your workplace is focused on just how awesome their NCAA March Madness bracket is. Paul from accounting is convinced that the six-seed he’s got going to the Elite Eight is his key to victory. You’ve got a bracket too – everybody does – but thanks to the World Poker Tour you’re also looking at another bracket. That’s what the WPT is hoping for anyway with their launch of the WPT Champions Challenge, a bracket-style tournament pitting 64 former WPT champions against each other. The contest is interactive, with each match-up decided by a fan vote. The 64-player field was determined using WPT titles, final table and earnings as criteria. Given that, it should be no surprise to see four players who have taken turns dominating the WPT over the years as the top seeds in each “region“: Clubs bracket: Daniel Negreanu Diamonds bracket: Anthony Zinno Heart bracket: Carlos Mortensen Spades bracket: Gus Hansen Just like the NCAA bracket, the WPT Champions Challenge goes from 64 down to 32, down to 16, down to eight, down to four and then down to two before a winner is determined. Voting opened on WPT.com on Friday and continues until a winner is announced on Monday, April 11. The WPT Champions Challenge Schedule Round of 64: March 11 - 16 Round of 32: March 16 -21 Sweet 16: March 21 - 25 Elite 8: March 25 - March 29 Final Four: March 29 - April 1 The Championship: April 1 - 8 The winner will be announced on April 11. Check out the complete WPT Champions Challenge bracket. FIRST ROUND MATCH UPS TO WATCH Spades Region #7 Howard Lederer vs #10 Tony Dunst It’s hard to argue that Howard Lederer wasn’t one of the most successful players on the World Poker Tour in the early days. He won two events in the inaugural season and has cashed a total of seven times. Meanwhile Tony Dunst represents the online player generation that was most victimized by Lederer’s mismanagement of Full Tilt Poker and could easily pull the upset here with the support of his fellow former online grinders. Hearts Region #8 Erik Seidel vs. #9 Shawn Buchanan Each year one of the more intriguing first round matchups of March Madness pits the #8 seed vs. the #9 seed. That’s certainly carrying over to the WPT Champions Challenge as Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel is up against Shawn Buchanan. Seidel has 22 WPT cashes, seven WPT final tables and won the Foxwoods Poker Classic in Season 6. Buchanan is no slouch either. The Canadian poker pro goes 16-4-1 in WPT events with his win coming at a stacked Mandalay Bay Poker Championship in Season 6. Diamonds Region #2 JC Tran vs. #15 Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier Each player in the field was chosen based on their success at World Poker Tour events. JC Tran has multiple WPT titles to his credit while Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier has just one, but both players have also enjoyed a tremendous amount of success outside of the WPT and that may sway some voters based on their loyalties. Tran has over $12 million in lifetime earnings with just under $4 million coming at WPT stops. Grospellier has nearly $11 million in lifetime earnings with $2.2 million coming via the World Poker Tour. Clubs Region #5 Chino Rheem vs #12 Keven Stammen If the Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan matches of the 1990s left you disappointed, maybe seeing one WPT World Champion up against another WPT World Champion can satisfy your appetite. That’s what we have in the Clubs region as Season 11 champ Chino Rheem takes on Season 12 champ Keven Stammen. Rheem, who also won the Five Diamond Classic in Season 7, is the higher seed but Stammen has 15 cashes to Rheem’s four, three final tables to Rheem’s two. If you’re looking for a more traditional NCAA bracket to fill out, check out PocketFives' free-to-enter March Madness contest with $500 in prizes from FanDuel.
  16. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. Some are calling Ian Steinman's fold against Joe McKeehen at the WPT Rolling Thunder the greatest fold they've ever seen. Matt was sitting courtside for that hand and gives his take on it. The guys also discuss partypoker's server crash and how it impacts their attempts to take over the reigns as the world's top online poker site. Lance and Matt also geek out a little bit over the return of Gus Hansen to Poker After Dark for a special Pot Limit Omaha session with the likes of Ben Lamb, Brian Rast and the under-appreciated superstar in waiting, Aussie Matt Kirk. They also remember the late Paul Magriel and talk about exactly what his impact was on poker. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES
  17. Clear your schedules for the next two nights as "Godfather Week" takes over Poker After Dark. Doyle Brunson will be joined by a handful of poker’s biggest names as they compete for astronomical stakes in a mixed game cash game on PokerGO. Along with Brunson, Gus Hansen, Daniel 'Jungleman' Cates, Scott Seiver, Brian Rast, and Billy O'Neill will be playing mixed games at limits of $1,500/$3,000. The minimum buy-in is $50,000 and they will be playing HORSE and Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. The action starts at 6 pm ET (3 pm PT) on PokerGO. The all-star team of Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman will be in the booth to provide commentary and analysis for both nights of action. Will Hansen Provide the Action? Hansen took a bit of time off from high-stakes poker in more recent years but appears to be back and ready to tackle some of the best at incredible limits. The 'Great Dane' has a career the includes more than $10.2 million in live tournament earnings, and he is also the owner of three WPT titles and one WSOP gold bracelet. Hansen has been known to bring a style all his own to the poker table, and it's often been one that drives a lot of the action in a game. Will we be getting the old Hansen driving play or will we be getting a newer, more tame version of this poker great? That's a question we can't wait to see answered come Tuesday. Cates, Seiver, and Rast Represent Today's Mixed Game Specialists Cates, Seiver, and Rast represent the best mixed game players in poker today. Cates is the youngest of the three at 28, Seiver is the middle child at 33, and then Rast is 36. Their ages may not seem old, but these guys have all played millions of hands of poker between online and live play and regularly lock horns in games of the highest stakes. Having the opportunity to watch the three of them play in such a high-caliber lineup at limits larger than most of the paychecks many of us see on a monthly basis will be nothing short of a treat. It will also provide a great learning experience because with hole cards shown, the audience will be able to pull back the curtain for insight into every street of every hand. Don’t Sleep On Billy O'Neill If there was a name you wouldn't recognize at this table, it'd be that of Billy O'Neill, but don't be surprised if he leaves the game as the biggest winner. If you follow poker closely, you've likely seen his name pop up here or there, or you may recognize his face from a photo or two. Even if you attempted to look up some of his results, you wouldn’t find much. HendonMob.com only has him winning just more than $195,000 and all of those results come from 2010 to 2012. O'Neill is a regular in Bobby's Room at Bellagio or the Ivey Room at ARIA, playing the highest stakes in all games. All of his peers know the level of skill he brings to the table and the stakes won't be foreign to him. The $1,500/$3,000 mixed game action for Godfather Week on Poker After Dark starts Tuesday, October 23, at 6 pm ET on PokerGO. Get your popcorn ready. If you don't already have a PokerGO subscription, sign up using the code "pocket5s" to receive $10 off an annual subscription.
  18. The World Poker Tour will close out 2018 action with the prestigious WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The tournament, held at the iconic Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be the eighth WPT Main Tour stop of Season XVII. It’s an event that comes with a $10,400 buy-in and has been a part of the World Poker Tour schedule since the very first season. The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,400 Main Event kicks off Tuesday, December 11, 2018, and runs through Saturday, December 15. The format calls for 40,000 in starting chips, big blind ante, registration until the start of the 12th level, and unlimited reentry until the close of registration. Levels will be 60 minutes long on Day 1 and 90 minutes long on Day 2, 3, and 4. The final table will be played with 60-minute levels until heads-up play. The full tournament festival begins Thursday, November 29. Rich Prizes, Storied History, and Legendary Champions The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic was the very first event on the World Poker Tour, held all the way back in 2002 when the WPT got its start. In that inaugural event, 146 players ponied up the $10,000. The one and only Gus Hansen emerged victorious to claim the $556,460 top prize and his first of three WPT titles. In Season III, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic had a $15,300 buy-in and an incredible first-place prize of more than $1.77 million. Winner the event was none other than Daniel Negreanu after he defeated the popular Humberto Brenes in heads-up play. Season V of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic attracted 583 entries and awarded a first prize of more than $2.2 million. Walking away with the title was Joe Hachem, who had just won the World Series of Poker Main Event one year prior. With the WPT Five Diamond victory, Hachem became the fourth player in poker history to own both WSOP Main Event and WPT titles, alongside Doyle Brunson, Scotty Nguyen, and Carlos Mortensen. More stars of the game captured WPT Five Diamond titles in Season VI, Season VII, and Season VIII of the World Poker Tour. First, it was Eugene Katchalov winning in Season VI for $2.482 million. In Season VII, Chino Rheem took the title and $1.538 million. For Rheem, it was his first of three WPT titles. In Season VIII, Daniel Alaei scored first place for $1.428 million. As if the likes of Hansen, Negreanu, Hachem, Katchalov, Rheem, and Alaei weren’t enough, Antonio Esfandiari earned his second WPT title when he won the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Season IX for $870,124. Esfandiari returned to the final table the following season and earned a sixth-place finish worth $119,418. Then in Season XI, Esfandiari was back at the final table, taking fourth for $329,339. To date, Esfandiari has cashed six times in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio, earning more than $1.4 million in total from the event through its first 16 editions. Dan Smith earned the WPT Five Diamond title for $1.161 million in Season XII. Then in Season XIII and Season XIV, both Mohsin Charania and Kevin Eyster won WPT Five Diamond for their second World Poker Tour titles. Charania won for $1.177 million, and Eyster won for $1.587 million. Record-Breaking Turnouts and Tosoc’s Back-To-Back Success In Season XV, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic drew a mammoth field of 791 entries, setting a new record for the WPT Five Diamond tournament and tying the all-time record for a $10,000 buy-in event in WPT history. That tournament created an enormous prize pool of more than $7.67 million and saw the top two places walk away with seven-figures scores - first place earned $1.938 million and second place won $1.124 million. James Romero defeated Ryan Tosoc in heads-up play to win the event. The following season, an even larger field turned out for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, with 812 entries setting new records for the largest turnout in the WPT Five Diamond event and a $10,000 buy-in WPT event. Nearly $7.9 million was up for grabs, and once again the top two places earned seven figures - first place took home $1.958 million and second place earned $1.134 million. In a jaw-dropping back-to-back run, Tosoc, who placed second the year before for $1.124 million, won the event for $1.1958 million. From the two-season WPT Five Diamond run, Tosoc earned $3.082 million in total prize money. Big Buy-In Events Galore In addition to the $10,400 Main Event, the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic schedule features several big buy-in tournaments. Included in the Season XVII schedule are seven other events with buy-ins of $10,000 or more. They are, as follows. - Wednesday, December 5, at 2 p.m.: $10,000 buy-in Bellagio 10K PLO 02 - Thursday, December 6, at 2 p.m.: $10,000 buy-in Bellagio 10K PLO 03 - Friday, December 7, at 2 p.m.: $15,000 buy-in Bellagio 15K 8-Game 01 - Saturday, December 8, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 01 - Monday, December 10, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 02 - Friday, December 14, at 2 p.m.: $25,000 buy-in Bellagio 25K 03 - Saturday, December 15, at 2 p.m.: $100,000 buy-in Bellagio 100K 01 There are also two $5,200 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments on the schedule. The first starts on Sunday, December 9, at 1 p.m., and the second starts on Thursday, December 13, at 1 p.m. *Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour.
  19. All good things must come to an end. And that end has come for the PCA. As PocketFives reported, when PokerStars announced the return of the PSPC in 2020 they also, unceremoniously, announced that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure would not be back in 2020, ending its run of 16 years. For many, the PCA kicked off the yearly poker calendar with players making plans to escape their winter hardships for weeks of poker, sun and waterslides. At the height of the poker boom, the PCA was one of the most popular stops on the tour as winners of the Main Event added millions to their career earnings and a marquee victory to their resumes. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] However, as many tour stops experienced, the numbers began to decline after Black Friday and the fatigue of making the trip to the Atlantis Resort & Casino began to weigh on the players. Now, PokerStars has pulled the plug on one of the most enduring poker stops of the last two decades. But even though it’s gone, it certainly won’t be forgotten. With that, we’ve compiled nine of the most memorable moments in the history of the PCA. Gus Hansen’s On A Boat Before the PCA became the flagship stop for PokerStars, it has a very different look. In fact, in 2004, the first year it ever took place the PCA was then a World Poker Tour event. Also, it took place on a boat. The Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas to be exact and just as poker was about to hit mainstream a young up-and-coming player from Denmark, Gus Hansen, was in the middle of making a reputation for himself, a reputation that lasts to this very day. Hansen bested the likes of Daniel Negreanu for the $455,780 first-place prize and his third WPT title. Right from the get-go, the PCA drew premier poker star power and eventually the PCA would be the engine to create that star power. Ryan Daut And Isaac Haxton Take It Outside In 2007, rising online phenom Isaac Haxton was in prime position to take down the 2007 PCA Main Event and it’s massive $1.5 million first-place prize. Ryan Daut had other ideas and the pair put on a famous heads up battle at the final table which took place…outside. The weather outside was nearly as volatile as the play on the felt. The winds whipped as evening fell and it looked like the sky was going to open up and pour at any moment. In the eye of the storm was Haxton and Daut who played an iconic hand where both players had “absolute Garfunkel!” Haxton won the famous battle of the bluffs but Daut took home the PCA title. ESPN Took The PCA Live The PCA made history in 2011 when PokerStars struck a deal with ESPN to bring ‘near-live’ coverage of the PCA final table to the network. The final table was shown on ESPN2 and online on ESPN3.com on a one-hour delay so viewers could see the hole cards. According to the PokerStars Blog, it was the first time that poker fans were able to see a final table, every hand, every decision completely unedited. “For the first time viewers at home will see a poker telecast from start to finish, with all the strategy of world class-poker players playing in real-time,” said ESPN’s Matt Volk back in 2010. Galen Hall Finds A Fold Not only did 2011 produce one of the first unedited accounts of a final table, but it also produced one of the finest folds every caught on camera. Former #1-ranked PocketFiver Chris ‘Getting Daize’ Oliver was cruising in the PCA Main Event and at the start of heads up play he had a 3:1 chip advantage over fellow online pro Galen Hall. On the third hand of play, the pair both make monster hands by the river. Hall rivered a straight while Oliver had just gone runner-runner to a full house. After being checked to by Oliver, Hall put out a bet and was check-raised for his tournament life. “If Hall calls it’s all over,” said commentator James Hartigan. “I don’t see Hall getting away from this hand,” declared Daniel Negreanu. After minutes in the tank, Hall makes the laydown of his poker life and ended up turning the tables on Oliver to become the 2011 PCA Main Event champion for $2.3 million. Antonio Esfandiari DQ’d From Main Event Antonio Esfandiari loves to prop bet. So does Bill Perkins. When the two of them got together at the 2016 PCA they agreed to a bet that had Esfandiari only able to perform lunges when moving for 48 hours. Sore and not wanting to lunge himself to the bathroom, Esfandiari made the unfortunate decision to go to the bathroom in a bottle…under the poker table. When officials caught wind of Esfandiari’s makeshift restroom he was quickly disqualified from the Main Event. However, the prop bet continued and he got up and lunged his way out of the tournament area. Read: Antonio Esfandiari Disqualified from PCA Main Event Vanessa Selbst’s Big Bet So the story goes…after a night of having (perhaps too much) fun in the Bahamas, Vanessa Selbst made a big bet against her friend Jason Mercier that he couldn’t win three WSOP bracelets the following summer. It’s hard enough for pros to count on winning one WSOP bracelet, much less three and so she ended up giving 180:1 odds on a $10,000 wager. The bet was made in a bit of an 'altered state' and when Selbst woke up the next day, she tried to cancel it but according to Mercier, the bet was booked. She offered Mercier a $1K buy-out, he declined. Mercier went on to pick up two bracelets that summer and finish second in another tournament nearly completing the challenge that would have paid him $1.8 million. Christian Harder Battles Bax Long-time online and live pro Christian Harder became a bit of a footnote in PCA history in his 2017 Main Event win. That’s because, technically, it wasn’t the PCA. That year PokerStars shelved their popular PCA brand and tried to rebrand the tour stop the ‘PokerStars Championship Bahamas’. That is the year Harder fought through the field of 738 entries to find himself heads up for the title. When he looked up he saw he sitting across from him was his former backer (and PocketFives Legacy Award winner) Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy. Josephy was a bit of a mentor to Harder and had put him in the PCA in the past so when they got heads up, a deal was quickly struck between the two friends with Harder going on to take home the extra $10K and the first (and last) PSC Bahamas trophy. Maria Lampropulos First Woman Winner of PCA Argentina’s Maria Lampropulos made PCA history in 2018 by becoming the first-ever female to capture a PCA Main Event title. She overcame a 2:1 heads up chip deficit to defeat Canadian crusher Shawn Buchanan and take home the $1,081,100 first-place prize, her second seven-figure score in under 12 months. The Main Event final table was not only notable for who won the title but how she won it. Lampropulos was quite visibly extremely sick throughout the final day, having fits of coughing and seemingly struggling to stay focused. This also led to her taking a long time on many decisions, which prompted other players to call the clock on her on a number of occasions. In the end, she fought through the sickness, made the right decision and won some crucial flips to become the first (and now last) female PCA champion. The PSPC Breaks Records In 2019 PokerStars has a plan to revitalize the PCA and that was by hosting the largest ever $25,000 buy-in tournament - the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Player Championship. The PSPC was the culmination of a year-long marketing campaign. One that doled out over 320 Platinum Passes, a ticket worth $30,000 that allowed players from all over the world to live their dream of playing in a tournament with life-changing money on the line. When the event got underway, the tournament room was electric with players of every skill level giddy with excitement over such a special event. The tournament exceeded all expectations with 1,039 players registering for the event creating a prize pool of $26,455,500. In fairytale fashion, Platinum Pass winner Ramon Colillas from Spain ended up as the winner and took home the massive $5.1 million first-place prize.
  20. Poker Central has acquired the brand and assets for High Stakes Poker, the company announced on Tuesday, and will begin streaming episodes of the show on the PokerGO platform in the coming months. Additionally, Poker Central is said to have future plans for the series, including new episodes. "High Stakes Poker was a remarkable poker program," said Sampson Simmons, president of Poker Central. "With star players, massive pots, and memorable moments, the show beautifully conveys the drama of cash game poker. Bringing the existing episodes of High Stakes Poker to our platform and producing more in the future will enable us to recapture the nostalgia and magic of the show for our PokerGO subscribers in the present-day poker climate." [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="GG Poker"][ptable zone="Party Poker NJ"] High Stakes Poker took place from 2006-2011 and included seven seasons of high-stakes, cash game action during the height of the poker boom. Over its many seasons, the show was hosted by Gabe Kaplan, AJ Benza, Kara Scott, and Norm Macdonald, with Kaplan and Benza hosting together through the show’s first five seasons. The show’s success was propelled by the astronomical stakes of poker that were being played by superstar poker players and celebrities, oftentimes sitting behind huge bricks of cash and mounds of large denomination chips that became staples of the show. Notable players to appear on High Stakes Poker were Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, Sammy Farha, Phil Galfond, and Barry Greenstein. Brunson, Negreanu, Esfandiari, and Greenstein appeared in all seven seasons of the show. If you don't already have a subscription to PokerGO and are interested in watching High Stakes Poker, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. Minimum buy-ins for High Stakes Poker ranged from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the season, and plenty of episodes featured millions of dollars at stake. During Season 4 of High Stakes Poker, poker pro David Benyamine went at it with celebrity businessman Guy Laliberte to create the largest pot in the show’s history, only it came with a plot twist. Largest Pot in High Stakes Poker History In a game with $300-$600 blinds and a $1,200 straddle, Farha started the action with a raise to $4,200 from under the gun with the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="3s"]. Benyamine made the call with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8c"] and Laliberte called from the big blind with the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="5d"]. The flop was [poker card="Kc"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3d"]. Farha picked up bottom pair, but it was the top two pair for Laliberte and nut flush draw for Benyamine that really made this hand explode. On the flop, Laliberte checked, Farha bet $13,000, and Benyamine raised to $43,000. Laliberte reraised and made it $168,000 to go. Farha folded and Benyamine, behind bricks of cash, stood up, contemplated the decision, and then moved all in for $600,000. Laliberte turned his hand over and thought about the decision before making the call. Laliberte first said to run it once but then the two players went back and forth on what to do. Laliberte had said that the money doesn’t matter to him and would do what Benyamine wanted. Laliberte eventually offered to just take the pot before Benyamine’s all-in raise, which Benyamine agreed to. High Stakes Poker also helped young guns such as Tom Dwan get immense exposure. Of course, it also helps when you play $919,600 pots against one of the game’s greats on television. Although the hand between Laliberte and Benyamine created the largest pot in High Stakes Poker history, the hand ultimately finished with a much cheaper result. The hand Dwan played against Greenstein in Season 5 was played to the fullest for more than $900,000 and it had a single winner. Playing $500-$1,000 blinds, Peter Eastgate raised to $3,500 with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Kh"] and Greenstein reraised to $15,000 with the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ac"] on the button. Dwan was next and made the call from the small blind with the [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Qs"]. Eastgate also called and the flop came down [poker card="Qh"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"]. Dwan fired $28,700, Eastgate folded, and Greenstein raised to $100,000. Dwan made it $244,600 to go and Greenstein moved all in for what was effectively $436,100 total. Dwan called and the pot ballooned to $919,600. Like the Laliberte and Benyamine hand, the question of how many times to run the board out came up. Greenstein said he wanted to run it once but asked if they wanted to take a couple hundred thousand back. Dwan declined and they were off to the races. The turn was the [poker card="Qc"] to vault Dwan into the lead with trip queens. The river completed the board with the [poker card="7d"] and Dwan was the winner of the biggest hand in High Stakes Poker history.

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