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  1. When most poker fans see their favorite player taking first prize and winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in a tournament, they don't realize the difficulties pros endure when they aren't deep in the money. Recently, CalvinAyre chatted with two-time Italian WSOP bracelet winner Max Pescatori (pictured) about how he has remained successful as a tournament pro and whether the competition has evolved to the point of making the game unbeatable. For Pescatori, the key to success in today's environment has been to diversify his skill set and learn games that haven't yet become as popular as Hold'em. "I love to play any game," he said. "To me, real poker is just getting together and playing a choice of 25 different games. Classic dealer's choice is the best game to play live; I can play that for hours and hours." The ability to beat more obscure games has become increasingly important as Texas Hold'em strategy becomes more studied and refined. "Hold'em cash games are not unbeatable, of course, but it's definitely getting much more difficult," he admitted. "The players that were playing really high are playing lower because they found those games difficult. The fish keep disappearing." Pescatori's natural inclination to mix up his play has served him well. In fact, he doesn't enjoy playing strictly Hold'em at all. "Hold'em I find boring, aside from Hold'em tournaments, which are a rush because they play differently at every level," he said. Pescatori got his start in 1999 playing Limit Hold'em before making the switch to Omaha Hi-Lo and Mixed Games like Stud Hi-Lo and Razz. "Later, I decided to play some tournaments and supplement my income with cash games and it worked out well for me." In his long career, he has taken home two WSOP bracelets along with two Circuit rings and banked over $3 million in live tournament winnings, according to the Global Poker Index. But, as all tournament pros know, it hasn't all been a walk in the park. Even when the poker boom was at its peak, Pescatori said that making money in tournaments was never guaranteed. "[Playing tournaments] is the hardest thing you can do. You can play well all the time, but at some point you're going to have a problem," he said. "I wouldn't recommend trying to be a professional by just playing tournaments and that's it. You have to be good at cash and use tournaments as a fun thing and not your primary income." In cash games, "four out of ten players are going to walk out of that game a winner… sometimes seven if you have some rich businessmen who are not that good but like to play," he said. "But in tournaments, we can have four or five guys who are bad players, but your five professionals are fighting for one prize. So, if 30% of the prize pool goes to one out of 300 people, then the variance is huge." What's more, the Italian says that when a tournament player makes a big score, they might not always make the soundest financial decisions while holding a huge pile of cash. "When you win $50K to $100K, players make expensive purchases like buying a new car; that's not the way to be a professional poker player unless you have sponsorships," he said. Recently, Filippo Candio (pictured), another Italian tournament player and fourth place finisher in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, announced his retirement from the game. Amid persistent and reportedly false rumors that he had committed tax fraud, he decided to withdraw from poker. "The PPT of Campione d'Italia after my birthday is very probably the last that I'll play," he posted on his Facebook page. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. Brian Hastings(pictured), known on PocketFives as Stinger885, won his second career World Series of Poker bracelet on Saturday night in a $10,000 Seven Card Stud event. His reward was $239,000, which came after outlasting a rock solid final table in which the top three finishers were all members of the PocketFives community. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- The longtime nosebleed-stakes online poker player told WSOP officials when all was said and done, "This tournament is more meaningful because it's what a lot of the older, more established players played for many years. Anytime you win, it feels good… I felt really good coming into this year's series. I came in with some high expectations. I thought I was in a very good place, with my girlfriend here with me and really on top of my A-game." Seven years ago, Hastings posted online that he was "totally lost" at Stud and was looking for books to help him learn the game. Now, he's won the most prestigious Stud tournament around. At the start of the 2015 WSOP, Hastings was quite active on Twitter making bets with other members of the poker world. WSOP officials said, in fact, that he made some "substantial wagers" that apparently mean over $400,000 is coming his way: "It's about twice what the top prize money was for this event," he said. "But I won't say who it was with." He offered 3.3-to-1 to win a bracelet. Hastings now has over $1.1 million in WSOP winnings and recorded his fifth cash in Las Vegas this year. The 26-year-old's other bracelet came in 2012 in the Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em Championship and was worth $371,000. He now has 14 WSOP cashes and seven final tables. Second place went to PocketFiver Scott BigRiskky Clements (pictured), who recorded his second final table at this year's WSOP. Clements made his 40th career WSOP cash, his first in Seven Card Stud. He already owns two Omaha bracelets. Dan djk123Kelly took third place in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud event. Like Clements, Kelly has two WSOP bracelets, including a mammoth $1.1 million hit in 2010 for winning a $25,000 No Limit Hold'em Six-Max event. He used to be a staple of the PocketFives Rankings and was ranked #1 as recently as 2009. Here's how the final table cashed out: 1. Brian Stinger885Hastings - $239,518 2. Scott BigRiskkyClements - $148,001 3. Dan djk123Kelly - $92,691 4. Chris George - $67,114 5. Oxana Cummings - $52,453 6. Harley Thrower - $41,829 7. Mikhail Semin - $33,967 8. Max Pescatori - $28,031 Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  3. Eleven players remain in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Owning a healthy lead is PocketFiver Stephen stevie444 Chidwick (pictured), who will return to Sunday's finale with a stack of 808,000 in chips, 250,000 more than the next closest person. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- This will be Chidwick's third cash of the 2015 WSOP. He finished seventh in the $10,000 Razz Championship has $1.3 million in career WSOP winnings. He owns $4.3 million in online MTT winnings to boot, including a pair of scores of over $100,000. Speaking of Razz, Max Pescatori is in second place in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship with 549,000 in chips and is fresh off winning a bracelet in a $1,500 Razz event a few weeks back. He has two top-ten finishes this year in Las Vegas and could become the second person to win multiple 2015 WSOP bracelets, joining Brian Stinger885 Hastings. Daniel Negreanu (pictured) is still alive in this event as well and has a stack of 252,000 entering Sunday's restart. Negreanu already has six WSOP bracelets, the most recent of which came in Europe in 2013. He has an amazing $14.6 million in career WSOP winnings and one Circuit ring in his only Circuit cash. Negreanu is #2 on the WPT's all-time money list at $5.7 million. Yuval yuvee04Bronshtein has the tenth largest stack at 130,000. He Tweeted on Saturday, "On to Day 3 in @WSOP $10k Stud Hi/Lo Championship! I'm in 10th out of the remaining 11 players, but anything can happen tomorrow!" He has one Circuit ring, which he earned earlier this year in New Orleans. Bronshtein won two FTOPS events in one night in 2008. When play paused for the night, the limits were 10,000-20,000 with a bring-in of 3,000 and an ante of 2,000. Here's how the field looks: 1. Stephen stevie444Chidwick - 808,000 2. Max Pescatori - 549,000 3. Gary Benson - 421,000 4. Alan Ledford - 267,000 5. Daniel Negreanu - 252,000 6. Thomas Butzhammer - 250,000 7. Aleksandr Denisov - 242,000 8. Phillip KungPhui Hui - 190,000 9. Yehuda Buchalter - 130,000 10. Yuval yuvee04Bronshtein - 130,000 11. Richard Sklar - 100,000 Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  4. Eight players remain in the World Series of Poker's $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship, including three brand name members of the online poker community. Brian Stinger885 Hastings (pictured), a longtime fixture of the poker and daily fantasy sports worlds, leads the way with a stack of 770,000. Hastings was a top-five chip leader after Day 1 and has already cashed in three WSOP events this year. --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- In order to score his first WSOP win, Hastings must outlast three bracelet winners: Max Pescatori (three bracelets, sixth place), Scott BigRiskkyClements (two bracelets, fourth place), and Dan djk123 Kelly (pictured, two bracelets, seventh place). Clements and Pescatori have already made final tables at the 2015 WSOP. Kelly has $2.2 million in career WSOP winnings across 30 cashes. Hastings has a lot on the line in addition to the bracelet, as WSOP coverage explained, "He is currently ranked #23 in the 2015 WSOP Player of the Year standings and is guaranteed at least another 245.15 points for eighth place, which would put him in the top 10 on the POY leaderboard." Here's how the final eight will stack up when play resumes at 2pm Pacific Time on Saturday: 1. Brian Stinger885Hastings - 770,000 2. John Thrower - 426,000 3. Mikhail Semin - 399,000 4. Scott BigRiskkyClements - 384,000 5. Chris George - 251,000 6. Max Pescatori - 207,000 7. Dan djk123Kelly - 172,000 8. Oxana Cummings - 128,000 Hastings Tweeted after Friday's play had ended, "Bagged either 769k or 770k depending on whether I win the chip race. Probably 770k #yupiwonit #bracelethunting #WSOP27 Restart 2pm." He scored a double knockout to surge into the lead when 16 remained and said, "237k got a double KO! 17 left 16 pay avg 160k #pain." Pain indeed. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, brought to you by Tournament Poker Edge. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. [caption width="640"] Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson are the Poker Hall of Fame Class of 2016 (WPT photos)[/caption] The Poker Hall of Fame officially has two more members as Carlos Mortensen and Todd Brunson were announced as the Poker HOF Class of 2016 on Thursday morning. The two were chosen by the voting panel consisting of living members of the Poker Hall of Fame and select media members. WSOP officials, who oversee the PHOF, called the 2016 voting process the closest in years. Mortensen and Brunson will be officially inducted on October 26 at a ceremony at Binion's Gambling Hall in Downtown Las Vegas. Mortensen is the only player in history to have won the World Series of Poker Main Event and the World Poker Tour World Championship and is also the leading money winner in WPT history, having won $6,738,670. In 2001, Mortensen topped a 613-player field, and a final table that included Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, and runner-up Dewey Tomko, to capture the WSOP Main Event for the first major win of his career. Two years later he captured his second WSOP bracelet in a $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. Mortensen is also one of only three players to have won three WPT titles. His first came in 2004 when he won the inaugural Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In 2007 he won the WPT World Championship at Bellagio for $3,970,415 - the largest single score of his career. He then won the Hollywood Poker Open in 2010 for his third WPT title. "I have been playing poker professionally for more than 20 years,” said Mortensen. “This game has given me so many things that I have come to cherish. I've always wanted to be included among the great players who make up the Poker Hall of Fame. To be included with the legends makes me very happy. I want to thank my friends, the poker fans, and all the people who vote for me. I take this honor very seriously." Mortensen is the first European-born player to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. While Mortensen has been the model of success for tournament players of his era, Brunson has found the most success at the highest stakes cash games available. The son of poker legend Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson was a key figure in the heads-up limit hold'em matches against Texas billionaire banker Andy Beal in 2004 and 2006. In 2015 he reportedly won $5 million from Beal in 2015 inside Bobby's Room at Bellagio. Brunson has had some tournament success over the course of his career. He won his only WSOP bracelet in 2005, beating 358 other players to win a $2,500 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo event. He's had two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes in WSOP events over the course of his career. His lifetime tournament earnings of $4,291,671 put him 69th on the all-time list. "It's a true honor to be inducted by my peers into this prestigious institution,” said Brunson. “I literally grew up attending these ceremonies and have always respected and admired its members. To join their ranks is the honor of a lifetime. Todd and Doyle Brunson are the only father-son combination in the Poker Hall of Fame. The eight nominees that were not inducted this year, Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Eli Elezra, Bruno Fitoussi, Chris Moneymaker, Max Pescatori, Matt Savage and David Ulliott are eligible for nomination in 2017 and beyond.
  6. [caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is one of 10 nominees for the Poker Hall of Fame (PokerStars photo)[/caption] The list of players eligible for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2016 include two former WSOP Main Event champions, a highly respected tournament director, five players with strong ties to the success of poker in their home country and the son of a current Hall of Famer who has dominated cash games in Las Vegas for the better part of the last 15 years. The World Series of Poker, which oversees the Poker Hall of Fame, announced the list of 10 nominees for the Class of 2016 on Friday and the biggest name on the list might just be 2003 WSOP Main Event winnerChris Moneymaker. The one-time "accountant from Tennessee" is largely credited with helping ignite the poker boom following his Cinderella story win in 2003 after qualifying online. Moneymaker, who turned 40 earlier this year to become HOF eligible, is one of three new names on the list this year. Todd Brunson and Eli Elezra, who both play high stakes cash games in Las Vegas, were also nominated for the first time. Brunson, son of Doyle Brunson, has one WSOP bracelet to his credit while Elezra has three. The rest of the nominees have all been nominated before but none more so than Swedish poker pro and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Chris Bjorin who has been nominated every year since 2012. Carlos Mortensen, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2001 and WPT World Championship in 2007, is nominated for the third time after failing to be inducted in 2013 and 2015. David 'Devilfish' Ulliott, who passed away in April 2015, and Max Pescatori were nominated for the first time in 2015 while Bruno Fitoussi has now been nominated in three straight years. Costa Rica's Humberto Brenes rounds out the nine players nominated for induction this year. The only nominee who is not a player is WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. Savage, who co-founded the Poker Tournament Director's Association, is one of the most highly respected tournament directors in the world. He was first nominated in 2015 and is hoping to become the second tournament director inducted into the HOF joining 2014 inductee Jack McLelland. The list of 10 nominees will be sent to 45 voters, comprised of 25 living Poker Hall of Fame members and 20 members of the media, for consideration. Voters will consider the following criteria when voting: A player must have played poker against acknowledged top competition Be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination Played for high stakes Played consistently well, gaining the respect of peers Stood the test of time For non-players: contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. Voters have until October 7 to submit their ballot and the two nominees receiving the most votes from the 45 voters will be inducted on Wednesday, October 26 at Binion's in Downtown Las Vegas.
  7. 2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. #50 - Eli Elezra BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 59 $1,882,898 20 When Eli Elezra picked up his first WSOP cash in 1999, nobody knew that it would lead to a career that included 58 more cashes and three gold bracelets. Elezra's first bracelet win came in 2007 when he beat Scotty Nguyen heads up to win the $3,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo title. He defeated another Poker Hall of Famer to win his second bracelet, outlasting Daniel Negreanu in the $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw event in 2013. He won his third bracelet in 2015, taking down the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event. Of his 59 cashes, 14 are in $10,000 Championship events, including three WSOP Main Event cashes. #49 - Mickey Appleman BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 48 $1,188,108 25 Mickey Appleman's four WSOP bracelets span 23 years. After playing his first WSOP in 1975, Appleman won the first bracelet in 1980 in a $1,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event. His other wins came in 1992 ($5,000 No Limit 2-7), 1995 ($5,000 Limit Hold'em), and 2003 ($2,500 Pot Limit Hold'em). In 1987 and 2000, Appleman made the final table of the WSOP Main Event, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. He has three other Main Event cashes (1989, 1990, 2011). #48 - Amarillo Slim Preston BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 12 $437,265 4 'Amarillo Slim' took poker to the mainstream after winning the 1972 WSOP Main Event. As much as he seemed to revel in the spotlight provided by The Tonight Show and 60 Minutes, Preston continued to prove his mettle at the table as well. Along with the 1972 win, he earned bracelets in 1974 ($1,000 No Limit Hold'em), 1985 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha w/rebuys), and 1990 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha). #47 - Max Pescatori BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 73 $2,527,086 18 In the 15 years that Italy's Max Pescatori has been coming to the WSOP, he's amassed 73 cashes and his four bracelet wins have come in four different games. He won a $2,500 No Limit Hold'em event in 2006, a $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha/Hold'em event in 2008 and then won the $1,500 Razz and $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship events in 2015. #46 - Vanessa Selbst BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 29 $2,201,877 11 It took Vanessa Selbst just nine years to go from respected online poker grinder to three-time WSOP bracelet winner. In 2008, she won a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for her first bracelet. She followed that up by winning a $2,500 10-Game Mixed bracelet two years later. Her third bracelet came in a $25,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold'em event in 2014. "Vanessa Selbst is one of the most important players in the modern WSOP era, and it's a shame we may not get to realize the extent of what her dominance could have been as she's moved on from playing poker full time. Her résumé speaks for itself, and if she were to ever return to playing a full WSOP schedule, she'd easily be one of the top contenders to win WSOP Player of the Year." - PocketFives Managing Editor, Donnie Peters. #45 - John Racener BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 1 71 $7,948,710 19 John Racener might be most famous for his runner-up finish in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, but he's also picked up 70 other cashes covering nearly every game offered by the WSOP. Proving his mixed game abilities, Racener's sole WSOP bracelet came in the $10,000 Dealer's Choice event in 2017. He's finished seventh and 11th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and has eight cashes in $10,000 Championship events. “Some may just remember John Racener from his final table appearance at the November Nine, with his front row seat to one of the wildest hands that ever took place during the WSOP between Jonathan Duhamel and Joseph Cheong. However, he’s been a cashing beast year-in and year-out during the series since 2007. He won a bracelet in the difficult field of the 2017 $10K Dealer’s Choice and he’s racked up a total of 68 cashes during the summer series and another six in Europe.” - PocketFives Senior Writer, Jeff Walsh. #44 - John Monnette BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 67 $2,341,395 21 More than two-thirds of John Monnette's WSOP cashes have come in games other than No Limit Hold'em. As a further testament to his diversity, Monnette's three gold bracelets came in $2,500 Eight Game Mix (2008), $5,000 Seven Card Stud (2012), and $10,000 No Limit 2-7 (2017). His 21 top 10 finishes include three runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes. "The only thing keeping John Monnette from more WSP success is the high-stakes cash game scene during the summer in Vegas, because he is as good as they come when it comes to mixed events. Although we always focus on bracelets, Monnette is a great example of how we should look a little deeper. He has three finishes in second place and four in third place. It takes an incredible amount of skill to consistently reach the top three in gold bracelet events, and Monnette is there what seems like every single year." - Donnie Peters. #43 - Paul Volpe BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 47 $3,567,941 14 Paul Volpe, a former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, has won three WSOP bracelets while also picking up 20 cashes in $10,000 Championship events. On top of that, he's finished sixth and 11th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Volpe has also put together three deep runs in the Main Event, finishing 20th (2012), 29th (2016), and 142nd (2018). "The early days of the WSOP were all about the best going against the best. Paul Volpe's success comes in a very different era, but it's all come in events where he's up against the elite poker players in multiple variants. He's a throwback in many ways. The fact he's able to crush the $10K Championship events with consistency is a testament to just how talented Volpe is to his craft." PocketFives Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley. #42 - Robert Mizrachi BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 63 $3,096,947 19 Robert Mizrachi won his first bracelet in 2007, beating 312 other players in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship event before picking up a bracelet each year between 2014 and 2016. His four wins came in four different variations: Pot Limit Omaha, Dealer's Choice, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Hi-Lo. He's cashed three times in both the $50,000 Players Championship and the Main Event. #41 - Dewey Tomko BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 45 $2,674,848 29 Dewey Tomko won three bracelets, including two in 1984, but might most famously be remembered for being one of four players in WSOP history to finish runner-up in the Main Event twice. In 1982, Tomko came second to Jack Strauss, and then 19 years later, ended up one spot behind Carlos Mortensen. Tomko's three bracelets are in a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event (1979), $10,000 No Limit 2-7 (1984), and $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha w/rebuys (1984). For more discussion on PocketFives' Top 50 Greatest Players in WSOP History, check out the latest episode of The Fives podcast. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher Stay tuned to PocketFives as we continue to count down the 50 greatest players in WSOP history leading up to the start of the 2019 festival.

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