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  1. When PokerStars first announced the creation of the PokerStars Players Championship and began giving away the coveted Platinum Passes, it was unclear how the Americans would be included. With PokerStars only real U.S. presence in New Jersey, it looked like there may be limited opportunities for U.S. based players to win their way into what will very likely be the largest $25K buy-in tournament of all time. However, after plenty of creative ways to include the U.S. player base, including the popular Moneymaker PSPC tour, PokerStars has now accumulated quite a number of Americans with Platinum Passes in hand. The PCA’s Team USA consists of recreational players, grinders, top-tier pros and even a few celebrities. Some of poker’s more notable names found their way to receiving a platinum pass. Super high roller David Peters was one of the first to win his way in when he picked up his pass through a random draw at the 2018 PCA. Other well-known poker names from the U.S. include vlogger Andrew Neeme, the First Lady of Poker Linda Johnson, author turned poker pro Maria Konnikova and poker's minister of information Kevin Mathers. Longtime pro Kenny Tran won one through the Moneymaker PSPC Tour in Los Angeles. Luke Vrabel picked one up at Foxwoods and Joey Ingram’s pass was part of a feel-good PokerStars promotion. So, while those players will garner plenty of attention there are plenty of other players on Team USA that have the potential to make some noise at the PSPC. New Jersey’s Anthony ’tonydatiger’ Maio has spent some time in the spotlight, having made the final table of a World Poker Tour Borgata event on more than one occasion. In the midst of a red-hot 2018, Maio closed out the year by picking up his Platinum Pass during NJCOOP. Maio’s online prowess was never in doubt. With $3.4 million in online earnings, he’s one of NJ’s most prolific grinders. A strong showing in the PSPC could really take his career to the next level. A deep run could push him up over the $1 million in live career earnings mark. Thai 'thaiha91' Ha may have lucked out to win his Platinum Pass, but he certainly hasn’t luckboxed his way to over $900,000 in live earnings. At the PCA in 2018, one of the first passes was determined by an all-in flip at a random table. Everyone at the table was seated, except for Ha. Running just a bit late, Ha got to the table just in time to see his seat win the pass on the river. Since picking up his pass, Ha has spent the better part of 2018 playing a ton of poker. He finished in second place in the Big Stax 1500 for over $78,000. He also had a final table finish this summer at the Planet Hollywood 2018 Goliath $2,200 Main Event for over $75,000. Perhaps the player on Team USA who fought the hardest for their pass was Brookyln’s Nathan Manuel. Dedicated to winning his way into the PSPC, Manuel took shots whenever he could. He flew to London to compete, followed the Moneymaker PSPC tour in the U.S. and even tried to learn a new language in order to win a pass. In the end, he defeated a field of 825 players in October’s Run It Up Reno event to book his trip to the Bahamas. Manuel has a live earnings total of roughly $170,000 and he is no stranger to traveling to play poker. In addition to his globetrotting for the Platinum Pass, Manuel has recorded cashes in the UK, Bahamas, Canada, and Australia - where he picked up a career-high cash of over $33,000 at the Aussie Millions. One member of Team USA that everyone will be keeping close tabs on is Jeremy Hilsercop. Hlisercop’s heartwarming story of a gift to the WSOP which turned into a trip to the Bahamas was the talk of poker community during the holiday season. What was once just a dream is turning into a reality for the man who’s largest tournament buy-in to date is $170. He and his wife Randi will be hoping to turn this Christmas gift into a life-changing sum of money. In addition to the 28 players that picked up a pass through a victory or promotion. PokerStars has handed out a number of passes to U.S. based celebrities. UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, NBA great Paul Pierce, comedians Norm MacDonald and Clayton Fletcher, reality star Tyson Apostle and legendary skater Tony Hawk will all be in attendance. Keep tabs on the entire slate of U.S. based players when PSPC play gets underway on January 6. PokerStars PSPC Team USA PLAYERS Jacqueline Burkhart Andrew Canfield Tenzin Chakdor Tom Chiarella Clifford Ellefson Damon Ferrante Thai Ha Jeremy Hilsercop Joey Ingram (not on the website) Linda Johnson Matt Keifer Maria Konnikova Derik Li Anthony Maio Nathan Manuel Kevin Mathers Ronald Mici Jahngir (John) Mokhtari Andrew Neeme Michael Page David Peters Andres (Andy) Risquez Kenny Tran Nitis Udornpim Luke Vrabel Brandon Welter Arthur White Alice Zheng Tyson Apostol Bruce Buffer Clayton Fletcher Tony Hawk Norm Macdonald Paul Pierce
  2. Just like every other year going back to 2004, a fresh start to poker's yearly tournament calendar kicks off with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. This year brings a heightened level of excitement with the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship headlining the event in what is lining up to be a record-setting PCA. Speaking of records, in anticipation of the 2019 PCA festival, PocketFives went looking through the poker history books at HendonMob to find the biggest winners in history from PCA. Here’s what was found. Thanks to a gigantic $3 million payday in 2009, Poorya Nazari holds the record for the largest first-place prize at PCA. He won the 2009 PCA Main Event from a field of 1,347 entries to claim that prize. Three other times in history has the PCA Main Event winner taken home at least $2 million. In 2008, Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier took home $2 million, Harrison Gimbel won $2.2 million in 2010, and in 2011 it was Galen Hall scoring $2.3 million. But, none of those players is the top all-time money earner from PCA. That title currently belongs to Bryn Kenney, and it doesn’t appear that Kenney is going to be caught anytime soon. Top 25 PCA All-Time Money List PLAYER EARNINGS 1 Bryn Kenney $6,245,111 2 Steve O'Dwyer $3,800,542 3 Tony Gregg $3,096,596 4 Poorya Nazari $3,000,000 5 Scott Seiver $2,970,620 6 Galen Hall $2,877,080 7 Vanessa Selbst $2,824,640 8 Isaac Haxton $2,583,616 9 Jason Koon $2,555,555 10 Daniel Negreanu $2,521,490 11 Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier $2,484,120 12 Harrison Gimbel $2,329,220 13 Dan Shak $2,278,140 14 Cary Katz $2,257,420 15 Byron Kaverman $2,213,355 16 Mustapha Kanit $2,020,200 17 Justin Bonomo $1,991,372 18 Dimitar Danchev $1,985,000 19 John Dibella $1,955,300 20 Ty Reiman $1,937,770 21 Chris Oliver $1,834,160 22 Eugene Katchalov $1,763,220 23 Will Molson $1,750,735 24 Daniel Dvoress $1,607,302 25 Nick Petrangelo $1,581,665 As you can see, Kenney is worlds ahead of the competition, winning more than $2.4 million more than anyone else on the list. That $2.4 million gap alone is good enough for 12th place on this leaderboard. Kenney's largest score from PCA came in the 2016 Super High Roller, an event with a buy-in of $100,000 that saw him win $1.687 million. The following year, Kenney won a $50,000 and $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em events for $969,075 and $392,876, respectively. He also has a trio of third-place finishes over the years worth $873,880, $686,960, and $643,000. Steve O'Dwyer is the second highest money earner from PCA entering 2019, taking home more than $3.8 million in prize money throughout the years. O'Dwyer's a pretty good chunk of change away from Kenney, and he's also more than $700,000 ahead of Tony Gregg in third place. Knowing some of the performances O'Dwyer has put together over the years combined with what's on the schedule for 2019 doesn't make it out of the realm of possibilities that he can catch Kenney in 2019. O'Dwyer has one win in a $100,000 buy-in event and two wins from $50,000 buy-in events at PCA for $1.872 million, $945,495, and $760,500, respectively. The 2019 schedule features the $25,000 buy-in PSPC, three additional $25,000 buy-in tournaments, one $50,000 buy-in event, and two $100,000 tournaments, there certainly won’t be a lack of opportunities for O'Dwyer to win a ton of money in the Bahamas this January. That's not to mention the PCA $10,300 Main Event as well. Looking at the rest of the list for players we could see make big moves on the leaderboard after 2019, Isaac Haxton, Jason Koon, and Daniel Negreanu are a few of the ones to watch, given their appetite for and success in high buy-in tournaments coupled with the robust schedule to suit their palate. Negreanu's largest score out of PCA came in 2011 when he finished second to Eugene Katchalov in the event’s inaugural $100,000 Super High Roller. Negreanu earned a cool $1 million for that result. He followed that finish up by returning to the final table of the event in 2012, when he took fifth for $250,900. In 2018, he took fourth in the same event for $521,140. Another big score Negreanu had from PCA came in the 2017 PCA $25,000 High Roller. In that one, he took fifth for $268,780. Byron Kaverman and Justin Bonomo are also ones from this top 25 list to keep an eye on. For players not currently in the top 25, don't be surprised if you see Mikita Badziakouski, Alex Foxen, Stephen Chidwick, or David Peters take home a ship full of money from the Bahamas and find themselves listed on the updated list of top 25 winners from PCA when the 2019 version is all said and done. Action from the Bahamas kicks off Sunday, January 6, 2019, with the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship from Atlantis Resort & Casino. PovketFives will be on site all the way through until the event's final day on January 16, so stay tuned for more coverage from the 2019 PCA poker series.
  3. On Saturday, Brazilian 'n1ceFTW' topped a 393-player field in partypoker POWERFEST Event #30 High ($215 Deep, Six Max) to win a little more than $15,000. Late Monday night, he moved up a buy-in level and worked his way to the winner's circle yet again. 'n1ceFTW' won Event #42 High Roller ($1,050 PKO, Eight Max) by beating out 205 other players. The win was worth $16,605.86 as well as $28,644.69 in bounties. Runner-up 'Tartaruga13' earned $16,585.22 and $2,193.75 in bounties while third place finisher 'megustaestrecha' pocketed $11,829.92 and $5,118.75 in bounties. Austria's 'DuckPork' topped the 257 entries in Event #41 High Roller ($530 Deep, Mix Max) to win $30,197.53 and the POWERFEST title. Maszat 'Grunwalsk1' Marci, who won a POWERFEST title last week, finished second for $19,917.50 with 'niv2222' picking up $14,160.44 for third place. The final High Roller event on Monday's schedule went to 'Mitrandir88'. Outlasting 198 other players earned the Malta-based grinder $9,119.70 and an additional $14,761.69 in bounties. 'MAM0HT_T' walked away with $9,109.69 and $3,359.18 in bounties for finishing second while 'Ciao_Polacco' banked $6,408.75 and $3,494.54 in bounties for rounding out the podium finishers in third. Event #41 High Roller ($530 Deep, Mix Max) 257 entries, $128,500 prize pool DuckPork - $30,197.53 Grunwalsk1 - $19,917.50 niv2222 - $14,160.44 Dork Pork - $10,344.25 spera9k1 - $7,710 HellmuthTheGr8 - $5,140 Event #41 High ($109 Deep, Mix Max) 797 entries, $79,700 prize pool FasterThanU21 - $13,549.11 Son0fDevil - $9,981.78 WGretzky_9999 - $7,571.50 Papidiceglie - $5,180.50 fette_pro - $3,586.50 sanguenuzoio - $2,391 Event #42 High Roller ($1,050 PKO, Eight Max) 206 entries, $210,120 prize pool n1ceFTW - $16,605.86 + $28,644.69 in bounties Tartaruga13 - $16,585.22 + $2,193.75 in bounties megustaestrecha - $11,829.92 + $5,118.75 in bounties Isildur1 - $8,746.29 + $3,375.94 in bounties x_zola25 - $6,167.25 + $3,867.50 in bounties RovoDice - $4,709.54 + $4,355 in bounties SchelampigaUhu - $3,476.09 + $2,827.50 in bounties FoldDigger - $2,579.03 + $1,820 in bounties Event #42 High ($320 PKO, Eight Max) 590 entries, $181,720 prize pool crazy6464 - $12,785.85 + $14,570.03 in bounties SleeepWalker13 - $12,768.11 + $4,519.67 in bounties SouhftfW - $8,664.16 + $2,272.49 in bounties MyRow - $5,964.53 + $5,088.03 in bounties G_Parensov - $4,171.27 + $2,876.09 in bounties Iafocafabla - $3,030.99 + $1,846.63 in bounties rodrigovalente - $2,183.09 + $2,276.18 in bounties bdhs. - $1,549.60 + $2,569.97 in bounties Event #43 High ($109 Deep, Turbo, Eight Max) 357 entries, $37,128 prize pool DrErnst333 - $7,203.04 its__showtime - $5,197.92 pAtcAsh83 - $3,601.41 BanicIvan - $2,580.39 DedoDeGorila - $1,837.83 mankkkk - $1,362.59 NIVONA-RUSSIA - $946.76 XINBAMA - $690.58 Event #44 High Roller ($530 PKO, Fast, Six Max) 199 entries, $101,987.50 prize pool Mitrandir88 - $9,119.70 + $14,761.69 in bounties MAM0HT_T - $9,109.69 + $3,359.18 in bounties Ciao_Polacco - $6,408.75 + $3,494.54 in bounties BuyThaPot - $4,642.78 + $853.12 in bounties A23456789 - $3,418 + $1,214.05 in bounties brooooooooooo - $2,278.66 + $1,410.92 in bounties Event #44 High ($109 PKO, Fast, Six Max) 620 entries, $64,480 prize pool BowserPT - $4,351.28 + $5,454.50 in bounties Loewe80 - $4,345.02 + $1,135.69 in bounties jayser1337 - $3,268.58 + $1,378.27 in bounties NoDealBby - $2,341.29 + $653.90 in bounties bungalowbill17 - $1,638.90 + $701.16 in bounties SlotsPro - $1,003.41 + $676.68 in bounties

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