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  1. When the details of the Rich Alati bathroom bet first emerged two weeks ago, many of the armchair quarterbacks at home decided that Alati was going to do serious damage to his mental health or his vision - and potentially both - over the course of the 30-day prop bet. As a reminder, Alati is attempting to spend 30 days in a bathroom in complete darkness with no contact with the outside world. If he makes it, Rory Young has to pay him $100,000, but if for any reason Alati leaves the room, he loses the bet and has to pay Young the $100,000. Even Young admitted to being worried about what the impact of this bet might be on Alati's vision. "I have a bit of concern for his eyesight, but we're taking all of the necessary conditions," Young said. The actual contract that Alati and Young signed to make the bet official even protects Young from any legal action if Alati suffers "blindness, diminished vision, loss of any eye function" as a result of the 30 days. It turns out, he may not have anything to worry about. "There's really no risk to his eyes. The eye is a really, really interesting organ, and it has both light-adapted and dark-adapted states, and it can function perfectly fine in either state," said Dianna Seldomridge, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and an ophthalmologist at Duke (University) Eye Center in North Carolina. Spending up to 30 days in that dark-adapted state may not have any negative impact on his eyes, but Seldomridge believes that Alati's circadian rhythm could be in for a rough ride as it's actually regulated by the release of melatonin that comes from light stimulation of the retina. There's also little reason to believe that when he leaves the room after 30 days that any exposure to light, natural or otherwise, could harm his vision. Seldomridge emphasizes that just like the eyes adjusted to the dark-adapted state, they'll revert back to normal once he returns to the real world. "He may be a little bit light sensitive the first time he comes out into the light, just like you may notice that if you go from a dark room out into the bright sunlight, you may put your hand up to shield your eyes, because you're a little bit more sensitive to the light," said Seldomridge. "But there's no danger to his eye, but he just may be a teeny bit light sensitive as his eyes readjust to going back to the light." One of the items Alati was allowed to take inside the room was a Rubix Cube. Seldomridge believes he'll have a hard time being able to use it, though. The complete absence of light means he won't be able to see any of the colors. Dr. Joel Dvoskin, a clinical and forensic psychologist now teaching at the University of Arizona, is an expert on the impact that solitary confinement has had on prisoners' mental health. While the conditions that Alati is under for the 30 days may seem harsh, Dvoskin believes there's a key factor many people are overlooking. "It probably matters that he chose this, rather than having it done to him," said Dvoskin. "To say that there's a risk of psychological harm, while you can't prove it, I agree with it. But how big that risk is, nobody knows." Having studied and spoken to prisoners who have found themselves in solitary confinement for longer stretches, Dvoskin stresses that there is no standard here for how an individual will deal with that level of isolation. "Some guys in prison don't ever want to leave their cell," Dvoskin said. "They don't want to work. Their meals get delivered. They don't mind solitude. They regard it as their preferred way of doing time, probably because it's safer. Some people hate it. I think the point about you never know how you're going to deal with something until you experience it is probably true." The main issue for Alati could be not knowing how much time has passed. His food deliveries are randomized and he's not allowed any device which tells him the time or date. "Some people have a better internal clock than other people do, so that might matter," said Dvoskin. "For some people, it's like, 'Hey, I got this. I'm 15 days in. This is a piece of cake.' For other people, if the stress is cumulative, it could get worse as time passes." Dvoskin also believes that Alati's chosen career - professional poker player - could play a factor in how he deals with the stress of the bet. "[Poker players] are different than other people," said Dvoskin. "Most people don't choose to do that for a living. If you're a professional gambler, if you're gambling against other professional gamblers, you could lose. The real professional gamblers aren't gambling. They know they're going to win because they're that much better than everybody else. But the people in the World Series of Poker … I'm not an expert in that world by any means, but you have to be able to handle some stress. If you know there is a million dollars riding on the next card that comes up and you have no control whatsoever of what that card's going to be, not everybody would choose to do that." Young and Alati have decided to limit the amount of updates from the bet. For Alati to win the bet, he needs to stay in the room until December 21.
  2. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. On this episode of The Fives, Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters are raving about the turnout for the partypoker MILLIONS Online and get into some of the new details from the bathroom prop bet straight from one of the people involved in the bet, Rory Young. They also discuss whether or not the World Series of Poker will adapt the big blind ante for the 2019 Main Event. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  3. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters are back for another episode of The Fives. This week they discuss the early end of the Rich Alati bathroom prop bet, the record turnout at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio and talk about Dylan Linde's huge win. They also recap all of the action from the European Poker Tour stop in Prague and talk about Dan Smith's Double Up Drive. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  4. November was a big month for attention-grabbing poker headlines. There was a hard-to-believe $100,000 prop bet that generated incredible buzz, the return of a high-profile lawsuit between a WSOP Main Event runner-up and the largest online poker site in the world, and the conclusion of a handful of prominent live poker tournaments that found winners. Here are PocketFives' top five stories from November 2018, plus a look at who won the PocketFives Monthly PLB title. Rory Young Reveals Details of $100K Pitch-Black Bathroom Prop Bet Poker players can be known to make wild prop bets, and that was certainly the case for Rory Young and Rich Alati. The two grabbed more than just poker headlines in November when their $100,000 bathroom prop bet was featured in headlines from several mainstream media outlets. It was one of the craziest prop bets we've ever heard of and will be one that is remembered for years and years to come. The bet was made to see if Alati could live in a pitch-black bathroom with no human contact and no electronics, among several other stipulations, for 30 days straight. Soon after the bet was made and began making its way around the poker world, PocketFives spoke with Young about the details of the bet and how it came to fruition. READ: Rory Young Reveals Details of $100K Pitch Black Bathroom Prop Bet Vayo Dismisses PokerStars Lawsuit; Stars Counters Alleging Forgery Back in May, it was made known that Gordon Vayo, runner-up in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, was suing PokerStars for the winnings the online poker site withheld from him from a 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker tournament that was worth nearly $700,000. That story made headlines everywhere within the poker world, but it made even bigger news in November when a November 12 California court filing revealed that Vayo had voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. What really kicked things up a notch, though, were two things. First that the lawsuit was dropped amid accusations of forgery committed by Vayo. Second, PokerStars was seeking repayment of their attorney fees for nearly $300,000 - quite the tipping of the scales. READ: Vayo Dismisses PokerStars Lawsuit; Stars Counters Alleging Forgery Jack Sinclair Beats Laszlo Bujtas to Win WSOP Europe Main Event A former eighth-place finisher in the WSOP Main Event in 2017 for $1.2 million, Jack Sinclair was back in the World Series of Poker spotlight in November 2018, only this time in Europe. Sinclair made his way to the 2018 WSOP Europe Main Event final table and emerged victorious atop the 534-entry field to win the €1.222 million ($1.277 million) first-place prize. To claim victory, Sinclair had to defeat one of online poker's toughest players in heads-up play, Laszlo 'omaha4rollz' Bujtas. The victory earned Sinclair the largest payday of his poker career and first WSOP gold bracelet. READ: Jack Sinclair Beats Laszlo Bujtas to Win WSOP Europe Main Event Patrick Serda Wins WPT Montreal for C$855,000 The World Poker Tour was in action in Canada in November for the Season XVII WPT Montreal. The event attracted 792 entries, and it was Patrick 'prepprepprep' Serda who came out on top after entering the final table with the chip lead. Serda defeated the first female winner of an open WPT Main Tour event, Ema Zajmovic, in heads-up play to take home the C$855,000 ($652,801) first-place prize, denying Zajmovic her second World Poker Tour title. READ: Patrick Serda Wins WPT Montreal for C$855,000 Big Titles Won at partypoker Caribbean Poker Party in the Bahamas While the WSOP and WPT were busy dishing out titles in colder climates, partypoker LIVE was down in the Bahamas for the much-anticipated partypoker Caribbean Poker Party tournament festival. The series was full of big buy-in events, notables faces capturing huge sums of cash, and nine seven-figure prizes awarded. The first big tournament of the series to find its winner was the $25,500 buy-in partypoker MILLIONS World. The event generated 394 entries and fell just short of its $10 million guarantee, but enormous prizes were still to be had, including the $2 million first-place prize that Roger Teska took home after he defeated Steve O'Dwyer in second place. O'Dwyer scored $1.3 million for the runner-up result, and third-place finisher Charles La Boissonniere also took home seven figures, winning $1 million. READ: Roger Teska Battles Back to Win partypoker MILLIONS World for $2M We then saw a $3.685 million winner come from the partypoker $250,000 Super High Roller Championships event, and it was Steffan Sontheimer earning a new career-best score. The event generated a field size of 34 entries for a prize pool of $8.235 million. Sontheimer beat out Sean Winter in heads-up play, and David Peters finished in third place. Winter and Peters took home $2.43 million and $1.42 million, respectively. READ: Steffan Sontheimer Wins partypoker $250K SHR Championships For $3.68M In the $5,300 buy-in Main Event, another $10 million prize pool guarantee was on the line. The event fell short of the guarantee with just 1,815 entries, but the top three spots still gave out a million dollars or more each. Winning the event was Portugal's Filipe Oliveira, taking home the $1.5 million top prize. Craig Mason finished second for $1.2 million, and Marc MacDonnell took third for $1 million. READ: Filipe Oliveira Wins 2018 partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event Sweden's 'lena900' Wins Another Monthly PLB Title in November Sweden's 'lena900' stayed hot and won another PocketFives Monthly PLB title in November after cashing 191 times for a total of $585,250. It was a dominating performance for 'lena900,' who racked up more than 4,900 points. The closest competitor was 'girafganger7' with a monthly point total of less than 3,900. A couple of the notable November scores for 'lena900' included a third-place finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million on November 25 for $80,555 and 569.39 points and a win in the partypoker Sunday Super High Roller: $100K Gtd on November 18 for $41,480 and 387.30 points. READ: Top-Ranked ‘lena900’ Wins November Monthly PLB Title
  5. Poker's Mid-Major circuits are home to some of poker's brightest up-and-coming stars. Each month, PocketFives breaks down the big winners from the WSOP Circuit, WPT DeepStacks, Heartland Poker Tour, and Mid-States Poker. Viet Vo Conquers Rio Las Vegas WSOP Circuit Main Event The Las Vegas WSOP Circuit events are usually the biggest and arguably the toughest fields of the season. Viet Vo beat out 951 other players to win the first Circuit ring of his career. "It feels good. I’ve been wanting this for a long time. I got second in the Main Event in Chicago three years and a half ago. I got 11th last year in the Main Event at the Bicycle Casino. I bubbled the final table. To finally be able to close it out today, it feels good," Vo said after his win. The victory earned him $274,030 and pushed his career earnings to just shy of $1.7 million. The final table included Jared Jaffee, Cylus Watson, Nick Pupillo and eventual runner-up Sohale Khalili. Ali Imsirovic picked up the first WSOP Circuit ring of his career in the $2,200 High Roller event by beating a final table that included Asher Conniff, Upeshka De Silva, Barry Hutter, and Aaron Massey. Zachary Donovan Wins Second Career WSOPC Ring at Coconut Creek Nearly six years after winning a $365 buy-in WSOP Circuit event at Foxwoods, Zachary Donovan won the $1,700 Main Event at Coconut Creek in Florida to win his second ring and $243,916. Donovan started the final table with the chip lead and started heads up play with the lead over runner up Sokchheka Pho. Jason Young finished third for $110,859. Mike Hudson Wins WSOPC Potawatomi Main Event WSOP Circuit stops are usually full of players who grind their way through all 12 events before moving on to the next stop. Mike Hudson is apparently the exception to the rule. Hudson beat out 666 other players to win the Main Event at Potawatomi after not playing any other events at that stop. The final table included Eric Wasylenko, Brett Apter, former #1 PocketFiver Kevin Saul, and second place finisher Joshua Turner. The win was the first time Hudson cashed in a WSOP Circuit Main Event and his first live cash since April 2015. Nick Pupillo Takes Heartland Poker Tour Title in Black Hawk Just a week before finishing fourth at the WSOP Circuit event at the Rio, Nick Pupillo beat out 587 other players to win the Heartland Poker Tour event in Black Hawk, Colorado for $194,478. The win moved Pupillo into a tie with Nick Davidson for HPT Season XV Player of the Year. Brian Wilson Tops Star-Studded MSPT Poker Bowl III Final Table Canadian Brian Wilson arrived in Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend and left with $143,929 and the title of Mid-States Poker Tour Poker Bowl III champion. Wilson, runner-up Pedro Mendes and third place finisher Eli Ross agreed to a three-way deal to wrap things up. Mendes and Ross each left with just a touch over $119,000. The final table also included Vegas locals Eddy Sabat, Shannon Shorr, and Eric Baldwin. Martin Gaudreault Wins WPT DeepStacks Montreal Martin Gaudreault worked his way through an all-Canadian final table at the WPT DeepStacks Montreal Main Event to pick up the first live win of his career and $ 139,311. Gaudreault's only other live cash came in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event at the 2011 World Series of Poker. “It’s awesome obviously, I have no words, it’s just incredible. I don’t play too many tournaments, and just going out and binking one of the biggest ones I play is awesome,” said Gaudreault. The $1,650 CDN ($1,110 US) buy-in event drew out 686 players to push the total prize pool to $760,712. Mike Leah finished 36th for $3,670. Mohamed Abdou Takes Down WPT DeepStacks Brussels The Grand Casino in Brussels played host to the WPT DeepStacks €1,200 Main Event and 584 players. Mohamed Abdou outlasted all of them on his way to the first live win of his career and $ 136,217. All of Abdou's previous eight cashes came in his native France and his biggest score was $17,171. Michael Mizrachi finished 27th for $4,143 while Triple Crown holder Davidi Kitai picked up $2,724 for finishing 56th. Matt Kirby Wins MSPT Canterbury Park for Third MSPT Win Matt Kirby became the third three-time Mid-States Poker Tour champion after beating 478 other players to win the $1,100 buy-in MSPT Canterbury Park Main Event. Kirby, who picked up $99,573 for the win, had previously won MSPT Walker and MSPT Onamia in 2012. The only other players with three MSPT titles are Blake Bohn and Carl Carodenuto.
  6. On Monday morning, 31 players woke up with the chance to make the final table of the World Poker Tour Choctaw event knowing full well they'd have to wait 11 more days before playing down to a winner. Over the course of six hours of play, 25 players were sent to the rail with the final six needing to get themselves to Las Vegas by the end of the month. Will Berry made his way through those 25 eliminations and now holds the chip lead heading into the final table on May 31 in Sin City. Berry was responsible for five of the 25 players sent packing on Monday. He made quick work of the unofficial final table, eliminating Joe Elpayaa in eighth place with [as][ks] against Elpayaa's [qd][qh] and then was on the good side of a cooler when sent Denny Tran out in seventh with [ad][as] against [kc][kh]. Those two pots mean Berry returns to a stack of 7,575,000 (189 big blinds) when action resumes at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor. The most decorated player at the final table, Craig Varnell spent a good amount of time on Monday as the chip leader. He eliminated six players on his way to bagging up 6,230,000 (156 bb). Varnell finished fourth at the WPT Gardens Poker Festival last July weeks after winning his first World Series of Poker bracelet earlier that month. He also won the WPT500 event in Las Vegas in 2015. Nick Pupillo sits in third place with 3,135,000 (78 bb). Pupillo has two Heartland Poker Tour titles and two WSOP Circuit rings to his name. His previous best WPT finish came last September when he finished 13th in the Borgata Poker Open. He has six WPT Main Tour cashes for a little over $108,000 in winnings. Trung Pham and Austin Lewis make up the fourth and fifth spots with nearly identical stacks. Pham, who has three WSOP Circuit rings, has 2,600,000 while Lewis has 2,560,000. The short stack is Stacey Jones with 980,000 (25 bb). Jones has by far the least amount of previous tournament success of the remaining six players. He's won just $42,476 through 13 cashes and has no recorded live wins according to Hendon Mob. The sixth place payout of $76,980 - which all players received at the conclusion of Monday's action - nearly triples Jones' lifetime earnings. Arthur Morris began the day as the chip leader but was eliminated in 21st place by Austin Lewis. The $3,700 buy-in event drew 577 entries to create a total prize pool of $1,958,915 with the eventual champion earning $379,990, which includes entry into the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. WPT Choctaw is one of three final tables being filmed at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor in Las Vegas to close out Season XVIII. The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown final table will play down to a winner the night before. The average stack at the start of the six-handed final table will be 3,850,000 and play will start with blinds of 20,000/40,000 (40,000 ante). Final Table Chip Counts Will Berry - 7,575,000 Craig Varnell - 6,230,000 Nick Pupillo - 3,135,000 Trung Pham - 2,600,000 Austin Lewis - 2,560,000 Stacey Jones - 980,000
  7. The World Poker Tour is back in Las Vegas to close out Season XVII, and the grand finale includes the final table of WPT Choctaw. Headed up by chip leader Will Berry, just six players remain from the 577 entries. What’s Up for Grabs? The winner of the Season XVII WPT Choctaw will receive $379,990, a seat into the season-ending Baccarat WPT Tournament of Champions, and a luxurious Hublot Big Bang watch. Each player in the final six has locked up at least $76,890 1st Place: $379,990 2nd Place: $243,330 3rd Place: $179,430 4th Place: $133,770 5th Place: $100,850 6th Place: $76,890 Click here to read about how the WPT Choctaw final table was reached. Of note, this is the second WPT Choctaw event of Season XVII. Back in August 2018, Brady Holiman topped a field of 755 entries to win $469,185. Also at that final table were WPT Champions Club members Tony Ruberto and Anthony Zinno. How To Watch the WPT Choctaw Final Table The final table for the Season XVII WPT Choctaw is May 31. If you’re in the area, you’re able to head over to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to view the conclusion of the event in person, but of course not everyone is within reach of Sin City. For those looking to tune in as it’s happening, the final table can be viewed on PokerGO. If you don’t have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code “POCKET5S” for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. You can also follow along with written coverage on WPT.com. The event is also being filmed for broadcast as part of the WPT’s televised schedule of events that you’ll be able to catch later on FOX Sports Regional Networks. [caption id="attachment_624461" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Nick Pupillo (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 1: Nick Pupillo - 3,135,000 Making his first WPT Main Tour final table, Nick Pupillo has quickly made a name for himself on the poker scene. His first live tournament cash was recorded in 2013 and he’s had a fair amount of success since. In 2015, Pupillo won his first of two Heartland Poker Tour titles for $120,537, with the second coming in 2019 for $194,478. In 2017, he won a WSOP Circuit title for $170,286. He nearly won a Hollywood Poker Open title in 2015 but had to settle for second place, and his largest live tournament score was in 2017 for $217,535 from a second-place finish in a preliminary event at the Season XVI WPT Borgata Poker Open. All told, Pupillo currently has more than $2.5 million in live tournament earnings. A second-place finish or better in this event would give Pupillo the largest live tournament score of his career. [caption id="attachment_624464" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Will Bery (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 2: Will Berry - 7,575,000 The chip leader for the WPT Choctaw final table is Will Berry. Berry ran deep in the first WPT Choctaw tournament this season on the World Poker Tour, but ultimately finished in 38th for $11,995. This time, he’s found his way to the final table and could very well be on his way to the largest live tournament score of his career and first WPT title. Berry’s career-best live tournament score was a WSOP Circuit win in 2017 for $180,806. Berry also has a final table in the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Main Event back in 2016 to his credit. There, he took fourth for $136,812. On the WPT Main Tour, Berry now has three cashes. He had yet to make a final table, but Berry did take 15th in the Season XVII WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December for a score of $85,542. [caption id="attachment_624462" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Stacey Jones (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 3: Stacey Jones - 980,000 With a big cowboy hat and an even bigger smile, Stacey Jones worked his way to the WPT Choctaw final table. He’ll be the short stack when play resumes on Friday, but what his stack may lack he’ll be making up for in entertainment value. Jones is one who always looks to be having fun at the poker table, which is a nice carryover from his business life where he’s a nightclub owner. Although he only has $119,366 in lie tournament earnings when you include the $76,890 he’s already earned in this event, Jones isn’t one you should sleep on. He’s been playing poker for decades, so there’s plenty of experience within his arsenal. [caption id="attachment_624460" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Craig Varnell (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 4: Craig Varnell - 6,230,000 Second in chips, Craig Varnell has been in this position before. In Season XV, Varnell reached the WPT Choctaw final table and finished third for a little more than $300,000. He’s back again and looking to end with an even better result that includes his first-ever WPT Main Tour title. Earlier this season, Varnell finished fourth in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival Main Event for north of $200,000. In 2015, Varnell won the huge WPT500 Las Vegas event for $330,000. In that tournament, he topped a field of 5,113 entries to take home the title. He won another large-field tournament in 2018 when he topped 2,419 entries in the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the World Series of Poker. All told, Varnell has nearly $2 million in live tournament earnings. [caption id="attachment_624459" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Austin Lewis (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 5: Austin Lewis - 2,560,000 Austin Lewis’ first WPT Main Tour cash has turned out to be quite the impressive run, as it’s this one and turned into a final table appearance worth at least $76,890. Coming out of Texas, Lewis has had plenty of success on the Oklahoma tournament scene. Earlier in 2019, he took fifth in the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Main Event for $84,375. Another bit of poker success in Choctaw for Lewis came when he won the 2014 CardPlayer Poker Tour Choctaw Championship Event for $183,025. [caption id="attachment_624463" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Trung Pham (photo: WPT)[/caption] Seat 6: Trung Pham - 2,600,000 Rounding out the WPT Choctaw final table is Trung Pham. He’s another player from Texas making his first WPT final table. It’s the second WPT Main Tour cash for Pham. Pham’s best live tournament score came in 2018 when he won a $360 preliminary event at the Season XVII WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open. For that win, Pham scored $123,364. He also has three WSOP Circuit gold rings and a fourth-place finish in a WSOP Circuit main event in Choctaw. Pham’s only other WPT Main Tour cash came during the Season XVI WPT Borgata Poker Open, when he took 33rd from a field of 1,132 entries to win $14,132.
  8. On his 36th birthday, Craig Varnell stormed back from 3.5 big blinds to score his first World Poker Tour title. The victory came in the 577-entry Season XVII WPT Choctaw Main Event and was worth a career-best $379,990. "It feels great," Varnell said about getting the victory on his birthday. "When I found out [the final table] was on my birthday, I said 'well that's good.' The day didn't start out too well, and I was down to three or four big blinds. Then, I didn't know what happened. I won a couple of all ins and all of a sudden I was back in it. It's crazy. I had a big support group here, people watching from everywhere, it's pretty crazy. Best birthday present you can ask for." On Hand #42 of the final table, Varnell flopped top and bottom pair on the [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Tc"][poker card="6h"] board in a hand against Nick Pupillo. After Varnell checked with the [poker card="Kc"][poker card="6d"] in his hand, Pupillo bet 180,000. Varnell check-raised to 530,000, and Pupillo made the call to see the [poker card="3d"] hit the turn. Varnell moved all in for 2.405 million, and Pupillo quickly called with the better [poker card="Ts"][poker card="Th"]. The river was the [poker card="Qs"] to give Pupillo the double up and knock Varnell all the way down to 210,000. At the time, that was only 3.5 big blinds. Varnell doubled up through Trung Pham on the next deal of the cards, then doubled again a few hands later. The second double came through Stacey Jones. Immediately after that, Varnell doubled again through Pham and all of a sudden he was back up to 3.12 million in chips. Varnell took that momentum and rode it to victory, ultimately defeating Will Berry in heads-up play. Final Table Payouts Craig Varnell - $379,990 Will Berry - $243,330 Nick Pupillo - $179,430 Trung Pham - $133,770 Stacey Jones - $100,850 Austin Lewis - $76,890 This wasn't the first time Varnell had made a WPT final table, and it wasn't the first time he made the WPT Choctaw final table. In Season XV, Varnell took third in WPT Choctaw for $306,346. Earlier this season, Season XVII, Varnell took fourth in the WPT Gardens Poker Festival for $201,615. Although he did win a WPT500 title back in 2015, Varnell was still looking for that redemption after coming ever so close in WPT Main Tour events before. [caption id="attachment_624493" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Craig Varnell all smiles after his first WPT title victory (photo: WPT)[/caption] "It feels really good," Varnell said of being able to close this WPT Main Tour final table out with a win. "I made a really bad call when I was three handed, and I was pretty upset with myself for a while, but after I got short and then doubled up I think I played really well." Varnell had a roller coaster ride at the final table, but he said everyone experienced the same thing, with the chip lead changing multiple times and different players being at the bottom at various times, as well. Varnell also made sure to point out that everyone else at the table player very well. Austin Lewis was eliminated first when his [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"] couldn't hold up against the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Kd"] for Jones. Jones fell next when he ran pocket kings into the pocket aces of Pham. After that, it was Pham out in fourth and then Pupillo out i third to set up a Varnell-versus-Berry heads-up bout. Varnell entered heads-up play with almost a 2-1 chip lead. Berry quickly pulled back into the lead, but then Varnell stretched a lead back out. On the final hand, the two got all the money in with Varnell holding the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Td"] to Berry's [poker card="8s"][poker card="8c"]. Varnell flopped a ten and held from there to eliminate Berry in second place. "I try to follow my instincts, which a lot of players don't do anymore," Varnell said of the style and speed of his play. "It's all math and game theory. That's a part of the game a lot of people don't have. They're always on their phone on Twitter, they're always doing something. I look at people and I try to pick up on things and pay attention a lot, and that's why I have success. I don't study, I don't do all of this stuff. These kids have no lives. They're either on the computer or playing poker all the time. I don't want to live my life like that. I love playing poker, but I'm not going to just play all the time. I've got family, friends, a girlfriend. I can't just be studying all the time." Varnell can now add his WPT title to his trophy case that already includes a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, in addition to the aforementioned WPT500 crown. Varnell's WSOP bracelet came just last summer when he won the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event for $181,790. "Never would I have thought I'd have a WPT title and a bracelet," Varnell said. "It's crazy to just think about all of that. Now I get to play with all of the best tomorrow [in the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions] with all of the added money. I like being challenged." [caption id="attachment_624494" align="alignnone" width="1354"] Craig Varnell embraced by his girlfriend after the win (photo: WPT)[/caption] Next up for Varnell will be the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions on Saturday, June 1, when he'll face off against only fellow WPT Champions Club members in the rake-free $15,000 buy-in event.
  9. Early Friday morning, Ryan Torgersen suffered the ultimate heartbreak in poker after finishing runner-up in Event #9 of the 2020 World Series of Poker Online. A little bit more than 24 hours later, Torgersen enjoyed the ultimate joy after winning Event #10 ($600 NLHE Monster Stack) to win his first career bracelet and $172,361. He could not have picked a better event to win. For the first time in the 2020 WSOP Online, the prize pool moved into seven-figure territory with 2,074 total entries building a $1,119,960 prize pool. The first elimination of the final table came five minutes after it began. Action folded to Tom '4Logan' Dean on the button and he moved all in for 3,105,365 with [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] and 'Letsgetit888' re-shoved for 5,710,730 with [poker card="ah"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="jd"][poker card="9d"] flop gave 'Letsgetit888' second pair and left Dean drawing thin. The [poker card="4s"] turn and [poker card="5h"] river were both blanks and Dean was out in ninth place. Just a few minutes later, another preflop all in confrontation sent a player packing. Eric 'bill_luga' Blair raised to 1,000,000 from the cutoff with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"] before Nick 'DuckFlush' Pupillo moved all in for 6,192,549 from the small blind with [poker card="as"][poker card="qc"] and Blair called. Pupillo was unable to connect with the [poker card="8c"][poker card="6s"][poker card="5h"] flop or the [poker card="2h"] turn and the [poker card="kd"] river gave Blair an unnecessary improvement to eliminate Pupillo in eighth. Torgersen finally got involved in the business of eliminating players at the final table five minutes later. From the hijack, Torgersen raised to 1,095,000, Brent 'grebnrets' Roberts called from the cutoff and 'FatStax' and Sam 'texasmolly' Grizzle defended the small and big blinds respectively. The flop came [poker card="8s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="7c"] and 'FatStax' moved all in for 2,446,816. Grizzle got out of the way, Torgersen came over the top for 10,838,096 forcing Roberts to fold. 'Fatstax' turned over [poker card="td"][poker card="9d"] and Torgersen showed [poker card="ks"][poker card="ts"]. The turn was the [poker card="3d"] and the [poker card="8d"] completed the river to give Torgersen the pot and end the tournament for 'Fatstax' in seventh place. A few hands later Sam Grizzle moved into the chip lead and almost immediately put it to work. From UTG, Roberts moved all in for 7,559,235 with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"] and Grizzle called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"]. The [poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="3s"] flop left Roberts in control. The [poker card="7c"] turn gave Grizzle nine more outs. The river was the [poker card="ah"] to give Grizzle top pair and send Roberts home in sixth. Torgersen then ended another player's tournament in a massive pot. Action folded to 'letsgetit888' on the button and they moved all in for 11,964,504 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="qc"] only to have Torgersen call from the big blind with [poker card="ac"][poker card="kd"]. The [poker card="jc"][poker card="8s"][poker card="6d"] flop changed nothing but the [poker card="qd"] turn gave 'letsgetit888' top pair. Torgersen filled his straight draw on the [poker card="tc"] river to eliminate 'letsgetit888' in fifth place. Four-handed play lasted nearly 15 minutes. Blair raised to 1,600,000 from the button and Brandon 'Omni27' Ienn called from the big blind. The flop came [poker card="jc"][poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"], Ienn checked, Blair bet 980,000 and Ienn called. The turn was the [poker card="4s"] and Ienn bet 1,600,000. Blair moved all in for 6,590,707 and Ienn called. Blair turned over [poker card="6c"][poker card="7s"] for trip sevens while Blair was drawing to an open-ender with [poker card="5s"][poker card="6s"]. The [poker card="6h"] river gave Ienn an unneeded full house and busted Blair in fourth. Old school poker fans had their heart broken just 15 minutes later. Ienn raised to 2,000,000 from the button before Grizzle moved all in for 13,150,561 from the small blind. Torgersen then moved all in over the top for 37,667,878 and Ienn folded. Grizzle showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="jh"] to Torgersen's [poker card="tc"][poker card="td"]. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="6s"][poker card="2c"] flop gave Grizzle top pair. The turn was the [poker card="8c"] to give Torgersen more outs and the [poker card="ts"] river gave him a set to eliminate Grizzle in third. Torgersen held a nearly 2-1 chip lead over Ienn when heads up play began and needed less than five minutes to eliminate Ienn. The final hand saw Torgersen shove from the button with [poker card="ah"][poker card="8d"] and Ienn called all in for 18,761,561. The [poker card="5d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="ts"][poker card="tc"] run out meant Torgersen's [poker card="8d"] played and Ienn was eliminated in second place to give Torgersen his first WSOP bracelet. Final Table Payouts Ryan 'Im.sorry' Torgersen - $172,361 Brandon 'Omni27' Ienn - $106,508 Sam 'texasmolly' Grizzle - $77,725 Eric 'bill_luga' Blair - $57,229 letsgetit888 - $42,558 Brent 'grebnrets' Roberts - $31,918 FatStax - $24,079 Nick 'DuckFlush' Pupillo - $18,367 Tom '4Logan' Dean - $14,223 Faces in the Crowd The player who ultimately busted Torgersen in second place in Event #9, Ron 'MacDaddy15' MacMillen made a deep run in Event #10 as well, eventually busting in 65th place for $2,127.92. He wasn't the only 2020 WSOP Online bracelet winner to cash on Friday though. Robert Kuhn (19th - $5,487.80) and Louis 'PokeThese' Lynch (31st - $4,367.84) both made their way into the money. Other notables included Jesse Sylvia (27th - $5,487.80), Jason 'haderade' Somerville (51st - $3,023.89), Ian Steinman ($1,455.94), and Shawn 'Saygoodnight' Daniels (266th - $1,007.96).

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