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  1. PokerStars kicks off their 2018 tournament series schedule with the PokerStars Turbo Series. The series is a rebranding of the former Turbo Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP). PokerStars Turbo Series features 74 events and runs from February 18-March 4. The buy-in levels for the Turbo Series range from $11 all the way up to $5,200. Over $15 million in guaranteed prize pools are up for grabs along with three Platinum Passes valued at $30,000 each to the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship. Games included on the Turbo Series schedule include No Limit Hold’em, HORSE, 5-card Pot Limit Omaha, and 5-Card Draw. The Platinum Passes are awarded to the champions of the $55 and $1,050 Twin Turbo Main Events on March 4. All players who enter a Turbo Series event qualify for the PokerStars Players Championship Turbo Series All-in Shootout on March 5. One Platinum Pass is up for grab in the Shootout. Spin & Go’s are available as a means to qualify for the Turbo Series. Starting at $2.75, Spin & Go’s are awarding prizes as high as a $1,050 seat to the Turbo Series Main Event. Tickets to Spin & Go’s are also going to be randomly distributed in select daily Hot Turbos. The $55 Main Event has 20 seats added via daily $2.20 satellites. “The Turbo Series is a great opportunity for players of all levels to play in a fun and fast-paced series that is guaranteed to be one of the most enjoyable events of the year,” PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset said. The full Turbo Series schedule is below with all guarantees and dates listed. Event Buy-in Name Date Guarantee 1 $109 Turbo Series 01: $109 NLHE, $500K Gtd February 18 $500,000 2 $215 Turbo Series 02: $215 NLHE [Progressive KO], $400K Gtd February 18 $400,000 3 $530 Turbo Series 03: $530 NLHE [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo, Sunday Supersonic SE], $400K Gtd February 18 $400,000 4 $55 Turbo Series 04: $55 NLHE, $100K Gtd February 19 $100,000 5 $109 Turbo Series 05: $109 NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO, Win the Button], $150K Gtd February 19 $150,000 6 $530 Turbo Series 06: $530 NLHE [8-Max], $250K Gtd February 19 $250,000 7 $215 Turbo Series 07: $215 5-Card PLO [6-Max], $50K Gtd February 19 $50,000 8 $215 Turbo Series 08: $215 NLHE [Heads-Up, Progressive Total KO, Zoom], $100K Gtd February 19 $100,000 9 $109 Turbo Series 09: $109 NLHE [5-Stack], $75K Gtd February 20 $75,000 10 $215 Turbo Series 10: $215 HORSE, $50K Gtd February 20 $50,000 11 $215 Turbo Series 11: $215 NLHE [Bubble Rush], $250K Gtd February 20 $250,000 12 $530 Turbo Series 12: $530 NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO], $300K Gtd February 20 $300,000 13 $55 Turbo Series 13: $55 NLHE [8-Max], $100K Gtd February 20 $100,000 14 $215 Turbo Series 14: $215 NLHE [8-Max], $150K Gtd February 21 $150,000 15 $11 Turbo Series 15: $11+R NLHE [Splash], $100K Gtd February 21 $100,000 16 $109 Turbo Series 16: $109 NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO], $300K Gtd February 21 $300,000 17 $109 Turbo Series 17: $109 FLO8 [8-Max], $40K Gtd February 21 $40,000 18 $215 Turbo Series 18: $215 NLHE, $150K Gtd February 21 $150,000 19 $55 Turbo Series 19: $55 NLHE [4-Max, Progressive KO], $150K Gtd February 22 $150,000 20 $109 Turbo Series 20: $109 NLO8 [8-Max], $50K Gtd February 22 $50,000 21 $215 Turbo Series 21: $215 NLHE, $250K Gtd February 22 $250,000 22 $530 Turbo Series 22: $530 NLHE [8-Max], $250K Gtd February 22 $250,000 23 $55 Turbo Series 23: $55 NLHE [6-Max, Shootout], $50K Gtd - NO LATE REGISTRATION February 22 $50,000 24 $27 Turbo Series 24: $27 NLHE [Escalating Antes], $100K Gtd February 23 $100,000 25 $109 Turbo Series 25: $109 NLHE [8-Max], $150K Gtd February 23 $150,000 26 $530 Turbo Series 26: $530 NLHE, $250K Gtd February 23 $250,000 27 $109 Turbo Series 27: $109 PL Badugi, $25K Gtd February 23 $25,000 28 $55 Turbo Series 28: $55 NLHE [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo, Progressive Total KO], $100K Gtd February 23 $100,000 29 $109 Turbo Series 29: $109 NLHE, $150K Gtd February 24 $150,000 30 $109 Turbo Series 30: $109 NL 5-Card Draw, $25K Gtd February 24 $25,000 31 $55 Turbo Series 31: $55 NLHE [6-Max], $200K Gtd February 24 $200,000 32 $215 Turbo Series 32: $215 NLHE [Progressive KO], $250K Gtd February 24 $250,000 33 $109 Turbo Series 33: $109 NLHE [Zoom], $100K Gtd February 24 $100,000 34 $109 Turbo Series 34: $109 NLO [6-Max], $75K Gtd February 25 $75,000 35 $215 Turbo Series 35: $215 NLHE [6-Max], $250K Gtd February 25 $250,000 36 $109 Turbo Series 36: $109 NLHE [Progressive KO], $500K Gtd February 25 $500,000 37 $1,050 Turbo Series 37: $1,050 NLHE [8-Max], $300K Gtd February 25 $300,000 38 $215 Turbo Series 38: $215 NLHE [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo, Progressive KO, Sunday Supersonic SE], $300K Gtd February 25 $300,000 39 $55 Turbo Series 39: $55 NLHE [6-Max], $100K Gtd February 26 $100,000 40 $109 Turbo Series 40: $109 NLHE [8-Max, Progressive KO], $150K Gtd February 26 $150,000 41 $27 Turbo Series 41: $27+R NLHE, $150K Gtd February 26 $150,000 42 $109 Turbo Series 42: $109 PLO8 [6-Max], $75K Gtd February 26 $75,000 43 $215 Turbo Series 43: $215 NLHE, $150K Gtd February 26 $150,000 44 $55 Turbo Series 44: $55 NLHE [Reverse Bubble Rush], $100K Gtd February 27 $100,000 45 $109 Turbo Series 45: $109 FLHE [6-Max], $40K Gtd February 27 $40,000 46 $215 Turbo Series 46: $215 NLHE [6-Max], $250K Gtd February 27 $250,000 47 $530 Turbo Series 47: $530 NLHE [Progressive KO], $250K Gtd February 27 $250,000 48 $109 Turbo Series 48: $109 NLHE [4-Max, Shootout], $100K Gtd - NO LATE REGISTRATION February 27 $100,000 49 $215 Turbo Series 49: $215 NLHE, $150K Gtd February 28 $150,000 50 $55 Turbo Series 50: $55 NLHE [5-Stack], $100K Gtd February 28 $100,000 51 $1,050 Turbo Series 51: $1,050 NLHE [8-Max, Progressive KO], $300K Gtd February 28 $300,000 52 $1,050 Turbo Series 52: $1,050 PLO [6-Max], $150K Gtd February 28 $150,000 53 $55 Turbo Series 53: $55+R NLHE, $100K Gtd February 28 $100,000 54 $55 Turbo Series 54: $55 NLHE [Progressive KO], $100K Gtd March 1 $100,000 55 $109 Turbo Series 55: $109 NL 2-7 Single Draw, $25K Gtd March 1 $25,000 56 $215 Turbo Series 56: $215 NLHE, $250K Gtd March 1 $250,000 57 $530 Turbo Series 57: $530 NLHE [6-Max], $250K Gtd March 1 $250,000 58 $109 Turbo Series 58: $109 NLHE [Escalating Antes], $100K Gtd March 1 $100,000 59 $215 Turbo Series 59: $215 NLHE [8-Max, Win the Button], $150K Gtd March 2 $150,000 60 $109 Turbo Series 60: $109+R NLHE, $100K Gtd March 2 $100,000 61 $530 Turbo Series 61: $530 NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO], $250K Gtd March 2 $250,000 62 $215 Turbo Series 62: $215 NLO8 [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo, Progressive KO], $75K Gtd March 2 $75,000 63 $55 Turbo Series 63: $55 NLHE [6-Max], $100K Gtd March 2 $100,000 64 $55 Turbo Series 64: $55 NLHE [4-Max, Progressive KO], $150K Gtd March 3 $150,000 65 $530 Turbo Series 65: $530 8-Game, $50K Gtd March 3 $50,000 66 $530 Turbo Series 66: $530 NLHE [8-Max], $250K Gtd March 3 $250,000 67 $11 Turbo Series 67: $11+R NLHE [Splash], $100K Gtd March 3 $100,000 68 $215 Turbo Series 68: $215 NLHE [4-Max, Progressive KO, Zoom], $150K Gtd March 3 $150,000 69 $215 Turbo Series 69: $215 PLO [6-Max], $75K Gtd March 4 $75,000 70 $5,200 Turbo Series 70: $5,200 NLHE [8-Max, High Roller], $500K Gtd March 4 $500,000 71 $55 Turbo Series 71: $55 NLHE [Twin Turbos Main Events], $1M Gtd - 1x Platinum Pass Package Added March 4 $1,000,000 72 $1,050 Turbo Series 72: $1,050 NLHE [Twin Turbos Main Events], $2.5M Gtd - 1x Platinum Pass Package Added March 4 $2,500,000 73 $109 Turbo Series 73: $109 NLHE [8-Max, Progressive KO], $300K Gtd March 4 $300,000 74 $215 Turbo Series 74: $215 NLHE [6-Max, Hyper-Turbo, Sunday Supersonic SE], $300K Gtd March 4 $300,000
  2. Romanian online grinder Adrian ‘BadWolfOne’ Nica went from a $2 tournament entrant to a PokerStars Platinum Pass winner. The 27-year-old professional online grinder entered as one in a field of 38,253 to having $30,000 in equity toward the 2019 Players No Limit Hold’em Championship as part of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. PokerStars announced a Platinum Pass would be added as a prize for the winner of the Winter Series Micro Main Event. The Platinum Pass belongs to Nica along with the $8,171 he earned from his remote homeland. One for the low stakes grinders Nica plays lower stakes tournaments as his primary means of income and familiarity with late-stage spots allowed him to focus on the task at hand instead of solely on the Platinum Pass. “It’s just another win,” Nica said. “I didn’t feel like it was amazing, I didn’t feel like I should scream or dance. I was taking it one step at a time. There’s still ICM involved. I just wanted to make every decision as well as possible.” The final four players made a deal in the tournament and played for a $2,000 save along with the Platinum Pass. Nica says he ran well to get into the high-equity spot and used aggression to exploit opponents who he thought were playing tighter than they should be. The full tournament lasted for 14 hours and the studious Nica watched the replay of his win afterward to pick up on any mistakes he made. The game of life involves cards Poker is the only job Nica claims to have had in his life and says it’s easy for him to make enough money in tournaments ranging from $5-$20 buy-ins to have a stable income. The Players Championship is the first time since 2014 Nica has traveled outside his homeland to play a tournament. A World Poker Tour event in Venice drew Nica after he qualified via satellite. The game is a job for Nica and also a means to an end. He doesn’t foresee himself changing any part of his life should he win the Players Championship. For him, it’s just another tournament. “I’m excited to play for such big stakes. I’m not that confident. I do plan to study a lot. Even if I don’t win anything, I have the motivation to study.” The Bahamas has never been a primary destination for Nica and when it comes to the subject of the World Series of Poker Main Event, Nica is indifferent about the chance to play in the world’s biggest tournament. Nica studies poker during the day using hand reviews and ICMizer. He plays at night with the same mental fortitude that enabled him to stay sharp during the grind of the Micro Millions Main Event. The game came to Nica while in school. He found a forum that allowed him to bet on sports at a reasonable rate. Poker made its way through the pipeline and Nica picked up the game soon after. “I think I first got into poker through betting 25 cents on games I wanted to watch. I got an email about a freeroll then found the forum and chatted with people and learned more,” Nica said. The challenge to move up the ladder Nica rarely leaves home to play in live tournaments and the Players Championship represents a huge challenge for him of matching skills with the world’s best. The studying time Nica puts in is on par with some of the game’s best. So what stands between the best and a player like Nica? It’s two parts, according to him. “The degen mentality and the obsessive nature. Dara O'Kearney has a mentality where anything he does and wants to become the absolute best. It’s the mentality that poker requires. It’s not something that anyone can do. I need a lot of studying to even come close to them.” As Nica hits the proverbial books to up his game in the next year, the enjoyment of the challenge comes back to him. “I really enjoy the figuring stuff out and beating someone. Love the game part of it.”
  3. Pennsylvania grinder Thai Ha woke up this morning at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure expecting to sit down to his 130,300 stack and do everything he could to make Day 3. He arrived at his table a little bit late and almost missed out on what will probably end up being the most exciting - and profitable - part of his day. Ha’s table, one of 45 in play at the start of play Wednesday, was randomly chosen to be part of the PokerStars Players Championship promotion. As the cameras moved in, Joe Stapleton explained the rules to everybody. Each of the seven players was going to be dealt a hand of Hold’em. The dealer would then run out the flop, turn, and river. Whichever player had the best hand after the river was going to be given a PSPC Platinum Pass worth $30,000. As the dealer began dealing, Ha wasn’t at the table yet. He was running about a minute behind. He did make it to the table just in time to see the river dealt, but with the crowd that had formed around the table, Ha wasn’t quite able to get to his seat. The player on his left turned his hand face up and Ha discovered he had rivered trip eights to beat out Mike Leah’s flopped top pair. “It was amazing. I would never expect that to happen to me, obviously. That was unreal - it’s a free $25,000, plus the trip,” said Ha. The promotion, which awards 300 Platinum Passes over the course of 2018, is geared towards making the PSPC the biggest - and potentially softest - $25,000 buy-in event in history. Players can win them through various means throughout the year. The 2018 PCA Main Event champion will also earn one. “I was going to play that event regardless. Now I’m saving my $25,000,” laughed Ha. The 26-year-old has only been playing poker since 2014, but he’s managed to move up in stakes relatively quickly. “I was born in Vietnam, so I didn’t even know about poker until I moved to the United States. That was 2007, but I went to school so I just focused on school. After I graduated, I started playing poker,” said Ha, who has $659,518 career earnings. This past summer he finished 226th in the World Series of Poker Main Event for an official cash of $40,181, but just like this trip to the Bahamas gave him a little bit more equity, Ha found a way to make a little more than that $40K. “For the Main Event, bought 20% of myself on PokerShares. I punished them a little bit,” said Ha, who paid 1.5 through the site. Now that he’s saved the $25,000 entry fee on the PSPC, he might spend some of that on himself on PokerShares for the event. “I’m probably going to do that,” said Ha, who regularly plays Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments at Parx, Sugar House and the Borgata and only travels for some of the bigger events.
  4. Like a lot of amateur poker players, Steven-John Jost wanted to qualify for the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to combine some poker with some Bahamian sunshine for a vacation. He ended up with way more than that. Jost qualified on PokerStars.com and wound up finishing 74th to earn $17,500 for his second career live cash. "For me, that's big money. It's great," said Jost, who works in a labratory back home in Switzerland. Like everybody who made the money at PCA, Jost had his name entered into a draw for Platinum Pass, the $30,000 package that includes entry to the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players Championship next January back in the Bahamas. As the final table was playing down to a champion on Sunday, Jost had his name drawn as the winner. "I was really shaking. Now I'm calm. I had to go for a drink and now I'm relaxed, just enjoying it," Jost said a few minutes after having his Platinum Pass presented to him. PokerStars is awarding 300 Platinum Passes to players playing online, at live events and even fans who tune into PokerStarsTV live streamed events. Lots of players try to qualify for PokerStars live events on the cheap. Working their way through lower buy-in qualifiers before finally getting a shot at the final step. Jost suffered no such struggle. "Just one, actually," Jost. "I went from the $27 to the $55 to the $530 and then I got the package from the mega satellite." Jost only had one other previous live cash, but nothing like the PCA. Most of his live poker comes in playing with his buddies back home. "We play one time per week, all our friends in a cash game. Sometimes we organize a tourney - three or four times a year - just having fun," said Jost. "We have about 25 or 30 players for a $100 buy-in. It's great. It's poker!" Jost entered Day 1 of the PCA Main Event with a little bit of butterflies in his stomach, but they quickly disappeared. "Yeah, I was nervous for about 10 minutes on Day 1 and then I was fine," said Jost, who continued to live the dream with some TV time. "I started on Day 2 on the secondary feature table, then they sent me to the main feature table. It's crazy." So for those keeping score at home, Jost paid $27 for a week long vacation in the Bahamas where got to play poker with some of the best players in the world, won $17,500 cash and a $30,000 package that includes entry to the PokerStars Players Championship next January. It sounds like it was a perfect trip, but Jost did have one complaint. "The only thing was the weather, it was disgusting. It was raining while I was playing, but when I was knocked out on Day 4, the sun was shining and it was really good," joked Jost. All kidding aside, Jost knows just how fortunate he's been throughout all of this since he first registered for that $27 qualifier and really hopes to keep the ride going through the PSPC. "It's really a dream came true. First time here at the Bahamas, I got to play the Main Event, I cashed," said Jost. "It was a win-win situation to come here and now I've won the Platinum Pass. It couldn't be better."
  5. 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 debate the hottest topics in poker. Listen to this week's episode of The Fives as Lance Bradley and Matt Clark dive deep into the PokerStars NJSCOOP schedule and their decision to include two Platinum Passes to Main Event champions. They also discuss the conclusion of the Jamie and Matt Staples weight loss prop bet and reminisce about some of their favorite poker prop bets of all time. They also give their take on the recent Twitter discussions over what recreational poker players want and maybe more importantly, need. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES GET THIS EPISODE ON STITCHER
  6. Heading into the European Poker Tour Sochi Main Event, Arseniy Karmatskiy hadn't picked up a single live cash in 2018. He had $350,000 in lifetime earnings over the previous four years but had struggled through the early months of this year. That all changed on Thursday night in Sochi as the Russian took down the European Poker Tour Sochi Main Event for a little more than $475,000 and a Platinum Pass which will put him into the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship event next January. "It's a very nice prize. I've never played a $25,000 tournament. I'm very excited to go to The Bahamas, I would like to see the ocean and palms. And I'm looking forward to playing with the top professionals," Karmatskiy said about the Platinum Pass. "I even thought about the Pass more than about the money prize." Karmatskiy started the final day with the chip lead and went on to eliminate each of the other six players on his way to the title, the fourth of his career and first since he took down the German Poker Championship last August in Rozvadov. It was only 30 minutes after seven-handed play started on Thursday. Andrey Kaygorodsev moved all in for 410,000 from UTG, Vahe Martirosyan called but Karmatskiy re-raised to 1,200,000 from the button to force Martirosyan to fold. Kaygorodsev showed [poker card="5d"][poker card="5s"] but got bad news when Karmatskiy showed [poker card="jd"][poker card="jh"]. The board ran out [poker card="tc"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="6d"] to give Karmatskiy the pot and eliminate Kaygorodsev in seventh. Karmatskiy found another victim just 15 minutes later. He raised from UTG to 225,000 and action folded to Sergey Kerzhakov on the button and he moved all in for 2,020,000 and Karmatskiy called instantly and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] while Kerzhakov showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"]. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="9h"][poker card="7h"] flop left Kerzhakov drawing ridiculously thin. The [poker card="qc"] turn ended all of that and the meaningless river was the [poker card="7c"]. It took almost 2.5 hours before the next player was sent packing, but yet again it was Karmatskiy standing tall. Martirosyan raised to 250,000 from the cutoff, Karmatskiy re-raised to 875,000 from the small blind before Mikhail Kovalyuk cold four-bet to 1,600,000 from the big blind. Martirosyan folded but Karmatskiy moved all in and Kovalyuk called instantly and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="ah"] while Karmatskiy turned over [poker card="kd"][poker card="ks"]. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="5h"][poker card="4h"] flop changed everything though, moving Karmatskiy into the lead but giving Kovalyuk a nut flush draw. The turn was the [poker card="9s"] and the river was the [poker card="9d"] to give Karmatskiy the biggest pot of the tournament and the chip lead while Kovalyuk was eliminated in fifth place. During three nearly three hours of four-handed play, Karmatskiy briefly relinquished the chip lead before doubling up through Shegai in 14,000,000 chip pot. That massive stack came in handy as Karmatskiy continued to be the reason other players were leaving the final table early. Karmatskiy moved all in for 15,150,000 from UTG and Martirosyan called from the small blind and Shegai folded the big blind. Karmatskiy smiled and turned over [poker card="6s"][poker card="3s"] while Martirosyan showed [poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"]. The [poker card="ts"][poker card="8d"][poker card="4s"] flop gave Karmatskiy a flush draw. The [poker card="2s"] turn filled that draw and all Martirosyan could do as the [poker card="7s"] fell on the river was shake hands and exit in fourth. Despite being left on fumes after the 14,000,0000 chip pot with Karmatskiy, Shegai kept fighting and picked up a much-needed double up three-handed before watching Karmatskiy and Ernest Shakaryan get into a confrontation that sent the tournament to heads up play. Karmatskiy moved all in from the button and Shakaryan called from the small blind. Karmatskiy held [poker card="ah"][poker card="6c"] which put him behind Shakaryan's [poker card="ad"][poker card="7s"]. The [poker card="6s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2c"] flop put Karmatskiy ahead and he stayed there after the [poker card="tc"] turn and [poker card="2h"] river to eliminate Shakaryan in third. Heads-up play began with Karmatskiy holding a nearly 5-1 chip lead. Shegai refused to let that deter him though, chipping away at that lead. In the end though, Karmatskiy refused to give up the lead and picked up his sixth elimination of the day after two hours of heads up action. Karmatskiy moved all in for 21,080,000 and Shegai called all in and turned over [poker card="jc"][poker card="8c"]. Karmatskiy was ahead with [poker card="qs"][poker card="td"] and stayed there after the [poker card="tc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="6d"][poker card="7s"][poker card="6h"] runout. Final Table Payouts Arseniy Karmatskiy - $475,835.64 Viktor Shegai - $288,753.69 Ernest Shakaryan - $203,801.52 Vahe Martirosyan - $152,851.14 Mikhail Kovalyuk - $120,733.32 Sergey Kerzhakov - $90,507.09 Andrey Kaygorodsev - $63,619.68 Mikhail Plakkhin - $44,991.96
  7. The biggest name in online poker and New Jersey online released the schedule for the largest series to date in the Garden State. PokerStarsNJ announced $1.3 million in guarantees across 80 tournaments (40 High and 40 Low events) that run from April 14-30 for the 2018 New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP). The 80 events are up from 70 in 2017. Platinum Pass Comes to New Jersey The highlight point of the schedule is the two coveted Platinum Passes awarded to the NJSCOOP Main Event winners. Both the High ($500) and Low ($50) Main Event champions earn a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the 2019 Poker Player's No Limit Hold'em Championship at the PokerStars Carribean Adventure. The High Main Event features a $200,000 guarantee and the Low is a minimum prize pool of $40,000. Other major guarantees include the $80,000 Sunday Special on April 22 and the $30,000 Super Tuesday on April 17. Mixed Menu of Offerings No Limit Hold'em is a strong feature on the schedule with most events comprising the two card game. Available NLHE variants include 8-Max, Progressive Knockout, 6-Max, Bubble Rush, and Win The Button. Mixed games have their place on the calendar as well. Pot Limit Omaha has five events with all either in the 6-Max or 8-Max variety. Other mixed games on the calendar include 8-Game, Stud Hi-Lo, HORSE, No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. The largest buy-in mixed game event is the $500 8-Game on Wednesday, April 18. The MTT features a $15,000 guarantee. Events range on the High scale from $100 all the way up to the $1,000 6-Max High Roller $65,000 guaranteed. PokerStarsNJ offers satellites for every event starting at just $0.50. Players can also win Main Event seats in Spin & Go's starting at $4. The NJSCOOP series opens on Saturday, April 14 with the $100/$10 NJSCOOP Warm Up and concludes on Monday, April 30 with the $150/$15 Wrap Up Hyper-Turbo. Complete PokerStarsNJ NJSCOOP Event Schedule table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; } Date Event Level Name Time (ET) Buy-in Guarantee April 14 1 High NLHE [Nightly Stars - NJSCOOP Warm-Up] 6:30 PM $100 $18,000 April 14 1 Low NLHE [NJSCOOP Warm-Up] 6:30 PM $10 $5,000 April 15 2 High NLHE [Deepstack, 8-Max] 2:00 PM $200 $20,000 April 15 2 Low NLHE [Deepstack, 8-Max] 2:00 PM $20 $7,500 April 15 3 High NLHE [Progressive KO] 3:30 PM $150 $25,000 April 15 3 Low NLHE [Progressive KO] 3:30 PM $15 $5,000 April 15 4 High NLHE [Sunday Special SE] 5:00 PM $300 $75,000 April 15 4 Low NLHE [Mini Sunday Special] 5:00 PM $30 $16,000 April 15 5 High PL Omaha [6-Max] 7:00 PM $100 $12,000 April 15 5 Low PL Omaha [6-Max] 7:00 PM $10 $2,500 April 15 6 High NLHE [Sunday Supersonic SE, Hyper-Turbo] 10:00 PM $150 $16,000 April 15 6 Low NLHE [Mini Supersonic, Hyper-Turbo] 10:00 PM $15 $4,000 April 16 7 High NLHE [Win The Button] 6:30 PM $200 $20,000 April 16 7 Low NLHE [Win The Button] 6:30 PM $20 $5,000 April 16 8 High NLHE [4-Max, Progressive KO] 8:00 PM $100 $15,000 April 16 8 Low NLHE [4-Max, Progressive KO] 8:00 PM $10 $4,000 April 17 9 High NLHE [Super Tuesday SE] 6:30 PM $250 $30,000 April 17 9 Low NLHE [Mini Super Tuesday] 6:30 PM $25 $10,000 April 17 10 High NLHE [Escalating Antes] 8:00 PM $150 $15,000 April 17 10 Low NLHE [Escalating Antes] 8:00 PM $15 $5,000 April 18 11 High 8-Game [6-Max] 6:30 PM $500 $15,000 April 18 11 Low 8-Game [6-Max] 6:30 PM $50 $7,500 April 18 12 High NLHE [Bubble Rush] 8:00 PM $200 $12,000 April 18 12 Low NLHE [Bubble Rush] 8:00 PM $20 $4,000 April 19 13 High NLHE [Thursday Thrill SE] 6:30 PM $250 $25,000 April 19 13 Low NLHE [Mini Thrill] 6:30 PM $25 $10,000 April 19 14 High PL Omaha [8-max, Win The Button] 7:00 PM $200 $15,000 April 19 14 Low PL Omaha [8-max, Win The Button] 7:00 PM $25 $3,000 April 20 15 High NLHE [Deep Hyper-Turbo] 9:00 PM $200 $15,000 April 20 15 Low NLHE [Deep Hyper-Turbo] 9:00 PM $20 $4,000 April 21 16 High NLHE [Deepstack, 6-Max] 5:00 PM $100 $18,000 April 21 16 Low NLHE [Deepstack, 6-Max] 5:00 PM $10 $5,000 April 21 17 High HORSE 7:00 PM $200 $10,000 April 21 17 Low HORSE 7:00 PM $20 $2,500 April 21 18 High NLHE [3-Max, Turbo, Zoom, Progressive KO] 9:00 PM $100 $12,000 April 21 18 Low NLHE [3-Max, Turbo, Zoom, Progressive KO] 9:00 PM $10 $3,000 April 22 19 High NLHE [Marathon] 1:00 PM $100 $16,000 April 22 19 Low NLHE [Marathon] 1:00 PM $10 $5,000 April 22 20 High NLHE [Progressive KO] 3:30 PM $150 $20,000 April 22 20 Low NLHE [Progressive KO] 3:30 PM $15 $5,000 April 22 21 High NLHE [Sunday Special SE] 5:00 PM $350 $80,000 April 22 21 Low NLHE 5:00 PM $50 $14,000 April 22 22 High PL 5-Card Omaha [8-Max] 7:30 PM $100 $10,000 April 22 22 Low PL 5-Card Omaha [8-Max] 7:30 PM $10 $3,000 April 22 23 High NLHE [6-Max, Turbo] 10:00 PM $300 $25,000 April 22 23 Low NLHE [6-Max, Turbo] 10:00 PM $30 $7,500 April 23 24 High NLHE [4-Max] 6:30 PM $300 $35,000 April 23 24 Low NLHE [4-Max] 6:30 PM $30 $10,000 April 23 25 High NLO8 [Rebuy, 8-Max] 8:00 PM $100 $10,000 April 23 25 Low NLO8 [Rebuy, 8-Max] 8:00 PM $10 $4,000 April 24 26 High NLHE [Progressive KO, Win The Button] 6:30 PM $200 $22,000 April 24 26 Low NLHE [Progressive KO, Win The Button] 6:30 PM $20 $6,000 April 24 27 High NLHE High Roller [6-Max] 7:00 PM $1,000 $65,000 April 24 27 Low NLHE High Roller [6-Max] 7:00 PM $100 $30,000 April 25 28 High NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO] 6:30 PM $200 $22,000 April 25 28 Low NLHE [6-Max, Progressive KO] 6:30 PM $20 $6,000 April 25 29 High NLHE [8-Max, Turbo] 8:00 PM $100 $10,000 April 25 29 Low NLHE [8-Max, Turbo] 8:00 PM $10 $4,000 April 26 30 High PL Omaha [8-Max, Progressive KO] 6:30 PM $150 $10,000 April 26 30 Low PL Omaha [8-Max, Progressive KO] 6:30 PM $15 $3,000 April 26 31 High NLHE [Heads-Up, Progressive Total KO, Zoom] 8:00 PM $300 $15,000 April 26 31 Low NLHE [Heads-Up, Progressive Total KO, Zoom] 8:00 PM $30 $4,000 April 27 32 High NLHE [BigStack Turbo] 8:00 PM $150 $15,000 April 27 32 Low NLHE [BigStack Turbo] 8:00 PM $15 $5,000 April 28 33 High NLHE [Final Weekend Kickoff] 6:00 PM $200 $20,000 April 28 33 Low NLHE [Final Weekend Kickoff] 6:00 PM $20 $7,500 April 28 34 High Stud Hi/Lo [8-Max] 7:00 PM $200 $7,500 April 28 34 Low Stud Hi/Lo [8-Max] 7:00 PM $20 $2,500 April 28 35 High NLHE [3-Max, Hyper, Rebuy] 9:00 PM $50 $10,000 April 28 35 Low NLHE [3-Max, Hyper, Rebuy] 9:00 PM $5 $3,000 April 29 36 High Mixed NLHE/PLO [Progressive KO] 2:30 PM $200 $16,000 April 29 36 Low Mixed NLHE/PLO [Progressive KO] 2:30 PM $20 $4,000 April 29 37 High NLHE [Main Event, 2-Day Event] 5:00 PM $500 $200,000 April 29 37 Low NLHE [Main Event, 2-Day Event] 5:00 PM $50 $40,000 April 29 38 High PL Omaha [6-Max] 8:00 PM $150 $15,000 April 29 38 Low PL Omaha [6-Max] 8:00 PM $15 $3,000 April 29 39 High NLHE [Sunday Supersonic SE, Hyper-Turbo] 10:00 PM $100 $15,000 April 29 39 Low NLHE [Hyper-Turbo] 10:00 PM $10 $3,000 April 30 40 High NLHE [Wrap-up - Deep, Hyper-Turbo] 9:00 PM $150 $16,000 April 30 40 Low NLHE [Wrap-up - Deep, Hyper-Turbo] 9:00 PM $15 $5,000
  8. Ross 'Acanthopis' Gottlieb had himself an interesting weekend at the Borgata Spring Poker Open. The New Jersey veterinarian cashed in two events in a single day to earn himself over $10,000. What started as a day of heartbreak soon turned into an epic night of grinding. Gottlieb is on a run as of late on both the online and live felt and is feeling great about his game heading into the summer. It’s “uncommon” for Gottlieb to have a full weekend off to play poker. He took advantage of his available Friday to play the $100,000 guaranteed Six Max. Gottlieb bagged a middle of the road stack for Day 2 after battling with Tom Cannuli and Will Failla at this table and had a chance to play for the $40,000 first-place prize. Saturday started as bad as possible for Gottlieb. He lost pocket kings against aces on the third hand of play and was not sure about how to proceed with the rest of the day. “It didn’t start off so great in the Six Max,” Gottlieb obliged. “I was pretty annoyed, you start cursing your luck but you realize you’re fortunate enough to make it that deep. I didn’t really want to play the Saturday Series but I got some food and decided to play.” The one-day $100,000 guaranteed marathon Saturday Series was a few levels in when Gottlieb sat down. Instantly, he was among one of the chip leaders. “It’s relatively easy to spin up a stack in that event. By the 500/1,000 level, I was at 100,000 and cruising.” The success of Gottlieb in a fast-paced structure is attributed to his online reps. At the Winter Poker Open in January, Gottlieb won the Saturday Series in an eight-way deal for a $28,433 score. “In the earlier levels, it’s easy to three-bet to weaker players at the table and they can’t do much about it. I’ve been really focused lately and been playing more than I ever have.” A fifth-place result was Gottlieb’s fate in the Saturday Series. A shallow final table leads to variance but it’s not a factor Gottlieb is unfamiliar with. In fact, he recalls exact events from New Jersey online that helped him play live for what is a larger prize pool. “In the Super Tuesday online on PokerStars, it’s pretty similar. That one in general and the Tuesday showdown on WSOP, everyone at the final table has 15 bigs. A lot of times when you go deep, there’s a ton of flip situations that you find online. When you’re playing some of the larger tournaments live, you don’t have to take those spots.” The recent volume of Gottlieb equals a win in the 888NJ Ultimate Warrior on March 5 for $11,770 and a fourth-place finish this week in the PokerStarsNJ NJSCOOP $1,000 High Roller. A week before the next edition of the New Jersey Online Rankings is released, Gottlieb toes the line of the top-10. Gottlieb multi-tables online but never before experienced two straight 12 hour days of playing a live tournament as he did last week. “It was quite tiring,” Gottlieb said. In the hours he plays for thousands of dollars instead of tens of thousands in live scenarios, Gottlieb is preparing himself for when the money becomes life-changing. Gottlieb stayed on the sidelines last summer and scheduled two weeks to be out in Las Vegas starting with the Millionaire Maker event. A culmination of Gottlieb’s work comes together this weekend for the NJSCOOP Main Event. The $200,000 guaranteed tournament includes a $30,000 PokerStars Platinum Pass. The prospect of playing for added equity excites Gottlieb, who believes this tournament is going to contain the largest prize pool in New Jersey online history. I think that’s pretty absurd that we get the chance to play for the platinum pass,” Gottlieb stated. “We’re going to fire as much as we need to. Even if you get close to it, you get okay money for the final table. I’m hoping that they’re going to hand out a couple more passes, that this isn’t it. It would be cool to play a $25K. First place is going to be absurd but I’m going to be comfortable because of my familiarity with the spots. I’m hoping that I’ve been channeling it all for the deep run in main.” Does the first Platinum Pass in New Jersey have Ross Gottlieb’s name on it? He’ll soon find out.
  9. It was 15 years that Chris Moneymaker turned an $86 satellite win into $2.5 million, a World Series of Poker Main Event title and a special place in poker history. Now, with the help of the PokerStars Platinum Pass, Moneymaker is hoping to make magic happen for somebody else. The Moneymaker PSPC Tour is nine-stop tour running across the United States that will award one $30,000 Platinum Pass at each stop - and the buy-in is just $86. Each Platinum Pass comes with a buy-in to the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship this January at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and an additional $5,000 for travel and hotel. PokerStars is giving away 300 through various means leading up to the event. While Moneymaker doesn't want to take all of the credit for the new tour, when PokerStars approached him about giving away a Platinum Pass, he knew he wanted to reach a certain audience. "It was a little bit of a collaboration. We were trying to figure out a way that we could get more passes into the United States and do some things. One, to have a better presence in the U.S. and two, give other people opportunities that aren't getting opportunities playing online or going to some of these other stops," said Moneymaker. "This a way to do that and give everybody a really good price point to get in and promote this and hopefully have a story to tell at the end of it." The nine stops are all inside the United States, including one being played online in New Jersey. While details for each stop are up to the host venue, Moneymaker expects each one to unlimited re-entry but don't think this means it'll be full of well-bankrolled players taking shot after shot after shot. "I would imagine every single stop is going to be packed where there's going to be alternates, so if you bust it's going to be difficult to bust multiple times and get back in," said Moneymaker. Each stop on the tour will award a Platinum Pass to the winner on top of the normal prize pool with payouts determined by the host venue. "Every casino is probably going to have a different method to how they're going to run their tournaments. We're going to be at MGM Harbor and they're going to run different from Stones, probably. The payout structures are going to be different. I think Stones is leaning more towards paying almost zero to first and giving all the money to second and back and first place will get the $30,000 package." The Moneymaker PSPC Tour Schedule Date Venue Location August 4 - 5 Stones Gambling Hall Citrus Heights, CA August 19 - 26 Lucky Chances Colma, CA September 9 Foxwoods Resort Casino Mashantucket, CT September 15 MGM National Harbor Oxon Hill, MD September 22 Gardens Casino Hawaiian Gardens, CA September 23 Talking Stick Scottsdale, AZ September 30 PokerStarsNJ.com Online October 7 Mohegan Sun Uncasville, CT October 10 - 14 Maryland Live Hanover, MD While obviously designed to be affordable, the $86 buy-in is also a nod to one of the most misreported parts of Moneymaker's historic 2003 WSOP victory. In the moments and days after his win, mainstream media reported that Moneymaker had turned his win in a $39 satellite on PokerStars into $2.5 million. In reality, the buy-in for his first satellite was $86 - but even Moneymaker ran with the $39 story for years. "I remember that night doing the interviews it was $39, and I thought for 12 years it was $39. I wrote a book, $39 to $2.5 million," said Moneymaker, who was told by a PokerStars staffer at an event in London in 2015 that the buy-in was actually $86. "I was like, 'I did not know that, but okay, good to know'." The confusion actually continued though. Moneymaker misheard the number and was under the impression it was $81. When they started putting plans together for this tour, everything was built around an $81 price point. "Somebody had to come back and say 'No, it was $86'. So it goes up every couple of years - it'll be $100 before long," joked Moneymaker. The historical tie-in was obviously important, but Moneymaker wanted to make sure that players that aren't able to otherwise travel to play in bigger buy-in tournaments were able to get into this one with a shot at winning something special. "I'd rather go and play the Festivals or the Cups with the smaller buy-ins. Go to some of the smaller stops. That's where people like to see me and it's just a lot more fun and I enjoy that atmosphere. This fits really well with that mold," said Moneymaker. "I'm excited about this tour. This tour is going to be a really awesome thing. Hopefully one of them makes a deep run and it changes their life."
  10. Piotr Nurzynski just might be the Polish Chris Moneymaker. The 28-year-old former doctor, who qualified for the European Poker Tour Barcelona stop online, won €1,037,109 and a seat in the PokerStars Players Championship next January by outlasting the 1,931-player field on his way to the title. The six-handed final table started with Nursynski sitting in second place behind only Haoxiang Wang. It was Wang who did most of the heavy lifting early on though. It took just over two hours of play before the first elimination of the day. With blinds of 125,000/250,000 (250,000) Matthias Tikerpe moved all in for 3,975,000 from UTG+1 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"] and Piotr Nurzynski called from the cutoff with [poker card="9c"][poker card="9h"]. The [poker card="8d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"] flop kept Nurzynski ahead and as the dealer dealt the [poker card="6h"] turn and [poker card="qs"] river, Tikerpe was eliminated in sixth place for a career-best live score of €287,050. Ten minutes later, Rodrigo Carmo saw his final table run end. Carmo came into the final table with just 10 big blind and after laddering up one place in payouts, found a spot to get his chips in with a double up in mind. Wang raised to 600,000 from UTG with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"] and action folded to Carmo in the big blind. The Portuguese pro looked down at [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"] and moved all in for 4,000,000. Wang called and then watched the board run out [poker card="jc"][poker card="5s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="6d"][poker card="3s"] to send Carmo out in fifth. The four remaining players then turned their attention to re-adjusting the prizepool. After a brief discussion, the players agreed on a deal that paid out the following: Haoxiang Wang - €1,023,701 Piotr Nurzynski - €857,109 Ognyan Dimov - €725,621 Pedro Marques - €698,369 That left €180,000 and the $30,000 Platinum Pass to play for. With most of the money set aside though, the action picked up and it took just 30 minutes to send the first player packing. From UTG, Wang raised to 625,000 with [poker card="td"][poker card="ts"] before Pedro Marques moved all in for 6,500,000 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="3c"]. The other two players folded and Wang called to put Marques at risk. The [poker card="js"][poker card="7h"][poker card="6c"][poker card="qh"][poker card="8d"] runout couldn't save Marques from busting in fourth place and propelled Wang to an even bigger lead. Five minutes later Wang continued to be the unstoppable force at the table. Ognyan Dimov shoved for 3,400,000 from the button with [poker card="kc"][poker card="7c"] and Wang called from the big blind with [poker card="ks"][poker card="8h"]. Dimov could only watch as the [poker card="ah"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2d"] flop, [poker card="6h"] turn and [poker card="qh"] river failed to give him even half the pot and the Bulgarian, who won a WSOP bracelet earlier this summer, was sent packing in third place. At this point, Wang held 78% of the chips in play and seemed assured of the victory. Nurzynski had other ideas though. After doubling up early on during heads up, Nurzysnki then took the lead to set up two hours of play that saw each player holding the lead. Eventually, Nurzynski finished Wang off and turned his €250 online satellite into a dream seven-figure score. With blinds of 250,000/500,000 (500,000), Nurzynski called from the button holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="9c"] and Wang check his option with [poker card="ks"][poker card="2d"]. The flop was [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"][poker card="6d"] and Wang bet 500,000 and Nurzynski called. The turne was the [poker card="7c"] and this time Wang checked. Nurzynski bet 2,000,000 and Wang called. The river was the [poker card="4d"] and Wang checked gain. Nurzynski moved all in and Wang, who was out of time banks, called just as the clock was winding down only to find he had the losing hand. Both players ended with €1M scores thanks to the chop. Both players also wound up winning Platninum Passes worth $30,000. Nurzysnki won his for being the last online qualifier remaining in the field. The winner of the tournament was also supposed to get a Platinum Pass, which comes with the $25,000 buy-in to the PokerStars Players Championship and $5,000 for travel and accommodations, but players are only allowed to win one so Wang ended up winning the pass that Nurzynski would have won had he not been an online qualifier. Final Table Payouts Piotr Nurzynski - €1,037,109 (+ $30,000 Platinum Pass) Haoxiang Wang - €1,023,701 (+ $30,000 Platinum Pass) Ognyan Dimov - €725,621 Pedro Marques - €698,369 Rodrigo Carmo - €354,200 Matthias Tikerpe - €287,050
  11. There are still plenty of PokerStars Platinum Passes left to be won in 2018. However, only five more Platinum Passes are available to be earned as a part of the PokerStars Platinum Pass Adventure. The program enables PokerStars ambassadors to create unique ways for players to win their way to the 2019 $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship. Now PokerStars personalities Daniel Negreanu, Maria Konnikova, Jeff Gross, Jen Shahade and Lex Veldhuis will be handing out passes. Each ambassador tasks their fanbase to perform something unique in an effort to be one of the people selected at a shot to win millions in the Bahamas. Negreanu Asks "Who Do You Play For?" Daniel Negreanu’s challenge is asking the poker community the question “Who are you playing for?” Negreanu understands that players are likely hoping for a score to change their own lives, but he’s asking for more. His challenge requires people to create a short video discussing a motivating charity, cause or foundation that would also benefit from having you playing in the PSPC. “You can make a huge difference for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time. So…who do you play for?” Negreanu said. Submit the video using the social media hashtag #DonateWithDaniel by September 30. Negreanu will select his top five finalists and then, on October 13 award the Platinum Pass. The four finalist videos that are not selected will all earn $1,000 for the charities or causes discussed. If the winner of the challenge cashes or, even wins, they will donate 50% of their earnings to the charity in their video. Konnikova's Poker Story Maria Konnikova’s poker story is incredibly unique. After having set out to write a book about what it takes to become a professional poker player, she actually lived it out. She turned a victory in the $1,500 2018 PokerStars PCA National event for $84,000 into a sponsorship deal with PokerStars. Now, she’s giving away a Platinum Pass to someone else who has a story to tell. “I truly believe that creativity and storytelling are among the most valuable and most often overlooked skills in poker - and I can’t wait to see you embrace those skills in this challenge,” Konnikova said. Konnikova's #mypokerstory challenge is looking for the most compelling story of what it means to be a good poker player. Are You Ready For Your Close Up? The social media savvy Jeff Gross has been creating YouTube vlogs for years and now he’s looking to inspire someone else to pick up a camera and begin to document their journey. “To have the opportunity to encourage someone to create something they are passionate about and give away a once in a lifetime experience trip to the PSPC means the world to me,” said Gross. “This is an event that will go down in history as one of the most special poker tournaments of our time.” Visit Gross' YouTube Channel for more details on his challenge. Create The Ultimate Game Of Skill Chess expert Jennifer Shahade found her way to to the felt by way of the chess board. Now, she’s hoping to find the next poker superstar among those who also share a love for both games. The #MyChessPokerGame challenge is asking the community to create a new game that incorporates elements of both chess and poker. “Poker is not just a game, but a passion, a science and a community, just like my first love, chess,” said Shahade. Shahade will select the finalists and a panel of poker and chess professionals will help select the winner, including Negreanu, Live Boeree and International Chess Master Danny Mensch. Pay It Forward Team PokerStars Online Pro Lex Veldhuis has also opted for a person of charity to receive his Platinum Pass. Hoping to find someone who will pay it forward, Veldhuis is looking for someone who will take action by documenting themselves spending 20 hours for a charitable cause. “When thinking about this challenge I really wanted to encompass what makes Twitch special for me. Then it became very simple. It’s people anonymously doing stuff for others. Going out of their way to do something nice or be there for someone,” Veldhuis said. “It’s a win-win contest as those who do not win a Pass will still feel like that have won by doing something they cherish, and people will have received something nice because of them.” Winners of each of the five Platinum Passes will earn a ticket to the $25,000 tournament plus an additional $5,000. Additionally, they will receive coaching and be mentored by the Ambassador who selected them. The PokerStars’ PSPC will take place January 6-10, 2019 during the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas.
  12. After taking the summer off, the European Poker Tour is back in action beginning August 21 with a return to Casino Barcelona for EPT Barcelona. The sea of high buy-ins and marquee events are topped with the added prize of 10 Platinum Passes to be distributed during the series. All the regularly scheduled favorites return to the EPT Barcelona calendar. The €100,000 Super High Roller, €1,100 EPT National, €50,000 High Roller, and €5,300 Main Event are listed as part of the 34 tournament schedule. Big numbers are part of the EPT Barcelona lore dating back to the first time Casino Barcelona hosted PokerStars in 2004. The trend held to form last year and entry figures are expected to increase in 2018 thanks to the Platinum Pass equity added. Sebastian Sorensson turned his PokerStars online satellite into $1.16 million versus a field of 1,682 in the 2017 PokerStars Championship Main Event. The EPT brand returns for the first time since Sebastian Malec won the 2016 EPT Barcelona Main Event for $1.27 million. In the 2018 PokerStars National Championship, 4,557 runners bested the €4 million guaranteed prize pool and the top-seven players all earned at least $149,190. How to Win a Platinum Pass The Platinum Pass is the coveted totem in all 2018 PokerStars events and the journey toward awarding 300 takes a major step forward in Barcelona. Players can claim a Platinum Pass by winning a specific event or simply being at the right place at the right time. The winners of the EPT Main Event, EPT National and the €550 EPT Cup will each be given a Platinum Pass for their victory. The online or live qualifier in the EPT Main Event who lasts the longest also receives a Platinum Pass. All three tournaments are also shelling out a Platinum Pass in the Crazy Pineapple hand challenge. The rules for the Crazy Pineapple hand challenge are as follows from the PokerStars website: "At the start of Day 2, in applicable tournaments, we will run a Crazy Pineapple Flip Out Hand on each table. The winner of each table will move to the next round (via a Shootout Format) where another Crazy Pineapple Flip Out Hand will take place. This will continue until we have one winner, and the winner will be awarded a Platinum Pass." The final three Platinum Passes are circulated via two more Crazy Pineapple hands and a special package qualifier. Event #23 (€1,100 Freezeout) and Event #28 (€550 No Limit Hold'em) are assigning Platinum Passes to the winners of their respective Crazy Pineapple hands at the start of Day 2. Event #28 (€2,150 PokerStars Players Championship package qualifier) adds a Platinum Pass to the overall prize pool. EPT Barcelona marks the most Platinum Passes dispersed at a single PokerStars Live stop. The previous top number was the APPT Manilla stop in August where five were issued along with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure this January. EPT Barcelona Main Event Schedule Date Event Number Name Buy-in August 21 3 NL Hold'em Hyper Turbo (Single-Day Event) €2,150 August 22 4 EPT National (Four-Day Event, Four Starting Flights) €1,100 August 22 5 NL Hold'em (Two-Day Event) €10,300 August 24 6 NL Hold'em Seniors Event (Two-Day Event) €1,100 August 24 7 EPT Cup (Two-Day Event, Three Starting Flights) €550 August 25 9 EPT Super High Roller (Three-Day Event) €100,000 August 25 10 NL Hold'em Hyper Turbo Freezeout (Single-Day Event) €1,100 August 26 11 EPT National High Roller (Two-Day Event, Two Starting Flights €2,200 August 27 13 EPT Main Event (Five-Day Event, Two Starting Flights) €5,300 August 28 17 NL Hold'em (Single-Day Event) €50,000 August 28 18 NL Hold'em Hyper Turbo (Single-Day Event) €2,150 August 29 20 Pot Limit Omaha (Two-Day Event) €10,300 August 30 22 NL Hold'em (Single-Day Event) €25,000 August 30 23 NL Hold'em Freezeout (Two-Day Event) €1,100 August 31 26 Pot Limit Omaha (Two-Day Event) €1,100 August 31 27 EPT Barcelona High Roller (Three-Day Event) €10,300 August 31 28 NL Hold'em (Two-Day Event, Three Starting Flights) €550 August 31 29 NL Hold'em Hyper Turbo Freezeout (Single-Day Event) €2,150 September 1 30 NL Hold'em DeepStack (Two-Day Event) €2,200 September 1 31 NL Hold'em (Two-Day Event) €1,100 September 2 32 NL Hold'em Turbo (Single-Day Event) €550 September 2 33 NL Hold'em Turbo (Single-Day Event) €1,625 September 2 34 NL Hold'em Turbo (Single-Day Event) €5,200
  13. As always, September is going to be a busy, busy time for online poker players. Just days after partypoker announced the schedule for their upcoming Powerfest series, PokerStars released full details for the 2018 World Championship of Online Poker. This year's schedule, which runs September 2 - 17, includes 182 events spread across three different buy-in levels; Low, Medium, and High. This marks the first time that the three-tier buy-in system has been used for WCOOP. In 2017, the WCOOP schedule included a High and Low buy-in system and the three-tier system has been a staple of the Spring Championship of Online Poker schedule. "Each year, players from around the world come together at PokerStars to battle it out in the WCOOP,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations. "The three-tier buy-in system that we have introduced this year means that everyone can enjoy the WCOOP action over 16 days, giving everyone a shot at becoming a PokerStars world champion of online poker.” The Low schedule includes events with buy-ins ranging from $2.20 up to $215. Medium buy-ins go from $55 up to $2,100 while the High events start at $530 and reach a high of $25,000. The Medium Main Event has a $1 million guarantee with a $55 buy-in while the High Main Event has a $10 million guarantee and a $5,200 buy-in. There is no Main Event at the Low level. The total guarantees for 2018 WCOOP top $70 million. There are 25 events that guarantee at least $1,000,000 including five that guarantee more than $1,000,000. 2018 WCOOP Five Biggest Guarantees EVENT BUY-IN TOURNAMENT GUARANTEE #46 (High) $530 No Limit Hold'em (PKO, Half Price Thursday Thrill) $1.25M #31 (High) $1,050 No Limit Hold'em $1.5M #1 (High) $215 No Limit Hold'em (Phase 2) $2M #43 (High) $25,000 No Limit Hold'em (Eight Max, High Roller) $2M #58 (High) $5,200 No Limit Hold'em (Main Event) $10M Mixed Game Action Of the 182 tournaments on the schedule, 116 are some variation of No Limit Hold'em but that leaves 66 events for players who prefer something else. There are 15 Pot Limit Omaha events highlighted by the $25,000 buy-in PLO Six Max High Roller on September 5. There are also events in No Limit Omaha 8 or Better, HORSE, Pot Limit Omaha 8 or Better, Eight-Game Mix, Stud 7 or Better, Limit Hold'em, Triple Draw 2-7, Five Card Pot Limit Omaha, Five Card Draw, Single Draw 2-7, Razz, and Omaha 8 or Better. Satellite Options Beginning in late August, PokerStars will offer players a variety of ways to qualify for WCOOP events via satellite. Starting August 26 and running until September 16, a daily $55 satellite will award a total of 22 $5,200 Main Event seats. Players playing $5 and $25 Spin-n-Gos between August 23 and September 16 could win various WCOOP tickets. Six Platinum Passes Available And it wouldn't be a PokerStars event in 2018 if there wasn't significant Platinum Pass involvement. While details on how the passes will be awarded have not been released, players can win one of six Platinum Passes available during WCOOP. The Platinum Pass includes a $25,000 buy-in to the PokerStars Players Championship event at the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and $5,000 for travel and accomodation. PocketFives will have daily coverage of 2018 WCOOP.
  14. The opening days of the third annual PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker had one of the regions top-ranked players walking away with a $30,000 trip to the Bahamas. Anthony 'FlawlessBINK' Maio beat out 408 other players to win Event #6 ($86 Moneymaker Tour No Limit Hold'em) to win a $30,000 Platinum Pass which includes the $25,000 buy-in to the PokerStars Players Championship this January in the Bahamas. The runner-up in that event, 'LuieAnderson', had to settle for a $5,800.49 score while third-place finisher 'CrazyIKilla' earned $4,263.27. Sunday's biggest NJCOOP score went to 's3lfreliance' after topping the 285-player field in Event #5 ($250 No Limit Hold'em Sunday Special Special Edition). That win earned him $12,663.73. Daniel 'AvaGray' Lupo banked $9,418.06 for finishing second and Alex 'Ajax624' Jim banked $7,004.41 for finishing third. The first non-Hold'em event on the schedule, Event #7 ($100 Pot Limit Omaha Eight Max) drew 146 players with 'solidluck' earning $2,915.24 for the win. Michael Gagliano picked up $3,622.71 and his first NJCOOP title of the year in Event #8 ($150 Hyper Turbo No Limit Hold'em Sunday SuperSonic Special Edition) by beating 'You Are Tim' heads up. Action kicked off Saturday with 'Bornagain118' winning Event #1 ($100 No Limit Hold'em) for $4,432.13. The opening event brought in 251 runners for a $23,041.80 prize pool. Maio finished seventh in that event for $759.97. '$gt. Tibbs' took down Event #2 ($200 Turbo No Limit Hold'em) for a $4,856.38 score. Second-place finisher '09123459' earned $3,656.66 while Lupo pocketed $2,753.36 for outlasting all but those two players in the 114-player field. Event #1 - $100 No Limit Hold'em Entries: 251 Prize pool: $23,041.80 Bornagain118 - $4,432.13 T1111111111M - $3,303.43 thewholefunk - $2,462.25 Big Chips79 - $1,835.26 Schwibbs - $1,367.93 MommaBluffsBIG - $1,019.60 FlawlessBINK - $759.97 BENN DOVERR - $566.45 GUUUULP - $422.21 Event #2 - $200 Turbo No Limit Hold'em Entries: 114 Prize pool: $21,204 $gt. Tibbs - $4,856.38 09123459 - $3,656.66 AvaGray - $2,753.36 MartinChatwn - $2,073.19 iFoldN0T - $1,561.05 HowieWelper - $1,175.42 roflmfao_wp - $885.06 thewholefunk - $666.42 Event #3 - $200 No Limit Hold'em Progressive KO Entries: 168 Prize pool: $31,248 T1111111111M - $3,613.65 BabyRaizer - $2,709.79 rosseg - $2,032.05 jimmyblingz - $1,523.82 Renorick1946 - $1,142.70 roflmfao_wp - $856.91 scamfest - $642.59 HowieWelper - $481.87 Cass N Hoes - $361.35 Event #4 - $150 Deepstack No Limit Hold'em Eight Max Entries: 207 Prize pool: $28,503.90 Gay4Tray - $5,772.29 scamfest - $4,418.10 JohnnyMania - $3,277.94 cl1ckinbtns - $2,422.83 NewJerseySux - $1,567.71 loosebad - $1,282.67 D.Drumpf - $997.63 RikNmorty - $783.85 Event #5 - $250 No Limit Hold'em Sunday Special Special Edition Entries: 285 Prize pool: $66,405 s3lfreliance - $12,663.73 AvaGray - $9,418.06 Ajax624 - $7,004.41 sonboi - $5,209.32 skeemer1 - $3,874.28 tsax20 - $2,881.38 martycohen - $2,142.94 OctoberSky23 - $1,593.75 iFoldN0T - $1,185.30 Event #6 - $86 Moneymaker Tour No Limit Hold'em Entries: 409 Prize pool: $62,004.25 FlawlessBINK - $30,000* LuieAnderson - $5,800.49 CrazyIKilla - $4,263.27 AvaGray - $3,133.65 gatorgrinds - $2,303.34 HankingArown - $1,693.04 NewJerseySux - $1,244.44 Schwibbs - $914.70 hagz2richez - $672.34 *Platinum Pass includes $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship buy-in and $5,000 for travel and accomodations. Event #7 - $100 Pot Limit Omaha Eight Max Entries: 146 Prize pool: $13,402.80 solidluck - $2,915.24 $gt. Tibbs - $2,077.43 cubsters - $1,608.33 MisAnnthr0pe - $1,139.23 OptCableGuy - $737.15 iFoldN0T - $603.12 HowieWelper - $469.09 Wsopboy1997 - $368.57 Event #8 - $150 Hyper Turbo No Limit Hold'em Sunday SuperSonic Special Edition Entries: 111 Prize pool: $15,817.50 J3tBl@ckP0pe - $3,622.71 You Are Tim - $2,727.75 Wsopboy1997 - $2,053.91 aad0906 - $1,546.53 thewholefunk - $1,164.49 T1111111111M - $876.83 FunkyJesus - $660.22 KoolerU - $497.13
  15. "I'm gonna make this happen. Somehow, I'm gonna win one of these damn passes." After calling his shot earlier this year, Nathan Manuel has done it. He's won a PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship Platinum Pass. Winning the Pass involved topping a field of 825 entries in the $86 buy-in Moneymaker PSPC Tour stop at Run It Up Reno. After 128 players hit the money, the field worked its way down to the final table. Manuel entered the final table with the chip lead and had to battle with a tough group of competitors, including three-time Run It Up Reno trophy winner Andrew Cha and Florida grinder Hayden Fortini, who finished in sixth and eighth places, respectively. In the end, Manuel was left to battle with Run It Up Reno regular Marty Gorenc. Manuel entered the heads-up match at a 3-1 disadvantage but ultimately prevailed. "I'm sure it has not sunk in," Manuel said 24 hours after the win. "I have not done the paperwork yet, but it'll probably feel more real once I do all of that and know what the situation looks like." Manuel has already been all over in his quest for a Platinum Pass, and knowing his opportunities were running out more and more by the day, he was prepared to jump overseas in his chase. "The thing that makes it the most real is that I was literally planning a trip to London to play two events there — a MegaStack and a £2,000 event that both had Platinum Passes, and I was trying to figure out any alternate ways that I might find to win a Pass. The fact that I'm not having to do that and go to these extra lengths to give myself more opportunities makes it feel more practically real, but I don't think the reality of accomplishing a goal has settled in yet." No matter how he won a Pass, Manuel would have felt a great success, but doing so in a Moneymaker PSPC Tour stop was something that resonated with Manuel as he drew some similarities between himself and Chris Moneymaker. "For me, poker is something that I love and something that I am passionate about," Manuel said. "I'm an everyday guy with a job, who, very much like Chris Moneymaker, lives a professional career, but this game opens up opportunities that are unique and that you can’t even anticipate. "I find myself in a place today where I have some opportunities and it's interesting to find myself in the position to play a $25K tournament that I clearly would never play based on my bankroll and based on the history I have playing poker," Manuel said. "My average tournament buy-in is sub-$1,000, so to have an opportunity to play something with the best players in the world in a field that’s going to be super unique in that it has all these people being added to it that likely are not professional players, it puts a really interesting spin on it. I do feel some relief that I’ve won a Pass because I came into this knowing that I was not a favorite to win a Pass." Now that he’s clinched a Pass and will be off to the Bahamas in January, Manuel is quick to change gears. Even though recognizes the odds weren’t in his favor to win a Platinum Pass, Manuel realizes that winning a Pass, albeit a very big accomplishment in itself, is only part of the larger goal. "All that I'm thinking about at this point is that the goal has now changed," Manuel said. "I'm not trying to win this Pass, I'm not trying to learn Japanese to win a Pass, which is something I wanted to do and I'm really excited I did, but now it's getting better at poker. Think about poker, think about poker at the highest level, think about poker at the level of $25K buy-in tournaments and the people who you’re going to be interacting with and playing with in that field, even though I know a huge percentage, probably half of the field, will be non-professionals. I hope and anticipate and expect of myself a lot. Part of that is expecting that I'll play well. Even if I don't make a deep run, that I'll play well for myself and be happy with the way that I play in that tournament for myself." You can follow Nathan Manuel on his quest to the PSPC via his Twitter account and his YouTube channel.
  16. Next up on the European Poker Tour schedule is EPT Prague. The event heads to Casino Atrium Prague at the Hilton Prague December 7-18, for a plentiful festival that includes 43 events. EPT Prague is anchored by the €5,300 Main Event running December 12-18 and the series will also award two Platinum Passes to the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship. In addition to the €5,300 Main Event, the EPT Prague schedule features the €1,100 buy-in EPT National event December 8-12, the €50,000 buy-in EPT Super High Roller December 10-12, and the €10,300 buy-in EPT High Roller December 16-18. Prague Known for Its Big Numbers EPT Prague is one of the European Poker Tour’s most iconic stops, and it never fails to deliver with impressive field sizes and large payouts. If you include the one-year rebranded PokerStars Championship Prague in 2017, the Prague Main Event has attracted 9,065 entries over the years and generated a total of €43.8 million in prize money. That’s an average field size of 824 entries and an average prize pool of nearly €4 million. The first-place prize has averaged nearly €750,000, too. France’s Arnaud Mattern was the first EPT Prague Main Event winner when he took the crown back in 2007, and other past winners include Roberto Romanello in 2010, Martin Finger in 2011, and Stephen Graner in 2014. Jasper Van Putten won the largest EPT Prague Main Event, topping a field of 1,192 entries in 2016 to win €699,300 after a heads-up deal was made with Marton Czuczor. Graner’s €969,000 prize from 2014 remains the largest first-place payout in EPT Prague Main Event history. The €10,300 buy-in High Roller has also been a favorite of players heading to Prague. First installed in 2010, this event has attracted a total of 1,584 entries and generated more than €16.6 million in prize money. The €1,100 buy-in National tournament is Prague’s best mid-tier offering and known to attract tons of players, with 9,746 entries across six years and a total of €9.45 million dished out. That’s an average field size of more than 1,600 runners. Two Platinum Pass Packages Up for Grabs EPT Prague will award two coveted Platinum Pass packages, valued at $30,000 each. The packages include a $25,000 entry into the PSPC tournament in the Bahamas in January 2019, six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, and $2,000 in travel expenses and room folio credit. Details on how to win a Platinum Pass during EPT Prague have yet to be released, but stay tuned to PocketFives.com for an update. The Czech Republic Capital Delivers Off the Felt, Too If you’re a fan of poker and the winter holiday season, there are few places better than Prague in the month of December for the EPT’s trip there. The city is absolutely beautiful at this time of year, dressed from head to toe in holiday garb with incredible sights and delicious treats to delight. For the adventurers out there, Prague has a few must-see attractions, starting with the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square. Taking a stroll across the 14th Century Charles Bridge is simply charming. It’s as picturesque as anywhere in the world and comes full of life. Prague’s Old Town Square has become a favorite of anyone who travels to EPT Prague. The historic streets are lined with restaurants and holiday vendors for you to grab a bite or a pint while listening to live music or enjoying one of the many street performers putting on a show. While you’re down in Old Town Square, make sure you check out the Prague Astronomical Clock. The medieval clock is the oldest astronomical clock in the world that is still in operation. As you continue to stroll around town, you may want to check out Prague Castle. It’s stunning and provides amazing views of the city. EPT Prague Schedule DATE TIME EVENT TOURNAMENT BUY-IN 12/7/18 4 p.m. 1 NL Hold'em €1,100 6 p.m. 2 NL Hold'em - 8 Handed €10,300 8 p.m. 3 NL Hold'em - EPT National Qualifier 'Win your seat at 100,000 chips' €125 12/8/18 12 p.m. 4 (1a) NL Hold'em - EPT National €1,100 2 p.m. 5 NL Hold'em - €1,100 Cash Qualifier €120 7 p.m. 6 NL Hold'em - €1,100 Cash Qualifier €120 10 p.m. 7 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo - Freezeout €1,100 12/9/18 12 p.m. 4 (1b) NL Hold'em - EPT National €1,100 4 p.m. 8 NL Hold'em - EPT Super High Roller Qualifier €5,200 7 p.m. 4 (1c) NNL Hold'em - EPT National €1,100 10 p.m. 9 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo €1,100 12/10/18 12 p.m. 10 (1a) NL Hold'em - EPT Cup €330 12:30 p.m. 11 NL Hold'em - EPT Super High Roller €50,000 2 p.m. 12 NL Hold'em - EPT Main Event Qualifier 'Win your seat at 100,000 chips' €600 6 p.m. 10 (1b) NL Hold'em - EPT Cup - Re-Entry To A Following Flight €330 10 p.m. 13 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo - Knockout €2,150 12/11/18 12 p.m. 14 NL Hold'em - EPT National High Roller €2,200 4 p.m. 15 NL Hold'em - EPT Main Event Qualifier €800 9 p.m. 16 NL Hold'em - EPT Main Event Qualifier €550 12/12/18 12 p.m. 17 (1a) NL Hold'em - EPT Prague Main Event €5,300 4 p.m. 18 NL Hold'em - EPT Main Event Qualifier €800 8 p.m. 19 NL Hold'em - EPT Main Event Qualifier €550 10 p.m. 20 NL Hold'em - Turbo - To €25,000 €2,700 12/13/18 12 p.m. 17 (1b) NL Hold'em - EPT Prague Main Event €5,300 12:30 p.m. 21 NL Hold'em €25,000 4 p.m. 22 PL Omaha €1,100 9 p.m. 23 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo €2,150 24 NL Hold'em - Turbo €550 12/14/18 2 p.m. 25 NL Hold'em €2,200 2 p.m. 26 PL Omaha €10,300 8 p.m. 27 (1a) NL Hold'em - Weekend - Super Stack €330 10 p.m. 28 NL Hold'em - Turbo - To €25,000 €2,700 12/15/18 12:30 p.m. 29 NL Hold'em €25,000 1 p.m. 27 (1b) NL Hold'em - Weekend - Super Stack €330 6 p.m. 27 (1c) NL Hold'em - Weekend - Super Stack €330 6 p.m. 30 NL Hold'em - Turbo - EPT High Roller Qualifier €1,650 10 p.m. 31 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo €1,100 12/16/18 12 p.m. 32 H.O.R.S.E. €550 12 p.m. 33 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo - EPT High Roller Qualifier €1,100 12:30 p.m. 34 NL Hold'em - EPT Prague High Roller €10,300 4 p.m. 35 NL Hold'em €1,100 6 p.m. 36 NL Hold'em - Turbo - Win The Button €330 10 p.m. 37 NL Hold'em - Hyper Turbo - Knockout €2,150 12/17/18 4 p.m. 38 NL Hold'em - Deep Stack €2,200 6 p.m. 39 NL Hold'em €10,300 12/18/18 12:30 p.m. 40 NL Hold'em - Turbo €220 2 p.m. 41 NL Hold'em - Turbo - 6 Handed €2,150 5 p.m. 42 NL Hold'em - Turbo - 6 Handed €5,200 6 p.m. 43 NL Hold'em - Super Hyper Turbo €1,100   *Photo courtesy of PokerStars.
  17. "I'd love to be a poker player forever. I would love to do what Doyle Brunson did, obviously who wouldn't?" You may not recognize him now that he chopped off all of his hair, trimmed his bushy beard, and has a swollen black eye from a bike-riding adventure gone wrong, but Arlie Shaban is showing up everywhere in poker right now. The Big Brother Canada contestant turned Enterprise Rent-A-Car 9-5er has a new role as a Herculean. His rise has been fast and it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon, especially now that Shaban has the likes of Jason Somerville, the Twitch Poker community, and PokerStars adding fuel to the fire. "My biggest thing was, after Big Brother Canada I had gone and traveled and partied for a few years," Shaban said. "I had got myself into a bit of debt and then I had to go work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a job I hated. I just wanted to not do a job I hated. I didn't care if I was making amazing money. At the beginning, it was strictly just that I hated waking up every day, wearing a shirt and tie, going in rain, shine, winter, sun, doesn't matter — you go in, you work. I was outside a lot. I hated it. I just wanted to not do that. That was pretty much what it came down to." Shaban’s run on Big Brother Canada 2 ended in eighth place. Kevin Martin, fellow poker player, and also a Big Brother Canada contestant, had a similar result when he took ninth place on Big Brother Canada 3. Martin eventually went on to conquer Big Brother Canada 5 and he's someone Shaban credits for showing him how to conquer poker. "I'm a very highly motivated person, and I realized that the vast majority of people that play poker are losing players and you can learn how to be a winning player if you want to put in more work than your opponents," Shaban said. "I was willing to do that. I was willing to study. I just figured out the blueprint to success, by talking to Kevin. If you just put in hard work, you study, you game select, and you do things the right way — you have to have proper bankroll management — and I was doing all of those things incorrectly, which most people are. I just fixed those things, and once those were completely fixed, I realized I was making money and that started making me more confident. Once I got the confidence, I was like, 'OK, I'm going to give it a shot.' I started making a pretty consistent amount [of money] and I just realized if I combine this start of income that I'm getting from poker with Twitch — and hopefully, I can build a channel as well — I can create a little bit of supplemental income and it will take the stress off it. I did go for both of them at the same time, which I think is hard but helped because my channel did start growing and I did get a little bit of supplemental income and confidence from people watching. That's what did it for me. I knew I had the ability if I really just tried and I thought it was worth giving it a shot." In back-to-back months of August and September, Shaban was announced as an addition to Team RIU as a streaming ambassador and given a mega challenge deemed the "12 Labors of Arlie." With the 12 Labors, Shaban must complete various tasks given to him by PokerStars, with each task more difficult than the last. If he completes all 12 by the end of 2018, Shaban will earn a Platinum Pass to compete in the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship in the Bahamas. The Platinum Pass is worth $25,000 and entry into one of the most highly anticipated tournaments in poker. "The 12 Labors have been absolutely incredible," Shaban said. "I got challenged by PokerStars a few months back and I just accepted it, not knowing at all what this was going to be about. They choose me because I did my 125-day streaming streak. I had streamed 1,000 hours for my very first time streaming, so for over four months straight. Then, I also streamed for 43 hours in a row. So they reached out to me and they were like, 'Oh, you think you’re good at challenges? We challenge you to these 12 labors.' I was like, 'OK, let's do it.' I didn’t know what the prize was going to be for, I just had my pride on the line. When PokerStars challenges you, you don’t really say no. At least I’m not going to." One of the challenges Shaban was to complete involved "capturing poker's most mythological creature," according to PokerStars, and it was to be done while attending Run It Up Reno. Alongside fellow reality TV contestant Tyson Apostol, Shaban was to capture Chris Moneymaker while racing down a mountain on a bike in Northern Nevada. https://youtu.be/vcHO2mEAodc With his capture of Moneymaker complete, Shaban had completed seven of the 12 Labors of Arlie and was that much closer to winning a Platinum Pass. "It would just be unbelievable if I did go to the Bahamas and play in the PSPC, so if that happened I would just keep trying to go on the trajectory that I'm on," Shaban said. "Everything has been going very well with my poker, with my Twitch channel, and so I wouldn't want to take any momentum away from that. This is feeding all of the momentum into it. It’s a really cool challenge, the viewers are really enjoying it. I just want to carry the momentum, continue doing this as a full-time career, make sure the Twitch channel very consistently getting content out on there, and make sure I'm studying off stream and growing as a poker player." Part of growing as a poker player means playing more live poker events, hopefully in preparation for his trip to the big dance that is the PSPC. During the recent Run It Up Reno event, Shaban earned three cashes on the live felt, including a 15th-place result in the Main Event. In such a short period of time in poker's spotlight, Shaban has done a lot. He broke into the streaming world with a bang, landed a place on one of poker's most popular squads, and it appears nothing more than a formality for him to earn an exclusive Platinum Pass. Where does he go from here and what's Shaban's ultimate career goal? "I would just love to be a part of the poker community my whole life," Shaban said. "I'd love to be a poker player forever. I would love to do what Doyle Brunson did, obviously who wouldn't? Play a game you love until you’re old and you’re still playing at the highest stakes against the best players. That's so cool. For me, I just want to make a living off of poker my whole life. If that involves putting out content with Twitch, or if that involves just playing, I just want to be a part of the community. I love poker so much. I love the community. I’ve made a bunch of amazing friends here [in Reno]. Run It Up Reno is just amazing. Jason Somerville and the team, everyone is so cool, and I just got to be a part of the team. I just want to keep representing amazing companies that I love and watch the community grow for the rest of my life." *Photo courtesy of Run It Up.
  18. There was very little fanfare when Denis 'aDrENalin710' Strebkov topped a 482-player field in Event #5 (Medium) on the second day of the 2018 World Championship of Online Poker. The 28-year-old Moscow resident was one of 15 winners on that day. Over the course of the two weeks that followed, however, Strebkov forced people to stand up and take notice as they heard his name over and over and over and over again on his way to a record-setting five WCOOP titles and a solid hold on the top spot on the WCOOP Overall Leaderboard. As the wins began piling up, Strebkov knew he had a chance at winning the Overall Leaderboard and began playing more and more events. "I tried to play my usual schedule, but when I won those first two, I started playing everything for leaderboard points," said Strebkov. "It's nice to win so many tournaments in a short span. I was very excited." The five wins were an impressive feat but Strebkov says it was a tournament that he didn't win that proved to be the most difficult. "The hardest one was in HORSE when I finished second behind 'Ravenswood13'. That final table also had Shaun Deeb, Andrey Zaichenko and Viktor Blom," said Strebkov. "The Eight Game event that I won was difficult too, I was short stacked the whole time it felt like." Of his five victories, none came in No Limit Hold'em. While a high percentage of players his age got their start playing No Limit, Strebkov had a more unusual path. "I didn't play a lot of No Limit when I started to play poker. I played Omaha Hi-Lo sit-n-gos and some Razz cash games," said Strebkov, who started playing micro stakes in 2008 while a studying Nanoelectronics at a university in Taganrog, Russia. "I don't know why I'm just better in Limit games than in No Limit. For me, it's easier." While No Limit Hold'em might not be his area of expertise, he's got a few months to work on it. Winning the overall WCOOP leaderboard came with a $30,000 Platinum Pass that includes the $25,000 buy-in to the PokerStars Players Championship at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. "I'm learning Hold'em, but still have some things I need to improve on. Let's see how I do in the Bahamas," said Strebkov, who has played a few European Poker Tour events and other, smaller live events scattered throughout Europe. His WCOOP success not only added those five wins to his resume, that now includes an all-time record nine WCOOP titles, but it also came with a substantial boost to his bankroll. He's planning on expanding his schedule online and potentially increasing the stakes he plays. "I'll continue playing online, maybe a bit higher limits. That's a good boost for my bankroll," said Strebkov, who says there's a 70% chance he travels to Las Vegas next summer for the World Series of Poker. "I have a health problem. It's not serious, but it shouldn't stop me from going to the WSOP." Strebkov counts another Russian mix game specialist as one of his closest friends in poker. Eight years ago, Strebkov reached out to Andrey ‘Gigaloff’ Zhigalov on Skype to talk poker and learn from him. Three years later the two met face-to-face for the first time and now the pair regularly talks strategy. Aside from his recent success, Strebkov says he's just a regular guy. "I like to smoke hookah with my friends and play FIFA and other PlayStation games as well as some board games. I also enjoy listening to music and watching movies like everybody else," said Strebkov.
  19. Fifteen years ago, the poker world was introduced to Chris Moneymaker. The accountant from Tennessee with an unthinkable last name earned his way into the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event via a satellite on PokerStars for a paltry $86. Moneymaker went on to win the event thanks to a storybook run in poker’s greatest tournament and recently was the subject of the acclaimed 30 For 30 Podcasts by ESPN. "They actually approached me about doing the TV series, 30 for 30, a while back and I thought that sounded really cool," Moneymaker said of the opportunity with ESPN. "Then I guess they didn’t think I was cool enough for the TV show, or they saw my face and said that I have a face for radio, and they moved it over to the podcast (laughs). A guy came to Memphis, where I live, and spent three days with my wife and I, just hanging out and being part of the family. I did a bunch of interviews and then basically did about a million follow-up questions. It was a cool process. I haven’t heard the podcast yet myself, but I’d be interested to hear what the others [on the podcast] said. I know kind of what I said because I've said it a few times, but it’d be interesting to hear what Matt Savage and some of the others guys said." Moneymaker’s story is the stuff dreams are made of. Even though his big win was 15 years ago, at times it still appears that the relationship Moneymaker has with poker is still going through the honeymoon period. Make no mistake about it, though, the man once very open about his amateur status in the game now comes with a win-first mentality. "My goal is that whenever I come into a room, I want to take everybody's money, but I want them to be really happy when I do," Moneymaker said. Since his WSOP Main Event victory, Moneymaker's been on the ride of a lifetime, and understandably so. Many would argue his win was the win in poker. It catapulted Moneymaker into poker stardom and since then he's been triumphantly serving as one of the game's most prominent ambassadors. "It's been pretty surreal," Moneymaker told PocketFives of the last 15 years. "There's been ups and downs like anything else. Mostly it’s been up, but obviously, there's downsides of it, too. At the end of the day, poker went through a very hard time around Black Friday, and I think that we’re coming out and we’re recovering. There are other things that are attracting the younger generation’s attention that we’re sort of competing against for the new players coming up, but I think Twitch and what everyone else is doing is helping get us some buzz. We have things like PokerGO putting out great content, too.” One of Moneymaker’s recent trips took him to Reno, Nevada, for Jason Somerville’s Run It Up Reno VII festival. He brought with him the Moneymaker Tour, his brightest ambassador costume, and fierce-but-fun-loving competitiveness. While there, Moneymaker, alongside PokerStars, helped dish out another Platinum Pass in the stop’s $86 buy-in Moneymaker Tour event, deemed the "Moneymaker Spectacular." That tournament attracted the largest turnout of Run It Up Reno VII, with 825 entries blasting away in hopes of winning the $30,000 Platinum Pass package. In the end, it was Nathan Manuel achieving a lofty goal he set out to complete months prior. "First of all, [PokerStars] gave all of the ambassadors one seat to give away and our goal was to send everybody here to Reno and give away that seat," Moneymaker said. "It morphed into giving away a Platinum Pass away at every single stop [on the Moneymaker Tour], which is just absolutely incredible. It’s huge for me because I give someone else the opportunity that I had 15 years ago to turn $86 into life-changing money. Even for people go down there and don’t make anything, there’s a lot of people who can’t afford to go to the Bahamas so it’s already life changing for them. Then they have the opportunity, if they work hard or they want to get better, that I’m offering resources to help them get better and give them a real shot at making something in this tournament. My hope is that one of the people that won one of my tournaments makes a deep run or wins the [PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship]. Actually, I hope I win it, let’s be real, so they can get second (laughs). Again, to me, it’s about giving someone else the opportunity that I had so many years ago. It’s been really the most enriching experience to go through and play at every one of these stops. We’ve had people come in that have never played poker before or haven’t played poker in 10 years or never been to casinos before." While in Reno, Moneymaker cashed in three events for a total of $8,015 and was one player away from taking home a Run It Up Reno trophy when he placed second in the $235 6-Max 8-Game tournament for $5,400. If he’d have won that event, Moneymaker could’ve added the trophy right next to his bevy of PokerStars NJCOOP titles, of which he scored two more earlier in the month of October. Ever since online poker became legal in New Jersey and PokerStars launched PokerStarsNJ, "Money800" has been a regular fixture in the Garden State's virtual streets, locking horns with the best the state has to offer and coming out on top. In April 2018, he won two NJCOOP titles and placed second and fourth in two other NJCOOP events during the series. In October, Moneymaker doubled the weight of his NJCOOP bag by adding two more titles in back-to-back days. "It's awesome," Moneymaker said of being able to play regulated online poker in New Jersey. "It’s been, what? Two, three years now? I’ve had really good results in NJCOOP since I moved up there to play, and it’s always good the time the series comes in. There are a couple games I like to focus on. I always focus on the 8-game and a couple of the other variants, and they have all those so I really enjoy playing that series because they have a lot of different variants to play." When playing regulated online poker in New Jersey, Moneymaker can often be found on Twitch streaming his grind when he’s there for some action. Back when Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, and for much of the 15-year period between his win in 2003 and now, online poker streaming wasn’t a thing. Now, it’s everywhere, serving audiences in both entertainment and enhanced instruction. "Back when I won [the WSOP Main Event], there was Super/System and Mike Caro’s Book of Tells," Moneymaker said of poker’s new age involving Twitch and streaming. “I think those were the only two books, maybe a few more. There just wasn’t that much poker material out there. No one knew what they were doing, and now, you have all this free access. If you want to learn and get good at poker, you can do it for free, which is through time. All it takes is time, and energy to sit there and ask questions and watch a good streamer play. And there are so many different streamers to choose from. You can find one that fits your style, obviously, there are so many training sites and videos, there’s just so many resources now that poker is just so much more difficult now. The average player is just going to be better. That’s a tough thing for new players getting in the game, as they’re coming into a very knowledgable market that knows what they’re doing and it’s tough to just come in without trying to learn. To just be a recreational player, it’s difficult to sort of break through and be successful. But, the great thing about poker is that there is luck in the game and even people that aren’t as experienced are going to have good runs and maybe win a main event." *Photo courtesy of Run It Up.
  20. The last European Poker Tour event of 2018 wrapped up Tuesday in Prague with Germany's Paul Michaelis beating a final table that included a few well-known PocketFivers on his way to picking up €840,000 ($954,677) and a trip to the Bahamas to play in the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship in January. The eight-handed final table began on Monday before stopping with six players left to return on Tuesday. It took just a few hands at the final table on Monday for the first elimination to happen. Diego Zeiter moved all in for 1,305,000 from middle position and Alexandr Merzhvinskii called. Zeiter tabled [poker card="9c"][poker card="9s"] but got the worst news possible when Merzhvinskii turned over [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="tc"][poker card="2h"][poker card="qh"][poker card="td"] runout wasn't good enough to save Zeiter from an eighth place finish. It took only an hour before the next player was sent to the rail. From middle position, Laurynas Levinskas raised to 250,000 before Liviu Ignat moved all in from the button. Levinskas called and showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] while Ignat needed help after turning over [poker card="ac"][poker card="qs"]. The [poker card="jh"][poker card="tc"][poker card="6d"] flop gave Ignat two extra outs but neither the [poker card="7c"] turn and [poker card="8s"] river were any help and he was sent out in seventh. The six remaining players bagged up their chips and returned on Tuesday to play down to a winner. A good night's rest didn't help Parker Talbot overcome his short stack though. Down to just 15 big blinds, Talbot moved all in from the cutoff only to have Levinskas call from the big blind and turn over [poker card="as"][poker card="9c"] while Talbot was left drawing with [poker card="ks"][poker card="qh"] The [poker card="ah"][poker card="ad"][poker card="2c"] flop all but ended Talbot's run. The [poker card="ts"] turn gave him four outs to Broadway but the [poker card="kd"] river was no help and Talbot was out in sixth. Play continued for nearly 90 minutes before the next elimination occurred. Michaelis raised to 400,000 from UTG and Carlos Branco moved all in for 3,575,000 from the button. Artem Kobylynskyi re-raised all in from the big blind forcing Michaelis to fold. Branco showed [poker card="7d"][poker card="7h"] but Kobylynskyi had [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"]. The flop came [poker card="5h"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3h"] to give Branco six more outs. The turn was the [poker card="9s"] and the [poker card="8h"] river sealed his fate with a fifth place finish. The first talk of a chop came up with four players remaining but Levinskas decided he wanted to keep playing. About 30 minutes later, the decision was made for him. Michaelis raised to 425,000 from the button and Levinskas defended from the big blind. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="qh"][poker card="7d"] flop got both players to check. The [poker card="8h"] turn got another check from Levinskas before Michaelis bet 400,000. Levinskas responded by moving all in and Michaelis called instantly. Levinskas showed [poker card="ks"][poker card="9s"] for top pair but Michaelis tabled [poker card="8c"][8s for a turned set. The [poker card="9d"] river was a useless second pair for Levinskas and he was eliminated in fourth. Three-handed play last a little over an hour before the three players agreed to a deal. Michaelis took €770,000, Merzhvinskii pocketed €631,500 while the shortest stack, Kobylinskiy, settled for €571,910 and they left €70,000 and the $30,000 Platinum Pass to play for. It took almost 90 minutes to go from a deal to heads-up. Merzhvinskii moved all in for his last 12 big blinds from the button and Michaelis called from the big blind. Merzhvinskii tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="7d"] but found his hand dominated by Michaelis' [poker card="ad"][poker card="9d"]. The [poker card="qh"][poker card="9c"][poker card="7h"] flop improved both players. The [poker card="8d"] turn and [poker card="th"] river changed kept everything the same and gave Michaelis the pot and eliminated Merzhvinskii in third. When heads up play began, Michaelis was ahead 2-1 over Kobylynskyi. It took just 15 minutes for Michaelis to finish things off thanks to a cooler. Michaelis called from the button and then called again after Kobylynskyi moved all in for 5,600,000. Kobylynskyi showed [poker card="td"][poker card="ts"] but Michaelis had him beat with [poker card="js"][poker card="jd"]. The board ran out [poker card="kc"][poker card="qd"][poker card="5s"][poker card="9s"][poker card="7d"] to give Michaelis the win and leave Kobylynskyi as runner-up. Final Table Payouts Paul Michaelis - $954,677 Artem Kobylynskyi - $649,987 Alexandr Merzhvinskii - $717,712 Laurynas Levinskas - $359,140 Carlos Branco - $275,674 Parker Talbot - $203,846 Liviu Ignat - $155,385 Diego Zeiter - $110,720
  21. Years ago, Randi Hilsercop gave her husband, Jeremy, an official deck of cards from the World Series of Poker and an autographed 8X10 of his favorite poker player, Daniel Negreanu, as a Christmas gift. Since then, the couple has moved five or six times around the country for Jeremy's job. Throughout all of that, the couple has played poker four or five nights a week using that same deck of cards. The Negreanu picture was lost in one of the moves. So as Randi and Jeremy were opening their Christmas gifts with the rest of their family this year, Jeremy had a feeling that his wife had somehow replaced the autographed photo with a new one. He'd seen the box under the tree and picked it up and felt it. When it came time for Jeremy to unwrap the gift from his wife, he was unaware that one of his life's dreams was about to come true and that his world was about to get turned upside down in the best way possible. In a video likely now seen by the entire poker community, Jeremy unwrapped his present to find out that he was half-right. There were some autographed photos from some of his favorite poker players, but those were really just decoys. Randi had purchased airfare and hotel and put aside enough money for Jeremy to travel to Las Vegas and play in the opening event of the 2019 World Series of Poker, the Big 50. "After I got all the kids’ presents and still had some extra money, I had bought him some autographed photos on eBay. It was Daniel (Negreanu) and Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, and Antonio Esfandiari, and then we still had money left over," Randi said. "I follow the WSOP on Twitter, and they had just released their tournament schedule, and then I saw at the end of May, first week of June, they had this Big 50 tournament, and I thought, 'Okay, we could do that. That's affordable'. It was $500. I was like, 'Okay, we have $500. We don't have much, but we have $500.'" She started searching for the cheapest flights possible from Nashville to Las Vegas and found a few within her budget. Then she saw that the Rio Hotel had some good rates for the dates she needed and she knew Jeremy would want to stay there because he'd seen it on TV so many times while watching the WSOP. Before she booked everything though, she called Jeremy's dad to see if he would be able to take care of their two kids, Michael, 9, and Madison, 10. "I got a sitter, and then I was able to buy everything and still have enough money without overdrafting - but just barely," said Randi, a stay-at-home mom. She wrapped up the new autographs together with a poker chip from the Rio and a note that read, "We're going to Vegas WSOP". [caption id="attachment_621932" align="aligncenter" width="720"] The Negreanu autograph and the travel information for Jeremy’s Las Vegas trip.[/caption] The video first made its way to Facebook, where friends and family were commenting on how great of a moment it was. Wanting to share it with even more people, Randi first took it to the poker subreddit on Reddit before posting it on her Twitter account. In the video, Jeremy showed emotion that even Randi was surprised by. "He doesn't really cry. I mean, when it comes to our kids and stuff, but he doesn't really cry. I knew he'd be really excited, but I didn't know he'd be so emotional, but it's been his dream since he was so young," Randi said. "It was just a really real moment, which was amazing." The video went viral in a heartbeat as some of the world's most famous poker players started sharing the video. Joey Ingram shared the video and wanted to find a way to do something more for Jeremy. PokerStars didn't waste much time in agreeing to Ingram's terms and conditions and suddenly Jeremy was not only going to be playing in the 2019 WSOP, but he was going to be on his way to the Bahamas to play in a $25,000 buy-in tournament against some of the best players in the world. Jeremy couldn’t believe it. "It wasn't real at first. I mean, my wife had shown me the post and I kept reading it and kept reading it, and it's like you just sit there and think, 'Well, this can't happen. That's not real,’ and then suddenly it just sank in, like, 'Oh, my God. This is real ... and it's crazy,’ and it was just a whole bunch of emotions," Jeremy said. "At first, it was definitely nerves, and then when everything started settling in, it definitely became excitement. I'm still very, very excited, but now I'm starting to try to focus on playing cards, trying to get myself ready for the events to take place, and get myself prepared and in a spot where I need to be." While Jeremy is a huge fan of poker and studies as much as possible, he doesn't have a great wealth of live poker experience to rely on when he sits down to play on January 6. The biggest buy-in tournament he's ever played was a $170 buy-in event back in Ohio. He didn't make the final table that day, but he did cash and instead of adding to his bankroll or playing another tournament, Jeremy put the extra money where he knew it would have the biggest impact - his family. "We took that money and used it for things we needed," said Jeremy. While playing on some of poker's biggest stages is a dream come true for Jeremy, the couple is also well aware of what even a min-cash would mean for their family of four. "I can't even imagine. I don't even wanna put it out there 'cause that'll jinx it, but that would be great," Randi said. "That would change our lives so much because to put money down on actually owning a home and maybe towards Jeremy and my kids, my kids could do so much with that. Put money away for them to go to school, and there are so many things that would open doors for my children alone would be amazing." Growing up in Ohio, Jeremy was introduced to poker at a very young age. Hanging out at his Grandpa Earl's house, poker - played for pennies - was what brought the family together. Six-year-old Jeremy watched in awe as his parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all battled throughout the night. It was in those moments that Jeremy came to love the game. "(Poker) just brought our family together and it was a wonderful experience that I'll never forget. It made me just want to pursue poker and try to obtain that happiness," Jeremy said. "Since I was a child, this has been a dream of mine, to play poker in a bigger environment and I was never able to do that. Me and my wife met when we were very young. We've been together for 13 years, have two beautiful, amazing kids, and I've always put them first in anything, and I just never really had the time or the money to do anything like this." Jeremy and Randi have been together for over 18 years and during that time, Randi has come to love poker as well. Three or four nights a week, once the kids are in bed, Jeremy and Randi play against each other, usually with some poker playing on the TV. Sometimes it's a WSOP broadcast or an episode of two of Poker After Dark or even some High Stakes Poker. The legends who played on those shows are some of the players Jeremy idolizes now. His favorite, by far, is Negreanu. "I've studied his play and just how he acts at the table, how he treats people - amazing guy," said Jeremy. "He's always positive, always a positive poker player. I mean, everybody has their bad beats and everything. I was watching him play on The Big Game, and I mean, I've seen it over and over again where he would just flop the nuts and then turn, river, and lose, and even though that happened to him, he still maintained a positive attitude and kept going and just the way he approaches everything makes me love the guy." He also admires some of the biggest legends in the game: Gus Hansen, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Laak. Jeremy knows there's a good chance he might find himself sitting at the same table as one of the players he admires so much and he's prepared to make the most of the moment, first as a fan and then as a fellow combatant. "At first, I'm going to be in awe. I'm gonna shake their hand and tell them what a pleasure it is, and then when they sit down and they have chips in front of them and I have chips in front of me, it's definitely poker one hundred percent," said Jeremy said. There's also a few other people Jeremy and Randi are hoping to meet once they get to the Bahamas. Along with some other legends of the game, they both know they need to find one person in particular, Joey Ingram. "I'd never heard of Joey. Amazing guy. I can't thank Joey enough for what he's done for somebody that he doesn't even know, never even met. I'd never even heard of him, and I know he for sure hasn't ever heard of me, and it's just wild that somebody that you don't know would do something like that for you," said Jeremy. "Chris Moneymaker has been absolutely amazing. He's offered to pay for things, he's taking us out for dinner in the Bahamas when we get there, absolutely amazing guy. Phil Galfond has reached out to us. Just absolutely amazing." [caption id="attachment_621920" align="alignleft" width="1024"] The Hilsercop Family (L to R): Michael, Madison, Randi and Jeremy.[/caption]
  22. The PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship is one of the most highly anticipated poker tournaments ever. The event comes with a rake-free $25,000 buy-in, hundreds of Platinum Pass qualifiers and $1 million added to first place prize. The momentous event takes place January 6-10 in the Bahamas and the PocketFives team will be there to cover it from start to finish. The biggest question ahead of the event is, of course, just how big will it be? Poker pro Chance Kornuth recently asked the question on social media and it appears many are pegging PSPC to be enormous. https://twitter.com/ChancesCards/status/1078708641665073152 The largest $25,000 buy-in poker tournament in history was the Season V World Poker Tour World Championship. The event took place in 2007 when poker was booming all across the globe. It attracted a whopping 639 entries who ponied up $25,500 each to create a $15.495 million prize pool. Carlos Mortensen won the event for $3.97 million, and the top three spots each took home seven-figure paydays. If the PSPC generates 640 entries, it will become the largest field ever in a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament. That would also set the record for largest prize pool from a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament, but the fact that the PSPC event is a rake-free tournament means it needs just 620 entries to set the record for largest prize pool generated by a $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament. Here's a look at the top 10 largest prize pools in poker history from live tournaments at the $25,000 buy-in level. YEAR TOURNAMENT ENTRIES PRIZE POOL 2007 Season V WPT World Championship 639 $15,495,750 Winner: Carlos Mortensen ($3,970,415) 2006 Season IV WPT World Championship 605 $14,671,250 Winner: Joe Bartholdi ($3,760,165) 2008 Season VI WPT World Championship 545 $13,216,250 Winner: David Chiu ($3,389,140) 2005 Season III WPT World Championship 452 $10,961,000 Winner: Tuan Le ($2,856,150) 2018 partypoker MILLIONS World 394 $10,000,000 Winner: Roger Teska ($2,000,000) 2004 Season II WPT World Championship 343 $8,342,000 Winner: Martin de Knijff ($2,728,356) 2004 Season VII WPT World Championship 338 $8,196,500 Winner: Yevgeniy Timoshenko ($2,149,960) 2014 EPT10 Grand Final High Roller 214 $7,257,852 Winner: Philipp Gruissem ($1,378,059) 2016 EPT12 Grand Final High Roller 231 $6,531,825 Winner: Alexandru Papazian ($1,381,499) 2015 PCA High Roller 269 $6,456,000 Winner: Ilkin Garibli ($1,105,040) Another question some have had is whether or not the PSPC will replace the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. That seems unlikely. It's more likely that the PSPC is a one-off event that doesn't happen every single year. That said, what does the PSPC need to do in order to become the largest prize pool in PokerStars Caribbean Adventure history? Here's a look at the biggest prize pools to come out of the PCA. YEAR TOURNAMENT ENTRIES PRIZE POOL 2011 PCA Main Event 1,560 $15,132,000 Winner: Galen Hall ($2,300,000) 2010 PCA Main Event 1,529 $14,826,800 Winner: Harrison Gimbel ($2,200,000) 2009 PCA Main Event 1,347 $12,674,400 Winner: Poorya Nazari ($3,000,000) 2012 PCA Main Event 1,072 $10,398,400 Winner: John Dibella ($1,775,000) 2014 PCA Main Event 1,031 $10,000,700 Winner: Dominik Panka ($1,423,096) 2013 PCA Main Event 987 $9,573,900 Winner: Dimitar Danchev ($1,859,000) 2008 PCA Main Event 1,136 $8,562,976 Winner: Betrand Grospellier ($2,000,000) 2015 PCA Main Event 816 $7,915,200 Winner: Kevin Schulz ($1,491,580) 2007 PCA Main Event 937 $7,063,842 Winner: Ryan Daut ($1,535,255) 2015 PCA High Roller 269 $6,456,000 Winner: Ilkin Garibli ($1,105,040) The largest prize pool in PCA history belongs to the 2011 PCA $10,300 Main Event. That year, the PCA Main Event drew 1,560 entries and generated a $15.132 million prize pool, with a $2.3 million first-place prize that went to Galen Hall. The PCA Main Event was also above $10 million in prize pool money for the years of 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014. The largest first-place prize in PCA history went to Poorya Nazari, who won $3 million when he took down the 2009 PCA Main Event. So there you have it. For PSPC to become the largest prize pool for a $25,000 buy-in tournament, it needs to surpass the WPT World Championship's figure of $15.495 million. To become the largest field size ever in a $25,000 buy-in poker tournament, it will need 640 entries. To become the largest first-place prize from $25,000 buy-in tournaments, the $3.97 million that Mortensen won is the number to beat. For PCA-only records, PSPC will need to surpass a $15.132 million prize pool and a $3 million first-place prize. 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. PocketFives 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.
  23. Nearly every ride at Disney World starts with a slow build-up and crescendos into some combination of speed and excitement before inevitably slowing to a halt to allow the rider to safely depart. The last 14 months of Anthony Maio’s life have closely resembled a thrill ride, but one that shows no signs of slowing down at all. The slow build-up actually came in October 2017 at Disney World in Orlando when he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Jenelle, while Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Jenelle’s daughter looked on. Things began to accelerate a few months later when he took some of the money he’s won playing live and online poker in New Jersey and started putting it to work for him. “It's been a whirlwind, said Maio. “Especially to start the year. I started a charter fishing and motorsports business here in South Jersey.” Maio admits he’s not much of a fisherman, and the business is actually run by one of Maio’s close friends, so it doesn’t take him away from the online games he frequents. “I play probably seven days a week,” Maio said. “Start at seven to eight at night and end up around four every day. So I probably play eight hours, [six or seven] days a week. I usually try to take a night off for a date night every week.” Maio, currently ranked #82 in the PocketFives Online Poker Rankings, might have thought he’d hit peak velocity over the summer. While poker pros from around the world headed to Las Vegas for the seven weeks of the World Series of Poker, Maio stayed back in New Jersey, where he found his working conditions improving quite a bit. “Grinding in Jersey during the summer is the best decision I could make,” Maio said. “Not only for the business, that's pretty much self-sufficient, but the fact that every grinder goes to Vegas. I'm the only one here. You see so many people come out of the woodwork that don't play poker online that just are online in the summertime. I don't know where they come from, I don't know if they're people just here visiting, but it's great.” That doesn’t mean he avoided Sin City entirely during the summer, though. He made one trip in mid-June and picked up $8,632 cash at the Venetian before heading back east. He continued grinding online and when the WSOP $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Online Championship event rolled around, Maio was ready. He outlasted 1,633 other players before losing heads-up to Ryan Tosoc for the bracelet. “Getting second in a bracelet event in Jersey at my home at 10 a.m. was pretty cool,” Maio said. “It would've been awesome to win the bracelet, but doing that in New Jersey was quite amazing.” The thrill ride now in full swing, Maio packed up and headed back to Las Vegas with the WSOP Main Event in sight. This was the second consecutive year that he’s stayed home and played online and he’s noticed both years the difference it makes in his Main Event mindset compared to some of his colleagues who were gone all summer. “I'm coming every year to Vegas and I'm fresh for the Main,” Maio said. “I see so many people burned out, they're just away in the summer and their summer's been going terrible. So they're already over it by the time the Main rolls around, and I get there and I'm excited to play. So it's a big difference.” Coming in fresh, and with his fiancé there for support, Maio breezed through the first few days of the Main Event. As the money bubble approached, Maio couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. “My table on the bubble was so insane,” Maio said. “I had 30 bigs to start when it went hand-for-hand and my table had all Euros on it. I didn't see a pot. I got moved to this table. I sat there for a good 20 minutes of hand-for-hand, and I didn't see one hand that was not at least three-bet. That's how action-happy these people were.” Seeing as how he couldn’t even enter a pot, let alone win one, Maio did something he’s never done before. While the tournament was hand-for-hand, Maio left the table and went outside to get some air while the madness played out inside the Amazon Room at the Rio. “It took 20 minutes,” Maio said. “I only lost maybe 25K in chips. So not even four or five big blinds. I came back, had a great Day 4 table, and then made it to Day 5.” He busted in 377th place for $33,305 and immediately headed back to New Jersey. He played a few live events at Borgata but mostly continued to grind online until the World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open in mid-September. Maio continued his great run and wound up at the six-handed final table with a shot at $575,000. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as Maio couldn’t spin his short stack up and was eliminated in sixth. The final table wasn’t the most disappointing day of that tournament, though. “It was frustrating the day before [the final table],” remembered Maio. “At the final table, the only frustrating part was the kid waking up with kings and slamming them down and fist-pumping it. That was frustrating.” The frustration didn’t last, but Maio’s seemingly endless thrill ride did. In late September, on the second day of the PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Poker, Maio entered the $86 buy-in Chris Moneymaker Tour Online event that awarded a $30,000 Platinum Pass to the winner. Maio beat out 409 other players to win the tournament and now is preparing himself to head to the Bahamas in January to play the PokerStars Players Championship event, the largest $25,000 buy-in poker tournament in history. Maio, who doesn’t normally travel to play poker tournaments, is looking forward to this one. “Every known player, I'm assuming, is gonna play that and they're entering 300 Platinum Pass winners and most of the Platinum Pass winners are not professional poker players,” said Maio. “I'm probably one of the few Platinum Pass winners that's actually a professional. So that alone, there's so much value in the field. Plus, they're adding a million dollars for first. The structure itself looks amazing. It's a freeze-out, so the bosses can't come in and just blast off. Because if you give Bryn Kenney 10 bullets, he's just gonna beat you every time.” Thanks to the runner-up in the bracelet event and the WPT final table, Maio decided to pitch Jenelle on changing up their wedding plans. “We were gonna do something in Virginia, in the mountains, and then I got second in the bracelet event, and I just said, ‘Let's just get married in Disneyworld’," said Maio. Jenelle was all for it and almost exactly one year after getting engaged in front of Mickey and Minnie, the pair got married with friends and family watching on. With the PSPC, another live Borgata series, and the online games in New Jersey all presenting opportunities for ever more momentum, Maio isn’t ready for this ride to end.
  24. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast is LIVE this week from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure with daily episodes bringing in all of the guests and action from the PokerStars Players No Limit Championship and the PCA Main Event. This episode features coverage of the bubble of the PokerStars Players No Limit Championship including interviews with Bill Perkins and PocketFiver and Platinum Pass winner Anthony Maio as well as the latest edition of Five Questions, this time starring Daniel Negreanu. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  25. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast is LIVE this week from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure with daily episodes bringing in all of the guests and action from the PokerStars Players No Limit Championship and the PCA Main Event. The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold'em Championship wrapped up Thursday night with Ramon Colillas turning his Platinum Pass into $5.1 million. PocketFives Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and Senior Writer Jeff Walsh were there to capture all of the action and re-action for this episode. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher

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