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  1. Alexandros Kolonias now has himself a brand new purple jacket and an additional $50,000 after winning the Poker Masters Online Championship. Taking the event online, PokerCentral partnered with partypoker on a 30-event schedule that had buy-ins ranging from $10,300 to $51,000 mirroring the live version of the Poker Masters. The Poker Masters Online was the second full series to take advantage of partypoker's real name functionality giving poker enthusiasts at home an easy way to track how the world's best players did against each other in a high stakes online series. More Than 250 Unique Players There were a total of 258 unique players throughout the 30-event schedule. That group combined for 1,717 total unique entries and 849 re-entries. Each event gave players a maximum of three entries and there were 201 instances were a player fired three bullets in an event. There were 35 players who played a minimum of 20 events and 76 who played just a single event. Jason McConnon was one of them and he ended up with the highest ROI of any player after finishing second in Event #30 ($10,300 Six Max NLHE) for a $248,200 score on a single entry. A high stakes cash game specialist, McConnon jokingly suggested a career change after his runner-up performance. $35 Million in Prize Money The Poker Masters Online was a big winner for partypoker and Poker Central. The total rake for the series was $912,300. Taking into consideration the $50,000 prize awarded to Kolonias for winning the Purple Jacket, the net for tournament organizers was $862,300 - more than any single player. Players were allowed a maximum of three entries per event. The rake earned off of the initial entries was $619,600 and re-entries accounted for the remaining $292,700. Taking the event online proved to be a boon to the field sizes. The 2019 Poker Masters had just 10 events, but average field sizes for 2020 were up across the board. There was an average of 93 players in $10,000 buy-in events compared to 57.6 in 2019, an increase of 61.5%. The $25,000 buy-in events saw an increase of 44.7% going from an average of 43.75 to 63.29 players. In both years the Championship event had a $50,000 buy-in and the year-over-year increase was the most dramatic going from 34 to 77 players - a 126.5% growth rate. The total prize pools for all 30 events totaled $35,385,000, more than doubling the $16.5 million guaranteed. None of the events missed their respective guarantee and 14 tournaments had a prize pool exceeding $1 million. Nothing But Net While there were seven players who had at least $1 million in earnings, the highest net earner was Italy's Dario Sammartino. Cashing in nine of the 22 events he played earned Sammartino an $823,625 net score. [table id=45 /] There were 32 players who had net earnings of $100,000 or more and 40 who had net losses of $100,000 or more. Of the 258 players who entered at least one Poker Masters event, 63 were net winners. There were 135 players who entered at least one event and cashed zero times. Busiest of the Bunch Jorryt Van Hoof was the only player to play all 30 events. The Dutch pro cashed in 10 of them for a net profit of $9,708.74. [table id=44 /] The only event that Alex Foxen skipped was Event #2 ($10,300 Six Max PLO). Ali Imsirovic and Linus Loeliger each skipped a pair of PLO events. Imsirovic skipped Event #2 and Event #17 while Loeliger sat out Event #17 ($10,300 Six Max PLO) and Event #22 ($10,300 Six Max PLO). Andras Nemeth missed the opening two events of the series and then played every tournament from Event #3 onward. Christian Rudolph played the most events of any player that was unable to pick up a single in-the-money result. Rudolph entered 10 events and never cashed. He only re-entered three of those 10 events for a total of 13 bullets fired. [table id=46 /] Double Dippin' There were six players who won two Poker Masters Online titles. The first to do it was Pauli Ayras who took down Event #6 ($10,300 Six Max PLO) and Event #19 ($25,500 Eight Max NLHE). Of the 28 events that Loeliger entered, he cashed in only three of them but made the most of those cashes by picking up wins in Event #18 ($10,300 Six Max NLHE) and the Main Event ($51,000 NLHE). Sandwiched between those two results was a fifth-place finish in Event #27 ($25,500 Eight Max NLHE). [table id=47 /]
  2. FIVE THINGS is a column, written by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley that covers pressing topics and current events in the poker world today. It appears periodically at PocketFives.com. When Poker Central announced two weeks ago that they had acquired the rights to the High Stakes Poker brand and archive from GSN, the poker world reacted with one unanimous emotion. Pure joy. High Stakes Poker, which ran for seven seasons from 2006 until it was cancelled in the wake of Black Friday in 2011, is probably the most beloved TV poker show in history, rivalled only by Late Night Poker. HSP, was different than anything that had come before because it was focused on cash game action, rather than tournaments and as the name suggests, the stakes got big. Real big. Adding HSP to the growing collection of poker content on PokerGO seems like a slam dunk and Sam Simmons, President of PokerGO/PokerCentral, is already teasing poker fans about what's to come. Knowing that the brain trust that now holds the keys to HSP is already thinking of what to do with the HSP brand, this edition of FIVE THINGS is dedicated to some ideas to help make the second coming of High Stakes Poker live up to the lofty expectations. Don’t Livestream It It might seem counterintuitive in 2020 to not livestream an hours-long cash game session. Most poker content, whether it's the Super High Roller Bowl, the World Series of Poker Main Event, or LIVE At The Bike is streamed live. High Stakes Poker holds a special place in the hearts of poker fans and the attachment that many have for HSP meant that it became appointment viewing. There’s no reason that can’t be repeated. The original HSP filmed 24 hours of action to get 13-17 40-minute episodes for GSN. Have players sign the appropriate non-disclosure agreements, film an entire session, and put together hour-long episodes. Release one or two episodes each week and build up the FOMO via social media. The poker world will be waiting with bated breath. Make New School Players a Priority It’s been just over eight years since the last new episode High Stakes Poker aired featuring the likes of Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, and Daniel Negreanu. Bringing some of those players back will give viewers the nostalgic tie-in to the original run but an impressive number of talented players have emerged as stars since then and getting them involved will be an important part of the evolution of the show. Producers will have a bevy of players to choose from. Nick Schulman, Dan Cates, and Prahlad Friedman somehow never appeared on the original run and would make great additions. There are also stars from the high roller tournament scene such as Kahle Burns, Jason Koon, Sam Soverel, Kristen Bicknell, and Danny Tang that viewers at home will recognize. Others who should be in the discussion include 2017 GPI Breakout Player of the Year winner Art Papazyan, Nick Petrangelo, Kym Lim, Chance Kornuth, Garrett Adelstein, Danielle Andersen, and Christian Soto. The magic, of course, comes from producers finding the right mix of the original cast and some of the newer stars who will help carry poker into the next decade or so. Allow yourself to dream of an eight-handed lineup that consists of Schulman, Koon, Cates, Brunson, Papazyan, Jason Mercier, Bill Perkins, and Haralabos Voulgaris. They've Got a Story to Tell Getting the new players into the game is only half of the battle. Giving viewers at home a reason to love - or hate - them is the other half. Mori Eskandani is a Poker Hall of Famer because he’s been able to take the magic of the game and the players playing it and make it feel accessible to those watching. The table talk in the original HSP was an important part of getting to know the players, but dedicating a few minutes of each episode to telling the backstory of the players in the game will also be an important piece of the broadcast. Every player has a story to tell and as more and more of them are told, viewers can become fans who become invested in the success and failure of players. They’re more likely to tune in if they feel like they are emotionally invested in one or two of the players. PokerGO’s other outlet, Poker Central, can also play a central role in giving all of the players - new and old - significant build-up in the lead up to each episode. Give the Great Game Some Run Every episode of High Stakes Poker has been No Limit Hold'em. It made sense. Most people who were watching poker at the time knew the game and it was easy to follow. Viewers who found it while channel surfing could quickly pick-up the basics and enjoy what they were watching. The PokerGO viewer is a much more advanced viewer than that. Sure, they still watch a lot of No Limit Hold'em, but they've also seen the growth in other games over the years and may have even dabbled in playing some of them. Changing things up a bit will be well received and PokerGO has done something like this before with PLOMG week on Poker After Dark in 2017. Having 3-4 episodes of Pot Limit Omaha with a lineup of PLO killers and you're going to get a different group of players to build buzz around. Phil Galfond, Jens Kyllönen, Ben Tollerene, Tom Dwan, and Ben Lamb would be an incredible lineup Who knows, maybe 'VeniVidi1993' comes out of anonymity to play? Maybe more importantly, as anybody who remembers the Rail Heaven days on Full Tilt Poker will tell you, PLO is a game that naturally leads to some big pots that will generate buzz on their own. New Blood in the Booth Over the seven seasons of the original run, the show had the likes of AJ Benza, Gabe Kaplan, and Norm MacDonald in the commentary booth. MacDonald’s hiring wasn’t exactly met with cheers from the loyal fan base but both Benza and Kaplan connected with the audience and did their best work by letting the table talk carry the show. There would certainly be some nostalgic reasons to get Kaplan or Benza - or both - back in the fold and have them steering the ship, but there's a better approach here. Give Jeff Platt the keys. Platt is a broadcast professional with a passion for poker and his work with some of PokerGO’s live-streamed events has shown he’s ready for and deserving of a bigger stage. HSP is that stage and poker fans would be richer for having him in the booth on this.
  3. [caption width="640"] Tom Dwan is the headliner in the first three episodes of Poker After Dark on PokerGO (WPT photo)[/caption] When PokerGO announced they were bringing Poker After Dark back as part of their schedule, there was plenty of speculation as to who would be on the show. Fans seemed to want some of the players who played on the show before mixed in with some of the top younger talent that has emerged since the show last ran. Nobody thought it would mean the return of Tom Dwan though. Thursday night, PokerGO announced the first three lineups for the show and Dwan is scheduled to be playing in all three. The first three days of PAD are a $100,000 minimum buy-in cash game with $200/$400 blinds and a $400 button ante. The first show airs live on PokerGO, Monday, August 14 at 8 pm ET. Subsequent episodes will also air live on Tuesday, August 15 and Wednesday, August 16. The nosebleed wunderkind, once a regular PAD participant, has been playing in Macau and Manila and has spent very little time in the public eye since Black Friday. “The shows were fun, they ended up being more interesting and more fun than I expected. It also helped that I won basically every hand that I played. If I called they were bluffing, if I was bluffing they folded. I’m hoping that continues,” said Dwan. The first episode also features Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari while Doyle Brunson and Andrew Robl are both scheduled to play in the second and third episodes. Jean-Robert Bellande, Lauren Roberts and Bill Klein will also appear on all three episodes. Lineup #1 - Monday, August 14 Tom Dwan Daniel Negreanu Antonio Esfandiari Jean-Robert Bellande Lauren Roberts Bill Klein Lineup #2 - Tuesday, August 15 Tom Dwan Doyle Brunson Andrew Robl Jean-Robert Bellande Lauren Roberts Bill Klein Lineup #3 - Wednesday, August 16 Tom Dwan Doyle Brunson Andrew Robl Jean-Robert Bellande Lauren Roberts Bill Klein
  4. [caption width="640"] PokerGO is the streaming video service from PokerCentral where fans will find the 2017 World Series of Poker and Super High Roller Bowl.[/caption] Last week PokerCentralannounced they had acquired the digital media rights for the World Series of Poker and promised more announcements were forthcoming as to how they planned to use those rights. The company announced Monday the launch of PokerGO, a subscription streaming service that will give poker fans live streaming coverage of the upcoming Super High Roller Bowl and 2017 World Series of Poker. The service, which is available worldwide, costs $10 on a month-to-month basis or $99 annually. “PokerGO will offer the best live and on-demand poker tournaments and content for the fiercely passionate poker fan and casual enthusiast alike - whenever and wherever they want them,” said JR McCabe, chief digital officer of Poker Central. “By pairing PokerGO with our existing network television partnerships, we will offer unique and original programming to the largest potential global audience.” The first event to be streamed live on the app will be the Super High Roller Bowl, the $300,000 buy-in event at Aria Resort & Casino which features some of the biggest names in poker today. The first WSOP event available on PokerGO will be the $111,1111 High Roller for One Drop, beginning with Day 2 action on June 3. All told, the initial PokerGO schedule includes 12 days of streaming over 14 days beginning May 28. All new PokerGO live shows will be produced by Poker PROductions, the company that produces the WSOP for ESPN. “Poker his continually evolved over the years as a thrilling, competitive live sport with millions of fans across the world yearning to watch more and more of the action,” said Mori Eskandani, founder, Poker Productions. “PokerGO’s planned combination of unprecedented live event coverage and premium original programming will make it the ideal service to entertain the poker world with every aspect of the game.” Along with the live streaming of the Super High Roller Bowl and WSOP, PokerGO will also have original programming including Pokerography and a new series called Dead Money: A Super High Roller Bowl Story, which will follow Matt Berkey as he prepares to play the 2017 SHRB. Episodes of Poker PROductions productions like Poker After Dark, Face the Ace, and the Doubles Poker Championship will also be available. The PokerGO app will be available in all app stores in the coming days.
  5. The Global Poker Index and PokerStars presented the 4th Annual American Poker Awards on Thursday night in Los Angeles, CA. The collection of the best in the poker world offered a year’s worth of awards handed out to players, media, and everything else encompassing the game. Poker Central Wins Big Cary Katz and Poker Central lead the unofficial group category for most winners. “Dead Money: A Super High Roller Bowl Story” took home honors for Media Content of the year. Matt Berkey’s story of his road to playing the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl captured the voting audience’s attention. Katz himself took down the title of Poker’s Biggest Influencer. The development of Poker Central and PokerGO all happened under the watch as Katz as the businessman continues to grow the game through is new ventures. Poker Central wrapped up its trio of wins with the Best Podcast award. Host Remko Rinkema accepted on behalf of his co-hosts, Brent Hanks, and Will O’Connor. Young Talent Gets Their Due The new generation of poker received their fair share of accolades from the APA voting body. A pair of 25-year-old received hard-earned awards. Two-time WPT Season XVI Champion Art Papazyan collected the Breakout Player award. Papazyan’s wins came in his first two WPT events ever played. Scott Blumstein beat an elite group to score the Tournament Performance trophy. Blumstein’s win in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event defeated Darren Elias, 2018 GPI American Player of the Year Bryn Kenney, and Doug Polk. Other members of poker’s new generation also did well for themselves. Ema Zajmovic’s win at WPT Montreal last February to become the first female champion in an open event in WPT history was recognized for Moment of the Year. Jaime Staples notched a tough group of nominees to emerge with the Streamer of the Year honors. Kristen Bicknell was formally awarded the 2017 GPI Female Player of the Year. Andrew Neeme Cleans up The new age of poker is here and Andrew Neeme is in the center of it. The vlogger shipped two wins to further certify himself as one of poker’s new-age godfathers. Neeme won the award for Video Blogger and the People’s Choice Award for Poker Personality. Over 10,000 turned out to vote for the latter award and Joe Ingram accepted on behalf of Neeme on both occasions. Telling it like it is PocketFives held their own at the American Poker Awards with site Editor-in-Chief Lance Bradley walking away with Journalist of the Year. Bradley was also nominated for Media Content of the Year for “Resilience Defined: Sheddy Siddiqui Raising His Two Boys #ForCathy.” Nick Schulman’s rousing rise to the top of the poker broadcasting ranks was made official with his win for Broadcaster of the Year. Longtime ESPN poker commentators Norman Chad and Lon McEachern received the award for Lifetime Achievement in Poker. Good day for the World Poker Tour The World Poker Tour had themselves a day with Matt Savage and WPTDeepStacks receiving hardware. The WPT’s Executive Tour Director triumphed in the Industry Person of the Year category. WPTDeepStacks completed their rise from the U.S. circuit to the global stage by taking down the Mid-Major Circuit award. Special Awards and Prizes The venerable Jury Prize went to long-time poker media member and contributor Eric Danis. Joining Danis in the achievement award section was fellow Canadian Ari Engel, who shipped the PocketFives Legacy Award. In a category where literally all nominees are a winner, Jacob Zalewski won the prize for Charitable Initiative for the One Step Closer Foundation. The foundation is a charity whose main goal is to positively impact the lives of those who suffer from cerebral palsy. To date, Zalewski's foundation has raised over $1 million. The American Poker Awards put a bow on 2017 and gave a look ahead at what's to come this year. If the this year's awards are any indication, the poker world is in for a great 2018.
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