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"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.
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.
Over 9,000 Twitch viewers saw popular streamer and 888poker ambassador Parker 'Tonkaaa' Talbot take the silver medal in the PokerStars Sunday Million for $124,114 following a heads-up deal with eventual winner 'PokerDave476'. Talbot, who enjoyed success on the live poker felt after a sixth-place finish in the PokerStars EPT Prague Main Event last month for $203,626, agreed to a chop with 'PokerDave476' following 'Rus_us8''s exit in third place for $77,622. With $20,000 in the prize pool still to play for, the poker fans flocked to Talbot's Twitch stream to see if the Canadian could go all the way. Both players started with even chips before Talbot took a 2-1 lead, but the U.K.'s 'PokerDave476' pulled it back and was ultimately crowned victor for $144,114. Both players achieved their biggest online cashes to date in the process and added six-figures to their bankrolls. https://twitter.com/tonkaaaap/status/1087259669591150592?s=20 'Secret_M0d3' took down the PokerStars $2,100 Sunday High Roller for $48,431 after a heads-up deal with Johannes 'Greenstone25' Korsar. PokerStars Team Pro Igor Kurganov was the first player to fall from the final table of nine before his fellow Team Pro, and girlfriend Liv Boeree just missed out on a place on the podium after she finished in fourth-place for $24,182. Russia's 'Futti18' took the bronze for $45,435, before the final two agreed to a deal. 'Secret_M0d3' then got the better of Korsar during heads-up and banked $48,431, with Korsar settling for $45,435. 'Bjuran' came through a 1,005 player-field in the PokerStars $530 Bounty Builder High Roller to win over $76,000. 'DanielLUCKY' took the bronze medal for $22,243 + $7,710 in bounties and paved the way for the heads-up match. Germany's 'Tydarax' fell as runner-up for an online best score of $30,346 + $9,811, which left 'Bjuran' to be named the victor. 1,058 runners in the PokerStars $215 Sunday Warm-Up created a $211,600 prize pool and a $34,334 first-place prize. Among the players at the final table looking to take down the title were PocketFivers 'Easterdamn', 'newguy89 ', and 'LlKE A G6', but they all hit the rail before the well-known 'girafganger7' binked a bronze medal worth $17,749. 'Dabledore7' was then the unlucky final player to depart and took away $24,685 as runner-up with Russia's 'Egor699' claiming the gold medal and top prize. 'Mr.Water99' got the better of partypoker ambassador Anatoly 'NL_Profit' Filatov heads-up to take down the partypoker $1,050 Deepstack-HR. A field of 111 players created a $111,000 prize pool with 'chadi6969' taking the third-place prize worth $13,875. Filatov was looking to score another victory on his partner site, but was unable to get through the challenge from his opponent and exited as runner-up $19,425, with 'Mr.Water99' banking $27,195 as the winner. 'pockjack0' saw off the challenge of 61 opponents in the partypoker $2,600 Super Sunday High Roller to claim victory for $50,375. The prize pool was set at $155,000, and just beat the $150,000 guarantee. When the final eight came together Canadian High Roller Sam 'DeanMalenko' Greenwood was the first player to hit the rail, followed by partypoker ambassador Roberto 'Welsh_Wizard' Romanello who departed in seventh-place and eventually saw his team-mate Patrick Leonard eliminated in third-place for $22,475. 'RedDwarf9' was then the final player that 'pockjack0' needed to depart for victory, and the former fell with the silver medal for $34,000. Below are this week’s Sunday final table results: PokerStars Sunday Million ($200 + $15 NLHE) $1M Guaranteed 5,837 entrants, $1,167,400 prize pool PokerDave476 - $144,114.99* tonkaaa - $124,114.98* Rus_us8 - $77,622.29 Pseudo Fruto - $54,472.98 BuddyAces2 - $38,227.56 WhaTisL0v3 - $26,826.96 T0X16 - $18,826.42 rmullen - $13,211.93 icebearrr - $9,271.84 PokerStars $2,100 Sunday High Roller, $150k Gtd 121 entrants, $242,000 prize pool Secret_M0d3 - $48,431.57* Greenstone25 - $45,435.63* Futti18 - $31,420.09 Liv Boeree - $24,182.28 fish2013 - $18,611.73 raidalot - $14,324.41 pads1161 - $11,024.69 caecilius - $8,485.07 IgorKurganov - $6,530.49 PokerStars $530 Bounty Builder High Roller, $350k Gtd 1,005 entrants, $502,500 prize pool Bjuran - $41,401.47 + $35,099.99 (in bounties) Tydarax - $30,346.52 + $9,811.03 DanielLUCKY - $22,243.91 + $7,710.92 SwalzB - $16,304.71 + $3,224.61 NEWFlat - $11,951.30 + $6,595.72 Neanderthal4 - $8,760.28 + $7,289.06 serggorelyi7 - $6,421.27 + $4,282.22 progre69 - $4,706.76 + $1,500.00 cliff47 - $3,450.03 + $1,289.06 PokerStars $215 Sunday Warm-Up $175k Gtd 1,058 entrants, $211,600 prize pool Egor699 - $34,334.00 Dabledore7 - $24,685.91 girafganger7 - $17,749.36 LlKE A G6 - $12,761.95 newguy89 - $9,175.94 fellatiado - $6,597.60 CPUrul0r - $4,743.73 Easterdamn - $3,410.80 john220764 - $2,452.40 partypoker $1,050 Sunday High Roller $100k Gtd 114 entrants, $114,000 prize pool CASHEEEGAMEEE - $25,786.71* BuyThaPot - $22,093.30 SouthftfW - $14,250 haddoken - $9,975 DeanMalenko - $7,410 DamianLillard - $5,700 adolfnitler.ftw - $4,560 Drulitooo - $3,705 partypoker $1,050 Sunday Bounty Hunter – HR $150k 167 entrants, $170,340 prize pool SpiritDNA - $18,478.55 + $21,198.13 (in bounties) p0kchkmonsta - $13,276.50 + $7,101.25 rdcrsnn - $9,686 + $2,470 omgitsgiraf - $6,930.50 + $5,776.87 jizonhisniz - $4,843 + $1,690 spinner2255 - $3,757.50 + $1,495 VeGeTTo99 - $2,922.50 + $3,867.50 Lord_Rav3n - $2,296.25 + $1,170 partypoker $2,600 Super Sunday High Roller $150k Gtd 62 entrants, $155,000 prize pool pockjack0 - $50,375 RedDwarf9 - $34,000 Patrick_Leonard - $22,475 MOTHERSMATTERS - $13,950 chadi6969 - $10,850 eet_smakelijk - $8,525 Welsh_Wizard - $7,362.50 DeanMalenko - $7,362.50 partypoker $1,050 Deepstack-HR $100k Gtd 111 entrants, $111,000 prize pool Mr.Water99 - $27,195 NL_Profit - $19,425 chadi6969 - $13,875 AlSaherrr - $9,712.50 rafaelmoraesgm - $7,215 ABOUDIABY2 - $5,550 VolZoK_ - $4,440 chaAat - $3,607.50 888poker $215 Sunday Mega Deep 479 entrants – $100,000 prize pool Texxxas_ - $17,592.86* robbiish1 - $16,257.14* GoinInDry - $11,000 ultraviol3nt - $8,250 lasochobi - $5,700 Romeopro33 - $4,400 PokerJoe332 - $3,400 tier999111 - $2,400