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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]
Poker players received an early Christmas present from the World Series of Poker on Thursday with the announcement of key dates for the 50th Annual WSOP. The summer festival will take place at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino from May 28 to July 16. It’s a milestone for the longest-running tournament series, and as such the World Series of Poker has a number of special events to commemorate the occasion. The 'Big 50' The first of the celebratory events is the 'Big 50.' The new addition to the schedule offers players a $500 rake-free shot at a bracelet. The tournament, which takes place on opening weekend, comes with a $5,000,000 guarantee and promises no less than $1,000,000 to the winner. The WSOP is hoping The Big 50 will be one of their biggest tournaments of all time. “We’re excited to commence our golden event,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “We expect our opening weekend Big 50 event to be one of the largest in our history, and certainly one of the best value tournaments ever offered. This is part of our concerted plans to make the 2019 WSOP a better value all-around.” The Big 50 kicks off on May 30 and has four starting flights. While a structure sheet is not available, players will start with a 50,000 starting stack and play 50-minute levels. Players are allowed one re-entry per starting flight. The initial buy-in for the Big 50 is rake-free, with all $500 going directly into the prize pool. Subsequent re-entries, including entries into future starting flights, are subject to rake. The Main Event The WSOP Main Event gets underway on July 3 and plays out to completion on July 16. Wall-to-wall broadcast coverage will place on both ESPN and PokerGO. For the 50th WSOP, the Main Event will be just a little deeper than in years past with a 60,000 starting stack but will continue to be a freeze out with two-hour levels. Other events announced include the return of the $1,500 Millionaire Maker, both the $1,000 Double Stack and $1,500 Monster Stack, the 888poker sponsored $888 Crazy Eights and the popular $1,000 Seniors Event. 2019 World Series of Poker Key Events DATE EVENT BUY-IN CHIPS LEVELS RE-ENTRY GUARANTEE START TIME (PT) 5/30 Big 50 NLHE $500 50,000 50 min 1/flight $5M $1M for 1st 11 a.m. 5/31 " $500 50,000 50 min 1/flight 11 a.m. 6/1 " $500 50,000 50 min 1/flight 10 a.m. 6/2 " $500 50,000 50 min 1/flight 10 a.m. 6/7 Millionaire Maker NLHE $1,500 25,000 60 min 1/flight $1M for 1st 10 a.m. 6/8 " $1,500 25,000 60 min 1/flight 10 a.m. 6/13 Seniors NLHE (50+) $1,000 20,000 60 min 1 10 a.m. 6/14 Double Stack NLHE $1,000 40,000 60 min 1/flight 10 a.m. 6/15 " $1,000 40,000 60 min 1/flight 10 a.m. 6/21 Monster Stack NLHE $1,500 50,000 60 min - 10 a.m. 6/22 " $1,500 50,000 60 min - 10 a.m. 6/28 Crazy Eights NLHE $888 40,000 30/60 min Day 1/2 Unlimited $888,888 for 1st 10 a.m./5 p.m. 6/29 " $888 40,000 30/60 min Day 1/2 Unlimited 10 a.m. 6/30 " $888 40,000 30/60 min Day 1/2 Unlimited 10 a.m. 7/3 WSOP ME - Day 1a $10,000 60000 2 hrs. - - 12 p.m. 7/4 Day 1b $10,000 60000 2 hrs. - - 12 p.m. 7/5 Day 1c $10,000 60000 2 hrs. - - 12 p.m. A notable difference in each of these events for 2019 is the starting stacks being given to players. In every event, the starting stacks have been dramatically increased. Some of which have been augmented as much as four times as in previous years. Though all of the announced dates and tournaments are subject to change, players can now begin planning their summer of bracelet hunting around a few of these key, large field tournaments. WSOP officials will announce the entire 2019 World Series of Poker schedule in the first quarter of 2019.
The upcoming 888poker XL Blizzard series features 34 events across 10 days with more than $1.7 million in combined guarantees. Buy-ins come as low as $5, so there are plenty of accessible options for players, but it's the $250 buy-in, $500,000 guarantee Main Event that everyone has their eyes on. With a buy-in of $250, the Main Event may be a little too rich for you. But 888poker has plenty of satellite tournaments running to help you win your way in for cheap, including a special promotion that allows you to win your way to the 888poker XL Blizzard Main Event for free. All you have to do is deposit $10 or more using the promo code 'BLIZZARD10' and you'll get three tickets to 888poker's daily XL Blizzard Qualifiers. These qualifiers run every day at 21:00 GMT up until April 3, 2019. In these qualifiers, the top 12 players will win a $250 seat to the 888poker XL Blizzard Main Event. In addition to the 888poker XL Blizzard Main Event, players can qualify for the XL Blizzard Mini Tune Up that boasts a $50,000 guarantee and a $16.50 buy-in. These qualifiers take place every day at 17:00 GMT up until April 3, 2019, and the top 30 players will win a $16.50 seat into the XL Blizzard Mini Tune Up. Again, all you have to do is deposit $10 or more using the promo code 'BLIZZARD10' and you'll get three tickets to these qualifiers. READ: Five Must-Play Events on the 888poker XL Blizzard Schedule What's more is that if you play in five XL Blizzard events, you'll get a freeroll ticket to a tournament that will give out one $12,600 WSOP Main Event package and three $2,700 WSOP Crazy Eights packages. That's tremendous value simply for competing.