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Found 32 results

  1. This week, the poker world will once again turn its attention to PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel as reigning and defending champion Phil Hellmuth is set to take on his current sparring partner Daniel Negreanu in what amounts to a $200,000 winner-take-all heads-up battle. When these two faced off in the first match on March 31, Negreanu had the early edge and put a hurt on Hellmuth’s stack to the point where a victory for Kid Poker looked inevitable. However, as the blinds went up, Hellmuth held on and made some big hands in critical spots to double up and grind his way back. Roughly six hours into the match, Hellmuth completed his improbable comeback, winning his fourth High Stakes Duel match in a row and providing those who bet on him a reason to celebrate. For those looking to bet on the 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner in the re-match, once again they’ll be betting on the underdog. According to oddsmakers PokerShares, Hellmuth opened at +132 despite being the player on a four-match winning streak. Over time though, the odds got slightly longer as the line moved to +142 just 48 hours ahead of the start of the match. Conversely, it seems as if the public is still optimistic that the lessons Negreanu learned from his high-profile match with Doug Polk will come into play when he meets Hellmuth again. Negreanu opened at -149 and the line for him to walk away the winner has continued to increase, where he currently sits at -161. “Negreanu played well in the challenge against Doug Polk and improved his HU game a ton. For that reason, we make him the favorite in our opening line versus Hellmuth, who is fundamentally weaker than Negreanu,” a spokesperson from PokerShares said. “The closing line is much more a factor of bets coming in, so Negreanu being the favorite in our current odds for Round 2 and our closing odds for Round 1 simply means that the betting volume keeps coming in on Negreanu despite Hellmuth’s impressive track record in the format.” The betting volume for Round 1 is also a good indicator of how popular the first High Stakes Duel match-up between Hellmuth and Negreanu actually was. It was a boom for PokerShares, one that may repeat as the stakes for Round 2 are doubled. “The Negreanu versus Hellmuth High Stakes Duel Round 1 was the most popular single heads-up session we ever offered on our platform,” the spokesperson said. “We particularly had many bets for €100 or lower as it was the perfect match for a casual bet. [In comparison] The Galfond versus Venividi Challenge saw more five, and even six-figure, bets as the challenge was much longer and variance thus didn’t play as big a role in determining the winner of the overall challenge. The betting volume on Negreanu versus Hellmuth was larger than on a single Galfond versus Venividi session but smaller than the overall challenge.” Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see what will happen in the next chapter of the current rivalry between these two long-time poker peers. The High Stakes Duel II Hype Show kicks off the action on Tuesday, May 4 at 8 pm ET as Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman recap Round 1 and break down what fans can expect to see in Round 2. Then on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:30 pm ET, Schulman returns to desk duty to host the Hellmuth and Negreanu “Weigh-In” where the players will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and trade some barbs before the cards are in the air for Round 2. Finally, just half an hour later, at 8 pm ET, High Stakes Duel II, Round 2 will go down. Hellmuth looks to make it five in a row and force Negreanu to challenge him for a third time while Kid Poker plans on booking a heads-up challenge victory.
  2. Pennsylvania online poker players now have a second place to play with the Thursday launch of BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker in their home state. Powered by the partypoker US Network, this marks the second operator to launch in the Keystone State, ending the monopoly that PokerStars PA has had since launching in November 2019. “Pennsylvania customers will find that BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker provide engaging experiences for both new and seasoned players," said Ray Stefanelli, Director of Poker, BetMGM. "The partypoker US Network supports the online poker community, providing access to training initiatives designed to help all participants strengthen their play.” BetMGM Poker is now available in three states, along with New Jersey and Michigan while BorgataPoker.com is now available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Pennsylvania players will not be playing against players from those states as they are not part of an interstate liquidity sharing pact. To celebrate the arrival of the new poker rooms, new players can grab a $25 bonus plus a 100% deposit match bonus on their first deposit, to a maximum of $600, by signing up here. There is also a pair of Opening Week Freerolls on May 9 and May 16 and new players are eligible to play in one of them. “Pennsylvanians can now experience our superior poker offering through both BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker,” said Adam Greenblatt, Chief Executive Officer, BetMGM. “We’re eager to expand our platform to a larger online audience, and give players in the Keystone State safe, accessible and entertaining poker options.” BetMGM launched their casino product in Pennsylvania in March leading Pennsylvania poker players to speculate as to when the poker product will launch.
  3. The PokerStars 2021 Spring Championship of Online Poker is officially in the books. With $100 million in total prize money guaranteed and 306 total tournaments, the series proved, once again, to be one of the marquee events on the poker calendar. Now that it’s over we have the opportunity to take a look back at some of the biggest events and winners of the series, going inside some of the eye-popping numbers that made the 13th annual spring festival so successful. Exceed The Guarantee PokerStars slapped a $100 million guarantee on SCOOP 2021, marking the first time in the series’ history that the company had promised a number so high. The enthusiasm for player participation wasn’t unwarranted, as just one year ago prize pools for SCOOP 2020 pushed past the $130 million mark. As was expected, players showed up en masse and across all 102 events at three buy-in levels generated $138,204,868 in total prize money (~38% more than was guaranteed.) The break out for prize pools went as follows - $62,718,174 for the High buy-ins (45% of series total), $52,132,505 (38%) for the Medium and $23,354,189 (17%) for the Low. It’s interesting to compare the percentages of payouts to that of total entries. Over the course of 25 days of action, the series saw an astonishing 1,723,716 total entries, an average of 68,948 entries per day. There’s not a lot to take away from an average number of entries per day, except to say that PokerStars was keeping pretty busy during the series. The registration breakdown shows 55,593 total entries for the High buy-in events, 404,670 for Medium, and a massive 1,263,453 for the Low. In yet another example of “the greater the risk, the greater the reward”, just 3% of the total entries (represented by the High buy-in) collected 45% of the series payouts. The Medium buy-in events were good for roughly 23% of entries while 73% of all SCOOP registrations took place in the Low. Million Dollar Prize Pools Players wanting to splash around in massive prize pools didn’t have to look very far to find them. SCOOP 2021 featured 30 events with prize pools of $1 million or more (17 High, 10 Medium, 3 Low), only three ended up not paying out a six-figure score to the winner, deals included. Here’s a look at the ten biggest prize pools of the series. [table id=211 /] It should be expected that the SCOOP 2021 Main Events lead the way, however, it also shows some additional value to be found in the large-field Medium events as two of the next three events were categorized as such including Event #4-M ($215 NLHE PKO Sunday Million), the largest prize pool for something other than a Main Event. As a side note, the top 10 tournaments and their prize money total of $29,762,675 represented 21.5% of all the money paid out over the series. Large Field Events When it comes to which events produced the largest fields, a general rule is “how low can you go?”. Of the top 10 largest fields, nine belonged to Low buy-in events with the lone Medium event being the multi-flight Phase tournament, which some might feel is a technicality. No matter the buy-in, packed lobbies often provide a large return on investment so here’s a look at the largest events of SCOOP 2021 and the players who navigated those tough, massive fields. [table id=212 /] To The Victor Go The Spoils For both recreational players and professionals alike, the appeal of the spring series is the opportunity to play for large, potentially life-changing, sums of money. On that front, SCOOP 2021 delivered yet again. Of the 306 tournaments, 51 had winners that walked away with six-figure sums, including three champions from the Low tier. And when the big money was on the line, poker’s elite players stepped into the spotlight. All-Time Online Money List leader Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira, former #1-ranked Patrick ‘pads1161’ Leonard, and 2020 WSOP Main Event champion Damian ‘pampa27’ Salas all found themselves among the top 10 scores from those who took down a title. [table id=215 /] Single Biggest Scores This list looks a little different from the top 10 overall scores, with the Main Events weighing in so heavily. Here’s a look at the most eye-popping single scores of the series. [table id=216 /] It should be no surprise for those who followed along to see Romania’s ‘Dannyz0r’ at the top of the list. The Main Events dominate this category and when the $10K High ME found its final three players, they agreed to a chop which locked up the series top prize for ‘Dannyz0r’, despite not winning the event. Winner, Winner Whether it’s SCOOP or the WSOP, history has shown that over the course of a lengthy championship series, there are going to be players who win multiple titles. It was no different for SCOOP 2021 in two players, Adrian ‘Amadi_017’ Mateos and Dejan ‘dejanic357’ Kaladjurdjevic, took down three SCOOP 2021 titles while another 13 players claimed two victories. Here’s an overview of the multiple title winners and how much their victories earned them. [table id=219 /]
  4. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. Get ready for another all-new, jam-packed episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast as Lance and Donnie break down everything that took place in the world of poker. This week, the World Series of Poker expanded their summer online schedule and announced that beginning on August 1, thirty-three online gold bracelet events will be available on GGPoker for international players. At the same time, the Wynn in Las Vegas looked to fill the live poker void left by the delay of the 2021 WSOP with its own $10,000,000 guaranteed summer tournament. As players get ready for the start of the WSOP, both the PokerStars SCOOP and GGPoker's Spring Festival came to a close and the guys look back at some of the biggest winners in both series and recap some of the incredible numbers put up by both. Also, the World Poker Tour's record-setting Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown has found its final six players as the company looks to make more history with the sale of their first NFTs. Mike Zakarian joins the show to break down what to look for (and look out for) when the NFTs go on sale this week. All of that and more so turn in and subscribe to The FIVES! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  5. It’s mid-December 2020 and a tennis court just north of San Jose, Costa Rica is home to one of the most hotly-contested tennis matches of the year. This isn’t a battle between a couple of former top-ranked tennis pros and the stakes aren’t all that high, but the combatants are going all out for a win. On one side of the court is a 17-year-old spending her Christmas break from school hanging out in the Central American vacation hot spot. Her opponent on this day is her 74-year-old grandfather, a man fortunate enough to be able to spend a few months in Costa Rica hiding from the harsh Canadian winters. He’s not anywhere near the height of his athletic prowess, but that’s not an excuse he’d use to take it easy. Each time he returns the fuzzy yellow ball across the net he does so with a hint of a life lesson in it. Work hard. Treat people with respect. Fight for what you believe in. Anybody who knows this man understands that there is no way he will simply let his granddaughter win a match, a set, or even a single point without earning it. Isai Scheinberg just isn’t built that way. A Private Man Steps Into the Spotlight Spending an afternoon in the Costa Rican sun is the closest that Scheinberg has ever come to thrusting himself into the spotlight. Ten years after poker’s most infamous day, Black Friday, threatened to destroy the company he and his son Mark built, Scheinberg is ready to let the poker world hear from him for the first time. “I valued privacy, but I was not secretive. That’s not the same thing,” Scheinberg says. “I was working hard. I was very busy and I’m not the type of guy to go out and do PR.” Scheinberg launched PYR Software in 2000 to build online poker tournament software in hopes of licensing it to online casinos and sportsbooks that were at the genesis of what would soon become the online gaming industry. Every company he and Mark pitched the product to either didn’t understand or wanted to pay far less than what they thought it was worth. “None of them understood software much, so they couldn’t appreciate we had a terrific game. But then, we had absolutely no experience in online gaming,” Scheinberg admits. Scheinberg was 54 years old at the time and had left a job at IBM to venture out on his own. There wasn’t a chance he was going to let somebody tell him he couldn’t do something. Rather than settling for a partner they didn’t want to work with, the Scheinbergs decided to take the product to market on their own. In 2001, PokerStars.com was born with Isai heading up the software company in Toronto and Mark moving to Costa Rica to run the gaming side of the business. From Day 1, the market responded to PokerStars’ software being so far ahead of any of its competitors. Scheinberg, who loved poker long before the idea of PokerStars ever struck him, had focused a lot of the development on multi-table tournaments. The marketing and tournament schedule followed that lead. The first PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker in 2002 was a nine-tournament series anchored by a $1,050 buy-in event. That might seem small compared to today’s standards, but back then nobody else was even thinking about online poker tournaments the way Scheinberg was. Most poker enthusiasts have a pretty good understanding of what happened over the next few years; the accountant from Tennessee, the 2003 World Series of Poker, and ESPN broadcasts helped launch the company into an entirely different stratosphere that would eventually make PokerStars the world’s largest online poker site. October 2006 shifted the online poker landscape, first in the United States, and then around the world. The U.S. government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. PartyPoker and 888 abandoned the American market-leading some mainstream media outlets to claim that the law represented a complete prohibition of online gaming, including poker, in the United States. Scheinberg wasn’t convinced and PokerStars sought counsel from prominent U.S. lawyers and were told unequivocally that UIGEA did not prohibit games of skill such as poker. PokerStars, which only offered poker and not casino games like PartyPoker and 888 did, took these legal opinions and decided to continue to offer their product to American players. Other poker-only companies followed their lead. The company also initiated lobbying efforts for federal online poker legislation in the United States that would have provided clarity to players, companies, and investors. PokerStars worked with regulators around the world and earned licenses in multiple European jurisdictions and reaped the rewards as poker’s popularity soared around the world. First Trauma, Then Calm An early morning email on April 15, 2011, changed everything yet again. Scheinberg was being told by company lawyers that he was being indicted by the United States Department of Justice and that the company was named as a defendant in a civil suit. A non-native English speaker born in Lithuania, he had to ask what the word “indictment” meant. He quickly learned that the company he spent nearly 10 years building into a monster was in serious jeopardy. “That was very traumatic,” Scheinberg says. Sitting in the Toronto office of PYR Software, Scheinberg took a deep breath, and rather than panic about what his own future might hold, he told his lawyers that his immediate concern wasn’t the indictment. “I said, ‘Look, our priority number one is to pay the players’. We had the money and we wanted to pay. The lawyers told me, ‘You’re crazy. It will take a year or more. That doesn’t happen that way’. But it happened in less than a week,” Scheinberg says. Understanding that the players – his players – would be in a panic, the Scheinbergs wanted to make sure that they understood he was going to take care of them. “One of the first things we did was issue a press release reassuring players that their money is actually safe”, Scheinberg explains. In the ensuing conversations with the DOJ, PokerStars made it clear they wanted to get players paid as soon as possible. Recognizing that this served their interests as well, the DOJ agreed to allow PokerStars to process payments to American players and allowed the company to continue serving players outside of the country. Players weren’t the only ones who had reason to be scared about what Black Friday meant for them. Approximately 1,000 PokerStars employees were working in offices around the world and each had reasons to wonder if they may soon be out of a job. Just as they had reassured players, Isai and Mark did their best to put employees’ minds at ease. “The message to employees was that they are not losing their jobs,” Isai says. In the days and weeks that followed, PokerStars offered any employee whose job was focused on the United States an opportunity to re-train in another area or skill so that they could continue to work for the company if they chose. The trauma of seeing his name in the indictment wasn’t something Scheinberg was willing to let his employees see or feel. Black Friday exposed Full Tilt Poker’s financial malpractice and shined a searing light on the charlatans behind AbsolutePoker/UB. As mainstream media around the world covered the story, they spoke about all three companies as if they were the same. PokerStars soldiered on and Scheinberg is proud to point out that not a single regulator anywhere in the world pulled PokerStars’ license due to the U.S. charges. It soon became quite clear that Full Tilt wasn’t going to be able to pay its U.S. players the way PokerStars had. When Full Tilt’s European license was revoked, the company shut down completely. The millions of players who had money in their Full Tilt accounts were faced with a previously unimaginable scenario; their money was gone forever. That’s when Scheinberg lofted the idea of stepping in to bail out Full Tilt players. He was immediately met with resistance from his advisors who had been in settlement negotiations with the DOJ. “Why don’t you suggest that we buy Full Tilt from the government and pay the players?” Scheinberg asked. The response from the company lawyer: “That’s totally crazy…it’s never happened before.” Scheinberg was aware that the US government was in talks with third parties to sell Full Tilt’s assets. “These buyers didn’t want to fully cover the money to pay the players,” Scheinberg recalls. ”The government was under a lot of pressure from U.S. players and also international players because again, there were hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.” The government eventually accepted Scheinberg’s “crazy” proposal and PokerStars purchased the Full Tilt Poker assets from the U.S. government and made sure that American players with a balance on Full Tilt Poker on Black Friday were paid in full. PokerStars also reinstated Full Tilt’s international operations and paid those players who had lost nearly $200 million when the site closed. Meanwhile, Scheinberg continued to negotiate with U.S. prosecutors for the charges he was facing and was told he could continue to work for PokerStars while those negotiations were ongoing. “I was very upset when people called me a fugitive,” Scheinberg says. “I’ve never been an American citizen or resident and I wasn’t in the U.S. since 1999. I didn’t flee the jurisdiction and I was not hiding.” In 2015, he even held face-to-face meetings over two days in London with the U.S. prosecutors. The meeting resulted in an agreement to drop bank fraud charges from any future plea agreement, but not the gambling charge. [caption id="attachment_634521" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Isai Scheinberg has found a new game to devote this energy to. Chess. (Andrew Barton photo)[/caption] All of this is why what happened in June 2019 came as such a surprise. After traveling around the world, including multiple trips to Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, and the Isle of Man – all countries with extradition agreements with the United States – Scheinberg, who says he always informed local authorities that he was coming, had never worried about running into an issue when abroad. While vacationing in Switzerland with his wife, Scheinberg was detained by Swiss authorities at the request of the DOJ. While he initially planned to oppose extradition, Scheinberg eventually decided to waive the proceedings and travel to the U.S. to resolve the case once and for all. On January 17, 2020, Scheinberg landed at Kennedy airport in New York City where authorities were waiting for him. He was processed at the airport and immediately brought to the court. Scheinberg pled not guilty to all charges and was released on a $1 million bond on the same day and promised not to leave New York City. More than two months later, Scheinberg arrived at a NY courthouse to plead guilty to a single count of operating an illegal gambling business. That plea, which made him the final of the 11 Black Friday defendants to plead guilty, came with a maximum five-year sentence. However, Scheinberg’s lawyers successfully argued that he should not be further punished since the company was operating in the United States on legal advice that said offering poker was not illegal, he had been in contact with the DOJ since 2011, was active with numerous charities around the world, and that the company had paid more $300 million of Full Tilt’s debts. In his ruling, the judge called Scheinberg’s conduct “a mistake” and sentenced him to time served and was immediately released. For more than nine years, Scheinberg felt the weight of the Black Friday charges hanging over his head. He knew they would be resolved one day – one way or the other. Now, he can’t help but see some practicality in the outcome. “For example, when the indictment was pending some banks were reluctant to open an account for me. Because in their mind when it’s not settled, who knows? But when it’s settled, it’s settled,” Scheinberg says. The Gamesman As his granddaughter will undoubtedly attest, Scheinberg has a competitive side that hasn’t slowed down at all. The one-time poker nerd who dreamed of winning a WSOP bracelet long before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, has turned his attention to a game that has recently captured the imagination of an entirely new generation of players the way poker did back in 2003. “Today, I play a lot of chess,” Scheinberg says. “That makes me happy.” While Scheinberg has put in time and energy to become a better player, he also comes by it naturally. His father, Matafia, represented his native Lithuania in the Chess Olympiad in the early 1930s. Scheinberg owns a copy of a book that details the games his father played in those events, including analysis from top grandmasters, and proudly shares it with anybody who shows an interest in the game. Just like poker, Scheinberg isn’t interested just in playing. Scheinberg, along with his son Mark, is one of the key investors in Chess.com and his years of experience running PokerStars makes him an invaluable asset as that company grows. When it came to deciding to put money there, Scheinberg didn’t necessarily look just at the technology or the software, he looked at who was running the company and if they shared his values and ideals for running a business. “The reason we invested and we joined them is because they are very good guys, and they bring the business principles of being transparent, and honest, and they treat customers well,” Scheinberg says. Crediting the much-heralded Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit for sparking an interest in chess in the general public, Scheinberg can’t help but draw parallels between that and what Moneymaker did when his WSOP Main Event win aired on ESPN. Much like he did in the early years of PokerStars, Scheinberg relies on his experiences as a player to influence his ideas for ways to help the company grow. Scheinberg chuckles at the idea of getting back into the world of poker but doesn’t shut down the possibility altogether. The family sold the company to Amaya in June 2014 for $4.9 billion in a transaction that was largely driven by the inability of the company, under their ownership, to gain a gaming license in New Jersey. The company originally had plans to purchase The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and offer PokerStars to New Jersey residents through that gaming license. Scheinberg says Black Friday was not what created the greatest challenge to PokerStars gaining a license in America. In early conversations with New Jersey regulators, company lawyers asked whether there would be a legal objection to giving PokerStars a license. “The regulators went to the DOJ and they asked, ‘Are you going to have a problem with PokerStars getting the license in New Jersey?’ And the DOJ said no, they would not have a problem. So the regulators came back and told our lawyers, ‘Fine. Of course, we cannot guarantee it, because we will check the company as we did all the other companies,’” Scheinberg says. “That was not a problem as we knew the company had no issues with its operations. However, our competitors raised hell and complained in every direction and they delayed the process. People from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement already had plane tickets to come to the Isle of Man to interview (PokerStars management). And they canceled at the last moment.” Scheinberg says that pressure from those competitors, directed towards both the DGE and Atlantic Club Casino ownership, led to that deal falling apart. Despite having private assurances that there would be no licensing issues for PokerStars, the company found itself facing the same hurdles after striking a deal with a second property, Resorts Casino. “So, this time we didn’t buy (the casino), but we made a deal to offer our poker product with them,” Scheinberg says. “The DGE came at the last moment and they said no. It was unexpected and the announcement from the (DGE) was very unclear. They said they had some conditions.” Scheinberg was told he either had to settle his case or there needed to be “major changes in the company”. It was then that the company’s fortunes shifted again. “And that was the moment when we said, ‘what the hell. we’ll get out of that.’ For the sake of the company, for U.S. players to be able to play on PokerStars, we need to change the ownership. So, it was a combination of feelings, but that was the trigger, that they didn’t let us get a license there,” Scheinberg says. The Scheinbergs had already shooed away Amaya and their ambitious CEO David Baazov once, telling them PokerStars had every intention of launching in New Jersey. With that no longer an option, the two companies entered into negotiations that ultimately led to the family selling the company. The $4.9 billion proceeds didn’t all go to the family, and neither did their share. Long-time PokerStars employees who didn’t have equity in the company say Isai and Mark were both quite generous with them after the sale. For them, it was about taking care of the people who had helped them build PokerStars. “We ran the company all the time that way. Of course, class and grace were the most important thing. We didn’t fire anyone after Black Friday and employees were a big part of the success,” Scheinberg says. “Employees were part of the business. A big part obviously in every company, but in our company, we felt that the employees were an extremely important part.” [caption id="attachment_634527" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Ten years after Black Friday, Isai Scheinberg still carries with him a twinge of regret when it comes to the events of that day. (Andrew Barton photo)[/caption] Seven years after the company was sold, Scheinberg looks back on his time in the poker industry and believes his legacy will be defined by the principles with which he ran the company through good times and bad. “We created a lot of things that helped poker grow and be more respected and more enjoyable and I’m pleased that is the legacy,” Scheinberg says. “And the fact that we paid players and players did not lose their money (on Black Friday) was also very important. I think that commitment to players and doing the right thing by them is the legacy.” Being the owner of another one of poker’s most enduring and endearing brands almost became another pillar in Scheinberg’s story. “Actually, at one time we were offered to buy the Rio Casino, but there was a reaction of ‘We don’t need this. Why would we buy?’ In hindsight, I think it was a mistake. I thought that if we bought Rio, we would own the World Series and make it better,” Scheinberg says. “We probably would do a lot of things to make it very friendly to players. We planned to increase the prize pool. We would make a guaranteed prize pool of $100 million in the Main Event and a lot of things around that. When I was talking to Steve Wynn, and we had a deal with him (in March 2011), we were discussing that and he was very excited and we probably would move WSOP to a better facility.” The relationship between PokerStars and the World Series of Poker since Harrah’s acquired it in 2004, could best be described as a competitive rivalry. Last November, Scheinberg was named one of ten finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame. It was the first time that the WSOP, who control the PHOF, listed Scheinberg as a finalist despite years of lobbying from poker heavyweights, including former Team PokerStars Pro and current Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu. “There were a number of people who were trying to put me (into the Hall of Fame). I never tried to lobby or anything. Harrah’s or Caesar’s were not big friends of ours. We were their competitors, so they were blocking that, but yes, (the nomination) was surprising, but look, the case has settled (and) that’s one thing that probably helped that,” Scheinberg says. He hasn’t been to the WSOP since 1997 and still has a love for poker that he believes could see him sitting at a table inside the Amazon Room at the Rio very soon. Now, with PokerStars and Black Friday clearly in his rear-view mirror, Scheinberg looks back at what he created, his impact on both the game and the industry, and says he has no regrets, with one important exception – the months leading up to Black Friday. “I do wonder if we should have been proactive with discussions with the DOJ, especially in early 2011 after the federal online poker bill didn’t materialize,” Scheinberg says “We could have entered into a direct dialogue with them. That might have prevented Black Friday.” That one lingering thought about what might have been doesn’t consume his thoughts though. Almost seven years after Scheinberg sold the company, PokerStars continues to be the world’s largest online poker operator and that, he says, will also be part of how his time in poker is remembered. Today, Scheinberg is happy to be able to spend time with all three generations of his family, even as one of the youngest is staring him down while serving for match point. “The best part of my life, I have a happy family life. I am happily married for 53 years, I am proud of my sons’ achievements, I have three grandkids, and I love what I do.”   Photos via Andrew Barton
  6. Niklas Astedt is having himself one helluva week. The former #1-ranked PocketFiver, who is a #1 seed in the PocketFives #1 Number One contest, has rattled off win after win over the past week, with success coming at both the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker and GGPoker Spring Festival tables. On Tuesday, the Swedish superstar took home nearly $1.1 million for winning GGPoker Spring Festival Event #41 ($25,500 Sunday Five Million [2-Day Event]). Astedt beat out 201 other entries to pick up the win, his fourth of the series. Shawn Daniels finished second for $821,689.32 and Jason Koon took third place for a $616,180.06 payday. Along with his four GGPoker Spring Festival wins and the $1.38 million that came with those victories, Astedt also took down PokerStars SCOOP Event #31-H ($1,050 NLHE [8-Max]) for $85,430.33. He was one of a handful of well known players who emerged victorious on Tuesday. Another former #1, Sami Kelopuro, earned $520,003.49 for beating 89 other entries in Event #49 ($25,500 Super High Roller). His last victim, Wiktor Malinowski had to settle for a $400,881.54 while the current #1-ranked online poker player in the world, Yuri Dzivielevski wound up in third place, earning $309,048.01. Benjamin Rolle had the third biggest first place score of the day after shipping Event #50 ($5,250 Half Price Super Tuesday) for $236,019.99. Rolle worked his way through the 222-player field on his way to the victory. Coming in one spot short of the title, 'TheBigKid' banked $176.989.99 while third place finisher Pablo Navarro earned $132,723.74. Normally, a player winning titles on back-to-back days would be the headliner, but with so many big names winning big scores, 'judd trump' taking down Event #44 ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event) one day after winning Event #43-H ($5,250 Bounty Hunters SHR) got pushed down the page. This win came with a $95,783.54 score for beating out 544 other entries. Runner-up 'LaxxedAF' won $71,827.30 while 'FiestaPagana' grabbed the final spot on the podium for $53,862.87. Alex Foxen beat Joseph Cheong heads up to win Event #51 ($1,050 Deepstack Bounty Turbo) for $41,677.40. Cheong walked away with $22,614.66 while third place finisher 'NeverDieBaby' came in third for $19,497.13. Latvian Aleks Ponakovs won $74,911.83 after winning Event #47 ($1,050 Forty Stack) while 'FreeZePeeDoe' beat out 276 other entries to win Event #48 ($525 PLO-NL Bounty) for $27,856.65. Event #41 ($25,500 Sunday Five Million [2-Day Event]) Entries: 202 Prize pool: $5,050,000 Niklas Astedt - $1,095,740.82 Shawn Daniels - $821,689.32 Jason Koon - $616,180.06 Event #44 ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event [2-Day Event]) Entries: 545 Prize pool: $545,000 judd trump - $95,783.54 LaxxedAF - $71,827.30 FiestaPagana - $53,862.87 Event #47 ($1,050 Forty Stack) Entries: 388 Prize pool: $388,000 Aleks Ponakovs - $74,911.83 TheProjector - $56,175.70 PepeLegal - $42,125.82 Event #48 ($525 PLO-NL Bounty) Entries: 277 Prize pool: $138,500 FreeZePeeDoe - $27,856.65 xBGx - $14,514.55 MINMINMIN - $8,589.83 Event #49 ($25,500 Super High Roller) Entries: 90 Prize pool: $2,250,000 Sami Kelopuro - $520,003.49 W Malinowski - $400,881.54 Y Dzivielevski - $309,048.01 Event #50 ($5,250 Half Price Super Tuesday) Entries: 222 Prize pool: $1,110,000 Benjamin Rolle - $236,019.99 TheBigKid - $176.989.99 Pablo Navarro - $132,723.74 Event #51 ($1,050 Deepstack Bounty Turbo) Entries: 236 Prize pool: $236,000 Alex Foxen - $41,677.40 Joseph Cheong - $22,614.66 NeverDieBaby - $19,497.13
  7. Another six events on the 2021 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker schedule reached a conclusion on Tuesday with one of online poker’s all-time greats taking down two titles in one day and another former #1-ranked pro adding a win to his extensive poker resume. Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson, the all-world former #1-ranked pro from Sweden, was showed off his incredible skills yet again by taking down two SCOOP titles in a single day on Tuesday. For his first, Mattsson made a heads-up money deal with Russia's ‘|Explay|’ in Event #38-H ($530 NLO8, 8-Max). However, the pair were forced to play it out for the final $1,000 in the prize pool and it was Mattsson who came out on top. He closed out the tournament and earned what would be his fourth career SCOOP title while adding $21,166.09 to his more than $17.3 million in lifetime online earnings. Although settling for second place, |Explay| negotiated a good deal that allowed him to walk away with $22,149.68 - a sum better than Mattsson’s first-place prize. Brazil’s Bernardo ‘bedias’ Dias climbed into third place, earning $13,424.38. Later in the evening, Mattsson was back to his winning ways. He topped the 461 player field of Event #46-H (8-Max, Turbo, PKO), only this time there was no deal. It took just four-and-a-half hours for the Swede to win the event outright and earn his fifth SCOOP title. Mattsson banked another $36,012.39 for first plus $38,453.10 in bounties for a total score of $74,465.49. His two titles netted him just over $95,00 - not bad for a day’s work. Earlier in the day another former #1, and current partypoker ambassador, Joao ‘IneedMassari’ Simao earned up his fourth career SCOOP title with a six-figure win in Event #37-H ($2,100 NLHE, 6-Max, PKO). The Brazilian bested the 403-entry field and helped himself to the $62,574.92 first-place prize. He added another $78,078.12 in bounties, for a grand total of $140,653.04. Canada’s Jonah ‘RaiseUpBlind’ Silverstein, who yesterday grabbed a title of his own, finished in second place. It was his second runner-up finish of the series and this time it was good for $62,574.73. Also of note, in a bit of an oddity, Silverstein made it all the way through the entire PKO without picking up a bounty along the way. Poker Twitch streamer Jargo ‘bunkakat’ Alavali treated his viewers to a third-place finish and added $54,818.90, bounties included, to his bankroll. Russia’s ‘Lidikkkkk’ scored the victory in Event #39-H ($1,050 NLHE, Freezeout) and earned $64,881.65 with the win. Current #122-ranked Kelvin ‘Kelvin_FP:AR’ Kerber finished as the runner-up for $49,140.96, pushing his career online earnings to more than $5.7 million. Brandon ‘Tyrion2205’ Sheils from the UK ended up in third place and booked a $37,219.14 score, the fourth largest of his online career. There was more than just NLHE on tap for Tuesday as well as Poland’s ‘tmk999’ emerged as the winner in Event #42-H ($530 5-Card PLO, 6-Max, PKO) for a total of $37,223.03, bounties included. And Norway’s ‘_sennj_’ topped the 54 entries in SCOOP #44-H ($2,100 FL 27 Triple Draw) to earn $37,966.19, the second-largest online cash of his career, and his first SCOOP title. Also of note, after three days of play with massive $530 Sunday Million Special Edition (Event #33-M) played down to a winner. Poland's 'seboraptor' made a heads-up deal with Brazil's 'brunoporto12' for the bulk of the event's $2.109 million prize pool. As the official winner, 'seboraptor' took home the title as well as $265,896.39 while 'brunoporto12' locked up $249,245.46* for his part in the deal. It was also a nice payday for third-place finisher 'GamadGADOL' as well who turned the $530 buy-in into a bankroll building $150,587.66 score. Other winners on Tuesday included ‘gimley14’ (Event #37-L), ‘bauruzito’ (Event #37-M), ‘1bloodflood’ (Event #38-L), ‘dubfitz’ (Event #38-M), ‘alpinko’ (Event #39-L), ‘n1ksis’ (Event #39-M), ‘muggsyboges’ (Event #42-L), ‘_WaPetry_’ (Event #42-M), ‘PokerFreaky9’ (Event #44-L), ‘Arttyomka’ (Event #44-M), ‘Solo-warrior’ (Event #46-L), and ‘pl@ta0plomo’ (Event #46-M). Event #33-M ($530 Sunday Million SE) Entries: 4,218 Prize pool: $2,109,000 1. seboraptor - $265,896.39* 2. brunoporto12 - $248,245.46* 3. GamadGADOL - $150,587.66 Event #37-H ($2,100 NLHE, 6-Max, PKO) Entries: 403 Prize pool: $806,000 1. IneedMassari - $140,653.04 2. RaiseUpBlind - $62,574.73 3. bungakat - $54,818.90 Event #38-H ($530 NLO8, 8-Max) Entries: 262 Prize pool: $131,000 1. C Darwin2 - $21,166.09* 2. |Explay| - $22,149.68* 3. bedias - $13,424.38 Event #39-H ($1,050 NLHE, Freezeout) Entries: 352 Prize pool: $352,000 1. Lidikkkkk - $64,881.65 2. Kelvin_FP:AR - $49,140.96 3. Tyrion2205 - $37,219.14 Event #42-H ($530 5-Card PLO, 6-Max, PKO) Entries: 519 Prize pool: $259,500 1. tmk999 - $37,223.03 2. Tiltkorv - $28,488.13 3. Dainiux - $19,458.52 SCOOP #44-H ($2,100 FL 27 Triple Draw) Entries: 54 Prize pool: $108,000 1. _sennj_ - $37,966.19 2. XD89lol<3 - $25,146.41 3. inevity - $16,655.42 SCOOP #46-H ($1,050 NLHE, 8-Max, Turbo, PKO) Entries: 461 Prize pool: $461,000 1. C Darwin2 - $74,465.49 2. kylix42 - $37,137.19 3. Fresh_oO_D - $47,871.79
  8. After officially taking Friday off, the 2021 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker resumed on Saturday bringing another four events to a conclusion including one of the most star-studded final tables of the series and the largest PKO to take place thus far. Over 10,000 people tuned in to watch popular Twitch streamer and PokerStars ambassador Lex Veldhuis as he battled at the stacked final table of Event 29-H ($2,100 NLHE, 8-Max). When the 211-entry field was down to just 8, Veldhuis found himself in a position to make a run at the title, however, just about every other seat at the final table was occupied by a top pro. This included five-time SCOOP title winner Talal ‘raidalot’ Shakershi (8th, $12,319.86), high-roller extraordinaire Dominik ‘Bounatirou’ Nitsche (8th, $16,161.20), and current #5-ranked Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira (4th, $36,482.11). As his competition busted, Veldhuis continued to chip up. Eventually, Aliaksei ‘ale6ka’ Boika was eliminated in third place, taking home $47,857.37. That left Veldhuis to battle for the title against Brazilian online crusher Pedro ‘PaDiLhA SP’ Padilha who had done a masterful job of taking control of the final table and accumulating a massive chip lead. In the end, Veldhuis fell to the Brazilian and closed out his stream as the runner-up with a $62,779.37 payday. Padilha earned his fourth career SCOOP title and added the $82,354.31 first-place prize to his more than $7.8 million in online career earnings. The 24-hour delay was worth the wait for Brazil’s Pedro ‘LgwZ’, Grochocki who topped the 539-player field of Event 22-H ($2,100 NLHE, PKO, Thursday Thrill SE) to capture the $83,473.31 first-place prize plus an astounding $96,210.93 in bounties for an online career-high haul of $181,684.23. ‘RaiseUpBlind’ also grabbed a six-figure sum as the runner-up, taking home $83,472.88 plus $31,585.94 in bounties for a total of $115,058.82. ‘darogio’ picked up the bronze and locked up a total score of $72,231.02. Event 27-H ($1,050 8-Game) fell just 14 players short of reaching the $125,000 guarantee. That just fine by Russia’s Andrei ‘Premove’ Skvortsov who picked up a little extra value en route to taking down his third career SCOOP title and the $28,101.31 that came with it. This marks the third year in a row that Skvortsov was won a SCOOP with his first coming in a NL Omaha H/L event in 2019 and his follow up being a PLO8 title in 2020. ’nkeyno’ earned ‘$21,552.27 as the runner-up while Sweden former worldwide #2-ranked Robin ‘robinho’ Yitalo wrapped up in third place and added $16,529.51 to his $13.3 million in online career earnings. It took less than two hours for ‘Powergolf’ to pick up the win in Event 30-H ($1,050 NLHE, 7-Max, Hyper-Turbo, PKO). They blasted through the 305-entry field and walked away with the $28,320.93 first-place prize with an additional $31,574.20 in bounties for a total of $49,895.13. In second place was ‘wasylaa’ who, with bounties, earned $40,644.91 and on their third bullet, ‘Shipmopff’ climbed into third place which was good for a total of $30,434.48. Other winners on Saturday included ‘Hefeweizen19’ (Event 22-L), ‘Heia_Eirik’ (Event 22-M), ’56_Hjerter’ (Event 27-L), ‘DTFobos’ (Event 27-M), ‘cipi22’ (Event 29-L), ‘VladTheSlaye’ (Event 29-M), ‘zibrdie’ (Event 30-L), and ‘dolimp4789’ (Event 30-M). Event 22-H ($2,100 NLHE, PKO, Thursday Thrill SE) Entires: 539 Prize pool: $1,078,000 1. LgwZ - $181,684.24 2. RaiseUpBlind - $115,058.82 3. darogio - $72,231.02 Event 27-H ($1,050 8-Game) Entries: 109 Prize pool: $125,000 1. Premove - $28,101.31 2. nkeyno - $21,552.27 3. robinho - $16,529.51 Event 29-H ($2,100 NLHE, 8-Max) Entries: 211 Prize pool: $422,000 1. PaDiLhA SP - $82,354.31 2. L. Veldhuis - $62,779.37 3. ale6ka 0 $47,857.33 Event 30-H ($1,050 NLHE, 7-Max, Hyper-Turbo, PKO) Entries: 305 Prize pool: $309,837 1. Powergolf - $59,895.13 2. wasylaa - $40,644.91 3. Shipmopff - $30,434.48
  9. The World Poker Tour and Theta Labs, a decentralized video delivery network, have announced an exclusive partnership aimed at giving poker fans the ability to own WPT digital collectibles in what the companies are calling “the world’s first real-time NFT marketplace.” The World Poker Tour is following in the footsteps of the pop-culture trail blazed by NBA Top Shot, which takes officially licensed digital collectable clips (commonly referred to as “moments”) and then sells and distributes them in varying quantities to fans as NFT (non-fungible tokens). In short, it’s like digital trading cards, but its video and its ownership are backed by blockchain. “Our exclusive NFT launch with Theta Network is one of our biggest digital initiatives to date and, for the first time ever, we’re combining our global reach of live televised poker with an NFT marketplace, giving our fans an interactive, real-time opportunity to collect a piece of the WPT poker action,” said World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska. “We are thrilled to bring some of our top poker pros, players, and celebrities to the NFT world, featuring rare and legendary WPT packs in weekly drops and running exclusive one-of-a-kind auctions for sure rare poker moments.” The launch of the new marketplace is set to take place in conjunction with the World Poker Tour televised Season XVIII premiere on Sunday, April 18 on the Bally Sports Network. The new televised season will start with a four-part co-branded cash game, the Theta Network WPT Cash Game, and will run each Sunday through May 9. During the programming, through in-show advertising and promotional segments, viewers will be directed to grab a spot in the digital line at the wpt.thetadrop.com website to possibly pick up and pack of digital moments. Out of the gate, the World Poker Tour will be paying tribute to poker ambassador and former announcer for the WPT, the late Mike Sexton. The Sexton moment, dubbed “Mike Sexton: The Legend Hand” will be extremely rare with just three in total created and will be put up for auction. In addition, the launch will offer the ability to purchase limited quantities of Base, Rare and Legendary poker packs which are likely to be designated as such by how many are minted. “We’re excited to launch the next-generation NFT marketplace with WPT, a unique opportunity to bring digital collectibles synchronized to live TV and cable broadcast to an audience of millions worldwide,” said Theta Labs CEO and co-founder Mitch Liu. “ThetaDrop maximizes earning to brand partners and creators by bringing the interactivity, real-time engagement, and personality possible only through a live stream when doing NFT drops and auctions. Theta’s proof-of-stake native blockchain means creators can be assured that minting and transacting NFTs are 100% eco-friendly, fast, and inexpensive.” The Theta Network looks to differentiate itself from the more commonly known Ethereum platform by being built with media and entertainment in mind. They claim that the speed of minting (creating) NFTs on Theta is 100x faster than on Ethereum and the cost is less than a fraction of a cent. But despite being its own network, the upside of NFT’s is the verified ownership of a digital asset and that means the ability to take/move it anywhere the owner pleases and the Theta Network assures for “seamless NFT transfer and transactions across networks” will allow fans to take their moments wherever they wish. The launch is right around the corner, at which time more details about the marketplace will become apparent. Everything from the cost of a pack, what kind of moments are included, how much the World Poker Tour might rake when trying to resell a moment, and how players featured in those moments will be compensated will all be a part of the story if the World Poker Tour’s venture carries with it the kind of excitement that has surrounded the current NFT movement. Fans who want to get in line early can do so at wpt.thetadrop.com.
  10. This is starting to get ridiculous. For the third consecutive day, former #1-ranked Niklas Astedt navigated his way to a win in a GGPoker Spring Festival event. Those three wins have earned the Swedish superstar a combined $279,247.37. This time around Astedt outlasted 104 other entries in Event #25-H ($5,250 PLO-NL Bounty) to win $140,464.75. His win came at the expense of runner-up Dario Sammartino, who would have completed a two-win day of his own had he not run into the buzzsaw that is Astedt. Sammartino banked $48,929.06 for his performance and coming in third place gave 'yfii-bestcrypto' a $45,347.16 bankroll boost. Sammartino couldn't have been too disappointed, however. The Italian and 2019 World Series of Poker runner-up beat 87 other players on his way to victory in Event #23-H ($25,500 Super High Roller) for a $508,447.84 payday. After losing to a former #1 earlier, Sammartino beat out the current #1-ranked player, Yuri Dzivielevski, for the title. Dzivielevski earned $391,973.06. Russia's Anatoly Filatov took third for $302,180.28. 'MickeyMouse' turned Event #20-H ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event) into their own personal magic kingdom on Thursday, beating 548 other entries before chopping with Igor D'Ursel. 'MickeyMouse' ended up with the title and $84,261.53 while D'Ursel actually out-earned them by grabbing $84,886.93. Rui Bouquet took home $54,357.02 as the third place finisher. Tom Delaine beat Viktor Ustimov heads-up to grab the win in Event #22-H ($525 Forty Stack) for $55,801.16 while Ustimov had to settle for $43,018.55. 'DontTiltGG' finished one position below Ustimov and won $33,164.46. Andrii Novak put on a bounty hunting showcase on Thursday, outlasting the 153 other players in Event #24-H ($10,300 Thursday Thriller Bounty) to collect an impressive $352,068.09. Runner-up Sami Kelopuro earned nearly 1/3 of Novak's score, taking home $122,696.01 while Ami Barer came in third place but earned more than Kelopuro thanks to the bounties collected. Barer banked $138,023.78 which is more than $15,000 more than Kelopuro. 'LottoLarry' cashed in a winning ticket by topping the 295-entry field in Event #26-H ($1,050 Turbo) for $60,524.63. '888WTB02' came in second place for $45,386.97 while Class Segebrecht took third for #34,035.42. Event #20-H ($1,050 High Rollers Main Event) Entries: 550 Prize pool: $550,000 MickeyMouse - $84,261.53 Igor d Ursel - $84,886.93 Rui Bouquet - $54,357.02 Event #22-H ($525 Forty Stack) Entries: 775 Prize pool: $387,500 Tom Delaine - $55,801.16 Viktor Ustimov - $43,018.55 DontTiltGG - $33,164.46 Event #23-H ($25,500 Super High Roller) Entries: 88 Prize pool: $2,200,000 Dario Sammartino - $508,447.84 Yuri Dzivielevski - $391,973.06 Anatoly Filatov - $302,180.28 Event #24-H ($10,300 Thursday Thriller Bounty) Entries: 154 Prize pool: $1,540,000 Andrii Novak - $352,068.09 Sami Kelopuro - $122,696.01 Amichai Barer - $138,023.78 Event #25-H ($5,250 PLO-NL Bounty) Entries: 105 Prize pool: $525,000 Niklas Astedt - $140,464.75 Dario Sammartino - $48,929.06 yfii-bestcrypto - $45,347.16 Event #26-H ($1,050 Turbo) Entries: 295 Prize pool: $295,000 LottoLarry - $60,524.63 888WTB02 - $45,386.97 C Segebrecht - $34,035.42
  11. Though tens of thousands of players have made their way into the PocketFives Rankings since the website launched in 2005, just 60 different players have climbed to the top and held the #1 spot. This list of players who have been #1 includes some of the most respected and feared players in the game, spanning multiple eras of online poker. There’s no doubt that these 60 players are all great - but who is the greatest #1 of all time? It’s a question that’s never been asked. Until now. And the answer to that question is entirely up to you. Over the next 30 days, poker fans will have the opportunity to help determine who the #1 Number One is in our head-to-head bracket style competition - and can win their own share of more than $2,000 in prizes along the way. The PocketFives #1 Number One is a single elimination tournament with all 60 former #1s. All players were seeded and placed in the bracket based on how many times they hit #1, how long they held onto the top spot, their career online earnings, and how many Triple Crowns they have won. "We wanted to give poker players and fans the opportunity to have their say in who they think is the greatest online poker tournament player of all time," said PocketFives President and Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley. "The next month should be a lot of fun with some 60 former #1-ranked players vying for the title and the championship belt." With 60 players, the four winners of the Global Poker Awards PocketFives Legacy Award each received first round byes: Cliff ’JohnnyBax’ Josephy, Ari Engel, Shaun Deeb and Chris ‘moorman1’ Moorman. Show me the bracket! Each day for the next 30 days, PocketFives will release two match-ups via Twitter for poker fans to vote on. Each poll is open for 24 hours with the player receiving the most votes moving on to the following round. This continues until the #1 Number One is determined on May 4, 2021. The player receiving the most votes in the final round earns the title of #1 Number One and the accompanying championship belt. Not only will poker fans around the world have the chance to vote, they'll also be able to win their share of more than $2,000 in prizes by entering a bracket with their predictions for how each match-up goes through all six rounds. Points are awarded for each accurate prediction with the points awarded each round doubling from 10 in the first round up to 320 in the final. ENTER NOW Prizes include a Run It Once Training Pads on Pads course, valued at $999, as well as prizes from D&B Poker, Faded Spade playing cards, and Run Good Gear. To be eligible for prizes, entrants must have a PocketFives account and must follow PocketFives on Twitter. Full details including rules, prizes, and all match-ups are available here.
  12. After three days of play, Canadian poker pro Vanessa Kade was crowned the winner of the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary for $1.5 million. One of Pokerstars' most coveted and prestigious online poker tournaments, the event saw a total of 69,876 entries from 45,765 unique players making a total prize pool of $13,975,200. Despite this edition of the PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary falling short of last year's $18,603,200 prize pool, two seven-figure payouts and all the bragging rights were still there for the taking. One of the big stories of heading into the final day centered around Vanessa 'Niffler' Kade, arguably the most well-known poker player to make the final day. The longtime poker pro, sailed through to the final table, to the delight of her fans. The 65 players that had survived the first two days of play had already locked up a payday of at least $10,757. Romania's 'Transylvanian' was in pole position to start Day 3, amassing a dominating chip stack of 66,800,871 (84 Big Blinds). It turned out that was enough to get the microstakes grinder to the final table, albeit as the short stack. The first final table casualty was 'Vvlankov'. With the blinds at 2.5/5m, they three-bet shoved their 41.6m stack with [poker card="As"][poker card="Kh"] which was called by pre-flop raiser 'malinga' who was holding [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Qc"]. The board ran out [poker card="Jd"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4s"][poker card="8d"][poker card="Jc"] to send 'Vvlankov' to rail in ninth place for a prize of $72,132. Next to hit the rail was 'kefirchik106' who jammed from the cut-off with [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Td"] for 47,433,379. Pawel 'Talibenes' Ladniak on the button, snapped called with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Jd"]. The all-in player did not improve on [poker card="9s"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3c"] flop. The [poker card="Jh"] turn gave Ladniak a pair but the [poker card="7h"] river was the last card 'kefirchik106' would see. Thus ending their Sunday Million journey for a payday of $105,538. Ladniak, now with over 700 million in chips, continued to tear up the final table by taking the scalp of former chip leader 'ikkedus'. In a blind versus blind battle, 'ikkedus' ripped it in for 90,075,612 with [poker card="7s"][poker card="7c"] which again was snapped called by the chip leaders [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"]. The seven's were outflopped on the [poker card="Qs"][poker card="Js"][poker card="2h"][poker card="9c"][poker card="6s"] run out. 'ikkedus' finished in 7th place for $154,416. Kade was the player who sent the next person packing. 'malinga' with [poker card="As"][poker card="7s"] jammed 76,304,487 in the hijack and was called by Kade from the big blind with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Qd"]. Despite being dominated, 'malinga' had hope on the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4s"] flop but that was quickly shattered with the [poker card="Qh"] turn. The brick [poker card="Kh"] was all she wrote for 'malinga' who picked up a sixth place finish and a cash prize of $225,930. The final six, soon became a final five when 'Transylvanian' jammed for 76,449,444 from the button and 'peu3ep' called off for their stack of 72,124,804. 'Transylvanian': [poker card="Ad"][poker card="5d"] 'peu3ep': [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Qc"] The queens were still the favorite on the [poker card="td"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2c"] flop. The [poker card="Kc"] turn avoided bringing in any backdoor flush draws but the [poker card="4c"] gave 'Transylvanian' the wheel straight. The heartbreaking river sent 'peu3ep' out fifth but the $330,564 prize should be enough to pay for a decent cardiologist. Kade then got her second final table elimination of the night. Calling off with [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qc"] after the 83,224,248 open jam from the short-stacked 'Transylvanian'. The at-risk player, holding [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Jd"], was dominated. Despite pairing their [poker card="Jd"] on the [poker card="Jc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="7d"] flop, the [poker card="Ac"] gave Kade the nut-flush and subsequently, 'Transylvanian' was drawing dead. The inconsequential [poker card="6d"] river meant it was down to three with 'Transylvanian', whose previous biggest online cash on Pokerstars was $8,500, busting in fourth place for a cool $483,652. The final three payouts combined meant there was still over $3.2 million up for grabs, which would likely make all three players instant millionaires if they decided to come to some sort of arrangement. Shockingly no deals were made and the three remaining players continued to trade chips back and forth for a while. The tournament soon sparked into life again with Kade and 'PanchoVetin' getting into an old fashioned coin flip. Kade, the chip leader, three-bet jammed with [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"] after 'PanchoVetin' opened with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"] in the small blind for 24 million. The snap call was made and it was off to the races with 'PanchoVetin' at risk. The pocket fives held on the [poker card="Ts"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="9c"][poker card="7s"] run out to give Kade a massive 7:1 chip lead going into heads up play. Just two hands later, Kade made her fourth and final elimination to become the winner of the Sunday Million 15th Anniversary. Ladniak limped on the button with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="9d"], Kade with [poker card="8h"][poker card="8s"] put the short stack to the test by going all-in. Ladniak made the call but could not improve on the [poker card="Qc"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="3d"] flop. Still, with two over cards to hit and a gutshot straight draw, Ladniak still had plenty of cards to improve on. The [poker card="Ad"] wasn't one of them and the [poker card="5h"] river sealed the tournament win for Kade who took home the title and career-high score of $1,514,920. Ladniak also secured a seven-figure payday for his second place. This win may feel like vindication for Kade as it comes at a time when she has been at the forefront of the poker spotlight, leading a charge against mysogyny in poker in an effort to make the game more accessible to women. Final Table Payouts Vanessa 'Niffler' Kade $1,514,920 Pawel 'Talibenes' Ladniak - $1,035,358 'PanchoVetin' - $707,640 'Transylvanian' - $483,652 'peu3ep' - $330,564 'malinga' - $225,930 'ikkedus' - $154,416 'kefirchik106' - $105,538 'Vvlankov' - $72,132
  13. Online poker players in Michigan now have another online poker site to play on. BetMGM Poker, which uses the partypoker software, launched Monday afternoon to join PokerStars MI as the only sites currently serving the Great Lake State. "The demand for online poker in Michigan was made clear by players across the state. BetMGM Poker is proud to offer them a seat at our tables and we’re confident that BetMGM Michigan customers will enjoy an engaging, reliable, and fun poker experience," Ray Stefanelli, Director of Poker, BetMGM said. Players in Michigan are currently playing in a ring-fenced environment against other players in Michigan. Any plan to have BetMGM join the interstate compact with New Jersey have not been announced but the recent ruling that determined that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting clears a potential hurdle to expand the compact to include other states and operators. Players signing up for BetMGM Poker get $10 free to use at the cash game and fastforward tables plus $15 in tournament dollars that can be used for MTTs and sit-n-gos and are eligible for a 100% bonus on their first deposit up to a maximum of $600. There is also a $50,000 freeroll tournament on Sunday, April 4 which pays out prizes to the top 1,000 finishers ranging from $10 in tournament dollars up to the first place prize of $500 in tournament dollars plus entry to the $109 buy-in BetMGM Grand Online Series Main Event. In late January, PokerStars MI became the first poker site to take advantage of the online gaming regulations signed into law in December 2019. The addition of BetMGM Poker means Michigan now has twice as many online poker operators as Pennsylvania, where only PokerStars PA is live. BetMGM Poker's launch gives the gaming company a full slate of iGaming products that includes sports betting and casino. "The launch of BetMGM Poker in Michigan fully rounds out our premier gaming portfolio in the state,” said Adam Greenblatt, BetMGM CEO. "BetMGM’s sports betting and casino offerings have been met with incredible early success in Michigan and we’re thrilled to provide players with another exciting gaming option."
  14. A quick glance at this week’s Online Poker Rankings gives off the impression that not much has changed. Bert ‘girafganger7’ Stevens, the United Kingdom-based online MTT crusher, retained the #1 spot for the second week in a row while nine of last week’s top 10 ranked players remained in the top 10. But under the surface, it was a very active week. Steven’s closest challengers for the top spot have significantly closed the gap threatening to end his position atop the leaderboard after just two weeks. Plus, the addition of one of the game’s top online talents to the rankings has the possibility to shake everything up over the next few weeks. Last week, Stevens took over the #1 ranking it for the fourth time in his career. However, his longest time spent atop the leaderboard top in each of his previous reigns was just two weeks - where he is right now. And if Portugal’s Rui ‘RuiNF’ Ferreira has anything to say about it, it may end at just two weeks once again. The current #2-ranked Ferreira pulled within four points of Stevens, a razor-thin margin. In addition to Ferreira’s recent win in the GGPoker $10,300 High Roller for $268,974 and 1,174.73 points, he also piled on an additional 350.93 points with a deep run in the GGPoker $25,500 Super High Roller for $49,157. He’s been on a rapid rise up the rankings and has never been in a better position to take over the #1 spot than he is right now. Ferreira’s not alone in being within striking distance of Stevens. Russia’s #3-ranked Arsenii ‘hellohellohello’ Malinov sits just 318 points back, an amount that can easily be earned on the high-stakes MTT scene. Malinov’s last significant score took place in the same $25,500 Super High Roller referenced above where he walked away with $180,167 and 608.11 points for a sixth-place finish. However, it’s one thing to be close and it’s another entirely to actually become #1. Even with multiple players targeting him at the top, there’s a good chance that Stevens can keep his streak going for a third week in a row. In both Ferreira and Malinov’s cases, their volume throughout the week appears to be down while Stevens has been on the grind. He picked up five-figure cashes in the PokerStars High Roller Club on March 14 for $12,731 and in the GGPoker High Roller Deepstack for another $17,659. Welcome Back 'Naza' While the coming weekend may determine who will emerge as the #1, there’s a new player in the top 10 to contend with as well. High-stakes crusher Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira, who was actually unranked last week, updated his PocketFives profile which added new scores to his total. The result is Vieira came in at #6 this week, becoming Portugal’s second player in the top 10 and pushing out WSOP Main Event champ Damian 'tritu' Salas, who slipped to #11. Additionally, Vieira took over the early lead in the Online Player of the Year standings. One of Vieira’s updates was adding his GGPoker real name, which included some of his biggest cashes in recent weeks. Early in March, he took sixth place in the Super MILLION$ Week $10,300 High Roller for $74,813 and 400.91 points. Then just this past week, he added a third-place finish in the GGPoker $5,250 Sunday 500 for $142,724 and 569.01 points. Finally, on the same day as his six-figure score, he locked up another $31,885 and 328.53 points with a final table finish in the GGPoker Sunday High Rollers. Moving forward, Vieira and his high-roller output will be another major factor in the elite sections of the rankings. Additionally, it lends more evidence that Vieira continues to be in the discussion as one of the best players in the world. Online Poker Rankings Notes This Week • Brazil’s Dalton ‘daltonhb’ Hobold hit a new career-high ranking this week, leaping 20 spots from #36 to #16 this week after a weekend that brought him three five-figure scores including a fourth-place finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million for $43,869 and a runner-up finish in the GGPoker Global MILLION$ for $84,522 and 659.75 points. • Back-to-back final tables in the PokerStars High Roller Club helped Jonathan ‘luckyfish89’ Clark climb 19 spots this week to #62. He grabbed a fifth-place finish in the $530 Bounty Builder on March 14 for 13,070 and 208.10 points and two days later took down another $530 Bounty Builder HR for $8,856 and another 226.94 points. Worldwide Online Poker Rankings Top 10 [table id=188 /]
  15. The return of High Stakes Poker after a nine-and-a-half year hiatus was met with high expectations. The first seven seasons of the show created some of the most memorable moments in televised poker history and showcased cash game action in a way that had never been done before. Season 8 delivered on the nostalgia by bringing in some of the stars of the first seven seasons, including Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth, and mixed them in with some new blood, such as Michael Schwimmer, Rick Salomon, and Brandon Steven, who were all unafraid to mix things up. The result was 14 episodes that felt like a continuation rather than a reboot of the original show. Here are the five biggest pots from Season 8. #5 - Bryn Kenney Kicks Tom Dwan Out of his Full House (Episode #5) From UTG, Bryn Kenney raised to $2,500 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="3d"]. Steven called from the cutoff with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] before Dwan raised to $12,000 from the button with [poker card="as"][poker card="ks"]. Both Kenney and Steven called to build a pot to $38,000. The [poker card="ah"][poker card="kc"][poker card="3h"] flop gave Dwan top two pair with Kenney picking up top and bottom pair. After action checked to him, Dwan bet $22,000 and just Kenney called. The [poker card="3c"] turn gave Kenney a full house and he check-called Dwan's bet of $55,000. Kenney checked again when the [poker card="th"] completed the board. Dwan reached into his stack and bet $55,000 only to have Kenney click back with a raise to $285,000. The raise made Dwan visibly uncomfortable and after considering his action for 30 seconds, Dwan folded to let Kenney win the $572,000 pot and take a $198,000 profit. #4 - Michael Schwimmer Also Falls Victim to Bryn Kenney (Episode #8) John Andress bumped things up by straddling for $1,600. Dwan called with [poker card="8s"][poker card="7s"] and and Jean-Robert Bellande called from the button with [poker card="kh"][poker card="5h"] before Schwimmer raised to $4,000 from the small blind with [poker card="kc"][poker card="5c"]. Kenney defended the big blind with [poker card="4c"][poker card="4h"], Andress called with [poker card="ad"][poker card="2d"] and both Dwan and Bellande decided to see the flop. Schimmer led out for $15,000 after the [poker card="ks"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2s"] flop gave him top pair. Kenney took the opportunity to raise to $52,000 with middle set getting Andress, Dwan and Bellande to all fold. Schwimmer called and then checked the [poker card="ah"] turn. Kenney bet $71,000 and Schwimmer called. The [poker card="5d"] river gave Schwimmer two pair and after taking some to consider his action he checked to Kenney who bet $165,000. Schwimmer called all in and was shown the bad news. Schwimmer left his seat following that hand. #3 - Sean Perry Brings Jean-Robert Bellande Along for the Ride (Episode #8) Dwan opened to $2,500 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"] only to have Sean Perry raise to $8,000 from Dwan's direct left with [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"]. From the small blind, Bellande re-raised to $30,000 with [poker card="td"][poker card="8d"]. That forced a fold from Dwan, but Perry made it $70,000 to go and Bellande decided to call. The [poker card="ts"][poker card="7h"][poker card="5d"] flop gave Bellande top pair but he checked to Perry who bet $40,000 and Bellande called. The [poker card="9c"] turn gave Bellande outs to a straight and he check-called Perry's $70,000 bet. The [poker card="7d"] river changed nothing for either player and Bellande checked a third time. Perry moved all in for $136,000. Bellande took a long sip from his Las Vegas chalice while contemplating his decision. He asked for a count and then decided to call only to have Perry turn over the winning hand to take down the $637,700 pot. #2 - Rick Salomon Double Straddles His Way to an $868,200 Pot (Episode #2) Straddles were a pretty common occurrence when Salomon was in the game. Just moments after his tablemates bet on how long the table could keep a no straddle agreement in place, Kenney straddled for $1,600 and Salomon double-straddled for $3,200. Action folded to Steven and he called in middle position with [poker card="ac"][poker card="4c"]. Everybody else got out of the way until Kenney called with [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"] and then Salmon raised to $22,000 with [poker card="6c"][poker card="6h"]. Steven decided to bow out, but Kenney opted to call and see the flop. The dealer spread out [poker card="7c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="4d"] giving Kenney middle set with Salomon picking up an open-ended straight draw. Kenney checked, Salomon bet $30,000 and Kenney called. The [poker card="8c"] turn gave Salomon a straight and an opportunity to improve to a straight flush or flush. Kenney checked again, Salomon bet $55,000 and Kenney called. The [poker card="as"] river changed nothing for either player and once again, Kenney checked to Salomon. With $219,200 in the pot already, Salomon moved all in and Kenney called off his remaining $324,000 which was immediately sent to Salomon after he tabled the winning hand. #1 - Three Times was Definitely a Charm for Dwan (Episode #5) While no pot broke the million dollar mark, the biggest hand of the season got awfully close. Bellande straddled to $1,600 before Salomon raised to $4,000 with [poker card="5c"][poker card="3c"]. Steven, Dwan and Lynne Ji all called to put action back on Bellande. The former Survivor castaway looked down at [poker card="ac"][poker card="kc"] and raised to $11,000. Salomon and Steven followed up with calls before Dwan raised to $54,000. Ji then moved all in for $163,000 with [poker card="qh"][poker card="th"] and Bellande move all in over the top of Ji for $399,000. Salomon folded and Steven threw his [poker card="ad"][poker card="jd"] into the muck. Dwan took a moment before calling. The three players first decided to run it twice before Dwan suggested running three boards and Ji and Bellande both agreed. Board #1: [poker card="jc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="9s"][poker card="4h"][poker card="ts"] Board #2: [poker card="qd"][poker card="jh"][poker card="3s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="ah"] Board #3: [poker card="5d"][poker card="5h"][poker card="5s"][poker card="7h"][poker card="7d"] Despite flopping an open-ended straight draw and turning a flush draw on Board #1, Ji was unable to improve, allowing Dwan to win. Dwan then flopped a set on Board #2 and Bellande couldn't find a ten to make Broadway giving Dwan the first two runouts. He then flopped a full house on Board #3 leaving Bellande hoping for an ace or a king on the turn or river. When neither came, Dwan won the third board to scoop all three run outs win the $985,000 pot. With their chips being moved to Dwan, both Li and Bellande left the game at this point.
  16. A major shakeup in this week’s Online Poker Rankings saw UK online crusher Bert ‘girafganger7’ Stevens jumping up from the #2 spot to assume the #1 rank for the fourth time in his career and ending the three-month-long reign of Brunno ‘bbotteon’ Botteon. Just one week ago, Stevens eclipsed the 13,000 PLB mark, putting him closer to Botteon than anyone had been in the better part of a month. However, he needed a significant score to close the gap and that’s exactly what took place this week. Stevens picked up a runner-up finish in the GGPoker Super MILLION$ Week $25,500 Super High Roller for $655,289, the second-largest online score of his career. Additionally, that came with 1,175.58 PLB points, just enough to push the pro past 14,000 total PLB points and back into the role of the #1 online player in the world. Even though his SHR runner-up finish was perhaps the result that pushed him over the top, his week was littered with significant results that included a third-place finish in the GGPoker $840 High Rollers Marathon for $16,494 and 182.89 PLB points. Also, he made a deep run in the $5,250 Sunday 500 on GGPoker for another $12,146 and 236.06 points. On top of those results, there were plenty of scores that didn’t qualify for PLB points but made for an incredible week for ‘Giraf’. There were nine tournaments, none of which counted into the rankings due to field size, in which Stevens walked away with a five-figure score. In total, those nine tournaments added over $257,000 to his career earnings which soared past the $15 million mark this week. READ: The Poker Dream Is Still Very Much Alive For 'Girafganger7' After a dominant 12-week run, Botteon moved down to #4 this week due to a combination of low volume (he only recorded an uncharacteristic nine total cashes this week) and aging PLB results. Botteon’s current PLB total is 12,858, an amount that he could easily build upon to get back in contention for the top spot in the coming weeks. Steven’s wasn’t the only major move inside the Top 10 this week as Portugal’s Rui ‘RuiNF’ Ferreira continued to grind his way up the rankings and moved from #7 into the #2 spot, a new career-high ranking for him. It was one month ago that Ferreira first broke through into the Top 5 and in the subsequent weeks, he bounced around inside and out of the Top 10. But with four PLB-qualifying scores this week, including an online career-high victory in GGPoker Super MILLION$ Week $10,300 High Roller for $268,974 and 1,174.73, he was able to vault all the way up to second on the list. Russia’s Arsenii ‘hellohellohello’ Malinov’s heater continues as well. The recently featured pro jumped three spots this week from #6 in the world to #3 - the closest he’s been to the top spot since 2018. Less than a week after his career-high GGPoker $25,500 Super High Roller win for $661,744, Malinov made another deep run in an SHR. On March 8, Malinov finished in sixth place for $180,167 in another GGPoker $25K bringing him an additional 608.11 PLB points and leaving him just 249 points behind Ferriera and 782 behind Stevens. Online Poker Rankings Notes This Week • Following his jump in the rankings last week, Finland’s former #1-ranked pro Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro is back inside the Top 10, rising from #12 to #8 in the world. This is thanks, in part, to a sixth-place finish for over $135,000 in the same $25K Super High Roller that awarded massive points to ‘Giraf’ and Malinov this week. • Speaking of Super High Rollers, Sam ‘Pudge714’ Greenwood posted back-to-back deep runs on Natural8 that brought him over $79,000 and 650 PLB points. It also pushed him up 13 spots in the rankings from #36 back into the Top 25 to #23. • Sam ‘TheSquid’ Grafton returned to the Top 100 this week, rising from #141 in the world to #89 after making the final table of the PokerStars Turbo Series Event #126 ($5,200 8-Max, PKO, High Roller) where he took home more than $26,000 and 233.35 PLB points. Joining him in breaking back through, was Hungary’s Peter ‘Belabacsi’ Traply who took down a PokerStars $109 and added $4,783 to his more than $18.6 million in career earnings, currently second on the Online All-Time Money List. Worldwide Online Poker Rankings Top 10 [table id=185 /]
  17. The truth is, there really is no such thing as an overnight success in the world of poker. Sure, some people are hit with the deck and take home a tournament win for big money, or go on a heater in a cash game - it happens. But sustained success in poker, the kind that gets a player recognized by their peers, takes dedication to the game and plenty of time. For some in the poker community, the recent rise of Alex ‘Veruz’ Butcher to the top of the U.S. Online Poker Rankings may have looked sudden, even out of nowhere. But for Butcher, the 26-year old poker pro, it was hard work in every aspect of his life that allowed him to get where he is today. Originally from Michigan, Butcher first discovered the game of poker simply through hanging out and doing "family stuff" on weekend nights. Stuff like playing cards with his father. It wasn’t until many years later, when he was attending community college, that he discovered a deeper enjoyment of the game. “In Michigan, they have what they call charity halls. They’re mostly just little $1/$2 card rooms within the state where some portion [of the proceeds] goes to charity or whatnot,” Butcher said. “I met a couple of friends and just started playing with them in a little bit there. It’s where I really got my inauguration into poker.” His studies turned from academics to poker and soon after he decided to take a break from college to see where poker would take him. At first, it brought him to Las Vegas to play. But with more online poker options available in New Jersey, Butcher was motivated to move to the Garden State with an eye on grinding. And he did just that. One look at his career online results paint a picture of a player who rarely takes a break, registering for every tournament he can every day of the week. By May of 2020, his resolve was beginning to pay off. A win in a WSOP.com Weekly Tuesday brought him his first five-figure score of the year. Once that barrier was broken, the flood gates opened. Butcher’s graph took a sharp turn upwards as he accumulated 17 five-figure scores in the last nine months, 12 of which were outright victories in some of the biggest tournaments offered in New Jersey. “As far as my results skyrocketing a little bit in the past year or so, for me, a lot of that was some mental health stuff that was holding me back. Just some struggles with anxiety and depression that I really hadn’t properly addressed at any point,” Butcher said. “So I’d go through these ebbs and flows or up and down, up and down. It was really tough for me to be consistent. So I would play and I would have good results, but the consistency wasn’t really there to really put everything together. “So now I’ve gone from maybe one week out of the month where it’s a good month, or a good time for me mentally, to maybe one or two days out of the month where I struggle. Pretty huge difference. That’s been the biggest change for me. I think most of my friends around me have always thought the potential was there, but it’s tough to see your potential if you’re only locked in mentally to what you’re doing ‘some’ amount of the time versus always.” The change for Butcher has been undeniable with a steady stream of deep runs that any poker player would envy. This includes when, at the end of January, Butcher hit a career milestone when he outlasted the 285-entry field in Event #16 of the WSOP.com Circuit Super Series to earn his first WSOP gold ring, something that had been eluding him for some time. It’s a victory that Butcher talks about with a healthy dose of humility and perspective. “Normally that would be a really great moment, and it was, but I have had so many opportunities recently in those that it got to be almost like a joke for me. The first one that they ran this year, I think I was at the final two tables maybe 13 times and I didn’t final table a single one of them,” he said. “So it got almost meme-ish to a point…and it was a turbo. So I have a hard time assigning too much meaning to stuff like that. Turbos are so fickle, you got to run good…and I know I definitely did. So there could have been a more prestigious or more fulfilling first title, but it just feels good to get the monkey off the back, so to speak.” But with enviable results sometimes come actual envy and perhaps undue speculation as to how a player is able to achieve what some others can’t or don’t. While in Florida at a live event, preparing to get some sleep before a $5K the next day, he noticed some talk on social media questioning his results. The kind of talk that would keep a player awake at night. Another player was throwing out accusations that Butcher’s recent results were due to the use of real-time assistance (or some other method) as opposed to Butcher taking the time to take care of his own health. All of a sudden, Butcher, who comes off as thoughtful and somewhat quiet, was forced to defend his talent and reputation. “It’s just a scary feeling that maybe you’re not going to have a voice. I know that these rumors had spread amongst the community…It was something that a lot of people were hearing about and taking to be true so I was concerned from that standpoint. I’m pretty unknown, I keep to myself and now I’ve got these accusations flooding out that paint me in a negative light when I’ve done nothing to bring that upon myself. I think people get jealous pretty easily in this game and to look at some results that are pretty outlandish and think ‘Well, WTF, there’s got to be something going on.” “So the big thing for me was just trying to take that and steer it in a direction where the conversation was more about how people spread misinformation and will take things that are not factual and basically put their stamp on it on social media as if it’s factual.“ While it was a hard time for Butcher, one that elicited “an emotional reaction” from him, it was his goal to try and turn it into a positive and bring about a conversation on how the poker community should be celebrating each other as opposed to taking to social media to tear each other down. In the end, the player who initially brought this allegation against Butcher fully recanted and posted a public apology on Twitter. Butcher has moved on. Literally. After years of grinding the online scene in New Jersey, he is in the midst of a move back to Las Vegas where he plans on continuing to play on WSOP.com but also expanding his poker network and diving into the live tournament scene as it begins to open back up. His first stop was the World Poker Tour Venetian Main Event where he hoped to build out his live poker resume, which as opposed to his online credentials, he admits could use a little expansion. “I don’t have many live results just because when you’re coming up, there’s more value in playing those $55’s and $109’s on a nightly basis. You just get more reps, more practice. I think there’s a lot of benefits to it,” he said. “Now when I go play live, just as far as the buy-ins I play, I’m not trying to brag by any means, but it needs to be worth it. Something like a $400 or $600 is not something that’s going to get me out of the house to go play at this point, just because the hourly doesn’t make sense for me.” [caption id="attachment_634059" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Alex Butcher returned to Las Vegas to play in the WPT Venetian $5K.[/caption] That being said, Butcher does have plenty of live poker aspirations including playing in some of the bigger cash games offered in Las Vegas as well as larger tournament series, like the World Series of Poker. And if an invite to one of Las Vegas’ famous private games comes his way, well, Butcher won’t turn it down. So while the recent returns for Butcher have been good to him, and a return move to Las Vegas is exciting for his poker future, he’s determined to stay level-headed about it all. For every big win that people see, there are losses that come with it. Even though he's on the upswing today, tomorrow may bring some on-the-felt hardships. “This game’s really hard. If you’re swinging on that emotional pendulum all the time and not processing things from a logical base, it’s really hard to do well. Just going through emotional swings on a day-to-day basis outside of poker is hard. Then, on top of that, when you’re playing these games, you have to be at your A-game highest level all the time. You just have to have a good head on your shoulders. It’s super vital, something I definitely take pride in, but not something I was always good at. I think this is part of the process to get to this level and be able to play these games consistently…you have to be able to take the losses, those minus $15K days, the same way you do the plus $20K.” It’s been five years of intense dedication to poker for Butcher, but he insists that this is just the beginning. “I would like to think that I’m in it for the long haul. I have a great passion for the game,” he said. “I watch myself play and I just know that there’s so much stuff I can do better in the game, I know how much room for improvement is available.”
  18. This week's episode of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO started off with the players still talking about Doug Polk folding the second nut straight to Phil Hellmuth shove with the nut straight last week, but quickly turned into an episode of the Tom Dwan Show - and he wasn't even in the game when the episode began. It didn't take long to get a six-figure pot. On the second hand of play, James Bord raised to $1,100 with [poker card="7c"][poker card="6h"], Jake Daniels called with [poker card="ks"][poker card="jh"], and Hellmuth defended his big blind with [poker card="7s"][poker card="4s"]. The flop came [poker card="9s"][poker card="8s"][poker card="7d"] and Hellmuth checked to Bord, who bet $2,000. Daniels called only to have Hellmuth raise to $5,000. Bord folded but Daniels called to see the [poker card="qs"] turn. Hellmuth check-called Daniels' bet of $7,100 to bump the pot to $30,100. The [poker card="2h"] river completed the board and Hellmuth led out for $14,000. Daniels raised to $57,000 and Hellmuth went into the tank. "I keep thinking, 'I'm going to fold this and he's going to show me the bluff and I am going to quit," Hellmuth said while contemplating his decision. After 2:35 of waiting, Daniels asked for a clock and Hellmuth was given two minutes to make his decision. Hellmuth ultimately called to take down the $144,000 pot and added $73,500 to his stack. On the next hand, Polk left and was replaced by Rick Salomon with Dwan taking his spot in the four seat. Before seeing a single hand, Dwan asked the double the stakes from $200/$400 to $400/$800 and nobody resisted, setting up a night of six-figure pots. Dwan started his reign of dominance by taking down a $57,800 pot, winning another $1,400 after running the turn and river twice against Bord in a $171,000 pot, but all of that was just whetting his appetite for winning a huge pot without a showdown. Brandon Steven opened to $2,400 with [poker card="ks"][poker card="4s"], Dwan called with [poker card="9d"][poker card="5d"], and Bryn Kenney called from the big blind with [poker card="th"][poker card="7s"]. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="5c"][poker card="4d"] and Kenney checked to Steven who continued for $5,000. Holding a flush draw and middle pair, Dwan raised to $18,000. Kenney folded and Steven called. The [poker card="9c"] turn gave Dwan two pair and after Steven checked, Dwan fired out $33,000 into the $44,400 pot. Steven responded with a raise to $87,000. Dwan took a little more than two minutes before moving all in for $227,000. A visibly frustrated Steven folded his hand instantly and said, "you guys are impossible to bluff. It's amazing." It wouldn't be a Season 8 episode of High Stakes Poker without a bit of a Hellmuth rant. Hellmuth called from UTG with [poker card="as"][poker card="js"]. Bord raised to $2,600 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"], Salomon called from the button with [poker card="ad"][poker card="4c"], Kenney came long from the big blind with [poker card="9d"][poker card="9s"] and Hellmuth called. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="7s"] flop got all four players to check. The turn was the [poker card="jd"] and Hellmuth bet $7,000 and only Bord called. The river was the [poker card="3s"] and Hellmuth continued to be aggressive, betting $9,000. Bord raised to $33,000 forcing Hellmuth into a decision. "I just can't fold this, I guess," Hellmuth said after 90 seconds and the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner threw in a call. After being shown the nuts, Hellmuth stood up and treated his tablemates and viewers at home to a monologue on Bord. "I love playing against you, I want you every fucking day," Hellmuth said. "You deserve to lose after all of those weird beats you put on me." With Hellmuth done holding the spotlight, Dwan resumed his domination as the episode drew to a close. After Dwan straddled to $1,600 and Salomon double-straddled to $3,200, Steven raised to $10,000 with [poker card="jc"][poker card="tc"], Daniels called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="kd"], Dwan called with [poker card="9h"][poker card="7c"], and Salomon made it a four-way pot with [poker card="9s"][poker card="8s"]. The flop came [poker card="kc"][poker card="7h"][[poker card="2h"] and everybody checked to Steven who fired $17,000 into the $41,200 pot. Daniels and Dwan called while Salomon got out of the way. All three remaining players checked through the [poker card="9c"] turn that gave Dwan two pair. The [poker card="js"] river completed the board and Daniels checked, Dwan bet $43,000 which forced Steven to fold. Daniels called and was shown the bad news as Dwan's two pair allowed him to rake in the $178,200 pot. Dwan then took down a $106,600 pot before the final hand of the night, which turned out to be the biggest of the week. Salomon straddled, Bord raised to $3,200 with [poker card="as"][poker card="jh"], Daniels three-bet to $10,000 with [poker card="jc"][poker card="td"], and Dwan also called with [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"]. Action was back to Salomon and he called with [poker card="9c"][poker card="4c"] as Bord folded. The [poker card="7c"][poker card="5s"][poker card="2c"] flop got Daniels to bet $12,500 and both Dwan and Salomon called. Daniels then fired $33,000 after the [poker card="js"] turn and once again, Dwan and Salomon called. The river was the [poker card="8c"] which finally got Daniels to slow down. He checked, allowing Dwan to bet $75,000 with his queen-high flush. Salomon called with his baby flush and realizing he was behind, Daniels folded. Dwan tabled the winning hand and scooped the $320,500 pot, winning an additional $189,000 as play wrapped up for the week. The next episode of High Stakes Poker is the final one of Season 8 and airs on PokerGo on Wednesday, March 17 at 8 PM ET.
  19. In honor of International Women’s Day, PocketFives is shining the light on some of the women in poker who have made poker their lives and their careers and are an integral part of moving the game to new heights. If you are a poker fan in Latin America, then there’s a very good chance you are already very aware of Pamela 'Pamsi' Balzano, the 25-year old poker player and influencer from Buenos Aires, Argentina who dedicates almost all of her time and creativity to promote the game of poker. Balzano, a part-time player and full-time content creator, has been heavily involved in the poker community for the better part of the past eight years. From back in 2014 when she used to take pictures of live events for poker news outlet Codigo Poker to hosting the final table of the 2021 partypoker MILLIONS Online Main Event, her passion for the game of poker, and the people who enjoy it, shines through in everything she does. “My first time in a casino was for work, to take pictures. Then, three years later I started my YouTube channel with the idea of creating a new way to communicate poker. I really liked to explain to people who don’t know about the game how it works, but in a funny way, a colorful way. A different way, because poker in the movies, everything is dark and that’s not the truth about the game.” For Balzano, the game of poker isn’t some moody mix of smoky backrooms or shady characters. It’s always been entertaining, analytical, and even professional. A trait she picked up early from her brother. “My brother is seven years older than me and he started playing when he was 18. He became a professional poker player very soon thereafter and then in my home, it was always hand analysis and hand reviews. And I was always there with him and his friends. That’s where I became very interested in the game, because of him. Also, I really liked that he was always traveling around the world playing cards." "So my idea was to follow his path, but doing something different because I really like art and to create things and, well, taking pictures.” After a few years of being involved in poker media, she wanted to reach more people. She started working on her own YouTube channel where she would speak with poker players, give tips to new players, create tournament vlogs, and produce popular “Draw My Life” videos for players like Stu Ungar, Adrian Mateos, Damian Salas, and Doyle Brunson - a video that has been seen well over 100,000 times. In the midst of working on her videos, she also began to work on her own game. “I started with my YouTube channel and then I started to study the game more professionally, but I’m not a professional poker player. I like to play poker, I like to study poker and I really want to improve my game. So for the last two years, I’ve been studying a lot and playing more, but not full-time because I create content and communicate poker, that’s my job.” Since that time, her job and profile in poker have been expanding. She’s an active Twitch streamer, showcasing the results of her poker studies to her more than 9,000 followers and she’s also been recruited by partypoker to anchor a number of online broadcasts for their Latin American viewers on the partypokerLATAM channel. It’s clear though that, for Balzano, the time and dedication she puts into her myriad of poker content is truly a labor of love and the feedback she receives from her community motivates her to keep pushing forward. “I love my community because I’ve found a lot of nice people who are always enjoying the game like me, they are always sending good vibes. I really like to share my work with people, and that’s why I really like this job because I can share everything with a lot of nice people.” Next up for Balzano is a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to cover and play in the upcoming Caribbean Latin Series of Poker Main Event. As both a player and a content creator for the event, she intends on bringing her “A” game both on and off the felt. It’s one of the challenges she had faced in the world of poker, splitting her time between playing and presenting, “It’s difficult for me to decide if I prefer to play or if I prefer to create content because I love creating content and being in touch with people. But of course, I really like the game…I like to play,” she said but also acknowledges that in order to keep things fresh she has to bring the total experience to her audience. “I think the main challenge is to be creative every day. To do things differently. The market is growing, every part of the market, and nowadays Twitch is growing a lot. I really like that, because I am a little bit competitive so I’m always trying to do things differently.” [caption id="attachment_634054" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Pamela Balzano and Santiago Gonzalez anchor the recent coverage of the partypoker MILLIONS Online Main Event final table.[/caption] But those challenges are good ones to have. As the international poker market continues to grow, including in Argentina where Balzano says the game is “popular…but not very much” yet, her years of experience in all facets of the game are being allowed to shine. And as her community continues to grow so does her appreciation of the task at hand - bringing the game of poker into the spotlight. “I’m doing the job of my dreams, achieving a lot of things. One of them is being the host of big-time tournaments, for example, the partypoker MILLIONS Online. Of course, it would be nice if I could do it live, but it’s understandably difficult right now. But my main, main, main dream is to do commentary for the World Series of Poker Main Event or something like that. That would be nice.”
  20. In honor of International Women’s Day, PocketFives is shining the light on some of the women in poker who have made poker their lives and their careers and are an integral part of moving the game to new heights. Any poker player who entered a World Poker Tour event over the last few years has likely run into Cathy Zhao at some point or another. The soft-spoken Zhao has quickly become a highly respected, very influential member of the poker world. She came to the United States for education, and ended up using her years of worldwide experience to bring a refreshing voice to a poker industry that is constantly evolving. “I was born and raised in a small city in central China. I was pretty sure my parents’ wish was for me to get into the best college in China and then go back to that little town to find a stable 9 to 6 job. I’ve always known that it was not going to happen, but I also didn’t expect to work and live here in the (United) States when I was in my 20s,” Zhao said. Zhao came to the United States for college, and it didn’t take her long to earn an undergrad and Master’s degree. She admits she did not have much interest in poker before she came to America, but that she quickly gained an appreciation for it when she explored her career options. “Where I am from, poker is not encouraged by the government, and I didn't step foot in a casino until when I was 21 while visiting the US. I’ve always had interest in business and honestly, poker was not my passion to begin with but because of the people in this industry it has grown on me.” With Chinese being her first language, it only made sense that Zhao started her work for the WPT in China. As soon as she started working there, Zhao realized that she might have found her calling. “I mainly worked at WPT Sanya and WPT Beijing and a few other events in the Asia region. I have to say those were great memories, especially the ones at Sanya and Beijing. It really was like a festival for everyone, where you can just feel the pure excitement and satisfaction in the air.” From there, she branched out to start working events in Europe and the United States. Her roles gradually expanded, until she was offered a great opportunity to take the lead for the WPT's mid-major tour, WPTDeepStacks. “I eventually moved to the US and took the lead on all events, including televised events and live streamed events. I was in a great position experiencing an industry in different stages in different markets and that’s when I started to believe I can do something in this path. In 2019, there was an opportunity for me to take over the WPTDeepStacks tour and I have been here ever since.” Zhao might have made it look easy, but her success was far from that. Zhao had to navigate the challenge of learning a second language while adapting to her new life stateside. Zhao said that learning poker and talking to poker players actually helped her English a great deal. “There were a lot of challenges when I stepped in this industry and even now. English being my second language did not help at the beginning as I was always doubting if I said the right thing or if I spoke in the best way. I am still learning the language. One funny thing is that because of my (interaction) with poker players, my poker lingo has grown so fast and sometimes non-poker players may not quite get what I am speaking. I find it quite amusing,” Zhao said. When Zhao is not focused on work, she says that she likes to keep things low key, mostly enjoying private time with her husband, Ping Liu, a professional poker player. The couple met at a WPT event and were married soon after, with WPT CEO Adam Pliska serving as a witness. Zhao also enjoys one particular hobby that has helped her with learning her second language. “I am definitely a private person outside my work. I like outdoor activities like hiking deep in the mountains or simply strolling by the beach. I absolutely love stand-up comedy, both in English and Chinese (in Chinese it's called "cross-talk"). It’s hilarious and brilliant and I am still constantly amazed by how ‘boundless’ western comedians are in their shows.” As far as what the future holds for this rising star, Zhao expressed her simple desires while touching a bit on the broad strokes that she hopes to implement in her position of power in poker. “For poker, I want to do my work well. My hope is for everyone who plays at our events to enjoy it and feel special, and maybe go back home with a story to tell. Being in my position, I also want to be a good business partner to those who brought us to their property,” said Zhao. Zhao continued, talking about the need to grow poker in America still. “I also realize the needs for new players in the North American market. Poker needs increased globalization too as it would benefit every party. There is a limited amount I can do, but I want to take the advantage where I am now, to do my part, however small it is.” She may have grand visions for the WPT and the poker world, but Zhao also revealed something that she really wants at the moment. “I want to have many new experiences and cannot wait for Covid to be over so we can travel more, go to concerts, etc," Zhao said. "Also, I am looking to adopt a goldendoodle puppy.”
  21. A new episode of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO came with a new cast filled with some of the biggest names to take a seat this season and wrapped up with two superstars clashing in what will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about hands in the history of the show. Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Bryn Kenney were joined by James Bord, Brandon Steven, Jake Daniels, and making his Season 8 debut, Doug Polk. Dwan wasn't seated when play began, leaving action to start seven-handed. After the second hand of the night, where Bord scooped a $36,900 pot with [poker card="6c"][poker card="4h"], Hellmuth seemed to take issue with how Bord was assigned his seat and took aim at his fellow WSOP Europe Main Event champion. "I want you in the game, but I don't want you to get away with a lot of bullshit," Hellmuth said to Bord. Two hands later, the pair would clash. From UTG+1, Hellmuth called with [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"] and action folded to Bord in the cutoff. He raised to $2,000 with [poker card="7d"][poker card="2d"]. Everybody else got out of the way and Hellmuth called. The flop came [poker card="ad"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4c"] and Hellmuth check-called Bord's $3,000 bet. The [poker card="6d"] turn got Hellmuth to check again. This time Bord decided to bet $15,000 into the $11,000 pot while saying, "I'm just going to bluff it off now." Hellmuth complained about how unfair the hand felt before folding face up. Sensing an opportunity to send Hellmuth into tilt, Bord told the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner "good fold" and showed the table his hand. Dwan joined the table for the sixth hand and then had a front row seat for the next big pot. Hellmuth called with [poker card="jh"][poker card="4h"], Steven raised to $2,100 with [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"] and Bord decided to defend his big blind with [poker card="4s"][poker card="2d"] forcing Hellmuth to fold. After the [poker card="jd"][poker card="td"][poker card="6d"] flop, Steven bet $3,000 and Bord called. The turn was the [poker card="qd"] giving Steven a straight flush. He fired a bet of $5,000 and Bord responded by raising to $17,000. Steven thought over his options and decided to call. The river was the [poker card="7h"] and Steven checked, hoping Bord would fire one more time but the Brit checked behind letting Steven scoop the $45,000 pot. A couple of hands laters, Steven was involved in the first six-figure pot of the episode. Steven raised to $1,100 with [poker card="as"][poker card="jh"] and Dwan three-bet to $4,000 with [poker card="9s"][poker card="7s"]. Steven called to see the [poker card="js"][poker card="8s"][poker card="4h"] flop and then checked to Dwan. Dwan bet $5,000 and Steven called. The [poker card="3d"] turn improved neither player and Steven check-called Dwan's $14,000 bet. The [poker card="3c"] river completed the board and once again Steven opted to check. Dwan bet $30,000 and Steven called and showed down the winner. Half of the players at the table were involved in the next hand - at least until the flop. Kenney opened to $1,500 with [poker card="ks"][poker card="qh"], Steven called with [poker card="kc"][poker card="6c"], Daniels called with [poker card="as"][poker card="jd"] and Bord came along with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qc"]. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="9c"][poker card="6s"] flop gave Bord top pair, top kicker but he checked, as did Daniels. Kenney continued for $2,500, Steven folded, and Bord raised to $8,000. Daniels folded but Kenney called. The turn was the [poker card="2d"] and Bord bet $14,000 and Kenney called. The [poker card="2s"] river slowed Bord down and he checked to Kenney who bet $25,000. Bord called and showed Kenney he had him out-kicked to take down the $122,900 pot for a $64,400 boost to his stack. Ivey then left the table after apparently not feeling well. He was replaced by John Andress who sat down with $100,000 but wouldn't have to wait long to get those chips in play. Looking down at [poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"], Bord raised from UTG+1 to $1,100 before Andress raised to $3,500 from the button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"]. Bord called and then got great news on the [poker card="qc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="5d"] flop. Bord checked to let Andress bet $2,500. Bord raised to $10,000 and Andress called. The turn was the [poker card="4s"] and Bord led for $30,000 and Andress called. The [poker card="ah"] river gave Andress top set. Bord announced he was all in and Andress called all in and then showed Bord the bad news. That $203,000 pot was the largest of the show but certainly won't be the most talked about. The final hand of the night started with Hellmuth raising to $1,100 from middle position with [poker card="qs"][poker card="th"]. Bord called his button with [poker card="2c"][poker card="2h"] and Polk defended the big blind with [poker card="td"][poker card="7c"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="9s"][poker card="8h"] flop gave Polk and Hellmuth straights. Both players checked to Bord who bet $2,000. Polk raised to $7,000 before Hellmuth moved all in for $97,200. Bord folded and Polk asked for a count and that's when the drama began. "Just such a massive raise," Polk said to Hellmuth. "Phil, what do you have over there?" Holding the second best straight possible, Polk indicated he was contemplating making a massive laydown and Hellmuth couldn't keep quiet. "Well, I could easily have ... " Hellmuth said. "What could you easily have?" Polk asked. "You just bet a lot into very little." "I could have a set," Hellmuth said. Polk immediately doubted Hellmuth would shove with a set. "I could have blockers, two tens," Hellmuth said. "Oh, now you're busting out 'blockers'? God, if I fold this and I'm wrong, oh my fucking lord," Polk said. "I think I'm dead a lot given this," Polk said while pointing to Hellmuth. "Or like, you just have ton of equity against me." Throughout all of the post-flop action, Steven, Bord, and Daniels were engaged in a side bet about each player's holdings and were openly discussing it as Polk considered his action. At this point Polk realized he could show his hand without penalty and turned over this hand. Hellmuth put his head down and went quiet and Polk came to a conclusion. "This is completely absurd. He has to get through him (Bord) and then he has to get through me. No, this is just a fold," Polk said while throwing his hand into the muck. Hellmuth refused to show his hand. Commentator Gabe Kaplan called Polk's fold the "best letdown ever on High Stakes Poker." The next episode of High Stakes Poker airs Wednesday, March 10 at 8 pm ET and will features much of the same cast along with the return of Rick Salomon.
  22. From the middle of the pack of one of the toughest $10K GGPoker Super MILLION$ final tables in recent weeks, it was satellite winner ‘Ferrariman’ who, in just their second appearance in the tournament, bested some of online poker’s top talent and took home this week's $452,885 first-place prize. It goes without saying that every final table of the weekly Super MILLION$ is tough. However this week, the tournament talent on hand was undeniable. Earning a seat to Tuesday’s final table were two former worldwide #1-ranked online pros in Niklas Astedt and Yuri Dzivielevski, two of the greatest high rollers of all time in Sam Greenwood and Mikita Badziakouski, the red-hot high-stakes pro David Yan, and nosebleed cash game crusher Wiktor ‘limitless’ Malinowski. But despite all the accolades at the table, in the end, it was ’Ferrariman’ who outlasted them all. But when it came to who the public thought was going to win it all, there wasn’t a lot of confidence in ‘Ferrariman.’ Getting 11.4-1 odds to win in the GGPoker client, only 13 people placed a bet on ’Ferrariman’ to take it down. Those 13 people wagered a total of just $41 dollars out of a grand total of $54,226 wagered. Plenty of the money wagered was on Niklas Asdedt who entered the final table third in chips. He needed a fourth-place finish or better to become the first player to surpass $2 million in total Super MILLION$ earnings. But after losing a pair of big hands the Swede found himself short-stacked and all-in preflop holding [poker card="as"][poker card="6c"] against Badziakouski’s [poker card="ac"][poker card="ts"]. The board ran out [poker card="8h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="kc"][poker card="7c"] allowing Badziakouski’s kicker to play and sending the All-Time Online Money List leader out in ninth place for $56,610. Chicago’s Timothy Nuter, playing out of Canada, put in a raise from the cutoff with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ts"] and was quickly three-bet on the button by Dzivielevski holding [poker card="qh"][poker card="qc"]. It folded back to Nuter, he moved all-in, and was quickly called by the Brazilian. There was little drama as the board ran out [poker card="8c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"] awarding the hand to Dzivielevski and eliminating Nuter in eighth place for $73,415. Dzivielevski was in the mix again when he raised in late position with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"]. It folded to ’Syntropy’ in the small blind who pushed their final eight big blinds in the middle with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="9c"]. It folded back to Dzivielevski who made the call. The flop came [poker card="jd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="7d"] giving both players ’Syntropy’ gutshot straight draws. The turn was the [poker card="kd"], giving Dzivielevski the nut straight and leaving ‘Syntropy’ drawing dead to the [poker card="6c"] river. ’Syntropy’ entered the final table ninth in chips, laddered two spots and ended up with a $95,207 score for seventh place, their largest career win on GGPoker. During an hour of six-handed play, Sam Greenwood was grinding a short stack. On the button, he stuck his final five big blinds in the middle with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"]. In the big blind, Dzivielevski made the call with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="2c"]. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="jd"][poker card="2h"], giving the Brazilian two pair and reducing Greenwood’s outs to a gutshot straight draw. The turn was the [poker card="9d"] and the river was the [poker card="3c"] giving Dzivielevski another elimination and sending Greenwood out of the tournament in sixth place for $123,468. Four hands later, when folded to in the small blind, Malinowski shoved his [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"] on Badziakouski in the big blind who held [poker card="ah"][poker card="5d"]. With just over ten big blinds left, Badziakouski made the call with his tournament on the line. The board ran out [poker card="6c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3h"][poker card="8h"][poker card="qh"] allowing Malinowski’s jack kicker to play and ending Badziakouski’s first Super MILLION$ final table run in fifth place for $160,119. During four-handed play, Malinowski built up a considerable chip lead, mostly at the expense of Dzivielevski. When folded to in the small blind, Malinowski moved all-in with the [poker card="as"][poker card="9c"]. In the big blind, with just four blinds left, Dzivielevski called off with his [poker card="ks"][poker card="th"]. The [poker card="5s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="3s"] was of little help to Dzivielevski. The turn was the [poker card="qc"] leaving the former #1 looking for a non-spade ten or a king. The river was the [poker card="4d"] giving Malinowski the straight and ending Dzivielevski’s nice run in fourth place which was good for $207,649. The chips really shifted during three-handed play with Malinowski, David Yan, and ‘Ferrariman’ taking turns picking up pots and building a stack. From the button, Yan raised big with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="9d"] only to be shoved on my Malinowski in the big blind holding the [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"]. With the majority of his stack in the middle, Yan made the call. The flop came [poker card="qh"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3h"]. The [poker card="5c"] turn gave Yan some additional straight outs but the [poker card="8s"] was not one of them. Yan, who played his fifth final table, added another $269,287 to his Super MILLION$ earnings bringing his total to over $1.295 million. Malinowski started heads-up play with a two-to-one chip advantage. But ‘Ferrariman’, who had played tempered the whole final table, went on a run. He doubled through Malinowski to take the chip lead and from there, kept up the aggression. Even after they lost a big hand that would have ended the tournament, ‘Ferrariman’ applied pressure and picked up the key pots to put them in a position to win. The final hand was a bit of a cooler as Malinowski limped the button with the [poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"]. In the big blind ‘Ferrariman’ raised holding the [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"]. Malinowski then shoved, ‘Ferrariman’ was quick to call and the board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"][poker card="jh"][poker card="ah"][poker card="8c"], leaving ‘limitless’ drawing dead on the turn and sending him out as the runner-up for $349,222. ‘Ferrariman’ satellited into this week’s Super MILLION$ for $1,000 and turned it into a $452,885 payday. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (2/23) 1. ’Ferrariman’ - $452,885 2. Wiktor Malinowski - $349,222 3. David Yan - $269,287 4. Yuri Dzivielevski - $207,649 5. Mikita Badziakouski - $160,119 6. Sam Greenwood - $123,468 7. ‘Syntropy’ - $95,207 8.Timothy Nuter - $73,415 9. Niklas Astedt - $56,610
  23. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. In the aftermath of the Polk-Negreanu high-stakes, heads-up challenge, news of two more high-profile challenges have emerged and Lance and Donnie break both of them down on this week's episode of The FIVES! First, 15-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner and season one High Stakes Duel winner Phil Hellmuth looks poised to be Daniel Negreanu's next challenger. But what will the format be when (and if) it takes place and will it be enough to satisfy the fans? At the same time, 21-year old poker phenom Landon Tice and high-stakes businessman Bill Perkins have publically agreed on a 20,000 hand challenge to start in May. Tice has also agreed to spot Perkins a 9bb/100 advantage - meaning in order to win, Tice will need to win more than $720,000. Finally, the guys discuss all of the most important breaking news from this week in the world of poker. Listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  24. For many poker players, January is a time to get a fresh start. It's a time to reset the stats, dedicate oneself to study, and hope that in the new year the work pays off and the results go to the moon. But for Brazil’s Brunno ‘bbotteon’ Botteon, a “fresh start” is not on the agenda. For the world’s #1-ranked online pro, the continuation of his heater that started one year ago is what he wanted. That's what happened and what brought him the title of Online Poker Player of the Month for January. One might think that after earning a career-high seven-figure score in the international leg of the 2020 World Series of Poker at the end of 2020, Botteon might take some time off. But within a week he was back to picking up PLB-qualified cashes en masse. He found success in the first week of January on GGPoker with deep runs in the WSOPC Series $525 Bounty Hunters for $22,304 plus 321.09 PLB points and weekly $10K Super MILLION$ for another $41,934 and 374.26 PLB points. His first outright win arrived on January 10 when he topped the 279-entry field of the PokerStars High Roller Club $1,050 Sunday HR for $57,263 and 547.72 PLB points. The middle of the month was highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the GGPoker High Rollers Marathon for $12,542. It was right around this time when Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic pushed to within just 5 PLB points of overtaking Botteon as the top-ranked player in the world. But when Croatia’s Zufic traveled to the United States to make a deep run in the World Poker Tour’s Lucky Hearts Poker Open, Botteon booked his first six-figure score of the new year with a win in the January 25 edition of the GGPoker High Rollers Sunday 500 for $126,544 and 738.24 PLB points. His spotlight score of the month brought more than enough PLB points to pull away from the pack and keep the #1-spot for the seventh week in a row. In total, Botteon racked up 3,893 PLB points on 59 total cashes for a total of $391,988. January also marked his third time as Player of the Month. Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson finished out January just 150 points behind Botteon to end up in second place with 3,734 points. Watson, who is Canada’s #1-ranked pro and sitting at an all-time high ranking of #3 in the world, put in significantly less volume than Botteon but made up the difference with nine PLB-qualifying cashes and seven five-figure cashes for a total of $526,078. Watson kicked off the month with a string of victories including a PokerStars Blowout Series title in Event #25-H ($1,050 NLHE Sunday Warm-up) for $75,462 and 648.85 PLB points. The very next day, on January 4, he was in the winner’s circle again in the Natural8 WSOPC $1,500 Deepstack, winning $36,040 and another 404.81 PLB points. Watson picked up big-time scores on just about every online operator he played on including a runner-up finish in the partypoker High Roller Big Game for $54,958 and a win in the World Poker Tour Montreal Online Event #18 for $39,007. But his biggest result of the month came on Natural8 when he finished in fourth place in the January 26 edition of the Super MILLION$ for $187,255 and 618.64. His Super MILLION$ score was big enough to land in Watson’s all-time top 5. Estonia’s Markku ‘markovitsus’ Koplimaa rounded out the top three in January with 3,590 PLB points. Koplimaa has been rocketing up the worldwide rankings, reaching a new career-high rank of #12 in the world. While both Botteon and Watson put up impressive results, Koplimaa outdid them both when it came to volume by racking up 229 in-the-money finishes. He embraced the grind, playing every tournament he could enter from mid-stakes and higher. He was rewarded with over $390,000 in earnings including a runner-up finish in the January 18 edition of the GGPoker High Roller MILLION$ for $187,272. It was the second-largest online cash of his career and included a massive 908.09 PLB bump. In total, Koplimaa notched five results of five-figures or better with 11 PLB-qualified scores. Should he continue to have results even half of what he posted in January, he’ll eclipse the career $10 million mark before the end of the year. January 2021 Player of the Month Results [table id=167 /]
  25. It’s not often that one gets a second shot at greatness. Very few have been afforded that opportunity when it comes to becoming the World Series of Poker Main Event champion. So when Damian Salas, who just three years ago finished in seventh place at the WSOP Main Event, found himself in a position to win the championship bracelet that eluded him in 2017, he leaned into his passion for the game and his desire to be known as one of the very best finally reach his championship goal. “Taking into account my experience in 2017, I didn’t see it as a rematch, I took it as a new opportunity granted by this beautiful mind sport so that I could win the World Championship,” said Salas. “I felt great and highly motivated. I’ve worked with tons of persistence during these last eight or nine years of my professional career, so I can give my very best in times of extreme pressure. I felt like I could make it and that was a determining factor to becoming the champion.” It may be that Salas, the Argentinian lawyer turned poker pro, made a name for himself in poker with his seventh-place finish 2017 Main Event when he won $1.425 million but as he mentioned, it was by no means the start of his poker journey. Salas has made the trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker for over a decade and prior to his first Main Event, final table appearance had posted a string of impressive results on the biggest poker tours in Latin America including the LAPT and BSOP. If Salas’ journey had essentially ended with his seven-figure score on ESPN it would be a poker success story by nearly every metric. However, for Salas, a few minutes in the spotlight was not what he was after. It still isn’t. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal. It’s not what drives me,” Salas said. “It is great, taking those results into account, as it is paramount to meeting other ambitions in my life. But my basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” “As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t think winning [the Main Event] makes me the best player in the world, but I am worthy of the achievement since I believe I could compete for many years now with the world-class poker elite. That’s an honor I’ve earned, and it is my greatest challenge and motivation day in and day out - to remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” To get to where he is, Salas has embraced the grind. With live poker events essentially put on hold in 2020, Salas dove into online poker and quickly became the #1-ranked player in his native Argentina. He broke through into the worldwide top-20 with the help of a pair of impressive scores in some of the year’s biggest tournament series. First, he took third place in the first-ever WPT World Championship Main Event on partypoker which came with an $814,664 payday. Then he took home a PokerStars EPT Online title with a victory in Event #20 ($1,050 NLHE) for another $117,475. The success was paving the way to a run in the WSOP Main Event. “Honestly, I was having a great year,” he said. “So I wasn’t surprised by the [WSOP win] because I felt in great shape, I was really prepared. Obviously, it was incredible and even spectacular to close the year this way.” The path to the WSOP Main Event title was unlike any in years past. First Salas has to navigate the field of online entrants on GGPoker, then travel to the Czech Republic to play down the final table at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, and finally make his way to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to compete against Joseph Hebert, the winner of the domestic leg of the WSOP Main Event, in a for-broadcast heads-up match. “I can say that the online elements against international players at GGPoker were impressive. The poker world’s elite played in that tournament and I had to face them all,” he said, looking back on the tournament as a whole. “It was highly difficult. The clash was really hard from the beginning.” When he made the live final table he was third in chips but one of the toughest challenges awaited. Brazil’s Brunno Botteon, the current #1-ranked player in the world, held the chip lead and was also having a career year. “At the final table were at least five elite representatives of poker including Bruno Botteon, whose quality is extraordinary. And, well, the confrontation demanded my very best,” he said. “I was really inspired at the final table, where I took certain creative lines which I could capitalize in my favor. In the end, while I believe I also benefited from some good cards and good luck, I think those creative hands were responsible for my success.” Salas walked away with the win after defeating Botteon heads-up, which brought him a new career-high score of $1.55 million. It also put him in line to battle heads up for the championship bracelet. “Then came the heads up with Joseph [Hebert]. Either one of us could have won, really,” Salas said. But even after losing some key pots and being on the brink of finishing in second, Salas fought back. “I think I played with discipline, with concentration, with metered quantities of matured aggressiveness that was very efficient,” he said. “It is a great privilege because I understand I was very lucky. However, I also know I have done all I could so that I could meet my goal and that fills me with joy.” In the aftermath of reaching his goal, one might expect Salas to take some time off, perhaps enjoy a few of the finer things with his bonus $1 million payday he received for winning the bracelet. While some new doors are opening for the new World Champion, Salas insists that the main goal of being elite never stops. “Being totally honest, my daily routine has not changed much. As I always say, I’m not driven by money. There is another motivation, that’s to belong to the world elite. Added to the fact that I truly enjoy what I do and I do love playing poker, so my routine remains practically the same…I’m the World Champion, and that’s great, but understanding I’m the same person I was before the tournament.”
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