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  1. The robust crowd cheered as Phil Hellmuth rose from his seat and raised his arms in victory. He had finally done it, Hellmuth just won his record-extending 16th World Series of Poker gold bracelet after taking down Event #31 ($1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw) for $84,851. But when it was all said and done, the money was the last thing on his mind. “I’ve wanted a Deuce To Seven bracelet ever since the 1980’s since it was the coolest bracelet to win because it’s the one tournament that Chip [Reese] and Doyle [Brunson] showed up for. All the big-name poker players, Billy Baxter, all the champions showed up for that,” he said. “And I wanted that bracelet so badly.” “And so I’ve been fighting so ****ing hard for this bracelet for so long in the Deuce to Seven…but yeah, it feels really good.” Hellmuth weaved his way through the 272-entry field, to make his fourth final table of the series. He started the day second in chips and battled through an up-and-down day in the chip counts. Once the final table of eight players was set, he outlasted the likes of Dario Sammartino, Rep Porter, and Chris Vitch until he was finally heads-up with Jake Schwartz, who was playing for his first bracelet. Hellmuth started heads-up at a slight chip deficit but quickly managed to turn the tide and grab a commanding four-to-one chip lead. The two agreed to take a 45-minute break and when they returned Hellmuth went to work, chipping away at Schwartz's stack and, roughly 20 minutes later, ended Schwartz's run in second place. Hellmuth then stood and lifted two fists in the air, made his way over to the rail where his wife and longtime friend Mike Matusow were waiting to congratulate him. Nearly two dozen fans snapped photos and cheered as Hellmuth basked in the victory. He then returned to the poker table, and as he prepared to take a barrage of winners photos, it looked as if a wave of emotion came over him. He sat center stage and held his head in his hands. “I told myself if I ever won a Deuce bracelet, I thought maybe I’d cry afterward,” he said, reflecting on that moment. “Because I wanted this Deuce bracelet so badly and because of the extreme effort I’ve put in this year.” It was a week of roller-coaster emotions for Hellmuth, one that started out with him making a deep run in the $10K Stud. But after a pivotal hand against Anthony Zinno, Hellmuth lost his temper, and his alter-ego, “The Poker Brat”, burst onto the stage. Hellmuth’s extended tirade, one of the most explosive of his career, made the rounds on social media and had players talking at the tables in the Rio for days. Hellmuth then spent the better part of the next 24 hours tweeting apologies, making amends, and insisting he could do better. And he did do better. It didn’t take long for Hellmuth to regroup from that chaos and get back to work with a renewed focus on his mantra of positivity. “I told myself no swearing tirades, no threats…now I swore a little bit and I’m sure the camera caught it but it was a lot mellower because I went too far the other day.” When reflecting on what took place over the past week, Hellmuth likened the uproar to his 2018 feature table clash with James Campbell. In that, an angry Hellmuth “folded kinda out of turn” and it cost Campbell an important hand. To make up for it, Hellmuth bought Campbell into the Main Event for the next year. “There were like 2000 negative tweets about what an asshole I was,” he said. “It was a record. And then four days later I won a bracelet and there were 3000 positive tweets. So I told my wife, I said ‘Honey, all this negative press it feels like 2018' where I’m just going to pop a bracelet and turn most the stuff back to positivity.” “And that’s what happened…but I think it’s kind of weird.” With Hellmuth finally breaking through for number 16, he insists that he’s going to spend very little time before working on what’s next. He’s planning on taking a day off, showing up for a bracelet ceremony, and then getting back to the bracelet chase “immediately.” “I’ve always said I’m going to win 24 bracelets. I started saying that in 1993 and then [Phil] Ivey said he might win 30. I just have this weird sense that I’ll win at least 24 bracelets…but they’re not that easy to win in the mixed games." Hellmuth throws out Ivey’s name as, maybe, the one player with a shot to catch his WSOP gold bracelet record. However, it will likely take a great deal of time before any player even makes a credible push in that arena, if ever. Of course, Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, and Johnny Chan each have 10 bracelets, but Brunson is effectively retired from playing WSOP events and Chan is not as active as he once was. There was speculation that Ivey might (and still may) show up to this World Series of Poker now that his legal troubles in the U.S. are behind him - but he has yet to make an appearance. Those factors make Hellmuth’s 16th an even bigger gap for those who would have an eye on catching him. With five cashes, four final tables, and a bracelet in hand, Hellmuth states that this “has to be” the best start to a series in his career. And, that in addition to getting to work on number 17, he’s going to take aim at the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. It’s something he thinks is well within reach, especially with his recent success in mixed games. “I think because I don’t have enough mixed game bracelets, I haven’t really been getting my due in these games,” he said. “You know, I’ve just kind of exploded in the last 10 tournaments.” “I’m showing everybody, hey, I’m pretty good.”
  2. It took just one week for the 2021 World Series of Poker to settle into a routine. After the initial chaos of the early events with their long lines and sometimes slow-paced verification processes, the vibe at the Rio found its stride with big names winning bracelets, shot takers living their dream, and a historic blow-up we all saw coming. Week two brought back a very familiar feel to the WSOP, even under the “current conditions.” From packed fields of poker's brightest stars to an old-fashioned dose (or two) of drama, things remained lively throughout the week. With that, let’s check out the five biggest storylines from Week 2 of the World Series of Poker. #1. Hellmuth Melts Down, Wants To Burn It Down The question of whether Phil Hellmuth would win WSOP gold bracelet #16 before he lost control has been answered. This week, Hellmuth was at the third final table of his first five events and took the chip lead into the final day of the $10K Stud. The entire poker world tuned in to see if he would make history - and he most certainly did. Just not by winning a bracelet. Hellmuth saw his chip lead slip away and, as his stack tumbled, his #POSITIVITY absolutely crumbled. Then it happened - he finally freaked out. (Note: there’s an eff-ton of eff-bombs in this video so fair warning) https://twitter.com/SrslySirius/status/1447982387619528709?s=20 After losing a key pot to eventual winner Anthony Zinno, Hellmuth had a full-on meltdown. Hurling insults, swear words, and a few self-congratulatory comments. He jokingly threatened to “burn this motherf***ing place down” if he didn’t end up winning. He even re-introduced himself to the table, asking if this table even knew who he was?! For poker purists, like commentator Norman Chad, Hellmuth clearly crossed the line. https://twitter.com/NormanChad/status/1447979843811823619?s=20 For pure entertainment value, it was a historic, epic Hellmuth “Poker Brat” moment. It was an all-timer for sure and “burn it down” is going to rival “idiot from Northern Europe” in future memes. https://twitter.com/HunterGrouse/status/1448075867004022787?s=20 Once he calmed down, Hellmuth took to Twitter, issued as much of an apology as he could muster, and took his medicine. He even retweeted some of the harshest comments directed at him (see above). But for poker as a whole, this is another love-it-or-hate-it moment from the WSOP. And wherever you fall, this is for certain, this moment is one we won’t forget anytime soon. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1448431418762088448?s=20 https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1448544952162553856?s=20 #2. Misguided Man Enters the Ladies Event In case you hadn’t seen our op-ed published earlier - here’s a link. The facts are that a poker player from Minneapolis decided to be the sole man to pay the $10,000 entry fee and play the Ladies Event. He claimed it was all to raise money for unspecified women’s charities, even though in order to make any money, he would have needed to have a final table finish of eighth place or better. As should be expected the decision was met with plenty of backlash, including from some of the women who played in the event. The player ended up not making the money and according to reports, the announcement of elimination was met with plenty of cheers. As of this writing, the player has not spoken more about his experience or if he plans on making donations to women’s charities despite finishing out of the money. More importantly, the event drew a field of 643 women, including top-tier pros Jennifer Shahade, Sofia Lovgren, Jamie Kerstetter, Melanie Weisner, Elena Stover, and J.J. Liu who made the final table. https://twitter.com/JenShahade/status/1447642272221184001?s=20 https://twitter.com/thegroupie/status/1447682599426531328?s=20   The final table of the Ladies Event can be watched for free on YouTube. #3. Big Names Add Bracelets To Resume The deeper into the series, the most notable names have been emerging with new gold bracelets to add to their trophy case. Over the course of the past seven days, John Monette picked up his fourth career WSOP victory after besting Nate Silver in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $245,680. Days later it was Anthony Zinno grabbing his third bracelet in the aforementioned $10K Stud where he overtook a talented final table including Hellmuth, Poker Hall of Fame member Jack McClelland, and Stephen Chidwick. Zinno took home more than $182K with the win. Mixed game specialist Dylan Linde can be taken off the “best without a bracelet” list as he grabbed gold in the $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo for $170,269. Finally, longtime grinder DJ Alexander found a way to to the end of the $1,000 Flip & Go to earn some hardware of his own plus the $180,655 first-place prize. That’s leads us to… #4. Flip and Go Madness For the better part of two days, you couldn’t look at social media from the World Series of Poker without seeing the crowds that gathered in the single table satellite area of the Pavilion, hoping to flip their way into the money of the $1,000 Flip and Go event sponsored by GGPoker. READ: Fast and Furious Flip and Go Event Incites Action At The WSOP Daniel Negreanu lit the fuse and soon thereafter people were lining up to pay $1,000 to try and win a single hand in order to advance to the money round. For some, it was one and done. But for a couple of big-name pros, the quest to win the flip became costly. The event was polarizing with plenty of detractors feeling like it was a rake trap and added to the narrative that the WSOP was cheapening the brand by allowing people to “flip for a bracelet.” However, there were also plenty of accounts of people embracing the madness and adrenaline that came with leaning into the luck factor in order to advance. #5. Drama Returns to the Rio The World Series of Poker is in full swing so is the drama that comes with it. Of course, there’s the aforementioned Hellmuth explosion and “Man Entering Ladies Event”, which are their own stories. However, other mini-drama bombs have gone off this week, some of which have serious implications, some of which are just reminders of the kind of spats that take place when highly competitive players are fighting for massive prize pools. The first took place when poker pro Adam Hendrix tweeted out an issue that he heard about where an unnamed poker pro was entered in an event, sat down, and was waiting for the event to start but decided to unregister. Then later, that player re-registered (which is standardly against the rules). When that player turned out to be Kelly Minkin who unreg’d for a variety of reasons and only re-registered hours later, the air was cleared and the social media spat was squashed. Here’s a taste of the back-and-forth: https://twitter.com/AdamHendrix10/status/1446585726372499456?s=20 https://twitter.com/The_Illest/status/1446595732065042436?s=20 https://twitter.com/AdamHendrix10/status/1446656678041055235?s=20 While that gave Poker Twitter some good reads for a few hours, Shaun Deeb encountered a much more serious scenario when he woke up, with what he said, was someone in his hotel room. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1447215029758033922?s=20 Deeb’s been mum about the incident since, not saying what if anything was taken. Thankfully, he’s fine and was spotted at the tables soon thereafter.
  3. This article is an op-ed. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. I was surprised, but not shocked, on Monday when I saw on social media that a man decided to play in this year's World Series of Poker Ladies Event. Minnesota-based poker player Tom Hammers paid the $10,000 entry fee (rather than the discounted $1,000 buy-in available to women) to take a seat so he could, in his words, play for charity and “help women in general.” However, even if Hammers had good intentions by circumventing the obvious will of the WSOP and entering the Ladies Event, his misguided action reeks of condescension, bringing negative attention to an otherwise traditionally fun event, and leaves him as an outlier sucking up the spotlight. While one can’t be certain, it’s safe to say that if the law would allow, the World Series of Poker would restrict the Ladies Event to women and those who identify as such. The law in Nevada prohibits the WSOP from exclusion based on gender so in order to try and de-incentivize men from playing, a few years back they raised the buy-in to $10,000 and give women a discount to $1,000. As if the fact that it’s called the Ladies Event weren’t enough, the 10x buy-in for men should be a clear signal that, like the Seniors Event, the series would like to have this event be a special one for a specific group. I have yet to hear of a compelling reason to have a male enter the Ladies Event. Prop bet? Unfunny. Sexist? Sad. Nothing else to play that day? Lazy. Now, charity. Who doesn’t love charity? Charity sounds great. And Hammers laid out a plan in which he would play to raise money with any potential winnings for two unspecified woman’s charities “One for a battered women’s shelter, and maybe a homeless women’s type thing..”. No guarantees. As if a surefire $10,000 donation wouldn’t be enough. Hammers, who has Hendon Mob results dating back to 2004 and is a longtime member of the poker community, must have thought that his entering the Ladies Event was worth so much more than the $10,000 he had in hand. He must have thought that he should spend the $10k to enter the event - being well aware of how it would be perceived and the headlines it would bring - in order to make even more (which would require him to make the final table, finishing in at least 8th) which he would then donate. He was the guy to do this. He must have thought that disrupting the event, even disrupting the experience in the slightest for the women who played it, was going to be worth it. Or maybe he didn't think about any of that. Many on social media vouch for Hammers as being one of poker’s good guys. He’s called a “super nice guy”, “literally one of the best possible humans anyone could meet”, and a “true gentleman.” And perhaps he is. Which would make his decision even more confounding. Is that why he thought it was ok? He’s so well-known, well-liked that women - who are expecting that in just one tournament in the entire 98 bracelet event schedule, they could have a single event to themselves - would grant him the exception and be so stoked to have him. Is it a win-win because of the $10,000 juicing of the prize pool? Was that a donation? If so, he could have bought in and blinded off. Just walked away and thanked the women for being a part of the poker community. He could have offered a cash prize to the winner or an extra $1,000 to the final ten. He never had to play a hand. Am I wrong? I’m happy to be wrong here. Help me understand where the selflessness comes in. Help me understand how there are not five different ways Hammers could have chosen the platform of the Ladies Event to contribute or bring awareness to women’s causes without being a disturbance to the event. Without having to play. The notion that “not everyone was thrilled” or that him playing for charity brought "different vibes" is downplaying the insult that some of these women must feel whenever a man ignores the title of Ladies Event and opts to put themselves above that community just because they can - even if it’s “all in the name of charity.” https://twitter.com/KatieStonePoker/status/1447786587199348737?s=20 In the end, Hammers busted. Sorry charity, no winnings this year. But I have hope that Hammers is the good guy that his friends vehemently support and that when all is said and done he will find another way, perhaps while the event is still going on, to research the women’s charities “type things” he’s passionate about and make an actual donation in the name of the Ladies Event.
  4. The World Series of Poker’s debut of the popular GGPoker Flip and Go format took place this weekend and, love it or hate it, the tournament and its opening flights brought some old-school action back to the players in the Rio. For the uninitiated, Event #20 ($1,000 FLIP & GO) worked like this: eight players at a table are each dealt three hole cards. Next, the dealer puts out the flop. After seeing the flop, every player chooses one card to throw away, leaving themselves with the two cards they think will have the best chance of surviving to the end. Once discarded, most players turned their hands face up as the dealer delivered the turn and the river. The best hand of the eight wins and that player advances into the money. If there’s a chopped pot, those players run it back until there is a single winner. From there, the tournament is played like a traditional event. Some call the quick-paced prelims the ultimate rec-friendly tournament, removing all of the time-intensive early play hurdles while delivering the thrill of late-stage play and the promise of a payday within minutes. Others, however, call it “flipping for a bracelet." Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to deny that the Flip & Go brought a buzz to the Pavilion. At first glance, many thought that players had just a couple of shots at winning their flips. The two flights of the tournament on the official starting day, Sunday, October 10. But in reality, the Flip and Go played more like a Phase Tournament - whenever eight players were interested in flipping, they could get together in the single table satellite area of the Pavilion and hold their own opening stage. In fact, these on-demand flights were offered very early on in the series - as early as October 1. However, the word didn’t really get around until GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu rallied the troops and decided to spend some time taking shots in them. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1446339035169886209?s=20 Like many other online Phase tournaments, where players are able to fire in as many opening flights as they’d like in order to bag chips for a Day 2, bankroll is a big consideration here. The consistent firing of on-demand tables had the look of the old school bracelet rebuys of years ago, back when Negreanu - with a virtually unlimited bankroll - would fire, take thin (or even -EV spots), and just to go broke so he could snap rebuy in order to get more chips on the table to win back later. It’s not apples-to-apples here. Once you advance you start equal to everyone else, but there is a bankroll threshold in this particular Flip and Go of just how many times will it take before you win that 8-handed all-in. And, for a recreational player, how many flips can you lose before they can no longer take any more shots. Once Negreanu sat down, the action heated up as captured by WSOP Social Media guru Kevin Mathers. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446606036027117569?s=20 It was clear that once people got going, they were having a good time. Enough to want to take more shots. The fast-paced action is packed with adrenaline, knowing that if you win this one flip you are already in the money. But trying to get to the money phase turned out to be costly for a number of high-profile pros who found themselves on the negative side of variance and ended up being too long to be wrong. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446620888816750597?s=20 https://twitter.com/KevinRobMartin/status/1446614893877084164?s=20 The criticism of bringing Flip & Go’s to the WSOP was not unexpected and, for traditionalists, understandable. For some, removing the skill edge and nuances of navigating the early stages of large-field tournaments and leaving it up to luck may feel like a betrayal of the game. However, to say that strategy is out the window in the first phase of a Flip & Go wouldn’t be accurate. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1447078276569055232?s=20 When all was said and done on Sunday, 155 players advanced. With a total of 1232 entries at $1,000 a pop, the prize pool swelled to just over $1.1 million. An impossible number without having run the on-demand single tables for days in advance. Estimates have it that in the two scheduled Sunday flights roughly 50 people advanced as compared to over 100 who advanced by grinding the single tables between Thursday through Sunday. https://twitter.com/dwpoker/status/1447343223844728832?s=20 The min-cash was $2,000, double your money. But for some, that’s barely going to make a dent in the damage it took to get there. For a player like David Williams, who, as noted above fired 19 times, nothing less than the final table in the Flip & Go was going to get him even. Unfortunately for him, while it goes down on record as a cash, a 117th place finish for $2,155, Williams will have to rely on his second-place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud for $50,842 to get him out of the flippin’ hole. At the end of Day 1, just 23 players remained in the Flip & Go Event. The remaining runners will play down to a winner on Monday, October 11 with a first-place prize of more than $180,000. https://youtu.be/EVxoBPCGNP8
  5. Phil Hellmuth is in pole position to make it ‘sweet sixteen’ as he has made it to the final table of the 19th event of the 2021 World Series of Poker with a chip lead in the Seven Card Stud Championship. Hellmuth, otherwise known as ‘The Poker Brat’, bagged up 751,000 to lead the final seven, with Anthony Zinno close behind him in the counts on 730,000 chips. Hellmuth, Chidwick, McCelland Make $10K Stud Final Table It’s not only Hellmuth who will go into the final day of action as a recognized face looking to win more gold. Stephen Chidwick (266,000) and Jack McClelland (185,000) may have fewer chips, but anything can happen and the chips can change very quickly in mixed games. With James Chen (660,000), Jose Paz-Gutierrez (586,000) and Jason Gola (542,000) all still in contention, it is bound to be an entertaining final session on Monday evening. On Day 2, just three players made the money as the top 10 were paid with Daniel Zack busted in 10th place by Stephen Chidwick for a result worth $16,262, George Alexander eliminated in 9th place for $17,828, and Scott Bohlman losing his tournament life in 8th place for $20,480. Both Alexander and Bohlman were taken out by Jason Gola as the night wound to a close. WSOP 2021 Event #19 Seven Card Stud Championship Final Table Chipcounts: Phil Hellmuth - 751,000 Anthony Zinno - 730,000 James Chen - 660,000 Jose Paz-Gutierrez - 586,000 Jason Gola - 542,000 Stephen Chidwick - 266,000 Jack McClelland - 185,000 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball Event in the Balance as Early Hours End Play The $2,500-entry Mixed Triple Draw Lowball saw what should have been its final day end with heads-up on hiatus as Vladimir Peck and Venkata Tayi ended the action locked in a battle for the WSOP bracelet. The day began with 12 still in seats. Once play was down to the seven-handed final table, Brian Yoon had the chip lead, and several players were very short stacked. The lowest of the low was Carlos Rodriguez, who busted almost immediately in seventh place for $15,272 in A-5 Triple Draw, losing his stack to Joao Vieira. Hal Rotholz was the next player to depart, losing in 2-7 Triple Draw in a hand against Yoon and Venkata Tayi for a sixth-place prize of $20,828. He was followed from the event by Brian Yoon, but it was a protracted period of play that lasted beyond a dinner break and ended in a Badugi bust-out for $28,818 as Vieira again came out on top in the clash between the two remaining bracelet winners in the field. It was Badugi again that delivered Aaron Rogers from the event, as the American player fell victim to Vieira in fourth place for $40,443. Despite winning that hand, however, Vieira himself fell in third place for $57,558, albeit over an hour later. Losing in A-5 Triple Draw, Tayi was again the beneficiary, claiming a pot that gave him the leads heads-up with 5.3 million chips to Vladimir Peck’s 3.5 million. The heads-up battle that followed was so long that with the time approaching 3 am, both Peck and Tayi were asked if they wanted to play one more level or come back the next day. That level concluded with Peck on 3,275,000 chips, with Tayi in the lead on 5,575,000. Play will resume - and doubtless conclude - on Day 12 when the gold is finally won. WSOP 2021 Event #18 $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball Final Table Results: 3rd - Joao Vieira - $57,558 4th - Aaron Rogers - $40,443 5th - Brian Yoon - $28,818 6th - Hal Rotholz - $20,828 7th - Carlos Rodriguez - $15,272 The Field Narrows on Millionaire Maker Day 2 The Millionaire Maker has become one of the signature events on the WSOP calendar in Las Vegas and this year’s return to Rio has seen a total of 5,330 entries and a prize pool of just under $8 million. As the event name tells you, that means a million up top and after Day 2 trimmed the remaining 1,174 players down to just 170 hopefuls, it was Darryl Ronconi who bagged the biggest stack. Ronconi’s chip mountain of 2,545,000 is a three-bet and a call ahead of both Apolinario Luis (2,345,000) and Thomas Eychenne (2,275,000), both of whom have terrific stacks with which to attack Day 3, but they’re not the only ones. In the top 10 alone, there are some fearsome players armed to the teeth with raising chips, with Shahar Levi (1,955,000) and Faraz Jaka (1,625,000) standing out as ones to watch. A little further back in the field, Ryan Hagerty (1,100,000), Tristan Wade (1,500,000), Craig Varnell (765,000) Yiming Li (595,000), Stephen Song (1,385,000) all bagged up stacks at the close of play. So too did Vanessa Kade (1,520,000), who knows all about winning over a million after taking down the Sunday Million earlier this year. Kade detailed her personal experience of a fairly sour end to Day 1a on Twitter that has definitely seen some karma come her way on Day 2. https://twitter.com/VanessaKade/status/1446740649005367302 Every tournament win is a battle but perhaps never more so than at the World Series of Poker, with Ari Engel, who has already won a bracelet this series admitting it was some time before he hit his stride. https://twitter.com/AriEngelPoker/status/1447301982876626946 WSOP 2021 Event #17 Millionaire Maker Top 10 Chipcounts: Darryl Ronconi - 2,545,000 Apolinario Luis - 2,345,000 Thomas Eychenne - 2,275,000 John Fagg - 1,970,000 Shahar Levi - 1,955,000 Michael Mcnicholas - 1,670,000 Faraz Jaka - 1,625,000 Arie Kliper - 1,615,000 Luis Zedan - 1,570,000 Jeffery Wakamiya - 1,555,000 David Peters Survives Flip & Go Day 1 The $1,000-entry Flip & Go event, Event #20, saw just 23 players survive from a starting field of 1,232. David Williams had more tries than most at making the money in Event #20 and was applauded by most for his efforts on Twitter. https://twitter.com/dwpoker/status/1447343223844728832   When the dust settled, there were plenty of big names still in with a chance of adding what is a unique WSOP bracelet to their collection. Huy Lam (3,150,000) bagged up by far the biggest stack of the day and leads from Corey Bierria (1,880,000) by some distance. Players such as Rok Gostisa (1,115,000) and David Peters (1,105,000) will look to use all their experience to put themselves in contention for the top prize. Others, such as Daniel Negreanu, Shaun Deeb, and Gal Yifrach all busted before the close of play. WSOP 2021 Event #20 $1,000 Flip & Go Top 10 Chipcounts: Huy Lam - 3,150,000 Corey Bierria - 1,880,000 Krista Farrell - 1,700,000 David Towson - 1,600,000 Mark Ingram - 1,385,000 Joao Valli - 1,350,000 Fred Goldberg - 1,245,000 Roman Hrabec - 1,200,000 Rok Gostisa - 1,115,000 David Peters - 1,105,000 Daniel Negreanu, Ari Engel Bag Chips In $1,500 Mixed Omaha 8 There were 640 players who took on the $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better event and after a long first day of the tournament, only 199 players zipped up chips. It is local Henderson, Nevada-based player Scott Abrams who leads the pack with 275,000 chips, but plenty of other big players are still in with a great chance of a deep run, with Ari Engel (238,000) going for his second bracelet this live series. Others such as Daniel Negreanu (147,000), John Monnette (103,500), Randy Ohel (83500), Dylan Linde (106,500), and Derek McMaster (162,500) all bagged up chips, with stars such as Eli Elezra, Mike Matusow, Nathan Gamble, Jake Daniels, Ken Aldridge, Ben Yu, and Barry Greenstein. WSOP 2021 Event #21 $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo or Better Top 10 Chipcounts: Scott Abrams - 275,000 Ari Engel - 230,000 Nathaniel Katzoff - 222,500 PJ Cha - 215,000 Cody Scherer - 207,000 John Cernuto - 178,000 Yonatan Smith - 177,500 Edward Han - 167,000 Derek McMaster - 162,500 Julien Martini - 150,500 Chance Kornuth isn’t just a former WSOP bracelet winner but would not stand by and watch a dealer getting berated. The comments section on his latest act at the poker table tell how most players and fans back his actions. https://twitter.com/ChancesCards/status/1447361730598748166 The spirit of fun seems to have taken over players of the highest standard, with poker legend Erik Seidel joking about a ‘ruff’ time over at his table. https://twitter.com/Erik_Seidel/status/1447470233166307334 Finally, he may not be at the World Series of Poker yet, but if the Rio does play host to Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, then it could be the closing story we all need. Just... unique. https://twitter.com/junglemandan/status/1447263387541557249
  6. We’re just one week into the 2021 World Series of Poker and already so much has happened. Bracelets have been won, the hallways have been packed, and, yes, Phil Hellmuth threw a fit in the Amazon room. The WSOP is back, it’s different, and so far it’s been fantastic. Not without its difficulties but the final series to take place in the Rio is, in fact, taking place. And with that, plenty of storylines have emerged - here are five of the biggest from the first seven days. #1. Reports of the WSOP’s Death Were Greatly Exaggerated No one was quite sure what they were going to find when they first stepped into the Rio this autumn. With the complicated information surrounding COVID’s Delta variant, the vaccination mandate, and the mask-optional exception it’s safe to say that there were plenty of questions as to who and how many players would show up. It became clear from Day 1 that players were more than willing to show up and show out. The Reunion, with its $5 million guarantee, blew the doors off the Rio as players flooded the hallways, packed the tables, and ended up crushing the guarantee. Masked and (presumably) vaxxed, all three rooms - the Pavilion, Brasilia, and Amazon, were lively and, at times, even rowdy. What could have been a muted sense of excitement, instead still had that electric feel of the summer series of years past. The FOMO was real for those who wanted to be on hand and those who predicted that the brand would take a big hit are going to have to wait a little longer to see, as the opening weekend concluded with a $600 Deepstack event that exceeded player projections. Sure, numbers will be down, how could they not. But spirits were not. A case in point is… #2. This What The WSOP Is All About Kenna James captured George McBride’s first WSOP cash on camera and everyone who watched it immediately had all the feels. https://twitter.com/Kenna_James/status/1444163921712017414?s=20 “It was just everything opening up,” McBride told PokerNews in an interview, getting misty just thinking about his run in The Reunion. “That was totally uncontrollable,” he said talking about his emotion and how he was playing in memory of friends who couldn’t be there with him and his family history of playing cards. And for many, that’s what the WSOP is all about. A pilgrimage to play with some of the best in the world and taking a shot to live your dream. #3. Jesse Klein Takes A Shot, Scores Direct Hit There’s been a handful of bracelets handed out this week from top pros like Jeremy Ausmus and Connor Drinan adding to their resumes to Long Ma outlasting the nearly 13,000 runner Reunion and turning his $500 into $513,604. But Jesse Klein’s first career gold bracelet win caught everyone off guard because it came in the $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. where he survived a field of 78 runners of mostly elite players to take home the $552,182 first-place prize. It seems Klein, a businessman who plays high-stakes mixed game cash, just flew out with the sole intention of playing this one event - his flight home booked at the end of the weekend. Along the way, he battled against pros like Ben Yu, David Benyamine, Daniel Negreanu, and Benny Glaser. But he really made headlines after besting 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth in a hand and sending Hellmuth into one of his famous rants. “He just went off and I loved it,” he said. “It made me laugh, all that kind of stuff cracks me up.” Klein demonstrated the other side of the WSOP - anyone with the will and the buy-in can come and compete. And sometimes, leave a champion. #4. Phil Hellmuth On A Heater Phil Hellmuth is off to one of his hottest starts at the World Series of Poker in years. The Poker Brat is on the prowl for gold bracelet #16 and had been making deep runs in every event he’s entered so far. His first score was in the $25K H.O.R.S.E. where he made the final table, but ultimately fell just a few spots short by busting in sixth place for $95,329. Days later he found himself deep in the $1,500 Dealers Choice where he fell in 18th place for another $4,429. Finally, at the time of this writing, Hellmuth is at yet another final table, this time in the $10K Omaha 8, where he will start the day with the short stack and a guaranteed payday of no less than $80,894. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1446037960311250951?s=20 But for Hellmuth, it’s all about the bracelet and fans will be tuning in to see if he can somehow climb the chip counts and make history once again. Hellmuth on a heater is decidedly “good for poker.” #5. Staff In Good Spirits But Lines, Technology Problems Persist To go along with the fact that the WSOP has been bustling with activity is the downside of that which has been lines. Everywhere you looked over the weekend, there were long - very long - lines. Lines to buy-in, lines to get your vaccination verified, lines to get your credit card registered, and, of course, lines to use the restroom. Some reports had the most egregious lines lasting three hours as a combination of tech and the players not having everything ready to go meant sometimes just to get a player all set up could take 4-5 (or more) minutes per person. With current conditions leaving some of the cages shorthanded, those waits could take time. Players, for the most part, remained patient with the understanding that once everything was verified, the process would be smoother. To their credit, the WSOP acknowledged the difficulties. They faced them head-on in morning announcements and worked to get better. The staff seemed to stay in good spirits which helped as well. By Saturday afternoon, if you picked the right time, you could get registered or have a credit card verified with minimal waits. However, technology problems continue to be an issue. From printers not working on the first day to, as recently as Wednesday, a complete outage when delayed the start time of some events and resulted in the cancelation of some side events, the tech issues have added some unnecessary stressors on WSOP staff. https://twitter.com/WSOP/status/1445843005710082056?s=20
  7. We’re only a week into the 2021 World Series of Poker and it’s clear that this year Phil Hellmuth means business. There’s no indulging his inner Colonel Kurtz on a celebrity-fueled trip in the jungle or any other early-series shenanigans. Instead, Hellmuth has been at the Rio, in his seat, at the tables, and off to one of the best WSOP starts of his career. At stake for him, a record-extending bracelet #16 and yet another chance to give his doubters a lesson in #POSITIVITY and White Magic. Just take a look at his early receipts. In the first seven days, Hellmuth has made a deep run in three different events. None of which are a No Limit Hold’em tournament, the format that he won 12 of his 15 bracelets in. The smallest of his cashes came in Event #7 ($1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed) where he made the final three tables and finished in 18th place for (a paltry) $4,429. In the first days of the series, Hellmuth tackled the $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. (Event #2) in which he made the final table. He fell just short of taking it down when he busted in sixth place for $95,329. His latest feat is his effort in Event #9 ($10,000 Omaha 8 Championship) in which he grinded a short stack to the live-streamed final table but ultimately fell in fifth place for another $80,894. Hellmuth’s results are not only good for a person’s fantasy team, but it’s an indication that Hellmuth is playing at the peak of his poker powers. It’s important to have momentum, which is an undeniable force in the game - just ask Michael Addamo. Hellmuth's coming so close that should the stars align, he could be taking another winner’s photo soon enough. At the same time though, you can see “The Poker Brat” lurking in the background. Like Dexter’s "Dark Passenger", Hellmuth is seemingly always just a trigger (or bad beat) away from unleashing the beast. And we’ve already seen it once in this series, in Event #2. In a hand against the eventual winner, businessman Jesse Klein, Hellmuth fired on multiple streets of a Razz hand but couldn’t shake Klein. In the end, Hellmuth lost the hand and lost his temper. PokerNews described it that he “walked away from the table with plenty of swear words to be heard.” A big of a badge of honor for Klein who said that he enjoyed the outburst and it made him laugh. But in the aftermath, Hellmuth posted a bit of an emo photo and expressed his disappointment at missing out. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1444470919204769803?s=20 With as much confidence and momentum that Hellmuth is likely feeling, he’s also been peppering his fans with the notion that his #POSITIVITY is being tested by the fact that he’s falling short after getting so close. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1445332610905886723?s=20 After his elimination in fifth place in the $10K Omaha 8, Hellmuth walked over his longtime friend Mike Matusow on the rail, understandably visibly frustrated. “What the ****, I never caught a break,” he said. “I watched Ari [Engel] win every hand for hours. I can’t wait until I play against him next time. I let him steal, steal, steal…he plays so fast. It’s so frustrating.” “I deserve better,” he continued. “But it doesn’t matter….deserve is a bad word, right? Because I mean I have 15 bracelets…let’s not get too negative, let’s stay positive. They don’t really play the game that well, it’s very frustrating.” Of course, every poker player knows how it feels to finish in any position other than first. It’s not a good feeling. But for Hellmuth, his frustration isn’t about not winning more money. It’s not about the money at all. He has pulled in a nice haul of more than $180,000 in seven days, but that amount is likely negligible to Hellmuth. His real bread and butter is in the clout. Everything that comes to him by chasing - and winning - bracelets. It’s what his reputation is built on, it’s how he gets his Brain-Food-Altcoin sponsorships, and it’s what gets him invited into the (presumably) soft Silicon Valley cash games. It's brought him legions of fans, put him on beer cans, and, ultimately, is part of his identity. It’s an understatement to say that winning bracelets is hard. It’s difficult to even have the opportunity - let alone two in a week. And when winning a bracelet, literally means more advantages will come your way than can be bought with the money, there's even more pressure. The kind of run Hellmuth is on would overwhelm mere mortals with joy. But Hellmuth’s playing an entirely different game. “I have the biggest deal of my life…I’m going to be meeting with a guy today,” he told Matusow. “I was hoping to have a bracelet on my wrist when I met with him.” Hellmuth’s on a heater right now and for those following his WSOP journey closely, it feels like it’s just a matter of time. A matter of time before he breaks through and wins another historic bracelet or breaks down for another historic tantrum. Both would be preferable. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1444479029478768645?s=20
  8. Gary Gulman is great. If you’ve seen him perform you likely think so too. An incredibly funny comedian with years in the game and a loyal fan base. If you haven’t seen him, or don’t know by name, he’s got highlights galore on YouTube - well worth going down the rabbit hole to check out. Some might call Gulman, a “comic’s comic” - a guy who has been in the industry for years, respected by his peers for being a real pro and enjoyed by those that know him. He's a guy who likely deserves even more notoriety than he gets. And what he gets is pretty good. In poker, Connor Drinan is a lot like that. A long-time established pro, well-known and respected by those who play the game at the highest level. But even with all his success and accolades, he’s still underrated. He’s not the guy you see on old ESPN broadcasts or a new young gun high-roller featured on the current slate of PokerGO programming, but Connor Drinan has his poker resume to the point where he should be considered one of the best American grinders in the game today - not just by his peers but by the public at large. So when this past week at the World Series of Poker Drinan took the chip lead into the final table of Event #5 ($1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better), few inside the industry were surprised that he came out the other side with the win, the $163,252 first-place prize, and the second gold bracelet of his career. Few were surprised because this is what Drinan does, he just wins. It’s been seven years since Drinan seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Then, a 25-year old poker pro who survived the star-studded $25,000 satellite to win his seat in the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament at the WSOP. Drinan didn’t initially make an impression by simply earning his way into one of the biggest tournaments of all time, he did it by being on the losing end of what is still considered one of the worst beats in WSOP history. PokerGO founder Cary Katz and Drinan were both all-in, both holding pocket aces. But Katz held the ace of hearts - and when the board brought a four-flush of hearts, Drinan hit the rail. But that was by no means the end of him, of course. In fact, it was just the beginning of him putting up years of impressive online and live scores. That same year he traveled to Macau to play in the APPT Super High Roller, grabbing a (then) career-high score of more than $657,000. Six figure-scores soon followed. He recorded three in 2015 before he went on to finish in third place in the inaugural Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas for his current career-best $3.2 million. For the better part of the next two years, Drinan remained a part of the nosebleed tournament scene hauling in cashes, many of which make up a large part of him more than $11 million in career live earnings, currently good for 78th on the All-Time Money List. At the same time, Drinan was absolutely crushing online poker and still does to this day. He reached as high as #4 in the world back in 2014, having moved to Canada from Chicago post-Black Friday in order to grind. He has more than $9 million in online earnings and a slew of impressive titles. According to data found on the PokerStars blog, Drinan holds three WCOOP titles dating back to 20016. His biggest score is a victory in the 2018 $10K High Roller for $385,762. In the 2020 PokerStars SCOOP he really triumphed. Playing from Mexico, Drinan broke Shaun Deeb’s single series victory record by taking down six SCOOP titles. Five of those victories came in a nine-day span where he collected more than $550,000. That same year, Drinan earned his first WSOP gold bracelet during the GGPoker 2020 WSOP Online Series, handing business in the $10K Super MILLION$ bracelet event for a massive $1.4 million score. You get it, right? Drinan is absolutely elite. So why doesn’t he get that elite treatment from poker fans? There’s no doubt that within the tight-knit “poker community” (and "Poker Twitter") Drinan is top-tier. Respected and adored. Just take a look at those players congratulating him on his recent bracelet victory - Tony Dunst, Chris Moorman, Martin Jacobson, and 2019 WSOP Player of the Year Robert Campbell among others. For daily grinders and top pros, Drinan is a very big deal. But that hasn’t trickled down to poker enthusiasts. Despite being in the game for 14 years and accomplishing all he’s accomplished Drinan, for the most part in the eyes of fans, remains that guy who lost “aces to aces for a million dollars”. Perhaps Drinan prefers it that way. It’s hard to find much media featuring him - a short interview or two, no podcasts to speak of. He just goes about his business, dominating tournaments and, when they are done, giving short quotes and never taking too much credit. When asked by PokerNews reporters about his Omaha 8 win, Drinan simply replied “I just played my normal game and ran good.” That was basically it. Drinan shouldn’t need to say very much for fans to take notice. He’s earned his impressive poker resume and that should speak for him with those who follow the game taking note. But since that’s easier said than done, here’s another piece reminding fans about the greatness of Connor Drinan - a pro’s pro who, with yet another major win, has earned himself a little more shine.
  9. It’s incredibly difficult to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Even in an era where more than 160 will be added to poker resumes this calendar year, it still takes being one among tens of thousands of players who take their shot at winning one of the most coveted trophies in the game. But as hard as it is to win a bracelet, it’s perhaps just as (if not even more) difficult to win the title of WSOP Player of the Year. There are maybe two dozen players at most that can be considered frontrunners with a realistic shot at being immortalized on a POY banner. The reasons it’s so difficult are many - from the mental fortitude of the time, as well as having a bankroll big enough to compete. And over the years, it’s only become more difficult. The award was first introduced in 2004, with only 15 players yet to earn the honor. Daniel Negreanu is the only player to have won it twice and, without a live series in 2020, Robert Campbell was, famously, the last to win the award in 2019. Here at the start of the 2021 WSOP, a number of players will once again have designs on winning the award. Five of the 15 took the time to talk about what it takes to compete for the WSOP Player of the Year race and what will get it done here in 2021. “It's just playing your A-game all day, every day,” said Shaun Deeb, four-time WSOP bracelet winner and 2018 Player of the Year. “You have to play 50-some-odd days straight. That's a real grind. From my online background, I play every day. I'm good at that. “And make sure you play everything. You can't just play Mixed Games, you can’t just play No Limit. To win Player of the Year, someone's going to play 50-plus events or 70% of the total events out there, whatever it ends up being.” Daniel Negreanu agrees. The two-time Player of the Year (2004, 2013) says that no matter how many events you are willing to play, someone out there is likely looking to take even more shots. “I think, if someone's actually trying to chase Player of the Year, the most important advice is that if you're serious about it, you really need to be willing to put in a ton of volume,” Negreanu said. “There's no week off or two weeks off. To give yourself the best chance, you want to play the maximum number of events based on [the points system] and most importantly, one of your best chances to win, is going to be to learn Mixed Games. “If you don't play mixed games, it's going to be tough for you to accrue really big amounts of points,” he continued. “Because in these big field No Limits, you can min-cash a lot but they're also incredibly hard to make the final table and win. Whereas, if you play mixed games, sometimes you're playing against a field of a hundred. So, if you make the final table or win you can include some pretty big numbers.” Mixed games have become an important component of the Player of the Year. It’s been rare to have a POY that doesn’t accumulate crucial points through the variety of poker variants. But it has happened. Jeff Madsen did it in 2006 by winning a pair of NLHE events. In 2012, Greg Merson accomplished it was well after taking down the $10,000 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em Championship followed by becoming the Main Event champion. However, as the points system has evolved, mixed games have become a more prominent factor. Winners have needed to be able to balance a schedule that includes whatever tournament is running on any given day. “The Player of the Year was really, originally, established to help encourage the participation in all the events that weren't No Limit Texas Hold'em. Specifically, to have a counterbalance to the WSOP main event,” said Frank Kassela, 2010 Player of the Year and three-time bracelet winner. Kassela, who grabbed gold in the $2,500 Razz and the $10K Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship that year, notes that competing in every event isn’t just a matter of having the knowledge of how to play those games well, but having the means to do it. “I mean the most challenging thing right now for anybody that wants to try to win Player of the Year is the amount of expense they’ve added to being competitive because of all of the rebuys,” Kassela said. “Like when I did it, the year I won, was one of the first years that they were allowing even double rebuys in some of the events like No Limit Deuce and PLO. “I feel like it got so crazy the end of the last year between Sean and Daniel. I mean, whoever could afford it was the one most likely to win it.” Of course, last year, neither Deeb nor Negreanu won it. It was Robert Campbell who officially walked away with the title but only after it was awarded to Negreanu. An error in the points awarded was discovered and the title was “taken back” from Kid Poker and correctly assigned to Campbell. “I think probably the most important part nowadays is to understand the point system, which I really didn't focus on that when I won,” said 2007 Player of the Year Tom Schneider. “In 2013, I had a good chance of winning it had the rules been the same as they were before. I don't even know what the rules are this year, to be honest. So understanding of the point system, determining how valuable cashes are versus winning.” Knowledge of all the games. Check. Understanding the points system and what’s more valuable. Check. Having the resources to play as many events as possible. Check. But while all of those are important items to keep in mind, 2015 WSOP Player of the Year Mike Gorodinsky says it’s keeping the totality of the grind in check in order to be at your best is what’s really needed. “My biggest piece of advice would be to simply not put yourself into a position where you're likely to burn out,” Gorodinsky said. “Outside of a very small handful of guys who have the bankroll, skill-set, and love of the game to show up at the Rio every day and just blast through whatever tournaments happen to be that day, there aren't many people that I've met over the years, myself included, who can spend 12+ hours at the Rio every day and come out at the end of the summer not feeling like they've aged 10 years. “Remember that poker is supposed to be fun! Setting up a 40 tournament schedule may seem exciting and optimal a few months out before the series starts up, but the reality of that day-to-day grind, especially if you're not making frequent deep runs, is pretty grim. So just pace yourself, play what you're excited about/good at, and let the results come as they will.” When Gorodinsky won it, he said he didn’t start the series with the intent of winning the title but “as the results started to roll in and the possibility of it actually became attainable, I definitely did play more tournaments than I otherwise would have.” When Schneider went to the WSOP in 2007, he said he had a goal of playing an increased schedule but, more specifically, he wanted “to make three final tables.” The POY wasn’t in his sights at the start. He reached his goal of three final tables, winning two of them, and he said he did it by not getting distracted by the chase. “I know that some people have a strategy of playing, entering three events at the same time, then going over playing a little bit. That was never my strategy,” Schneider said. “My strategy was to focus on the event that I was playing. I think a lot of times you can get distracted. And when you're running really good and you got lots of money, it probably doesn't hurt, but my strategy was more play the events that I felt like I had the best chance of winning.” That mental strain can get to anybody, the feeling that in order to keep pace, you need to play everything. That includes the smaller buy-in, large field No Limit events that take up valuable time and mental energy away from being able to focus on the big-time events like the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (the very event that clinched the award for Gorodinsky in 2015.) “The hardest part for me and the part that really doesn't help me is, it's frankly really easy to cash in these small buy-in events. Like the big, huge field events. You could late regs, you play for a couple of hours, and you're in the money,” Negreanu said. “You get points for that. And, to add that to a schedule of all these big $10,000 and $25,000, that can be really taxing. I wish that wasn't the case. I would prefer an adjustment to this formula where instead of counting, 30 cashes, you count your top 12 and go from there, for example. That way, these little min-cashes don't really make the difference, because they kind of do now. So, that's probably the hardest part is just having to play multiple events in a day and late [registering] and all that sort of stuff.” “The toughest part of the WSOP/POY grind for me personally is always the lifestyle that's required to do it,” Gorodinsky added. “I’m someone who both values their sleep, as well as their time outdoors, so while I definitely love playing tournament poker, doing it day in/day out for two straight months wears pretty heavily on me. Getting into the mindset of playing until 2-3 AM most nights and then coming back to Day 2 restarts 12 hours later or less is always the toughest part of it for me. For Schneider though, any potential problems that took place while he was en route to his banner are pains that have subsided over time. “It didn't feel like a grind,” Schneider said looking back. “I mean, most poker players love poker and at the time I loved poker. The opportunity to sit in another tournament and play a tournament with big fields and big money, it's not a grind. Just like I don't think The Masters golf tournament would be a grind to golfers. I mean, I'm sure they would think that of course is tough and they got to think about every shot and all that, but that's every time they go out and play. But it's more of a privilege than that grind. That's the way I looked at it.” But Schneider, who continues his work as a CFO outside of poker, admits that he won’t be in the running this year, opting out of attending citing the WSOP COVID policies. Gorodinsky also feels like it’s unlikely he’ll take another shot at it this year. He will be in Las Vegas with plans on playing the series this year including the majority of the bigger buy-in mixed game events. But he says he doesn’t want to prioritize playing tournaments when maybe a day spent rock climbing is what he’s in the mood for. “Honestly, it isn't really a goal for me to win it again,” Gorodinsky said. “Would I go for it if I had a strong start to the summer? Absolutely. I love poker and competition in general, so the POY chase with a few other guys sounds pretty fun, but it's not an intention of mine to claim the title again." Kassela says that he’ll be back in town in early October with nearly a quarter-million of buy-ins on his schedule. That may or may not be enough to contend for the POY title but he thinks it would be a bad idea to count him out. “Well, I mean, because of my style of play, I feel like even with an abbreviated schedule compared to other people, that I'm as much of a threat to win Player of the Year as anybody else, because I'm very streaky. When I get in the zone, I've had multiple times over my poker years where I'll hit three or four final tables in a week. And I'll get in those... And if you win a bracelet, win another bracelet, come in third…you just go, bam, bam, bam, a few things like that, you're just kind of leading the pack.” Then there’s the rivalry between Negreanu and Deeb. There was a time it was personal, but Negreanu has been public about how the pair have buried the hatchet. But in no uncertain terms, both players, once again, have their sights set on taking the POY in 2021. “Yeah, I'll be in the running,” said Negreanu. “I’m not going to be as insane about it, where I'm playing every $400 event or whatever. I'm going to see how the first half goes, but really my focus is actually to win some bracelets as well. And usually, when that happens, you have a good chance to win Player of the Year. But I'll be grinding all the big, high roller events and big stuff like that. So, that bodes well for my chances, for sure.” “I pretty much go out there and my goal is to win Player of the Year,” Deeb said. “I got second in 2019, got first in 2018, but I really want to win it again. And basically, that's my goal. Try to be like Johnny Chan a little bit.” But when it comes to winning Player of the Year, there’s really only so much one can control. “The only other thing I was going to add, being just generally more open advice, is it's important to get a fast start,” Kasella added. “I know the years I feel like I've got a shot at Player of the Year have those moments when you win your first bracelet in the first week or two. I think it was the sixth or seventh day in 2010 when I won $10K Stud 8-or-Better. And then I won the Razz bracelet six days later. “When you get a ‘Bam-bam’…when lightning strikes early, makes it much easier.”
  10. Largely unknown Mixed Games player Jesse Klein won his first WSOP bracelet after taking down a final table stacked with stars at the 2021 World Series of Poker. The recruitment firm owner went from recreational hopeful to WSOP winner on a final day full of drama as one $25,000 event ended and another began. Hellmuth Rants, Glaser Denied As Klein Pulls Out The WIn All the focus at the start of the third day of WSOP action was on the final table of Event #2, the $25,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event which saw another mixed game specialist, British player Benny Glaser, go into the final table with the lead. It took little time for Matt Glantz to become the first casualty of the day as Phil Hellmuth took out his fellow American in Razz with a ten-five, with Glantz paired up and drawing dead on 6th street. Glantz cashed for $52,211. Next to go was DJ Buckley, who lasted just a few minutes more to bust in eighth place for $61,549. Buckley’s elimination to Ben Yu precipitated an extended period of play without a bust-out, but it was not short of drama as Hellmuth exploded at the end of losing a hand to eventual champion Klein. Folding on the river, Hellmuth declared his opponent’s start as "insane" and it was to serve as the opening bout in a war of words between the pair. It was some time before Yu busted in seventh place for $75,260, but that was only the warm-up act to another blow-up from Hellmuth as Klein scooped a second big pot against the 15-time WSOP bracelet winner. The Poker Brat was back as Hellmuth left the table, pacing the floor and cursing at his lack of fortune. Just a few hands later, Hellmuth was gone, out in sixth place for $95,329 after bricking every street in Seven Card Stud against Chad Eveslage. After the event, Hellmuth was keen to point out the benefits of his staying power in bringing his A-Game to the Rio. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1444470919204769803 Hellmuth’s bust-out started a flurry of them. Philip Sternheimer was crushed in the same format by Glaser to leave in fifth place for $124,935. The same winner of that hand took out the aforementioned Eveslage in fourth for $169,218 when Glaser’s pair of sevens with a low ace was enough to win both Hi and Lo to send his American rival to the rail. Glaser led at that stage, but over the course of two hours without an elimination, each man had their periods of domination as the chips moved between each man. French player David Benyamine’s neck was on the block when he lost on 7th street to Klein, who won the pivotal pot to go into heads-up with a massive lead of 10.1 million to Glaser’s 1.5m. Klein won his maiden bracelet not long after the final duel began, with his victory in a Seven Card Stud hand ending an entertaining event. While Glaser, who had already won three WSOP bracelets in his career called off his stack with a smile and will enjoy the second-place prize of $341,274. For Jesse Klein, however, it was the fulfillment of a dream as the recruitment firm owner capped an enjoyable two-day sojourn to Sin City with a WSOP bracelet and $552,182 score. Event #2 $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. Final Table Results: Jesse Klein - $552,182 Benny Glaser - $341,274 David Benyamine - $236,626 Chad Eveslage - $169,218 Philip Sternheimer - $124,935 Phil Hellmuth - $95,329 Ben Yu - $75,260 DJ Buckley - $61,549 Matt Glantz - $52,211 Jake Daniels Leads $25K NLHE, Michael Addamo Outsted Many of the H.O.R.S.E. field took to the 6th event on the schedule, the $25,000-entry NLHE High Roller that kicked off on Day 3 of the WSOP. With 135 entries in total, it was Jake Daniels who ended Day 1 top of the pile, bagging up 1,182,000 chips by close of play as one of only two players to "crack a milly." While Daniels was steady throughout, he did not dominate the leaderboard until the final two levels, eliminating Eric Worre and Daniel Negreanu to vault himself to the top of the chip counts, with Michael Liang (1,028,000) and James Chen (835,000) his nearest challengers. Elsewhere in the top 10 players, Jake Schindler (667,000) and Chance Kornuth (570,000) will be major threats when the action resumes on Day 2. Several superstars made the upper echelons of the leaderboard, but plenty of big names hit the rail too. Australia’s most successful tournament player of all-time, Michael Addamo busted both bullets so will not be eligible for re-entry on Day 2. Others to lose their stacks on Day 1 included Stephen Chidwick, Brian Altman, Kenny Hallaert, Koray Aldemir, Sam Grafton, Joseph Cheong, Ryan Riess, Jeremy Ausmus, Upeshka De Silva, and Niall Farrell whose epic journey to the World Series was common among those from outside the United States. At the close of play on Day 1, just 54 players made the counts, but with entry and re-entry possible on Day 2 right up until the start of play, that number is sure to swell with some of the best players in the world going for gold. Galen Hall was among those to express his relief at playing some live poker for the first time in a very long time. https://twitter.com/galenhall/status/1444423233160187904   Some of the biggest players in the world have already been drawn together for Day 2, with battles between Jake Schindler, Adrian Mateos and Mikita Badziakouski at one table just a single example of the level of quality in the event. Whoever grabs a final table place at the end of Day 2 will have earned it. Event #6 $25,000 No Limit Hold’em High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts: Jake Daniels - 1,182,000 Michael Liang - 1,028,000 James Chen - 835,000 Scott Eskenazi - 747,000 Jake Schindler - 667,000 Clayton Kalisek - 610,000 Alexandros Theologis - 594,000 Chance Kornuth - 570,000 Ankush Mandavia - 553,000 Brian Rast - 551,000 Brobyn Bags 5 Million During Reunion Day 2 The Reunion, otherwise known as Event #4 on this year’s 2021 WSOP schedule, saw a huge number of entries on Day 1b, as 4,455 players took to the felt and made it into the money. Several high-profile players busted out before 204 players bagged up for the night, with Maurice Hawkins, Shaun Deeb, and Brad Owen just three of the Day 1 casualties. Others thrived at the felt, however, and by close of play, it was Robert Brobyn who bagged the biggest stack of chips, an incredible 5,015,000 of them. That total was way clear of Brobyn’s nearest challenger on the day Tyler Jamieson (3,040,000) and Brobyn’s lead represents the overall tournament lead after two days. Others to pile up plenty of chips on Day 1b included two former WSOP bracelet winners in the form of Ronnie Bardah, who proved a ‘Survivor’ with 2,005,000, and Jeremy Wien (1,640,000). WSOP 2021 Event #4 $500 The Reunion Top 10 Chipcounts: Robert Brobyn - 5,015,000 Tyler Jamison - 3,040,000 Jared Ambler - 2,450,000 Ya Yun Liu - 2,445,000 Ryan Messick - 2,410,000 Elvis Toomas - 2,375,000 Darryl Ronconi - 2,030,000 Ronnie Bardah - 2,005,000 Randy Rhee - 1,990,000 Mark Lilomaiava - 1,765,000 Connor Drinan, Rob Mizrachi Top Omaha 8 Final 15 Event #5, the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, saw 230 players whittled down to just 15 by the close of Day 2. Of those 15 players, only Connor Drinan and Robert Mizrachi have won WSOP bracelets before, but with both men at the top of the chipcounts, it could be a ding-dong battle on the final day to see whether Drinan wins his second, Mizrachi wins his fifth or a new player gets their hands on the gold. Day 2 of the event saw players such as Brian Hastings and Shaun Deeb hit the rail on the day the bubble burst with players such as Max Pescatori (80th for $2,400), David ‘Bakes’ Baker (75th for $2,400), Randy Ohel (48th for $3,200), Ari Engel (41st for $3,634) and former two-time WSOP bracelet winner Ryan Hughes (18th for $5,580) all make the money. It’s the potential shoot-out between Drinan and Mizrachi that has us salivating, however, as the final day of the event on Monday will crown a winner. WSOP 2021 Event #5 $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Top 10 Chipcounts: Connor Drinan - 2,415,000 Robert Mizrachi - 1,410,000 Sandy Sanchez - 1,380,000 Pearce Arnold - 1,160,000 Carl Lijewski - 1,095,000 Curtis Phelps - 1,080,000 Kris Kwiatkowski - 1,045,000 Yehuda Buchalter - 1,020,000 Michael Moed - 965,000 Scott Baumstein - 900,000
  11. The 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is here and that means there’s simply no time to waste. So, without further ado, let’s get star--- DON’T GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR FIRST TOURNAMENT AND PLAY BEER PONG AT O’SHEA’S WHILE DRINKING SIX IRISH CAR BOMBS THEN THINK IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO STAY UP UNTIL 7 AM AND LOSE 10 BUY-INS ON A $1/$2 TABLE AT THE FLAMINGO. Go out, by all means. Just don’t do that. Have you ever been so hungover that you completely forget what it’s like to not be hungover? Over-partying is easily done in Las Vegas, but a throbbing head and overwhelming nausea is the last thing you want when you’re heading to the Rio to play your first ever WSOP event. Save that for your final night in town. DO GET EXCITED. You’re at the WSOP! You made it! Don’t let some moaning, jaded veteran at your table dampen your spirits. If you feel anxious beforehand, that’s completely normal. Playing for a bracelet is a big deal and you don’t know what will happen. But while anxiety suggests you should fear the uncertainty, excitement views the uncertainly as something to look forward to. So, get excited and enjoy the action. DON’T OVERLOAD ON CAFFEINE. Any anxiety you do feel pre-tournament will only be made worse if you chug four coffees before making your way to the Rio. Instead, find different ways to wake yourself up and save the healing power of coffee for later in the day, like bracelet winner and former #1-ranked online pro Ari Engel does. “I try and go to the gym most mornings and limit caffeine in the morning so it’s more effective in the evening when I’m playing tournaments,” says Engel. DO REGISTER THE NIGHT BEFORE. On the night before your first event, why not stop by the Rio before heading out for dinner? That way, not only will you know what to expect, you can also take care of something that first-timers often overlook: “Make sure you register the day before the tournament, especially if it's a big weekend event,” says WSOP czar Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers. “No one wants to be stuck in a long line when the tournament starts.” Registration is available 24/7. DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT. Keep your mornings stress-free by limiting your obligations to others and planning your food/travel the night before. That way you can just relax pre-poker. “I like to give myself time before I go play so that my brain is actually awake and functioning,” says three-time WSOP bracelet winner Benny “RunGodlike” Glaser. “I'll meditate a bit if I have time, so my mind isn’t cluttered with unnecessary things. I also try not to eat huge meals that will slow me down mentally or give me an insulin crash after.” To help matters further when playing, Mathers suggests downloading the Bravo Poker Live app on your phone. “It shows you when tournament breaks are coming, the status of the dinner break, and how close you are to reaching the money.” At the Rio the food options can be limited and expensive, so Kevmath also suggests packing snacks and drinks in your bag, along with other items you consider essential. DO WEAR LAYERS. “The Rio is notorious for keeping the tournament rooms cooler than you're used to,” says Kevmath. “Be sure to bring a hoodie or wear layers that you can add or remove as needed.” And if you have to wear something warm, why not have some fun with it? “When people see me in a stupid bear suit, it's not just because the Rio is an ice cube,” says two-time bracelet winner Brandon Shack-Harris. “I'm from Chicago, so what do I care? I do it because there's a point in the Series where I've bricked infinite tournaments and I'm too mentally fried to read enough Stoic Philosophies to get through tomorrow's $1,500 Limit Hold ‘Em Event.” DON’T RUSH. Break times in big WSOP tournaments can get hectic. Don’t feel obliged to rush. Remember, there are two outcomes when you’re sprinting back to the table trying not to miss a hand: 1. You’re going to be flustered and your heart racing, so chances you probably won’t play the hand to the best of your ability anyway. 2. You’re probably going to be dealt seven-deuce-offsuit. “I try not to race back to the table,” says Shack-Harris. “If I miss a hand, that's fine. Unless running is going to make me happy for some reason, I'm walking, and I'll get there when I get there.” DO AVOID BAD BEAT STORIES. Talk strategy with friends on breaks, sure, but if you catch yourself beginning to tell a bad beat story--or being forced to listen to one--get out of there. “Forget about beats,” says Shack-Harris. “While it's important to acknowledge hands you could've played better, do it once and let them go.” Instead, on breaks, Shack-Harris likes to get outside and find some peace. “I find it helpful to shut my brain off, so I don’t bother looking at my phone,” he says. “Find a quiet spot and think about adjustments you’ll make in the next level. “There have been times where I've grabbed my skateboard mid-tournament and taken it outside for 10 minutes to calm my brain down and get some air. Sometimes you've got to leave the table and reset!” DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER BUSTING. OK, so you busted the tournament. That sucks. But you know what? You’re still in Las Vegas. “I care less about busting tournaments in Vegas than I do other places because there are so many things to do there,” says Glaser. “There are lots of good bars and clubs, shows, and restaurants to choose from. Or you can even get away from the strip and see some nature, maybe go on a hike somewhere like Red Rock. It can be really nice for resetting and calming the mind.” Just do what your body and mind want to do. “It's such an intense grind and it's so cognitively taxing that it's important to give yourself a rest sometimes,” says Glaser. DO BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Playing at the WSOP is special, whether you’re ticking it off the bucket list or back for the tenth time. But it can be a long grind, so whatever happens, be gentle with yourself. “Throughout the Series, there are ebbs and flows and I’ll make adjustments to stay sane,” says Shack-Harris. “It's important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to eat shit food if it's going to be convenient or if it will bring your spirits up. Just be aware that you might have to bail in the middle of Level 9 to handle some...extra business.”
  12. It’s been 806 days since the last hand of the World Series of Poker was dealt. And for those who love the WSOP, it’s been an excruciating long 806 days. That’s a lot of waiting. I am one of those people and, like many out there, I simply couldn’t wait. But finally, we’re back! Truth be told, writing in first-person singular isn’t really my style, it makes me uncomfortable. But if I’m to do my job on this one, it’s what has to be done. So, forgive my tangents and poorly thought out poker strategy, I’m here to bring you into the very First* Table of the 2021 WSOP. I’ve had this idea for some time. You see, typically, in years past, on the opening day of the WSOP, there’d be nine or so over-eager players looking for action right off the bat. Then a single-table satellite would spring into action. It's the first official table of the series. This year, I’d be one of those beavers - first in line, vaxxed and masked, ready to play for a lamer. No matter the buy-in, I was all-in. “Just don’t be the first person out,” Josh Arieh said to me. “Then you’d have to stand by and take notes on your little pad.” No little pad for me. I’m going to be freerolling The Reunion by 9:30 am. But getting into the "First Table" was going to take some doing. I arrived in Las Vegas the day before, to settle in and get the lay of the land. The prep looked good, the WSOP looked ready. And, after a day of writing, watching the SHRB, and grabbing a very unhealthy bite to eat at the All American Grill, I retired to the room with the intent of getting up early and being ready to roll. CUT TO: 8 AM PACIFIC, OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOORS OF THE PAVILION. I’m here...far too early. Currently uncredentialed and getting eyeballed by security as to why I keep popping my head in. What can I say, my mother raised a worrier and I wanted to be certain. I hover around, snap a photo or two and wait. And wait some more. It’s really early. One man shows up asking about a 9 am mega satellite, another wants to know where to buy in for the Employee Event. As 9 am approached, there was a small, unassuming group of people looking to get things started. This is great, some of these players will obviously want to be a part of the very First Table of 2021. My future opponents perhaps? [caption id="attachment_636450" align="alignright" width="200"] Just a couple of legends, hanging around.[/caption] Like a small herd of slow-moving sheep, this group broke through the now non-existent security detail and spread out looking for whatever it was that motivated them. For me, I looked for the single table satellite section, which, it should be noted, has moved from what I would call the front of the Pavilion, to the center by the middle cage. Instantly, it’s on. There is one guy looking to sign up and he says he wants to play for $125. Good-by-me, my friend, let’s go. It’s 9:15 am and the floor announces, “we’re going to get a $125 single table satellite going, sign up at the cage.” A brief but important aside: at the same time, a scheduled 9 am $180 mutli-table satellite was brewing. Most hadn’t been able to buy tickets yet, and the dealers weren’t in position. All of this bode very well for me, possibly, getting dealt the very first hand of the autumn. I hop in line and very quickly it’s 10 people deep. It’s moving slowly because there’s vaccination verification going on, people without ID, and...what’s this - the system doesn’t have single table satellites available yet. You can’t sign up. And no one really seems to know why. Then, unprompted, the guy ahead of me starts in on a bad beat story…from 2005. This is bad and getting worse. What?? You had aces!? The guy hit a straight?! Say it isn’t so. I was polite but it’s common knowledge - no one wants to hear a bad beat story. The WSOP is having some first-day, early morning hiccups and it’s completely understandable. It’s been roughly 26 months since the last series and everyone from the cashiers to the floor to the dealers are looking to shake off the rust and get to the grind. However, right now all of them are in fine form and it’s the computer system that isn’t cooperating. Time to take a seat. It’s 10 am now, and the $180 satellite has cards in the air. They won, they’re first. I’m sitting alone at a table trying to decide if I should just scrap this idea. My friend and former colleague Donnie Peters stopped by, we talk about Addamo’s run in the Super High Roller Bowl. Then Kevin Mathers (aka Kevmath) takes a seat, it’s early but it’s clear he’s already had a day. Arieh swings by: is this thing going to happen? "I don’t know," I tell him, but if it does, his prior advice is duly noted. By this time there are three of us who seem committed to getting this single table off the ground. A nice guy with an interesting decision to go with the under-the-chin face shield (hadn’t seen that yet), his friend who got in early to register for the Millionaire Maker and randomly bumped into him and decided to take a seat, and me, your intrepid reporter, still wondering what I’m doing here 2.5 hours after making my way down from the room. Then, some random grabs a seat and flings his receipt at Benyam, the dealer. He announced the system was up and it’s time to go get those seats. So, I hop back in line, again 10-15 people deep with people registering for all sorts of events now. The mood in line lightens up a little, people are slowly moving up and that’s when I decided I’m committed. I can’t let you, the reader, down. Finally, it’s my turn and I hand Susan my Total Rewards card, state-issued ID, and buck-twenty-five. And the system goes down. Again. Only this time, I’m not going to pull the rookie maneuver of taking a seat. Susan and I are going to get to know one another as I keep my spot at the cage. (Susan, by the way - an absolute delight). It’s 10:45 am, we continue to wait. Mike, the guy who was behind me in line and was also buying a seat, was at another window, looks at me and says something to the effect of “This is taking forever,” to which I replied, “Yea, a long way to go to bust on the first hand.” By 11:00 am the $180 satellite is on another break and Jack Effel was on the mic welcoming everyone - in an actual bracelet event - to the World Series of Poker. After a short, warm welcome, he said the words everyone waited all those days to hear: “Shuffle Up and Deal!” At 11:19, a minor miracle took place - a receipt with my name on it printed out and I was officially in the First* Table of the 2021 World Series of Poker. I made my way to the table and grabbed a seat card, seat number 6. “Lucky number 6,” I said. As I sat down, Seat 2 and Seat 4 were talking about how Bezos isn’t the richest person in the world - the richest person in the world is “off the grid” but we'll never know who. I struck up a conversation with Will from Arizona in Seat 9. He came to town with a friend who is playing in the Casino Employees Event and said how nice it was to be back and to also have an actual lighthearted conversation. We discussed how poker is on an uptick with many live players taking last year off. “I usually come to the Series, go broke, and have to go home and rebuild,” he said. “I didn’t do that last year.” Mike from the line pulled Seat 3 and eventually nine of the 10 seats were ready to go. That's when Maurice Hawkins walked up into the tables and said “I’ll get my feet wet, let’s go.” He began to sit down and I start thinking about how besting Hawk heads-up for the lamer would make for a nice end to this story. Hawkins, the 14-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner (most all-time) was ready for action. However, the action wasn’t ready for him. Hawkins just saw the table and was looking to fly - he never hopped in line and bought a ticket and wasn’t about to for a $125 table. Will in Seat 9 suggests a $20 last longer and nearly everyone pitches in. For the uninitiated, often at these single-table satellites, someone will offer a side bet of a last longer and the last person or players collect that amount on top of the lamers. This crew had a tidy $180 as a little extra side action with only one player opting out. When the final player of the First* Table of 2021 took their seat, it was 11:47 am. I’d been waiting 806 days 3 hours and 47 minutes for this moment. Benyam shuffled and the table which was once “the chattiest table” Seat 5 had ever been a part of…went silent. Blinds 50/100. 15-minute levels. 1,000 chip starting stack. Button on Seat 8. First hand: Seat 2 makes it 100. Seat 5 calls. I look down at [poker card="kh"][poker card="kd"]. Our hero raises to 400. Seat 7 wants more - he moves all-in for 1K. Both blinds fold. Seat 2 commits his stack and I simply stick it in. Again, first hand. Seat 2 proudly turns up with the [poker card="8d"][poker card="9d"]. Seat 7 shoved holding the [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"]. My pocket kings are on their back. Benyam rips off the flop. The [poker card="9c"] is in the window. The [poker card="5c"] is the door. But there it is, the [poker card="as"] in between. The [poker card="4d"] hits the turn. It’s looking grim. And when the [poker card="7d"] completed the board it was 11:49 am. Fortunately for me, I left my “little pad” elsewhere. I grabbed my backpack and wished everyone luck and future good games. You see, I like to be polite, and even though I know that no one wants to hear a bad beat story - that just happens to be the true story of the First* Table of 2021. But at least we’re back. * not the first.
  13. The World Series of Poker is right around the corner and Daniel Negreanu is absolutely locked in. The six-time WSOP bracelet winner is determined to make a run at number seven and, once again, he’s bringing his fan base along for the ride. Not only is Negreanu committed to recording his popular daily WSOP vlogs, giving people an inside look at his gold bracelet grind, but he’s also letting those fans in on the action by selling off pieces of nearly every tournament on his schedule. Making it extra special this year is Negreanu is doing it right here, with zero markup, on PocketFives. “First and foremost, I don’t need to sell pieces,” Negreanu said, just to set the record straight. “I’m not doing this as a business because, if it was, I could actually charge and make a profit from it. But I don’t. I give people a chance to take the ride.” Negreanu says that the idea of selling pieces of his tournaments was first born out of wanting to give the watchers of his daily vlog a way to be even more engaged, and also a way for him to better connect with his followers and fans. “I think, like anything when people have a vested interest it’s just more exciting,” he said. He goes on to make the analogy that even events, like an NFL game, with little or no interest or implications, can be a little more exciting when there’s a little something at stake. “I think that’s where the impetus for it was. Since we’ve started [offering shares] it’s been fun. It’s well-received. So I continue to do it.” Not only has it been fun for fans, but for many that were able to purchase a piece of him when he first had the idea back in 2019 - it was also profitable. Negreanu’s pre-pandemic WSOP selling had him sell pieces in three different packages: a Low ($1,500 or less), Medium ($1,500 to $5,000) and High ($10,000 +). During that series, Negreanu cashed in 16 of the 58 events he played in. He emerged with an ROI of more than 168% and a profit of more than $2 million. It’s true that the Low package didn’t turn a profit that year, but investors of the Medium and High packages reaped considerable returns. “The last time we did it with three different packages, I was really trying to grind and make sure that all three were winners. The lower one is actually the hardest to win in, the way we had it set up,” he said. “Ultimately, I want all of us to win together, or…if I lose, we all lose together.” The three-tiered system will be going away this year and buyers will be able to pick and choose which events they are interested in. On the PocketFives system, buying (and selling) will be more fluid allowing for people to have an opportunity to jump in throughout the entire series. Winning and losing is something that Negreanu has always taken very seriously, especially when it comes to playing with other people’s money. He’s quick to mention that while allowing fans to invest is supposed to be fun, it adds responsibility and accountability on his part. “It makes me play better,” he said. “With my own money, if I was feeling tired and I’m at the World Series, I could just dump off my chips and go home. I’d be like ‘All right, whatever, I’ll gamble it up.’ But knowing that I’m playing with other people’s money, knowing that I have to explain it to the Vlog makes it important that I give it my best shot each and every event.” That said, responsibility goes both ways. Negreanu admits that it’s nice to think of the value he is able to bring to his followers, recalling how one fan even sent him a message saying that he planned on buying an engagement ring for his fiancé with potential winnings. That’s fun to think about, but Negreanu puts a fine point on investment versus entertainment and that fans should consider staking the latter. “It’s one of the big reasons why we put a cap on things. Obviously, this is a +EV situation and I don’t want one really sharp guy, who may be wealthy to be like, ‘All right, I’ll buy it all!.’ That’s the last thing I want to see happen. I want people to buy with the intention of it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be entertainment, and not try and nickel and dime and be like ‘Oh, I’m going to take advantage of this investment to try and get free money here.’” “Essentially that’s what it is, but obviously I’ll lose sometimes. Overall I’m a winning player, so I’m giving away free money and I want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to do that.” But as soon as Negreanu finished that thought of +EV situations, he was quick to also offer a word of caution to those less experienced in staking and investing in poker players. “Having said that…,” he continued. “I really want people to understand when they are investing there is no guarantee. They’re going to lose their full investment most of the time. If a tournament pays 15% of the field, and if you’re really good maybe you cash 25% of the time, that means that three or four out of five times you’re going to lose everything that you put in. So do that responsibly. Understand that there’s a lot of luck in poker and enjoy the ride. “Again, think of it as a fun sweat.” There’s little doubt that interest in purchasing a piece of Negreanu’s WSOP schedule will be more popular than ever. After playing in PokerGO’s ongoing Poker Masters series, Negreanu’s full attention will turn to the WSOP. And for those who are able to grab a piece, know that Kid Poker is more than ready to take on the competition. “I’m super excited,” he said. “My mentality is to make sure that I’m as rested as can be to go ahead and do my best to bring home bracelets and embrace and enjoy, the grind. It’s my favorite time of year typically to play the World Series of Poker every day.”
  14. The 2021 Super High Roller Bowl kicks off in Las Vegas at the PokerGO Studio on Monday, September 27 with some of the biggest names in tournament poker vying for a piece that will be, undoubtedly, a hefty seven-figure prize pool with multiple millions of dollars being shipped to the winner. With the $300,000 buy-in bringing out poker's best and brightest you might be thinking about getting a sweat going while watching the action unfold online. So, whether you are drafting a team with a few friends or playing a little fantasy poker these are the names you should be targeting to make sure they are on your SHRB Squad. These guys are the first-round picks for the 2021 Super High Roller Bowl. #1. Michael Addamo The dominance of Michael Addamo cannot be denied. And when you run as good as he is running right now, you top the list of SHRB draft picks. His high-roller credentials have been more than checked out - in addition to going back-to-back at the end of the 2021 Poker Masters to claim the Purple Jacket (and $1.84 million in 48-hours), Addamo is also the all-time leader in victories of the GGPoker Super MILLION$ where he’s amassed more than $1 million in profit. Add to that, he's also a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and Aussie Poker Open Main Event champ (among other accolades.) While others on this list may have more past SHRB success, Addamo is a player you simply can’t pass up. #2. Stephen Chidwick But...if one were to pass up Addamo and his sun run, they’d be a fool to pass up UK crusher Stephen Chidwick. With more than $35 million in total live earnings, Chidwick - a former #1 GPI ranked player and 2019 European Player of the Year - is both the 2018 U.S. Poker Open champion and 2020 Australian Poker Open winner. As an aside, he was voted, by his peers, at the Global Poker Awards as the Players Choice for Toughest Opponent. Like Addamo, he enters the SHRB with momentum, cashing in three events of the 2021 Poker Masters, including a victory in Event #7 for $183,600. Plus, he’s cashed in three previous Super High Roller Bowls, all in 2018, including the last one that took place in Las Vegas where he finished in third place for $1.5 million. #3. David Peters David Peters may not be a trendy pick at #3, but there may be no more reliable player in the field. Sitting fifth on the All-Time Money List, Peters simply knows how to win. He’s proven that yet again this year by taking home the Golden Eagle trophy in the 2021 U.S. Poker Open after winning three of the four events he cashed in. Plus, he’s had plenty of SHRB success, including a fifth-place finish in this year’s SHRB Europe for $820,000 and a final table finish in the inaugural event back in 2015. Simply put, Peters is the kind of player who can win it all on any given day. #4 Ali Imsirovic Critics might say that fourth is a little high for young Ali Imsirovic, after all, there are SHRB champions that are ranked underneath him. But there are only a few players who have spent as much time in the PokerGO Studio grinding high rollers in the past 24 months as Imsirovic. This gives him a huge home-field advantage. And you don’t have to look too hard to see how hard (and often) Imsirovic crushes high rollers. The 2018 Poker Masters champion currently only has one seven-figure cash on his ever-growing resume however that was a runner-up finish to Cary Katz in the 2019 Super High Roller Bowl London. Imsirovic just seems destined to add more million-dollar scores in the very near future. While he didn’t have a standout performance in this year’s Poker Masters, he should find a way to bounce back here in the Main Event. #5. Justin Bonomo No one loves the Super High Roller Bowl more than Justin Bonomo. According to PokerGO, no one has won more money from Super High Roller Bowl events than Bonomo, who has reaped $12,706,516 worth of cashes thanks to back-to-back SHRB title in 2018. Hell, even in the midst of COVID, Bonomo took down the Super High Roller Bowl $100K Online Event for $1.775 million. So, why is Bonomo only fifth? It’s not a comment on his talent against the field obviously, it’s simply a question of if he will actually be in the field? And if so, without a live result for the better part of two years, how will he perform? Even not knowing the answer to either question, you still gotta put respect on his name and include him in the top 5 picks. #6. Mikita Badziakouski Belarusian nosebleed crusher Mikita Badziakouski has proven himself time and time again to be one of the best tournament players on the planet. With more than $29 million in live earning, Badziakouski seems to have a way of always making a deep run in the most critical of events. Like Addamo, Badziakouski showed up a little early in Las Vegas to warm up before the SHRB. He promptly took down a Poker Masters event and made the final table of the Main Event. That was coming off of two third-place finishes in the prelims of the SHRB Europe. In 2018, Badziakouski took third in May’s SHRB event for $1.6 million, and then in 2020, he did the same in the event in the Bahamas for another $1.6 million. If it’s Badziakouski walking away with the win in 2021, there won’t be a single surprised person in the PokerGO Studio. #7. Jake Schindler You’d best not sleep on Jake Schindler in any event, especially one in the PokerGO Studio. Schindler rolls into the SHRB with three recent results from the 2021 Poker Masters, a pair of cashes in the prelims of the SHRB Europe, and a PokerGO cup event win. He’s generally considered one of the very best tournament players on the planet and that was on full display in 2017 when he finished second to Christoph Vogelsang in the SHRB for a career-high $3.6 million payday. Although he’s seventh on this list, any person betting on Schindler should feel confident that they have an absolute top-tier player on in their corner. #8. Jason Koon One of the nicest guys on the high-roller scene is also one of the most dangerous. Jason Koon, currently seventh on the All-Time Money List, has enjoyed plenty of success in the SHRB over the years, cashing in four SHRB live events. Because the 2018 heads-up between Bonomo and Daniel Negreanu was so memorable, it often gets forgotten that Koon had a shot at winning the title that year, but he fell in third place for $2.1 million score. However, history aside, Koon has been putting in work at the PokerGO Studio over the summer, including taking down a PokerGO cup event for $324,000. Like Schindler ahead of him on the list, Koon isn’t flashy at the table - he just produces results. If he gets close here in 2021, it wouldn't be a shocker to see him finally take one down. #9. Daniel Negreanu Daniel Negreanu’s infamous “second-place streak” has come to an end and "Kid Poker" is back to his winning ways. This includes locking up the overall leaderboard in the 2021 PokerGO Cup and a victory in the 2021 Poker Masters, where he was in the running for the Purple Jacket right up until the start of the final event. Negreanu is one of those “old school” players that polarizes fans when it comes to the biggest events in the world. However, where others of his era have been unable to compete with the young crop of crushers, Negreanu constantly provides receipts. It should be noted that one of those second-place finishes that people point to was his runner-up finish in the 2018 SHRB to Bonomo - good for a cool $3 million. In the interest of transparency, Daniel Negreanu is selling a piece of his 2021 Super High Roller Bowl action here on PocketFives. #10. Sam Soverel Another player that thrives in the PokerGO Studio is Sam Soverel. Soverel, the 2019 Poker Masters overall champion, currently sits in third place on PokerGO’s high-roller leaderboard by thoroughly dominating a string of $10K tournaments throughout 2021. There are a number of players who could be considered right here, but it’s Soverel’s undeniable success in this atmosphere plus incredible momentum that puts him as the final player in round one. The only downside of taking him here, as opposed to a player like two-time champion Tim Adams, fan-favorite Nick Petrangelo, or up-and-comer Chris Brewer, is his lack of previous SHRB results. But this may be the year that changes. The 2021 Super High Roller Bowl is available to stream from Sept. 27-29 on PokerGO. A recap of the final table will be available here on PocketFives.
  15. It’s a rare day for Yuri Dzivielevski, one in which he isn’t making his presence felt deep in an online high roller. Here, in late September, as the live 2021 World Series of Poker approaches, the #1-ranked online player in the world is taking a few days off from his grind to adjust to his temporary accommodations in Costa Rica where he will be spending the next two weeks before making his way to Las Vegas for a series-long gold bracelet grind. “I have to stay quarantined fourteen days in a country authorized by the USA,” Dzivielevski said just days into his stay. “This makes things very difficult, as my family does not have the option to come and go whenever they want so they’ll have to spend 70 days traveling with me. I know this will not be easy for them, so I will do my best to honor that effort.” What Dzivielevski means is that he is planning on furthering his fantastic 2021 campaign, a standout year that has come in the midst of a career renaissance that can be traced back to the 2019 WSOP. It was during that series that Dzivielevski randomly found himself in the poker spotlight. As he entered the Amazon Room and took his seat in the Main Event, he discovered that he would be sitting at the ESPN Main Event featured table with none other than Daniel Negreanu. And while Negreanu may have been the intended target of the broadcast, it was Dzivielevski’s play and charisma that shined the brightest as he drew the attention of the poker world for his tough, smart style of play. “I was randomly chosen to play at that table and it was really good, really fun. I managed to dominate the game well and still have fun with those tablemates. It was a good time and I also had the benefit of getting used to that environment and then making the deep run in a place I was familiar with.” The Brazilian ended up spending hours on the featured table as the Main Event field thinned out. He eventually finished in 28th for more than $261,000. A great experience that only added to the headlines he made earlier in the summer when he captured his first career gold bracelet in the $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better event for over $213,000. But the truth is, for online poker fans, Dzivielevski was already a known crusher. In 2014, Dzivielevski took his first turn at the top of the online poker rankings, spending three weeks at #1. Two months later, he did it again, upending then #1-ranked Fedor Holz to claim the crown for another five weeks. It was January 2015 when fellow countryman Joao Simao took the top spot for himself. After that, Dzivielevski wouldn’t see the top of the rankings again for the better part of six years. However during that time, he never let go of the idea of being number one again. “I always wanted and want to be on top. What happened is that for a long period in my career I moved away from MTTs to play PLO cash games and Mixed Games. Because of that, I couldn’t be at the top of the MTTs. After a while, I was invited to be a coach and partner at bitBBrazil, which made me study tournaments again and automatically want to play them again. Since then, I have given my best and had the best years of my career.” Dzivielevski’s resume speaks for itself. More specifically, his results in 2021 point to the longtime grinder enjoying the peak of his career. Of his top-20 lifetime online scores, 15 have taken place this year. This includes a win in the GGPoker Super MILLION$ for more than $408,000, a WSOP Circuit ring on Natural8 for over $179,000, a win in PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker for $107,949 (one of two WCOOP wins in the same week), and a runner-up finish in the $8M GTD Venom on ACR for nearly $850,000. Dzivielevski has soared up the All-Time Online Money list amassing more than $14 million in earnings where he sits at 16th all-time. All of those results have been in service to Dzivielevski scaling back up the online rankings and earning the #1 spot again, six years after his last reign. Only this time, no one has been able to catch him so quickly. He’s held #1 for 26 straight weeks and counting, the fifth-longest single stint since the rankings began in 2005. It’s something he credits to the confidence one gets when their dedication to studying the game leads to success. “I’m really happy to be ranked #1 for so long. I believe there was a big change in my mentality after winning some titles. I started to play with more freedom, not wanting to prove anything to anyone. At the same time, I evolved a lot technically with my study group. I don’t think I’ve evolved this much in any time of my career and I’ve never been so happy playing poker. The combination of this, and other things, helped me get there.” One of those “other things” is the fervent poker community that continues to emerge from Brazil. It’s been undeniable that Brazilian online pros have excelled in some of the biggest online series this year. Names like Bruno Volkmann, Bruno Botteon, Renan Carlos Bruschi, Pedro Padilha, and Dalton Hobold have made headlines for taking home major titles during SCOOP, WCOOP, GGSF, and the international WSOP Online. Of the top 100 ranked players in the world 37 hail from Brazil, and for over half a year it’s been Dzivielevski who has led them all. “Brazilians are very passionate about poker and very competitive. I believe that the combination of these two things makes us work hard. Poker also gives us the opportunity to have a good life, with comfort and freedom,” he said. “This is what makes young Brazilians fall in love with the game and work hard to be good. We cannot forget that we are a huge country, so we have more players than any other country probably.” But with so many players emerging from Brazil, one might think that the community is tight-knit, with top pros sharing information with up-and-comers as is thought to be the case in the past with top-tier German pros and the elite online community in Sweden. But Dzivielevski says that the competitive nature of Brazilians makes it so that’s not always the case. “Brazilians generally have small study groups and do not pass information on to people outside of those groups. Outside of the tables, we are friends. I know almost all of the high-stakes regs and like them, but at the table things are different…” With two weeks to wait before he and his family can complete their journey to Las Vegas, the newly signed Team partypoker ambassador will be back grinding online soon enough. He’ll be adding to his totals, vying for titles, and preparing to see what this autumn at the WSOP will have in store. However, during that time at the Rio, the current #1 will likely see his grip on the rankings slip. With no ability to play in the worldwide market, those that would look to have their turn at the top may find their window of opportunity open. But for Dzivielevski, that will just motivate him more. After over a decade in the game, he still finds excitement in the grind and challenge. “I never loved playing tournaments as much as I do these days. Nowadays, I just play for performance, thinking about making the best decisions on every street and dominating my stakes as much as possible. I like to go further and take my opponents out of their comfort zone…because I’m a competitive person, that’s very exciting. If I feel like I’m not dominating my stake, I study hard until I can do it again,” he said. “This quest is endless and I love it. I don’t see myself doing anything else.”
  16. Poker pros from all over the world are currently making their way to Las Vegas for an autumn of non-stop action in the 2021 World Series of Poker…and you’re making a PowerPoint presentation. Or a sandwich or something. That’s because you have responsibilities to a family or a job and setting aside eight weeks out of your life to chase the poker dream is not only not practical, it’s completely off the table. For many serious recreational players that sounds like the dream: grinding day-in and day-out, feeling the high and lows of an eight-week schedule at the Rio while battling with the world’s best in the game we love. But if you’re lucky, you get to pick a weekend where you can book your flight, post up in a hotel, and take a shot in the great bracelet chase. So if, as a weekend warrior, you only get one chance - you best choose wisely. This might help. Here's a breakdown of all the marquee events that highlight all eight weekends of the 2021 WSOP. The pros, the cons, and the little things to consider in each event so that you can maximize your gold bracelet shot. The REUNION $5,000,000 Guaranteed Buy-in: $500 (1 Re-Entry per flight) Duration: Up to 5 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 1 thru Sunday, October 3 Start Time: 10 AM If you simply can’t wait to get back into the action at The World Series of Poker, the Reunion is the perfect event for you. Kicking off on the opening weekend of the series, it’s the low buy-in, high-guaranteed tournament that is certain to have one of the softest fields of the entire schedule. But while the $5 million guaranteed event sounds like the perfect tournament to test your mettle (and in many ways it is) there are a few items to consider before purchasing your ticket to this get-together. The same reason that makes it exciting - it's the first major NLHE tournament of the fall - is the same that might cause some headaches. In 2019, The BIG 50 was absolutely massive. But so were the lines. Registration, bathroom, poker kitchen…you name it you were waiting your turn. The Rio was smashed with people. This year, there’s the added process of vaccination verification and it will be the first time series officials will be dealing with that. So, there could be some unforeseen hiccups meaning some additional patience might be needed. Secondly, with 30-minute levels on the three opening flights (which is good for a local daily tournament, but fast for a bracelet event) simply means that play will be brisk. If you want that extended WSOP experience, this might not be it. To that end, each flight allows for a single re-entry so decisions need to be made - will you hop back in line? How many times? There are three flights so someone firing maximum bullets would need to allow for $3,000 in buy-ins. Despite all of that, The Reunion should be considered a top pick for any weekend warrior. The vibe will be electric with it being the first WSOP weekend in a year-and-a-half. And, even if you have to fire a couple of bullets, a shot at the bare minimum $5 million prize pool comes at a reasonable price. Plus, payouts start by the end of Day 1’s so you don't have to wait if you're going to get paid. Note that the final table plays out on Tuesday, October 5 so you might have to find an excuse for the boss on why you won’t be back at your desk until Thursday. MILLIONAIRE MAKER $1,000,000 guaranteed for 1st Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 8 & Saturday, October 9 Start Time: 10:00 AM In some ways, the $1,500 Millionaire Maker is like The Reunion turned inside out. Whereas The Reunion is small buy-in, fast levels (30 minutes), and 50,000 in chips. The Millionaire Maker triples the buy-in, doubles the level time (60 minutes), and gives you half the starting chips at 25,000. Both tournaments are going about accomplishing the same goal from a different angle - giving the winner a million bucks. So what’s the upside of The Millionaire Maker? Smaller fields. Don’t get it wrong, it’s still going to be big, but there will likely be 25% of the entries of The Reunion (bigger buy-ins have a way of doing that). But also, the structure on the Millionaire Maker is subtly slower up top. An extra level to start and another extra level at Level 5 helps make up for the shallower starting chip stack, allowing for some extra play. Those hour levels also give some weight to the event you might not feel in The Reunion. Finally, it should be noted that the event is slated for 5 Days, but that’s five including a starting flight, one of which is on Saturday, October 9. So the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 13…six days after the start of the opening flight. But if you make it to the end, as John Gorsuch did in 2019 - for which he won more than $1.3 million - you’re probably not terribly concerned with an extra 24 hours. PLAN B: This weekend offers the $1,000 Flip & Go NLHE Presented by GGPoker. Looking for a lightning-fast way to make the money? This event which takes place on Sunday, October 10 has everyone going all-in on the first hand and the winner of the first table is instantly in the money. The upside - the adrenaline! The downside - flipping for a thousand bucks! MONSTER STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (freezeout) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 15 & Saturday, October 16 Start Time: 10 AM Take the starting chips from The Reunion, the levels of the Millionaire Maker, make it a freezeout and you’ve got one of the best weekend tournaments on the schedule - the Monster Stack. It might be the closest event on the schedule to mimic the feel of playing in The Main Event (even more so than the tournament dubbed the Mini Main Event) as there’s tons of play throughout Day 1 and, because it plays so deep, it’s one bullet and you're done. No re-entry in any flight and, if you play and bust Day 1A, you cannot enter Day 1B. It’s good like that. The downside for those who are looking to absolutely max out every buy-in dollar with time on the felt is that in 2021, they eliminated two hours of play right off the bat from what was in the structure in 2019. Missing are the 100-100 (no ante) and 100-200 (no ante) levels. But the other side of that coin is when the tournament starts at 100-200 (100 ante) you’ll be involved in meaningful pots from jump street. In 2019, this event drew 6,035 over the two starting flights with the top 8 players walking with six-figure scores, and the winner, Kainalu McCue-Unciano from Hawaii, flew home with more than $1 million added to his bankroll. Again, with a tournament so deep, you may need to budget a little more than the weekend as the final table will play out on Wednesday, October 20. But to experience one of the best starting stacks to buy-in ratios - go big in the Monster Stack. PLAN B: Bust out of the Monster Stack but still want to get some deep-stacked play in? The WSOP knows you do and so on Sunday, October 17 the $800 8-Handed No Limit Hold’em takes place. Smaller buy-in, 40,000 chips, 30 minutes levels and it’ll award a bracelet before the Monster Stack final table begins. It’s a second chance for the time you budgeted anyway. DOUBLE STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,000 (single re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 22 & Saturday, October 23 Start Time: 10 AM The Double Stack is the younger sibling of the Monster Stack. Not quite as deep (40,000 starting stack) and with 2/3 of the price tag. That’s where its value lies. The structure and level duration are identical so if you want the feel of the Monster Stack just on the cheaper side this may be for you. Practically, players are getting more starting stack value. If the Double Stack was equitable with the Monster in terms of chips-to-entry fee ratio, it would start with 33,333 chips. But that’s silly, so it’s rounded to 40K and players can simply enjoy the extra chips to splash around with. That’s not the only difference. The Monster Stack is an old-school freezeout, but the Double Stack is back to the single re-entry per flight giving you multiple bullets in case you want to double-stack off. This one also runs six days (with a day off) if you play Day 1A on October 22 as the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 27. Sounds good? In 2019 it did to fan-favorite Joseph Cheong who bested a field of 6,214 to earn $687,782 and his first gold bracelet. PLAN B: There’s another $800 8-Handed No Limit Deepstack with a single re-entry taking place on Sunday, October 24. COLOSSUS No guarantee Buy-in: $400 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 4 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 29 & Saturday, October 30 Start Time: 10 AM Perhaps the ultimate pick for weekend warriors would be the Colossus. It’s has everything: it’s the cheapest bracelet event on the schedule, it crowns a winner in time to be back at work on a Tuesday, and payouts start the same day as the starting flights. It starts plenty deep with 40,000 chips and slightly longer levels than the Reunion (40 minutes). And like The Reunion, one should expect the Rio to be a madhouse during the Colossus with long lines of players looking to fire on both starting flights. There’s a single re-entry per flight and with such an affordable price tag, players may find themselves needing to hit the cage four times in order to build a stack and get a piece of what, in 2019, was a prize pool of over $4 million. All of that should sound great but there’s a big-time caveat this year. The Colossus plays through Halloween. For some, that’s no problem. But for anyone with kids (or non-poker playing friends) a tournament on Halloween might just be a non-starter. This is one of the tournaments to keep an eye on to see how the fall schedule affects an event. In 2019, the Colossus saw 13,109 runners. It will likely be less this year, but also, for some, it’s the perfect weekend to scare up a bracelet. PLAN B: Travel to Las Vegas to play the Colossus with a buddy? Both hit the rail? Team up and jump into the Tag Team event on October 31. There’s always a rail in the Tag Team event giving it. The MAIN EVENT No guarantee - but, it’s the Main Event so someone’s going to get rich. Buy-in: $10,000 Duration: Up to 13 days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 4 - Sunday, November 7 Start Time: 11 AM The Main Event may be the best live tournament of any given calendar year but truth be told, it simply doesn’t qualify for a weekend warrior trip. It’s too long, too expensive, and requires too much planning. For many, playing in the Main Event is the pinnacle of live tournament poker but for the sake of this report, the Main Event isn’t something that people with responsibilities just hop on a plane for in order to test their luck. That said, the Main Event comes with the highest recommendation. Anytime you can clear your calendar and either satellite in or afford it without it being a strain on a life roll, this is the one to take a shot in. No applicable Warrior Head rating. CRAZY EIGHTS $888,888 first-place guarantee Buy-in: $888 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 11- Sunday, November 14 Start Time: 12 noon Crazy Eights has been a staple on the live (and online) WSOP since 2016 when online sponsor 888poker had it added to the schedule. It’s always brought a lot of weekenders out because of the happy medium it strikes on being a fast-paced tournament with a big-time payout at the end for a mid-stakes price point. It’s also, in a way, the last hurrah for a massive multi-flight battle at a very affordable price point. Four starting flights, re-entry for each, will make for a hefty prize pool - one that climbed to over $8 million in 2019. In fact, all of the players at the final table that year turned their $888 into six-figure scores, so a nice ROI is waiting for those who make it to the final day. The only real downside, for those looking for longer levels, is how fast those Day 1’s play with 30-minute levels. But that allows them to start paying people at the end of the night and, should you go deep, hit a score, and bust before bagging…well you “go crazy” can hop in the next starting flight and try it all over again. Plus this one kicks off on a Thursday and has starting flights through Sunday, so there’s more flexibility on when you decide to enter. The CLOSER No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: up to 3 Days Starting Dates: Friday, November 19 & Saturday, November 20 Start Time: 11 AM There’s nothing wrong with The Closer. It’s fast-paced with 25,000 starting stack and 30-minute levels and a great way to close the series. But this is not recommended for a weekend warrior because - what were you waiting for all fall? The Rio is closing up shop, turning off the lights, and the electricity of the 2021 WSOP has been replaced with last-chance grinders looking for a tournament score to serve as a series saver. If you can avoid it, don’t make The Closer your only 2021 WSOP experience there are so many others that bring you excitement, value, and massive paydays for the winners. If this is the only time you can make it - fine. But if you are plotting and planning your getaway to Sin City to chase a bracelet you best scroll back up this page and choose another event. You want memories of a packed house and the real thrill of playing in the WSOP, not one where you roll up on the party just as the music has stopped and the stragglers are pouring into the street. Here's the exception: If you have to get one final tournament in before the Rio ceases to play host to the WSOP, this may be the play. The Closer is a fine tournament but, generally, one you hope you don’t find yourself in as the only one you play. World Series of Poker action kicks off on September 30.
  17. In back-to-back final tables, going wire-to-wire with the chip lead in both, Michael Addamo took down the finale of the 2021 Poker Masters, Event #12 ($100,000 NLH), for a career-high live score of $1,160,000 as well as the Purple Jacket and $50,000 leaderboard prize. Addamo somehow makes taking on some of the toughest competition in the world look easy. The Australian came in late to the series, played in just the final three events, and in 48 hours won two of them. He earned $1.84 million, was rewarded as the player of the series, and on this particular day, wrapped up the final table in a little under an hour. “It’s insane, I’m incredibly tired, I’m looking forward to getting some sleep,” Addamo said right after the win. “It’s been an amazing run and I’m grateful the cards turned my way I guess.” In the early action of the final table, Addamo continually leveraged his enormous chip lead to apply constant pressure on his opponents as Mikita Badziakouski, Alex Foxen, and Stanly Tang all had stacks of less than 15 big blinds and with significant pay jumps ahead. Twenty-five minutes in, with the blinds at 15,000/30,000 (30,000 bb ante), Addamo raised from the button to 265,000 holding the [poker card="jc"][poker card="ts"]. After Tang released his small blind, Badziakouski looked down at the [poker card="6s"][poker card="6d"] and called off the rest of his short stack. The [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"][poker card="2s"] kept Badziakouski in the lead but offered Addamo gutshot straight outs to go with his overcards. That’s exactly what came in with the [poker card="qc"] turn, giving Addamo a straight and leaving Badziakouski drawing dead to the [poker card="3s"] river. Badziakouski fell in fifth place and picked up a score of $203,000. The very next hand, Addamo was back at it. He raised to 420,000 from the cutoff holding [poker card="js"][poker card="9c"] and Tang, with exactly 420,000 in his stack, quickly pushed all-in on the button with his [poker card="ks"][poker card="qh"]. Foxen and Nick Petrangelo folded in the blinds the two live hands were turned up, with Tang as a two-to-one favorite. The flop came [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"][poker card="8d"] keeping Tang in the lead but bringing Addamo open-ended straight outs to go with his nine. Yet again, Addamo spiked the card he was looking for on the turn when [poker card="9h"] hit. Addamo picked up a pair and then it was Tang looking for help. The [poker card="6c"], however, was a brick, and Addamo sent Tang to the rail in fourth place for $319,000. With the elimination of Tang, Foxen laddered the pay scale for more than $200,000, but his stack continued to slip. Minutes later, it was the two-time GPI Player of the Year’s turn to get it in. And this time, it wasn’t Addamo who he was up against. From the small blind, Foxen shoved his final eight big blinds with the [poker card="kh"][poker card="4d"] and Petrangelo, in the big blind, quickly made the call with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="7d"]. The [poker card="7h"][poker card="6c"][poker card="2d"] put Foxen in jail, leaving him looking for runner-runner outs to a straight or trip fours. When the [poker card="9c"] hit the turn, it was all over. Foxen was already pushing his chips into Petrangelo’s stack when the [poker card="jd"] completed the board. Foxen grabbed his backpack and headed to the cashiers to collect his $464,000 third-place prize. Once Foxen was eliminated, the race for the Poker Masters Purple Jacket was over. Thanks to his victory in Event #11 and the prize money he’d secured in the finale, Addamo had a future date to be fitted for the Poker Masters trophy as well as claim the additional $50,000 that goes along with it. “I’m surprised it fits actually,” Addamo said as a break in the action allowed him to slip on the jacket for the first time. “It’s really amazing. I actually didn’t even there’d be a chance. I only came for three events. I didn’t know the points system would give me a chance, but yea, that’s amazing.” “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence, but I guess there’s also a lot of luck in these tournaments. A lot of the players are very strong players I respect a lot. I’m very fortunate the cards went my way as well.” But before any real celebrating could be done, Addamo and Petrangelo had a heads-up battle to finish. After a short break the two sat back down with Addamo having a four-to-one chip lead. Unlike some of the early final tables of the Poker Masters, where the heads-up portion took an extended time to complete, the finale was over in roughly 15 minutes. The blinds were still at 15,000/30,000 when Petrangelo raised to 70,000 with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="8d"] on the button and Addamo defended the big blind with the [poker card="7h"][poker card="3c"]. The flop came [poker card="7c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="2h"] and Addamo checked it over to Petrangelo who bet 50,000. Addamo then check-raised to 165,000 and Petrangelo opted for a call. The turn was the [poker card="th"] and Addamo checked it to Petrangelo who made it 250,000 to go, leaving himself with roughly 15 bigs behind. Addamo made the call and the river came the [poker card="5c"]. Addamo checked it again and Petrangelo stuck the rest of his chips in the middle with his king-high. Addamo instantly looked uncomfortable, uttered an audible expletive, and went into the tank. “I know I’m supposed to fold but I don’t like it.” He tossed in a time extension and then, suddenly, tossed in a single chip and called for it all. Petrangelo finished up in second place, good for $754,000 while Michael Addamo won a career-high live cash of $1,160,000 and the aforementioned Poker Masters Purple Jacket. 2021 Poker Masters Event #12 Final Table Results Michael Addamo - $1,160,000 Nick Petrangelo - $754,000 Alex Foxen - $464,000 Stanley Tang - $319,000 Mikita Badziakouski - $203,000
  18. Niall Farrell, also known as 'Firaldo' online, is one of just nine players on the planet who have won poker's live 'Triple Crown'. With a World Poker Tour, Europen Poker Tour, and World Series of Poker victory to his name, the Scotsman is not only one of the most respected players in the poker community, he's also one of the most well-liked. Farrell achieved that lofty ambition four years ago by winning a WSOP bracelet. Since then, he has turned 30, become a father, and, so far, survived a global pandemic - all with his trademark grin in place. For any British player traveling to Las Vegas, the options for travel have been vast. From quarantining practices to making sure a double vaccination has been administered a clear fortnight before the first event they play. And that’s been only the start of it. But Farrell is heading to Las Vegas for this year's World Series of Poker, and like many others traveling from Europe, he has not found it without its logistical difficulties. “There are three options, but I’ll probably end up going via Mexico,” he laughs. “I’m looking forward to it. We could all do without all the other things we need to do [to get there], but needs must, I guess!” Those ‘other things’ include the necessity for players to receive both doses of the COVID vaccine before entering the Rio after a 14-day period where the vaccine has fully worked. Farrell is "pro-vaccine", but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. “I don’t think it’s a question of whether you agree with it or not. I don’t think the World Series is doing it for the greater good of humanity, I think they’re doing it for liability reasons as a business," he said. "It’s the same as if they said every time you play at the Rio, you must pay $20 to come in. It’s not like they’re a health board and they’re trying to bring the numbers down in Nevada. It’s their policy. If you want to go, you’ve got to do it.” Farrell’s positive nature about the vaccine is down to his belief that scientists are doing what is right for people, not just players. “I’m pro-vaccine,” he says. “Generally, in spots like this, I just trust people who are a lot smarter than me to figure out the best things to do, then do it. I understand some people have their misgivings.” The Scottish pro, who has over $6.2 million in live tournament winnings alone, admits that after not playing as much since becoming a father, he might have skipped this autumn’s WSOP. After no live series in 2020, however, it’s a must for someone who plans a WSOP schedule every year. “I look at how many buy-ins I can play, and the World Series is one of the softest things you’ll play all year. It’s one of the biggest money-earners you’ll have all year. You can’t really miss it. I’ll be out there full time and I’m going to play everything $25k and down. If I have a really good summer, I’ll play some of the higher stuff.” Farrell doesn’t perceive the lack of players who have refused the vaccine as having a huge effect, with the WSOP on target to pull in massive numbers in his opinion. It’s a big change from the first time he played it over a decade ago. “I was just starting out as a ‘professional’,” Farrell recalls. “I only played six bracelet events, they were $1,000 and $1,500 entries only and I was grinding the $600 tournaments." Farrell stayed in a house rented by his backer, and with his poker-playing friends. It was a time of hunger in more ways than one. “We were all pretty skint at this point so, weirdly, my strongest memory from my first trip to Vegas was finally being allowed to play 'The Big 33' on Full Tilt and winning it the first time I played! It’s changed a lot now. Back then, it was a shot to take, now it’s more like a grind where you’re going to play pretty much everything and try to make a good chunk of your money for the year.” The recent influx of Pennsylvanian events and other smaller-field bracelet events has taken away some of the prestige for a player who admits to being legacy-oriented. “I think it has diluted it,” he tells us. “Joe Cada has won two bracelets; one was the Main Event and one was another for absolute bombs. If some other guy says ‘Oh yeah, I’ve won two bracelets’ and one was a 38-runner on WSOP PA and the other was a hyper-turbo flip on GGPoker, obviously I’m saying ‘Joe’s count and yours don’t really mate.’” One of Farrell’s proudest achievements is the WSOP bracelet he won in 2017 that sealed his Triple Crown. It had a final table with players such as Ryan Riess, Claas Segebrecht, Ole Schemion, Antoine Saout, Sylvain Loosli, and Benjamin Pollack, who Farrell toppled heads-up. Farrell admits that his American friends wind him up about his bracelet not having been won on U.S. soil. “My response to them is always ‘This is how you decide if a bracelet event counts: Was Philip Hellmuth Junior in the field?’ And for mine, he was, so it counts. I was the worst player at the table - that has to count for something!” Farrell only traveled to Rozvadov on that occasion because of the chance that he could win the Triple Crown - and because friend and fellow pro Sam Grafton persuaded him to play it. A happy blend of serendipity and skill led to success. Now, heading back to Sin City, Farrell believes that an early win could help kickstart a successful series. “It’s obviously nice if you instantly win something and you know you’ve got a winning trip. You know that regardless of what happens the rest of the summer you’ve made some money. Maybe it affects how you play subconsciously; it’s a relief to know that you’ve locked up a winning summer and you can start making arrangements to change your dollars.” This autumn will, of course, be the final time that the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino hosts the World Series of Poker and Farrell will miss it. “As much as we bitch about the Rio, I’ve been going there for a decade, so it will be a little bit sad in a way. Also, one of my favorite Irish bars is going to be in walking distance from Bally’s next year when I bust, so that can’t be good. Having to go on the Strip is not ideal.” The WSOP Main Event is the one tournament everyone wants to win and Farrell is no different, having played in it nine of the last 10 years. “It’s the biggest event of the year and although I’ve not personally been super lucky - I got 150th in 2012, my friends have done really well in it, Pius [Heinz] won it and Daniel Strelitz should have won it but punted it off like the little idiot he is.” It’s clear that Farrell loves everything about the WSOP Main Event. Declaring it the ‘greatest tournament in the world’, the freezeout element of the $10,000 buy-in event is its biggest plus. “The playing field couldn’t be any more level. It’s you against the world. It’s the tournament I look forward to most every year, and the event you’re saddest to bust. You always have the post-Main Event bender in Vegas which is a bit rough, but it’s a phenomenal tournament.” Farrell admits to being "on and off a wee bit" when it comes to putting in the practice and has steered clear of higher-stakes games in recent weeks. He has plans to ramp up the action post-WSOP however...whatever the outcome of his epic journey to Sin City. “I’ve played a little bit to keep some semblance of sharpness about me. When I get back from Vegas, I’m going to throw myself back into it a bit.” The Triple Crown winner is going to hit Vegas hard and that might mean a lot more time at the felt than in years gone by. The Scottish poker legend’s appetite for a Vegas bracelet is larger than ever, and perhaps the World Series will benefit from the energy that the Scotsman's presence will undoubtedly provide.
  19. Celebrities have floated in and out of the poker world with regularity. Maybe it’s a passing fad, maybe there’s a promotional opportunity, but over the years there have been plenty of high-profile personalities who have enjoyed a brief stay in the poker spotlight and, inevitably, moved on. Norm MacDonald was not one of them. Norm MacDonald was a poker player. That’s why the unexpected news of his passing after a prolonged battle with cancer felt like such a gut punch to the poker community. Certainly, MacDonald will be remembered for his comedic gifts, his grinder mentality when it came to performing stand-up live, and, of course, his years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and as the anchor for Weekend Update. The world will remember him, rightly and fondly, for all those things. But for many in poker, MacDonald will also be remembered as an avid fan of the game, and certainly the funniest man on the felt. It felt like that in 2019 at the PokerStars PSPC. MacDonald was flown down for an exclusive show for PSPC players. Perhaps it was just a performance, but he seemed genuinely thrilled to be in front of a packed house of poker players. His delivery was as crisp as ever and his material was geared specifically for this crowd, his poker audience. It was undoubtedly a special night for all who attended. The guy on stage crushing was the same guy busting a Sit & Go just hours earlier. [caption id="attachment_636243" align="aligncenter" width="1500"] Norm MacDonald playing a Sit & Go with a few friends at the PSPC.[/caption] So here’s to celebrating Norm MacDonald one of the funniest comedians of his generation and a fantastic ambassador for the game of poker.
  20. Shaun Deeb is known as a master of mixed games. He’s won four World Series of Poker bracelets, each of them in a different variant. His first was in Pot Limit Hold’em, his next came in Seven Card Stud. In 2018, when he won WSOP player of the year, he took home two titles - one in PLO and another in No Limit Hold’em. It doesn’t matter the game, Deeb loves it: 5-Card Draw, Triple Stud, H.O.R.S.E… …"Contra." "Contra." Not a poker variant, but the popular run-and-gun shooter first produced by Konami in the late 80’s during the quarter arcade boom. The game was an early success but really took off in popularity when it was then brought over to Nintendo Entertainment Systems in 1988. For Deeb, playing "Contra" on his NES eventually became one of his early video game go-to's and helped open him up to the world of gaming. “I always loved video games,” Deeb said. “When ‘Fortnite’ got big there was a whole poker contingency [that played]. We had a group, about 10-15 guys from poker - a couple who had never played video games - we got on every morning, it was fun. Bunch of shit talking, played props and stuff…I mean, I love gambling and video games, it’s a great combination for me.” Enter Nelson Laffey, careerist collector of all things “nerdy” from video games to "Magic the Gathering" to "Pokémon" cards. Deeb and Laffey first met while playing poker in New York. They quickly bonded and discovered that they have more in common than just poker. Deeb heaps praise on the “really, really sharp” Laffey calling him “pretty much the most knowledgable guy” in the collectibles sector. [caption id="attachment_636114" align="aligncenter" width="618"] World Series of Poker 2018 Player of the Year Shaun Deeb.[/caption] “I just happened to run into him at a casino, he’d just gotten into poker and we became friends right away. Now, we hang out all the time and he’s one of my closest friends,” Deeb said. “He has always been big into Magic [the Gathering] and Pokémon and stuff and he approached me a couple of years ago. He said ‘hey listen, I’m buying these games, you should give me some cash, we should be partners, and I’m going to buy us a bunch of stuff.’” That “bunch of stuff” turned out to be vintage, factory-sealed video games. Convinced, Deeb cut Laffey a proverbial check, and off Laffey went, determined to succeed in his quest. They scooped up all the titles they could find that kids from the ’80s and '90s obsessed over: “Final Fantasy”, “Double Dragon”, “Deja Vu”, “Street Fighter II” and, of course, “Contra.” In total, according to Deeb, the investment brought in roughly 100 pieces. But the crowning piece, that title that brings their whole collection together, is a top-graded, third-print copy of the Nintendo classic “The Legend of Zelda.” “It is arguably my favorite piece in my collection,” Laffey said. “It’s arguably going to be - if not is - the most coveted piece throughout the entire lot. I don’t think I’ve ever met somebody that says I don’t like ‘Zelda.’” Laffey’s suspicions are easily confirmed. A recent post on TMZ.com shows that a factory-sealed copy of “The Legend of Zelda”, donated to Goodwill in Connecticut (very similar to the graded copy in Deeb and Laffey’s collection), recently sold for a record $411,278. Deeb explains that after building up the collection over the past few years, a message from end boss Cliff Josephy connected him with Ken Goldin. Goldin, a former online grinder and PocketFiver who played under the name ‘isuck123’, is the founder of Goldin Auctions, an online auction house specifically tailored for collectibles, sports cards, and memorabilia. Goldin says that the red hot video game collectibles market which has “really popped in the last 12 months” is a product of when a portion of “hundreds of millions of video game players became nostalgic...it set up a new collectibles market.” Titles like “The Legend of Zelda” along with “Pokémon”, “Super Mario Bros.” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are currently sitting at the top of the heap for investors. A look at Goldin Auctions sees a top-graded copy of “Zelda” currently sitting with a bid of $75,000 - with roughly two weeks left to bid. [caption id="attachment_636109" align="alignleft" width="279"] In April 2021, a factory-sealed edition of "Super Mario Bros." sold at auction for $660,000.[/caption] An early edition, factory-sealed copy of the original “Super Mario Bros.” for NES has a bid of $400,000, while a near-pristine copy of “Sonic the Hedgehog” is sitting with a bid of $120,000. Deeb and Laffey’s lot is being sold as individual pieces, some this month (September 18 is the final chance to bid) and others in November, to allow investors and collectors to pick and choose what they’d like to add to their own collection. Deeb is excited to see what the collection fetches, however, investing in video games has become more than just a transaction for him. He’s discovered an investment of passion, one that connects him to his childhood and something he plans on continuing to pursue. “I love the games, it sucks to get rid of them but I know that the market’s really hot and so we’re going to unload our games and try to buy more. We’re trying to make a profit, but we love the games. I remember as a kid playing Contra and my wife used to play Zelda so it’s been really cool to have them in our collection.” Deeb enjoys video games, and clearly enjoys gaming in general but when it comes to what’s next for the investment, he insists that will be his partner’s call. “It’s a booming industry and with so much inflation going on, I’m so happy that I had part of my net worth tied into these games. And, you know, if we make money that’s cool. If we lose a little, no big deal…,” he said. “But I think we’re going to make a lot of money.”
  21. The 2021 World Series of Poker is less than a month away and while there are plenty of reasons to look forward to the return of one of live poker’s premier events, there are also plenty of questions that hang in the air. Specifically, questions surrounding COVID, the Delta variant, vaccinations, and the health and safety of both players and staff. Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker, as well as his staff, have been working on preparing the series for the unique challenges that will likely come with holding a major poker event in the current COVID climate as well as updating policies as real-time changes occur. Stewart made himself available to answer some questions, above and beyond what’s stated on the WSOP’s website, regarding the WSOP’s policy decisions and plans moving forward - including, that in light of Governor Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 050 - masks will no longer be required for players while seated at the table. - The topic of vaccinations is a touchy one, can you talk a little about why the WSOP opted for a vaccine mandate? Stewart: For the WSOP, it’s not about politics. It’s not about claiming to be experts in science. It’s about protecting the integrity of the tournament competition. Whatever your sentiments on COVID-19 vaccination, whatever personal choice you make, the CDC has clear guidelines on the impact of that choice. If you’re fully vaccinated, you may generally go on with your daily life following a COVID-19 exposure, unless you exhibit symptoms. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’re required to go home and quarantine and your activities will be interrupted. As a Nevada Gaming licensee, we strive to fully follow the applicable CDC guidelines. The current CDC guidance is clear there should be an incubation period after exposure before testing. Following that guidance, there were no viable alternatives to keep unvaccinated players chips in a tournament once we became aware they were a close contact. Those unvaccinated players would be required to leave our premises to quarantine. We didn’t feel it was right to withhold information about very real scenarios leading to disqualification should players remain unvaccinated. We saw the outrage when we published Rule 115 and knew we needed to go further. With that in mind, amidst a rising number of cases and the Delta variant we saw only two viable options: Cancel the WSOP outright again, or have a full vaccination mandate which under current CDC guidelines generally removes contact tracing and the need to disqualify any player for close contact so long as they remain asymptomatic. With a fully vaccinated field, we hope the number of interruptions to the tournaments are very minimal.   Can you talk about the Close Contact Rule and what that could mean for players? Stewart: A close contact is anyone having been within six feet for a period of 15 minutes or more within the past 24 hours of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. As you might imagine, in large poker tournaments with thousands of entrants, as tables break and consolidate, it would not be uncommon for a single player to have close contact with 100 or more players in a given session. If unvaccinated players come into contact with any person who tested positive for COVID-19, they must leave the premises to quarantine. This is what unvaccinated players should know and understand before they sit down to play at any casino in Nevada. This is not a World Series of Poker issue. We’re all following CDC guidelines, which for the unvaccinated is a serious gamble in a multi-day poker tournament.   You say it would be a serious gamble for the unvaccinated, what could have happened? Stewart: This could have been a very real scenario. A final table is set for 2 pm shooting on CBS. But at 9 am in the morning, we get a call from the chip leader, who is unvaccinated, telling us he felt fine but has tested positive. Can he still play? Or can we have everyone stay and move the taping of the event to a week later? Or will he get ICM? After we have the knowledge of the positive COVID-19 case, we would have to go to everyone who was a close contact at the final table and break their hearts. Those of you who are vaccinated, can stay and play as long as you’re asymptomatic. Those of you who are not, we’ll blind off your chips and you can pick up your prize money, if any, when the tournament is finished, but come back after you’ve completed the appropriate quarantine and/or testing recommended by the CDC. You can imagine how many will want to leave voluntarily. But it’s not just the final table. Any other unvaccinated player who was determined to be a close contact of the person who tested positive and has now entered new events will also need to be disqualified to quarantine. It just becomes untenable. You can imagine in the Main Event, with its extended duration and large field size. Just a handful of positive cases amongst a field of thousands could completely destroy the integrity of the tournament should the unvaccinated players be exposed to any person who tests positive for COVID-19. That’s why we felt it important to have tournament fields that would avoid those situations.   So from your point of view, this is about both following guidelines and tournament integrity? Stewart: That’s the thing that’s gutted me the past two weeks - poker players thinking we’re choosing sides or somehow trying to penalize them for making a personal choice. Or that we have the power to dictate medical policy. We’re following the same CDC guidelines as everyone else. We’re just the first ones to call it out in poker. We all can read the sports pages, in the NFL Carson Wentz had a close exposure to a team staffer and was out for five days on the COVID list until he could return following a negative test. The NBA just came out and said any of their unvaccinated players will be out for seven days following an exposure. In those leagues, the players are also paid. Here, our customers pay for their travel and post their buy-ins. Given the scale of our event, we felt strongly it was the most responsible decision to make to avoid asking unvaccinated players to completely gamble with their tournament life.   Why aren’t you requiring staff to be vaccinated? Stewart: We’re doing all we can to encourage and incentivize our staffers to become vaccinated. Much of the staff will be existing Caesars employees subject to its policies, which include comprehensive health screening already. Our dealers, even those fully vaccinated, will wear masks at the tables. As I said earlier, the primary reason for the vaccination requirement is to eliminate the prospect of disqualifying an unvaccinated player through contact tracing. Because you must be fully vaccinated to participate in the 2021 WSOP, under current CDC guidelines, an exposure to COVID-19 will not force you into disqualification so long as you remain asymptomatic.   Earlier today you announced that in accordance with Governor Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 050, no masks will be required at the table? Stewart: Yes, it’s true. Given all participants are required to be fully vaccinated, they will be able to remove their masks while seated at a poker table during a WSOP event in the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Convention Center for our “poker convention.” As permitted under Governor Sisolak’s Directive 050 announced on September 2, we are moving forward with this masking exception option. Such directives are always subject to change, but that’s a very positive development for the 2021 WSOP. Of course, masks are permitted at the poker tables should a player feel more comfortable using one this fall, but it appears we’ll be the only live poker played in Las Vegas where you can see a poker face.   Finally, just for clarity, this means that masks are optional while seated at the table. Are masks required in the convention area when you stand up, say to take a break, or use the restroom? Stewart: Correct, masks are optional while seated at the poker tables, but masks are used in all other areas of the building as we are currently under a mask mandate. - The 2021 World Series of Poker begins September 30 and runs through November 23. For additional information on registration, as well as the event’s current COVID-19 policy, visit their website at WSOP.com.
  22. Well, 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth didn’t get to the top of the heap by giving up, and apparently, he’s not going to start now. Hellmuth announced over the weekend that he was going to ignore our well-intentioned advice and challenge Tom Dwan to a rematch in High Stakes Duel. The decision sets up High Stakes Duel III Round 3, where this time both players will pony up $200,000 for a seat at the table. When you rattle off seven wins in a row, it’s understandable that you can bend the rules a little. Originally, when past players have been ousted in the Duel, they have traditionally had 72-hours to decide if they will call for a rematch (provided they haven’t been beaten three times in a row). For “The Poker Brat” it appears that PokerGO gave him a little more time to figure out his next move. Dwan originally dethroned Hellmuth in a five-and-a-half-hour battle back on August 26 and now, eight days later, just when you thought he was out…Hellmuth pulls you back in. It’s too early to know the details of exactly when Dwan and Hellmuth will face off again but it will for sure take place at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas and when it does, for anyone who follows poker, there will simply be no escaping knowing about it. And why not run it back? Sure, some poker pundits may have predicted that Hellmuth would bow out but that doesn’t mean that seeing these two go at it again isn’t great for poker. There are simply too many unanswered questions that need to be resolved: How will Hellmuth handle entering the arena as the challenger as opposed to the champion? What adjustments might each player make with their experience in the first match? What memes will be created around whatever foods Hellmuth devours tableside? This is what makes this show fun. The stakes are higher with the buy-in doubled to $200,000 (a level Hellmuth hit with both Esfandiari and Negreanu) but arguably so is the entertainment value. And everyone involved seems to know that. So, with the High Stakes Poker belt back up for grabs, prepare yourself for a second helping of Dwan vs. Hellmuth - coming soon (presumably).
  23. It was late in London. The early morning actually, and Erik Seidel, one of poker’s most iconic figures, was back on the grind. Already in the United Kingdom to celebrate his youngest daughter’s wedding, the poker legend decided to extend his stay in the UK’s capital to take care of some business. Specifically, the business of high-stakes poker. And at this moment, his deep run in GGPoker WSOP Online Event #11 ($10,000 Super MILLION$ High Roller) was taking him back to the beginning of his career. “I haven’t stayed up that late for poker since I was in my 20’s,” Seidel said, referring to the overnight hours of Day 1 of the gold bracelet event. “London isn’t ideal for me because I’m a morning person and Day One lasted ’til the next morning.” Even casual fans are familiar with Seidel’s impact on poker and his history that took him from the early days of Mayfair Club in New York to the Poker Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. His career has spanned 40 years and in that time he’s earned nearly $38 million in recorded live earnings. He’s a World Poker Tour champion and, prior to the online high roller he was playing in, had previously won eight WSOP bracelets, making him one of the most prolific players in WSOP history. Seidel didn’t know it at the time but after that sleepless night, he was just days away from adding to his legacy with WSOP bracelet #9. For a player who has experienced just about everything there is to experience in the game of poker, Seidel admits he still feels “out of [his] element online”, making his victory one of the most unique moments of his career. [caption id="attachment_636078" align="alignleft" width="300"] Seidel's online winning moment.[/caption] “I’m just never that comfortable online,” he said. “I like it, it’s nice to be able to play a tourney in bed, but I make mistakes. I had two misclicks at the final table. It’s easier for me to get distracted and there’s always that concern that I’ll lose connection.” In fact, he did lose connection at one point while playing in his hotel on spotty Wi-Fi. But, obviously, the man they call Seiborg recovered nicely. He navigated his way through the field of 624 entries, made the final table, and bested a final nine that included Rui Ferreira, Isaac Baron, Thomas Muehloecker, and eventual runner-up, Francisco Benitez. When it was all over, Seidel won more than $977,000 and made WSOP history. He earned that ninth bracelet and moved into a tie with poker legend Johnny Moss for fifth (third-most) in all-time WSOP bracelets. “Winning any WSOP event is special,” Seidel said when asked where his online bracelet ranks. “This one was extra great for me because it was so unexpected. Getting through 600+ players and then the prize was close to one million, which I think is my biggest WSOP cash, felt really amazing. Might be my favorite.” [caption id="attachment_636079" align="alignright" width="219"] 2007 WSOP victory in NL 2-7 Lowball for bracelet #8.[/caption] That said, as special as winning another bracelet is for him, 14 years after winning #8, Seidel hasn’t been consumed with the bracelet chase as, perhaps, some other pre-poker boom prominent players. “I can’t say I really get caught up in bracelet fever,” he said. “My focus has been much more on higher buy-in No Limit events. If you really want to rack up bracelets, you’ve got to play the high buy-in limit events at the WSOP, the No Limit fields are way too big. I play a limited amount of events at the WSOP, and I love playing them, but I’m not trying to maximize my chances by playing every event.” It would be tough for anyone to not want to push if given the chance to break into double-digit bracelets. It’s well-known that there are currently only four players with 10 or more. Phil Hellmuth is the all-time leader with 15. And then, tied for second, all with 10, are Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Ivey - a club that’s hasn’t admitted a new member since 2014. Now, Seidel is knocking on the door. At 61, he says he has no intentions of slowing down and has set his sights on playing a healthy schedule at this year’s WSOP. “I love playing, I hope I can continue competing for a while. I expect to play 20-something events at the WSOP although I’m really disappointed in the WSOP schedule this year, the big NL events that I’d love to play in are all very close to Thanksgiving. I’ll have to see if I can play them.”
  24. High-stakes online professional Wiktor ‘Limitless’ Malinowski captured a resume-topping live score after taking down the Super High Roller Bowl Europe $250,000 Main Event for his first SHRB ring and the $3,690,000 first-place prize. The quarter-million-dollar tournament attracted an elite field of 41 entries and created a prize pool of more than $10.2 million. Poker superstars including Phil Ivey, Michael Addamo, Bryn Kenney, and Ali Imsirovic all made their way to Merit Royal Hotel & Casino in Cyprus to take their shot at a seven-figure score but it was Poland’s Malinowski who topped them all. In the end, ‘Limitless’ was able to lean on his expertise in heads-up play in what turned out to be a lengthy heads-up match against Malaysian tournament specialist Ivan Leow in order to win his career-best cash. It didn’t take long for the first player to fall. With the blinds at 25,000/50,000 (50,000 ante) Viacheslav Buldygin, who started the day with just eight big blinds, was all the way down to fewer than two big blinds. Holding [poker card="ac"][poker card="2s"], he called the 50,000 big blind, leaving himself just 40,000. Right behind him, Leow also called holding [poker card="qd"][poker card="jc"] and Ruan Zhuang checked his big blind option with [poker card="6d"][poker card="4s"]. The three players saw a flop of [poker card="qh"][poker card="7h"][poker card="3d"]. It checked through to Leow who put in a bet of 90,000. Zhuang quickly folded and Buldygin committed the rest of his chips. The turn came the [poker card="2h"] giving Buldygin some additional outs, however, the [poker card="6s"] river was not one of them and the Russian exited in sixth place for $512,500. It was an up and down day for David Peters who, early at the final table found a critical double up and then, not long after provided a double-up of his own to Leow when Leow’s [poker card="9c"][poker card="9s"] flopped a set on Peters’ [poker card="kd"][poker card="kc"]. With just ten big blinds left, Peters moved all-in from under the gun holding [poker card="4s"][poker card="4c"]. Right behind him, Leow leveraged some of those chips he took off Peters and made the call with the [poker card="ah"][poker card="9h"]. The rest of the table got out of the way and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"][poker card="tc"], keeping Peters ahead. The [poker card="9d"] turn gave Leow a pair and left Peters looking for one of the final fours in the deck. The river came the [poker card="jc"] and Peters headed for the exit to collect his $820,000 fifth-place prize as Leow took over the chip lead. It was just ten minutes later when Malinowski picked up [poker card="ah"][poker card="as"] and put in a raise to 125,000. It folded to Timothy Adams who, in the big blind with [poker card="jd"][poker card="td"], moved all-in for his final 25 big blinds. Malinowski snap-called putting Adams at risk. The [poker card="kh"][poker card="qc"][poker card="4c"] flop brought open-ended straight outs for Adams but kept Malinowski as a three-to-one favorite. The [poker card="3d"] turn changed nothing and when the [poker card="6h"] hit the river, Adams was eliminated in fourth place for $1,127,500. With three left, Malinowski and Leow were nearly even in chips with Zhuang looking up with just over 15 big blinds. After the first break, on the first hand of 30,000/60,000 (60,000 ante), Zhuang raised to 120,000 holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="ac"]. Leow made the call, defending his big blind with [poker card="8c"][poker card="7s"]. The flop came [poker card="jh"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4h"] and when Leow checked it over to Zhuang put out a bet of 200,000, which Leow quickly called. The turn came the [poker card="9d"], keeping Zhuang ahead but offering Leow additional outs to a gutshot straight. Leow checked again, and with a little more than a pot-sized bet left, Zhuang moved all-in for 755,000. This time, Leow took his time and got a complete count. Deep in the tank, he used multiple time bank extensions before eventually making the call. With only nine outs in the deck, the river came the [poker card="tc"], giving Leow the straight and cracking the aces of Zhuang. Zhuang fell in third place and picked up a career-high score of $1,640,000. As heads-up play got underway, Leow held a 15 big blind chip lead over Malinowski. However, it only took one hand for Malinowski to bring the chip stacks to even. After that, the grind began. Malinowski and Leow embarked on a heads-up battle that lasted over five hours with grabbing and losing momentum and the chip lead being passed back and forth. The early hours of heads up belonged to Malinowski and eventually, Leow clawed his way back to the chip lead. As the blinds increased to 100,000/200,000 (200,000 ante) the stacks were within four big blinds of each other when the penultimate hand of the match had the biggest swing of the tournament. Malinowski raised to 400,000 holding [poker card="as"][poker card="kd"] and, with the larger stack, Leow moved all-in with his [poker card="ad"][poker card="4h"]. Malinowski call, putting himself at risk. Both players stood and watched as the flop came [poker card="8c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5d"] keeping Malinowski ahead but offering Leow some extra outs. The turn was the [poker card="8h"], bringing some additional chop outs. But the river was the [poker card="9s"] and Malinowski picked up the biggest pot of the tournament, leaving Leow’s stack crippled to just three big blinds. It was all over the next hand when Malinowski moved all-in holding [poker card="9s"][poker card="8d"] and Leow stuck it in as well with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="4c"]. The flop came [poker card="as"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5d"], but it was the [poker card="8s"] turn that paired Malinowski and there was no help for Leow with the [poker card="4h"] river. After a hard-fought heads-up match, Leow took home $2,460,000 as the runner-up and Wiktor ‘Limitless’ Malinowski captured his first Super High Roller Bowl Main Event ring and the $3,690,000 first-place prize, far and away a career-high live score. Super High Roller Bowl Europe Main Event Final Table Results Wiktor Malinowski - $3,690,000 Ivan Leow - $2,460,000 Ruan Zhuang - $1,640,000 Timothy Adams - $1,127,500 David Peters - $820,000 Viacheslav Buldygin - $512,500
  25. “What he has now is real problems,” Ali Nejad said as he called the action on PokerGO's High Stakes Duel III. “Dwan binks the nine on the turn, a demoralizing development…and now, Hellmuth has twelve outs, or the streak is over.” The river was a brick for the defending champion and as soon as Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan rose from their seats to share a friendly handshake in the center of the frame, the headlines were already being written: Tom Dwan Dethrones Phil Hellmuth in Round 2 of High Stakes Duel III The entertaining five-and-a-half-hour match gave fans just about everything they could have wanted. There was Dwan back in the poker spotlight, public closure over the duo’s famous 2008 feud, and, of course, peak Hellmuth - jovial and steaming, cursing and eating. (Oh, the eating!) That’s a big part of what makes High Stakes Duel work. Of course, for die-hard fans, the poker is critical. But, for many, it’s the dynamics between the players that make HSD good TV. And sure, by the end of the broadcast the big question of "who will win?" is always answered, but the show is more than just a point tally on a scoreboard. Emerging from this match were plenty of other storylines that were fun to see play out and could also play a big part in the future of the show. That was ‘Durrrr’, this is Dwan. You know the story: Dr. Bruce Banner infused himself with high doses of gamma rays while in the lab altering his DNA so when he becomes angry he transforms into…the Incredible Hulk! Banner is always trying to control his temper, but when the rage comes out the Hulk gets loose, and he destroys everything in his path. Perhaps Tom Dwan is a little like Dr. Banner. In the late 2000s, at the height of the online poker boom, Dwan exposed himself high doses of understanding ranges (before most people understood ranges) while “in the lab” and when he appeared on TV he transformed into “Durrrr”, the incredible online wunderkind who destroyed every bankroll in his path. That was then. His amazing, creative style of play is what Dwan built his reputation on. It's why still today fans are attracted to watching him play, despite him spending the better part of a decade grinding private ultra-stakes behind closed doors. But this is now: “The thing about high stakes poker back then was…a lot of people were missing some pretty core concepts and it gave me a lot of flexibility,” he said on PokerGO’s HSD “Weigh-In” show. “I just played this WPT show a week ago and I couldn’t really get that out of line, everyone’s studied No Limit a ton. I had a lot more options ten years ago.” That showed during his High Stakes Duel with Hellmuth as Dwan played a measured game, never really getting out of line, never really putting Hellmuth to the test with a less than adequate hand. Instead, he settled into the match, taking it seriously (when many thought he wouldn’t), and let the match come to him. Additionally, Dwan had an answer to Hellmuth's antics. Nothing. Whereas all of Hellmuth's previous opponents had a tendency to jaw back-and-forth with "The Poker Brat", Dwan never flinched. He never seemed compelled to answer back. Instead, Dwan kept his cool rather than responding with taunts like he did in his 2008 NBC Heads Up Poker Championship. He soldiered on, a wry smirk or left-looking glance here or there, but in general, he simply took care of business. Certainly, ‘Durrrr’ will emerge at some point in the future, but right now Tom Dwan looked like he was in complete control. Did Hellmuth actually...win? No doubt about it, the streak is over. Hellmuth’s reign as the undisputed king of High Stakes Duel has come to an end. But, honestly, is that a bad thing for Hellmuth? At the time of this writing, Hellmuth has yet to accept a rematch against Dwan and, if he doesn’t, who can blame him? He can credibly claim he has nothing left to prove in the format. He bested Antonio Esfandiari three times. He came back from a 19:1 deficit against Daniel Negreanu and ended up sweeping him in three straight. Finally, he played an experienced amateur in Nick Wright (something Dwan called him one of the best at) and took care of business. Plus, every sponsor of Hellmuth - from energy drinks to altcoins - must be happy with the amount of exposure he’s given them (far more than 24 total hours of screen time) on this show. Whenever the opportunity presented itself Hellmuth (is “shilling” too harsh a word?) took the opportunity to promote those who support him. A loss to Dwan marks the perfect time to exit stage left. Hellmuth, almost notoriously, is averse to stakes that climb too high. Yes, he played the 2012 Big One For One Drop with its $1 million buy-in, but for a player who sometimes has extended stays at the Aria Resort & Casino he’s notably absent in the regularly running $10Ks that take place in the Aria poker room. When it comes to bankroll management and game selection, super high-stakes tournaments are not traditionally where Hellmuth has found his success. So with the next High Stakes Duel, should PokerGO continue down the road they have established, be Round 3 would have a buy-in of $200,000. Win or lose, Hellmuth’s next option would be a $400,000 match. If Hellmuth were to win, he would be forced to defend a title at $400,000 and, in order to walk away, play and win a Round 5 that comes with a $800,000 price tag - legitimately making it among the biggest buy-in tournaments of all time. Losing to Dwan makes it the perfect time for Hellmuth to step aside under the notion that all his focus needs to be on his first love - the World Series of Poker. No one would blame Hellmuth for saving all his #WhiteMagic for chasing bracelet #16. Plus, by saving a $200K buy-in, Hellmuth could play just about every event on the WSOP schedule if he wanted to (provided he can pull himself away from his new bestie Mr. Beast.) All in all, a Round 2 loss to Dwan could end up being an easy exit and the real win for Hellmuth. Will PokerGO push Dwan (and the show) into deep waters? “If no one challenges a winner within 30 days of the previous match, that last winner declares victory.” The original High Stakes Duel rules have the stakes doubling through Round 8 “resulting in a potential prize pool of $12,800,000” and a player needing to win three straight matches before Round Six (or two in a row from Round Five) in order to cash out and win. If that stays true (it’s a TV show so producers can change the rules at will), there could be some incredibly high stakes to fight for in the next few months. As mentioned earlier, Dwan would play again at $200,000 and whoever wins that would need to battle at twice that with only Dwan having the potential to walk away with a victory and an $800,000 prize pool. That seems to be the minimum. So, all eyes will be on how far can the show go and how big is the player pool to help them get there. By the time Round 4 takes place, a $400,000 buy-in is bigger than PokerGO’s marquee event, the Super High Roller Bowl and it’s unlikely that there’s a massive player pool willing to play at those stakes in such a shallow format. Phil Ivey is a natural fit, and fans would love to see it. A rehashing of the “Durrrr Challenge” debate could take place if Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates were to answer the call. Maybe it would be a nosebleed tournament pro like Justin Bonomo, Dan Smith, Andrew Robl or All-Time Money List leader Bryn Kenney. As the rounds go higher, would the wealthiest of businessmen in the poker space need to courted? Players like Paul Phua, Rick Solomon, or perhaps even PokerGO founder Cary Katz himself. This is what is on the horizon for the show itself. It looks like either the initial premise is about to pay off on the promise of astronomical heads-up stakes or a hard reset is right around the corner with two new combatants creating new storylines (in anticipation of a Phil Hellmuth return.) More on the conversation on High Stakes Duel can be heard on The FIVES Poker Podcast below:
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