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Found 11 results

  1. From the middle of the pack of one of the toughest $10K GGPoker Super MILLION$ final tables in recent weeks, it was satellite winner ‘Ferrariman’ who, in just their second appearance in the tournament, bested some of online poker’s top talent and took home this week's $452,885 first-place prize. It goes without saying that every final table of the weekly Super MILLION$ is tough. However this week, the tournament talent on hand was undeniable. Earning a seat to Tuesday’s final table were two former worldwide #1-ranked online pros in Niklas Astedt and Yuri Dzivielevski, two of the greatest high rollers of all time in Sam Greenwood and Mikita Badziakouski, the red-hot high-stakes pro David Yan, and nosebleed cash game crusher Wiktor ‘limitless’ Malinowski. But despite all the accolades at the table, in the end, it was ’Ferrariman’ who outlasted them all. But when it came to who the public thought was going to win it all, there wasn’t a lot of confidence in ‘Ferrariman.’ Getting 11.4-1 odds to win in the GGPoker client, only 13 people placed a bet on ’Ferrariman’ to take it down. Those 13 people wagered a total of just $41 dollars out of a grand total of $54,226 wagered. Plenty of the money wagered was on Niklas Asdedt who entered the final table third in chips. He needed a fourth-place finish or better to become the first player to surpass $2 million in total Super MILLION$ earnings. But after losing a pair of big hands the Swede found himself short-stacked and all-in preflop holding [poker card="as"][poker card="6c"] against Badziakouski’s [poker card="ac"][poker card="ts"]. The board ran out [poker card="8h"][poker card="2h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="kc"][poker card="7c"] allowing Badziakouski’s kicker to play and sending the All-Time Online Money List leader out in ninth place for $56,610. Chicago’s Timothy Nuter, playing out of Canada, put in a raise from the cutoff with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ts"] and was quickly three-bet on the button by Dzivielevski holding [poker card="qh"][poker card="qc"]. It folded back to Nuter, he moved all-in, and was quickly called by the Brazilian. There was little drama as the board ran out [poker card="8c"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3d"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"] awarding the hand to Dzivielevski and eliminating Nuter in eighth place for $73,415. Dzivielevski was in the mix again when he raised in late position with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"]. It folded to ’Syntropy’ in the small blind who pushed their final eight big blinds in the middle with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="9c"]. It folded back to Dzivielevski who made the call. The flop came [poker card="jd"][poker card="ts"][poker card="7d"] giving both players ’Syntropy’ gutshot straight draws. The turn was the [poker card="kd"], giving Dzivielevski the nut straight and leaving ‘Syntropy’ drawing dead to the [poker card="6c"] river. ’Syntropy’ entered the final table ninth in chips, laddered two spots and ended up with a $95,207 score for seventh place, their largest career win on GGPoker. During an hour of six-handed play, Sam Greenwood was grinding a short stack. On the button, he stuck his final five big blinds in the middle with the [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"]. In the big blind, Dzivielevski made the call with the [poker card="jc"][poker card="2c"]. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="jd"][poker card="2h"], giving the Brazilian two pair and reducing Greenwood’s outs to a gutshot straight draw. The turn was the [poker card="9d"] and the river was the [poker card="3c"] giving Dzivielevski another elimination and sending Greenwood out of the tournament in sixth place for $123,468. Four hands later, when folded to in the small blind, Malinowski shoved his [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"] on Badziakouski in the big blind who held [poker card="ah"][poker card="5d"]. With just over ten big blinds left, Badziakouski made the call with his tournament on the line. The board ran out [poker card="6c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3h"][poker card="8h"][poker card="qh"] allowing Malinowski’s jack kicker to play and ending Badziakouski’s first Super MILLION$ final table run in fifth place for $160,119. During four-handed play, Malinowski built up a considerable chip lead, mostly at the expense of Dzivielevski. When folded to in the small blind, Malinowski moved all-in with the [poker card="as"][poker card="9c"]. In the big blind, with just four blinds left, Dzivielevski called off with his [poker card="ks"][poker card="th"]. The [poker card="5s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="3s"] was of little help to Dzivielevski. The turn was the [poker card="qc"] leaving the former #1 looking for a non-spade ten or a king. The river was the [poker card="4d"] giving Malinowski the straight and ending Dzivielevski’s nice run in fourth place which was good for $207,649. The chips really shifted during three-handed play with Malinowski, David Yan, and ‘Ferrariman’ taking turns picking up pots and building a stack. From the button, Yan raised big with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="9d"] only to be shoved on my Malinowski in the big blind holding the [poker card="kc"][poker card="kh"]. With the majority of his stack in the middle, Yan made the call. The flop came [poker card="qh"][poker card="4d"][poker card="3h"]. The [poker card="5c"] turn gave Yan some additional straight outs but the [poker card="8s"] was not one of them. Yan, who played his fifth final table, added another $269,287 to his Super MILLION$ earnings bringing his total to over $1.295 million. Malinowski started heads-up play with a two-to-one chip advantage. But ‘Ferrariman’, who had played tempered the whole final table, went on a run. He doubled through Malinowski to take the chip lead and from there, kept up the aggression. Even after they lost a big hand that would have ended the tournament, ‘Ferrariman’ applied pressure and picked up the key pots to put them in a position to win. The final hand was a bit of a cooler as Malinowski limped the button with the [poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"]. In the big blind ‘Ferrariman’ raised holding the [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"]. Malinowski then shoved, ‘Ferrariman’ was quick to call and the board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"][poker card="jh"][poker card="ah"][poker card="8c"], leaving ‘limitless’ drawing dead on the turn and sending him out as the runner-up for $349,222. ‘Ferrariman’ satellited into this week’s Super MILLION$ for $1,000 and turned it into a $452,885 payday. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (2/23) 1. ’Ferrariman’ - $452,885 2. Wiktor Malinowski - $349,222 3. David Yan - $269,287 4. Yuri Dzivielevski - $207,649 5. Mikita Badziakouski - $160,119 6. Sam Greenwood - $123,468 7. ‘Syntropy’ - $95,207 8.Timothy Nuter - $73,415 9. Niklas Astedt - $56,610
  2. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. In the aftermath of the Polk-Negreanu high-stakes, heads-up challenge, news of two more high-profile challenges have emerged and Lance and Donnie break both of them down on this week's episode of The FIVES! First, 15-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner and season one High Stakes Duel winner Phil Hellmuth looks poised to be Daniel Negreanu's next challenger. But what will the format be when (and if) it takes place and will it be enough to satisfy the fans? At the same time, 21-year old poker phenom Landon Tice and high-stakes businessman Bill Perkins have publically agreed on a 20,000 hand challenge to start in May. Tice has also agreed to spot Perkins a 9bb/100 advantage - meaning in order to win, Tice will need to win more than $720,000. Finally, the guys discuss all of the most important breaking news from this week in the world of poker. Listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  3. For many poker players, January is a time to get a fresh start. It's a time to reset the stats, dedicate oneself to study, and hope that in the new year the work pays off and the results go to the moon. But for Brazil’s Brunno ‘bbotteon’ Botteon, a “fresh start” is not on the agenda. For the world’s #1-ranked online pro, the continuation of his heater that started one year ago is what he wanted. That's what happened and what brought him the title of Online Poker Player of the Month for January. One might think that after earning a career-high seven-figure score in the international leg of the 2020 World Series of Poker at the end of 2020, Botteon might take some time off. But within a week he was back to picking up PLB-qualified cashes en masse. He found success in the first week of January on GGPoker with deep runs in the WSOPC Series $525 Bounty Hunters for $22,304 plus 321.09 PLB points and weekly $10K Super MILLION$ for another $41,934 and 374.26 PLB points. His first outright win arrived on January 10 when he topped the 279-entry field of the PokerStars High Roller Club $1,050 Sunday HR for $57,263 and 547.72 PLB points. The middle of the month was highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the GGPoker High Rollers Marathon for $12,542. It was right around this time when Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic pushed to within just 5 PLB points of overtaking Botteon as the top-ranked player in the world. But when Croatia’s Zufic traveled to the United States to make a deep run in the World Poker Tour’s Lucky Hearts Poker Open, Botteon booked his first six-figure score of the new year with a win in the January 25 edition of the GGPoker High Rollers Sunday 500 for $126,544 and 738.24 PLB points. His spotlight score of the month brought more than enough PLB points to pull away from the pack and keep the #1-spot for the seventh week in a row. In total, Botteon racked up 3,893 PLB points on 59 total cashes for a total of $391,988. January also marked his third time as Player of the Month. Mike ‘SirWatts’ Watson finished out January just 150 points behind Botteon to end up in second place with 3,734 points. Watson, who is Canada’s #1-ranked pro and sitting at an all-time high ranking of #3 in the world, put in significantly less volume than Botteon but made up the difference with nine PLB-qualifying cashes and seven five-figure cashes for a total of $526,078. Watson kicked off the month with a string of victories including a PokerStars Blowout Series title in Event #25-H ($1,050 NLHE Sunday Warm-up) for $75,462 and 648.85 PLB points. The very next day, on January 4, he was in the winner’s circle again in the Natural8 WSOPC $1,500 Deepstack, winning $36,040 and another 404.81 PLB points. Watson picked up big-time scores on just about every online operator he played on including a runner-up finish in the partypoker High Roller Big Game for $54,958 and a win in the World Poker Tour Montreal Online Event #18 for $39,007. But his biggest result of the month came on Natural8 when he finished in fourth place in the January 26 edition of the Super MILLION$ for $187,255 and 618.64. His Super MILLION$ score was big enough to land in Watson’s all-time top 5. Estonia’s Markku ‘markovitsus’ Koplimaa rounded out the top three in January with 3,590 PLB points. Koplimaa has been rocketing up the worldwide rankings, reaching a new career-high rank of #12 in the world. While both Botteon and Watson put up impressive results, Koplimaa outdid them both when it came to volume by racking up 229 in-the-money finishes. He embraced the grind, playing every tournament he could enter from mid-stakes and higher. He was rewarded with over $390,000 in earnings including a runner-up finish in the January 18 edition of the GGPoker High Roller MILLION$ for $187,272. It was the second-largest online cash of his career and included a massive 908.09 PLB bump. In total, Koplimaa notched five results of five-figures or better with 11 PLB-qualified scores. Should he continue to have results even half of what he posted in January, he’ll eclipse the career $10 million mark before the end of the year. January 2021 Player of the Month Results [table id=167 /]
  4. It’s not often that one gets a second shot at greatness. Very few have been afforded that opportunity when it comes to becoming the World Series of Poker Main Event champion. So when Damian Salas, who just three years ago finished in seventh place at the WSOP Main Event, found himself in a position to win the championship bracelet that eluded him in 2017, he leaned into his passion for the game and his desire to be known as one of the very best finally reach his championship goal. “Taking into account my experience in 2017, I didn’t see it as a rematch, I took it as a new opportunity granted by this beautiful mind sport so that I could win the World Championship,” said Salas. “I felt great and highly motivated. I’ve worked with tons of persistence during these last eight or nine years of my professional career, so I can give my very best in times of extreme pressure. I felt like I could make it and that was a determining factor to becoming the champion.” It may be that Salas, the Argentinian lawyer turned poker pro, made a name for himself in poker with his seventh-place finish 2017 Main Event when he won $1.425 million but as he mentioned, it was by no means the start of his poker journey. Salas has made the trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker for over a decade and prior to his first Main Event, final table appearance had posted a string of impressive results on the biggest poker tours in Latin America including the LAPT and BSOP. If Salas’ journey had essentially ended with his seven-figure score on ESPN it would be a poker success story by nearly every metric. However, for Salas, a few minutes in the spotlight was not what he was after. It still isn’t. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal. It’s not what drives me,” Salas said. “It is great, taking those results into account, as it is paramount to meeting other ambitions in my life. But my basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” “As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t think winning [the Main Event] makes me the best player in the world, but I am worthy of the achievement since I believe I could compete for many years now with the world-class poker elite. That’s an honor I’ve earned, and it is my greatest challenge and motivation day in and day out - to remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” To get to where he is, Salas has embraced the grind. With live poker events essentially put on hold in 2020, Salas dove into online poker and quickly became the #1-ranked player in his native Argentina. He broke through into the worldwide top-20 with the help of a pair of impressive scores in some of the year’s biggest tournament series. First, he took third place in the first-ever WPT World Championship Main Event on partypoker which came with an $814,664 payday. Then he took home a PokerStars EPT Online title with a victory in Event #20 ($1,050 NLHE) for another $117,475. The success was paving the way to a run in the WSOP Main Event. “Honestly, I was having a great year,” he said. “So I wasn’t surprised by the [WSOP win] because I felt in great shape, I was really prepared. Obviously, it was incredible and even spectacular to close the year this way.” The path to the WSOP Main Event title was unlike any in years past. First Salas has to navigate the field of online entrants on GGPoker, then travel to the Czech Republic to play down the final table at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, and finally make his way to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to compete against Joseph Hebert, the winner of the domestic leg of the WSOP Main Event, in a for-broadcast heads-up match. “I can say that the online elements against international players at GGPoker were impressive. The poker world’s elite played in that tournament and I had to face them all,” he said, looking back on the tournament as a whole. “It was highly difficult. The clash was really hard from the beginning.” When he made the live final table he was third in chips but one of the toughest challenges awaited. Brazil’s Brunno Botteon, the current #1-ranked player in the world, held the chip lead and was also having a career year. “At the final table were at least five elite representatives of poker including Bruno Botteon, whose quality is extraordinary. And, well, the confrontation demanded my very best,” he said. “I was really inspired at the final table, where I took certain creative lines which I could capitalize in my favor. In the end, while I believe I also benefited from some good cards and good luck, I think those creative hands were responsible for my success.” Salas walked away with the win after defeating Botteon heads-up, which brought him a new career-high score of $1.55 million. It also put him in line to battle heads up for the championship bracelet. “Then came the heads up with Joseph [Hebert]. Either one of us could have won, really,” Salas said. But even after losing some key pots and being on the brink of finishing in second, Salas fought back. “I think I played with discipline, with concentration, with metered quantities of matured aggressiveness that was very efficient,” he said. “It is a great privilege because I understand I was very lucky. However, I also know I have done all I could so that I could meet my goal and that fills me with joy.” In the aftermath of reaching his goal, one might expect Salas to take some time off, perhaps enjoy a few of the finer things with his bonus $1 million payday he received for winning the bracelet. While some new doors are opening for the new World Champion, Salas insists that the main goal of being elite never stops. “Being totally honest, my daily routine has not changed much. As I always say, I’m not driven by money. There is another motivation, that’s to belong to the world elite. Added to the fact that I truly enjoy what I do and I do love playing poker, so my routine remains practically the same…I’m the World Champion, and that’s great, but understanding I’m the same person I was before the tournament.”
  5. After a ten-month hiatus, the live World Poker Tour Main Tour returned to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. After a long day of play and a three-handed deal, Ilyas Muradi took home $605,000, a ticket to the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions, and his first career WPT title. For anyone questioning if live poker players were eager to get back in the action, the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open had the answer. Despite the state of the pandemic, playing behind plexiglass barriers, and the requirement to wear masks the tournament’s 1,753-entry field became the third-largest in the WPT’s eighteen-year history. It wasn’t just an outpouring of local players that made their way to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as players traveled from all parts of the globe to participate in the first WPT Main Tour live event since the conclusion of WPT Rolling Thunder in March 2020. There were plenty of notable names who made a deep run in the event but fell short of the final table. World Poker Tour champions Sam Panzica (189th, $6,150) and Kevin Eyster (167th, $6,300) made Day 3 as did Athanasios Polychronopoulous (125th, $7,025), Will ‘The Thrill’ Failla (103rd, $7,880), and well-known vlogger Johnnie Moreno (93rd, $8,230). Among those joining them in the money were Jerry Wong (90th, $8,230), Alex Keating (77th, $9,885), and worldwide current #2-ranked online pro from Croatia Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic (31st, $23,110). The final three tables included some of the World Poker Tour’s biggest names including WPT winner Aaron Mermelstein (25th, $23,110), Scott Baumstein (24th, $27,660), WPT Deepstack Champion Justin Liberto (22nd, $27,660), and four-time WPT champion Darren Elias who finished in tenth place and earned $79,455 which brought his career WPT total to just under $3.9 million. Day four started with the final seven players grinding for two 90-minute levels before reaching the official final table of six. Andy Hwang, the final WPT Champion Club member left in the field, started the day third in chips, however, a few hours into play he found himself grinding a short stack of fewer than 20 big blinds. After a raise from Francis Margaglione in early position with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"], Hwang three-bet shipped his stack with the [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"]. Folded back around to Margaglione, he made the call. The board ran out [poker card="3s"][poker card="2s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="6d"][poker card="qd"] ensuring that a new WPT champion would be crowned as Hwang exited in seventh place for $115,630. Roughly twenty minutes later, after an early position raise, Tsz Shing shipped his 22 big blind stack holding [poker card="kh"][poker card="qd"] from the button. Ronnie Bardah made the call from the small blind with his [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] and the early position raiser folded. The [poker card="th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4d"][poker card="5d"] ran clean for the pocket queens and eliminated Brooklyn’s Shing in sixth place for a career-high recorded live cash of $168,990. At five-handed, Jesse Lonis put in a raise from late position with [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"]. After it folded to Bardah in the big blind, Bardah put in a three-bet with the [poker card="ks"][poker card="kc"]. With the action back on Lonis and 30 big blinds behind, Lonis four-bet shipped with Bardah snap-called. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] flop left Lonis looking for one of two outs to save him. The [poker card="3d"] hit the turn and the [poker card="jd"] completed the board and ended Lonis’ tournament in fifth place for $223,895. Margaglione started the day with the chip lead but his stack slowly dwindled during the day. Eventually, he made his move by raising from the button with [poker card="qc"][poker card="9s"] only to be shoved on by the big stack of Bardah in the big blind holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="kc"]. With just over 10 big blinds behind, Margaglione opted to make the call. The flop came [poker card="ac"][poker card="6c"][poker card="7s"] giving Bardah top pair and leaving Margaglione looking for runner-runner help. The [poker card="2h"] was of no use to Margaglione who was drawing dead to the [poker card="jh"] river. Margaglione finished in fourth place for $293,510. During a break, the final three players negotiated a deal for the remaining prize pool. Ilyas Muradi locked up $580,000 as the chip leader and Bardah, sitting in second, agreed to $566,135. Robel Andemichael secured $545,500 and all three agreed to leave $25,000 and a ticket to the WPT Tournament of Champions on the table for the eventual winner. Even though a deal was in place, the pace of play stayed deliberate. After roughly two hours, Andemichael put in a raise on the button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="9d"] and Bardah pushed his final twelve big blinds in the middle with [poker card="as"][poker card="2s"]. The [poker card="kd"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"] flop gave Bardah the lead, which held through the [poker card="ts"] turn. But the [poker card="9s"] river gave the hand to Andemichael which eliminated Bardah in third place for his agreed-upon career-high score of $566,135. Heads up play started with both Andemichael and Muradi practically even in chips. Another two hours passed without either player holding a significant lead. Finally, Andemichael moved all-in for his final 15 big blinds with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6d"] and was called by Muradi holding [poker card="4d"][poker card="4h"]. The board ran out [poker card="tc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="qs"] giving Muradi’s pocket fours the pot and his first WPT title. Andemichael finished as the runner-up, taking home the$545,500 he locked up in the deal. Ilyas Muradi added the $25,000 to his $580,000 portion of the deal for a total cash score of $605,000 plus a $15K ticket to the Tournament of Champions, and a date to have his name engraved on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup. Final Table Payouts 1. Ilyas Muradi - $605,000* + WPT Tournament of Champions seat 2. Robel Andemichael - $545,000* 3. Ronnie Bardah - $566,135* 4. Francis Margaglione - $293,510 5. Jesse Lonis - $223,895 6. Tsz Shing - $168,990
  6. The latest Galfond Challenge came to an abrupt end over the weekend when challenger Chance Kornuth conceded the heads-up match roughly 10,000 hands shy of the finish, awarding Phil Galfond another challenge victory and a payday worth over $976,000. Kornuth booked the $100/$200 heads-up Pot Limit Omaha heads-up challenge with Galfond at the start of 2020 in what was expected to be a 35,000 hand event. In addition to the money on the table, the pair agreed to a side bet in which the favorite, Galfond laid four-to-one to Kornuth, risking $1 million to Kornuth’s $250,000. Over the past four months, the pair battled online each taking turns holding the lead. However, as the challenge approached the 25,000 hand mark, Galfond extended his lead up over $680,000. On Saturday, during session #50, Kornuth lost a pair of critical all-ins. Then, during a break in the action, Kornuth conceded the challenge. “It was a heck of a battle that didn’t really go my way down the stretch and Phil played great,” Kornuth said just moments after conceding. In a joint interview after the match, Kornuth was asked if he knew that he was going to call it early. He discussed the fact that he had sold a package that was based on $1 million. Once he had started the day on a downswing he took a look at the numbers which showed that his in-game loss of $726,500 plus the loss of the $250,000 side bet would put him critically close to his maximum loss amount. So, during the break he let Galfond know that he was ready to quit. “Even though I lost, I actually, surprisingly, enjoyed the battle,” Kornuth said. “I’d been grinding tournaments for the last few years and I really forgot how much I truly do enjoy the heads up battle.” Once again, Galfond was a gracious winner. Galfond joined the interview and praised Kornuth’s toughness as an opponent while discussing the strategies that did and didn’t work against him. “The beginning of the challenge was definitely, especially, mentally draining because Chance was playing so many spots that in ways that were very exploitative or my tendencies or population tendencies. And he was adjusting quickly,” Galfond said. “It funny when you’re playing an exploitative player and you’re one as well because I would imagine that, like, 70% of the things that I thought he was doing - he was. And then 30% was just in my head and I was counter-adjusting to things that weren’t even there,” Galfond said. Galfond is now three-for-three in his string of challenges. His first victory came in dramatic fashion when he battled back from a roughly $1,000,000 deficit to defeat online cash game pro ‘Venividi1993’ over 25,000 hands for the €100,000 side bet. In May 2020, he completed another 15,000 hand challenge against Greek grinder Ioannis ‘ActionFreak’ Kontonstsios where he booked a €114,000 profit plus an additional €150,000 in side bet action. Over the course of the three challenges, Galfond has won more than $1.4 million in on-the-felt and side bet earnings. After his victory against Kornuth, Galfond talked about the differences in preparation and study against online specialists like ‘Venividi1993’ in comparison to a more exploitative player like Kornuth. “At first, I kind of approached it the same way but it was way, way different. Because I feel like when I found something that I could take advantage of against ‘Veni’ or ‘ActionFreak’, not that there were very many things, I felt like I could rely on it for weeks,” Galfond said. “But with Chance, that’s not the case. It kind of became almost a waste of energy to spend a ton of time looking back on hands and trying to figure out his range construction in different spots and a counter-strategy.” “So I started to, towards the end of the challenge, prioritize resting my mind because I felt just too burnt out trying to make all these reads and strategy adjustments and plans and I feel like I wasn’t performing as well and so in the second half of the challenge I feel like a lot more of my focus went to performance than specific strategic studying.” Galfond wasn’t alone in feeling burnt out as Kornuth expressed some relief at the challenge coming to an end. Additionally, in between the time that he accepted the challenge in early 2020 and the conclusion, Kornuth became a father for the first time. “It’s really weird, I almost feel better not that it’s over than I did yesterday,” Kornuth said. “It’s almost a relief that it’s over. Obviously, I gave it my all and tried to win but it’s kind of a weird feeling. I expected to be more dejected today than yesterday but I actually feel surprisingly good.” When discussing what’s next for him, Kornuth said he planned to “focus on being a dad” as well as marketing the latest programs of his online poker training site Chip Leader Coaching. Galfond also expressed that he planned on spending time with family and putting work in on his own Run It Once training site. Although the start of the next Galfond Challenge is still up in the air, Galfond did note that there are a number of battles left on the horizon. There’s a challenge with Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates, a live challenge against Brandon Adams, and the resumption of his challenge against Bill Perkins but with no plans to travel out of the country, Galfond indicated that those will have to wait.
  7. The poker world might not like the idea, but Damian Salas will have no problem calling himself the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event champion. The 45-year-old Argentinian beat Joseph Hebert in the heads up finale of the 2020 WSOP Main Event on Sunday night at the Rio Hotel & Casino to take home $1 million, the bracelet and the title of WSOP Main Event champ. The $1 million is in addition to the $1,550,969 Salas earned for winning the international leg at King's Casino in mid-December. Hebert, who earned $1,553,256 for winning the U.S. leg of the event, earned no additional prize money for finishing as the runner-up. “Joseph was a very hard opponent, and he played really well. In a few instances, he was about to win, it was a real fight and he never slowed down,” Salas said. “Going into the championship, I felt all the energy and support from my family and friends in Argentina tonight, and that helped me.” Both players started the heads up match with 500,000 chips and levels were 20 minutes long. Over the course of nearly six hours and 173 hands of play, both players took turns holding the chip lead with Salas being down 9-1 in chips before clawing his way back to win. After the third chip lead change, Hebert seemed to have Salas cornered. Down 9-1 in chips after hand #82, Salas doubled with [poker card="ad"][poker card="2c"] against Hebert's [poker card="kd"][poker card="5h"]. He doubled again on hand #101 and then took the lead on hand #136. Hebert was down 3-1 in chips before taking a slight lead after doubling through Salas on hand #153. Hebert increased that lead to as much as 3-1 before running [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"] into Salas' [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"] with only 20 big blinds in play on hand #170. Salas won that hand to hold his own 3-1 chip lead and just three hands later, finished Hebert off. With blinds of 25,000/50,000, Hebert jammed for 390,000 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] and Salas called with [poker card="kd"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5c"] flop moved Salas in front and Hebert could only watch as the [poker card="5d"] turn and [poker card="kc"] river completed the board to give Salas the title. Salas is no stranger to WSOP Main Event success. In 2017, he finished in seventh place and won $1,425,000. The heads up match was the culmination of the WSOP decision to host a hybrid online-live Main Event on GGPoker and WSOP.com after hosting a "Main Event" on GGPoker as part of the 2020 WSOP Online. In December, each site hosted a $10,000 buy-in online event which played down to a final table of nine. The final tablists from each site met in a live setting to play down to just one player. Each of the two winners then met in Las Vegas to play for the right to be called Main Event champion. The heads-up finale was originally scheduled to take place December 30, but had to be delayed until Sunday after Salas was denied entry to the United States due to his recent travel activity and COVID-19 protocols.
  8. 2020 was a career year for UK online crusher Conor ‘1_conor_b_1’ Beresford who not only spent more than half the year as the #1-ranked player in the world but also earned more than enough PocketFives PLB points to run away as the 2020 Online Poker Player of the Year. For years, Beresford had been considered one of the toughest online poker tournament players in the world, but in 2020 he cemented himself as one of the very best. He hit new heights by earning six six-figure scores, four of which are currently a part of his top-5 results. He also padded his poker resume with victories in high roller events as well as his first PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker title. Beresford’s year got off to a quick start when on January 30 he finished as the runner-up in the GGPoker $2,020 2020 Series Championship for what was easily a new career-high cash of $611,134. Although he settled for second in that spot, Beresford spent the rest of the year finding ways to take home the win in the face of huge paydays at major final tables. For Beresford, those final tables often came with a title attached. He started his 2020 collection in March when he took down the partypoker POWERFEST Event #8 for $70,588. It was then that the online poker industry ramped up its offerings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which meant more opportunities for players like Beresford. On March 22, he picked up a win in the PokerStars High Rollers Week Kickoff Event ($5,200 NLHE) for $180,438. That fed right into back-to-back six-figure scores, the first of which took place during High Rollers 32 ($5,200 8-Max Main Event) for $378,205. That was closely followed by another huge win in High Rollers 39 ($10,300 NLHE) where Beresford defeated fellow UK pro Michael 'mczhang' Ch Zhang heads up for $239,652. All three of those PokerStars High Rollers victories were good enough to enter Beresford’s top-5 career results. The highlights continued in April as Beresford walked away with the win in the GGPoker GSS #162-HR for $74,066. Then again in May when he picked up a PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker title with a win in Event 32-H ($530 NLHE) for $85,959. It was only fitting that in the middle of his 29-week long run as the #1-ranked player in the world, Beresford took down his first PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker title for $162,674. By the end of the year, Beresford’s lifetime career cashes soared over $14.7 million in earnings and he accumulated 29,804 PLB points, more than 4,000 ahead of Brazil’s Brunno ‘bbotteon’ Botteon who ended the year with 25,730 points. Botteon had a well-documented incredible year in his own right highlighted by a second-place finish in the international leg of the World Series of Poker 2020 Main Event for a career-high score of $1,062,723. He also finished as the runner-up in the WSOP $25,000 Heads Up NLHE event on GGPoker for $622,300 as well as making an appearance at the final table of the WSOP $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship where he finished in sixth place for another $388,837. In total, Botteon, who is currently the #1-ranked player in the world, earned 14 of his top 15 scores in 2020, seven of which were good for six-figures or more. The current #2-ranked player, Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic also made a run at the Online Player of the Year title by accumulating 23,773 points. The largest score of his year came in August when he earned a WSOP gold bracelet in Event #63 ($500 Mini Main Event) and collected a career-high cash of $843,460. After winning the PocketFives Yearly PLB title in both 2018* and 2019, ‘Lena900’ finished fourth in the 2020 race with 22,918 points. ‘Lena900’ started the year off as the #1-ranked player and held on to it for the better part of five months until Beresford assumed the top spot. Despite everything he’s accomplished in his career, all of his titles, the online great managed to add even more last year. His yearly highlights included a win in the PokerStars Stadium Series for $230,435 which was the third-highest cash of his career plus two WCOOP titles. In total, ‘Lena900’ has extended his lead on the Online All-Time Money List to more than $21.5 million. Former #1-ranked Yuri ‘Yuri Martins’ Dzivielevski finished in fifth place with 20,411 points on the back of his second career WSOP bracelet and three World Championship of Online Poker titles which included one in Event #48-H ($5,200, 8-Max PKO) for a total of $245,000. 2020 Online Poker Player of the Year Standings [table id=150 /] * In previous years, players were awarded the title of PocketFives Yearly PLB winner. This title has been changed to PocketFives Online Player of the Year.
  9. 2020 was a long year for many professional poker players. Back in March, live tournaments and cash games virtually disappeared overnight in Las Vegas, and around the world, and over the summer, the halls of the Rio, normally packed to the brim with Davipoker pros and amateurs alike, were empty. As two-time WSOP bracelet winner David 'ODB' Baker put it, "2020 was a terrible year for me and most poker players. The bills don’t stop, but the games did." Well, Baker and good friend and fellow poker pro Mark Gregorich ended the year on quite a high note, after a strong showing in two high-profile NFL betting contests in Las Vegas. The contests run the length of the NFL season and handicappers are betting five games each week against the spread. They finished first place in the $1,500 buy-in Westgate SuperContest, earning $435,623. In addition, they tied for second place in the $1,000 buy-in Circa Sports Millions contest, earning another $200,000. Tack on bonuses for their first quarter finishes in both contests, and the two ended up hauling in $785,623. Baker and Gregorich shot out to an early lead, and they never looked back from there. "We got off to a really hot start. After the first quarter, heading to Week 5, we knew we had a shot. We had an 18-2 start. It really started to feel real about the halfway point, and about Week 12, we really started adjusting strategies." The lead-up to the 2020 season was unlike any other. No preseason games for anyone, and limited training camps meant that teams came out of the gates rusty. For Baker and Gregorich, their strategy coming in was to bank on good quarterbacks who would be less affected by the upheaval of the usual preseason routine. "We went into the year thinking home field advantage was basically nullified. We also were quick to hypothesize and it became just a basic fact later that QBs had a huge advantage with empty stadiums. Early on we feasted with good QBs on the road laying small numbers. As the year went on, these spots became harder to exploit. Lines that early were 2-5 became 6-10," Baker told us. This was just the second year in the SuperContest for the duo, and their first time in the Circa Sports contest. However, their years of poker knowledge and game theory surely assisted them in their abilities to navigate the potential pitfalls of leading from the front in the beginning. "In the SuperContest, we had a decent lead, 2-4 points, and the field started to thin. At that point we went for more chalky plays and tried to block. Get good lines. At the same time in Circa we were falling back a bit," Baker said. "A few of the picks we made on both cards lost. We knew we needed to take some leverage spots and go against the grain. We successfully took the worst lines a few times and in turn gained leverage," Baker continued. Tournament poker players will often tell you that all they ultimately want at the end is a sweat. A shot at the crown. Well, Gregorich and Baker found themselves in about as good a spot as any heading into the final week of the season. They held a half-point lead in the Circa Sports contest, while their lead in the SuperContest was a more comfortable three-point advantage. Of course, the two sports bettors spent hours of time picking out what would likely be the five biggest sports bets of their lives. Baker gave us a peek behind the curtain of what these two discussed the most leading up to the final Sunday. "We went into Week 17 with many thoughts obviously. First thought was, try to play the Washington-Philly game if at all possible, and try to land on the team that was going to have the best line value at kickoff. Meaning Washington was -2 in the contest so if we thought the line would move up, play them, if down, play Philly." They ultimately settled on taking Washington (-2) and of course, the thought of hedging crossed the player’s minds, but in this specific scenario, that wasn’t going to be very easy. As it turns out, the two players had already made a decision that they would have put a hefty wager on the Eagles in order to ensure a bigger payday. "This was the only hedging spot we planned to take. If we needed the game we would be able to bet a nice chunk on philly with a middle. As it worked out if we needed Washington we would have made a lot by betting philly at 6.5-7 The rest of the cards we approached similarly to past weeks." Baker and Gregorich submitted three picks across both cards: Washington Football Team. Baltimore Ravens, and Carolina Panthers. They went 2-1 on those picks, and went different on their other two. On Circa Sports, they took the Packers and Seahawks, while the SuperContest card had the Cowboys and Steelers. Both ended up 1-1. "We had a pool of teams we liked. Carolina, Buffalo, Green Bay, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit became a late possibility. We pretty much were down to those six teams for three slots. Green Bay was our favorite but the line was -5/-5.5 in the contests and -4 in real life. We were committed, but the line movement caused us to only take them in Circa." Gregorich lobbied for his hometown Seahawks for one of the final picks, as he had done a few times already in the season. As is often the case in Seahawks games, the final quarter was wild, giving the poker pros a roller coaster of a ride that would put a major final table to shame. The Seahawks were -6 favorites, meaning that Baker and Gregorich needed Seattle to win by a full touchdown. However, the Seahawks offense struggled throughout the game, and all looked lost when the Niners took a 16-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. But then, back-to-back Seattle touchdowns put them up 20-16, and made it possible for a miracle cover. Then, a sack fumble gave the Hawks the ball back, and after another touchdown, Baker and Gregorich looked like they would still have a shot at the $1 million first place prize in the Circa contest. However, the 49ers put together a garbage time drive, and punched it in with 23 seconds left. The score was meaningless to the overall outcome of the game, but it changed everything in Las Vegas. Baker compared the emotions of the final two minutes of that game to a spot he's been in many times over the course of his poker career. "Imagine being at the final hand of a major tournament with $800,000 difference between first and second. You get it all in with AK vs KK. No biggie, you lose, it’s a cooler. That’s how it felt the whole game. We were on the wrong side. Clean flop, no sweat. We are going to lose," Baker said. "Then from out of nowhere the ace hits the turn. Now we are going to win! Then before you know it, the king on the river comes to beat you. That’s how it felt. Yes, we still needed Washington, but that line moved to -6.5, so we knew we had a nice middle to hedge and win a lot of money." The sweat was so large because of the very top heavy payouts in the Circa Sports contest. First place was $1,000,000, while second dropped all the way to $200,000. Normally, a poker player would like to have a top-heavy payout structure, but Baker didn’t pull any punches when criticizing the payouts. "I think the pay scale was pretty gross honestly. First was three times the amount of second place. But whatever, sometimes you’re on the good end of steep payouts, and sometimes not." Baker and his wife already had plans to move to Las Vegas before what they hope will be the 2021 WSOP, so Baker said that most of this prize money will go towards buying a new home there. For Baker, it is a bittersweet ending to a year that he and everyone else will never forget.
  10. In the final days of 2020, former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Huckleberry Seed became the 60th person inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. Seed, a four-time WSOP bracelet winner including the 1996 WSOP Main Event, is undoubtedly a worthy recipient of what should be considered poker’s highest honor. The mission of the Poker of Fame should be to celebrate the game itself while recognizing the players and people who have shined brightest and helped elevate the game during their careers. That being said, the current system responsible for nominating and enshrining people into the Poker Hall of Fame is broken and needs an overhaul to mitigate some issues which are already making themselves known and are only bound to get worse. A quick explainer on the current system: Following a public nomination process, the WSOP releases a list of 10 nominees based on the public input. Living PHOF members are given those 10 names to consider. Each voter has 10 points to distribute amongst the 10 nominees however they choose. All votes are tallied and the nominee receiving the most points is inducted. This is a change from the previous 10 years where a select panel of media (equal to the number of voting PHOF members) were also given a vote and the top two point earners were inducted. The criticisms of the current system are aplenty but there are two which stand out. The heavy bias towards American players has long been a frustration for players, fans and media from outside of the country. The second issue is a growing backlog of worthy candidates that has no hope of being cleared anytime soon as more and more worthy candidates become eligible each year. Let the Public Continue to Be Involved The one thing that doesn’t need any real change is the nomination process. The WSOP makes it so that anybody, a poker fan, a poker player, a family member, can nominate somebody for the PHOF so long as the person they’re nominating is at least 40 years old. It gives everybody an opportunity to be involved and gives WSOP executives a number of names to choose from when putting the final list of 10 nominees together each year. Remove the Cap on Number of Annual Inductees Seed was the only member of the 2020 class by design. From 2010-2019, the PHOF enshrined two nominees each year. That became a single inductee in 2020 with WSOP executives citing a return to tradition as the reason behind the change. “We like tradition. One per year is the way it was for the majority of the Poker Hall of Fame’s history. A single inductee seems to promote the prestige of the honor,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP, who oversees the administration of the PHOF. In fact, the PHOF has had a single inductee in 18 years, two inductees in 16 years, seven inductees in the inaugural class of 1979, and another five years with no inductees at all. Keeping one inductee, or even two, per year certainly keeps the PHOF exclusive, but there is already a backlog of candidates waiting to get in and the coming onslaught from the online poker generation is going to make the nominees list awfully crowded. Five years from now five of the most recent nominees will still be on the nomination list and the following players will be eligible for the first time in either 2025 or 2026: Justin Bonomo, Shaun Deeb, Phil Galfond, Isaac Haxton, Jason Koon, Chris Moorman, Nick Schulman, Scott Seiver, Vanessa Selbst. Neither the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, or the Basketball Hall of Fame restrict the number of inductees on an annual basis. The PHOF needs to follow suit and this could be accomplished by eliminating the points system currently being used and replacing it with the system used by those other halls of fame. In all three instances, voters are given the name of all of those eligible for induction and simply vote yes or no. For basketball and baseball, a nominee becomes an enshrinee with 75% of the vote, for football, it’s 80%. Add More International Flavor Seed was the 60th inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame and one of the major criticisms of the current system is that it places an emphasis on American players. Of the 31 living Hall of Famers, who are eligible to vote, only four are not American. Carlos Mortensen, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, and Henry Orenstein are the only four voters born outside of the United States and most of them, if not all of them, spent a considerable amount of their poker career living and working in the United States. This fails to recognize the incredible worldwide growth that the game of poker has enjoyed over the last 50 years. Eliminating the maximum number of inductees rule as mentioned above could lead to an increase in the number of international members, which in turn leads to more international voters. Allowing select industry leaders, including members of the media, would also increase the number of international voters. Starting in 2010, a select media panel, intentionally equal in size to the number of HOF members voting, were afforded the opportunity to vote. That privilege was eliminated this year. Modifying this concept to include those who have worked long term in the poker industry puts in place a much needed system of checks and balances and ensures the international players get a fair shake. While the number American poker media outlets may be declining, the growth in international coverage of the game and the industry has grown immensely. Markets such as Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Japan, Korea, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, and India all have talented, knowledgeable media covering the game not only in their own country, but around the world. Vetting and filling a panel of 32 media members wouldn’t be difficult and would provide a much-needed sense of balance to the final vote. Make the Builder Category Official The current criteria that voters are asked to consider when voting is the following: A gambler must have played poker against acknowledged top competition, Played for high stakes, Played consistently well, gained the respect of peers, And stood the test of time. Or, for non-players, contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results. While that last line certainly allows for a voter to recognize “non-players” in their voting, it also forces them to evaluate two completely different categories of nominee against each other. It also doesn’t tell voters how to apply the criteria to the nominees. For example, Chris Moneymaker was part of the PHOF Class of 2019 and a number of those who voted for him were doing so based on the “non-player” criteria because of his role in helping ignite the poker boom following his 2003 WSOP Main Event win. Moneymaker clearly doesn’t fit the criteria as a player and he would most likely be the first one to tell you that. Creating and properly defining a category specific for builders gives voters the opportunity to properly assess the entire body of work of that nominee. A yes or no voting system also removes the requirement that a five-time WSOP bracelet winner’s credential be considered against that of a longtime member of the industry whose impact was responsible for measurable growth. To ensure that the Hall continues to shine on light on the game’s best players, removing the minimum vote threshold and simply inducting the leading vote getter each year ensures no more than a single builder is recognized each year. Get Ceremonial and Show the World Over the years there have been varying types of ceremonies for the annual HOF induction. From a dinner at Binion’s with friends, family, fellow HOFers and industry leaders invited to a simple ceremony during November Nine festivities, the WSOP has, in the past, made an effort to afford the inductees a chance to be recognized in front of an audience. Budgetary restrictions and timing issues have made a ceremony of any magnitude a challenge the past few years, but adding a Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony to the calendar not only gives the newest members of the PHOF a night to shine, but it gives the WSOP a chance to thump its chest and strut. The WSOP already has a strong relationship with PokerGO and including a night of pomp and circumstance where the inductees, Hall of Famers, top players, and celebrities all gather to celebrate the game to the broadcast schedule seems like a win-win. Footing the bill for something like this comes down to finding a sponsor. WSOP executives have had success bringing non-endemic advertisers into the fold as sponsors and this seems like a great opportunity to bring one of those companies to the table. Small steps like the one's listed here aren't necessarily new, but re-vamping the entire process with an eye towards ramping up the intensity of the spotlight shined on poker's best and brightest is a win-win for everybody. FIVE THINGS is written by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley and covers pressing topics and current events in the poker world today. It appears periodically at PocketFives.com.
  11. Chris Moneymaker didn’t become of the best ambassadors in poker by being a high-stakes crusher or a Hollywood celebrity. It was practically divine intervention that married the Moneymaker name with his down-to-earth personality and stuck him in front of the ESPN cameras holding up bricks of cash as the winner of the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. It turns out, he was perfectly suited for the role of a poker ambassador. But on the final day of 2020, Moneymaker took to Twitter to announce that, effective immediately, he and PokerStars were mutually parting ways bringing to an end his 17-year run with the world's largest online poker site. Not a bad run for a job that was thrust upon him. Moneymaker’s tenure at PokerStars makes him if not the - one of the - longest-running ambassadors in poker history. But over his time at PokerStars, the job description of poker ambassador changed quite a bit. Here at the end of an era, Moneymaker took some time to reflect on what it means to be an ambassador, how it’s evolved, and what it takes to succeed in the role today. “When I signed, there was no such thing as an ambassador. Tom McEvoy was the only one who had a deal, and I don’t really know what his role was,” said Moneymaker. “My first year with PokerStars, I really didn’t do anything. There was nothing going on. Tournaments were probably three or four a year, there wasn’t a whole lot televised. So basically they were giving me money for nothing, just to wear a patch. But I never got to wear a patch because it was never on TV. That was the first year. “As the years progressed, tons of TV shows, tons of tournaments, tons of everything started coming out. To be an ambassador back then was, essentially just wear the patch and represent the site and do interviews and play on the site. Nothing that I normally wouldn't do anyways. So it wasn't really work to me. I just got to be myself and it, again, made it really easy.” But that was then. It was an era where poker participation was skyrocketing and companies like PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Ultimate Bet, among others, looked to lock up top talent in hopes that slapping a patch on a player at a televised final table would entice the next wave of depositors. “It went from three of us, there was me, Joe [Hachem] and Greg [Raymer] to, freaking, I think we got to 100 almost. It was a revolving door of people coming in and going out. I never even met some of them,” he said. According to Moneymaker, PokerStars' aggressive ambassador stance was in part due to PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg’s belief in the ambassador role as a means to grow the industry. They snapped up players in any country where poker could explode. “It was a while there where every day I’d wake up and there would be a new pro.” Over a decade later, and after the fallout from Black Friday, the abundance of televised cash games and made-for-broadcast tournaments like the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship is all but gone. For online operators, the landscape of how new customers are obtained continues to be a challenge and the role of an engaged ambassador requires much more than simply playing on a site with a custom avatar. “The role of the ambassador changed quite a bit. I might be a little bit of a unicorn in the fact that I don’t stream a whole lot, but to be an ambassador in today’s game, you almost have to be a streamer or do things of that nature, because there’s not enough opportunity to be on TV,” Moneymaker said. “Once Black Friday happened, they took away patches on TV, so there’s just not as many opportunities for someone to get patched up to be on TV. Really the way to get into an ambassadorship role in today’s game is to be as a streamer of some kind, or be a personality that would attract outside of poker.” That is part of what makes Moneymaker the “unicorn” he is. He’s not a 40-hour per week online poker streamer showcasing a platform. And while his social media following is impressive, he doesn't have the millions of followers that names like Neymar, Rafael Nadal or Usain Bolt have (all of whom have passed through the turnstile of poker ambassadorship.) Yet, even though multiple ownership changes at PokerStars, his ambassador deal was "rubber-stamped" time and time again. Moneymaker is one of the rare poker personas who transcended company marketing. People feel connected to Moneymaker by having watched him live out the same poker dream that they have themselves. He’s an ambassador for poker as a whole and it’s that connection that Moneymaker feels is his real value as an ambassador is. It’s a connection he doesn’t take for granted. “For me, personally, [the job] was going out and actually meeting people and meeting the guys that want to win a big tournament, or change their life, or want to take the game a little more seriously.” Moneymaker said. “They get the experience of playing with me and meeting me, and [being an ambassador] was more about the person-to-person experience for me.” “The one thing that’s made me last 17 years, I believe, is whenever they ask me to do something I’ve always just said ‘yes’. I’ve never told them no to anything. But I always felt like they really didn’t ask me to do a whole lot.” That’s not to say that the ambassador's life is always easy. Time away from family can be taxing. Trips to Europe, Australia, and China may be exciting but the travel can be grueling. Adding the travel to the event and half-a-month is spent on the road and according to Moneymaker, “eventually it gets old after 17 years.” On December 31, Moneymaker cited the desire to spend more time with his family as a reason for his mutual parting of ways with PokerStars. The news was a surprise for many fans and members of the poker industry alike as the association between the WSOP champ and the site he won his $10K seat on felt like the strongest in poker. Moneymaker’s decision was also a bit of a surprise to Moneymaker himself who, at one time, imagined a future that extended well past 17 years. “It’s a good company. I was really happy with them,” he said. “I’m still really happy with them, I have no problem. It was a mutual thing and they really didn’t ask me to do a whole lot and they paid me pretty good. So, from my side, I was really happy and I felt like they got a lot of value out of me. In any good business deal, you’re going to have both sides coming out good, and I think that’s the case we had. I know the relationship would have continued…I actually expected it to go on another decade, but then the coronavirus happened and everything changed from my standpoint.” When asked to reflect on the peak of being an ambassador for PokerStars, Moneymaker paused, as if there’s were too many to count or perhaps the seventeen years is all a blur. He talked about his connection with Donald Hobbs back in 2008 and his successful Moneymaker Tour where he handed out a series of $25K Platinum Passes to players who could never afford to play in the high-roller event. “Those types of things are what really stick out to me, changing people’s lives and giving people experiences. Honestly, some of the best times I had was when I’d take someone’s bankroll at the table but then they’d get up and shake my hand and say ‘That was awesome’. Basically, I know I’ve done my job.” The Moneymaker ambassador era at PokerStars may be over, but Moneymaker’s not headed off into the sunset yet. Just 45 years old, in his farewell video he hints at future endeavors, and as one of poker’s ultimate ambassadors, one would think that it’s just a matter of time before he’s called on again. “I’ve already had phone calls and I’ve already answered a few of them, so yeah, you’ll be seeing some things from me in the near future.”
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