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  1. Over 2,200 entrants showed up for Event #4 of the 2014 World Series of Poker, a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament. A top prize of $360,000, just about enough for one year's worth of daily $1K events, is on the line and Kyle da_kyky Cartwright (pictured) leads the way entering the final day. --- PocketFives' WSOP coverage is brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Play Real Gaming, real money poker on any device. Play now for the real royal bonus and win $1,000. --- When Friday's play began, 186 players remained, each of whom was in the money. Cartwright ended the day with 973,000 in chips, leading the second place stack of fellow PocketFives member Daniel dazedace Dizenzo by about 60,000. Cartwright is a five-time WSOP Circuit ring winner and a graduate of the University of Memphis. He Tweeted when all was said and done, "Bagged 973k coming back to 8/16k. 12 left. Sucks all my best buds gotta miss the Milli Maker tomorrow to rail me." As for how Dizenzo's Friday went, he logged the final elimination of the day in Event #4 at the Rio by busting Jeff Gross in 13th place. Gross had A-10 and was up against Dizenzo's pocket fives for a race. PocketFives karma was on his side, as the board ran out 3-9-3-6-2 to give Dizenzo the second place stack headed into the overnight break. Dizenzo also sent Michael Katz to the rail in 14th place after Katz ran K-Q into Q-Q. Dizenzo had a full house by the time all was said and done and scooped Katz's stack of 53,000 in chips. Here are the chip stacks of the 12 remaining players in the $1K No Limit Hold'em tournament. The blinds were at 6,000-12,000 with an ante of 2,000 when play stopped, heading into 8,000-16,000: Kyle da_kyky Cartwright - 973,000 (60 bb) Daniel dazedace Dizenzo - 912,000 (57 bb) Ylon Schwartz - 832,000 (52 bb) Jeremy Dresch - 672,000 (42 bb) Blake Barousse - 634,000 (39 bb) Steve Chanthabouasy - 631,000 (39 bb) Robert pokerguru740 Kuhn - 533,000 (33 bb) Michael Sortino - 422,000 (26 bb) Matthew O'Donnell - 406,000 (25 bb) Ken Weinstein - 261,000 (16 bb) Jason Paster - 234,000 (14 bb) Geoffrey Mooney - 163,000 (10 bb) Vanessa Selbst (pictured, right) won Event #2 of the WSOP, a $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold'em tournament, after defeating Jason Mo in the finals. Selbst notched her third bracelet in the process, tying Barbara Enright for the most by a woman in WSOP history. Selbst apparently had some furry friends on her rail, as WSOP coverage noted that her puppies were allowed on set to root on their mom. Selbst's wife was also in the house to witness her third bracelet win. The PokerStarspro overcame a series of deficits during heads-up play to pull through, including a 7:1 chip lead by Al Decarolis in the semifinals and a 5:1 lead by Mo in the finals. The Rio is bustling to start the weekend, as the Millionaire Maker $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event, which guarantees a seven-figure top prize, kicks off at 11:00am Pacific Time on Saturday from the Rio with the first of two starting flights. The second flight is at 5:00pm. A bevy of pros were present at the event according to their Twitter feeds, including Matt Glantz, who joked, "Little late, but finally arrived at #WSOP. MillyMaker 1st event. Plan to send a bunch of kids back to their parents' basement today." According to Kevin KevmathMathers, as of 1:40pm Eastern Time, there were 4,512 entrants in the Millionaire Maker, with another 100 in line. By the time the event started, that number was up to 4,732. Caesars Interactive Entertainment's Seth Palansky added on Twitter, "We've already got more in today's Flight A @WSOP than last year's Milly Maker. May beat single flight record of 4,407 set in Seniors Event." Last year's Millionaire Maker had 6,343 total entrants. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage, sponsored by Real Gaming. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. The $1 million buy-in World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop is just a month-and-a-half away and the limited seats on offer are quickly starting to fill. Adding to the 23 participants confirmed in March, WSOP officials have revealed that 10 more players will battle it out for what could be the biggest first place prize in sports history, bringing the total to 33. WSOP officials announced on Thursday that the total attendance is now nearing 40. The recent additions to the list include Anthony Gregg, last year's winner of the One Drop High Roller Event; Igor Kurganov, the top Russian money winner; and five German poker pros. Joining that group are the notable entries of Vanessa Selbst, the first female participant in the tourney, and Jean-Robert Bellande (pictured), a one-time contestant in the reality show "Survivor." Selbst, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner, has over $9.6 million in live tournament earnings and is considered one of the best female players in the game. "I'm so excited to be taking part in the Big One for One Drop this year," she said. "I didn't get to play in 2012, but after seeing how much fun everyone had with the event as well as how profound an impact it had on One Drop, I knew I had to be a part of it this time around." Bellande, who has developed a social media following with his high-stakes poker antics, surprised and delighted his followers by posting a picture of himself on his Instagram feed holding bricks of cash while buying into the event. "There goes a milly! I just bought into the 1-Drop. If I win this, it'll be brokeliving no more," he posted. Conspicuously absent from the list is six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu (pictured). The PokerStars pro isn't keen on putting up 100% of the massive buy-in himself and has been soliciting investors on Twitter. "I'll be selling 50% of my action for the One Drop $1 million buy-in this year. Get at me if you want to buy a piece. $5k minimum," he posted. "Oh, and I'm gonna win and all that," he added. Phil Hellmuth is another big name who hasn't made the decision to risk the seven-figure chunk of his bankroll, reportedly saying that he would see how he was playing before he commits. The inaugural Big One for One Drop event was held at the 2012 WSOP and won by Antonio Esfandiari. The 35-year-old bested a field of 48 players and took home a massive $18.3 million payday, bumping his total live tournament winnings to over $26 million, becoming tournament poker's all-time money leader. In 2013, he came close to another One Drop win, taking fourth place and $1.4 million in the $100,000 version. While some players are still searching for backers, organizers believe that all 56 seats that are available will eventually be claimed. If participation reaches its cap, they boast that the first prize payout will be in excess of $20 million. Of the 33 seats that have been locked up, three have been reserved for the winners of high-stakes satellites. On June 28, the Rio will hold a $25,300 satellite and give players several opportunities to "step" their way up with buy-ins as low as $200. Here were the first 23 entrants. As part of its charitable offering to the One Drop Foundation, the WSOP will not collect any fee from the tournament and, instead, $111,111 will be donated from each player's buy-in. Tournament money winners will also be given the chance to make donations at the end of the event if they choose to do so. Guy Laliberte (pictured), the billionaire creator of Cirque du Soleil and former space tourist, founded One Drop. The organization's mission is to stamp out poverty by providing access to clean drinking water around the world. Laliberte is an avid poker player who enjoys playing the highest stakes available and has reportedly lost tens of millions of dollars through his various Full Tilt Poker accounts. The Big One for One Drop will kick off on June 29 and run until July 1 as part of the 45th annual World Series of Poker. ESPN will film the entire event and broadcast the footage to the world in three-day blocks on July 29, August 5, and August 12. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  3. The 2014 World Series of Poker started with a bang on Tuesday, as a $25,000 Mixed-Max NLHE tournament attracted 131 entrants. The winner, who will be crowned on Friday, will pocket $871,000 and the top 16 will finish in the money. Leading the remaining 60-player field is a familiar name in the poker world: Vanessa Selbst (pictured), who is #1 on tournament poker's all-time money list, according to the Hendon Mob. As PokerNews detailed, Selbst flopped quad jacks in a hand against 2014 PokerStarsCaribbean Adventure High Roller winner Jake Schindler on Tuesday to assume a massive stack. As coverage detailed, "The money went in the middle when Schindler turned a pair of tens to go with his open-ended straight draw, but Selbst held an unbeatable hand and raked in the 450,000-chip pot." Selbst has 562,000 in chips to start Day 2, which will be played six-handed at the Rio in Las Vegas, the site of the annual WSOP for the last 10 years. Trailing Selbst by 5,000 in chips is Brian tsarrastRast, who won the 2012 WSOP Poker Player's Championship. Rast was the executioner of two high-profile players on Tuesday in the event: nosebleed-stakes cash game player Phil Galfond and 2012 Main Event winner Greg Merson. Selbst and Rast have a commanding lead over the third place player on the leaderboard, three-time bracelet winner Michael Mizrachi, who has 399,000 in chips. Jason treysfull21Mercier (pictured), who told PocketFives in recent weeks that he is hell-bent on getting another bracelet in 2014, doubled up late on Tuesday in the Six-Max event to survive to Day 2. The chips hit the middle pre-flop in a race situation, with Mercier holding A-K against Barry Hutter's 9-9. Mercier flopped an ace to pull ahead for good and ended the day with 117,000. Also doubling up as the final seconds ticked away on Day 1 was Justin ZeeJustin Bonomo, who got his money in well behind with 7-7 against A-A. However, he hit a runner-runner straight to double up to over 200,000 in chips and ended the day at 178,000. No WSOP reporting would be complete without checking in on Phil Hellmuth (pictured). The outspoken Main Event winner has a stack of 181,000 entering Day 2. Hellmuth's big pot involved the money going in on a 10-8-7 two-diamond flop, with Hellmuth showing 8-8 for middle set and John Juanda showing 6-5 of diamonds for flush and straight draws. The 5h and Ks on the turn and river were no help to Juanda, however, and Hellmuth doubled through. Here are the top 10 stacks in the $25,000 Mixed-Max NLHE event (#2): 1. Vanessa Selbst - 562,800 2. Brian tsarrastRast - 557,400 3. Michael Mizrachi - 399,300 4. Jason Mo - 393,000 5. Fabrice Touil - 327,600 6. Dan Cates - 317,000 7. Ravi govshark2 Raghavan - 275,000 8. John Juanda - 264,800 9. Stephen stevie444 Chidwick - 260,600 10. Aaron aejones Jones - 235,800 There's one new event slated to start on Wednesday in Las Vegas, a $1,000 Pot Limit Omahatournament that kicks off at Noon Pacific Time. Keep it dialed to PocketFives for the latest WSOP coverage. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  4. In an ongoing AMA on Reddit, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst (pictured) fielded a variety of questions, including how she stacks up against online poker players. Her response may have been surprising to some: "I'd probably suck at online pokersince I basically don't ever play, don't really know how to use programs very well, and don't have a database of stats to reference." --- Tournament Poker Edgeis the only poker training site dedicated exclusively to MTTs and features over 1,000 training videos, blogs, articles, podcasts and a dedicated strategy forum for members. Check Tournament Poker Edge out on Twitter. --- The predominantly live pro added, "Whenever I do play online these days, even tournaments, I feel like I'm at such a disadvantage because everyone knows who I am and at least has some idea about how I play and I know basically no one. Like, even people I've played with a bunch IRL, I usually have no clue what their screen names are. I still believe I'm very good at online poker tournaments, but I wouldn't even rank myself among the best because of that big disadvantage." Several questions at the beginning of the AMA focused on Selbst's demeanor, including one person who asked why the poker pro has been labeled by some as "a miserably rude person." Selbst said that she has changed in her adult years and asserted, "The only thing I really care about is what people who've actually met me say. They overwhelmingly say that playing with me is a really positive experience or that I'm generally likable and kind to everyone including strangers, so that's good enough for me." Selbst revealed that her software use is pretty much limited to Poker Cruncher on her phone, explaining, "My lack of study for that stuff probably hurts me in some cases, but I actually think that my intuition, live reads, and pattern recognition are really strong, so it isn't as important for me. In poker parlance, I'm more of a 'feel' player than a 'math' player." Her poker prowess has vaulted her to $11.6 million in live winnings, according to the Hendon Mob, good enough for #14 on the all-time money list for the US and #22 worldwide. She has three seven-figure scores to her name, including a mammoth $1.8 million haul for winning the Partouche Poker Tour's Main Event in Cannes five years ago (pictured). A series of questions about Twitchalso were posed. Selbst called the streaming platform "highly entertaining and a fantastic way to learn the game of poker." When asked if she'd be streaming anytime soon, Selbst responded, "I've actually been meaning to do it myself for a while, but seeing as how I don't play much online, my Twitch would have to be more creative in terms of what I did. I have some ideas, but I'm waiting for a time when I have no other major life events happening... I'm thinking in November or December is when I'll be able to start." Finally, we'll recap the origins of Selbst's career. She got started during the "Rounders" boom and played after school at friends' houses. She won big at NAPT Mohegan Sun in 2011 and PokerStars offered her a sponsorship. "I didn't really think of it as a viable career because I don't like the stress of the swings and would rather have a steady income and just play as a fun side hobby," she relayed. "But, when PokerStars said they would be paying for some of my buy-ins and expenses, well at that point I couldn't really turn that down." Check out the entire AMA. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. [caption width="640"] Jason Somerville is giving PokerStarsNJ a chance to get up close and personal with him and his Team PokerStars Pro friends. (Neil Stoddart photo)[/caption] Jason Somerville is ready to rumble. The Team PokerStars Pro will be hosting a special Run It Up event at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City on May 14 and he’s bringing along a bunch of his Team Pro friends. Run It Up, Somerville’s Twitch stream, is the most popular poker channel on the streaming site and regularly draws 10,000+ viewers. Somerville has been streaming from New Jersey for the past 31 days. Vanessa Selbst, Barry Greenstein, Jen Shahade, Chris Moneymakerand Liv Boeree will all be on-hand for the Run It Up Resorts Rumble that includes a breakfast, meet-and-greet sessions, online tournaments and a party. "I'm incredibly excited to host our first one-day Run it Up festival on the East Coast with two great partners in PokerStars and Resorts," said Somerville. "It's been so much fun playing and streaming on PokerStars New Jersey this month and I can't wait to hang out with all of our awesome Run it Up fans in person. It'll totally be worth putting on pants." Somerville will be live streaming on his Twitch channel throughout the day. Players on site will be able to participate in an exclusive $30 buy-in event on PokerStarsNJ. Garden State players not in attendance can play a $10 buy-in event as part of the festivities. The final table of the $30 event will be played "battleship style" with the final nine players positioned at a poker table with their laptop or mobile device. In the afternoon, attendees will have a Q&A with Somerville before the festivities move to Landshark Bar & Grill for a party that includes an open bar, food and live music. PokerStarsNJ is hosting a special freeroll event on May 1 that awards 50 pairs of tickets to the Rumble, including five VIP packages which come with two nights’ accommodation at Resorts Hotel & Casino, a pair of entry tickets to the VIP party and $200 spending money. Tickets can also be earned by simply completing one of two challenges on the PokerStarsNJ client before midnight on April 30. The first is to play a single real money hand in a cash game at any stake level. The second is to enter any real money tournament. Players that don’t qualify via the freeroll or challenges can make a minimum $10 deposit using the bonus code ‘VIPCLUBNJ’ before midnight on April 30 to claim a free ticket. Tickets can also be purchased on site for just $10, with all proceeds going to Autism Speaks. For more information on the Run It Up Rumble, visit pokerstarsnj.com/vip/live/.
  6. [caption width="640"] Jason Mercier has one WSOP bracelet this year, but narrowly missed out on a second on Wednesday night.[/caption] For the last 72 hours the attention of the poker world has been squarely on Jason Mercier thanks to his first bracelet win of the summer and the six and seven-figure bracelet bets he made before the 2016 World Series of Poker began. On Monday night, Mercier won the $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven event for his fourth career bracelet and in the process won more money from his side action than he did for winning the actual tournament. Mercier has multiple bets on his own success this summer including bets for one bracelet, which are head-to-head bets against other players, bets for two bracelets that pay somewhere around 18-1 and a bet with Vanessa Selbst that pays a staggering 180-1 on a $10,000 wager should Mercier win three bracelets this summer. Shortly after Mercier captured the first bracelet, Selbst took to Twitter looking to hedge her own action. This opened up the conversation where eventually Selbst expressed disappointment that Mercier didn’t allow her to buy out of the bet in the days after making it. Selbst claimed she had been drinking with Mercier the night she made the bet and the alcohol may have influenced her decision. This lead to a number of poker players and others on social media taking sides. All of this was happening while Mercier was on his way to another $10,000 buy-in event final table. “I don’t really wanna comment necessarily publicly about what happened between me and Vanessa,” Mercier said. “We have different views on prop betting I guess, and what exactly happens between friends or whatever. But I don’t really want to get into it too much more.” On Wednesday night, Mercier entered the final table of the $10,000 Razz event with the chip lead and eventually found himself heads-up for his second bracelet. After two and a half hours of heads up play however, Ray Dehkharghani emerged victorious, leaving Mercier to settle for second place. “Pretty disappointed. I mean, I don’t feel like there was too much I could have done heads up. He played very well and it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Mercier. While there may have been very little he could have done, Mercier can’t help but think of the final table as a squandered opportunity to cash in more bets and put himself in position to scoop the biggest one of them all. “That’s what I’m most disappointed about. I have a bunch of bets on winning two bracelets and the huge one for winning three. It’s almost impossible to win three when you get a second (place) because that means you’re going to have to go heads up four times,” said Mercier. “It’s just a little disappointing for the equity in the bet. I mean, obviously I won more money and I can’t be too disappointed to get heads up for a bracelet, ever.’ With 46 events remaining on the WSOP schedule, Mercier has no intentions of slowing down in his pursuit of more bracelets including late-regging the next Championship event that began as Mercier was sitting at the Razz final table. “I’m definitely going to hop in the $10K HORSE now,” said Mercier. “I feel like I’m playing very well right now, I feel like I’m running well and there’s still plenty of big tournaments to play. I looked at the schedule this morning; $10K HORSE, $10K O8, Stud, $25K PLO, $10K PLO, $5K PLO, $50K, $100K. There’s ton of huge buy-in small field events that are very good chances to win. So if I can get myself to a couple more final tables who knows what will happen.” With the controversy over his bet with Selbst taking center stage on social media, Mercier said he was still able to focus on the task at hand. “It’s hard to keep up with all the mentions on Twitter, but besides that it’s not too big of a deal. It doesn’t even really cross my mind when I’m playing. It’s more about at the end of the night or before the day starts catching up on what the hell is going on,” said Mercier. The thought of playing for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of more dollars than other players he’s playing against is something Mercier admits to having thought about but believes the opportunity to win an additional six or seven figures makes it much easier for him to focus at the table. “It is a little daunting when you’re like the difference between first and second is $100,000, but for me it’s like $500,000 or $600,000 or whatever it is,” said Mercier. “I think it helps me just be even more focused and try to take down the title.” As for the bet with Selbst and the furor it caused on Twitter, Mercier claims it’s all in the past now after Selbst sold most of her action on the bet to Mike McDonald. “It’s pretty much squashed I think,” said Mercier. “I know that she pretty much bought out or sold the bet, if I end up winning three I guess I’ll end up getting paid from somebody else."
  7. [caption width="640"] Shaun Deeb grabbed his second WSOP bracelet on Thursday in the ,500 Seven Card Stud event (WSOP photo)[/caption] Just two bracelets were awarded on Thursday at the 2016 World Series of Poker and for both winners it was there second time winning one. Shaun Deeb beat a stacked final table to win the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event just one year after winning his first bracelet. Kristen Bicknell, the 2013 Ladies Champion, won her second career bracelet by coming out on top of the $1,500 Bounty event. While Deeb and Bicknell were winning their second career bracelets, Jason Mercier was a man on mission trying to win his third bracelet of the summer. Mercier played three events simultaneously in an attempt to advance a stack in all three events. Deeb's first bracelet came last year when he won the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'em Championhip. Final Table Payouts Shaun Deeb - $111,101 Adam Friedman - $68,666 Max Pescatori- $46,312 Katherine Fleck - $31,899 Eugene Katchalov - $22,448 Yaniv Birman - $16,147 John Monnette - $11,878 Cory Zeidman - $8,941 Event #50: Vanessa Selbst Highlights 12 Players Left in $1,500 Shootout Day 2 of the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Shootout event saw 120 players return to play 12 10-handed tables with the winner of each moving on to the final day. The group of 12 who won their tables to advance includes Sam Greenwood and Niall Farrell but the real headliner is Vanessa Selbst. The remaining 12 players will start play with two six-handed tables on Friday and play down to a winner beginning at Noon. Final 12 Chip Counts Safiya Umerova - 654,000 Damian Salas - 654,000 Sam Greenwood - 653,000 Niall Farrell - 651,000 Erkut Yilmaz - 651,000 Alexander Lakhov - 646,000 Daniel McAulay - 641,000 Daniel Tang - 640,000 Vanessa Selbst - 639,000 Michael Mixer - 635,000 Yuliyan Kolev - 631,000 Raymond Ho - 630,500 Event #51: Tommy Lee Leads $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship Day 2 of the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship saw just 28 players of the 159 who started the day move on to Day 3. Leading the pack is Tommy Lee with 2,100,000. He's the ony player to finish with more than 2,000,000. The group behind Le includes Brandon Shack-Harris (1,630,000), James 'Andy McLEOD' Obst (1,552,000), recent bracelet winner Loren Klein (760,000) and Max Silver (726,000). With the top 60 players all making the money in this event, there were 32 players eliminated on Thursday that managed to make a profit in the event including Erik Seidel ($15,113), Mike Matusow ($17,113), Taylor Paur ($17,113), Mike Watson ($18,925) and Jason Mercier ($18,925). The final 28 players return to play at 2 PM on Friday to play down to a winner or another 10 levels. Top 10 Chip Counts Tommy Le - 2,100,000 Brandon Shack-Harris - 1,630,000 James Obst - 1,552,000 Melad Marji - 1,300,000 Junayed Khan - 1,122,000 Travis Pearson - 1,108,000 Harley Stoffmaker - 1,050,000 Dominique Mosley - 817,000 Loren Klein - 760,000 Benjamin Reinhart - 739,000 Event #52: Erhan Iscan Leads $3,000 No Limit Hold'em Erhan Iscan has just one previous tournament cash to his credit - a 32nd place finish in a $120 buy-in tournament in 2009. On Thursday he took a gigantic step towards his second cash, this time with a much bigger payout available. Iscan leads after Day 1 of the $3,000 No Limit Hold'em event with 281,000. He is one of 286 survivors from Day 1 action. Former PocketFives #1-ranked player Jordan Young finished with 177,000, good enough for a top five stack. Just two days after finishing runner-up to Ankush Mandavia in the $5,000 Turbo, Daniel Strelitz finished with a top 10 stack, after amassing 163,600 on Day 1. The event drew 1,125 players to create a $3,071,250 prizepool with the eventual champion walking away with $569,158. Some of the other notables to move on to Day 2 include Kevin Saul, Jay Farber, Stephen Chidwick, Joe Cada, Bryn Kenney and 888poker pro Sofia Lovgren. This is the only event of the day that Mercier managed to advance in. He'll have his work cut out for him on Friday however as he bagged up just 21,800 chips - the 251st biggest stack. Top 10 Chip Counts Erhan Iscan - 281,800 Oliver Bosch - 201,600 Keith Lehr - 188,200 Jordan Young - 177,000 Michael Kane - 174,000 Dorian Rios - 167,700 Christopher Kruk - 164,500 Daniel Strelitz - 163,600 Ivan Freitez - 156,900 Roman Valerstein - 142,800 Event #53: John Monnette Leads $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo After Day 1 One of the new events on the 2016 WSOP schedule this year, the $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo event rotates between Omaha Hi-Lo, Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo and Big O (five card Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo). To the surprise of few, a player that has vast experience playing all three variations of the game in Las Vegas cash games made his way to the top of the chip counts after Day 1. John Monnette, who has already cashed six times this summer, finished with 87,650 and the Day 1 chip lead. Right behind him is Yuval Bronshtein with 81,725. Former $50,000 Poker Players Championship winner David Bach sits third with 75,050. Other former braclet winners to advance to Day 2 include Michael Mizrachi, Eli Elezra, Mike Leah, Jason Somerville, Barry Greenstein, Allen Cunningham and Andrey Zaichenko. The event brought out 668 players with 207 moving on to Day 2. Top 10 Chip Counts John Monnette - 87,650 Yuval Bronshtein - 81,725 David Bach - 75,050 Cody Crouch - 74,400 Randy Schatz - 70,200 Michael Mizrachi - 67,325 Mark Johns - 65,050 Viliyan Petleshkov - 64,000 James Alexander - 63,100 Woody Deck - 61,325
  8. [caption width="640"] Dzmitry Urbanovich could win more from his bracelet bets this summer than he would from the WSOP itself.[/caption] Every summer a group of fresh-faced 21 year olds make their inaugural trip to the World Series of Poker with hopes of becoming poker’s next big star. Most have honed their game playing online poker and may have tried their hand at European Poker Tour events before finding their way to Las Vegas. Mike McDonald, Tom Dwan, Annette Obrestad, and Viktor Blom are but a few of the players who had the eyes of the poker world glued to them before their maiden WSOP. But none had as much riding on instant success as Dzmitry Urbanovich does this year. The Polish phenom, with $4,873,174 in lifetime tournaments earnings already, could pocket another $2,000,000 if he does something that no 21-year-old has ever done before: win three WSOP bracelets in a single summer. That $2,000,000 comes from a prop bet Urbanovich has with Vanessa Selbst that pays 200-1 should the Urbanovich come through. That’s right, 200-1. It was a price that Urbanovich was more than happy to take. “I really wanted to make some WSOP bets and it seemed acceptable to me,” said Urbanovich. “I probably could’ve gotten a better price from Vanessa.” Only five players have ever left Las Vegas with three bracelets in a single year. Puggy Pearson was the first to do it after winning three events at the 1973 WSOP, which had only eight events on the schedule. The youngest player to ever do it was Phil Ivey. At the 2002 WSOP a 26-year-old Ivey won three events to bring his career total to four. Factor in the extra events at WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia-Pacific and only one other player, George Danzer in 2014, has hit the WSOP hat trick. Urbanovich was aware that the feat hadn’t been accomplished too many times, but he actually underestimated just how many times somebody has pulled it off. “I thought there was just two or three times actually,” said Urbanovich. PLAYERS WITH THREE WSOP BRACELET WINS IN A SINGLE YEAR Puggy Pearson (1973) - 44 years old Phil Hellmuth (1993) - 28 years old Ted Forrest (1993) - 28 years old Phil Ivey (2002) - 26 years old Jeff Lisandro (2009) - 43 years old George Danzer (2014*) - 31 years old *included a bracelet won at WSOP Asia-Pacific One of the reasons Urbanovich can be so confident is that while 43 of his 53 career cashes have come in No Limit Hold’em, he’s not a NLHE specialist – in fact he finds the game tedious. He plays nearly every game on the WSOP schedule this summer and has the bankroll necessary to play the $10,000 buy-in Championship events. “No Limit Hold’em is boring,” said Urbanovich. “I like to play different games. It’s so much fun. I can’t watch a hand I’m not in during No Limit Hold’em, but when it comes to other stuff it’s different.” Urbanovich showed his ability to play all the variants at the EPT Malta stop in March 2015. He cashed six times, winning the €25,500 High Roller and two NLHE side events, while finishing eighth in a smaller NLHE event, second in a €1,100 Seven Card Stud event, first in a Crazy Pineapple event before finishing runner-up in the €100,000 Super High Roller. Still, the WSOP is a grind unlike no other in poker, and that’s something that Urbanovich knows could be an issue for him, particularly towards the later stages of the Series. “Maybe just a little bit. I’ve never tried six weeks of non-stop live action so I can just imagine,” said Urbanovich. “I might be a bit tired closer to Main Event.” PocketFives will be tracking Urbanovich’s quest for three bracelet throughout the 2016 WSOP. Check back each week for a rundown of his wins, near misses and bustouts.
  9. [caption width="640"] It's hard to look back at the 2016 WSOP as anything but the Summer of Jason Mercier[/caption] The 2016 World Series of Poker is a wrap. Okay, yes there’s still the matter of playing down the final table of the Main Event beginning in October, but 68 of the 69 bracelets have been awarded, the Amazon Room is devoid of any poker tables and poker players have scattered around the world to rebuild their bankrolls just in time to do it all over again next summer. But this past WSOP was packed with storylines and themes including heroes, villains and of course, money – lots of money. Don’t Bet Against Jason MercierIn the days leading up to the 2016 WSOP, Vanessa Selbst gave Jason Mercier 180-1 odds on winning three bracelets this summer. Mercier accepted and put $10,000 on himself. While he bricked the first 15 events of the Series, starting with the $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Championship, Mercier made it interesting. Mercier won that event and then immediately jumped into the $10,000 Razz Championship, only to lose heads-up to Ray Dehkharghani. Rather than dwell on a missed opportunity, Mercier then jumped into the $10,000 HORSE event and won that. In the span of five days Mercier finished first, second and first in $10,000 Championship events. Controversy erupted during that amazing five-day span after Selbst claimed that she had asked Mercier for a buyout the morning after making the bet and her fellow Team PokerStars Pro declined, leaving Selbst on the hook for $1.8 million should Mercier win three bracelets. Selbst eventually sold off most of her action on the bet to Mike McDonald. Throughout it all, Mercier remained focused. Three days later Mercier finished eighth in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship, the closest he would get to a third bracelet. But he wasn’t done with final tables and jewelry. Fellow poker pro Natasha Barbour, Mercier’s girlfriend, made the final table of a $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event and after she busted out in third place, Mercier greeted her on stage and proposed to her. Barbour accepted. Mercier ended the summer by winning the WSOP Player of the Year award, beating out Paul Volpe by almost 272 points. Gimmick Tournaments Might Have Run Their CourseOver the last few years the WSOP schedule has featured an increasing number of lower-buy-in tournaments aimed towards recreational players that have had a marketing hook – a gimmick – attached to them. The 2016 schedule returned four of these tournaments and a quick glance at the numbers suggest that it might be time to go back to the drawing board. All four of these events saw a slight downturn in attendance this summer over 2015. The biggest disappointment of the summer has to be Colossus II. After fixing the payout issue – in 2015 winner only got $638,880 after outlasting over 22,000 players – with a $1 million guarantee to first and fixing registration and payout line issues, the event drew just 21,613 – and this is with two additional starting flights added to the schedule this year. [poker card="TD"]Year [poker card="TD"]2015 [poker card="TD"]2016 [poker card="TD"]Growth [poker card="TD"]Colossus [poker card="TD"]22,374 [poker card="TD"]21,613 [poker card="TD"]-3.401% [poker card="TD"]Millionaire Maker [poker card="TD"]7,275 [poker card="TD"]7,190 [poker card="TD"]-1.168% [poker card="TD"]Little One for One Drop [poker card="TD"]4,555 [poker card="TD"]4,360 [poker card="TD"]-4.281% [poker card="TD"]Summer Solstice [poker card="TD"]1,914 [poker card="TD"]1,840 [poker card="TD"]-3.866% While the marketing gimmicks have shown to be successful in years past, the 2016 schedule may have relied too heavily on them and players appear to have shied away from playing multiple events. On the plus side, the Main Event field size actually showed year-over-year growth, going from 6,420 to 6,737 - a nearly 5% increase. Former PocketFives #1-Ranked Players Are No JokePaul Volpe, Shaun Deeb, Fedor Holz and possibly Cliff Josephy or Griffin Benger joined an elite group of players who have held the #1 spot on PocketFives Rankings and won a WSOP bracelet during their career. Volpe and Deeb both won their second career bracelet while Holz, the 22-year-old German poker pro who has won $18 million over the past 14 months, won his first bracelet in the $111,111 One Drop High Roller. Josephy and Benger are another story altogether. Both made the November Nine and will be looking to become the 11th former #1-ranked player to win a WSOP bracelet. Josephy heads to the final table with the chip lead while Benger, who wasn’t going to play any WSOP events until he won a satellite on 888, has the third shortest stack. Former #1-ranked players cashed a total of 110 times this summer, earning $9,025,917 - with more to come after the Main Event final table is finished on November 1. The busiest of this group was Dan Kelly. He cashed 12 times this summer and pocketed $89,639. People Still Hate Howard Lederer – And Probably Always WillIn the days leading up to the start of the 2016 WSOP, Howard Lederer released a statement accepting responsibility for his role in the Black Friday fallout of Full Tilt Poker. Everybody recognized what Lederer was doing – setting the table for his return to the WSOP after not playing in a single event since 2010 – before April 15, 2011. The question was, how would Lederer be greeted at the tables and would players have any animosity toward him? While Lederer made it through the first 67 events of the summer without any real incident, the Main Event was a different story. Late on Day 1, Lederer was moved to a table with Danielle Andersen. She took the opportunity to let the former Full Tilt exec know that his mere presence in poker’s most prestigious event was not welcomed, at least by her. “To be honest, at first, I was just like speechless. It took me a little. Then I was like ‘I have to say something’. And I’m not the type to be like you’re a scumbag and you’re .. whatever … that’s not my style. Other people can be angry, but like it just brought me a profound sadness and I felt like I had to say something.” Read: Danielle Andersen Confronts Howard Lederer Over WSOP Return The WSOP is Still About the People Who Play the GameThe World Series of Poker is where the game’s biggest stars go to cement their legacy. Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu have all made their names while playing for, and winning, a WSOP bracelet. Still, the WSOP is also where recreational players get to do something that you can’t do in any other arena – play against the best. While Mercier dominated the early part of the summer and Josephy will have the headlines leading up to the Main Event final table, the WSOP is still about players from all walks of life trying to prove they belong. That was never more apparent than in the Millionaire Maker this summer when Lisa Meredith, a kindergarten teacher from the Pacific Northwest, made the final table and had a shot at winning life-changing money. While she ended up finishing third, one spot shy of a seven figure score, Meredith left the WSOP with $500,000 and had legions of fans cheering her on as the final table played out on livestream. And then there was Bob Brundige. While he didn’t make the Main Event final table, his story captured the attention of people from all over the world. Brundige is dying from cancer and had it on his bucket list to play the Main Event. A good friend of his, Charlie Weis, made it all happen and then got to sit and watch as Brundige not only played the event, but cashed. Read: Bob, Charlie and a Life-Changing WSOP Main Event Journey
  10. [caption width="640"] Fedor Holz had many millions of numbers to crunch in 2016[/caption] Many are reflecting back on the year and suggesting 2016 is a year we might want to forget. Do not let the celebrity deaths or endless talk of politics keep you from remembering some of the happier storylines the past year had to offer though. It was a memorable year in poker with countless tournaments, feuds, prop bets, cash games, and big stories. We can’t count all of big headlines of 2016, but we can relive a few of the biggest stories in this year-end edition of Number Crunch. 10 - Number of cashes for Chris Ferguson at the 2016 WSOP. The Full Tilt Poker co-founder had been absent from poker’s biggest stage since 2011, but both he and Howard Lederer decided it was time to return to the tables this summer. Not only did Ferguson return, he cashed every couple of days. Extra security appeared to be added when he final tabled one event, but other than some verbal barbs, there were no serious altercations for the man many consider to be partially responsible for the downfall of what was once one of the biggest online sites in poker. Ferguson won over $250,000 over the course of the summer, while Lederer failed to cash at all. 15 - Number of seasons Poker Hall of FamerMike Sextonhas co-hosted the World Poker Tour alongside Vince Van Patten. Sexton’s list of WPT accomplishments are not just behind the commentator’s desk. He is now a member of the WPT Champion’s Club too, taking down this season’s fall Montreal event for over $450,000. Sexton final tabled the Bay 101 Main Event in 2011, but exited in sixth place. This time around, he was around to the very end, but instead of toasting the champ, it was the Champ getting toasted. 17 - Finishing position in the WSOP Main Event for William Kassouf. The Brit may not have made the November Nine but, like a boss, his personality loomed large over the ESPN coverage of the tournament this year thanks to his endless table banter and altercation with Canadian pro Griffin Benger. His table talking sparked many online debates about table etiquette, with top pros both condemning and commending the behavior. Kassouf did not go quietly into the night after his finish though. He was back in the news in December after agreeing to chop the European Poker Tour Prague High Roller event, taking less money than second place, but taking home the trophy and posing for the winner photo. 28 - Number of High Roller tournaments hosted by the Aria Casino in 2016. With buy-ins ranging from $25,000 to $350,000, the Aria offered a steady supply of big buy-in small-field events for the poker elite. Not only did the events, which were frequently packaged back-to-back over a single weekend, bankroll boosters to some of the biggest names in the game, they also made Las Vegas a destination for live high stakes action again. If there were questions about whether or not the High Roller circuit was oversaturated, based on the success of the Aria’s scheduling, the answer appears to be no, at least for now 345 - Combined number of @ mentions on Twitter in the month of December for Cate Hall and Mike Dentale. In a year of many Twitter beefs, theirs took the cake, with Dentale sending 274 Tweets with her handle it and Hall sending 71 with his in a back and forth exchange that began with Dentale critiquing how Hall played a hand in the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Main Event. The trash talk escalated enough for Poker Night in America to turn it into a heads-up battle to be played out in March at Sugarhouse Casino in Philadelphia. 52,986 - Dollars in career tournament earnings for Qui Nguyen before winning the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. Once he won the biggest tournament of the year, that number rocketed to over $8 million. He is the first amateur since Jerry Yang in 2007 to win the Main Event. 1,800,000 - Dollars Jason Merciersupposedly stood to earn after a hotly debated bracelet bet with Vanessa Selbst. As the story goes, Selbst offered Mercier 180-1 odds he could not win three bracelets in a single summer. The eventual WSOP Player of the Year certainly gave Selbst a sweat, winning two bracelets and making four final tables. He got oh-so close, finishing second in the $10,000 Razz event, but failed to cash in on many lucrative bets he would not threepeat. 4,360,000 - Approximate number of viewers who tuned in to watch David Williams compete in the MasterCheffinale on Fox. A foodie in addition to a poker pro, Williams made quite a run on the Gordon Ramsay reality show, making it all the way to the very end. Much like the 2004 Main Event though, he was a bridesmaid, not the bride, and had to settle for finishing as one of the two runners-up. 4,981,775 - Dollars won by Fedor Holz in the $111,111 buy-in One Drop High Roller at the WSOP. Shortly after accepting his bracelet, Holz announced his retirement. After all, he had a busy six weeks crushing just about everything he played and raking in over $10 million, starting with a second-place showing in the Aria Super High Roller Bowl for $3.5 million and ending with a bracelet. So far, retirement looks an awful lot like the working world for the young German though. In August he won the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller for almost $1.5 million. 10,100,000 - Dollars Phil Ivey and his friend Cheung Yin Soo have to pay the Borgata Resort and Casino according to a December ruling from a federal judge. The sum is the total of his winnings across four sessions of baccarat in 2012 and the money he took to a craps table and ran up into $500,000. Ivey and Soo were “edge-sorting”, which means they used imperfections in the manufacturer’s design of a deck of cards to determine which cards were which. While not explicitly cheating, the judge did deem the actions to be a violation of the agreement between gambler and casino and ordered the eight-figure judgment.
  11. MIAMI 2017 When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve and 2017 became real, Jason Mercier was at a Billy Joel concert in Miami, struggling to stay awake. While the Piano Man played all of his classic hits in front of a packed house, Mercier was closing the book on one of the most important and successful years of his life. In 2016, Mercier won a PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker title, added WSOP bracelets #4 and #5 to his collection, got engaged, won a rumored seven figures in WSOP prop bets, celebrated a milestone birthday, and got married. And then he fell asleep at a Billy Joel concert. PRESSURE “This year has definitely been pretty awesome,” says Mercier, describing 2016 the way a kid who got every toy he wanted might talk about Christmas. When the 2016 poker calendar began, Mercier was where nearly every Team PokerStars Pro finds themselves in early January--The Bahamas. His first cash came in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. It was a 20th-place finish in a field of 928 players and was worth $32,360. While most players would be ecstatic with a 500 percent return on investment, for Mercier, it was just a drop in the bucket for what was to come the rest of the year. He also managed another, smaller cash while he was there. It was a dinner with other members of Team PokerStars Pro where Mercier’s year took its first dramatic turn though. After hearing that Vanessa Selbst had offered Polish sensation Dzmitry Urbanovich 180-1 odds on winning three WSOP bracelets in a single year, Mercier wanted in – but he didn’t want to bet on Urbanovich. He wanted to bet on himself. Poker history buffs will tell you that one player winning three bracelets in a single year is a rare occurrence. It’s only been done six times, five if you don’t take into account George Danzer who won his third bracelet at WSOP Asia-Pacific in 2014. (The bet between Selbst and Urbanovich was only for events in Las Vegas.) Mercier found Selbst was willing to gamble, and he bet $10,000 on himself doing it, meaning his potential payout was worth more than finishing sixth in the WSOP Main Event. One. Point. Eight. Million. Dollars. After making the bet, Mercier didn’t give it a second thought and unlike the bet between Selbst and Urbanovich, which became public knowledge pretty quickly, nobody really knew about it. “I never really felt stressed. I always kind of viewed it as a freeroll. I pre-paid the bet, I counted it as money that was just gone, the $10,000 was gone,” says Mercier. “When you are making bets where you are losing a small amount of money versus winning a very large amount of money, there is not really much stress involved. I viewed it as an opportunity to have a really big score with very little down side.” EASY MONEY The next five months flew by pretty quickly without much in the way of live tournament success for Mercier. In May he won the fifth PokerStars SCOOP title of his career, winning $22,572 for outlasting a field of 594 in a $215 Six Max Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event. Call it momentum, call it just another day at the office for Mercier, but he headed into the 2016 WSOP with a ton of confidence, and the three bracelet bet with Selbst wasn’t the only bet Mercier placed on himself. He placed bets against other high stakes pros on winning one bracelet, as well as winning two. A successful summer for Mercier was suddenly a lot more valuable than a successful summer for any other player. The first two weeks of the Series left Mercier with nothing to show for his work. Finally, in Event #15, $1,500 Eight Game Mix, Mercier found the scoreboard, but rather than a win or even a final table, it was a 35th place finish for $3,404. It wasn’t much, but it was the start of a very special eight-day run. Just after busting the Eight Game Mix event, Mercier registered for the $10,000 No Limit Deuce-to-Seven Championship. Three days later, he was at the final table, with the chip lead and the chance to put away one-third of his bet. On Day 3 of the event Mercier bested a final table that included Stephen Chidwick, Benny Glaser, David Grey and Mike Watson to win $273,335. Even while basking in the glow of winning a bracelet, Mercier knew there was so much more at stake if he could keep a hot hand. “If I can win another one really quick, it would be a sick sweat the rest of the Series,” Mercier said, in a case of unintentional foreshadowing. Immediately after posing for the requisite winner’s photo, Mercier grabbed a hasty meal and late-regged the $10,000 Razz Championship event. Over the next 48 hours, he continued to hold a better-than-average stack on his way to making another final table. But, before the final table began, Mercier found himself dealing with a bit of controversy. Selbst offered a $100,000 buyout of the bracelet bet, only to have Mercier turn it down. Selbst then took to Twitter to provide her side of how the bet went down and how disappointed she was that Mercier wasn’t willing to let her buy out of the bet. Of course, Poker Twitter blew up with everybody taking a side. Mercier even tried his best to provide his side of the story, which was clearly different than Selbst’s. The timing couldn’t have been worse for Mercier as he was hours away from playing another final table. “I don’t really want to comment necessarily publicly about what happened between me and Vanessa,” Mercier said at the time. “We have different views on prop betting I guess, and what exactly happens between friends or whatever. But I don’t really want to get into it too much more.” When the final table started, Mercier had one-third of the chips in play, but found himself facing a tough group. Bart Hanson, John Racener, Brian Hastings and respected pro Ray Dehkharghani were among the final seven players standing between Mercier and another bracelet. Mercier got heads-up with Dehkharghani, but had a 3-2 chip deficit. During the 2.5-hour heads-up action, the two players traded the chip lead. Eventually though, Dehkharghani got the better of Mercier to win the first bracelet of his career. “I can't really be disappointed. I think that I played fine. Razz is one of those games that sometimes if you are just not getting the best hand, you can't really win,” Mercier says. “If you aren't getting the best starting hand, by the end of seventh street, I mean there is only so much you can do. I feel like I played fine.” The tournament ended with just enough time for Mercier to hop in yet another $10,000 buy-in event. But after two deep runs, he was tired and thought about heading home. “He was not stressed out, but he wasn’t sleeping much, so I was getting worried for him. I was like, ‘Listen after this tournament, after we bag, we need to go home, we need to sleep,’” says Natasha Barbour, his then-girlfriend. “He would wake up so early and be ready to go so early, and then try to play cash games before the tournaments. But that’s just him. So he didn’t change who he was, didn’t change anything and kept doing what he was doing.“ A quick dinner with Barbour gave Mercier time to think things through. He hurried back to the Rio and was the last player to register for the $10,000 HORSE Championship. Just 72 hours later, Mercier was posing for yet another winner’s photo while the poker world went nuts with all the “what if?” scenarios. “I never really viewed it as like if I won the $10K Razz, I would have won the bet, because if I win the $10K Razz, the heads-up match probably goes longer, I may even miss the HORSE event, or have thrown it away in the HORSE event because I was like, ‘oh, I won two in a row, blah blah blah.’ So I don't really view it as I would have won three if I won that Razz event,” says Mercier. With two bracelets in hand already, a third felt like simply a matter of time, but Mercier had a different piece of jewelry on his mind – and it wasn’t for him. THIS IS THE TIME “I wasn't sure exactly when I was going to propose to Natasha. I knew that it was going to happen relatively soon,” says Mercier. “Going into the summer, we had had such a busy year, for the first five months before the summer, at the point of going into the World Series, I was kind of like, ‘Let's get through this WSOP, then I'll figure out how to get a ring, or where to get a ring, and then figure out where I'm going to propose." Things changed though. After winning the second bracelet, Mercier thought there was a good chance he had another deep run, possibly even another win, in him and he wanted to take advantage of that moment to make it a special one for Barbour, his girlfriend of two years. “If I were to win a third bracelet, win the prop bet, and then she would be so excited and run up to me and then I would just drop on one knee and I had this sort of vision of that happening,” says Mercier. There was a problem though. Mercier needed to find a way to get out to buy a ring. With Mercier and Barbour living together in a rented Las Vegas house and both playing a full WSOP schedule, getting time to himself was going to be a challenge. He concocted a story about heading to the Bellagio to play cash games and met with a family friend who was a jeweler to pick out the ring. Now all Mercier needed was the right opportunity. The heater slowly faded and it started to look like he wasn’t going to make another final table, let alone win another bracelet. After six more cashes, Barbour unknowingly took matters into her own hands. “Towards the very end of the summer, she played a tournament that she wasn't even going to play, which was the $5K, which got an absurd turnout,” says Mercier. Barbour went deep and made Day 4 with 12 players left and Mercier recognized he had a chance to do something special. “Natasha was kind of middle of the pack, and barely played a hand while three people got knocked out, then she had like 15 big blinds, busted in third for her biggest score of all time, and it just seemed like the absolute perfect spot for me to propose. I hopped over the rail, gave her a hug, and dropped to one knee.” “I thought he was just coming to give me a hug. He came up to me and was like ‘Hey, I need to ask you something’ and I said ‘Can we just go over there?’ I don’t want to be in the cameras anymore or photos, I wanted them to be able to play heads up,” recalls Barbour. “I was like ‘Let’s just over there’. And he goes ‘No no no, I can’t go over there right now’ and then he went down on one knee and I couldn’t believe it.” The moment happened to be caught on the WSOP live stream and the clip made its way to YouTube, social media and, eventually, ESPN.com. It was the first of what would end up being a good run of mainstream media exposure for Mercier. THE ENTERTAINER In the weeks after the WSOP, Mercier saw an email in his inbox from the producers of ESPN radio’s Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. They wanted Mercier as a guest to talk about his prop bets and his WSOP run. Being a South Florida kid, Mercier jumped at the opportunity to be on one of the most popular sports talk shows in Miami. That’s where things went off the rails. Just minutes after his segment began, co-host Jon "Stugotz" Weiner asked Mercier “Do you have a gambling problem?” after talking about Mercier multi-tabling his way through a good portion of the WSOP. The question clearly caught Mercier off guard, but he handled it like a pro and the segment ended. Mercier doesn’t blame Le Batard or Weiner for taking the angle they did, he actually puts the onus on himself for letting it get that far. “I was actually just a little upset at myself, to be honest, that I didn't' request for them to prep me for the questions or even have a pre-interview,” says Mercier. I felt like they were very unprepared, they didn't know what questions to really ask and they were just kind of spouting out whatever was off the top of their head.” Even after being blindsided by the direction of what he thought would be a fairly friendly interview, Mercier was still thrilled he got the opportunity to be on the show. “I mean it was definitely awesome. I was super pumped just that they reached out to me and wanted me on the show in the first place. Dan LeBatard has been one of the biggest sports figures, as far as South Florida sports, for 10, 20, 25 years, so to just have that request sent to my email, you know, we want you on the show, was pretty awesome,” said Mercier. ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG In November, Mercier turned 30 and, just four months after the proposal, married Barbour in front of friends and family in Miami. Hitting that milestone birthday and getting married are part of a different direction for Mercier than the one he had when he first burst on the poker scene after winning EPT San Remo many years ago. “I think five years ago, I was really only concerned with how am I going to make money. How am I going to make money? How am I going to eventually not have to play poker, or whatever it is?” says Mercier. “Now, I'm kind of to the point where I really want a family. I want to have that stability. I am seeing that in my future, very shortly. I think I have a better perspective on life and on what's important.” Adding a young child, or two, to the life of two professional poker players might seem like a real game-changer, but Mercier thinks they will still have a window to continue to travel the world playing the game they both love. “We don't think that much is going to change right away, even if we have a kid, or two kids, as they are young we might bring them around, travel with them to the poker tournaments and whatnot,” says Mercier. “But life is probably going to change a lot for me when I have kids that are going to have to start going to school. It's probably going to be another 4-5 years traveling the circuit, playing as much as I can, trying to make as much money as I can and then likely settling down, and not traveling as much in four or five years.” IT’S STILL ROCK AND ROLL TO ME Looking back through a year that saw him win just over $1.5 million in tournaments, Mercier can’t help but talk about just how much he loves playing poker. Some radio shock jock might take a shot at calling it a gambling problem, but Mercier genuinely loves playing the game and it certainly helps that he’s one of the world’s best. “Have you ever gone through a span of just playing a video game, maybe when you were a kid, where you just play it all day and it's awesome and you just love it and you can't get enough of it? But then eventually the game sort of ends, like you can't play it any more, right?,” says Mercier. “Poker is that game, but it just never ends. I love playing it so much that I don't really get tired of it. I am just always looking forward to the next session or the next tournament.”
  12. [caption width="640"] Heidi May won the Ladies Championship on Sunday (WSOP photo)[/caption] If the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event was going to have any chance of breaking 7,000 for the first time since 2010, it needed a great turnout on Sunday for Day 1B. That’s exactly what tournament organizers got as 2,164 players turned out to push the total number of entrants through the first few flights to just under 3,000. Sunday’s great turnout wasn’t what had everybody buzzing though. It was an exciting hand that aired live on ESPN between Vanessa Selbst and Gaelle Baumann that might end up being the most talked about hand in poker this year. Two preliminary events also played down to a winner on Sunday with all eyes squarely focused on Chris Ferguson. The Hand Heard ‘Round the World One of the benefits of having the 2017 Main Event broadcast live on ESPN and PokerGO is the ability to see the hands that everybody is talking about in real time. ESPN producers picked the table with Selbst and Baumann to serve as the feature table at the start of the day. It didn’t take long for the two to clash in a drama-filled hand. [video]https://www.espn.com/core/video/iframe?id=19947530[/video] Baumann ended the day with 87,100. Sitting atop the chip counts at the end of Day 1B is Argentinian Richard Dubini with 254,500. Hot on his tail is Britain’s Lawrence Bayley with 247,400. Serge Chechin, out of France, rounds out the top three with 229,800. Some of the notables moving on to Day 2B include Kenny Hallaert (168,700), Justin Young (168,100), Simon Mattsson (165,700), Matt Glantz (147,000), Ismael Bojang (142,800) and Nick Schulman (131,200). Selbst wasn’t the only notable name to be among the 521 players eliminated on Day 1B. Justin Bonomo, Jesse Sylvia and Greg Merson all busted out on Sunday. Four of the five players who were willed into the 2017 Main Event by Tim O'Meara made it through Day 1B. Keren Jackson - 97,200 Jonathan Nicol - 61,100 Miltiades Tzimourtas - 15,600 Stephen Pavlickek - 10,500 Day 1C is expected to be the largest starting flight by far with the potential for play to at least start with 10-handed tables as opposed to nine. Top 10 Chip Counts Richard Dubini - 254,500 Lawrence Bayley - 247,400 Serge Chechin - 229,800 Naoya Kihara - 220,700 Sergio Fernandez - 218,800 Alan Schein - 218,000 Brandon Meyers - 216,000 Tobias Ziegler - 215,300 Yisheng Cheng - 214,400 Brandon Adams - 203,500 Mike Wattel Beats Chris Ferguson for $10K Seven Card Stud Championship [caption width="640"] Mike Wattel now has two WSOP bracelets after beating Chris Ferguson heads-up in the K Stud Championship (WSOP photo)[/caption] It took six hours of heads up play for Mike Wattel to eliminate Chris Ferguson to win $245,451 and the second WSOP bracelet of his career. “I just feel relieved,” Wattel said. “I finally won one again.” Wattel’s last bracelet came in 1999. The heads-up battle with Ferguson had the poker community following closely from home, with most anti-sweating Ferguson, one of the founders of the failed Full Tilt Poker. Each players took more than one turn as the shortest stack before Wattel ended the tournament. “That was an epic battle. He plays great. I had him, and then he had me, and then I finally pulled it out at the end,” said Wattel. Ferguson got $151,700 for his runner-up finish. It was his 16th cash of the summer and moved into third place in the WSOP Player of the Year race. The current leader there is John Monnette who moved past John Racener for the lead thanks to his fifth place finish in this event. Perry Friedman finished third for $104,416. Final Table Payouts Mike Wattel - $245,451 Chris Ferguson - $151,700 Perry Friedman - $104,416 Amir Mirrasouli - $73,810 John Monnette - $53,621 Bryce Yockey - $40,066 Shaun Deeb - $30,817 David Benyamine - $24,419 Heidi May Wins Ladies Championship Australia’s Heidi May beat Deborah Worley-Roberts Sunday to win the $10,000 Ladies Championship, her first career bracelet and $135,098. The win was the fifth cash of the 2017 for May. May noticed a very different feel between the Ladies Championship and the other big field NLHE events she played this summer. “It's a welcoming environment,” she said. “Non-threatening. It's a bit more recreational than when you come to a tournament and it's all these guys that stare you down with hoodies and stuff – it's a bit too serious for some people. This was a really fun tournament." Final Table Payouts Heidi May - $135,098 Deborah Worley-Roberts - $83,459 Jana De La Cerra - $57,930 Julie Dang - $40,843 Katie Ansorge - $29,256 Alexis Sterner - $21,298 Tiffany Lee - $15,760 Meg Zampino - $11,858 Karen Hodge - $9,075
  13. [caption width="640"] Vanessa Selbst won the ,000 Mixed Max No Limit event at the 2014 WSOP.[/caption] The World Series of Poker 2018 schedule hit the presses this month with the usual rollout of acclaim and complaints. A record 78 events are on the calendar for next summer but as is the case most years, a few events have been omitted. The WSOP isn’t shy about trying new events out but there are some that were there in recent years that are glaring in absence. #5 - Six Max Pot Limit Omaha The number of Pot Limit Omaha events has increased in events each year at the WSOP. More four-card events are on the schedule than ever before with the PLO Giant and an online tournament among them. The mark missed, though, with keeping only a single six max tournament listed. The $3,000 Six Max PLO event first appeared in 2013, as a $5,000 event before moving to $3,000 in 2015. If Twitter is any indication, there is a demand for more Six Max and PLO events. The combination of the two makes sense and the $1,500 buy-in level would be the best place to put it. #4 - Big O Building off the momentum of adding more PLO events to the itinerary, Big O feels like a natural addition. Big O is featured on both Dealers Choice events along with the $1,500 Mixed Omaha event and the $2,500 Mixed Big Bet tournament. Those three diverse player pools are comfortable enough with Big O for the WSOP to include it in five tournaments. The $2,500 price point would allow players looking to take a shot and incentivize high stakes mixed games players to head over to the Rio in search of a bracelet. Not every WSOP event needs to have a record field in order to be considered a “success” and the Big O format would prove that to be correct. It’s a game players love and would give the WSOP brass a good sweat at having a high powered final table. #3 - More Single Day Events One edge the competing series at the Wynn and Venetianhave on the World Series is the availability of single-day tournaments. The issue with this is the WSOP being concerned about the “prestige” of the bracelet being tarnished by having a one-day event resulting in a ceremony and speech. The buy-in level for bracelet events falling to $365 reduces some of the shine that comes with winning so how would multiple single-day $1,000 turbos reduce it further? The turbos would bring in both recreational players and professionals who maybe busted early on a Day 2 or are looking for one last event before skipping town. It will likely never be added to the schedule but more turbos and single-day tournaments would be well attended and received by all player genres. #2 - Online No Limit Bounty Bounty tournaments have taken over a large part of the online tournament landscape. The recycling of money back into the poker economy can serve players and operators well if executed correctly. The WSOP could use more blood in their online events and any chance to maximize that edge is being missed this summer. Players enjoy bounty events provided the structure and buy-in are done properly. A $1,000 buy-in with a Progressive Bounty seems to fit here as well as a $565 standard bounty. Either way you slice it, with the number of Bounty tournaments currently listed, there is a glaring hole in not having one available online. #1 - Mixed Max No Limit Hold'em The unique format of Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em tournaments hit the WSOP schedule for the first time in 2012 with a $5,000 buy-in event. The progression of nine-handed tables to six max all the way down to heads up for the final stage of made for a true test of a player’s skills in all realms of No Limit tournament play. The WSOP featured a $25,000 Mixed Max event to open the 2014 series and included a $1,500 buy-in event as well. Since then, the World Series has done away with the format preferring to use the space for a regular No Limit event. Experiments in No Limit tournaments have been liked by players in the past with the Four Max and Ante Only events well attended before both were eliminated after 2014. It appears the World Series is looking to have more “recreational friendly” events on the schedule but is missing a key demographic of players looking for an alternative to standard full-ring events.
  14. One of poker’s biggest stars from the last two decades is officially on the rail with Vanessa Selbst announcing her retirement. On Sunday, Selbst announced on her Facebook page that she is formally moving away from poker as her full-time career. The Yale law degree graduate now moves toward a life in the financial world. Selbst says she has been working for a hedge fund in New York City for four months with a focus in trading research and strategy. The 33-year-old Selbst accomplished nearly everything she could have wanted to in a poker career that earned her over $11.8 million in tournament earnings. Selbst first came into the national conscience by final tabling the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event at the 2006 World Series of Poker. That final table aired on ESPN and the viewing audience was introduced to the aggressive 21-year-old. In her first ever televised appearance, Selbst finished seventh to win $101,285 and decided to take on poker as her full-time job. The career of Selbst took off in no time thanks to an incredible natural talent and a playing style that allowed her to always have opponents on edge. In 2008, Selbst won her first bracelet in the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event. Gradually, Selbst added to her growing list of accomplishments before officially breaking out in 2010. Selbst had her best year in gross tournament earnings and two major wins catapulted her into the discussion of best players in the world. In April, Selbst took down the PokerStars North American Poker Tour $5,000 Main Event at Mohegan Sun for $750,000. Five months and one continent later, Selbst shipped the Partouche Poker Tour €8,500 Main Event in Cannes, France. That win earned Selbst a career-best score of $1.823 million. Those wins added to Selbst’s legend and in 2013, she made history by winning one of the most prestigious events in the world. By taking home the gold medal in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,500 High Roller, Selbst became the leader on the women's all-time money list. With her poker tournament life formally behind her, Selbst retires as #41 on the all-time money list with the likes of Tony Gregg and Allen Cunningham on either side her. Selbst retires with three World Series of Poker bracelets, the last of which came in the 2014 $25,000 Mixed Max No Limit event. In respect to the reasoning behind her retirement, Selbst said, “The shift in the nature of poker and what it requires put me at a crossroads and asked the question of me whether I would rather change my relationship to the game or move on. To me, the opportunity to work hard and learn something totally new and get to keep poker in my arsenal of fun go-to hobbies feels like the right approach.” The poker world reached out on Twitter with kind words of Selbst with media members and players alike wishing her the best in her new venture. https://twitter.com/EricRaskin/status/947506527618916352 https://twitter.com/DougPolkPoker/status/947490183657558017  
  15. Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. The first episode of The Fives for 2018 includes Lance and Matt discussing Vanessa Selbst's decision to walk away from poker, Daniel Negreanu's goals for 2018 and his rather candid rundown of his 2017 year from a financial standpoint. They also preview the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and talk about TwoPlusTwo PokerCast Adam Schwartz completing the first stage of life-changing prop bet. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES GET THIS EPISODE ON STITCHER
  16. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] The latest episode of The Fives is now available on iTunes and Stitcher.[/caption] Hosted by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief Lance Bradley and poker writer Matt Clark, The Fives runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and interview players and industry leaders. After what feels like a ridiculously long hiatus, Lance Bradley and Matt Clark are back with another episode of The Fives. In this episode, the guys talk about Darryll Fish's recent win at the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open and recap the other storylines out of that event, including the "controversial" return to action of the recently retired Vanessa Selbst. They also get into the recently announced WPT Finale schedule, the Super High Roller Bowl's decision to expand their event to China, and talk about partypoker's decision to sign Isaac Haxton. DOWNLOAD THIS EPISODE IN ITUNES GET THIS EPISODE ON STITCHER
  17. As 2018 winds down, PocketFives is taking you a trip down memory lane with a month-by-month year in review. We get things started with January and a trip the Bahamas. Vanessa Selbst Calls It Quits Word actually broke in the closing hours of 2017, but the talk around Vanessa Selbst retiring from poker carried on into the early days of 2018. Selbst, the all-time leading female money winner, announced her decision to retire via a Facebook post. In that post, she explained that she had taken a job with a New York-based hedge fund and had already been working there for a few months. Selbst did indicate that she wasn't done entirely with the game though. "To me, the opportunity to work hard and learn something totally new and get to keep poker in my arsenal of fun go-to hobbies feels like the right approach,” Selbst wrote. Selbst lived up to her word, showing up to play the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open in late January. READ: Vanessa Selbst Retires From Poker Maria Lampropulos Wins PCA Main Event; Cary Katz Tops $100K High Roller The first major poker tournament of 2018 was the return of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The PCA was brought back after PokerStars' failed rebranding of all of their live events as PokerStars Live Championships. The PCA Main Event brought out 582 players for a total prize pool of $5,645,400. The final table included Adrian Mateos, Koray Aldamir, Shawn Buchanan and Maria Lampropulos. The tournament came down to an epic heads-up battle between Buchanan and Lampropulos with the Argentinian pro taking it down for her second major title in a 10-month span. READ: PCA: Maria Lampropulos Wins Main Event, $1.08M, Platinum Pass At a final table that included the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Isaac Haxton, Bryn Kenney and Sam Greenwood, PokerGO founder Cary Katz managed to outlast all of them to win the $100,000 buy-in Super High Roller for the first major title of his career. READ: PCA: Cary Katz Wins $100K Super High Roller Platinum Passes Galore in the Bahamas The PCA was also the launching for what would become PokerStars' year-long campaign to award nearly 300 Platinum Passes worth $30,000 each that give the pass holder entry into the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship. Lampropulos picked one up for her victory in the PCA Main Event, author Maria Konnikova also grabbed one for taking down the PCA National Championship and David Peters won his via a random draw. Pennsylvania-based grinder Thai Ha was the fortunate winner of a Platinum Pass on Day 2 of the Main Event, but he almost missed it after oversleeping. READ: Thai Ha Almost Misses Out on Platinum Pass Winning Moment While Lampropulos, Konnikova, and Peters are all established players who may have played the PSPC anyways, Steven-John Jost is the polar opposite. The Swiss amateur qualified for the 2018 PCA Main Event on PokerStars for $27 and ended up cashing for $17,500. By finishing in the money, Jost was also given a raffle ticket for a Platinum Pass and he ended up having his name drawn. “I was really shaking. Now I’m calm. I had to go for a drink and now I’m relaxed, just enjoying it,” Jost said after learning he'd won the $30,000 package. READ: Steven-John Jost’s ‘Dream Come True’ Topped Off with Platinum Pass Ole Schemion and Darryll Fish Pick Up WPT Titles The World Poker Tour added two well-known names to the WPT Champions Cup in January. Germany's Ole Schemion beat out 338 other players to win the €3,300 WPT European Championship at Spielbank Berlin. The win earned Schemion $260,858 and he finished 2018 within spitting distance of $15,000,000 in career earnings. READ: Ole Schemion Wins WPT European Championship Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, one of poker's most well-respected grinders finally picked up a major title. Darryll Fish topped the 911-player field to win the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open for $511,604. It was a career-best cash for Fish at the time, only to be eclipsed a few months later when he finished second in the partypoker MILLIONS North America Main Event for $ 937,221. READ: Darryll Fish Wins Lucky Hearts Open for First WPT Title, $511K partypoker Adds Isaac Haxton as Ambassador To say that Isaac Haxton's departure from Team PokerStars was messy, might be an understatement. Haxton left PokerStars in the wake of the changes the online poker giant made to its player rewards system and took special joy in being a thorn in their side via social media ever since. That thorn got a little bit bigger when Haxton signed on as an ambassador with partypoker. Haxton noted that partypoker's growth, both online and live, was a big part of his decision to sign with them. “I’ve been very impressed with their growth over the last year or so. From expanding their online cash game and tournament offerings, to improving their software, and most of all rolling out their ambitions and innovative live events program, their commitment to growing the game and providing a great product for their players has been clear,” Haxton said. READ: Isaac Haxton Joins partypoker as Brand Ambassador Sweden's 'lena900' Tops January PLB Race Anybody who follows the PocketFives Rankings will know that the Swedish players have dominated them for years. So it's no surprise to learn that one of the most successful Swedish players started 2018 off with a bang. 'lena900' topped the January PLB thanks ‘lena900’ to eight five-figure scores and a win in the partypoker Powerfest Event #5 for $26,899 and 328.63 PLB points. READ: Swedish Crusher ‘lena900’ Wins January PLB Title
  18. 2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. #50 - Eli Elezra BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 59 $1,882,898 20 When Eli Elezra picked up his first WSOP cash in 1999, nobody knew that it would lead to a career that included 58 more cashes and three gold bracelets. Elezra's first bracelet win came in 2007 when he beat Scotty Nguyen heads up to win the $3,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo title. He defeated another Poker Hall of Famer to win his second bracelet, outlasting Daniel Negreanu in the $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw event in 2013. He won his third bracelet in 2015, taking down the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event. Of his 59 cashes, 14 are in $10,000 Championship events, including three WSOP Main Event cashes. #49 - Mickey Appleman BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 48 $1,188,108 25 Mickey Appleman's four WSOP bracelets span 23 years. After playing his first WSOP in 1975, Appleman won the first bracelet in 1980 in a $1,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event. His other wins came in 1992 ($5,000 No Limit 2-7), 1995 ($5,000 Limit Hold'em), and 2003 ($2,500 Pot Limit Hold'em). In 1987 and 2000, Appleman made the final table of the WSOP Main Event, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. He has three other Main Event cashes (1989, 1990, 2011). #48 - Amarillo Slim Preston BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 12 $437,265 4 'Amarillo Slim' took poker to the mainstream after winning the 1972 WSOP Main Event. As much as he seemed to revel in the spotlight provided by The Tonight Show and 60 Minutes, Preston continued to prove his mettle at the table as well. Along with the 1972 win, he earned bracelets in 1974 ($1,000 No Limit Hold'em), 1985 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha w/rebuys), and 1990 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha). #47 - Max Pescatori BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 73 $2,527,086 18 In the 15 years that Italy's Max Pescatori has been coming to the WSOP, he's amassed 73 cashes and his four bracelet wins have come in four different games. He won a $2,500 No Limit Hold'em event in 2006, a $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha/Hold'em event in 2008 and then won the $1,500 Razz and $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship events in 2015. #46 - Vanessa Selbst BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 29 $2,201,877 11 It took Vanessa Selbst just nine years to go from respected online poker grinder to three-time WSOP bracelet winner. In 2008, she won a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for her first bracelet. She followed that up by winning a $2,500 10-Game Mixed bracelet two years later. Her third bracelet came in a $25,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold'em event in 2014. "Vanessa Selbst is one of the most important players in the modern WSOP era, and it's a shame we may not get to realize the extent of what her dominance could have been as she's moved on from playing poker full time. Her résumé speaks for itself, and if she were to ever return to playing a full WSOP schedule, she'd easily be one of the top contenders to win WSOP Player of the Year." - PocketFives Managing Editor, Donnie Peters. #45 - John Racener BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 1 71 $7,948,710 19 John Racener might be most famous for his runner-up finish in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, but he's also picked up 70 other cashes covering nearly every game offered by the WSOP. Proving his mixed game abilities, Racener's sole WSOP bracelet came in the $10,000 Dealer's Choice event in 2017. He's finished seventh and 11th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and has eight cashes in $10,000 Championship events. “Some may just remember John Racener from his final table appearance at the November Nine, with his front row seat to one of the wildest hands that ever took place during the WSOP between Jonathan Duhamel and Joseph Cheong. However, he’s been a cashing beast year-in and year-out during the series since 2007. He won a bracelet in the difficult field of the 2017 $10K Dealer’s Choice and he’s racked up a total of 68 cashes during the summer series and another six in Europe.” - PocketFives Senior Writer, Jeff Walsh. #44 - John Monnette BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 67 $2,341,395 21 More than two-thirds of John Monnette's WSOP cashes have come in games other than No Limit Hold'em. As a further testament to his diversity, Monnette's three gold bracelets came in $2,500 Eight Game Mix (2008), $5,000 Seven Card Stud (2012), and $10,000 No Limit 2-7 (2017). His 21 top 10 finishes include three runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes. "The only thing keeping John Monnette from more WSP success is the high-stakes cash game scene during the summer in Vegas, because he is as good as they come when it comes to mixed events. Although we always focus on bracelets, Monnette is a great example of how we should look a little deeper. He has three finishes in second place and four in third place. It takes an incredible amount of skill to consistently reach the top three in gold bracelet events, and Monnette is there what seems like every single year." - Donnie Peters. #43 - Paul Volpe BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 47 $3,567,941 14 Paul Volpe, a former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, has won three WSOP bracelets while also picking up 20 cashes in $10,000 Championship events. On top of that, he's finished sixth and 11th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Volpe has also put together three deep runs in the Main Event, finishing 20th (2012), 29th (2016), and 142nd (2018). "The early days of the WSOP were all about the best going against the best. Paul Volpe's success comes in a very different era, but it's all come in events where he's up against the elite poker players in multiple variants. He's a throwback in many ways. The fact he's able to crush the $10K Championship events with consistency is a testament to just how talented Volpe is to his craft." PocketFives Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley. #42 - Robert Mizrachi BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 4 63 $3,096,947 19 Robert Mizrachi won his first bracelet in 2007, beating 312 other players in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship event before picking up a bracelet each year between 2014 and 2016. His four wins came in four different variations: Pot Limit Omaha, Dealer's Choice, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Hi-Lo. He's cashed three times in both the $50,000 Players Championship and the Main Event. #41 - Dewey Tomko BRACELETS CASHES WINNINGS TOP 10s 3 45 $2,674,848 29 Dewey Tomko won three bracelets, including two in 1984, but might most famously be remembered for being one of four players in WSOP history to finish runner-up in the Main Event twice. In 1982, Tomko came second to Jack Strauss, and then 19 years later, ended up one spot behind Carlos Mortensen. Tomko's three bracelets are in a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event (1979), $10,000 No Limit 2-7 (1984), and $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha w/rebuys (1984). For more discussion on PocketFives' Top 50 Greatest Players in WSOP History, check out the latest episode of The Fives podcast. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher Stay tuned to PocketFives as we continue to count down the 50 greatest players in WSOP history leading up to the start of the 2019 festival.
  19. The first gold bracelet won every summer at the World Series of Poker is always a special one. For the winner, it’s an unbelievable thrill, a tone setter, a bankroll booster, and a stress reliever all at once. For the media and fans, it’s the first of many headline-grabbing triumphs. For other competitors, it represents that there is gold at the end of the long rainbow. All of those things are great, but does success beget further success? Here’s a look at how the first gold bracelet winner of the summer has performed throughout the rest of the WSOP. For this article, PocketFives examined the results of the first winner of an individual open gold bracelet event going back to 2004. This time period can be commonly referred to as the "modern poker era." 2004: James Vogl At the 2004 WSOP, James Vogl topped a field of 834 entries to win the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $400,000. Vogl would go on to cash twice more that summer, but the scores were much smaller than his victory. Vogl finished 27th in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $7,160 and 12th in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $12,660. 2005: Allen Cunningham Five-time gold bracelet winner Allen Cunningham was the winner of the first bracelet in 2005. Not only was his victory a big one, as Cunningham won the 2,305-entry $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $725,405, but it ignited quite the summer for the seasoned professional. After the opening win, Cunningham cashed four more times, and each of the additional cashes came in $5,000 buy-in events. First, he took fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em and fourth in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha events for $89,865 and $141,245, respectively. Cunningham then placed 29th in the $5,000 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em for $8,490 and seventh in the $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo for $42,110. All told, Cunningham earned $281,710 after his opening win that summer. Cunningham’s performances were enough to win him the 2005 WSOP Player of the Year award. 2006: Brandon Cantu After Brandon Cantu won the opening $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event for $757,839, he didn’t cash for the rest of the 2006 WSOP. 2007: Steve Billirakis Like Cunningham, Steve Billirakis opened with a win and then earned four cashes afterwards. His opening win was worth $536,287 after Billirakis topped a field of 451 entries in the $5,000 Limit/No Limit Hold’em tournament. He then scored 45th-, 29th-, 16th-, and 33rd-place finishes in future events. Whereas Cunningham won nearly $300,000 in additional prize money, Billirakis’ four other cashes only totaled $57,458. That’s not bad, but it’s not nearly the year Cunningham had. 2008: Nenad Medic Nenad Medic opened the 2008 WSOP with a bang, scoring first place in the stacked $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em tournament for $794,112. Medic only cashed once more that summer, taking 24th in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em for $16,496. 2009: Thang Luu Not only did Thang Luu kick off the 2009 WSOP by winning the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low tournament for his second gold bracelet, but he did so after winning the same event the previous year. In 2009, Luu’s win was worth $263,190. After this, Luu cashed just once for $8,983. 2010: Michael Mizrachi The year 2010 was a banner year for Michael Mizrachi at the WSOP. He opened things up in enormous fashion by winning the famed $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $1.559 million. Mizrachi then put together quite an impressive string of four more cashes and was challenging for the WSOP Player of the Year award that ultimately fell to Frank Kassela. Additional scores were had that year by Mizrachi when he took sixth in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship for $68,949, eighth in the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $49,732, and 26th in the $2,500 Mixed for $6,324. Mizrachi wasn’t done there, either. He reached the final table of the WSOP Main Event and scored fifth place for a whopping $2.332 million. 2011: Jake Cody After Jake Cody opened the 2011 WSOP by winning the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship for $851,192, he only cashed twice that summer and both were for less than $20,000. Cody did, however, place seventh in the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event for €150,000 ($200,379). 2012: Brent Hanks Brent Hanks won the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event to kick off the 2012 WSOP. That event drew 2,101 entries and Hanks scored $517,725. Hanks’ only other cash that summer at the WSOP was a 282nd-place finish in the WSOP Main Event for $38,453. 2013: Trevor Pope The opening to the 2013 summer was a big one for Trevor Pope, as he scored first place in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $553,906. Pope came to the final table with an incredibly large chip lead and rode it all the way to the winner’s circle. After that, Pope cooled off and only cashed two more times. He finished 48th in the $2,500 Four-Max No Limit Hold’em for $5,253 and 13th in the $5,000 Six-Max Pot Limit Hold’em for $19,646. 2014: Vanessa Selbst Vanessa Selbst scored a big victory to open the 2014 WSOP when she won the $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em to the tune of $871,148. Following her opening win that summer, Selbst only cashed once more. Her second cash was a 38th-place finish in the $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo worth $5,517. 2015: Nick Petrangelo Nick Petrangelo had a great 2015. It was his first breakout year that saw him win more than $3.4 million on the live felt. Included in that was a $201,812 gold bracelet victory at the World Series of Poker. Petrangelo won the first piece of jewelry that summer by taking down the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout atop 308 entries. Despite his big year and first gold bracelet win, not much materialized for Petrangelo over the remaining WSOP events that year. In Las Vegas, he cashed in the $10,000 Main Event for $17,282, and then he took 26th in the €3,250 No Limit Hold’em event at WSOP Europe for €6,035 ($6,863). 2016: Kyle Julius Like Cunningham, Billirakis, and Mizrachi, Kyle Julius, winner of the first gold bracelet in the summer of 2016, cashed four additional times following his trip to victory lane. Julius opened the summer with a win in the $1,000 Top Up Turbo No Limit Hold’em for $142,972. He then record small cashes in the Colossus and $1,500 No Limit Hold’em before returning to a top-10 result in the $5,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em. In that event, Julius took ninth from a field of 524 entries and won $35,636. That summer, Julius would also take 21st in the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop to add $187,576 to his bankroll. 2017: Upeshka De Silva Upeshka De Silva stormed out of the gate in 2017 with a victory in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout for $229,923. He then put together four more cashes - just like Cunningham, Billirakis, Mizrachi, and Julius did in prior years - but De Silva couldn’t quite make it back to a WSOP final table that summer. He did place 30th in the 1,759-entry $2,620 Marathon tournament for $17,491, but that was De Silva’s deepest run outside of his opening gold bracelet win. 2018: Elio Fox In 2018, it was Elio Fox, winner of the 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event, who took the first gold bracelet of the summer. Fox won the $10,000 Turbo No Limit Hold’em event for $393,693. From there, Fox would put together a decent list of three more cashes. He took second in the $100,000 High Roller for $1.798 million, finished 92nd in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker for $8,976, and took ninth in the $50,000 High Roller for $139,699. $357,937 Won and 2.4 Cashes On Average Looking at the whole of it all, the first gold bracelet winners each summer, going back to 2004, averaged $357,937 won and 2.4 cashes that same summer following the gold bracelet win. None of these players were about to earn a second gold bracelet in that same summer, but some did come close by returning to a WSOP final table. Those to perform the latter were Cunningham in 2005, Mizrachi in 2010, Cody in 2011 if you count WSOP Europe, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. Both Cunningham and Mizrachi made it back to three final tables following their opening win. In total, players to win the opening gold bracelet of the summer cashed 36 additional times at the WSOP that year, again that’s if you include WSOP Europe. Of those 36 cashes, six were worth more than six figures and two were in the seven figures. Three times a player landed a score for more than the gold bracelet win, too. Those three times came with Mizrachi in 2010, Julius in 2016, and Fox in 2018. What Does This Mean for Brian Green? The question now is, what does this all mean for Brian Green? He won the first gold bracelet at the 50th annual 2019 World Series of Poker when he topped a field of 204 entries in the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty event. Green won $345,669. Green now has 25 WSOP cashes. A few times, he put together a nice handful of in-the-money finishes during the summer, so we’ll likely see a fair amount of volume from him given his successful start to the 2019 WSOP. In 2014 and 2015, Green cashed five times each summer at the WSOP. In 2016, he cashed four times. Although he failed to record a WSOP cash in 2017, Green added four more trips to the money in 2018. He frequents the higher buy-in No Limit Hold’em events a lot, so if he makes any additional noise in 2019 it will likely come from one of those tournaments. If we were to take a guess as to how Green will do for the remainder of the 2019 WSOP, we’d say he’ll land three or four more cashes and that there’s a high probability one of those is a score in the six figures.
  20. All good things must come to an end. And that end has come for the PCA. As PocketFives reported, when PokerStars announced the return of the PSPC in 2020 they also, unceremoniously, announced that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure would not be back in 2020, ending its run of 16 years. For many, the PCA kicked off the yearly poker calendar with players making plans to escape their winter hardships for weeks of poker, sun and waterslides. At the height of the poker boom, the PCA was one of the most popular stops on the tour as winners of the Main Event added millions to their career earnings and a marquee victory to their resumes. [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="PokerStars NJ"] However, as many tour stops experienced, the numbers began to decline after Black Friday and the fatigue of making the trip to the Atlantis Resort & Casino began to weigh on the players. Now, PokerStars has pulled the plug on one of the most enduring poker stops of the last two decades. But even though it’s gone, it certainly won’t be forgotten. With that, we’ve compiled nine of the most memorable moments in the history of the PCA. Gus Hansen’s On A Boat Before the PCA became the flagship stop for PokerStars, it has a very different look. In fact, in 2004, the first year it ever took place the PCA was then a World Poker Tour event. Also, it took place on a boat. The Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas to be exact and just as poker was about to hit mainstream a young up-and-coming player from Denmark, Gus Hansen, was in the middle of making a reputation for himself, a reputation that lasts to this very day. Hansen bested the likes of Daniel Negreanu for the $455,780 first-place prize and his third WPT title. Right from the get-go, the PCA drew premier poker star power and eventually the PCA would be the engine to create that star power. Ryan Daut And Isaac Haxton Take It Outside In 2007, rising online phenom Isaac Haxton was in prime position to take down the 2007 PCA Main Event and it’s massive $1.5 million first-place prize. Ryan Daut had other ideas and the pair put on a famous heads up battle at the final table which took place…outside. The weather outside was nearly as volatile as the play on the felt. The winds whipped as evening fell and it looked like the sky was going to open up and pour at any moment. In the eye of the storm was Haxton and Daut who played an iconic hand where both players had “absolute Garfunkel!” Haxton won the famous battle of the bluffs but Daut took home the PCA title. ESPN Took The PCA Live The PCA made history in 2011 when PokerStars struck a deal with ESPN to bring ‘near-live’ coverage of the PCA final table to the network. The final table was shown on ESPN2 and online on ESPN3.com on a one-hour delay so viewers could see the hole cards. According to the PokerStars Blog, it was the first time that poker fans were able to see a final table, every hand, every decision completely unedited. “For the first time viewers at home will see a poker telecast from start to finish, with all the strategy of world class-poker players playing in real-time,” said ESPN’s Matt Volk back in 2010. Galen Hall Finds A Fold Not only did 2011 produce one of the first unedited accounts of a final table, but it also produced one of the finest folds every caught on camera. Former #1-ranked PocketFiver Chris ‘Getting Daize’ Oliver was cruising in the PCA Main Event and at the start of heads up play he had a 3:1 chip advantage over fellow online pro Galen Hall. On the third hand of play, the pair both make monster hands by the river. Hall rivered a straight while Oliver had just gone runner-runner to a full house. After being checked to by Oliver, Hall put out a bet and was check-raised for his tournament life. “If Hall calls it’s all over,” said commentator James Hartigan. “I don’t see Hall getting away from this hand,” declared Daniel Negreanu. After minutes in the tank, Hall makes the laydown of his poker life and ended up turning the tables on Oliver to become the 2011 PCA Main Event champion for $2.3 million. Antonio Esfandiari DQ’d From Main Event Antonio Esfandiari loves to prop bet. So does Bill Perkins. When the two of them got together at the 2016 PCA they agreed to a bet that had Esfandiari only able to perform lunges when moving for 48 hours. Sore and not wanting to lunge himself to the bathroom, Esfandiari made the unfortunate decision to go to the bathroom in a bottle…under the poker table. When officials caught wind of Esfandiari’s makeshift restroom he was quickly disqualified from the Main Event. However, the prop bet continued and he got up and lunged his way out of the tournament area. Read: Antonio Esfandiari Disqualified from PCA Main Event Vanessa Selbst’s Big Bet So the story goes…after a night of having (perhaps too much) fun in the Bahamas, Vanessa Selbst made a big bet against her friend Jason Mercier that he couldn’t win three WSOP bracelets the following summer. It’s hard enough for pros to count on winning one WSOP bracelet, much less three and so she ended up giving 180:1 odds on a $10,000 wager. The bet was made in a bit of an 'altered state' and when Selbst woke up the next day, she tried to cancel it but according to Mercier, the bet was booked. She offered Mercier a $1K buy-out, he declined. Mercier went on to pick up two bracelets that summer and finish second in another tournament nearly completing the challenge that would have paid him $1.8 million. Christian Harder Battles Bax Long-time online and live pro Christian Harder became a bit of a footnote in PCA history in his 2017 Main Event win. That’s because, technically, it wasn’t the PCA. That year PokerStars shelved their popular PCA brand and tried to rebrand the tour stop the ‘PokerStars Championship Bahamas’. That is the year Harder fought through the field of 738 entries to find himself heads up for the title. When he looked up he saw he sitting across from him was his former backer (and PocketFives Legacy Award winner) Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy. Josephy was a bit of a mentor to Harder and had put him in the PCA in the past so when they got heads up, a deal was quickly struck between the two friends with Harder going on to take home the extra $10K and the first (and last) PSC Bahamas trophy. Maria Lampropulos First Woman Winner of PCA Argentina’s Maria Lampropulos made PCA history in 2018 by becoming the first-ever female to capture a PCA Main Event title. She overcame a 2:1 heads up chip deficit to defeat Canadian crusher Shawn Buchanan and take home the $1,081,100 first-place prize, her second seven-figure score in under 12 months. The Main Event final table was not only notable for who won the title but how she won it. Lampropulos was quite visibly extremely sick throughout the final day, having fits of coughing and seemingly struggling to stay focused. This also led to her taking a long time on many decisions, which prompted other players to call the clock on her on a number of occasions. In the end, she fought through the sickness, made the right decision and won some crucial flips to become the first (and now last) female PCA champion. The PSPC Breaks Records In 2019 PokerStars has a plan to revitalize the PCA and that was by hosting the largest ever $25,000 buy-in tournament - the PokerStars No Limit Hold’em Player Championship. The PSPC was the culmination of a year-long marketing campaign. One that doled out over 320 Platinum Passes, a ticket worth $30,000 that allowed players from all over the world to live their dream of playing in a tournament with life-changing money on the line. When the event got underway, the tournament room was electric with players of every skill level giddy with excitement over such a special event. The tournament exceeded all expectations with 1,039 players registering for the event creating a prize pool of $26,455,500. In fairytale fashion, Platinum Pass winner Ramon Colillas from Spain ended up as the winner and took home the massive $5.1 million first-place prize.
  21. For many who take the game of poker seriously, they can point to another player who has had a profound effect on their game. Whether it’s emerging from obscurity to win the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, pulling off heart-stopping bluffs on High Stakes Poker, or crushing the nosebleed stakes of online poker, some of the best poker players in the world have helped to inspire generations of new players find their way in poker. We've spoken with some of the biggest stars in the game today about who it their poker idols are. Brazil’s Vivian Saliba first gained the attention of the poker world through her consistent play and results in the Brazilian Series of Poker. In 2017, the PLO specialist made a splash at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, racking up five cashes including a resume-building run in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha 8 Handed Championship for $47,923. As more results in high profile tournaments came her way, Saliba’s poker career took another step forward as she signed on to become an ambassador for 888poker and started traveling all over the world playing in live events. In 2019, she earned the biggest score of her career after finishing in fourth place in the WSOP $888 Crazy Eights event for $308,888. When you first started playing poker, who was the player you admired the most? I remember that when I first started playing poker, I would spend many of my weekends watching Poker After Dark on TV or any other poker show that I could find. I used to admire Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey, and Tom Dwan. If I have to pick one name, I would say probably Patrick Antonius. What was it about that player that you liked or admired? Patrik Antonius had a very professional approach at the poker table and booked constant wins. Tom Dwan and Ivey used to impress me because of their very aggressive style, crazy bluffs, and unbelievable reads. When did you first get to see them play (either on TV, or live)? I started watching poker shows on TV since I was a teenager and this was the time I got to have knowledge of these players. The first time I traveled to Las Vegas for the WSOP, back in 2016, I had the opportunity to play the Ladies Event at the same table as Vanessa Selbst. That was the first I played against a real big name in poker. The first time I played against one of the players of my original list was in 2017 during the WSOPE Main Event, Patrick Antonius was at my table on Day 2. Did you ever get to meet that player and what was that like? When I used to be very inexperienced with poker, probably I would just imagine that any professional poker player could do "miracles" with the cards they were dealt, but as I grew older and more experienced, I learned that after all, we all make mistakes and most of the players I used to put on a pedestal are in the end just normal people that play very good poker. I was excited about playing at the same table as some big names but mostly because it meant to me how far I have progressed from where I first started (playing freerolls with my dad on weekends). Can you tell me about something either on the felt or off of the felt that you learned from them? I would say that I learned that is very important to have a good presence at the table, to keep your ambitions high, and to constantly improve your game. How does it feel to know somebody out there looks at you the way you looked up to your favorite player? I feel very flattered but at the same time with great responsibility. As a public person in the poker market, I must represent the sport well and set a good example for others. I remember the first time someone asked me for a picture during a poker tournament, I couldn´t understand why someone would want to take a picture with me but I felt very happy with the situation. Nowadays I receive a lot of support in the live events and thru my social media channels and this motivates me to do better and keep improving as a person and as a poker player.

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