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  1. Every player travels to the World Series of Poker from a different road, and this year, thousands of people will make it to Las Vegas with dreams that were formed all around the world.   One such player who has endured a harder journey than most, escaping war-torn Ukraine to evacuate his family to safety, is Eugene Katchalov. We spoke to him on the eve of his poker pilgrimage to Sin City.   Escaping Ukraine   "It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, seeing things I never thought I’d see."   Katchalov’s journey from the heart of his home country, Ukraine, to freedom on the other side of the border as bombs literally fell is one of the most incredible stories of the year. As the world reacted with shock at the war in Ukraine, Katchalov attempted to help his family escape to safety by driving through the country. This inspired Poker Twitter to reach out and help the former Team PokerStars Pro. He is immensely grateful for that support over two months on.   “I’ve been in the Czech Republic ever since we left Ukraine,” he tells us. “We spent 10 days in Budapest then Leon Tsoukernik rented four different hotels and invited over 500 refugees to stay there. I didn’t need the help personally but many of my wife’s family and friends who left with us did. Leon settled everyone in those hotels, and we rented an apartment nearby.” [caption id="attachment_638203" align="alignright" width="300"] Katchalov saw at first hand the devastation that the bombing of his home country caused.[/caption]   The time since that fateful journey has disappeared and Katchalov says that fleeing the city under attack and his subsequent efforts to raise funds for those still in Ukraine has altered his perception of time.   “The first week or two was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, seeing things I never thought I’d see. Because I have an audience on Twitter, I thought it would be good to show what was really going on. Once I did enter Europe, people offered their homes from 16 different countries for free, it’s been incredible. We were able to connect a lot of people because so many people from the poker community reached out to help.”   Clearly struck by the humanity of the relief effort, Katchalov is emotional as he says how ‘incredible’ the efforts of the wide poker world were in supporting refugees and those on the frontline.   “I started raising money for different humanitarian needs and discovered a foundation to partner with me and Luca Pagano’s esports company Qlash, to raise money. At this point, we’ve raised over $200,000 which is quite amazing. I just want to keep that going.”   Katchalov admits that he, like most of the world, has no idea how long the war will last or the devastation that will be left behind to repair. As he tells us, the kind of help that’s needed has shifted from helmets, drones and radios for soldiers in the early days of the invasion to logistics, with governmental aid focusing on the war. He hopes to raise money to help provide food and medical support for those still in Ukraine, the most affected of anyone during the conflict.   “Money can go through many different hands, so a big portion of my effort has been trying to help people I know who are on the ground. I’ve been working with different kitchens who are cooking food for soldiers and people. There’s a lot of money pouring in, but its stuck and food and clothes aren’t coming in - it’s about logistics.”   [caption id="attachment_638204" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Katchalov and his family were relived to arrive safe in Budapest.[/caption] Raising Money for Ukraine   "It’s my favorite poker series bar none, nothing compares to it."   Katchalov freely admits that his quest for glory at this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas includes some motivation from him missing playing the game he loves. Over the last couple of years, he has been focused on Qlash, the esports team he runs with fellow poker pro Luca Pagano. This year, however, the opportunity to raise money was too good to miss the WSOP.   “To play the game I’ve always loved and do it for a good cause is amazing,” he says. “It’s my favorite poker series bar none, nothing compares to it. I’ve always loved mixed games and limit games and the WSOP is pretty much the only place you can play those.”   [caption id="attachment_638205" align="alignright" width="245"] Katchalov's memories of the WSOP are some of his fondest of an incredible poker career.[/caption] Everyone is excited about the potential growth that having the WSOP at Bally’s and Paris could provide this year. Katchalov is no different.   “I feel it might break records,” he says. “I’m an ambassador for the largest online site in Ukraine, PokerMatch, and they’re going to be buying a significant piece of my events and donating to the same humanitarian charity I will.”   Katchalov is hugely passionate about bringing money to the charity and has seen at first-hand the effect it can have on a country desperate for help from all corners of the globe.   “My plan is to donate at least 10% to Ukrainian charities and PokerMatch will be donating their full share to the same charity. I feel like my poker game is up there and I’m ready for any result.”   The Year Darvin Moon Busted Katchalov   "He looked at his chips and he just nonchalantly took one stack and called."   Back in 2009, the World Series of Poker welcomed a fresh-faced 28-year-old Katchalov as he ran deep in the Main Event. His memories of that event are clearly very special 13 years on.   “It was the year Ivey made the final table. When there were 50 players left, I was chip leader. I was texting Phil as we kept going back and forth at the top. Then I lost 30 pots in a row and busted and was devastated. I’d love to have another deep run in the Main Event.”   The magic of getting so close is still palpable to Katchalov after all these years.   “There are four tables left, and first place is life-changing money. You’re like ‘Oh my god.’ This was during the boom of online poker, too, so you probably stood to make as much as first place from a sponsorship with one of the major sites.”   Katchalov’s exit came at the hands of the man who would run all the way to second place, losing to Joe Cada in the hand that changed the young player’s life.   “Darvin Moon busted me!” laughs Katchalov. “I remember it too. I was kinda short with 11 blinds and had ace-ten. I shoved and he had just arrived at the table and was sitting down. He looked at his chips and he just nonchalantly took one stack and called. I think he had kings. It’s a painful memory... but it was memorable!”   Mixing It Up   "I’m planning to play mostly limit games and some of the smaller No Limit events."   Katchalov will focus mostly on mixed games in Las Vegas, and he has fond memories of winning his bracelet in Seven Card Stud, as well as plenty of other mixed game moments over the years. He feels that it is in those events where he has the biggest edge.   “I still feel like my NLHE edge is good, but in terms of mixed games, the game hasn’t advanced as much. There isn’t [so much] popularity to them, so the level of the game is stable. I’m planning to play mostly limit games, some of the smaller NLHE events where the fields are comparatively soft and of course the Main, which is a special event. I think it could reach record numbers.   Katchalov will be selling some action for the World Series of Poker events that he will play on Pocket Fives. His package goes on sale on Wednesday 25th May, just six days before the WSOP begins.   “I think it’s great that there are platforms like Pocket Fives that allow you to ‘crowdfund’ your events. It’s great to be able to give fans another reason to root for you and also to support a great cause. I’ve never sold pieces in public before. I'm looking forward to it and, hopefully, I can make lots of people some money. I’ll be tweeting about the experience a lot, especially for people who are backing me!”   After one of the hardest journeys anyone has had to make, Eugene Katchalov hopes to raise much-needed money and renew his love affair with poker in the capital of gambling, Las Vegas. There could hardly be a better player to root for at the World Series of Poker this summer... whether you’re lucky enough to get a piece of his action or not.   [caption id="attachment_638206" align="aligncenter" width="581"] Eugene Katchalov (pictured left, hiking Red Rock with Dan 'Jungleman' Cates' can't wait for this year's WSOP adventure.[/caption]                  
  2. Every year, the World Series of Poker is enormous fun for fans of the game as poker heroes such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Shaun Deeb take each other on for the biggest prizes and bragging rights associated with winning the much-coveted Player of the Year title as well as individual bracelets.   This year sees the return of the $25k Fantasy Draft, where players and fans alike can invest their hard-earned money in the performances of their poker idols. But how does the $25k Fantasy Draft work and who are the best people to ask?   We’ve delved into poker’s biggest sweat in Las Vegas by speaking with Remko Rinkema and Donnie Peters, who this year are the two men behind Team Pocket Fives, as well as chatting to Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks, who both represent Team No Gamble, No Future. For the first time, investors can buy a piece of the action from both teams direct from the Pocket Fives site. Remko Rinkema can see the benefits of following the website to keep track of which players are selling their action.   “There are people who have posted action on Pocket Fives,” he says. “If we can see that a player is playing a big buy-in tournament, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing a full schedule. The staking marketplace on Pocket Fives has brought all that to one platform.”   Jeff Platt couldn’t agree more. The man who made award-winning content at the last World Series of Poker is excited about how easy it is to advertise the package.   “While it’s a thrill for us to run the team, it’s even more exciting to be able to get fans involved with the squad, via the Pocket Fives Staking platform,” he says. His teammate, Brent Hanks, agrees.   “A few years ago, Remko and I did this thing together and it dawned on both of us that we were actually sharp when it comes to the WSOP and determining the value and pricing of players. Fast forward, Jeff and I have been very fortunate to be immersed within the poker industry.”   Making the Best Picks   "Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this." ~ Remko Rinkema   The two teams know all about the process of picking players, but what strategy is the right one? As both teams confess, experience is no guarantee of success.   “Knowing how it works has absolutely nothing with winning this. We know better than anyone how it works and haven’t won a thing!” laughs Rinkema, who won a Global Poker Award earlier this year for his spectacular feature on the life of Stu Ungar told through his daughter Stephanie’s memories for PokerGO.   “It’s very different from playing a tournament or cash game,” says Donnie Peters, Rinkema’s right-hand man on Team Pocket Fives. “You’re betting on other players. It’s fantasy football transitioned to poker. They didn’t run the $25k fantasy last year because of the vaccine or mask mandates, but we’ve been doing this $25k for several years.”   As Rinkema explains, knowing that a player will put in the volume no matter what is key to making the right buys on Draft night.   “The first tier is how much are they going to play,” he explains. “Then how likely are they to stick to that schedule based on outside parameters such as cash games and skill level compared to their opponents. Anyone can win a tournament on a given day; Jeff Platt made a final table last year - that says it all.”   This theory applies to the biggest players, as the men who know poker best tell us. Volume is by far the biggest factor and while some stars of the game like Daniel Negreanu will play every game, others such as Phil Ivey might take four or five days off if a juicy cash game kicks off elsewhere on the Strip.   The Origins of the Game   "We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP." ~ Donnie Peters   The notion of playing a $25,000-entry Fantasy Draft for poker started in 2011. At that stage, Daniel Negreanu was the man behind it, but interest in the idea quickly snowballed. Podcasters Quad Jacks, who were huge in 2012 interviewed Rinkema for their show and the latter then discussed the idea with Peters on a PokerNews podcast episode.   “We thought it didn’t seem like they understood draft strategy,” says Peters. “We joked that we’d max the auction on Phil Ivey, spending 193 on Ivey then fill in the rest of our players with $1 players. Some people got wind of it on social media.”   The pair were encouraged to take part the following year, raising the money from several investors. Despite their knowledge and background in the game - both men have lived and breathed poker for well over a decade - they are yet to profit... but believe this is the year.   “The last time it was organized in 2019, I had a team with Poker Central,” says Rinkema. We were a min-cash shy of finishing in the top three [with] probably the best team ever assembled. We had Jeremy Ausmus, Dan Shak, Rob Mizrachi, Jon Turner, Stephen Chidwick, James Obst, Justin Young and Bart Lybaert was our one-dollar player.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft, or rather ‘gambling on gamblers gambling well’ as Rinkema says, is, as all four men admit, the funniest thing imaginable. Investors are betting money on poker players not only showing up with their own money, but finding ways to win. Variance is huge, and Team Pocket Fives are well aware that players ‘grind for years and never make the final table’. The variance is so high that it’s the reason never to give up. Anyone can win it.   “If you’re investing in Team Pocket Fives, you’re investing in Remko and I. We’re the brain trust. Similar to if you’re backing me in a poker tournament, you invest in me and take a leap of faith with your dollars. Remko and I lean on our expertise. We have been in the industry and have a good feel for the WSOP, we’re there every single day and have studied these players over the years.”   [caption id="attachment_638190" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Who'll pick the best team when Daniel Negreanu hosts the $25k Fantasy Draft at the PokerGO Studio at ARIA?[/caption] Fireworks Guaranteed   The $25k Fantasy Draft will be presented by Daniel Negreanu on May 30th and looks set to be held on a live stream on PokerGO too, with a live auctioneer of Tim Duckworth and an electric atmosphere in the room. With huge money on the line and poker heroes captaining many teams, Rinkema explains it can be nerve-wracking for debutants.   “It is one thing betting on fantasy football sitting behind your computer, but quite another being in a room where Daniel Negreanu bids $73 for Stephen Chidwick and I raise my hand and shout ‘$75!’ It’s quite the vibe that you’re stepping into.”   Rinkema explains that team cohesion is everything on the night when the lights are on the teams and marginal decisions need to be made. Whatever the team’s spending limit on players before the auction can change in a second if a big name goes for cheap or sleeper picks gather traction.   “It’s a really cool atmosphere,” says Rinkema. “It’s for the true hardcore. If you’re a podcast fan and love the WSOP, it’s the coolest thing ever. If you’re a true fan of the game, it’s ‘can’t miss’ content and provides an amazing sweat during the WSOP.”   Peters admits that every year, walking into the room for the Draft sends a shiver down his spine.   “You’re going up against a lot of people in the industry and you want to do well. You walk in there and its game day you got your stats, you’ve done your research, but every year people are winging it! They want to borrow your computer it’s like ‘No, you should have done your own research!’ If players don’t go for as many dollars as they think they’re worth, they go crazy."   Peters says the pair get messages from players thanking them for being drafted and promising how hard they’ll try. Not everyone ends the draft delighted with proceedings, though.   "One year Phil Hellmuth went for fourth or fifth most expensive player," recalls Peters. "Obviously, he’s the most decorated WSOP player of all time. He lost his mind that he wasn’t the most expensive player drafted that year!”   [caption id="attachment_638191" align="aligncenter" width="857"] Walking through the famous PokerGO studio doors is inspiring and daunting on Draft night.[/caption] Talking Tactics   "We know when well-known players are looking to play." ~ Brent Hanks   When it comes to individual players, how does each team decide who goes for who? In every case, the process is different, only adding to the variance across the board.   “We both have endless contact information for domestic and international players alike,” says Hanks about his and Platt’s tactics. “We know the sort of volume that goes under the radar and when well-known players are looking to play.”   This isn’t always foolproof, as Rinkema reminds us. It’s not always about the quality of the player.   “I would love to have Jeremy Ausmus on our team every year, but I have a feeling he’ll be one of the highest-priced players bid on. He plays a lot of tournaments, he’s extremely good looking; these factors are important.”   Others won’t be playing a full series, as Rinkema reveals to everyone who reads this.   “Darren Elias, I know without asking him, always takes a break to fly back to the East Coast to hang out with his family. We don’t want those family men on our team. We want dedicated grinders who do not leave the parameter of the valleys and lock in to play every single tournament. Jeremy Ausmus, by the way, big time family man.”   Rinkema has already been sharking Twitter for new names and admits to having found ‘a couple of gems’ in the hunt for a great value breakout player.   “Jason Mercier is a really good example,” says Peters. “He was crushing this thing for so long but, from 2018, hasn’t really played, so you have to find the next people who are coming up. Hanks can’t contain his excitement about the next two months on and off the felt.   “The 25k Fantasy Draft is something that Jeff and I absolutely had to be a part of,” he gushes. “It’s the perfect fit for No Gamble, No Future and what we’re trying to create for our show and brand.” “Yeah, Brent and I have been discussing innovative ways to relaunch No Gamble, No Future,” agrees Platt. “Having a $25k WSOP fantasy team is the perfect complementary piece to that puzzle.” A Rowdy Rail is Guaranteed   "Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table." ~ Jeff Platt   Part of the fun for Pocket Fives investors or players on each team is the guaranteed entertainment that either participation or investment in either Team Pocket Fives or Team No Gamble, No Future brings.   “Our virtual rail will only be topped by Brent’s in-person antics when one of our players makes a final table,” laughs Platt in a reference to the last time Hanks and Platt lit up Twitter after the latter ran very deep at the World Series. “We’ll have so many social media updates so that rail can really feel like they have a good sweat. We plan to feature short interviews with our squad, and love looking at our best sweats throughout the course of the WSOP.”   “Players on our team are going to get our undying support for the duration of the WSOP,” says Peters. “We’ll do almost daily podcasts from Bally’s and Paris, the podcast has nine topics going to every show with nine players on our team. It’s going to generate some major content.   Brent Hanks couldn’t agree more and is determined to bring the same party mood that he did last year to every step of the $25k Fantasy Draft.   “Not only do we absolutely love being a part of this experience, we also know our fans will have a blast alongside us. Not only will this be a fun sweat, but we fully expect to win the damn thing! When our horses make a final table, we guarantee a wild rail as we cheer our team on.”   The last word goes to Rinkema before each of the four go back to their spreadsheets, social media messages and other contacts to continue work on building the perfect $25k Fantasy Draft.   “It’s the most fun content to do during the WSOP,” he says. “There are sweats, players going deep, and having a little skin in the game every morning when you wake up to see how your team is doing is a fun way to make the WSOP even more exciting.”   The $25k Fantasy Draft takes place in less than a fortnight. Before then, you can invest in both teams right here:   https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1526657824532701184
  3. The notion of a poker hand representing a poker player is not a new one. For decades, ten-deuce has been known as the ‘Texas Dolly’. So-called after Doyle Brunson, the hand struck notoriety thanks to being the winning hand in back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Events in 1976 and 1977. Last week, Phil Hellmuth’s queen-four call for his tournament life - and subsequent suck-out success - went viral. Playing against Alex Foxen in the 2022 U.S. Poker Open, the so-called ‘Poker Brat’ become associated with the hole cards around the world... but how long will that last? From Will Smith-related memes to Hellmuth’s own reaction to the hand, how has a week in the spotlight given queen-four off the unlikeliest of popularity boosts? The Hand Takes Place Whichever way you look at it, Alex Foxen and Phil Hellmuth played out one of the most virally viewed poker hands in history on PokerGO during the 2022 U.S. Poker Open. With both men in the running for not only the Event title but the leaderboard victory at that stage, Foxen saw Hellmuth’s three-bet and four-bet enough to set the Poker Brat all in with a call. Hellmuth weighed things up as co-commentator Brent Hanks, working alongside Jeff Platt in the PokerGO booth, stated what every viewer was feeling. “This a guy who can dodge bullets but can’t get away from queen-four? I am shocked that he’s taking time making this decision. It is not a decision.” It was, however, and as Hellmuth declared ‘I guess I better play to win.” He put in his remaining chips, deciding not to leave himself with nine big blinds. Of course, a queen came on the flop and to add insult to injury, another queen on the river gave Hellmuth the crucial double-up. No nines arrived across the board left Foxen perplexed, and he shot a look of wonderment slowly around the PokerGO Studio. “What did we just witness? What the heck was that?” said Hanks. The whole world was about to provide a different answer to that question. Poker Twitter Blows Up No sooner had the hand played out were PokerGO themselves sharing what has become one of the most popular poker hands in living memory for people to watch. Quotes, retweets, likes and engagements alone sent the hand around the globe faster than you could locate your push-fold charts to prove the call 'wrong'. https://twitter.com/PokerGO/status/1507474159030321155 Some of the comments on Poker Twitter have predictably been brilliant. “I swear the next time I'm dealt a [queen-four], I am shoving my chips in,” said one Poker Brat fan. “Instead of calling for my 'one time' I will announce ‘For Phil!’”. Many Hellmuth supporters came out in defense not only of their man but the hand itself. “I secretly love [queen-four],” one said. “It's my oddball hand.” Another represented many dozens with their assertion that: “From here on out, the queen-four will be known as ‘The Hellmuth’ or ‘The Brat’ People will be playing it like the [seven-deuce] game. Poker rooms across America will be talking about the hand!” They already were. The Memes Take Over From the moment the clip was shot out of the PokerGO social media cannon, the poker circus that exists online was in raptures. Max Pescatori hinted that an element of jealousy would waft through high roller games everywhere https://twitter.com/maxpescatori/status/1507533575054409733 Hellmuth himself shared the effect that the internet had enjoyed having on queen-four. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1507669423636692997 Plenty of fans were on Hellmuth’s side, and more than happy to show this runaway train of a meme subject would not be stopped by anything in its way. https://twitter.com/FPLFledgling/status/1507831077762736128 When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Poker Twitter moved at speed to appropriate the action to Hellmuth’s hand. https://twitter.com/jsmith84poker/status/1508287597067468804 While intelligent debate was thin on the ground, that didn’t mean the very best couldn’t parody it, and Phil Galfond’s post was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. https://twitter.com/PhilGalfond/status/1507837664216567808 Hellmuth even shared an amended hand ranking chart, giving new power to this craziest of calling hands. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1507667976891166720 Could ‘The Hellmuth’ Stand the Test of Time? One fan’s assertion that Johnny Chan could have prevented Hellmuth winning his iconic WSOP Main Event in 1989 really set the controls of the out of control juggernaut to ‘crazy’. “Your 1989 WSOP win showed up on my YouTube feed today,” they said. “Funny thing is if he played [queen-four] against your [pocket nines] he would have won. I think there's something magical about your hand.” Magical or not, Hellmuth didn’t win either the USPO event or any other event with the hand in question. So can it really stand the test of time? Eager to show that it might, the Poker Brat was on the road to a meet up game later in the week, and what would his first hand be? You’ve guessed it. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1509035404581736452 There’s a 'Queen-Four' Facebook group, and before long, you just know there will be t-shirts. If the hand catches on at the World Series, then the memes will all come out for a second airing. Hellmuth himself, as is so often the case, seems in charge of the hand’s destiny. Doyle Brunson played ten-deuce in not one but two vital spots. Both times he won a WSOP Main Event as a direct result, but while Hellmuth may not have the opportunity to do so, what the Poker Brat has in 2022 is a much more powerful media machine to feed. If Phil Hellmuth makes a final table at the 2022 World Series of Poker, then the Poker Brat will be waiting for two hole cards in particular to go crazy with on a live stream. Setting aside the value he’s stacking up by less experienced hopefuls presuming he is playing queen-four along the way, Hellmuth should absolutely play it under the lights. If queen-four makes it to mainstream television, we might never hear the last of a hand that is living in the moment for far longer than anyone gave it the chance of doing. All in? You'd better believe it.
  4. Today, Daniel Negreanu is known as one of the most popular players in poker, a de facto spokesperson for many in the game. Known as ‘Kid Poker’, Negreanu has appeared in movies, televised poker games, podcasts, radio shows and live streams and played at the top table for over 20 years. With hundreds of thousands of followers on his social media channels alone, Negreanu is perhaps the most popular mainstream player poker has seen. Back in 1999, Negreanu was a comparative unknown. Identified as ‘Kid’ - “not 'The Kid', that was Stu Ungar’s moniker” - the Canadian was a young man who was starting to become successful. Despite this, he had never played poker on television, so when he sat down at the final of the U.S. Poker Championship in Atlantic City, it was his first time playing under the glare of television lighting. Some hands give a poker player the confidence to walk that little bit taller. Heads up with John Bonetti, Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu was about to play the hand that would change his life. The Young Buck Rises Through the Herd "I knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time." Back in December 1999, while the world was petrified of Y2K and just a fortnight away from a new millennium, Negreanu was ploughing through the field in the U.S. Poker Championship. A year earlier, Negreanu had played events at Foxwoods, in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas leading up to the WSOP where he won his bracelet. Now was the big one - a first TV appearance at a final table. “I was making a name for myself,” he describes. “In 1999, capping that off with a televised final, I went from the young rookie to the established threat, a real pro on the tour." There wasn’t the wall-to-wall poker coverage in 1999 that there is today. Other than Cardplayer Magazine and the odd ESPN appearance, players only had forums that were in their infancy with which to spread the word about their skills. It made the biggest tournaments all the more important. There were only two $10k buy-ins - the WSOP Main Event and the U.S. Poker Championship. Making it all the way to the final two, Negreanu was taking on someone he considered something of a mentor. “I was 25 years old, a young buck on the scene,” says Negreanu. “I was travelling the poker circuit and knew of John Bonetti; he was a big star at the time. I took a liking to him. He had a mafia vibe, but he was a jokester, always having fun.” It was Negreanu’s first time on television, and he looked the part. Introduced to the poker world on ESPN, he was wearing what he called his ‘Andre Agassi tracksuit’ and topped off the look with an earring and Nike hat. That was very much Negreanu’s self-styled image back in the 20th century. “I always wore a tracksuit for tournaments, and I got a little fanny pack for all my money and stuff. I had my cash, wallet, room keys, poker notes, results - it was before cell phones were a thing! I was oddly really comfortable immediately on camera. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an actor. I didn’t feel nervous. I remember that being strange." The Protégé Takes on The Master “I talked about taking big risks. This was an opportunity [where] I can win - I’m drawing live.” Thanks to his first bracelet win in 1998, Negreanu had made his name among his poker peers already but winning a huge tournament on TV would mark a major breakthrough. The final table went well, Negreanu eliminating third-placed Jason Viriyayuthakorn to send play heads-up. Against Bonetti, however, things weren’t going to plan. “We got heads up and I started to feel like the underdog against him. I felt like he was playing better than I was. Sometimes you can just tell; the guy was winning all the pots in the trenches, digging out these situation shots, I was getting outplayed. I made a strategy shift. I understood that if I wanted to win, I’d have to take some risks.” Pre-flop: Daniel Negreanu: [poker card="Qs"] [poker card="9s"] John Bonetti: [poker card="Ac"] [poker card="Tc"] Negreanu raised the button with his suited cards and Bonetti called with ace-ten. Flop: [poker card="Ts"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3c"] “I bet the flop, he shoved and I relaxed that in that moment.” Negreanu was a 45% shot to win the hand with two cards to come, so it was a huge decision for his stack. But of course, he didn’t know that. It was at that moment that Kid Poker had to have a conversation with himself about that change of strategy. Such alterations are easy in theory, but it always comes down to whether you can commit the chips to the decision. “I talked about taking big risks,” Negreanu smiles. “This was an opportunity that no matter what he has I can win - I’m drawing live. I called. We were basically even in chips, he had three or four big blinds left [over].” Turn: [poker card="Ah"] Suddenly, Negreanu went from near a coinflip to being a worse than 4:1 dog in the hand. It’s easy to presume that any emotions Negreanu felt at the time were heightened due to his age, but that’s not the case. “I have them even more now!” he laughs. “The turn was the ace of hearts [made me] little anxious, like ‘Oh sh**, did I screw up? He turned aces and tens.... then I hit a spade.” River: [poker card="8s"] On seeing the fifth spade to complete his flush slide into the river position on the felt, Negreanu stood quickly, turning to his opponent, whose face fell. In that instant, it is as if the jovial, chatty nature of Bonetti is transferred like a baton between relay runners. The passing of the torch. “I busted him on the very next hand,” says Negreanu. I still have the check (pictured below), it’s on my wall. After I got that money, I jumped right into an $800/$1,600 game. This is before wiring money. I won some more and on the way home, I’m carrying the check, while in my bag was a pile of laundry and under that, all the money. I’m going back to Vegas literally advertising what I’d won.” [caption id="attachment_638113" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Daniel Negreanu's famous winners check for winning the 1999 U.S. Poker Championship still takes pride of place in his home. (courtesy of Daniel Negreanu).[/caption] Life Is Never the Same “I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever.” That hand didn’t just change Negreanu’s life. It changed Negreanu. Unafraid of strolling through the airport with a bag full of dollars for a journey back home, life was never going to be the same again. His old life simply didn’t exist to return to. “It put me front and center in the poker world,” he tells us. “When you win a big buy-in tournament with a $210,000 top prize... that was a lot of money back then. It brought me more into the mainstream. I started to write for Cardplayer as a result and became a voice in the game. I didn’t care about money that much, back then, or now, or ever. I just enjoyed winning. I’ve always felt, if anyone ever took the money, it would be fine. I’d just win more anyway.” Negreanu says he has 'never thought' about what might have happened if Bonetti's two-pair held and he came second, but the Canadian certainly had his fair share of moments that didn’t go right. "The year Carlos Mortensen won the [WSOP] Main Event, I came 11th and was chipleader with 12 left, losing a key hand. If I’d won that hand, who knows? But everything seemed to work out pretty good.” To say the least, that is an understatement. Daniel Negreanu, the most well-known poker face on the planet for the last two decades sits third on the all-time money list. On losing or painful moments, Negreanu is philosophical. “Any time you have a breakdown in life, it’s an opportunity for a breakthrough. Going broke or having traumatic losses drives me to be better. Just in the last couple of years, I went through - from a luck perspective in all-ins - the worst period in my career. It’s been really difficult. My wife always says I’m resilient.” Winning at Life “I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted.” Negreanu is a major part of poker history but you get the impression that he hasn’t lived in the past for one day in his life. His passion for the game of poker is rooted in tournaments thanks to his formative years. “Cash games are a job; you punch in, punch out, you win money, but there’s no leaderboard, no point to it,” he says. “Ever since I was a child, I created my own tournaments. I created leaderboards with my wrestlers. I’d create a bracket of 16 of them, roll a die and keep track. The guy who won the tournament got 50 points, second place got 40, I’d keep a record. My Mom would be like ‘What are all these papers?’. Today, that love of playing with a leaderboard in mind is part of what brings Negreanu back to the table. “I just played the U.S. Poker Open because there was a Player of the Series award,” he says. “What PokerGO is doing in the studio is really fun; they create a system so that by the last event, which is worth a lot more, a whole bunch of people are in the running. That’s what gets me to go. That’s why the World Series of Poker is the most fun for me.” Negreanu admits that he has changed hugely in the last two decades, not just in how he behaves, but in his own perception of himself, and how much he cares. “In your twenties, you definitely care what other people think. No doubt, it matters. In your thirties, you care but a little bit less. You realise not everyone is going to like you. In my forties, I give zero f***s. I got the wife I always wanted, I have the life I always wanted. I am the authentic version of myself. I always had a cinematic view of things and how to sell it, but as you get older you realise that what sells is authenticity.” The life and soul of the table in 1999 was a man called John Bonetti, who sadly passed away in 2008. In the penultimate hand of the U.S. Poker Championship, Bonetti’s enthusiasm for the game was infectious and you can see how his flair rubbed off on the ‘Kid’ sitting opposite him at the felt. You can watch the hand that changed Daniel Negreanu’s life right here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_U_lRqEJHI[/embed]  
  5. In the first of a new feature series on Pocket Fives, we look back at a pivotal poker hand during the career of some of the best players on the planet. This week, four-time World Poker Tour Main Event winner Darren Elias casts his eye back on a crucial hand that led to him winning the WPT Borgata Open, where he won a huge pot from the chip leader at the time, Kane Kalas. The hand in question came at a final table that would prove to be the setting for Elias’ first major tournament poker title. Back in September of 2014, Elias was one of 1,226 entries in the $3,500 WPT Borgata Open Championship. With a prize pool guaranteed at $3 million and eventually reaching over $4 million, Elias went into the hand in question behind only Kalas as the top two had a clear lead over the field. It would be a hand between the two that would change the course of poker history and in particular that of Elias. Before the hand took place, Elias was well aware of the threat that Kalas posed. “I’d played with Kane in one other tournament before,” says Elias. “That Borgata Open was a six-day marathon, so I had played with him for a couple of days and recognized him as a competent player and someone who knew what was going on. He’d identified the dynamics with ICM where we’re playing for a lot of money with big pay jumps and he was playing well with the chip lead.” Kalas may have had the lead, but the hand in question was about to change all that. Pre-flop: Darren Elias: [poker card="Qh"][poker card="6h"] Kane Kalas: [poker card="Th"][poker card="4h"] Flushing From the Flop As Elias describes, Kalas, who had entered the final table with 14 million chips, miles clear of Elias in second place with 8 million, had a huge lead over the rest of the field. Starting out with roughly half the chips in play gave Kalas the ability to raise with a very wide range of hands to put pressure on every player. That was going through Elias’ mind when Kalas raised from the small blind with Elias in the big. “There are all kinds of ICM dynamics where he’s trying to pressure me in the blinds and I called pre-flop with my suited hand in position knowing that he’s going to be very wide,” says Elias. Flop: [poker card="Kh"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2h"] That flop gave both players a flush draw, but Kalas had two hearts that were ten-high, with Elias holding a queen-high flush draw, with the king one of two hearts on the flop. At that point, Kalas c-bet a million chips into a pot of 1.35m and Elias just called, making the pot now 3.35m. “I still put him on a very wide range,” says Elias of his thoughts at that point. I think he’s c-betting with almost his entire range.” Both men give each other a long look at this point, but Elias explains that he wasn’t necessarily going for a ‘staredown’. “I’m trying to get all the information I can, but at the highest level, these players are pretty well adjusted at guarding themselves against tells,” he confesses. Despite admitting that ‘I’m always looking to see if there’s something I can pick up’, in reality, the magnitude of the moment was prevalent at that stage. “It’s a big final table; I’m focusing and trying my hardest. It looks like I’m staring intensely, but I’m just trying to play my game.” [caption id="attachment_638090" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Darren Elias (front right) playing for the biggest top prize of his poker career to date.[/caption] Drawing on the Heart "I want to give him the rope to bluff if he has the naked ace of hearts." Turn: [poker card="8h"] When the flush draw came in on the turn, Elias didn’t put his opponent on a flush. “This is going to be great for Darren Elias; I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t double-up here.” Said the late Mike Sexton, legendary former WPT Main Event winner and a cornerstone of the brand’s on-screen coverage for many years. Darren Elias, however, had a lot to do to make sure he got full value on the hand. “I put him on a lot of bluffs that contain one heart, maybe some top pair type hands, but he’d probably slow down. He is most likely bluffing or has a flush or very strong hand when he bets the turn.” Elias remembers the moment on the turn specifically very clearly and says he ‘never’ wants to be bluffing that spot. “It’s an ICM nightmare to shove and I want to give him the rope to bluff if, say, he has the naked ace of hearts. We want to give him that chance to hang himself on the river. If I do shove that turn, I probably always have the nuts and I’m unbalanced. My hand might seem vulnerable if a heart comes, but I still feel pretty safe on the turn with one to come to be trapping.” Kalas bet 1.7 million and Elias called. River: [poker card="Tc"] With the made flush, Elias obviously wanted Kalas to shove the river, which he did. That’s a function of what Elias would want with his range, not just the hand he had. “If I had a king, I should never shove the turn. If I’m to shove the turn with my flushes there, it decapitates my range where I don’t have a lot of strong hands on the river.” Kalas shoved, Elias called and the New Jersey man took the pot and grabbed the lead in the process. With first place worth over $840,000 and second place paying $500,000, it was a vital pot in terms of equity. “You’re a bit handcuffed when there are two big stacks and you’re in second. That flipped the stacks, now I’m in first and there are a lot of other smaller stacks. It really shifts the table dynamics opened up the table, I’m able to open more bet more, pressure more.” The Mistakes That Stay With Champions "When I’ve made an error, it’ll bother me for months or even years." Elias went on to win, of course, and his landmark win at what he considered his home casino was his first major tournament victory. “I had my whole family there which was great,” he tells us. “My fiancée at the time was there, so was my Dad, and we went over to a bar and had a few too many beverages. Something like that gives you confidence in being able to execute on a big stage. That’s always something on my mind, being able to execute in big spots.” Elias clearly enjoyed a mental boost by making his moment in the spotlight count and has gone on to win three more WPT Main Events, a feat that has not been equalled by any player at the time of going to press. Despite that, the now four-time WPT champion confesses that the mistakes he has made in tournaments ‘eat me up’ far more than any victories might linger in the memory. [caption id="attachment_638091" align="alignright" width="650"] Darren Elias stares down Kane Kalas on his way to toppling the overnight chip leader on the home straight.[/caption] “Any time I get to major spots at a big final table, you don’t get the opportunity to play these high stakes games against those sorts of players too often. When I’ve made an error, it’ll bother me for months or even years. To be a professional poker player, you have to be tough on yourself and identify mistakes and make changes going forward, but at some point, you have to forgive yourself and move forward. You walk a fine line.” The win represented a huge return on Elias’ investment at the time. Costing $3,500 to enter the event, the man who was born in Boston and raised in Erie, Pennsylavania had almost all of his own action, so took home the majority of his $843,744 top prize. It didn’t change which tournaments Elias played, but it allowed him to have bigger pieces of himself in $25k and $100k high rollers. “You always want to have a pulse on how you’re doing with your bankroll and adjust your pieces accordingly, taking bigger shots when you’re doing well, so it definitely helped in that regard.” The hand that changed Darren Elias’ life may have been something of a cooler but it was worth a lot of money and propelled him to win that first major title. “It was worth a lot to me in my career,” he admits. “I’m not sitting around thinking about the hand, but I can go back to that vivid memory. I’m always looking forward to the next tournament. Most of the time, it’s the ones where I made mistakes that stick with me more than the flush over flush cooler for all the money!” Elias will continue to play WPT events and says he’ll wait for his career to be over before he even considers his legacy. He has other achievements to accomplish in poker in the years to come, including winning a WSOP bracelet, something he has never done. We wonder if he’s happy being among the best players never to win a bracelet. “I’d like to win a bracelet,” says Elias. “It’s that list you want to be on but don’t want to be on. The World Series can be tough for me with a family, I can’t be out there for two months. I usually go back and forth and play a dozen events, especially the $10,000 2-7 single draw - it’s one of my favourite events. It doesn’t get a ton of players and I’ve got third twice. That’s probably my best shot at a bracelet. Eventually, I’ll break through at the World Series!” It seems like only a matter of time before Darren Elias’ next big victory on the world stage. The man whose mistakes drive him on will always enjoy the memory of that infamous flush over flush cooler that pushed him forward in his career. You can buy some of Darren Elias' action in the $50,000-entry Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 6th. Watch the hand that changed Darren Elias' life right here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8OkgXhxLA0[/embed] You can buy some of Darren Elias' action in the $50,000-entry Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 6th.
  6. The schedule for the 2022 World Series of Poker has finally been unveiled and with it, the dream of winning a WSOP gold bracelet has awoken for players around the world. With 88 live events held at the WSOP’s new home on the Las Vegas Strip, plus an additional 14 online bracelet events for players in regulated states, the schedule has been hailed by most as a towering home run (potentially the only home run we’re going to see for quite some time). More baseball analogies: the schedule covers all the bases. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a super high roller, a first-timer or a POY-seeker, the 2022 WSOP schedule “has something for everyone” from the Opening Day $100,000 Bounty High Roller straight through to the $1,000 Super Turbo NLHE. No matter when you make your way to Las Vegas this summer, there’s going to be something to get geeked up about. That being said, there are some standout events worth taking a closer look at and, potentially, planning your own personal bracelet chase around. So, here’s a breakdown of some of the high points of this year’s schedule to help you refine when you are going to take a couple of extra vacation days in hopes of making that WSOP deep run. READ: World Series of Poker Announces Complete 2022 Schedule Big Field, Small Buy-in ($1K and Under) These events, commonly referred to as “bracelets on a budget”, offer recreational players some of the best opportunities to get involved with the World Series of Poker. Especially for those players making their first trip to the summer series. Ten years ago, it would have been insulting to insinuate that a bracelet could be won for under $1,000. This year, there are 22 events that have a buy-in of $1K or less and another, the One More for One Drop, that is $1,111 with the $111 going to charity. A few of these are restricted registration events, like the Casino Employees and Seniors Event, but the majority of them bring the energy and excitement of a WSOP event for a lower price tag to everybody. But with that, these events also bring larger fields and, traditionally, a little more chaos. Expect lines to buy-in, lines for the restroom, and longer lines for everything they have lines for. Still, there are a number of events in this schedule of $1Ks and under that should get special consideration. Must Play - $500 The Housewarming In the tradition of the 2019’s Big 50 and last year’s The Reunion, The Housewarming is that low buy-in ($500), mega-field event that everyone is going to fire in if for no other reason than the prize pool is going to be massive (a $5 million guarantee) and everyone is going to want to see the WSOP’s new spot. Yep, there will likely be some frustrations with so many people vying for a seat and stress testing the new WSOP setup. But with COVID restrictions taking a back seat, everything should move a lot smoother than it did in 2021. It says a $500 buy-in but players can fire in every starting day so bring (or sell action for) multiple bullets just in case. Don’t Miss - $1,000 Million Dollar Bounty Originally supposed to take place in 2020, the Mystery Bounty will finally take place on the WSOP schedule. The concept is once you’ve made the money (on Day 2) for every player you knock out you get a bounty but you won’t know what that is until you claim that bounty and reveal it. This year, the top prize is $1 million. That’s right someone could min-cash, take out one short stack, and pull an extra $1 million. It’s been a successful tournament at the Wynn, it will be exciting to see how the WSOP promotes it and how many players this draws. [table id=292 /] The High Rollers The WSOP continues to compete in the high-roller arena, with 10 of the 88 events coming in with a buy-in of $25,000 or more. Add in the Championship Events, plus a Short Deck and Super Turbo Bounty which all have price tags of $10,000 then the schedule is more than 25% aimed at high rollers. Of course, the majority of these events will be out of the general public’s price point but from a fan’s perspective, these events are where you are going to get to watch some of the best players in the world compete. These are the tournaments that bring the superstars to town and keep them battling all summer long. Must Play - $100,000 High Roller Bounty How do you kick off a revitalized World Series of Poker in a brand new home? Entice the biggest names in the game to be there on Day 1 with a $100K bounty event where they collect $25K for every player they knock out of the tournament. It should be a fun way to kick off the series and, potentially, bring in a few recreational whales. However, the $100K price tag is steep. Looking to the PokerGO high rollers as a guide, you see $100K fields hover in the high teens to low 20s in terms of entries. However, this is the WSOP and that alone should beckon elite players from around the world to make their way to Las Vegas and into this opening-day event. Either way, this event will make for a nice one for fans to follow from the very start. Don’t Miss - $250,000 Super High Roller Speaking of elite fields, the return of the $250K Super High Roller will undoubtedly be one of the most contested of the schedule. Last year, Adrian Mateos won his fourth WSOP gold bracelet taking down the 33-entry field for a massive, career-high $3.2 million score. This event should bring out the tippity-top of poker talent, and maybe a random multi-millionaire or two, and be one of the most-watched events of the year. [table id=293 /] Championship Events The road to the 2022 WSOP Player of the Year will likely go through the Championship Events. Current reigning 2021 WSOP Player of the Year (and PocketFives own) Josh Arieh picked up critical POY points by taking down the $10,000 PLO8 Championship for $484,791 as well as a final table finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. The best of the best will test their mixed game skills in some of the toughest tournaments on the schedule. Plus, don’t forget - the Main Event is a Championship Event. Speaking of which…. Must Play - $10,000 Main Event (No Limit Hold’em Championship) There was talk, prior to 2020, that the WSOP was on the verge of breaking its 2006 record of 8,773 entries into the Main Event. In fact, in 2019, when Hossein Ensan won the championship, the WSOP came up just 204 entries short with 8,569 runners. Some poker pundits event predicted that 2020 could see 10,000 runners but then, you know, there was the pandemic. 2020 was a wash. But prior to the 2021 series, there was optimism, at one point COVID seemed to be waning and once again, there was talk that the Main Event was going to be massive. But COVID came surging back and despite that, the 2021 Main Event posted an impressive 6,650 entries. So the question is - is this the year? Are players ready to return and push the Main Event to new heights? Some Main Event satellites are already running (GGPoker’s ClubGG) and COVID restrictions are easing with no proof of vaccination requirement at the time of this writing and an optional mask policy. Plus a new home on the Strip…the new era of the World Series of Poker may kick off with a record-breaking Main Event and, if so, you won’t want to miss it. Don’t Miss - $50,000 Poker Players Championship It’s always fun to watch the old-school mixed game grinders hold off the emerging stars of the game in what is often referenced as one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. Must See - $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Adam Friedman won the Global Poker Award for his final table performance in this event in 2021 where he bested Phil Hellmuth heads-up and completed an astounding third title defense. All eyes will be on Friedman to see if he can make it four in a row. [table id=294 /] Best of the Rest The best part about the series is the non-stop action. If you want to avoid the big-field, low buy-in crowds but can’t afford a high roller there is still plenty to look forward to. There are 39 different events with a price tag between $1,500 and $5,000 and span just about every poker variant you may want to play. A whole host of mixed games, a few freezeouts, and returning favorites (Monster Stack, Millionaire Maker, Closer) make up the bulk of the schedule. So, if you are looking for that sweet spot of hunting for a bracelet in a modest-sized field with a moderate buy-in, check out these events. Must Play - $1,500 Millionaire Maker A staple of the series, the Millionaire Maker continues to be a draw for one core reason - the tournament delivers on its promise to make the winner a millionaire. There’s no other tournament at this prize point the promises that, save for the Million Dollar Bounty which will make someone a millionaire. The downside, is there are two starting flights and players get an option for a single re-entry per flight meaning that someone may spend up to $6K in this one. But with 60-minute levels and starting with 250 big blinds, if you are going to fire one shot at a seven-figure score this may be it. Don’t Miss - $2,500 Nine-Game Mixed This isn’t for everybody but for those that want the experience of playing in the PPC without risking $50K, this might be the next best thing. There is a $1,500 Eight-Game Mix on the schedule as well which will scratch that itch as well. Of Note - $1,500 Monster Stack After years of people complaining that they couldn’t enter the second flight of the Monster Stack if they busted Day 1A, the WSOP (for better or worse) capitulated and will allow players who bust out from Day 1A to fire in Day 1B. [table id=295 /]
  7. In an age where the perception of poker players has changed markedly, how players look at their own future is changing. There was a time when poker players would have a bankroll and a ‘life-roll’ and would plot out a course of action tailored to improving both. From tournaments to cash games, bricks and mortar to buy-ins, poker players had a much more linear method of reinvesting their hard-earned money. In the modern age, however, poker players who reach a certain level are now far more aware of investment being key to improving their bankroll and improving their lives. One player who has taken it to the next level and improved countless others lives is Dan Smith. His charity initiative, Double Up Drive, has raised over $24.7 million for highly effective charities since 2014. Sitting Down with Smith “If I ever needed it, I’d be able to have it within a couple weeks.” We began our conversation with him by asking about how a poker player who has achieved in the game goes about investing their money outside poker. “I don’t think that it works in such a way where once you get to ‘x’ amount of dollars, you can start investing,” he says. “I think you want as much of your capital working all the time as you can. Money that’s just sitting there in a checking account or in a box is going down in valuation. As time goes on, I would put more and more money aside. I try not to cash it out unless I have a very good reason to.” Smith is mindful of the fact that losing years in gambling don’t carry over and you can’t write off expenses, so ‘ensuring that you unlikely have a losing year is your first concern’. That automatically affects what each player can gamble and then, as a consequence, invest. “Specific financial situations dictate how you manage your bankroll quite a bit,” says the man currently in 7th place on The Hendon Mob’s All Time Money List. “If you were still at $5/$10, the way you should manage your bankroll is very different to being pretty wealthy and trying to grow your wealth further. I have mostly tried to have as much of my money working as possible in liquid [investments]. If I ever needed it, I’d be able to have it within a couple weeks.” As Smith says, no player ever wants to be in a situation where they’re short of money. It can take a psychological toll. “It depends on the games you play, but if you’re a $10/$20 regular, you don’t ever want to think about having enough to be playing if you have a losing day. Generally, if the game in your casino is $10/$20 then gets kicked up to 25/50 on any given day it may well be because the game has got better than usual. Gambling on yourself in a good cash game is likely going to outperform any investments you can make.” [caption id="attachment_638167" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Smith is a former WPT champion and sits in the top 10 of the all-time money list for tournament winnings.[/caption] A Fantasy Made Real “At this moment in time, I don’t think the state of the poker game is stable.” Smith doesn’t see his charity endeavours and the growth of wealth as conflicting things. He apportions so of his money to charitable donations just as does in investments and spending money. The first time he ever made a large charitable donation, it was down to a very different kind of gamble. “I was playing high stakes Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and in this week I was wagering $120k,” he describes. “The big question that week was whether or not to play Jack Doyle, the back-up Tight End of the Colts. The starting Tight End was ruled out, so he was going to get a lot of looks for bargain pricing. I just decided I didn’t see much of a reason to hedge [with another player] and played him in the whole $120,000. I reflected that I could lose the whole $120k which would and objectively nothing would change. That inspired my $175,000 charity donation. If I donated that, I got some degree of tax break, so it got me to that $120k number.” As Smith says, everyone’s situation is going to be quite different and others will have a myriad of alternate paths to both wealth and investment, as well as donating to charity. Smith admits that he bases some of his calculations on tax adjustments, something which is going to be different for poker players around the world given gambling’s nature in some countries as a method of earnings and others, where it is viewed as gambled money which cannot be taxed. “Having an idea of where you are changes based on a lot of factors,” he admits. “For me, one of the bigger things was how big I perceive my edge to be in poker games and how optimistic I was about it going forward. At this moment in time, I don’t think the state of the poker game is stable, reliable income so I’d, in theory, adjust my investments accordingly.” Finance and Variance "It’s easy to make a number of dollars in a month or year and extrapolate that you will continue to make that sort of money." Smith adds that anyone thinking of investing or donating to charity should be ‘mindful of the distribution of resolutions’ and while some investments will reliably tick over at 8% for example, others with multiply your money wildly or go bust. Variance in investments is not dissimilar to that experienced at the poker table, and that synergy between accruing chips through risk and looking at how to maximise your money has obvious similarities for many. “I think it’s easy to make a number of dollars in a month or year and extrapolate that you will continue to make that sort of money. That’s very dangerous; games are constantly changing and variance is a bitch!” Dan Smith looks at investment as an area of skill and says while some will succeed playing it safe, others are naturally better at taking big risks. “Some people will just do their best mostly just buying index funds and not doing anything clever,” he says. “Some people are very skilled gamblers and investors. They should manage their money very differently.” When a poker player decides to invest their money, it is often because they believe themselves to be ready to take that next step in acquiring wealth upon that which they have won in the game. In finance as well as in poker, however, nothing is ever guaranteed.
  8. The recent Hustler Casino Live poker stream made stars of non-poker players and showed that even global legends like Phil Hellmuth and Tom Dwan were beatable over a short period of time at a lively table. With online legends such as YouTube sensation 'MrBeast', chess superstar Alexandra Botez and cash game player extraordinaire Alan Keating all taking their seats, it would be easy to fade into the background. One player who was never going to do that, however, was video gaming legend Ninja, a.k.a Tyler Blevins. Hitting the Heights in the Hustler Game “It gave me a lot of confidence and I played better throughout the night.” Sitting down in the $100/$200 no limit hold’em game, the Fortnite legend made a neat profit, running up a return of $144,300, including in this dramatic hand. https://twitter.com/Ninja/status/1521188485406740480 After the event, Blevins told us that the reaction to the hand, via Twitter, Tik Tok and other social media outlets has been incredible. “I haven’t been part of a moment like this for a while!” he said. “I got really lucky that I was next to Hellmuth. He was helping me with some decisions I was making. I almost never called on a draw, and I was proud of myself. He was giving me a lot of positive reinforcement after some of my plays. It gave me a lot of confidence and I played better throughout the night.” After the game, Blevins took to Twitter and offered up the most meme-friendly image of the year so far in poker. https://twitter.com/Ninja/status/1521213789307240449 Hellmuth and Blevins got on like a house on fire and the feeling was mutual as we found out when we reached out to Hellmuth this week. The Poker Brat confirmed to us that the two men will meet up again soon. “We got to talking before we started - he told me about his charity events and I thought it was incredible,” says Blevins. “Then he told me what he was known for. I was like ‘Don’t worry about it man, I blow up all the time too!’ It was a match made in heaven being next to each other.” Ninja's Plan Works Out “I’ve found a new passion because win or lose I was having so much fun.” If the other players expected Blevins to arrive simply hoping to have fun, they would have underestimated the gaming legend. “I was going there to not lose,” he says. “I told my friends I was trying not to be the first one out. In the back of my head, I was like ‘I could win this’. There were players who could throw off Phil, and Alexandra was one of those. Every time that happened, I thought I could do well if I got reads on people and played smart.” It turned out that Blevins did exactly that. Winning six figures, he may have fallen slightly short of the $400,000 in profits that both Botez and Jimmy ‘MrBeast’ Donaldson took home, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. “Keating and Mr. Beast were going all-in [a lot]. I was sitting there thinking ‘One of these guys is going to bluff me.’ If I played an elite table of eight or nine other players, I’d probably get torn apart, but it would be a learning experience. I’ve found a new passion because win or lose I was having so much fun that night.” [caption id="attachment_638172" align="aligncenter" width="992"] Ninja always wears a smile at the poker table and his personality seems made for the game.[/caption] Blevins and His Background in... Poker? Blevins may be known by his hot-shot Fortnite nickname Ninja, but he actually played poker long before he picked up a game controller and slayed his way to notoriety. When he was a teenager, poker was on TV all the time. The boy who would become probably the most famous gamer in the world idolised Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson among others. However, his early plans to play the game ran into trouble. “We took apart the ping pong table and bought legitimate poker chips,” he laughs. “We’d have $5 or $10 buy-ins with all of our friends. Back in the day, I’d make stupid calls for a straight or flush draw even if it wasn’t open-ended.” Blevins showed none of that naiveté on the Hustler stream, perhaps because of the memories of his first experience playing poker as a youngster. “There was a year or two when I was paying attention and I was never good at it!” he describes. “I was lucky and would always go for the draws. I’d need one club and call 500 chips - you don’t do that! I won one out of ten matches and thought I was good enough. I played online for a bit and got slammed.” Back in the Game "I don’t consider poker gambling." Over a decade may seem like a long time to take a break from the game, especially as it was during that era that poker experienced its biggest period of growth in poker. During that time, Blevins became ‘Ninja’, crushed Fortnite and changed gaming as an industry. Put simply, Ninja is the most popular streamer in history in the most definitive video game of recent times. It’s his competitive edge that he believes has drawn him back to poker. “I’m well off, but I don’t not like losing money,” he admits. “I don’t like gambling that much. I have fun and don’t consider poker gambling. I’m definitely looking forward to playing more now.” Blevins has a renewed passion for the game he moved away from as a youngster. In fact, he is already playing online, but you won’t be seeing his trademark blue hair and wide Detroit smile on any avatar...yet. “I’m going anonymous for now,” he says with a smile. “I’ve already made an account on a poker website and I’m up like $2,500 right now. I bought in for $1,000 and I’m up to $3,500 playing some $10/$20. It’s so cool.” Which Fortnite Players Could Play Poker? [caption id="attachment_638171" align="alignright" width="400"] Ninja has plenty of offers to get right back into the poker action.[/caption] "He probably plays a little bit like Phil Hellmuth." If you watch Fortnite, then you’ll know that Ninja is great friends with many other players on the hugely popular video game. In sheer numbers, Ninja’s followers are in the millions across YouTube and social media channels. His videos have piled up total 2.49 billion views on YouTube alone. But who else from his world could join the poker party? “I think SypherPK and CouRageJD could play,” he says. “I know CouRage plays poker and Sypher is very analytical, although he might be an overthinker. He probably plays a little bit like Phil Hellmuth. I was watching [Hellmuth] all night and I don’t think he got in unless he was sitting very pretty. He was very methodical in the hands he played, and I could pick out a couple of Fortnite players who are like that.” Blevins has had some great feedback from the poker community, with Hellmuth one of many looking for Blevins to bring his ‘Ninja’ skills back to the felt very soon. It very much sounds as if the gaming legend is just as passionate about doing so as his new poker peers. “I’m very content and able to take the experience. I really felt like I did well because of my experience in gaming. Let’s say I’m very happy right now.” Could Ninja play at the World Series of Poker? We wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen, and whether he wins or loses, one thing is guaranteed. The man known as Ninja will always play with a smile on his face.  
  9. Poker is a game that is enjoyed by millions worldwide. In this series, we’ve featured players who play the game of poker for their profession, have made fortunes by doing so and become legends of the sport. However, poker’s all-encompassing nature appeals to people from all walks of life. One player who has trodden many different paths over two decades of success on national television is Robert Mariano, better known as 'Boston Rob'. Back in 2004, having just appeared on Survivor for the first time, Mariano met his now wife and then-fiancée Amber on the show. They were invited to Hawaii to take part in a charity game to raise money for the U.S. military. Mariano would leave the island with a new found and lifelong passion for poker that has remained ever since. From Penny Games to the Main Event "Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!" Rob Mariano played poker for pennies long before he would do so for thousands of dollars. When he first learned the game, it was at his grandfather’s knee. It immediately got him hooked on the notion of gambling and this quickly led to an understanding of a need to get better. “I’ve always loved action,” says Mariano. “From pitching quarters in the schoolyard to gambling on tennis, I went broke a hundred times as a kid. The first hand that got me hooked [on poker] was a penny game of five card stud that my grandfather taught me how to play. I figured out that the same people always win, and they have an edge. Once you get better than your opponent, it’s a lot more fun!” Flashing forward two decades, Mariano struck fame on the eighth series of the hit television show, Survivor. For the uninitiated, the show centers around contestants who are stranded on a remote island. Mariano made it all the way to the final challenge, where he lost out to Amber, who he proposed to just before the decisive vote. She said yes, of course, and the couple have since become TV legends thanks to the fame they gained during the show and subsequent on-screen appearances together. One year after meeting, the couple were engaged and took what turned out to be an important phone call. “Online poker was all the rage in the States and like a lot of people, I watched Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker Main Event. Since then, we’ve become friends as an ironic side effect of being on television, but what a great guy. Paradise Poker reached out to Amber to see if she wanted to play poker and sponsor her in one of the events.” Amber didn’t play the game, but both Mariano and Amber's father were fans, with the latter teaching his future son-in-law the game. The pair of them were taken to Las Vegas and put into the 2004 WSOP Main Event, the last to be held on the Strip until this coming summer. “I’ll be honest - I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!” laughs Mariano. “I was sitting there with Sammy Farha, Marcel Luske and all these legends at my table. I made two pair, aces up, and I was outclassed, the other guy had a set. My first introduction was on the biggest stage.” Mariano may not have won any money, but the seed had been sown. A short time later, the game was about to truly get him hooked. [caption id="attachment_638178" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Rob Mariano cut his teeth playing poker for the first time in the WSOP Main Event (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Bringing the Party to Hawaii "I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble." After his Main Event exertions, Mariano was on the radar of online poker sites as they popped up everywhere. One of those sites, Bodog, invited both Rob and Amber to Hawaii and an exclusive charity event. “They had comedians, Colin Farrell, Wanda Sykes and Cheryl Hines,” says Mariano. “Josh Arieh was there too. He had just finished third in the WSOP Main Event and David Williams was there too having just finished second.” Mariano’s meeting with Arieh in particular lit a fire that still burns to this day. After watching a concert featuring Snoop Dogg, the party went into the night and the cards came out. “We played $50 Sit N Gos from late night into the early morning,” says Mariano. “Playing all night long until the sun came up, I loved the camaraderie, strategy and psychology of it... and the gamble. That’s when I became fascinated with the game.” It was a landmark moment for Mariano, who realized at that moment that the game he’d always sought was right there in front of him. It appealed to his nature as a competitive person who danced between adventurous situations like the light from fires lit during those Hawaii nights. “The original intention of going to Hawaii was to raise money at the concert. The poker was a bonus on top of it all, but I feel like poker has embraced and accepted me into the community for what I want out of it; to play competitively but also recreationally. I love to play but at the end of the day, this is a passion of mine, not my life’s work.” The Competitive Edge of a New Father "I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it." Mariano freely admits that he’s not a good loser. He was born not only to win, but to pursue victory, to adapt, improve, to get the top and be ‘relentless’ in his pursuit of the summit. If he was to play poker, however, it would need to fit in around becoming a Dad. “Survivor aired on television in 2004 and we married in 2005,” says Mariano. “We had four kids in five years. In the beginning, it was madness, but it’s so great and they’re so close... and Daddy’s girls!” The Mariano’s were clearly made for each other and celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary last month, but back in the day, having caught the poker bug, Boston Rob headed online mostly. “I played poker pretty seriously when my kids were really young,” he says. “I started to play cash games and grind, playing the local circuits from Biloxi to Jacksonville [as well as] the World Series.” One of the most important traits Mariano has got is his ability to adapt to any situation. He passes this lesson onto his own children, four girls he adores now aged between eight and 12. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how you get up. Even if you don’t get the desired result, you’re learning what not to do again. I love being in a situation where I don’t know what’s going to happen; a lot of opportunities have come from it. A person living their whole life on a train gets from A to B. I’d rather ride the rollercoaster, but we get to the same place. My wife reels me in when I’m too far and likewise I think I bring a bit of adventure.” [caption id="attachment_638179" align="aligncenter" width="886"] Rob and Amber Mariano have grown up on television as they've built a life together (photo credit: Hayley Hochstetler).[/caption] Running It Up Mariano’s poker career has run parallel to his record-breaking six appearances on Survivor and presence on other shows such as The Amazing Race, which he entered with his wife. His passion for poker has sustained many gaps in his results purely through children being born or his participation in TV shows. He is a huge fan of tours such as the Run Good series. "I got to be really good friends with Tana Karn, who Runs the Run Good events, a super great guy and what a group of people. I feel like that’s where I fit in best. I want to play five or six different competitive events a year. I love the [WSOP] Main Event." Mariano's experience of Survivor has stood him in great stead for the game of poker, with many skills transferring from the island to the felt. "I’ve played more Survivor than anyone else on the planet, playing six times in 20 years. In that time, the game of Survivor has evolved and changed. In the beginning, your ability to do well in challenges, how you provided around camp and if you were a good teammate mattered a lot. Now the game is more social than anything else; your ability to perceive how you’re perceived by others is paramount.” Mariano can’t wait for the next live poker game these days, and post-pandemic, is excited for an ‘explosion’ of live poker that he assimilates to the poker boom that followed Moneymaker’s legendary success in 2003. “The game is growing again like it was in the early 2000s,” he claims. “There’s a sense of family between not only the Run Good people but among the community at large. Everyone’s going back to a 9-5 on Monday morning but for a weekend, they’re going to do whatever and those are my people.” Adapting to the Game “You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out.” Poker has changed and Mariano has been part of the game for long enough to understand that his ability to adapt and compete has been called upon in multiple eras at the felt. “You used to have a good hand, then it became not what you have but what they have, then they converted to small ball then it became an all-in festival!” laughs Mariano. “It’s changed a lot and you see at the different levels how much its changed. There are similarities between poker and Survivor. You can’t play too fast too early, or you get marked and you’re out. At the same time, you can do everything right and still not win because you get unlucky.” According to the former Survivor winner, you have to be able to fade the variance, maintain your focus and not let it affect your mental wellbeing in both games and it’s that changing dynamic that Mariano loves. “Its constantly changing and so hard - that’s what intrigues me to it. I want to sit down and have a social experience with other people at the table - that’s what I love about poker. We’re getting back to that and away from the hoodies and sunglasses.” Mariano has signed up to host home games for PokerGO and admits the draw of the PokerGO Tour is ‘huge’. He’ll join in with some live events, but don’t expect him to be taking a seat in the nosebleeds. “I’m not going to be playing the super high rollers, but hopefully I can bring another audience to the game. I couldn’t sit down and play a $250,000 tournament, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. But if we grow the game the way the smaller tours are doing it, it will flourish again. When everyone sees poker as I do, it becomes fun for a lot of people!” Mariano may be a household name to many from his work in television but his background before Survivor catapulted him to fame was as a construction worker and stonemason. He remains humble to his roots and with a bunch of friends in poker, is an asset to the game which only now is poker starting to tap. The motto of Survivor is ‘Outwit, outplay, outlast’. ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano has proven that he has been able to adapt to the games presented to him in his life with flair and style. Boston Rob's future in poker looks set to bring even more exciting challenges for his many fans to enjoy.
  10. Nine years ago, a 22-year-old Michigan State graduate called Ryan Riess won the World Series of Poker Main Event for over $8.3 million. At the time, he was six months out of college, having spent the last months of his studies alternating between poker dealer. Just a few weeks later, the final hand of the 2013 WSOP Main Event saw the Riess' life change forever. Between winning a World Series bankroll with the last money to his name and today, a decade of growth, fatherhood and memories have seen ‘Riess the Beast’ become one of the most well-respected poker players on the planet. This is the story of the hand that changed Ryan Riess’ young life. Coming into the WSOP With Momentum “It was all the money I had to my name. I chopped it three ways and won $270,000.” Having momentum in poker is something that is spoken about often, and it was one of the main contributions to Riess’ success at the Rio nine years ago in November. After graduating in business at Michigan State, Riess decided to play a WSOP Circuit event in Hammond in October 2012. The cost was not only out of his usual bankroll, but everything he had. “It was a $1,675 buy-in and it was all the money I had to my name,” the 2013 world champion told us. “I chopped it three ways and won $270,000. That was my first ever live tournament cash and how my poker career started.” Two months earlier, Riess had started playing poker full-time. After winning some small cashes in tournaments around Los Angeles, Riess took that momentum into a World Series where he played everything he could afford. “I had a bunch of smaller cashes and was about breakeven - expenses are high - then played the Main Event. I sold pieces to family and friends and swapped pieces. I had a little over 50%, which was good. I had a lot of momentum but was still relatively new to tournament poker. I was starting to become friends with people on the circuit; we were all young at the time and learning together.” Kicking off his Main Event on Day1a, Riess had players such as Mike Matusow and T.J. Cloutier at his table. Despite this, he bagged up plenty of chips, more than double that which he started with. “I was very naïve, which was a good thing. I put my head down; I wasn’t following the other tables or live updates and never thought about how much money I was playing for, so was never scared.” Believing He Could Win “Looking back, I don’t think I was the best player in the world.” Riess may have been a long way off from winning, but that was all to change. In the middle period of the Main Event, he admits that he sat on less than 30 big blinds for “two or three days” but a pivotal coinflip went his way when his pocket nines survived against Rep Porter’s suited king-jack. “The atmosphere was electric,” laughs Riess. “Others might have thought I was trying to run the table over, but I wasn’t; I kept getting good hands. If I lose that hand, I have nine big blinds left. I won the flip and that propelled me to having 50 big blinds and I had a lot more flexibility with my stack.” After Riess won the Main Event, he would state that he was ‘the best player in the world’, but he concedes this wasn’t actually the truth. It was more about the belief he needed to have in order to accomplish his dream. “I think in order to win something, you have to believe it before and then work tirelessly,” he says. “Looking back, I don’t think I was the best player in the world. I wasn’t even in the top 1,000. But I truly believed I was at the time and I think that gave me a chance to win. If I didn’t believe I was the best, I probably shouldn’t even have registered the tournament in the first place.” Winning that hand against Porter would see Riess make the final table, but he was far from the chip leader, who was JC Tran. A host of other more experienced pros were at the final table. “Tran was really unlucky at the final table after coming in as the chip leader and not being able to get much going. I thought the best player at the table was Marc Etienne McLaughlin,” says Riess. “He was very good, very aggressive and I tried to bluff him in a hand on TV when I turned two jacks into a bluff and fours spades almost counterfeited his two spades. He eventually got coolered and that gave me energy because I found it hard winning pots against him. David Benefield is a world class player and he got short and was handcuffed, too.” Benefield and Riess were the only two not to wear sponsorship patches at the final table. “I’ve never accepted any sponsorship deal or worn patches. I turned down a lot of money, but I didn’t want them to say you have to do this interview at this time, wear this shirt, do this social media post. I didn’t want anything to cloud my judgement. I thought the responsibility of what I’ve have to do would be greater than the value of what they were offering me. Maybe if I’d worn a patch, I’d have had to have done other stuff, wouldn’t have studied as much and not won.” Taking on Farber for the Win “As a poker player, that’s the dream. It’s the Super Bowl of our sport.” Riess had never played against Jay Farber before that year’s Main Event, nor did he feel they’d played any significant pots against each other until they were the only two players left. Suddenly, though, one of them was going to win $5.1 million and the other would take $8.3m and become champion of the world. “We started with around the same chips and I just decided to be aggressive. We played around 90 hands and I was raised all 45 buttons. I was very inexperienced. Looking back, I’d fold or limp some hands, but I wanted to put pressure on him. He was only three-betting me with really good hands.” Riess was forcing the action, but admits that while he wanted to raise in order to see flops in position with almost his entire range, he was also getting the run of the deck. “In heads up poker, so much comes down to hand distribution,” he says. “If Jay had my hands and I had his, if it was switched, he probably would have won.” Pre-flop: Ryan Riess: [Ah][poker card="Kh"] Jay Farber: [poker card="Qs"][poker card="5s"] Before the flop, riess raised his 45th and final button, and almost immediately got raised all-in by Farber. Riess snap-called and one of the fastest final all-in and calls in Main Event history saw the two men on their feet. Riess admits that he was surprised to see what Farber had shoved with. “I was surprised to see that hand specifically. Maybe if the hand happened again, he might just call, but I was raising every button and I just happened to have it. He might have thought he was getting run over at the table, but I was just getting the cards. Heads up, if you’re losing it can be demoralising. I’ve lost to people heads-up, I actually played Koray Aldemir, our newest world champion - and I was losing pots, got frustrated and ended up doing things out of character. It’s emotionally draining to lose hands heads-up.” Headint to the embrace of his friends and family, Riess was ‘pretty confident’ but knew that anything could happen. He was a 65% chance to become the world champion and the moment was catching up with him. Flop: [poker card="4c"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="Td"] “The flop was really good for me,” Riess says. “He couldn’t hit his queen any more, because it would give me a straight so it was the best flop I could have asked for without flopping a pair. After the flop, having all my friends and family around me gave me such good vibes.” Turn: [poker card="3c"] “Tears already in the eyes of Ryan Riess.” Said the commentary team as the moment that would change Riess’ life played out. The emotion of the achievement that he was about to claim was monumental. [caption id="attachment_638157" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Hunched on the floor of the Rio, Ryan Riess is hit by the emotion of what he might be about to achieve.[/caption] “That’s when it really became real for me. It was the weight of having everyone support me. We’re that close and it was a very surreal moment. I’m glad I won, because if the river was a five, it might have been very hard for me mentally for me to sit back at the table and play my best, because in my head I’d already won.” As Jay Farber commiserated with his coaches, two men Riess himself now counts among his poker friends, Shaun Deeb and Chance Kornuth, tie seemed to stand still. “I’m friends with both of them and we talk frequently. They’re both great - he had great coaches and it’s hard to beat someone with those coaches. I just had better cards on the day. River: [poker card="4d"] Riess collapsed to the ground, his poker ambitions coming true in glorious reality. Nine years on, Riess says he doesn’t watch it back as much as he should. “It brings back such great memories. As a poker player, that’s the dream. It’s the Super Bowl of our sport. To reach the pinnacle of the game that you love is the ultimate dream as a poker player.” Pining for the November Nine Amid a wild atmosphere in the Thunderdome, Riess now believes part of that excitement came down to players returning some time after they’d reached the final table to play it down to a winner. “It was the penultimate year of the November Nine. ESPN flew out a camera crew to my home town. I thought the November Nine was awesome. I’m blessed and honored to have taken part in that. Now they don’t give the players any time at all, family doesn’t even time to fly in and players can’t get sponsorship deals or even get their hair cut!” Riess believes that if the WSOP gave players a week between reaching the final table and playing it out, it would be perfect. “I don’t think a week is too much at all. Four months was really cool, but it’s a long time, and someone’s game could do a 180 in that time with coaching and solvers these days.” Apart from the length of time, however, Riess believes that the November Nine is a concept that could do with a comeback. “I think they should give them a week. It’s the biggest event in our game, so the more hype around it the better.” A decade after he graduated, Ryan Riess is now a name synonymous with poker success and in particular, the WSOP Main Event. He came close to winning the WSOP Europe Main Event too, but despite finishing fourth, calls it ‘the tournament that haunts me most’. [caption id="attachment_638158" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Ryan Riess is now one of the most respected former world champions still playing the game. (Photo: King's Casino)[/caption] “I was chip leader with nine and six left. The moment got to me a little bit; I made a lot of mistakes. I wanted to win for the legacy of winning both [Main Events] not the money but I focused too much on how cool that would be, and I let the opportunity slip between my fingertips. If Riess had lost with pocket aces to a pair of tens, he admits he wouldn’t have minded, not being a results-oriented person at all. The fact that it wasn’t luck that he perceives was to blame is what hurt. “I make a mistake, I’m the hardest critic of myself. Martin Jacobson said ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. You almost don’t deserve to win if you’re not trying your hardest.” A Poker Career Without Regret “My focus is my kids and spending as much time with my family as I can.” Nine years after his greatest moment, Riess looks back on his victory as a platform for sustained success and of all the many world champions there have been, few could argue he has been one of the most positive. Aside from that WSOPE near-miss, he has no regrets. His diamond encrusted 2013 WSOP Main Event bracelet sits in a bank in a safety deposit box. “It’s worth a lot of money, so I don’t want it in the house,” Reiss says with a smile. “It’s locked away and I go and look at it now and then. To be honest, I should make a replica of it with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds, but I haven’t got around to it. I have no regrets about my career. I guess I could have grinded harder if I wanted too, but I travelled to a lot of cool places pretty much up to when COVID started and now my focus is my kids and spending as much time with my family as I can.” This year will see the WSOP move from the Rio to Bally’s (soon to be the Horseshoe) and Paris, but Riess holds no fear about the event leaving the venue where he made his name. In fact, quite the opposite. “I won it the first time I played it at the Rio, so maybe it will happen again,” he says. “I’m optimistic about it - I’m sure it’ll be fun. I’ll be playing pretty much all the NLHE tournaments, $25,000 and lower. I don’t feel the need to play the $100,000 buy-ins; the bubbles are stressful, and kids are expensive!” Nine years is a long time in any poker player’s life, but from being a precocious 22-year-old winner of the biggest event on the poker calendar to a family man almost a decade later, it has been some ride for Ryan Riess. Happily, for poker fans, that ride is not finished yet. You can watch the hand that changed Ryan Riess’ life right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MAbaJ9W7Q8    
  11. The complete schedule for this summer’s 2022 World Series of Poker has been announced. The series will contain 88 live gold bracelet tournaments to be held at its new home on the Las Vegas Strip of Bally’s (soon to be Horseshoe) and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino plus another 14 online events for players in regulated states. "This year is particularly historic for the WSOP with its move to the heart of the Las Vegas Strip and debut in the best facilities we’ve ever had," said Ty Stewart, the WSOP's Executive Director. "We’re ready to welcome players from all over the world to our housewarming party at Bally’s, soon-to-be Horseshoe, and Paris. The schedule is jam-packed with first-class events and we expect this to be the biggest and most anticipated WSOP yet.” The series is anchored by "The Main Event", the $10,000 event - generally considered to be the ultimate tournament of any calendar year - returns to its traditional time slot around the 4th of July holiday. There are four starting flights from July 3-6 with the final table taking place over the course of two days on Friday, July 15th and Saturday, July 16. One of the biggest tournaments on the schedule will be "The Housewarming". In the footsteps of 2019’s "The Big 50" and last year’s "The Reunion", "The Housewarming" welcomes players to the WSOP’s new home on the Las Vegas Strip with a $500 buy-in bracelet event. With four starting flights spread out over the opening weekend and a $5 million guarantee, this event will be a target event for all recreational players looking to check out the new layout between Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas. There are plenty of new offerings for the new era, however, plenty of old marquee favorite events are returning to the schedule. The Monster Stack, Millionaire Maker, Colossus, and The Closer all headline weekends during the series in an effort to bring out weekend warriors. Bounties events are well represented including the featured bounty event, the Million Dollar Bounty. This event, which was originally conceived by the WSOP in 2020, is finally going to happen. It comes with a $1,000 buy-in and gives players four starting flights in an effort to make Day 2. That's when the bounties begin to pile up with a mystery bounty being awarded for every player KO'd and a top bounty prize of $1 million. High rollers have plenty to look forward to as well with 28 events (including Championship events) posting a buy-in of $10,000 or more. There’s a $100,000 High Roller Bounty on the very first day of the series, plus the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship, a mid-series $100K, and a $250,000 Super High Roller on June 23 among other events. 2022 WSOP Live Schedule of Events [table id=290 /] The move to The Strip includes all of the convention space from both Paris Las Vegas and the soon-to-be renamed Bally's. According to the WSOP, it will have 200,000 square feet of space and roughly 600 poker tables of action. Live coverage of the action will be handled by CBS Sports and PokerGO with 18 gold bracelet events covered and a minimum of 15 hours of start-to-finish Main Event coverage. WSOP Online bracelet events are back as well with 14 in total., Players in Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to battle for bracelets from the comfort of their homes. There are online events every Sunday throughout the series plus three "Double Up Bracelet Days". Check out the WSOP Online bracelet schedule below. 2022 WSOP Online Events [table id=291 /] In addition to all of the bracelet events, the popular Daily Deepstacks will also be available. Most days at 2 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm in the Paris Ballroom. COVID-19/Vaccination Note This year the World Series of Poker's COVID policy will reflect local, state and CDC guidelines. There will be no proof of vaccination requirement, and currently there is no mask mandate in effect. "Players will be accountable to follow CDC guidelines appropriate to them as individuals."
  12. After nearly two years away, the Global Poker Awards returned on Friday night, celebrating the people and events who made headlines in the poker industry in 2021. Hosted by Jeff Platt and Drea Renee, the awards show was a little like the game of poker itself - fun, casual, and packed with moments that keep you wanting more. Sure, it was clunky at times but also a very touching show. The broadcast was packed with heartfelt speeches from award recipients and an overall genuine sense of elation among those enjoying the opportunity to get back to celebrating the game in person, 23 months after the last awards ceremony. A number of the awards were announced ahead of the ceremony including those handed out to Ali Imsirovic (GPI Player of the Year), Nadya Magnus (GPI Female Player of the Year), and David Mzareulov (GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year) for their achievements on the felt. Maria Konnikova was honored with the GPI Award of Merit for authoring her book The Biggest Bluff. Veronica Brill was acknowledged with the Charitable Initiative Award this year for spearheading the effort to help fellow player K.L. Cleeton purchase the much-needed special transportation so he could make it to Las Vegas to participate in the World Series of Poker. Kevin Mathers (aka @Kevmath) was rightly recognized with a Service to Poker Award for his varied and non-stop contributions to the game for the better part of a decade. Finally, the GPI looked back on the life of one of poker's ultimate ambassadors, Mike Sexton, and bestowed his legacy with the 2021 Poker ICON award. Adam Friedman took down the trophy for the stacked category of Best Final Table Performance with his historic back-to-back-to-back victories in the World Series of Poker $10,000 Dealer’s Choice. Another too-close-to-call category was the GPI Breakout Player of the Year in which popular French poker pro and content creator Johan Guilbert was recognized. A pair of Fans Choice awards grabbed the spotlight including Doug Polk winning Best Hand of 2021 for his incredible fold to Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes Poker. Also, professional poker pro and content creator from Japan, Masato Yokosawa, topped the tough category of favorite Poker Personality. When the top 100 players were asked who the Toughest Opponent in the game was in 2021, they selected Ali Imsirovic, sending him to the podium to accept his second award of the evening. Here’s a look at the rest of the 2021 GPA Recipients: Best Event 2021 World Series of Poker Main Event Best Streamer Benjamin ‘Spraggy’ Spragg Best Vlogger Brad Owen Best Twitter Personality Jaime Kerstetter Best Industry Person Matt Savage Best Tournament Director Paul Campbell - Aria Resort & Casino Best Podcast Poker In The Ears - James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton Best Broadcaster Jeff Platt Best Media Content: Written Lance Bradley - Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted Both Best Media Content: Video Remko Rinkema/Run It Back for PokerGO Best Media Content: Photo Enrique Malfavon for PokerGO - The WSOP Main Event Bubble Best Live Reporter Christian Zetzsche, PokerNews Fans Choice Best Trophy Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup
  13. Caesars Entertainment has announced that Bally’s Las Vegas, future home of the World Series of Poker, will be rebranded with the iconic Horseshoe brand starting spring this year. “At Horseshoe, it’s all about the gambler. Since 10951 Horseshoe Casinos have been home to the best odds, highest limits, and biggest jackpots. So, it’s fitting that we bring Horseshoe back to Las Vegas, and right on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Jason Gregorec, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the property. “Holding to the Horseshoe tradition to providing impeccable service, our guests will see the property transform over time, ensuring we aren’t disrupting the excitement while we make the transition.” For the World Series of Poker, which ended its 17-year run at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino at the conclusion of the 2021 WSOP, it’s a homecoming of sorts. Or rather, “home” is coming back to the World Series of Poker. The WSOP famously spent all of its founding years in downtown Las Vegas at Binion’s Horseshoe beginning in 1970. Binion’s Horseshoe hosted the series right up until 2003 and the casino was sold to Harrah’s Entertainment in 2004. Now the popular brands will be reunited on the Strip, a merging of the WSOP’s roots with a brand-new future home ready to cater to a wider audience. “We couldn’t be more excited to see the World Series of Poker return to Horseshoe,” said Ty Stewart, SVP and Executive Director of the World Series of Poker. “Horseshoe is where it all began for WSOP. It’s always been a brand for gamblers and card players. As we move WSOP to the Las Vegas Strip for the first time that will happen at Horseshoe makes it incredibly special.” The changing of the brand will bring plenty of upgrades including an exterior renovation as well as additional entertainment, food, and beverage options for customers. A “reimagined casino floor” that will reflect the classic Horseshoe style including “tooled leather, dramatic colors, and the brand’s signature gold horseshoe iconography.” The World Series of Poker will be one of the very first events to experience what changes the rebrand to Horseshoe will bring when the 2022 WSOP kicks off on May 31, 2022. “Bringing the Horseshoe brand back to life in Las Vegas allows us to celebrate both our history and our future,” said Sean McBurney, Regional President of Caesars Entertainment. “2022 starts a new era for the Caesars Entertainment empire in Las Vegas, one being heralded by the return of the Horseshoe.”
  14. This year we’re doing something a little different and breaking down our annual Poker Year In Review into three different parts - the Flop (January-April), Turn (May-August), and River (September-December). We’re wrapping up 2021 by taking a look back at some of our biggest stories, winners, and surprises that unfolded in one of the most unique years in the history of the game. January Although we were officially in 2021, some of the most important business of 2020 had yet to be decided at the beginning of January as Damian Salas and Joseph Herbert met at a mostly empty Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to play heads-up for a million dollars and determine who will earn the official title of 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion. The finale was not without its detractors as an online version of the WSOP Main Event had been played out on GGPoker earlier in 2020, but Salas - who had made a previous live WSOP Main Event final table in 2017 - proved to be a worthy winner, taking home an extra $1 million and the WSOP Main Event bracelet. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal,” Salas said after his win. “My basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” READ: Desire To Remain Elite Drives New World Champ Damian Salas While January continued to be full of interesting player news, including Chance Kornuth surrendering to Phil Galfond in the Galfond Challenge, Ilyas Muradi taking down the wildly successful WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open, and Jack Hardcastle winning the WPT Montreal Online Main Event for $447K, it was poker industry news that dominated the first month of the year. READ: Chris Moneymaker Reflects on 17 Years as Poker’s Everyman Ambassador For the fourth time in 12 years, the World Poker Tour had been sold in a deal with Element Partners, LLC for more than $78 million. “This deal will allow the World Poker Tour to do a number of things that its always wanted to do,” World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska said at the time the deal was announced, unable to completely expand on the nature of the takeover. “What I can say, however, is that for myself and my management team, we’re still here and it’s business as usual and we look forward to this exciting next chapter of the World Poker Tour.” That same week, perhaps one of the biggest stories of the year broke when The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission in their case against the U.S. Department of Justice, reversing a revised opinion of the Wire Act. In short, it was a big win for online poker players in the U.S., setting the stage for a potential boom of online poker in the United States in years to come taking away legal barriers for would-be states to get in on the action and even join multi-state compacts to expand the total liquidity for Americans. Almost as if on cue, PokerStars officially launched PokerStarsMI.com, becoming the first operator to offer Michiganders (and visitors to the state) the option to play online poker, legally and regulated, from inside the state. To close out the month, Brazil’s Brunno Botteon kept his 2020 hot streak in tact and ended up as the Online Player of the Month for January. February February started off with a bang. The months-long heads-up grudge match between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk came to an end after 91 days and 25,000 hands. Polk wrote his name in the history books, soundly defeating Negreanu and walking away a winner of roughly $1.2 million. “I’m very happy that I spent so much time preparing and I felt it really ended up helping me tremendously and that I got to execute at such a high level over such a long period of time,” Polk said just moments after the last hand of the challenge. Over the course of the match, the feud between the two seemed to morph into a respectful rivalry and Negreanu gave credit where it was due when it was over. “He deserved it. He played well. I thought he made really good adjustments. I thought he improved as the match went on. I thought he got better and better and sharper, in a lot of different lines,” Negreanu said. But that wasn’t the only high-profile high-stakes poker taking place in February as Tom Dwan emerged to take a seat in the newest iteration of High Stakes Poker on PokerGO and picked up a $300,000 win. Dwan’s appearance was a thrill for fans who were equally excited to have the popular programming back “on the air”. [caption id="attachment_637576" align="alignright" width="250"] Phil Hellmuth[/caption] READ: Hellmuth Rants, Palihapitiya Wins Big On Latest High Stakes Poker High Stakes Poker wasn’t the only poker mainstay to make a return in February as, after more than a year away from Las Vegas, the World Poker Tour was back in Sin City for the first time with WPT Venetian. The final table featured the aforementioned Jack Hardcastle, as well as the 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen, but it was Qing Liu who took home the trophy and the $752,880 first-place prize. Brazil’s Yuri Dzivielevski was climbing into contention for the worldwide #1 spot in the Online Poker Rankings (something he ended up holding for the better part of 2021) and he also walked away with Online Player of the Month honors for February. March Polk and Dwan weren’t done keeping the poker world entertained as the season of High Stakes Poker stretched into March and both high-profile players continued to impress. Polk made what some have called “one of the best laydowns ever” in a massive hand against Phil Hellmuth that had the poker world buzzing for days while Dwan’s domination earned him another half-million win, showing that despite not being in the public eye he wasn’t showing any sign of rust. READ: Tom Dwan, Bryn Kenney Star in Biggest Pots of High Stakes Poker S8 Another massive winner in March was Vanessa Kade. Coming off her high-profile social media clash with Dan Bilzerian, Kade took that energy into the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary online event and walked away with the win for a life-changing $1.5 million payday. Looking to replicate the same fervor of Polk and Negreanu’s heads-up battle, former #1-ranked online pro Fedor Holz sparked a beef with high-stakes cash game crusher Wiktor Malinowski and the pair agreed to take their feud to the felt. The feud was likely manufactured, and the heat wasn’t very hot, but fans were treated to a pair of high-stakes pros dedicating some time to entertaining viewers with the four-session challenge. Brunno Botteon lost his grip at the top of the Online Poker Rankings as Bert ‘Girafganger7’ Stevens took his third turn at the top but by the end of the month he made way for the surging Yuri Dzivielevski who took control and held on it in for the next six months. In case you missed these popular profiles of some of poker’s best we talked with Alex Butcher about becoming the #1-ranked player in the United States and the work he needed to do on himself in order to get out of his own way and be open to success. Speaking of success, Kevin Rabichow opened up about what led him to switch gears from being one of the world’s top online cash game grinders to taking up tournaments and dedicating himself to success. By the end of the month, Joao ‘Naza114’ Vieira took home the title of March Online Player of the Month. April One of our most popular articles of the year was published in April when PokerStars found Isai Scheinberg agreed to be interviewed for the first time after settling all of his legal troubles stemming from Black Friday. Scheinberg stepped into the spotlight and talked about the early days of PokerStars, the beginning of the poker boom, the fallout from Black Friday, and what he’s doing with his life after selling the company for nearly $5 billion. “I valued privacy, but I was not secretive. That’s not the same thing,” Scheinberg said talking to the media for one of the very first times. “I was working hard. I was very busy and I’m not the type of guy to go out and do PR.” READ: Isai Scheinberg: His Company, His Legacy, and How Black Friday Impacted Both The heads-up craze continued in April as Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu played in the first of three High Stakes Duel matches on PokerGO. The first was, for many, the most memorable as Negreanu had Hellmuth down to a 19-1 chip disadvantage. But Hellmuth used his #WhiteMagic to spin it back up and defeat Negreanu in what was about to become a reoccurring theme for High Stakes Duel. Both PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker and GGPoker’s Spring Festival took over the online poker scene, both offering massive guarantees and non-stop action in the middle of the pandemic. One person who couldn’t get enough was former #1-ranked Niklas Astedt who couldn’t keep himself out of the headlines, taking down multiple GGSF titles and adding to his SCOOP Legacy. Speaking of former #1’s performing in the spring, Simon ‘C Darwin2’ Mattsson picked up two SCOOP titles on the same day. Plus, Chris Moorman finally added a SCOOP title to his resume, after taking home the first SCOOP in his career. READ: Joakim Andersson Ships GGSF MILLION$ Main Event for $1.5M READ: SCOOP: Series Concludes As ‘kZhh’ Wins $10L Main Event TItle, $878K With an accumulation of a massive amount of leaderboard points, high-stakes legend Sami ‘LarsLuzak’ Kelopuro took down the Online Player of the Month title in April. The 2021 Poker Year In Review continues in Part 2.
  15. This year we’re doing something a little different and breaking down our annual Poker Year In Review into three different parts - the Flop (January-April), Turn (May-August), and River (September-December). We’ll be wrapping up 2021 by taking a look back at some of our biggest stories, winners, and surprises that unfolded in one of the most unique years in the history of the game. May One of the craziest stories of the year broke in May when it was revealed that high-stakes poker pro Chad Power had been victim to a home invasion robbery of nearly $1,000,000 in cash and casino chips. However, the Henderson Police Department arrested a suspect who was charged with multiple felonies including Burglary with a Deadly Weapon, Conspiracy Home Invasion, and Theft after the suspect went out and purchased a Dodge Hellcat Charger with a $30,000 cash down payment and also purchased a 2018 Maserati Levante SUV under his mother’s name with another $60K in cash. On the felt, Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu returned for Round 2 of High Stakes Duel II with Negreanu looking to get even, however, once again, Hellmuth pulled off the win. Negreanu promised that there would be a third match sooner than later leaving Hellmuth still feeling slighted despite his back-to-back wins. “I’ve given Daniel credit the whole way from start to finish and I haven’t said one negative word about him. He was pretty condescending in the first match. I felt it was super condescending, and this match he handled himself much better,” Hellmuth said. “But even still, he’s preaching down to me about ranges, and I’m thinking to myself, I’ve just won 24 out of 26 heads-up matches against pros and they have me rated as a fucking underdog every match. It just blows my mind, but I just never quite get that respect, and that’s ok with me. I just want to keep winning.” There were plenty of other winnings taking place in May with a trio of World Poker Tour events coming to a conclusion. The pandemic had forced the WPT to delay a number of its high-profile final tables for more than a year and in the middle of the month, they gathered in Las Vegas to crown three consecutive champions. First up was Veerab Zakarian who took down the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $674,840. “Waiting this long, you didn’t know what to expect. You don’t know, you keep waiting for it,” Zakarian said after the tournament ended. “Most people, after the pandemic, they didn’t have anything to look forward to so I was glad to have something to look forward to.” [caption id="attachment_637581" align="alignright" width="250"] Brekstyn Schutten[/caption] The next day it was Balakrishna Patur’s turn in the spotlight as he won the delayed 2020 WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1,015,000, defeating Matas Cimbolas in heads-up play. It was the second year in a row that Cimbolas finished as the LAPC runner-up. Finally, Brekstyn Schutten took down the largest event in the 19-year history of the WPT when he won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $1,261,095. While all of that is nice, the most prestigious contest of the year came to a conclusion in May when Niklas Astedt was named, by the poker community and his peers, as the All-Time #1 Number One. For the better part of a month, PocketFives ran a social contest asking the poker community to vote, March Madness-style, to see which of the (then) 60 former worldwide #1-ranked online pros stood above the rest. The finals came down to Astedt and online great Chris Moorman with Astedt edging out Moorman with 54% of the vote. “The PocketFives rankings really motivated me over the years,” Astedt said after being crowned the winner. “I’m super happy and proud that so many people voted for me.” Speaking of Chris Moorman, he was one of three popular player profiles to be featured this month. Moorman reflected on his career and his recent winning of his first SCOOP title. READ: “Old Guy” Chris Moorman Happily Proves He’s Still Got It Sami Kelopuro had been on an amazing heater and talked with PocketFives in a rare interview on the secret to his recent success and how he planed on taking it easy after his intense grind. READ: After Winning $4.4M, Sami Kelopuro is Taking It Easy - For Now Finally, after winning the first-ever GGPoker Spring Festival Main Event, Mathias ‘KingKongJoel’ Joelsson talked about what it was like to win a seven-figure score. READ: Mathias Joelsson Has ‘King Kong’ Plans After $1.25M GGSF Score By the end of the month, another Brazilian earned themselves an Online Player of the Month title, as Dalton Hobold took the title in May. June It had already been announced that the World Series of Poker was going to be moved to the fall, but in the middle of June, the complete schedule (before the addition of online events) of the last WSOP at the Rio was announced. It was an 88 gold bracelet schedule that hoped to bring back a sense of normalcy after a year away. READ: 5 Things: The WSOP Schedule Gives Players a Comfortable Return Home While players had the WSOP to look forward to, the 2021 U.S. Poker Open was taking place in the PokerGO Studio with familiar faces winning large sums of money. Stephen Chidwick, Jake Schindler, Ali Imsirovic were all at the top of the earners list for the series but David Peters dominated them all, winning more than $2.6 million and taking home the Golden Eagle trophy. READ: David Peters, Old Guard, New Faces Shine Bright as U.S. Poker Open Hellmuth’s three-peat over Negreanu was completed earning him the $400,000 prize and bringing his series record to 6-0 and bringing High Stakes Duel II to an end with Hellmuth opting to cash out and start over in the coming months. Brian Altman also notched his third win, but for him, it was taking home his third World Poker Tour Main Tour title at WPT Tampa at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. The reigning WPT Player of the Year put himself in the race for WPT all-time title, just one behind Darren Elias’ four, and picked up $613,225 in the process. READ: WPT POY Brian Altman Writes His Own Script For Success In other WPT news, the 2021 WPT Online Series Main Event reached a conclusion as well with Christian Rudolph earning his first WPT title and $487,442. Plus, the WPT held its WPT Heads Up Poker Championship in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. An online tournament, it featured some of the biggest names in the game including Doug Polk, Tow Dwan, Sam Greenwood, Anthony Zinno, Brad Own, and eventual winner Phil Ivey who took down the invite-only event for $400,000. Another popular profile published in 2021 was on poker vlogger Jaman Burton and his recent move to Las Vegas. In it, he discusses how the social climate in St. Louis pushed him to make a move, the future of his vlog, and finding new inspiration in Sin City. READ: Jaman Burton and The Drawing Dead Find New Life In Las Vegas The string of Brazilian crushers taking down the Online Player of the Month continued in June as Geraldo Cesar Neto earned the honor for the first time in his career. July The poker world was shocked and saddened in July when six-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, Layne ‘Back-to-Back’ Flack unexpectedly passed away at age 52. An outpouring of condolences for Flack’s family poured out from the poker community as a mainstay personality from the early days of the poker boom will be certainly be missed. Before that, Daniel Negreanu was back making headlines. After his loss to Doug Polk earlier in the year and then falling three times to Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel, Kid Poker’s ability to close in a big spot was being questioned by some in the poker world. He quickly responded with a victory during the PokerGO Cup series, not only winning the $50,000 NLHE event for $700,000 but, with a little thanks to Cary Katz in the final event of the series, taking the PokerGO leaderboard title and trophy for an additional $50,000 score. READ: The Anatomy- and End - of Daniel Negreanu’s Tournament Futility All month long, the World Series of Poker was running online bracelet events with some notable names adding to their poker resume including David Peters, Manig Loeser, and Chris Moorman who grabbed the victory in one of the final events of the series for his second career bracelet. But the big WSOP news was the rumor (which turned out to be true) that the World Series of Poker would be on the move in 2022, leaving its long-standing home of the Rio to set up shop on the Strip at Bally's and Paris. [caption id="attachment_637583" align="alignright" width="250"] Andrew Moreno[/caption] July also saw a pair of celebrated live wins as Andrew Moreno battled through the 1,325-entry field of the first-ever $10K Wynn Millions to walk away with a life-changing $1.460 million score. The final three agreed to chop the majority of the prize pool, creating two more millionaires as Clayton Maguire finished as the runner-up for $1.443 million and Toby Lewis grabbed the bronze for $1.235 million. Dapo Ajayi also earned a career-defining win after taking down WPT Choctaw for $558,610, making it the second time that Viet Vo would come up just one spot short in the same tournament, finishing in second place for $372,415. Brazil’s Dalton Hobold earned Online Player of the Month honors in May, in July he opened up about how he was almost scammed out his entire career by someone he trusted. READ: Rising Star Dalton Hobold Almost Had Poker Career Derailed by Scam Another month, another Brazilian at the top of the Online Player of the Month leaderboard, as Renan Carlos Bruschi took home the honors in July. August August was another massive month when it came to online poker as PokerStars announced the start of their biggest World Championship of Online Poker with $100 million guaranteed and the World Series of Poker Online kicked off on GGPoker. Both series featured poker superstars taking home titles including Christian Rudolph and Ivan Zufic taking down early WCOOP titles and Joao Simao and Samuel Vousden earning gold bracelets. It was also the month where Erik Seidel made history, taking down 2021 WSOP Online Event #11 ($10,000 Super MILLION$ High Roller) for $977,842 and his ninth career gold bracelet, tying Johnny Moss. Soon after, he talked with us about winning his ninth bracelet online made it special for him. “Winning any WSOP event is special,” Seidel said when asked where his online bracelet ranks. “This one was extra great for me because it was so unexpected. Getting through 600+ players and then the prize was close to one million, which I think is my biggest WSOP cash, felt really amazing. Might be my favorite.” READ: Erik Seidel’s Online WSOP Bracelet Victory Might Just Be His Favorite In addition to Seidel winning the WSOP edition of the Super MILLION$, a pair of perennial champions added to their MILLION$ resume. Niklas Astedt scored his third title and Michael Addamo kept the all-time wins record with his fourth. For Addamo, it was just a sign of things yet to come. READ: 50 Things To Look Forward To At The 2021 WSOP After Phil Hellmuth vanquished Fox Sports commentator Nick Smith in a bottle episode of High Stakes Duel, the re-match everyone was waiting for was booked. The Hellmuth vs. Tom Dwan hype train was rolling and the show did not disappoint. However, after seven wins in a row, Hellmuth was defeated as Dwan dethroned Hellmuth to become the new High Stakes Duel champion. READ: Three Takeaways From Tom Dwan's Victory Over Phil Hellmuth on High Stakes Duel III [caption id="attachment_637584" align="alignleft" width="250"] Brock Wilson[/caption] A pair of profiles proved to be popular this month as 26-year-old high-stakes tournament pro Brock Wilson talked about his major move from New York to Las Vegas to pursue the poker dream. Plus, Ryan Hagerty scored an online bracelet in July and sat down to talk with us about his roller coaster of a year grinding the tournament scene. A victory for Alex Theologis in the WSOP $25,000 Super High Roller Championship locked up the August Online Player of Month. Finally, after six years as the President and Editor-in-Chief of PocketFives Lance Bradley stepped away to pursue new opportunities and left by spotlighting some of his favorite stories he published over the years.
  16. “I feel good. Physically, I have recovered. I guess from an emotional standpoint, I don’t know that I still quite get what happened yet. Sounds a little weird but it’s still all surreal for me.” It’s been a month since George Holmes played in his second-ever World Series of Poker Main Event, the outcome of which was an experience he could have only dreamed of having. The 49-year-old father of two from Alpharetta, Georgia went on a once-in-a-lifetime run in the $10,000 televised tournament, one that turned him from an anonymous everyday recreational player into the “Home Game Hero”, battling in poker’s bright spotlight against some of the best in the business ended up finishing as the runner-up for an incredible $4,000,000 score. “But I feel good. I finally went back a week ago and kind of watched the stream of the final table. I think, for me, it’s about as good as it’s going to get as far as being able to put everything into perspective…it kind of is what it is,” Holmes said. “I’ve been, probably for the past week and a half, back in the normal swing. I came home, I went back to work the following week. I planned on working just because I enjoy what I do and it just gives me an opportunity to kind of take a step back and take my time and figure out what I want to do with all this money.” Holmes works as an executive for a company that helps merchants process payments. It’s currently offering him a sense of real-world stability as opposed to his whirlwind experience in the Main Event filled with the highs, the lows, the lack of sleep, and the pressure to perform. But Holmes, who presents as level-headed and as even-keel as they come, insists that while he’s still processing what took place, his return to reality took place rather quickly. “To know me, I’m pretty a pretty monotone, mellow person so I don’t get very high. I think coming back to Earth, for me, was a lot easier,” he said. “After the Main Event was over, it was probably eight o’clock. A bunch of my friends were still there from the rail so we went out to celebrate for a few hours. We hung out probably ’til midnight or one…we were all on a flight the next morning at six o’clock a.m. At that point, I wanted out of Vegas. “For me, a perfect stint in Vegas is three or four days. Being there for a week and a half, I mean I’m just spent and I’m ready to go. Especially with the schedule for the World Series. You don’t really get to do anything. It’s poker, sleep, get up, poker, and then sleep again and that’s basically it for a week and a half,” he said. “So, for me to come down, it didn’t take much, probably a couple of days. Physically, I was drained, I was tired. Mentally, I was spent from just sitting at the table, looking at hands nonstop. But after a few days back at home, I was fine. I was still trying to understand what all happened and I told a couple of friends this, I kind of which I could’ve experienced this somewhat from their perspective, just being on the rail. “But I was just playing, cameras in your face. Once you have that for a day or two, it’s normal. But I don’t know that I experienced it the way everyone else did. I mean, I’m hearing all these great stories, all these people that were cheering for me, but I don’t get to see any of the highs or the lows, I’m just kind of living in the moment I guess…kind of weird to explain.” One of those moments he lived in was the final hand of the Main Event, one of the most thrilling WSOP moments for fans in some time. In summary, after spiking top pair on the turn, and being checked to on the river, Holmes moved all-in for his tournament life. However, Koray Aldemir, his affable German heads-up opponent (and eventual 2021 WSOP Main Event champ) had flopped two pair and was deep in thought about whether to make the call that could end the tournament. “The longer he took told me that I did not want a call,” Holmes said. “I’m shoving, thinking I have the best hand. I would have never imagined [Aldemir] had such a miracle flop.” “But the longer he took, I started replaying things in my head like, ‘Well, maybe he has two pair.’ Initially, I thought maybe he has top pair and maybe a flush draw. We had such a great rapport at the table…he looks up at me as he’s thinking and he’s probably halfway through his tank and he’s like ‘This might be it. This might be the hand.’ “ It was the hand, Aldemir did put his chips in the middle and both hands were turned face up. Aldemir read the board instantly and knew he was the new World Champion. He threw his hands in the air, turned to his rail, and the celebration began as Holmes also stood and leaned over the table, taking a long second look at what had just happened. “To be honest, I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time,” Holmes said, reflecting on the moment. “I think I asked, because I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, if he had me covered at that point. I know I asked the dealer if he had me covered and to be honest, at that point, I did not care what happened.” --- Holmes is back home, back spending time with his family and gearing up for what is sure to be a special holiday season for his wife, 13-year old son, and 15-year old daughter. But Holmes is also back playing in the Atlanta home game he made famous on the WSOP coverage. It’s the one he’s been playing in for the better part of a decade. He’s come a long way since first getting into the game back in 1999, before No Limit Hold’em rose to power as the dominant variant of the game. Holmes says although he’s never been a serious student of the game, he’s loved poker since the moment he started playing it with co-workers regularly in 2000. Back then it was a ‘just for fun’ $0.25/0.50 game. But now he plays with a regular group of guys splashing around at $2/5. But Holmes is quick to clarify that “it plays a lot larger than a normal $2/5 game.” It’s the same group of guys who were on the rail rooting Holmes on in the Main Event, the same who are likely looking to see if some of that $4 million end up on the table in their own game, even if it is one small buy-in at a time. But Holmes insists that his newfound poker fame hasn’t changed the game in the least, “It’s a tough crew, man. I get razz no matter what.” One might think that there would be other opportunities for Holmes to flex his popular final table persona, but according to him he hasn’t received any invitations yet for shows like Poker After Dark or live-streamed games like Hustler Casino Live or Live At The Bike, at least not yet. “My phone hasn’t really been blowing up,” he said. Noting that he’s had a couple of promotional opportunities which he’s politely declined. “I get friends that ask me all the time ‘Have you had any sponsors reach out to you?’ and the answer’s been no. It’s been quiet.” But Holmes seems at peace with that quiet. He’s not the type to hit a big score, rearrange his life, and take to the circuit. But when pressed about whether a stint on a PokerGO cash game could entice him to make a trip back to Las Vegas sooner than later, a small smile appears. “That’d be interesting.” People would likely watch as Holmes understands he has fans well beyond the dozen of guys who were on his rail. His “Home Game Hero” storyline not only played well on the broadcast, but it’s the dream for a lot of recreational players who are just like Holmes. Those who were pulling hard for him to take it to the high roller pro, even as likable as Aldemir is. “I had been hearing the whole week, ‘You’re blowing up on Twitter.' And, at the time I didn’t have a Twitter account. But what I did feel, just in the Amazon room, was the love from the folks there…and it was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. Even the [media] that was there, when I busted out one of the camera guys stopped me and said ‘This might sound weird but we know your face. After a week of watching you we know your face better than you do and we just wanted to tell you from all the crew that we loved your game, we were rooting hard for you here in the room and in the trucks.’ And I thought that was pretty amazing. “I ran into a couple of folks at the airport the next morning. And when I tell you I had no regrets after that final hand, I honestly did not. But one regret would be just for the folks who were rooting for me,” he said. “There were so many folks saying ‘We were hoping you win the whole thing. We wanted you to take it down.’ And there was this story of like USA versus Germany and the UK…and that’s the only real regret I have, it’s not winning it for the folks that I didn’t know that had just jumped on and were rooting for me so hard.” In 2019 Holmes entered the Main Event and finished in 213th for over $50,000. His goal in 2021 was simply to beat his 2019 finish, which he clearly did. But where does that leave him moving forward? There’s not a lot of Main Event places he can improve to. “That’s a great question. Naturally, I will continue to play the Main Event and see how I can do. I hadn’t thought about it beyond knowing that I’m going to continue to play the Main and there are a bunch of circuit events that I will probably play one or two but I hadn’t thought much past that. I really haven’t.” “The odds tell me I should quit while I’m ahead…but I love playing the game too much.”
  17. Henry Orenstein, the inventor of the hole card cam and member of the Poker Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 98 on Tuesday, according to PokerGO News. Orenstein’s idea to bring the audience inside the game of poker by exposing players’ hole cards with the use of a camera inside a poker table was essential to the poker boom that changed the way the game is viewed today. Born in Poland in 1923 to a Jewish family, Orenstein was a Holocaust survivor. Both of his parents were killed by Nazis and two of his siblings perished in concentration camps while Orenstein, and his two brothers Fred and Sam, posed as scientists in order to survive the war. After, Orenstein emigrated to the United States where he lived in New York and became a toy manufacturer, credited, most notably for the creation of the Transformers. But it was the idea to make poker more palatable for the viewer for which he was most known for in poker. According to a 2016 profile on Orenstein in Newsweek, after watching a World Series of Poker special on ESPN and being “bored out of his mind”, Orenstein spent six months building the poker table that placed cameras under glass panels to reveal a players hole cards. He patented the table in 1995, one of more than 100 patents he held, eight years before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event. Initial resistance and disinterest by television executives caused Orenstein to shelve the table, and the idea, but continue his poker career. In 1996, Orenstein won his only WSOP gold bracelet in the $5,000 Seven Card Stud tournament when he outlasted a final table that included Humberto Brenes, Cindy Violette, and TJ Cloutier. In 2002, Orenstein's idea found new life and he partnered with Head of NBC Sports Jon Miller to launch Poker Superstars and High Stakes Poker. “This one man is the reason poker is as big as it is,” Miller told Newsweek. “The reason poker is a multibillion-dollar business is because of this one man.” For his revolutionary idea and dedication to poker, Orenstein was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. He is survived by his wife, Susie.
  18. When one thinks of the World Poker Tour it’s almost impossible not to think of Darren Elias. His success is nearly synonymous with the brand. Elias, famously, sits alone at the top of the heap when it comes to any number of World Poker Tour categories including Main Event titles (4), final tables (12), and cashes (43). However, Elias’ extensive poker resume is much more than WPT Main Event victories, and at 35 years old, it's something he’s proven year over year. Elias has excelled in 2021, picking up big-time scores in a trio of High Rollers on the PokerGO tour (totaling nearly $1 million in earnings) as well as having a breakout year playing online that saw him grab a prestigious GGPoker Super MILLION$ title for one of the biggest cashes of his career. As the World Poker Tour prepares to wrap up Season XIX with the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event at the Bellagio, Elias is headed to Las Vegas looking to add to his 2021 High Roller totals and, perhaps, pick up title number five. We caught up with him for an extended conversation about his success on the WPT, his aspirations for the World Series of Poker, balancing his home and poker lives, and the pressure he puts on himself to succeed. __ For many fans, when they first hear the name Darren Elias, they probably think of the World Poker Tour. You sit alone with four WPT Main Tour titles and Matt Savage has taken to calling you the “WPT G.O.A.T.”. How have you been so successful on the WPT? What is it about those events that play to your strengths? Yeah. I love the World Poker Tour and that makes up a bulk of my schedule during the year. I play about 50 to 60 tournaments every year, I'm pretty consistent, and World Poker Tour tournaments probably make up a dozen of those - and I do like that most are in America or Canada. I traveled internationally a lot in my early '20s playing EPTs, Macau…basically everywhere in the world, and I kind of found that I liked playing in the [U.S.] and North America. A couple of reasons behind that, and probably linked in with my success is that I like the knowledge of the player pool in these events. Most of the time these WPT events, it's the same group of guys, and each stop has its locals, but I do think knowing the players gives me a bigger edge. I wouldn't say that my results are equal to my edge, where I would say I probably over-performed on the World Poker Tour and under-performed at the World Series, luck-wise or expectation-wise, but I do love the events and I do love that they're all basically in the states. I know you plan on playing the $25K High Roller at the upcoming WPT Five Diamond but didn’t realize how many High Roller cashes you actually have on your resume. How do you differential between playing your normal schedule of events and when you jump into high rollers? Is playing higher something you continue to aspire to or are you just picking the best spots you can? Well, I would say I kind of hand pick the high roller events that I want to play and I try to pick the bigger ones, the ones with the biggest prize pools and most runners. I don't have a ton of interest in traveling internationally to play small field 100Ks or 250Ks. I mean, I've done it in the past, but for me, my biggest value is time. Especially now that I'm home with a family, I really have to pick my events that I want to go to. I probably play five to ten 25K plus events a year - maybe, 25K, 50K, 100K, something like that - and they do play differently than, like, a World Poker Tour Main Event, obviously, and you have to be sharper. I might do more preparation beforehand if I know I'm playing a tough 100K, and you have to be more fundamentally sound in an event like that because you're playing higher tier players, some of the best players in the world are in those events. In the World Poker Tour, that's not always true. When you decide you are going to play higher, do you put in extra study time? Absolutely. Yeah. I think most players would agree, at lower stakes, playing even $1Ks, $2Ks, $3,500, $5Ks, you can probably get away with not studying if you have good instincts and still win. But if you play in bigger events, these $50Ks, $100Ks, and you're playing with the elite players, you really need to put in your practice study work or you're going to find yourself in there guessing a lot, which is not the way to win. [caption id="attachment_637478" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Darren Elias, four-time World Poker Tour Main Event champion.[/caption] You just mentioned that time is one of your most valuable currencies and you’ve decided to take on a role as an ambassador for BetMGM/partypoker U.S. For some players becoming an ambassador is an aspiration, was it one for you? In the past you’ve talked about how public speaking wasn’t really your thing, do you feel any added pressure taking on this new role? I wouldn't say it's added pressure but it is something that's taken me a while to get comfortable with. It's not my natural personality to put my face on something and put it out there. It's taken some time to get used to, and the main reason of my drive behind this is, I felt so terrible for the American online poker players over the last 10 years, and I feel like this is a good opportunity. If there's anything I can do to further our cause and get bigger tournaments online in the US, get more states legalized, linked up, organize tournaments, work on schedules - anything I can do to help get online poker back in the US should be a priority. I think at this point I'm in a position where maybe I can make a little bit of difference, and that's kind of my long-term goal with BetMGM and partypoker. Speaking of online poker, you have a reputation as a live pro but this year you cracked the worldwide PocketFives Top 10 rankings, have more than $8 million in career earnings, and have both a WCOOP and Super MILLION$ title on your online resume. Where does an online grind fit into your schedule right now? I guess most of that took place this year while you were traveling abroad? Yeah. Last year I played a lot on GGPoker during COVID. I feel like I cashed for more last year than I probably did in my whole online career just because the stakes of the tournaments nowadays on the international sites are huge. That may have been kind of a one-off year because of COVID, there weren't any live tournaments and that was just a weird year. I do see myself playing a lot more online in the states, but my international, rest of the world, online career is probably drawing to a close I would say. You talked a little about how maybe variance has been on your side in WPT events, more so than the WSOP. You don’t yet have a WSOP bracelet and I wanted to know if WSOP success, outside of the money, is on your list of things you’d like to achieve? Are you thinking ‘I would like to win a bracelet’? I would like to win a bracelet, but I would say it means less now than it used to, just in how easily they're giving them away nowadays with the online events and these Flip & Gos. You can play a 50 runner, $200 event online and win a World Series of Poker bracelet and that kind of takes some of the prestige away from it. But, sure, when I go to the World Series every year I'm trying to make final tables. I'm trying to win. I don't play the full WSOP schedule where I'm in these $1,500 No Limits, battling ten-handed all day. I'm not in a lot of those, but I do play most of the $5K+. I play Deuce-to-Seven, so some of these events are smaller fields, like under a hundred players, and I am in there and I'm trying to win a bracelet. That would mean something to me, to win one of those events, the high roller 10K Deuce-to-Seven no limit, something like that. I think those events still carry some prestige, and when I'm going out there, I'm trying to win those. Where do you land on mixed games? Do you like them and are those fields you would like to be competing in? Not really. My experience with mixed games is, I don't really like the limit games. I never have. I mean, I played Limit Hold’em when I first started playing poker. I was 17, 18 years old at casinos, and I played a little bit of Stud and 08, that kind of thing, and to be honest, I find them a little boring. I'd gravitate more towards No Limit games, so I like No Limit Deuce-to-Seven. I've played Pot Limit and No Limit Triple Draw online quite a bit. I like those games, and I could see maybe down the line I play more PLO, but I really don't have much interest in limit games, so I'm a bit restricted in that regard. I'm sure if I put in the study and really tried to learn these games, then I could become a winning player, but I don't enjoy them so I'm not really devoting my time there. What are your thoughts on the WSOP moving to the Strip? Are you planning on making the quick turnaround this summer for the World Series of Poker? Yeah, I’ll be there, and I kind of don't know what to expect. I have low expectations. I'm kind of happy to get out of the Rio and erase all my memories of the World Series when I haven't done amazing. So maybe I'll get new mojo here at Ballys or whatever it's going to be called when we're there. I think it's cool that it's on the Strip. I really don't know what to expect, but I will be there and I'll be playing. You have a family with two small kids, how do you strike a balance between grinding the circuit and being present for your family? I’ve learned a lot about it over the last five years, and one important thing I found, is keeping the trips short. I can't go to Las Vegas for a month and play the WSOP and be away from my kids and my family that long. So, kind of breaking it up into shorter trips, which is one of the reasons World Poker Tour's great now. They have a Main Event, maybe a high roller, but it's one or two events. It's a week. I'm there. I'm back. I really like that, and mentally, kind of, when I'm on a poker trip and I'm there competing, battling, I'm thinking about poker and I'm 100% focused. When I'm home, I'm being dad and I'm being a husband and trying to do these duties, and I think keeping them separate has worked well for me. One more, do you put any pressure on yourself to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to WPT titles? There’s a number of heavy hitters with three titles looking to make it four, so just wondering what your state of mind is when you think about that. I put pressure on myself regardless of who's chasing me. Like, I get to these final tables or deep in these events and I feel huge pressure to execute just to do the right thing. I'm in such a good spot, usually deep in these things against weaker players, playing for a lot of money where there are big opportunities and these are kind of what I've trained and prepared for. I always feel pressure to execute at these final tables, and I don't think I'm driven too much by who's on my tail or what other people are doing, because if I mess up in one of these final tables, these big spots that you get once a year or once every other year, that's going to drive me crazy no matter who has three titles, who has four titles. I'm tough on myself in that regard, so I don't think I need any extra motivation.
  19. It came down to the final week of the 2021 World Series of Poker but, in the end, Daniel Negreanu dug himself out of a half-million-dollar WSOP hole and booked a win for himself and more than 300 supporters who purchased a piece of his series-long staking package. “I give people a chance to take the ride.” Two months ago, Negreanu announced that he would, once again, be offering shares of his entire WSOP campaign. He was honoring a promise to those fans who missed out on his 2019 campaign and had yet to have an opportunity for a series-long sweat. He gave those people the chance to "take the ride" with him at the WSOP. And what a ride it was. Starting with WSOP Event #2 ($25,000 H.O.R.S.E.) Negreanu dedicated himself to a non-stop grind. He fired in 46 of the scheduled 88 live events, plus all 10 of the online events. He posted a total of $1,052,773 in buy-ins (of $1,627,484 potential) and, in the end, cashed in 18 of the 56 events - a 32% in-the-money record for the series. Daniel Negreanu’s 2021 WSOP Cashes [table id=276 /] The total of those cashes adds up to $1,451,297.68. But there’s a bonus $500 added in from a bounty captured from Event #71 making the total $1,451,797.68 - a profit of $399,024.68. When that is added to the unplayed amount collected at the beginning of the stake ($574,711) the end result is a profit for backers of 24.52%. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463675183202373635?s=20 So, for every $20 investment, there was $24.90 returned. For those who put in the maximum amount upfront of $1,000, they took home $1,245.18. [table id=275 /] The Million Dollar Swing When Negreanu first offered the action this year he decided to forgo the High-Medium-Low tier of investments that he used in 2019 because “I want all of us to win together, or…if I lose, we all lose together.” That turned out to be beneficial for all Negreanu’s backers. As the series was coming to a close, Negreanu was looking at a near half-million deficit. The entire stake was riding on a series of high rollers - two $50Ks, a $100K, and the $250K Super High Roller. The buy-ins alone could have pushed Negreanu under $1 million if he wasn’t able to make something happen. But after picking up a small cash in Event #80 ($3,000 PLO), Negreanu rode that momentum into Event #84 ($50,000 PLO High Roller). He busted his first bullet but fired again, and this time he shot straight. He took his second chance all the way to the final table. It looked like he might capture bracelet #7, but after some hands didn’t go his way, he bowed out in third place. His $519,764 score turned the tide for the stake and put him within $10,000 of being even. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1462831012145098753?s=20 He was right back at it the next day in Event #85 ($50,000 NLHE High Roller). There were 113 entries, but Negreanu only fired one shot. The momentum from the PLO High Roller carried over and the sweat became real as he made back-to-back final tables. Unfortunately, Negreanu fell in third place again, unable to break through to the bracelet. But he added a critical score of $661,041 to not only climb into the positive but ensure that he would be profitable with only four total events left on the schedule. It was a million-dollar swing in the course of 72 hours and for those following along, it was the reason for backing Negreanu in the first place. Not just the profit, which is of course nice, but the entertainment of being a part of an epic run with a fantastic finish. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092?s=20 The World Series of Poker may be over but keep your eyes on PocketFives Staking for plenty of future opportunities to be a part of the action of your favorite players.
  20. The 2021 World Series of Poker was a wild ride and not just for those players who made the trip to Las Vegas. As the schedule in the series began to wind down, the pressure ramped up for players to close out the fall with a nice score and, for many of those who chose to take the ride by picking up a piece of the action on PocketFives, there were some great gains to be made. Arieh Shares Sun Run With Supporters You don’t have to look further than newly crowed 2021 WSOP Player of the Year (and PocketFives own) Josh Arieh. Arieh was relentless on the felt and generous in offering pieces of his amazing sun run to his followers. For example, Arieh put up 5% of his $10,000 Main Event at zero markup. Clearly a favorite against the field, the 50 backers who were able to quickly snap up their .1% (just a mere $10 to get a sweat on) all saw a return of $30 - an ROI of 200% - when he finished in 411th place for $30,000. He was nowhere near finished. Arieh’s run to the POY included two more notable cashes, but the one his backers certainly appreciated was his final table finish in the $50,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller. Arieh had crushed every PLO tournament he played in this year, including famously helping some of his backers turn $15 into $2K. Another nice return was in order for the 141 backers who supported him. Arieh sold 10%, again at no markup, and ended up finishing in seventh place for $165,452. That’s an ROI of 230.90% with $16,545 headed back to his backers. If every backer had an equal share, that would look like a $35 stake yielding more than $117. He had another 200+% ROI in the $10K Stud 8 where 43 backers picked up 10% of his action and turned every $10 increment into just over $30 as well. https://twitter.com/robcpoker/status/1463094577083019266?s=20 RELATED: Negreanu, Arieh, and Glantz Help Backers Clean Up In WSOP $50K Poker Players Championship Seidel Just Hits Home Runs Erik Seidel was also a home run hitter down the stretch. The nine-time WSOP bracelet winner jumped on PocketFives to sell for just two events late in the schedule. Both times he sold out and both times he came through. He sold 50% of his action, strictly for the fans, in the same $10K Seven Card Stud 8 where Arieh finished in ninth. Seidel made it to the final table and ended up finishing in 7th place for $46,140. His ROI - 361.40%. Collectively, his 29 backers turned the $5,600 (Seidel sold at 1.12 markup) into $23,070 and every 1% of the stake ($56) turned into $230. https://twitter.com/PocketFives/status/1460030971340734464?s=20 It worked so well in the Stud 8, Seidel picked up more run good by running it back in the $10K Razz Championship. Again he sold 50% and. again, he made a final table. In back-to-back tournaments, Seidel finished in 7th place and this time cashed out for $39,987. If each of his 35 backers had the same share, they’d have turned $160 into more than $570. Negreanu’s Fantastic Finish Right up until the last tournament, Daniel Negreanu was challenging Josh Arieh for WSOP Player of the Year. He finished the series second in total cashes with 18 and was selling action all along the way. After his deep run in the $50K Poker Players Championship, Negreanu booked four more cashes, but for backers, his deep run in the $50K Pot Limit Omaha was the most important, and perhaps the most surprising. In it, Negreanu made the final table and, once again, came so close to winning bracelet #7. Eventually, he bowed out in 3rd place which was good for $519,764. Unfortunately, since it was on his second bullet it didn't count for those who supported him as a single event. However, for the more than 300 backers of his complete package it brought him close to being even for the series. That score set him up for his biggest score yet. While he didn’t sell action explicitly for the $50,000 NLHE High Roller, this was a critical event for the hundreds of people who were involved in his series-long package. In the event, he made another sick final table run, again nearly locking down a bracelet, but ended up in third place for more than $660,000 and turned his total series package from negative to a huge profit. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092?s=20 [Correction: an earlier version of this article indicated that Negreanu had cashed in the $50K PLO for his single event backers, however, it was on his 2nd bullet which meant it only counted for the series long investors. We apologize for the error.] With that, the 2021 WSOP and the ride for investors came to an end. But be on the lookout for more from PocketFives Staking as the end is really just the beginning.
  21. “I also wanted to say that there are so many deserving nominees who have worked hard to earn a place in the Hall of Fame. More and more great players and builders are starting to turn 40 years old. I really hope that the World Series of Poker begins to induct a couple more nominees each year.” - Eli Elezra, 2021 Poker Hall of Fame inductee. For the second year in a row, just a single person was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. This year, it was Eli Elezra, noted high-stakes cash game pro and four-time WSOP bracelet winner. By all accounts, for his contribution and achievements in the game, Elezra’s inclusion in the Hall is well deserved. But in his brief speech in the Brazilia Room, after thanking his mentors and recounting his journey, Elezra took a moment to acknowledge the other deserving nominees with a hope that they, like him, may also have the opportunity to be so honored. It’s a hope that’s shared by many who follow the Poker Hall of Fame. In 2020, it came a bit of a surprise that the PHOF opted to reduce the already low number of two inductees to a single person, citing a return to the Poker Hall of Fame’s roots and the benefit of time as reasons to keep the election process as elite as it is. “We like tradition,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in 2020. “One per year is the way it was for the majority of the Poker Hall of Fame’s history. A single inductee seems to promote the prestige of the honor. Most of the finalists these past few years are very young men. I would hope and assume they will all get inducted eventually.” What a difference a year makes. Even when the voting process allowed for two persons per year, the thought that the bottleneck of bringing valued figures of poker into the Hall of Fame was not ready for the flood of future poker greats, inspired by the poker boom. Looking ahead, without change, the Poker Hall of Fame may keep its elitist status but will forgo its credibility. A Hall of Fame isn’t about the number of people in it, it’s about accomplishments. And nearly two decades after a poker explosion extended the love for the game around the world, continuing to cut off more-than-deserving players and builders, makes the Hall look and feel like an old-school popularity contest rather than a celebration of those who have made the game great. That point has never been better illustrated than this year at the 2021 World Series of Poker when players, far younger than the 40 year age requirement, have added bracelets to their resume that reflect the numbers that, as of right now, are part of a legitimate Hall of Fame career. Take a look at the accomplishments of Shaun Deeb, Brian Hastings, and Brian Rast, all three of which earned their fifth career bracelet this fall. Rast, who will turn 40 before the next Hall of Fame nomination process, has made it well-known that the Hall of Fame is on his radar as what he expects to be his next accomplishment and will most certainly be considered next year. “Really, the number one thing at this point is kind of just making the Poker Hall of Fame. I mean, I feel like, I think I’ve done enough in my career…” Rast said immediately after his fifth win. And he’s not out of line in that thinking. In addition to collecting bracelets, Rast also has more than $22 million in live career tournament earnings, good for 24th on the All-Time Money List, and has been known to play cash games at some of the highest stakes available. Those three five-time bracelet winners are followed closely by a swarm of top-tier names, all of whom earned their fourth this series. Adrian Mateos, Ben Yu, Anthony Zinno, Brian Yoon, John Monnette, Benny Glaser, Farzad Bonyadi, Adam Friedman, Kevin Gerhart, and 2021 WSOP Player of the Year Josh Arieh all have great cases for future consideration. The four-time bracelet winner club increased by 33% in just one series and, coincidentally, it’s the same number of bracelets that Eli Elezra has to his credit upon induction. Of course, bracelets alone are by no means the only criteria for being inducted, but they do play a big role. Currently, respect at the highest stakes and, honestly, popularity among the 32 living members of the Hall of Fame (or those who have the most influence within that group) is perhaps even more important under the current system. But with that said, it’s clear that not only is there incredible talent on the rise, but the bar for what it’s going to take in the future to not only get nominated but get elected is also climbing higher. With so much talent rising and becoming eligible over the next five years two things are clear: the first is that the time for the Poker Hall of Fame to adapt to how much bigger the game of poker is today is here. In fact, it’s been here. Also, secondly, should the Hall not adapt, people who were once thought to be a lock for the Hall of Fame one day will be frozen out far longer than they deserve to be due to the pressure of escalating poker resume requirements to be considered by the public for the nomination process as well as for the voters themselves. For example, take a look at the case for Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow. Matusow’s resume looks incredibly close to that of Elezra’s in terms of his bracelet count and his time spent on poker television. It wouldn’t be tough to argue that, in terms of notoriety, Matusow’s influence on the game of poker far outshines many of the more recent inductees. His brash, polarizing personality has been ever-present on the poker landscape since the early 2000s, and, like him or not, he’s been an ambassador for the everyman and a persistent presence on poker television. But at 53 years old, Matusow doesn’t appear to be any closer to an induction into the Hall today from the day he became eligible. In 2020, when the votes cast were made public, Matusow received the third-lowest total votes. Perhaps it’s because the mouth he’s so famous for is a turn-off for those casting the votes. But as Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has said many times - the Poker Hall of Fame isn’t designated for just the nice guys. If it were, well Matt Savage wouldn’t still be waiting. But even after his sixth nomination, Savage - one of the most influential tournament directors in the game - is still on the sidelines and, like Matusow, will soon be facing the robust resumes of elite players. But he’s also contending with the perceived notion that, if there’s only one spot open, it’s best not to use it for a “builder” or someone who has simply advanced the game as opposed to someone who crushes in it. To further that point, it seemed like when PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg was first nominated in 2020 he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He, along with his son Mark, took online poker to the masses, helped amplify the Moneymaker effect, and - not for nothing - was the architect to bail out thousands of players from the implosion of Full Tilt Poker (something that likely keeps surefire Hall of Fame member Chris Ferguson on the outside, perhaps never to get in). But Scheinberg, even after clearing up all legal ramifications in regards to Black Friday, is not only not a "first ballot" member, he’s now been passed over twice. It’s easy to see a few of these names and, perhaps, argue that they actually don’t belong. That what they have contributed or achieved doesn’t warrant inclusion. But it’s hard to ignore that the impact of poker on the worldwide community is also not well-reflected in the Hall of Fame. Recent nominees including Chris Bjorn, Thor Hansen, and Bruno Fitoussi all deserve another look for their contributions to poker. The end result is a Poker Hall of Fame that looks trapped in time and out of touch with modern poker. But here’s the hope moving forward: as the World Series of Poker leaves the Rio and begins a new era on the strip, perhaps there is a new era of change for the Poker Hall of Fame on the horizon. Not one that loosens the requirements by any means, but, as Elezra said in his speech, acknowledges that there are many deserving people from both the player and builder category who deserve to have the doors of the Hall open while they still around to enjoy being a part of it.
  22. After two more tournaments closed out the 2021 World Series of Poker, there was late drama across the Rio. Michael Addamo claimed the High Roller victory that confirms 2021 as the ‘Year of Addamo’, Boris Kolev won his first-ever bracelet and there was late drama in the WSOP Player of the Year race, which was over, not over, then done for good. Addamo Claims Huge High Roller Win Australian high roller crusher Michael Addamo won his fourth WSOP bracelet after taking down the $100,000-entry Event #87 High Roller after a final table performance that confirmed his greatness in 2021. Addamo has crushed the year, winning more in the past 11 months than many great players have in their entire careers. His quest for his fourth bracelet began looking down from a great height at the top of the leaderboard. Nevertheless, Addamo would have been surprised that his closest challenger when play began, Danish player Henrik Hecklen, busted in fifth place for $434,523. Sam Soverel had chipped up in the early exchanges at the table, and his raise pre-flop saw Hecklen call off his 14 big blind stack with [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Jd"]. Soverel called it off with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="3d"] and managed to ride home his better hand, with the board playing out [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Js"][poker card="5d"][poker card="Td"][poker card="8d"] for a flopped top pair to almost double his stack. Soverel was on a mini heater and doubled through the chip leader Addamo to take the lead when he was all-in and at risk with top pair against the Aussie’s two pair on the turn, only for the river to give him a better two pair and stun the table. If Addamo was running bad, could it be anyone’s tournament? Sean Perry certainly hoped so when he moved all-in with [poker card="6h"][poker card="6s"] against the [poker card="8h"][poker card="8d"] belonging to Kevin Rabichow. The board of [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Td"][poker card="8c"][poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qd"] saw Rabichow make trips and slay Perry’s chances, the result worth $590,344. Down to three players, Rabichow was still the short stack, but over an extended period of play without an elimination, Soverel first spiked as chip leader, but then plummeted in two hands as Addamo delivered him from the tournament in brutal fashion, his [poker card="As"][poker card="Jd"] dominating Soverel’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Td"] on a board of [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="Th"]Ks][poker card="2c"] and sending Soverel home with $830,992. Heads-up, it was that hand that propelled Addamo into a dominant position. With 28 million to Rabichow’s 5 million, the Australian needed no time at all to wrap up the event and claim his fourth WSOP bracelet of an already astounding poker career. Rabichow was all-in pre-flop for his last 12 big blinds with [poker card="As"][poker card="6h"] and although he began the final hand ahead of Addamo’s [poker card="Kc"][poker card="2c"] the board of [poker card="5h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Qs"][poker card="7h"] saw the most successful Australian tournament player in history add yet more glory to a stunning poker CV. Kevin Rabichow won over $1.2 million for a great run to runner-up but it was Michel Addamo who lost the lead yet won it all back and more to take down Event #87 and claim a famous victory worth $1.95m WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 High Roller Final Table Results: Michael Addamo - $1,958,569 Kevin Rabichow - $1,210,487 Sam Soverel - $830,992 Sean Perry - $590,344 Henrik Hecklen - $434,523 Sorel Mizzi - $331,806 Sam Grafton - $263,227 Mikita Badziakouski - $217,274 Bill Klein - $186,909 Fedor Holz - $167,869 Kolev the King as WSOP Closes Rio Events With Maiden Win In the final event of the WSOP 2021, Boris Kolev became the answer to a thousand poker quizzes of the future as he won the last physical bracelet inside the Rio. Kolev had come into play just outside the top 10 chipcounts with 30 players remaining and for some time, the day was about Ben Yu in more ways than one. Yu, who led the field heading into the final day, was actually in the running to win the WSOP Player of the Year as Justin Bonomo of all people revealed. Eventually, thanks in no small part to Shaun Deeb’s amusing asides and general great play, Yu could not prevent Josh Arieh from celebrating - again - the Player of the Year title that was re-confirmed upon Yu’s exit in 10th place, as we wrote about right here in more detail. Yu’s exit in 10th place saw the final table of eight almost there and when Justin Liberto crashed out in ninth place with [poker card="As"][poker card="Jc"] unable to beat Niko Koop’s [poker card="9s"][poker card="9h"] across a thrilling run out of [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Js"][poker card="2h"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="9d"] that gave the latter a full house on the river, the race was on to win the final bracelet of the series. Lee Markholt busted in eighth place for $49,107 when his shove with [poker card="7d"][poker card="7s"] was overtaken by Kolev’s [poker card="Kd"][poker card="3d"] as the board played out [poker card="Ks"][poker card="9c"][poker card="2d"][poker card="Qs"]Kh] to give the eventual winner trips, and George Wolff lost his stack to Huy Nguyen when [poker card="Qh"][poker card="8h"] didn’t hold against Nguyen’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="3d"] as a board of [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Jh"][poker card="Th"][poker card="Jd"][poker card="Tc"] saw Wolff cash for $64,207. With six players remaining, Koop made his bow in sixth place for $85,411 as his shove with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5s"] ran into the dominating [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qh"] belonging to Uri Reichenstein. The board of [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6d"][poker card="4c"][poker card="Kh"] saw Reichenstein win that important pot to climb the ranks and send the dangerous Koop to the rail. It was the turn of Z Stein to bust in fifth place as his check-call for his stack on the turn of a board showing [poker card="Jd"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6h"][poker card="Qc"] doomed his [poker card="Jh"][poker card="8c"] with Reichenstein holding [poker card="Js"][poker card="9h"]. The river of [poker card="Jc"] confirmed a full house for the Israeli and sent Stein home with a result worth $115,558 his final result of the Autumn WSOP. It was some time before the next elimination, but when it came, it belonged to Ramon Colillas. The PokerStars player busted with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="6h"] when Kolev’s [poker card="9s"][poker card="7c"] got there on a board of [poker card="Tc"][poker card="9h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="6s"], Colillas cashing for $158,972. It wasn’t long before Huy Nugyen was on the rail too, his short stack of 12 big blinds going into the middle with [poker card="KS"][poker card="Ts"] unable to hold against Reichenstein’s [poker card="Jc"][poker card="8h"]. The board of [poker card="9h"][poker card="3c"][poker card="3s"][poker card="6d"][poker card="8d"] was a killer, too, rivering Nguyen’s chances of a vital double and instead condemning him to a third-place finish worth $222,310. Heads-up, Kolev had a marginal lead over Reichenstein, the Bulgarian’s stack of 13.7 million a little ahead of Israeli Reichenstein’s 12.8 million. Kolev opened up a lead, however, and on a flop of [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5c"][poker card="As"], check-called to the turn holding [poker card="Jc"][poker card="6c"]. The turn of [poker card="Ks"] saw the same pattern, Kolev check-calling Reichenstein, who held only [poker card="Qd"][poker card="7s"] for a total bluff. Reichenstein ran that bluff for his whole stack on the river, but it was the [poker card="4c"] that came and Kolev called it off, showed his flush and became a first-time winner in the final ever WSOP Event at the Rio, winning the $511,184 top prize and leaving Reichenstein with another consolation prize of a deep run to a final table and $315,936. WSOP 2021 Event #88 $5,000 8-Handed NLHE Final Table Results: Boris Kolev - $511,184 Uri Reichenstein - $315,936 Huy Nguyen - $222,310 Ramon Colillas - $158,972 Z Stein - $115,558 Niko Koop - $85,411 George Wolff - $64,207 Lee Markholt - $49,107 Justin Liberto - $38,222 With the final events playing out at the Rio, most of the players had left the building...but perhaps for some, most importantly, the car park. https://twitter.com/jeffplatt/status/1463271505911947269 Not everyone believes the Rio was the ideal place to play poker, of course, and they were nobly represented by the viral sensation of videos that has fuelled so many Twitter Poker laughs over the last years of the home of the WSOP. https://twitter.com/SrslySirius/status/1463214257772761092 Matt Glantz neatly summed up Josh Arieh’s two-time triumph in the WSOP Player of the Year race. https://twitter.com/MattGlantz/status/1463307122909880321 Legendary WSOP font of all knowledge Kevin Mathers, known to us all as ‘Kevmath’ signed off his look at the old venue with one last short of the Rio’s lights burning bright as the shadows took the building one last time. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1463392728289406978 Finally, how could we close out the series without a glimpse into the bizarre, amazing world of Phil Hellmuth. Answer: we couldn't. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463277999353069568 It’s been an immense end to the World Series of Poker at the Rio and a WSOP never to be forgotten in 2021. The best news of all is that in six months time, the poker world will be ready to do it all over again at Bally’s and Paris... we can’t wait!
  23. For the better part of Monday night into Tuesday morning, the poker world celebrated the crowning of Josh Arieh as the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. By all accounts, Arieh clinched it when Phil Hellmuth busted out of the final event of the series, the $5K 8-Handed, leaving Hellmuth as the POY runner-up. Articles, like the one we published Tuesday morning, were written certain of Arieh’s victory. But, like in 2019 when Daniel Negreanu was usurped by Robert Campbell due to a point miscalculation, everyone was wrong. Everyone, except Justin Bonomo: https://twitter.com/JustinBonomo/status/1463258866871779328?s=20 Bonomo had it right. The results from WSOP Online Event #10 (which took place Sunday night) were not yet included in the Player of the Year calculations. So, understandably, when word got around that Arieh had won, well, it was reported he won. But in reality, with the missing point differential, Ben Yu, the chip leader headed into the final day of the $5K 8-Handed, actually had a chance to catch Arieh with an outright victory. And he looked poised to do it. So the sweat for Arieh was back on. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463275661074837505?s=20 The tournament started the day with just 30 left and with Yu in control. But Arieh had some help from the inside with his friend (and fellow POY competitor) Shaun Deeb still in the tournament. Deeb was looking for his second bracelet of the series and, maybe, an eye on not letting history repeat itself. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1463272967777841152?s=20 For the better part of three hours, the updates kept coming and Yu remained in the tournament. But with just two tables in play, Deeb and Yu battled in a hand where Deeb took some very important chips off of Yu and left the four-time bracelet winner short stacked. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1463278563331772419?s=20 Eventually, Deeb busted in 12th place. But the damage was done, Yu couldn’t recover. In the end, the popular Yu ended up finishing in 10th place for $30,286 just narrowly missing out on a last-minute capturing of the POY for himself. After an amazing series with 18 in-the-money finishes and a victory in the $10K Six-Handed Championship, Yu easily earned a 2021 WSOP resume worthy of Player of the Year. But now, finally, the drama came to an end and Arieh can safely celebrate, being officially crowned the 2021 Player of the Year for the 2nd time in 24 hours. https://twitter.com/MattGlantz/status/1463307122909880321?s=20 https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463256060546879490?s=20  
  24. [Editor's Note: At the time that this article was written, it had been announced that Josh Arieh had clinched the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year title. However, an online tournament result had not yet been included, leaving open the possibility for Ben Yu to win the POY on the last day of the series. We are leaving the article as written and today's events will be reflected in tomorrow's recap.] On a dramatic final day of the race to become WSOP Player of the Year, Josh Arieh finally saw off the dogged challenge of Phil Hellmuth as Arieh, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner in 2021 and four-time bracelet holder in his career, earned the coveted title of 2021 WSOP Player of the Year. In additional action, the final high roller of the series found a familiar name at the top of the leaderboard as Michael Addamo took charge of the $100K NLHE headed into the final day of the series. Addamo Adds Up Chip Lead Once Again The final two events of the 2021 World Series of Poker are racing towards the line as Michael Addamo and Ben Yu have put themselves in pole position to win big as they take leads into the last two final tables of the WSOP in Las Vegas. The $100,000-entry Event #87 is a High Roller event that saw players able to late register up until the start of Day 2, and stars such as Brian Rast, Ole Schemion, Elio Fox, Stephen Chidwick, Dominik Nitsche, Mark Herm, Jason Koon, David Szep, Sean Perry, Jeremy Ausmus and Rok Gostisa all got involved before the first deal, with the field confirmed at 64 players in total, with just 39 remaining at the start of play. That number was reduced almost immediately, with Shaun Deeb crashing out to David Coleman and Brian Rast almost on the rail in his first hand as he shoved for 600,000 chips at blinds of 20,000/40,000 with [poker card="9d"][poker card="8d"], a hand called by Cary Katz with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"] which held to double up and leave Rast on fumes. Rast, a five-time WSOP bracelet winner after his win earlier this series, would later rally, but still missed out on the money places, as did Phil Hellmuth, who quickly realized that he needed to win or come second in Event #88 to win the Player of the Year race. Hellmuth wasn’t the only one on the rail without money as David Peters, David Coleman, Jason Koon and the aforementioned Cary Katz all missed the money, along with Mark Herm, who was busted on the bubble in 11th place. Arieh wisely chose to give late-regging for $100,000 a miss. Fedor Holz was the first player to make money as he was eliminated in 10th place for $167,869 when his ace-high shove couldn’t hold against Sorel Mizzi’s king-queen, a queen on the river winning the Canadian the pot and sending the German to the rail. Addamo had the lead as the nine-handed final table kicked off, with 9.5 million chips to Sam Sovrel’s closest stack of just over 6 million. Bill Klein was the first player to depart the final nine as he busted with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Jc"] to Addamo’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qc"]. The money all went in on the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="7d"][poker card="2h"] flop, but neither the [poker card="6c"] turn or [poker card="8h"] river could save him and he cashed for $186,909 in ninth place. He won his first-ever WSOP bracelet earlier in the week, but he busted in eighth place for $217,274 when his shove with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="8h"] ran into Addamo’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9s"] to bust on a board of [poker card="Kc"][poker card="4h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="Td"][poker card="Ks"]. Sam Grafton was the next player to lose his stack as he busted in seventh place for $263,227. Calling a raise from Henrik Hecklen, Grafton went to a flop of [poker card="Th"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4s"] and both players checked it. Grafton checked the [poker card="9s"] turn too, but Hecklen didn’t, firing a bet that the British player called. On the [poker card="6d"] river, Grafton check-called Hecklen’s shove after using several time extension chips, but the Brit’s time was up as he called, showed [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9d"] for a pair of nines and was shown Hecklen’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="8h"] for a rivered straight. After an extended period of play where Addamo used his stack to chip up even more, Mizzi was the player to miss out on the final day as he shoved with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="7c"] and was called by Addamo with [poker card="Qs"][poker card="7s"]. The board ran out [poker card="8h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="9d"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="9s"] as the unfortunate Mizzi saw his dominating hand overtaken on the turn to end play for the night and give Addamo a big lead heading into the final day, holding as many chips on his own as his four opponents do combined. WSOP 2021 Event #87 $100,000 High Roller Final Table Chipcounts: Michael Addamo - 19,620,000 Henrik Hecklen - 5,445,000 Sam Soverel - 5,165,000 Kevin Rabichow - 4,250,000 Sean Perry - 3,920,000 Ben Yu Leads Final Day in $5,000 8-Handed Event #88 The drama was palpable in the $5,000-entry NLHE 8-Handed Event #88, the final live event on this year’s WSOP schedule in Las Vegas. Phil Hellmuth, who could not reach the latter stages of the $50,000 or $100,000 events of the past couple of days, needed a deep run in the event. In fact, once Arieh crashed out, Hellmuth quickly established what he needed to do. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463030770637754368 Arieh was still in the building and as the tension built, the leader of the POY race busted, giving him a chance to join the anti-rail. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463006906285391874 Sadly for Hellmuth and his many fans, the Poker Brat fell short as he called all-in with [poker card="Ks"][poker card="5h"] on a board of [poker card="Ts"][poker card="8h"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2d"] against Jason Brazeau’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="4c"] for a pair of eights. Hellmuth’s elimination saw the 16-time record WSOP bracelet winner concede defeat and congratulate Arieh on his victory. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1463061249034358784 Arieh replied, “You're always gonna be the goat [Greatest of All Time] buddy! I appreciate you more than you know.”, tweeting a picture of the title celebrations. https://twitter.com/golferjosh/status/1463079737480253441 After Hellmuth’s departure, many big names fell, as players such as Faraz Jaka, Romain Lewis, Joao Simao, Andrew Kelsall, Dominik Nitsche, Justin Lapka, Justin Saliba, and Brandon Sheils all missed out on the final day. With just 30 players bagging up Day 2 chips from the 531 entries in total, Ben Yu (2,515,000) leads the final day field. Uri Reichenstein (2,070,000) is his closest challenger, while there are top 10 stacks for some of the best players to have sat down at the felt this World Series in Shaun Deeb (1,680,000), Ramon Colillas (1,500,000), and Alexandre Reard (1,048,000), who will shoot for his second 2021 bracelet tomorrow afternoon. WSOP 2021 Event #88 $5,000 8-Handed NLHE Top 10 Chipcounts: Ben Yu - 2,515,000 Uri Reichenstein - 2,070,000 George Wolff - 1,770,000 Shaun Deeb - 1,680,000 Matyas Kende - 1,635,000 Ramon Colillas - 1,500,000 Danny Wong - 1,330,000 Justin Liberto - 1,285,000 Clayton Maguire - 1,100,000 Alexandre Reard - 1,048,000 Daniel Negreanu’s World Series of Poker came to a close and ‘Kid Poker’ was happy to post his scores from his final rollercoaster ride at the Rio. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1463082905802969092 Owais Ahmed commented that “It's sick, almost unfathomable, how many final tables and top 3 appearances [Negreanu] has at the Rio, but never won a bracelet in the building. I'm sure he'll be happy to see a location change.” in a comment liked by Negreanu himself. Bring on Bally’s. Everyone has made the ‘walk of shame’ from the famous poker venue for the last 17 years, but for Martin Jacobson, the Swedish WSOP Main Event winner whose best result of his career came inside the Rio, it was emotional. https://twitter.com/Martin_Jacobson/status/1463073395499692039 Finally, not everyone is going to be sad to see trips to the Rio go down and the temperature go up from May next year at Bally’s and Paris. https://twitter.com/kittykuopoker/status/1462932645155782661
  25. The worst kept secret in the poker world is now official news as the World Series of Poker announced that the 53rd annual WSOP will be moving to Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino when it takes place from May 31 - July 19, 2022. After 17 years at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, the WSOP has found a new home on the Strip in Bally’s and Paris for 2022. “As we approach the Final Table, we look back on yet another successful Main Event that exceeds expectations,” said World Series of Poker Senior Vice President, Ty Stewart. “We are absolutely thrilled with this year’s turnout, both domestically and internationally. As we close out this chapter at the Rio, we are excited to have the iconic Vince Vaughn usher in a new era of WSOP at Bally’s and Paris next summer.” The announcement was made on Tuesday night during the early moments of this year’s WSOP Main Event final table when actor Vince Vaughn (“Wedding Crashers”, “Swingers”) turned up in his new role as the WSOP Master of Ceremonies and broke the news on the PokerGO live stream. “I have such a strong connection to Las Vegas and am honored to be selected as the Master of Ceremonies for what is set to be the most anticipated World Series of Poker tournament ever,” Vaughn said. “Poker has long been one of my favorite sports, so to be a part of something as historic as the WSOP finally moving to the Strip is an absolute dream. Vegas baby, Vegas!” It will be the shortest turnaround time between series in recent history with the opening weekend of the 2022 series kicking off just a little over six months after the end of the current one. The 2022 WSOP schedule of events is expected to be announced in January.
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