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Found 877 results

  1. You probably think Darth Vader says “Luke, I am your father”. He doesn’t. You probably think Queen's ‘We are the Champions’ ends with an emphatic “...of the WORLD!”. It doesn’t. And you probably think that Chris 'Moorman1' Moorman - a fixture in every ‘greatest online tournament player ever’ debate - has won at least one PokerStars Championship of Online Poker title during a career that’s seen him win 30 PocketFives Triple Crowns (the most ever), top the global rankings 13 times (often for months at a time), and rack up $18.6 million in cashes (fifth all-time). He hadn’t...until April. The legendary Brit finally clinched his first COOP title during the 2021 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker, when he took down a $1,050 buy-in Six Max event for $78,539. “It was nice to finally get the victory,” Moorman admits. When he finally had all the chips in front of him, Moorman texted a friend: ‘Not bad for an old guy’. “It was an ‘I’ve still got it’ kind of thing,” he says. “When I first started playing everyone was older than me. Now I’m one of the oldest.” Yet not a lot has changed for Moorman since he first started playing freerolls as a student in his late teens. Sure, he’s won millions, written two successful books, and earned the respect and admiration of poker players around the world, but he still loves to play as much as he ever did. “When I saw the PocketFives #1 Number One competition, a lot of those players don’t play anymore, especially not online,” he says. “Someone asked me how long I’d been playing the other day and when I realised it was 15 years, it was kind of crazy. I still love it. I only started playing to have fun with my friends. To think I’ve made a career out of it is pretty cool.” At 35, Moorman is now a poker veteran. But it isn’t a fluke that he - like athletes LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo - can remain elite well into his thirties. “Strategies change and you have to adapt,” he says. “Everyone is going to have downswings and periods where they don’t feel good about their game. I often ask people to analyse my databases to see what I’m doing wrong.” Even if you’ve enjoyed the kind of success Moorman has, he believes you always need to look at what you can improve. “You have to be humble and never think you’ve solved anything,” he says. “You just try and get better because everyone else is. You need to work in order to keep up.” How does Moorman keep up? He watches training videos and buys courses. “I see what people are doing and try to develop my strategies against it,” he says. “I don’t play the high rollers with the same 100 players firing multiple bullets. Most of the tournaments I play have 500 runners or more, so I don’t really come up against the same opponents very often. I’m not really trying to play GTO perfectly. I try to develop strategies which counteract that.” *** These days Moorman splits his time between the USA and Mexico, where he bought a house late last year so he could play on non-US sites. “I went down for SCOOP by myself to begin with,” he says. “Then a few friends came for the final weekend.” It seems bizarre that Moorman--who has won an astounding 429 tournaments during his 15-year career--had never picked up one of PokerStars’ most prestigious trophies. After all, he’s won just about everything else, from major online titles to a World Series of Poker bracelet (2017) and World Poker Tour title (2014). But he went into SCOOP feeling like this was his year. “Before the series, my wife dreamt I was going to win one,” he says. During the quarantine period, Moorman played more online poker than he had over the past five years. “I felt really good about my game and had decent results coming in,” he says. “My confidence was high, which is always a good thing heading into a series as there are always going to be ups and downs.” He admits the grind was testing at times, mainly because he was on his own. “You can easily lose for multiple days in a row so it can be hard to keep your morale up,” he says. “When I finished playing, I’d cycle around the neighbourhood, grab dinner, get some fresh air, then come back the next day and try again.” Just a few days after his maiden title, Moorman found himself deep in yet another big SCOOP event, the $1,050 Super Tuesday. After winning a big flip with 15 left, he felt like he was freerolling, but had a tough position at the table with the big stacks on his left. “I wasn’t getting any cards, so I just tried to ladder up,” he says. He did just that, finishing third for $100,518, even more than his victory prize. “Normally when you finish third you think you could have done something differently, but on that occasion, I really felt like I did everything I could and I just wasn’t meant to win,” he says. “It definitely felt good to get an even bigger score right after. After that I was guaranteed to have a winning series no matter what.” Coincidentally, both Moorman’s SCOOP title and his WSOP bracelet have come in Six Max events. He also had a second at the WSOP in a Six Max tournament for $716K in 2011. He admits they’re his favorite format to play. “Either I play Six Max really well, or I play nine-handed tournaments not so well,” he jokes. Now he has his heart set on capturing a second WSOP bracelet. “I’ll be in Vegas for the WSOP.com events, then Mexico for the GGPoker series,” he says. “I’m always excited for the WSOP. I love crazy events with big fields. It’s a real buzz.”
  2. Nearly two weeks after the World Series of Poker announced plans for the 2021 WSOP Online events on WSOP.com, more details have been released about what international players have to look forward to including a pair of WSOP Super Circuit series and 66 total WSOP bracelets across two online poker platforms. The 33 WSOP Online bracelet events held on WSOP.com between July 1 and August 1 will be mirrored by an additional 33 bracelet events on GGPoker beginning on August 1 and running through September 12. In 2020, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, WSOP officials held 31 events on WSOP.com for players in the United States and another 54 on GGPoker for international players. "The bar has been set with last year’s record-breaking series, but we’re hoping to raise it even higher this year," said Gregory Chochon, Director of the WSOP. "One of our goals is to provide as many people the chance to become champions as possible. However, we know not everyone can or is comfortable traveling yet, so continuing a robust online bracelet offering in 2021 is a must." The 2020 WSOP Online Main Event on GGPoker had a $5,000 buy-in and a $20,000,000 guarantee which was easily surpassed after 5,802 pushed the total prize pool to $27,559,500, which earned GGPoker and the WSOP a Guinness World Record for the largest online poker tournament prize pool ever. While no details regarding the 2021 WSOP Online Main Event have been released yet, company officials are hinting at going even bigger in their second year. “When GGPoker & WSOP partnered in 2020, we broke world records. Our plans for 2021 are to offer even more to our customers. With massive tournaments, WSOP gold bracelet & rings, and a route into the live WSOP Main Event in November, we hope players will love what we have in store,” said GGPoker Head of Poker Operations Steve Preiss. While players will be waiting for the bracelet events, the WSOP action on GGPoker actually begins on May 1, with the WSOP Super Circuit Online Series. Running for the entire month of May, the series comes with a $100,000,000 guarantee and 18 WSOP Circuit rings will be up for grabs. Along with those 18 Circuit rings which will be won via standard multi-table tournaments, for the first time ever, cash game grinders will have an opportunity to win a piece of WSOP hardware. Two leaderboards, one for No Limit Hold’em and a second for Pot-Limit Omaha/Pot Limit Omaha-5, will run for the duration of the Super Circuit. The top nine players on each leaderboard will be invited to play a single-table tournament with cash prizes for all nine and a WSOP Circuit ring for the winner. The second WSOP Super Circuit series on GGPoker will be the WSOP Winter Online Super Circuit at GGPoker with dates still to be determined. Along with the 66 total bracelet events, players on both platforms will be able to play in WSOP Main Event satellites beginning on August 1. These satellites will award seats to the $10,000 WSOP Main Event scheduled to begin on November 4 in Las Vegas. These satellites will run straight through until October 1. WSOP officials plan to provide more details, including tournament dates and buy-ins, for the live and online schedule, over the coming weeks.
  3. The World Series of Poker’s ESPN era has come to an end and the world's longest running poker tournament has returned to its roots. On Monday, CBS Sports and PokerGO announced a brand new multi-year rights agreement that sees the WSOP leave ESPN, its television home for more than 20 years, and move to the the CBS family beginning in 2021. Beginning with this year's WSOP, CBS Sports Network becomes "the exclusive domestic television home of the WSOP" and will feature 15 hours of the 2021 WSOP Main Event as well as another 36 hours of 18 other bracelet events according to a press release issued by the network. "CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports," said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. "We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from growing media platforms." While the announcement marks the end of the WSOP's partnership with ESPN, which began in 1987 with the first of Johnny Chan's back-to-back titles, it also marks the return of the WSOP to their original broadcast home. In 1973, CBS broadcast an hour-long special as part of their CBS Sports Spectacular which featured highly edited recap-style show of the Main Event final table. In 2019, the WSOP, through PokerGO, partnered with CBS for 25 days of streaming of non-Main Event bracelet events on CBS All Access, the company's streaming product at the time. CBS Sports Network also aired 25 highlights of bracelet events on their network, while the Main Event stayed on ESPN. "Following our past success with PokerGO, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament poker featuring the best players in the world,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. "This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand." CBS All Access was re-branded as Paramount+ earlier this year. The release indicated plans for the WSOP to be part of the Paramount+ product offering. More details, including the potential return of longtime broadcast team Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
  4. It’s mid-December 2020 and a tennis court just north of San Jose, Costa Rica is home to one of the most hotly-contested tennis matches of the year. This isn’t a battle between a couple of former top-ranked tennis pros and the stakes aren’t all that high, but the combatants are going all out for a win. On one side of the court is a 17-year-old spending her Christmas break from school hanging out in the Central American vacation hot spot. Her opponent on this day is her 74-year-old grandfather, a man fortunate enough to be able to spend a few months in Costa Rica hiding from the harsh Canadian winters. He’s not anywhere near the height of his athletic prowess, but that’s not an excuse he’d use to take it easy. Each time he returns the fuzzy yellow ball across the net he does so with a hint of a life lesson in it. Work hard. Treat people with respect. Fight for what you believe in. Anybody who knows this man understands that there is no way he will simply let his granddaughter win a match, a set, or even a single point without earning it. Isai Scheinberg just isn’t built that way. A Private Man Steps Into the Spotlight Spending an afternoon in the Costa Rican sun is the closest that Scheinberg has ever come to thrusting himself into the spotlight. Ten years after poker’s most infamous day, Black Friday, threatened to destroy the company he and his son Mark built, Scheinberg is ready to let the poker world hear from him for the first time. “I valued privacy, but I was not secretive. That’s not the same thing,” Scheinberg says. “I was working hard. I was very busy and I’m not the type of guy to go out and do PR.” Scheinberg launched PYR Software in 2000 to build online poker tournament software in hopes of licensing it to online casinos and sportsbooks that were at the genesis of what would soon become the online gaming industry. Every company he and Mark pitched the product to either didn’t understand or wanted to pay far less than what they thought it was worth. “None of them understood software much, so they couldn’t appreciate we had a terrific game. But then, we had absolutely no experience in online gaming,” Scheinberg admits. Scheinberg was 54 years old at the time and had left a job at IBM to venture out on his own. There wasn’t a chance he was going to let somebody tell him he couldn’t do something. Rather than settling for a partner they didn’t want to work with, the Scheinbergs decided to take the product to market on their own. In 2001, PokerStars.com was born with Isai heading up the software company in Toronto and Mark moving to Costa Rica to run the gaming side of the business. From Day 1, the market responded to PokerStars’ software being so far ahead of any of its competitors. Scheinberg, who loved poker long before the idea of PokerStars ever struck him, had focused a lot of the development on multi-table tournaments. The marketing and tournament schedule followed that lead. The first PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker in 2002 was a nine-tournament series anchored by a $1,050 buy-in event. That might seem small compared to today’s standards, but back then nobody else was even thinking about online poker tournaments the way Scheinberg was. Most poker enthusiasts have a pretty good understanding of what happened over the next few years; the accountant from Tennessee, the 2003 World Series of Poker, and ESPN broadcasts helped launch the company into an entirely different stratosphere that would eventually make PokerStars the world’s largest online poker site. October 2006 shifted the online poker landscape, first in the United States, and then around the world. The U.S. government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. PartyPoker and 888 abandoned the American market-leading some mainstream media outlets to claim that the law represented a complete prohibition of online gaming, including poker, in the United States. Scheinberg wasn’t convinced and PokerStars sought counsel from prominent U.S. lawyers and were told unequivocally that UIGEA did not prohibit games of skill such as poker. PokerStars, which only offered poker and not casino games like PartyPoker and 888 did, took these legal opinions and decided to continue to offer their product to American players. Other poker-only companies followed their lead. The company also initiated lobbying efforts for federal online poker legislation in the United States that would have provided clarity to players, companies, and investors. PokerStars worked with regulators around the world and earned licenses in multiple European jurisdictions and reaped the rewards as poker’s popularity soared around the world. First Trauma, Then Calm An early morning email on April 15, 2011, changed everything yet again. Scheinberg was being told by company lawyers that he was being indicted by the United States Department of Justice and that the company was named as a defendant in a civil suit. A non-native English speaker born in Lithuania, he had to ask what the word “indictment” meant. He quickly learned that the company he spent nearly 10 years building into a monster was in serious jeopardy. “That was very traumatic,” Scheinberg says. Sitting in the Toronto office of PYR Software, Scheinberg took a deep breath, and rather than panic about what his own future might hold, he told his lawyers that his immediate concern wasn’t the indictment. “I said, ‘Look, our priority number one is to pay the players’. We had the money and we wanted to pay. The lawyers told me, ‘You’re crazy. It will take a year or more. That doesn’t happen that way’. But it happened in less than a week,” Scheinberg says. Understanding that the players – his players – would be in a panic, the Scheinbergs wanted to make sure that they understood he was going to take care of them. “One of the first things we did was issue a press release reassuring players that their money is actually safe”, Scheinberg explains. In the ensuing conversations with the DOJ, PokerStars made it clear they wanted to get players paid as soon as possible. Recognizing that this served their interests as well, the DOJ agreed to allow PokerStars to process payments to American players and allowed the company to continue serving players outside of the country. Players weren’t the only ones who had reason to be scared about what Black Friday meant for them. Approximately 1,000 PokerStars employees were working in offices around the world and each had reasons to wonder if they may soon be out of a job. Just as they had reassured players, Isai and Mark did their best to put employees’ minds at ease. “The message to employees was that they are not losing their jobs,” Isai says. In the days and weeks that followed, PokerStars offered any employee whose job was focused on the United States an opportunity to re-train in another area or skill so that they could continue to work for the company if they chose. The trauma of seeing his name in the indictment wasn’t something Scheinberg was willing to let his employees see or feel. Black Friday exposed Full Tilt Poker’s financial malpractice and shined a searing light on the charlatans behind AbsolutePoker/UB. As mainstream media around the world covered the story, they spoke about all three companies as if they were the same. PokerStars soldiered on and Scheinberg is proud to point out that not a single regulator anywhere in the world pulled PokerStars’ license due to the U.S. charges. It soon became quite clear that Full Tilt wasn’t going to be able to pay its U.S. players the way PokerStars had. When Full Tilt’s European license was revoked, the company shut down completely. The millions of players who had money in their Full Tilt accounts were faced with a previously unimaginable scenario; their money was gone forever. That’s when Scheinberg lofted the idea of stepping in to bail out Full Tilt players. He was immediately met with resistance from his advisors who had been in settlement negotiations with the DOJ. “Why don’t you suggest that we buy Full Tilt from the government and pay the players?” Scheinberg asked. The response from the company lawyer: “That’s totally crazy…it’s never happened before.” Scheinberg was aware that the US government was in talks with third parties to sell Full Tilt’s assets. “These buyers didn’t want to fully cover the money to pay the players,” Scheinberg recalls. ”The government was under a lot of pressure from U.S. players and also international players because again, there were hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.” The government eventually accepted Scheinberg’s “crazy” proposal and PokerStars purchased the Full Tilt Poker assets from the U.S. government and made sure that American players with a balance on Full Tilt Poker on Black Friday were paid in full. PokerStars also reinstated Full Tilt’s international operations and paid those players who had lost nearly $200 million when the site closed. Meanwhile, Scheinberg continued to negotiate with U.S. prosecutors for the charges he was facing and was told he could continue to work for PokerStars while those negotiations were ongoing. “I was very upset when people called me a fugitive,” Scheinberg says. “I’ve never been an American citizen or resident and I wasn’t in the U.S. since 1999. I didn’t flee the jurisdiction and I was not hiding.” In 2015, he even held face-to-face meetings over two days in London with the U.S. prosecutors. The meeting resulted in an agreement to drop bank fraud charges from any future plea agreement, but not the gambling charge. [caption id="attachment_634521" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Isai Scheinberg has found a new game to devote this energy to. Chess. (Andrew Barton photo)[/caption] All of this is why what happened in June 2019 came as such a surprise. After traveling around the world, including multiple trips to Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, and the Isle of Man – all countries with extradition agreements with the United States – Scheinberg, who says he always informed local authorities that he was coming, had never worried about running into an issue when abroad. While vacationing in Switzerland with his wife, Scheinberg was detained by Swiss authorities at the request of the DOJ. While he initially planned to oppose extradition, Scheinberg eventually decided to waive the proceedings and travel to the U.S. to resolve the case once and for all. On January 17, 2020, Scheinberg landed at Kennedy airport in New York City where authorities were waiting for him. He was processed at the airport and immediately brought to the court. Scheinberg pled not guilty to all charges and was released on a $1 million bond on the same day and promised not to leave New York City. More than two months later, Scheinberg arrived at a NY courthouse to plead guilty to a single count of operating an illegal gambling business. That plea, which made him the final of the 11 Black Friday defendants to plead guilty, came with a maximum five-year sentence. However, Scheinberg’s lawyers successfully argued that he should not be further punished since the company was operating in the United States on legal advice that said offering poker was not illegal, he had been in contact with the DOJ since 2011, was active with numerous charities around the world, and that the company had paid more $300 million of Full Tilt’s debts. In his ruling, the judge called Scheinberg’s conduct “a mistake” and sentenced him to time served and was immediately released. For more than nine years, Scheinberg felt the weight of the Black Friday charges hanging over his head. He knew they would be resolved one day – one way or the other. Now, he can’t help but see some practicality in the outcome. “For example, when the indictment was pending some banks were reluctant to open an account for me. Because in their mind when it’s not settled, who knows? But when it’s settled, it’s settled,” Scheinberg says. The Gamesman As his granddaughter will undoubtedly attest, Scheinberg has a competitive side that hasn’t slowed down at all. The one-time poker nerd who dreamed of winning a WSOP bracelet long before Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP Main Event, has turned his attention to a game that has recently captured the imagination of an entirely new generation of players the way poker did back in 2003. “Today, I play a lot of chess,” Scheinberg says. “That makes me happy.” While Scheinberg has put in time and energy to become a better player, he also comes by it naturally. His father, Matafia, represented his native Lithuania in the Chess Olympiad in the early 1930s. Scheinberg owns a copy of a book that details the games his father played in those events, including analysis from top grandmasters, and proudly shares it with anybody who shows an interest in the game. Just like poker, Scheinberg isn’t interested just in playing. Scheinberg, along with his son Mark, is one of the key investors in Chess.com and his years of experience running PokerStars makes him an invaluable asset as that company grows. When it came to deciding to put money there, Scheinberg didn’t necessarily look just at the technology or the software, he looked at who was running the company and if they shared his values and ideals for running a business. “The reason we invested and we joined them is because they are very good guys, and they bring the business principles of being transparent, and honest, and they treat customers well,” Scheinberg says. Crediting the much-heralded Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit for sparking an interest in chess in the general public, Scheinberg can’t help but draw parallels between that and what Moneymaker did when his WSOP Main Event win aired on ESPN. Much like he did in the early years of PokerStars, Scheinberg relies on his experiences as a player to influence his ideas for ways to help the company grow. Scheinberg chuckles at the idea of getting back into the world of poker but doesn’t shut down the possibility altogether. The family sold the company to Amaya in June 2014 for $4.9 billion in a transaction that was largely driven by the inability of the company, under their ownership, to gain a gaming license in New Jersey. The company originally had plans to purchase The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel and offer PokerStars to New Jersey residents through that gaming license. Scheinberg says Black Friday was not what created the greatest challenge to PokerStars gaining a license in America. In early conversations with New Jersey regulators, company lawyers asked whether there would be a legal objection to giving PokerStars a license. “The regulators went to the DOJ and they asked, ‘Are you going to have a problem with PokerStars getting the license in New Jersey?’ And the DOJ said no, they would not have a problem. So the regulators came back and told our lawyers, ‘Fine. Of course, we cannot guarantee it, because we will check the company as we did all the other companies,’” Scheinberg says. “That was not a problem as we knew the company had no issues with its operations. However, our competitors raised hell and complained in every direction and they delayed the process. People from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement already had plane tickets to come to the Isle of Man to interview (PokerStars management). And they canceled at the last moment.” Scheinberg says that pressure from those competitors, directed towards both the DGE and Atlantic Club Casino ownership, led to that deal falling apart. Despite having private assurances that there would be no licensing issues for PokerStars, the company found itself facing the same hurdles after striking a deal with a second property, Resorts Casino. “So, this time we didn’t buy (the casino), but we made a deal to offer our poker product with them,” Scheinberg says. “The DGE came at the last moment and they said no. It was unexpected and the announcement from the (DGE) was very unclear. They said they had some conditions.” Scheinberg was told he either had to settle his case or there needed to be “major changes in the company”. It was then that the company’s fortunes shifted again. “And that was the moment when we said, ‘what the hell. we’ll get out of that.’ For the sake of the company, for U.S. players to be able to play on PokerStars, we need to change the ownership. So, it was a combination of feelings, but that was the trigger, that they didn’t let us get a license there,” Scheinberg says. The Scheinbergs had already shooed away Amaya and their ambitious CEO David Baazov once, telling them PokerStars had every intention of launching in New Jersey. With that no longer an option, the two companies entered into negotiations that ultimately led to the family selling the company. The $4.9 billion proceeds didn’t all go to the family, and neither did their share. Long-time PokerStars employees who didn’t have equity in the company say Isai and Mark were both quite generous with them after the sale. For them, it was about taking care of the people who had helped them build PokerStars. “We ran the company all the time that way. Of course, class and grace were the most important thing. We didn’t fire anyone after Black Friday and employees were a big part of the success,” Scheinberg says. “Employees were part of the business. A big part obviously in every company, but in our company, we felt that the employees were an extremely important part.” [caption id="attachment_634527" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Ten years after Black Friday, Isai Scheinberg still carries with him a twinge of regret when it comes to the events of that day. (Andrew Barton photo)[/caption] Seven years after the company was sold, Scheinberg looks back on his time in the poker industry and believes his legacy will be defined by the principles with which he ran the company through good times and bad. “We created a lot of things that helped poker grow and be more respected and more enjoyable and I’m pleased that is the legacy,” Scheinberg says. “And the fact that we paid players and players did not lose their money (on Black Friday) was also very important. I think that commitment to players and doing the right thing by them is the legacy.” Being the owner of another one of poker’s most enduring and endearing brands almost became another pillar in Scheinberg’s story. “Actually, at one time we were offered to buy the Rio Casino, but there was a reaction of ‘We don’t need this. Why would we buy?’ In hindsight, I think it was a mistake. I thought that if we bought Rio, we would own the World Series and make it better,” Scheinberg says. “We probably would do a lot of things to make it very friendly to players. We planned to increase the prize pool. We would make a guaranteed prize pool of $100 million in the Main Event and a lot of things around that. When I was talking to Steve Wynn, and we had a deal with him (in March 2011), we were discussing that and he was very excited and we probably would move WSOP to a better facility.” The relationship between PokerStars and the World Series of Poker since Harrah’s acquired it in 2004, could best be described as a competitive rivalry. Last November, Scheinberg was named one of ten finalists for the Poker Hall of Fame. It was the first time that the WSOP, who control the PHOF, listed Scheinberg as a finalist despite years of lobbying from poker heavyweights, including former Team PokerStars Pro and current Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu. “There were a number of people who were trying to put me (into the Hall of Fame). I never tried to lobby or anything. Harrah’s or Caesar’s were not big friends of ours. We were their competitors, so they were blocking that, but yes, (the nomination) was surprising, but look, the case has settled (and) that’s one thing that probably helped that,” Scheinberg says. He hasn’t been to the WSOP since 1997 and still has a love for poker that he believes could see him sitting at a table inside the Amazon Room at the Rio very soon. Now, with PokerStars and Black Friday clearly in his rear-view mirror, Scheinberg looks back at what he created, his impact on both the game and the industry, and says he has no regrets, with one important exception – the months leading up to Black Friday. “I do wonder if we should have been proactive with discussions with the DOJ, especially in early 2011 after the federal online poker bill didn’t materialize,” Scheinberg says “We could have entered into a direct dialogue with them. That might have prevented Black Friday.” That one lingering thought about what might have been doesn’t consume his thoughts though. Almost seven years after Scheinberg sold the company, PokerStars continues to be the world’s largest online poker operator and that, he says, will also be part of how his time in poker is remembered. Today, Scheinberg is happy to be able to spend time with all three generations of his family, even as one of the youngest is staring him down while serving for match point. “The best part of my life, I have a happy family life. I am happily married for 53 years, I am proud of my sons’ achievements, I have three grandkids, and I love what I do.”   Photos via Andrew Barton
  5. The World Series of Poker has announced the return of the WSOP Online 2021 domestic series featuring 33 gold bracelet events taking place from July 1 through August 1 on WSOP.com. “Poker deserves a big finish to 2021 and we’re looking to heat things up this summer,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director for the WSOP. “We expect to offer great value tournaments as well as comprehensive satellites to qualify for Las Vegas in the fall.” The WSOP Online 2021 series offers events with buy-ins ranging from $333 up to through the $7,777 No Limit Lucky 7’s High Roller on July 25. While the Main Event of the series is the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship which will be held on July 31, it’s the final tournament of the series, the $500 NLHE Grande Finale, that boasts a $1 million guarantee, the largest ever guarantee offered on WSOP.com. The WSOP, known for its creative branding of its tournaments, has broken down the online schedule into a variety of themed weeks. Premiere Week gets things started with the $500 NLHE Big 500 Kick Off on July 1st and also features the time-tested tournaments “Lucky Sevens” $777 NLHE (July 7) and “Crazy Eights” $888 NLHE Event (July 8). That’s followed by Micro Madness, which features a string of four NLHE gold bracelet events with a buy-in of $500 or less. PLO Week is next up in which three of the four featured Pot Limit Omaha events will play out. Finally, Championship Week rolls out the first-ever $1,000 Online PLO Championship (July 26) as well as the $3,200 High Roller Championship (July 27), and the aforementioned $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship. Currently, players located in Nevada and New Jersey will be eligible to register and compete. And as in previous WSOP Online events, players do not need to be residents of those states, they simply need to be geo-located located in its borders to take part. With regards to any speculation that WSOP.com may go live in one of the other U.S. states that have more recently legalized and regulated online poker, such as Pennsylvania or Michigan, the WSOP.com stated that “news about availability of WSOP.com in additional states will be released pending regulatory approval.” Additionally, players outside of the U.S. should be looking forward to an announcement of an international WSOP Online event, similar to that which took place on GGPoker in 2020. The live, in-person 2021 World Series of Poker is currently scheduled to take place from September 30 through November 23 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with a complete schedule that has yet to be announced. WSOP Online 2021 Full Schedule [table id=203 /]
  6. Hosted by Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters, The Fives Poker Podcast runs each week and covers the latest poker news, preview upcoming events, and debate the hottest topics in poker. It's time for another all-new episode of The FIVES Poker Podcast as Lance and Donnie discuss an action-packed week in the world of poker. This week, the guys break down the ups and downs of the epic heads-up match between Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu who battled it out in Round One of the latest edition of High Stakes Duel to the delight of poker fans. Also, the World Series of Poker has announced dates for the return of the live, in-person Las Vegas poker festival for 2021. WSOP also discussed dates for both a domestic online gold bracelet series as well as the return of the World Series of Poker Europe to King's Casino in Rozvadov. All of that and so much more! Listen in! Subscribe to The FIVES and never miss an episode - available everywhere you enjoy your favorite podcasts. Subscribe: Apple Podcasts * Google Podcasts * Stitcher
  7. The World Series of Poker has announced its plans for the return of its live, in-person Las Vegas poker festival for 2021. The series is set to take place from Thursday, September 30 through Tuesday, November 23 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel with the first flight of the $10,000 Main Event kicking off on Thursday, November 4. “This year, more than ever, we embrace our role at the WSOP to deliver memorable experiences and bring this community of poker lovers back together,” said Ty Stweart, WSOP Executive Director. While a complete schedule was not released with the announcement, the opening weekend is expected to feature a special charity event to benefit frontline health workers, a $25,000 HORSE event, and a $5 million guaranteed No Limit Hold'em tournament dubbed “The Reunion.” The $10,000 Main Event will have four starting flights - one per day from November 4-7. Day 2 for the first two flights will be on Monday, November 8, and the final two flights will reconvene for Day 2 on Tuesday, November 9. The entire field will play together for the first time on November 10 and play down to a winner, who will be crowned on November 17. All of the laid-out dates for the series are subject to change and will hinge on both state and regulatory approvals. The series will also be following any and all specific COVID-19 safety protocols, such as social distancing and capacity limits, that may be in place. “In 2021, the theme is, get vaccinated and get back to Vegas,” Stewart said. WSOP Online In addition to the return of the live festival, 2020's expanded WSOP Online series is set to return in 2021, with the first gold bracelet event taking place on WSOP.com in the U.S. on Thursday, July 1. The full schedule of domestic online gold bracelet events will be released on April 15, however, it is confirmed that the series will wrap up with a $1,000 Online Championship Event. It is also expected that there will be a 2021 WSOP Online international gold bracelet series, as there was in 2020, that will be held on GGPoker. WSOP Europe King’s Casino in Rozvadov is also preparing for the return of the World Series of Poker Europe which is set to take place from Friday, November 19 through Tuesday, December 8. “We hope and anticipate travel restrictions will ease by the fall,” said Stewart. “It’s important to us that we have an excelled tournament schedule available to our European players.” The series looks to have 15 live gold bracelet events, including a €10,000 buy-in WSOPE Main Event and a €50,000 High Roller. Like the fall WSOP series, the start of WSOPE is also subject to regulatory approval and COVID protocols.
  8. No, some of the best poker players in the world were not packed into the tables at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas chasing down World Series of Poker Circuit rings over the last two weeks. Players in Nevada and New Jersey were, in fact, playing on WSOP.com in the Planet Hollywood Circuit events with 12 rings on the line and the list of winners includes more than a handful of familiar faces including a pair of former #1-ranked online poker players. The 12-event series had a total guarantee of $1.125 million and all 12 tournaments easily cleared their individual guarantee to push the total prize pools to $1,791,499. Jared Jaffee Opens With a Win Jared Jaffee, who won his first WSOP Circuit ring at The Bicycle Club in Los Angeles in 2017, added another ring to his collection by outlasting 416 other entries in Event #1 ($250 NL Freezeout). Along with the win, Jaffee, playing under the screen name 'darrensrabbi', earned $23,804.44. Runner-up 'DaSurrealist' earned $13,359.63 while Zach 'ThePepster5' Epstein took third for $8,161.52. Ari Engel Breaks into Double Digits Ari Engel, who held the #1 spot on the PocketFives Rankings for five weeks in late 2006, became just the fourth player to win 10 WSOP Circuit rings when he bested the 151-entry field in Event #3 ($500 Big PLO $500). Engel banked $16,350.13 for the win. Daniel 'Bunzer07' Jordan, who won the WSOP Circuit Online $1,000 Six Max High Roller event back in January for his first career ring, fell one spot short of grabbing his second and had to settle for a $12,244 score. Seth 'weliketoprty' Anirudh finished in third for $9,186.87. Steve Gross Grabs First Ring Engel wasn't the only former #1 PocketFiver who grabbed some hardware. Steve Gross, who had four different reigns at the top for 55 total weeks, beat 469 other runners in Event #5 ($525 NL Monster Stack) for a $40,185 score and his first career Circuit ring. Michael 'miw201x' Wang finished one spot shy of the ring and added $29,727.50 to his bankroll. Jeff 'YanCanCook' Yanchek took third for $21,925.50. Daniel Buzgon Does Double Duty Daniel Buzgon, the #9-ranked online poker in the United States, emerged from the series with two rings. His first came in Event #8 ($300 NL Knockout Freezeout) where he worked his way through 280 other entries to win $14,896.92. Two days later, he beat 261 players in Event #10 ($500 NL BIG 500 8-Max) for a $24,840.57 score. The New Jersey resident now has six career Circuit rings with the last four all coming in the online arena. Derek Sudell Ships Main Event Title Derek 'rickyguan' Sudell made his way through 721 other entries in Event #12 ($525 Main Event) only to be left going heads-up against AJ 'jnja1719' Basselini-Truisi, the winner of the Main Event in the WSOP Circuit Super Series in January. There, Basselini-Truisi beat 892 other entries to capture his first career ring. This time however, the Howell, New Jersey resident had to settle for runner-up status. Sudell eliminated him in second place and earned the Connecticut native a career-best $57,623.10 score. Basselini-Truisi walked away with $42,657. James 'muskrrr' Moore wound up in third place and earned $31,450.50. WSOP.com Planet Hollywood Circuit Winners List [table id=179 /] The next WSOP Online Circuit series is the Silver Legacy Circuit which runs March 19 - 30 and offers 12 ring events.
  9. It’s not often that one gets a second shot at greatness. Very few have been afforded that opportunity when it comes to becoming the World Series of Poker Main Event champion. So when Damian Salas, who just three years ago finished in seventh place at the WSOP Main Event, found himself in a position to win the championship bracelet that eluded him in 2017, he leaned into his passion for the game and his desire to be known as one of the very best finally reach his championship goal. “Taking into account my experience in 2017, I didn’t see it as a rematch, I took it as a new opportunity granted by this beautiful mind sport so that I could win the World Championship,” said Salas. “I felt great and highly motivated. I’ve worked with tons of persistence during these last eight or nine years of my professional career, so I can give my very best in times of extreme pressure. I felt like I could make it and that was a determining factor to becoming the champion.” It may be that Salas, the Argentinian lawyer turned poker pro, made a name for himself in poker with his seventh-place finish 2017 Main Event when he won $1.425 million but as he mentioned, it was by no means the start of his poker journey. Salas has made the trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker for over a decade and prior to his first Main Event, final table appearance had posted a string of impressive results on the biggest poker tours in Latin America including the LAPT and BSOP. If Salas’ journey had essentially ended with his seven-figure score on ESPN it would be a poker success story by nearly every metric. However, for Salas, a few minutes in the spotlight was not what he was after. It still isn’t. “I don’t play for the money, that’s not my goal. It’s not what drives me,” Salas said. “It is great, taking those results into account, as it is paramount to meeting other ambitions in my life. But my basic motivation is to become better and better every day and remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” “As I’ve mentioned many times before, I don’t think winning [the Main Event] makes me the best player in the world, but I am worthy of the achievement since I believe I could compete for many years now with the world-class poker elite. That’s an honor I’ve earned, and it is my greatest challenge and motivation day in and day out - to remain a member of the world-class poker elite.” To get to where he is, Salas has embraced the grind. With live poker events essentially put on hold in 2020, Salas dove into online poker and quickly became the #1-ranked player in his native Argentina. He broke through into the worldwide top-20 with the help of a pair of impressive scores in some of the year’s biggest tournament series. First, he took third place in the first-ever WPT World Championship Main Event on partypoker which came with an $814,664 payday. Then he took home a PokerStars EPT Online title with a victory in Event #20 ($1,050 NLHE) for another $117,475. The success was paving the way to a run in the WSOP Main Event. “Honestly, I was having a great year,” he said. “So I wasn’t surprised by the [WSOP win] because I felt in great shape, I was really prepared. Obviously, it was incredible and even spectacular to close the year this way.” The path to the WSOP Main Event title was unlike any in years past. First Salas has to navigate the field of online entrants on GGPoker, then travel to the Czech Republic to play down the final table at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, and finally make his way to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to compete against Joseph Hebert, the winner of the domestic leg of the WSOP Main Event, in a for-broadcast heads-up match. “I can say that the online elements against international players at GGPoker were impressive. The poker world’s elite played in that tournament and I had to face them all,” he said, looking back on the tournament as a whole. “It was highly difficult. The clash was really hard from the beginning.” When he made the live final table he was third in chips but one of the toughest challenges awaited. Brazil’s Brunno Botteon, the current #1-ranked player in the world, held the chip lead and was also having a career year. “At the final table were at least five elite representatives of poker including Bruno Botteon, whose quality is extraordinary. And, well, the confrontation demanded my very best,” he said. “I was really inspired at the final table, where I took certain creative lines which I could capitalize in my favor. In the end, while I believe I also benefited from some good cards and good luck, I think those creative hands were responsible for my success.” Salas walked away with the win after defeating Botteon heads-up, which brought him a new career-high score of $1.55 million. It also put him in line to battle heads up for the championship bracelet. “Then came the heads up with Joseph [Hebert]. Either one of us could have won, really,” Salas said. But even after losing some key pots and being on the brink of finishing in second, Salas fought back. “I think I played with discipline, with concentration, with metered quantities of matured aggressiveness that was very efficient,” he said. “It is a great privilege because I understand I was very lucky. However, I also know I have done all I could so that I could meet my goal and that fills me with joy.” In the aftermath of reaching his goal, one might expect Salas to take some time off, perhaps enjoy a few of the finer things with his bonus $1 million payday he received for winning the bracelet. While some new doors are opening for the new World Champion, Salas insists that the main goal of being elite never stops. “Being totally honest, my daily routine has not changed much. As I always say, I’m not driven by money. There is another motivation, that’s to belong to the world elite. Added to the fact that I truly enjoy what I do and I do love playing poker, so my routine remains practically the same…I’m the World Champion, and that’s great, but understanding I’m the same person I was before the tournament.”
  10. The poker world might not like the idea, but Damian Salas will have no problem calling himself the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event champion. The 45-year-old Argentinian beat Joseph Hebert in the heads up finale of the 2020 WSOP Main Event on Sunday night at the Rio Hotel & Casino to take home $1 million, the bracelet and the title of WSOP Main Event champ. The $1 million is in addition to the $1,550,969 Salas earned for winning the international leg at King's Casino in mid-December. Hebert, who earned $1,553,256 for winning the U.S. leg of the event, earned no additional prize money for finishing as the runner-up. “Joseph was a very hard opponent, and he played really well. In a few instances, he was about to win, it was a real fight and he never slowed down,” Salas said. “Going into the championship, I felt all the energy and support from my family and friends in Argentina tonight, and that helped me.” Both players started the heads up match with 500,000 chips and levels were 20 minutes long. Over the course of nearly six hours and 173 hands of play, both players took turns holding the chip lead with Salas being down 9-1 in chips before clawing his way back to win. After the third chip lead change, Hebert seemed to have Salas cornered. Down 9-1 in chips after hand #82, Salas doubled with [poker card="ad"][poker card="2c"] against Hebert's [poker card="kd"][poker card="5h"]. He doubled again on hand #101 and then took the lead on hand #136. Hebert was down 3-1 in chips before taking a slight lead after doubling through Salas on hand #153. Hebert increased that lead to as much as 3-1 before running [poker card="as"][poker card="8d"] into Salas' [poker card="ah"][poker card="td"] with only 20 big blinds in play on hand #170. Salas won that hand to hold his own 3-1 chip lead and just three hands later, finished Hebert off. With blinds of 25,000/50,000, Hebert jammed for 390,000 with [poker card="ad"][poker card="qs"] and Salas called with [poker card="kd"][poker card="js"]. The [poker card="ks"][poker card="8s"][poker card="5c"] flop moved Salas in front and Hebert could only watch as the [poker card="5d"] turn and [poker card="kc"] river completed the board to give Salas the title. Salas is no stranger to WSOP Main Event success. In 2017, he finished in seventh place and won $1,425,000. The heads up match was the culmination of the WSOP decision to host a hybrid online-live Main Event on GGPoker and WSOP.com after hosting a "Main Event" on GGPoker as part of the 2020 WSOP Online. In December, each site hosted a $10,000 buy-in online event which played down to a final table of nine. The final tablists from each site met in a live setting to play down to just one player. Each of the two winners then met in Las Vegas to play for the right to be called Main Event champion. The heads-up finale was originally scheduled to take place December 30, but had to be delayed until Sunday after Salas was denied entry to the United States due to his recent travel activity and COVID-19 protocols.
  11. When the United States leg of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event reached the final table two weeks ago, Louisiana native Joseph Hebert was the chip leader. Having two weeks to prepare for the biggest moment of his poker career, Hebert admitted that the nerves got to him as he took his seat at the Rio on Monday night. "The pressure was overwhelming for sure. When I sat down I was uncomfortable for sure," Hebert said. Hebert didn't break under the pressure though and late Monday night he was the last player standing and was $1.5 million richer because of it. The day began with news that Upeshka De Silva had failed a COVID test and was disqualified from the final table and awarded a ninth place finish. That left just eight players vying for the $1.5 million first place prize and the opportunity to play International leg winner Damian Salas for the bracelet and additional $1 million in prize money. Gershon Distenfeld started the final table with the third smallest stack but lasted just six hands before being eliminated. Ron Jenkins raised to 375,000 from middle position with [poker card="qd"][poker card="qs"] before Distenfeld shoved for 1,430,000 from the cutoff with [poker card="kc"][poker card="jc"]. Jenkins called and sweated the [poker card="9h"][poker card="3s"][poker card="2h"][poker card="th"][poker card="5h"] runout to eliminate Distenfeld in eighth place. Distenfeld plans to donate his $125,885 winnings to charity. Seven-handed play went on for another 55 hands of play before the next elimination occurred. With blinds of 125,000/250,000, Shawn Stroke shoved his last 975,000 from TG+1 with [poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"], from his immediate left, Harrison Dobin moved all in over the top for 4,200,000 with [poker card="ah"][poker card="ks"], and Jenkins called all in for 3,280,000 with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"]. The [poker card="td"][poker card="2d"][poker card="2s"] flop kept Jenkins in front and neither the [poker card="th"] turn or [j] river changed anything and Stroke was eliminated in seventh. Down to just four big blinds, Dobin only got to see two more hands. From the button, Hebert raised to 500,000 with [poker card="kh"][poker card="2d"] and Dobin called off his last 750,000 from the big blind with [poker card="5d"][poker card="3h"]. The [poker card="kc"][poker card="9c"][poker card="2h"] flop left Dobin in dire straits before the [poker card="qc"] river sealed his fate. The [poker card="9s"] completed the board to send Dobin out in sixth. Hebert was responsible for the next elimination 11 hands later in a blind vs. blind situation. Tony Yuan moved all in for 2,830,000 from the small blind with [poker card="ah"][poker card="th"] and Hebert called with [poker card="4d"][poker card="4h"]. Yuan found no relief on the [poker card="5h"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"] flop and could only collect his things as the [poker card="7d"] turn and [poker card="9h"] river left Hebert to rake in the pot and bust Yuan in fifth place. Jenkins went back to work eliminating opponents 19 hands later. Action folded to Jenkins in the small blind and he moved all in with [poker card="as"][poker card="jd"] and Ryan Hagerty called all in from the big blind with [poker card="ah"][poker card="8d"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="8s"][poker card="2h"] flop gave both players a pair but left Jenkins in front. Neither the turn or river card saved Hagerty from being eliminated in fourth place. Six hands later, the tournament entered the heads-up portion of play after Hebert sent another player to the rail. Hebert opened to 600,000 from the button with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"] and Michael Cannon responded by moving all in from the small blind for 4,800,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="qd"] and Hebert snap-called. Hebert was well in front and stayed there as the [poker card="ts"][poker card="6s"][poker card="5d"] didn't gave Cannon any real extra outs and he was eliminated in third. Hebert held a 2-1 chip lead when heads-up play began and it took just one single hand for him toe garner all of the chips in play. From the button, Hebert raised to 700,000 with [poker card="ac"][poker card="qs"] before Jenkins raised to 2,300,000 with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qd"]. Hebert clicked back all in and Jenkins called with his tournament life on the line. The [poker card="ad"][poker card="kd"][poker card="7c"] flop gave Hebert top pair and left Jenkins hoping for running straight or flush cards or the case queen. The [poker card="4h"] turn meant only one card in the deck could save Jenkins and the [poker card="8c"] river was not it. Hebert eliminated Jenkins in second place and banked the $1,553,256 score while Jenkins had to settle for runner-up status and $1,002,340. Hebert now waits for Salas, winner of the international leg of the tournament, to arrive from Argentina to play him heads-up for the bracelet and an additional $1 million. Salas was apparently denied entry to the United States this week after traveling to Europe in the last 15 days. Hebert plans on spending the next few days learning as much as he can about the former November Niner in preparation for their match. "I really don't much about him. I need to read up on him a little bit more. I was trying to focus on this final table first," Hebert said. "I'm super excited and I can't wait to face him." The finale is expected to be played next Sunday. Final Table Payouts Joseph Hebert - $1,553,256 Ron Jenkins - $1,002,340 Michael Cannon - $529,258 Ryan Hagerty - $387,130 Tony Yuan - $286,963 Harrison Dobin - $215,222 Shawn Stroke - $163,786 Gershon Distenfeld - $125,885 Upeshka De Silva - $98,813
  12. When the World Series of Poker announced that they would be crowning an official Main Event champion in 2020 with a hybrid online-live $10,000 buy-in tournament it was clear that the logistics of making that happen smoothly in the current state of the pandemic would be a challenge. Some of those very challenges presented themselves just hours before the start of the domestic WSOP Main Event Final Table on Monday when it was reported that three-time WSOP bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva has been disqualified from the Main Event due to COVID-19 protocols. De Silva Disqualified Late Sunday night, poker pundit Joey Ingram broke the news that Upeshka De Silva, who was then sitting eighth in chips headed into the WSOP Main Event Final Table, had been disqualified due to testing positive for COVID-19. De Silva has since laid out his story in a series of Tweets that started with him having “slight allergies” on December 15 and 16. After noticing that he’d lost his sense of smell, De Silva said he took a test on December 20 in which he tested positive for COVID-19. After alerting WSOP officials, he was told to still show up to the official test on December 27. The day before, on December 26, De Silva says he tested negative on a nasal swab test. However, ultimately, De Silva tested positive on the official mouth swab test that took place at the Rio on December 27. According to the rules laid out by the WSOP prior to the tournament, De Silva will be regulated to ninth place and collect the $98,813 payday. The news comes as a hit to the Main Event as De Silva is one of the final table's most well-known players. A three-time bracelet winner, De Silva has earned more than $1.6 million in WSOP events in nearly a decade of attending the series. Salas Denied Entry Just hours after the story on De Silva broke, the WSOP’s plans took another detour as Codigo Poker reported that Damian Salas, winner of the international leg of the 2020 WSOP Main Event, was denied entry into the United States because he had traveled to Europe within the past 15 days.   Salas was due to be in Las Vegas to take on the winner of the U.S.-based Main Event on December 30 in a filmed for television million-dollar added heads-up battle that will determine the official winner of the Main Event. It appears that production will simply hold until Salas is able to enter the United States and is now expected to play out on Sunday, January 3. The World Series of Poker has yet to comment on either situation at the time this story was posted.
  13. There’s not a single year-end list that won’t be heavily influenced by the pandemic, and this one is no different. Nearly every industry faced overwhelming challenges in the face of COVID-19, the same was true for poker. As live poker events took a backseat to an online poker surge, some of this year’s brightest rising stars had career-making moments take place while playing online in the strangest of times. While there were plenty of poker players (and personalities) who succeeded in continuing their poker pursuits in 2020, these are our five Rising Stars who took what this year gave them and used it to step into the spotlight. Brunno 'bbotteon' Botteon Some in South America knew what Brazilian poker powerhouse Brunno Botteon had to offer, but after a year where Botteon seemingly never cooled off, now the whole poker world knows how great he really is. In 2020, no matter the online series, no matter the stakes, Botteon found a way to thrive. At the end of 2019, Botteon could regularly be seen playing mid-stakes, with the occasional high roller mixed in. That all began to change at the very start of 2020. In early January, on the same day at the same time, he finished as the runner-up in the PokerStars Winter Series $530 Main Event for $196,908 and third place in the Winter Series $5,200 Main Event for another $265,463. The hot start to his year set him up to make deep runs in many of the marquee series that made the move online when forced to postpone their live events. During the World Series of Poker Online events on GGPoker, Botteon found himself in the mix for a bracelet in some of the most prestigious events of the series. After he finished as the runner-up in Event #67 ($500 NLHE) for $41,855, Botteon made another final table in the $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship. He ended up finishing in sixth for $388,837 for what was, at the time, a career-high cash. He bested that just days later when he made it to the finals of the WSOP $25,000 Heads Up Championship. He finished in second place, just behind German superstar Fedor Holz, for a new career-high score of $622,300. Botteon then turned his attention to the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker where he picked up his second career title in Event #36-H ($2,100 NLHE Midweek Freeze) for $80,642. He also finished as the runner-up in Event #48-H ($5,200 8-Max PKO) for another $95,458. By this time, Botteon had soared in the rankings and was sitting as the #3-ranked player in the world and was regularly competing and cashing in the biggest buy-in tournaments online. However, as much as Botteon had already achieved in 2020, he decided to save the best for last. Botteon weaved his way through the international leg of the 2020 World Series of Poker hybrid Main Event, taking the chip lead into the live final table. The Brazilian made his way to Rozvadov where, in the end, he finished in second place to Damian Salas, but locked up his first career seven-figure score of $1,062,723. It was the third time in 2020 that Botteon set himself a new career-high cash and, in total, in his first WSOP experience, Botteon earned more than $2.16 million. Sitting with more than $5.2 million in lifetime online earnings (excluding his WSOP Main Event haul) Botteon’s tenacity at the tables has helped him into online poker history as one of the elite few who has reached the top of the worldwide rankings. On December 12, Botteon finally became the #1-ranked player in the world, capping off an incredible year for one of 2020’s biggest breakout stars. Artur ‘marathur1’ Martirosyan Also known by his screen name ‘marathur1’, Russia’s Artur Martirosyan took his career to the next level in 2020 after capturing multiple titles and big-time cashes. During the Poker Masters Online series in April, Martirosyan narrowly missed out on winning the Purple Jacket after cashing in nine of the 30 high roller event events for a total profit of $551,674. Just weeks later Martirosyan’s heater extended into the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker where he took down Event #17 ($10,300 NLHE 8-Max High Roller) for over $271,000. Days later he grabbed his second title of the series in Event #19 ($5,200 NLHE Midweek Freeze) to add another $157,426 to his ever-expanding bankroll. In June, he was back dominating another Poker Central series when Martirosyan took a series victory in the Super High Roller Bowl Online Series. He made six final tables, eight cashes overall, over the series' 27 events and he earned just under $1.8 million for his efforts. He wasn't done. After a deep run in the World Poker Tour World Online Championships Main Event, he took down the WPT Mini Super High Roller for $239,500 which led to the Russian being named player of the series and winning an additional $50,000 for topping the leaderboard. Landon Tice When you make the leap from online micro-stakes to playing in some of the biggest live games Las Vegas has to offer in a matter of just a couple of years, people are going to take notice. That is exactly what 21-year old Landon Tice has done and his story, and talent, brought youthful energy and excitement to poker 2020. For those that follow poker closely it was hard not to encounter Tice in some form or another, from his on-stream appearances with Joey Ingram to guest co-hosting the Solve For Why podcast with Matt Berkey and Christian Soto, Tice took little time letting his personality shine in the poker media. At the same time, Tice's poker game has reportedly been taken under the wing of the likes of Nick Schulman, Andrew Lichtenberger, and Berkey among others. Tice's Las Vegas cash game exploits at the higher limits were recounted and analyzed on podcasts and social media. At the same time, he quickly proved that his talent translated to the tournament scene as well. Tice took down one of the few major live tournaments to take place this year, besting a field of 1,123 entries in the 2020 MSPT Venetian Main Event for a $201,529 first-place payday. And if the World Series of Poker is able to be run in its traditional form in 2021, one should expect to see a lot more of Landon Tice in the chip counts. Ryan Depaulo When it comes to seizing the spotlight in 2020, perhaps no one did it better than Ryan Depaulo. With his star already on the rise from his popular YouTube channel Ryan Depaulo: Degenerate Gambler, the New York pro successfully pulled off one of the most improbable WSOP gold bracelet victories of the year. In order to play WSOP Online Event #13 ($500 No Limit Hold’em, The Big 500), Depaulo drove his car to a Whole Foods parking lot in New Jersey in order to “borrow” a little internet. From the front seat of his car, Depaulo played all night and reached the final table. When he got there, he dominated. Depaulo eliminated six of his final eight opponents and grabbed the gold bracelet and a $159,563 score as the sun rose over the hood of his car. https://twitter.com/depaulo_ryan/status/1282600527839334400?s=20 After he locked up the win, Depaulo, stunned, jumped out of his car and as the Whole Foods employees were coming in to start their morning shift he screamed out loud “I’m a Legend!” He may not yet be a full-blown poker legend yet but if he continues to pull off insane feats like this one he might just be on his way to becoming one. Jeff Platt It would be fair to say that poker commentator Jeff Platt could have, and rightfully should have, been named a rising star a year ago. Maybe he was and if so, it would have been true. But in 2020, Platt found the opportunity to level up in poker once again by becoming one of the premier faces and voices of some of this year’s most-watched poker streams on Twitch. If Nick Schulman is the current GOAT when it comes to poker commentary, then Platt is the People’s Champion. Platt seemed to be everywhere he was needed in 2020. From grabbing a glass of wine and anchoring the WSOP pre-final table broadcast throughout the summer, to holding down the GGPoker Twitch stream during the Polk-Negreanu challenge, you could count on Platt to be a consummate pro juggling talking thru the action with indulging the chat. With so many events taking place online this year, plenty of content creators have taken a stab in the commentary booth, with varying degrees of success. But it’s Platt’s professionalism that will likely put him in line for more and more work in the poker industry for years and years to come.
  14. Making the trip from Argentina to the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event international live final table at King's Casino in the Czech Republic was well worth it for Damian Salas. The 45-year-old, who also made the final table of the 2017 WSOP Main Event, defeated Brunno Botteon, the #1-ranked online poker player in the world, heads-up to win $1.5 million and will now travel to Las Vegas to play the winner of the American final table live for another $1 million. The final table began eight-handed after China's Peiyuan 'fish3098' Sun not to travel to Rozvadov due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took just 45 minutes for the Salas to turn his aggression into an increased chip stack with the elimination of Hannes Speiser. Salas was the initial aggressor, raising to 425,000 from early position before Speiser, who started the final table with the fifth best stack, responded by moving all in for 1,925,000. Salas called and showed [poker card="th"][poker card="ts"] while Speiser was in trouble with [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"]. The board ran out [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"][poker card="jh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6s"] to eliminate Speiser in eighth place. Salas continued to accumulate and 30 minutes later, sent another player home. Stoyan Obreshkov raised to 900,000 from the cutoff and Salas re-raised to 1,750,000 and Obreshkov called all in. Salas showed [poker card="as"][poker card="tc"] which was the worst case scenario for Obreshkov who tabled [poker card="ks"][poker card="th"]. The [poker card="td"][poker card="9d"][poker card="7d"] flop changed nothing for Obreshkov and all he could do was sweat the [poker card="7s"] turn and [poker card="as"] river to seal his fate with a seventh place result. That pot moved Salas into striking distance of Brunno Botteon for the first time since the final table began. A battle of the blinds just 15 minutes later between Dominykas Mikolaitis and Manuel Ruivo ended things for one of them. From the small blind, Ruivo moved all in and Mikolaitis called and showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"] while Ruivo was ahead with [poker card="3c"][poker card="3h"]. Ruivo improved to bottom set on the [poker card="9c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3d"] flop. The [poker card="7s"] turn ended Mikolaitis' running clubs dream. The [poker card="4c"] completed the board to officially eliminate Mikolaitis in sixth. Ruivo found another victim but it wasn't until nearly two hours later. The Portugal native raised from the button to 600,000 and Marco Streda shoved from the small blind for somewhere north of 2,500,000. Ruivo called and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"] while Streda was in bad shape with [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"]. The board ran out [poker card="jc"][poker card="8c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4s"] to eliminate Streda. Thanks to a 30-minute dinner break and a regularly scheduled 15-minute break, the next elimination didn't happen until nearly one hour and 45 minutes after Streda hit the rail. Ramon Miquel Munoz was down to approximately 800,000 and moved all in from UTG. Botteon followed that by moving all in, forcing the rest of the table to fold. Munoz had life with [poker card="as"][poker card="6d"] while Botteon showed [poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"]. Munoz' tournament life was all but snuffed out on the [poker card="kc"][poker card="th"][poker card="3h"] flop. The [poker card="ks"] turn made a comeback impossible and the [poker card="ad"] river made Munoz' fourth place finish official. Three-handed play last just about an hour before Salas sent the tournament to the heads-up portion. Botteon folded his button, Salas completed from the small blind and then called when Ruivo raised to 1,500,000 in the big blind. After the [poker card="9c"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2d"] flop, Salas check-raised to 5,000,000. Ruivo moved all in for not much more and Salas called. Ruivo showed [poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] for top two pair while Salas tabled [poker card="tc"][poker card="7c"] for a flush draw. Salas added a straight draw on the [poker card="8s"] turn and then completed his flush draw on the [poker card="5c"] river to bust Ruivo in second. Heads-up play began with Salas holding nearly two-thirds of the chips in play. Over a full hour of play between Botteon and Salas, the Brazilian only managed to briefly take over the chip lead before Salas regained it and eliminated Botteon. On the final hand, Botteon completed from the small blind and Salas checked to see a flop of [poker card="kc"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2h"]. Both players checked to see the [poker card="6h"] turn card. Botteon check-raised to 2,800,000 and Salas called. The [poker card="8c"] completed the board and Botteon moved all in and Salas tank-called. Botteon showed [poker card="7h"][poker card="3h"] for a missed flush draw while Salas tabled [poker card="kd"][poker card="8h"] for top two pair to eliminate Botteon in second place. The win means Salas will be flying to Las Vegas right after Christmas to play the eventual winner of the U.S. leg of the 2020 WSOP Main Event for the $1 million prize. Final Table Payouts Damian Salas - $1,550,969 Bruno Botteon - $1,062,723 Manuel Ruivo - $728,177 Ramon Miquel Munoz - $498,947 Marco Streda - $341,879 Dominykas Mikolaitis - $234,255 Stoyan Obreshkov - $160,512 Hannes Speiser - $109,982 Peiyuan Sun - $75,360
  15. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event continued on Sunday as United States-based players located in Nevada and New Jersey took their shot at the lone $10,000 buy-in Day 1 flight on WSOP.com in a bid to become the next WSOP World Champion. At the end of 12 hours of play, the field of 705 players had just 71 remaining and three-time WSOP bracelet winner Upeshka De Silva emerged as the overnight chip leader with 1,930,067 in chips. He is followed by ‘vforvictoria’ who sits in a close second place with 1,792,716 in chips and ‘Samthedog76’ who rounds out the top three with 1,529,044 in chips. The healthy field size propelled the prize pool to $6,768,000, far-and-away the largest prize pool in regulated U.S. online poker history. And just like the international portion of the Main Event which held its opening flights on GGPoker, both the first and second-place finishers will be guaranteed paydays of more than $1 million dollars. Final Table Payouts [table id=143 /] The U.S.-based field featured plenty of big-time poker stars and previous WSOP bracelet winners. But at the end of a full 12 hours of play, just 71 from the Day 1 field still had a shot at making the final table which is set to play out live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on December 28. The tournament got underway at 12:00 noon local time (3:00 pm ET) with players set to play 22 full 30-minute levels. And while it would take nearly all of the 12-hour day before the final 107 players made the money, the first elimination came swiftly - just a few hands into the tournament. In a classic set-up hand, Chris ‘Pay_Son’ Staats found himself with pocket aces and ‘ATOWNLEWIS’ woke up with pocket kings. After a preflop raising war, all their chips made it into the middle with Staats’ aces holding up and 'ATOWNLEWIS's day ending early. But it wasn’t long before ‘ATOWNLEWIS’ had some company on the rail, as plenty of notable names busted well before the money. Chris Hunichen, Aaron Mermelstein, James Carroll, and 15-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth all made their exits in the first half of the day. Of course, Hellmuth was by no means the only previous bracelet winner unable to advance to Day 2. Phil Galfond, Eric Baldwin, Nathan Gamble, Michael Gagliano, Brandon Adams, Ben Yu, Chance Kornuth, Mike Matusow, Connor Drinan, Michael Mizrachi, as well as former #1-ranked pros Bryan Piccioli, Calvin Anderson, and Shaun Deeb were among those that will have to wait until next year to add to their gold bracelet totals. Daniel Negreanu’s bid for a seventh bracelet, as well as cashing in on a number of $100,000 bracelet bets, came to an end as well. Soon after Adrian ‘Partee’ Buckley had the unfortunate distinction of bubbling the Main Event, when his [poker card="qh"][poker card="qs"] lost to ‘Samthedog76’s [poker card="ac"][poker card="kd"] in heartbreaking fashion on a [poker card="7h"][poker card="7d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"][poker card="th"] runout, Negreanu himself busted out of the tournament, collecting a min-cash of $14,890. Joining Negreanu in surviving the bubble, but not the day included Ian Steinman (105th, $14,890), Jed Hoffman (102nd, $14,890), Matt Affleck (97th, $14,890), Lauren Roberts (88th, $15,566), David Coleman (76th, $15,566) and eight-time WSOP Circuit Ring and gold bracelet winner Michael Lech (74th, $15,566). While many notable names are no longer in the hunt for the 2020 title, there are plenty of players to keep an eye on when play resumes. Taylor Von Krigenbergh and Galen Hall both have top-ten stacks. Fan favorites Nick Shulman, Jason Somerville, and Maria Ho are all still in the running with plenty of chips, and four-time World Poker Tour champion Darren Elias along with 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Ryan Riess are also still in the hunt. The remaining players return to WSOP.com at noon on Monday to play down to the final nine players who will determine a winner, live, on December 28 at the Rio in Las Vegas. At the same time the final eight players in the 2020 GGPoker World Series of Poker Main Event are preparing to play down to a winner on Tuesday, December 15 at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. The winner of both the international and the U.S. tournaments will then meet in a heads-up match, with $1 million added, on December 30 at the Rio in Las Vegas to determine the 2020 champion. Top Ten Chip Counts [table id=144 /]
  16. The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event has arrived. The unique live-online hybrid solution to finding a successor to current reigning World Champion Hossein Ensan gives players, both in the United States and internationally, one final shot at winning a gold bracelet in 2020. Last updated: Sunday, December 7, 2020 The tournament, which comes with a traditional $10,000 buy-in and is a true freezeout, will hold all of its starting flights online. Players in the United States can travel to Nevada or New Jersey to play in a single opening flight on WSOP.com while international players have three starting flights to choose from on GGPoker. These two separate online tournaments will spawn two different final tables which will be played out live. The final nine from the WSOP.com player pool will determine a winner in Las Vegas as GGPoker's final table will battle it out at King’s Casino in Rozvadov. Ultimately, the winner of each final table will face off in a winner-take-all heads-up battle in front of the ESPN camera on December 30 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The winner of that match will take home an additional $1 million and the title of WSOP World Champion. WSOP Main Event Schedule (GGPoker) [table id=130 /] WSOP Main Event Schedule (WSOP.com) [table id=128 /] Julian Menhardt Leads GGPoker Day 1A Survivors [caption id="attachment_633135" align="aligncenter" width="799"] The opening flights of the 2020 World Series of Poker are underway online. (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] The first flight of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event had 246 entries take their one-and-only shot in the $10,000 buy-in tournament. At the end of 16 30-minute levels, just 62 players advanced to day two with Germany’s Julian ‘VWgunther’ Menhardt bagging the chip lead with 534,490 chips (107 big blinds). Germany’s Paul ‘AsiaStylez’ Esau finished the day with 472,075 (94 bbs) for second in chips while the Netherlands Dirk Gerritse rounded out the top three with a 472,075 stack (91 bbs). Plenty of star power entered and survived through Day 1A. This includes former WSOP Main Event standout Preben Stokkan, a pair of Brazil’s best in Brunno Botteon and former #1-ranked player Yuri Dzivielevski, Anatoly Filatov, Daniel Dvoress, and Russia’s Artur Martirosian among others. For others though, the dream of becoming the WSOP Main Event champ will have to wait another year. Fedor Holz, Kristen Bicknell, Christian Rudolph, Julien Martini, and former #1-ranked players Steven van Zadelhoff and Andreas Nemeth were among those notable players who busted before the day was done. Joining them on the rail are the likes of Pablo Brito Silva, Jans Arends, Ole Schemion, Rainer Kempe, Christian Jeppsson, Sebastian Sikorski, and Patrik Antonius. The players that made it through to Day 2 of the WSOP 2020 Main Event will return to the online tables on December 7 and merge with the remaining fields of Day 1B and Day 1C to play down to a final table of nine. Day 1A Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=129 /] Blaž Žerjav Takes Overall Chip Lead On Day 1B [caption id="attachment_633168" align="aligncenter" width="696"] The 2020 WSOP Main Event has a new chip leader after Day 1B. (photo: PokerFactor)[/caption] The World Series of Poker 2020 Main Event continued on December 5 as 171 players opted to take their $10,000 shot on Day 1B. After roughly nine-and-a-half hours of play, 16 total levels, just 42 players survived the day with their dream of becoming the next WSOP World Champion in tact. Slovania’s Blaž Žerjav, third-place finisher in the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online, finished the day atop the chip counts with a stack of 639,394 (128 bbs), good for an overall chip lead through two flights. Žerjav was followed closely by Brazil’s #9-ranked player, Rodrigo Valente (592,043, 118 bbs) in second place and Isreal’s Amir Divr (538,003, 108 bbs) in third. Online poker’s former #1-ranked crusher from Russia, Artem ‘veeea’ Vezhenkov was the only other player to end the day with over 100bbs, finishing in fourth place with 551,114 in chips, good for 102 big blinds. Day 1B saw its share of notable names make it through to Day 2 including World Series of Poker gold bracelet winners Simon Lofberg, Toby Joyce, and Barak Wisbrod. Joining them in advancing was the likes of PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo SHR winner Sergio Aido, Swedish pros Anton Wigg and Simon Mattsson, as well as PokerStars WCOOP winner Alex Difelice. With nearly 3/4th of the field busting throughout the day, it’s fair to say that there was plenty of big-time talent that found themselves on the outside looking in. Some of those who shot and missed included GGPoker ambassadors Felipe Ramos and Kevin Martin, 888poker ambassador Daria Feshchenko, Team partypoker pro Dzmitry Urbanovich, Sylvain Loosli, Bert ‘girafganger’ Stevens, Jens Kyllonen, Ivan ‘zufo16’ Zufic, Adrian Mateos, and former #1-ranked Swedish pro Niklas Astedt. Day 1B Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=133 /] Senthuran Vijayaratnam Tops Day 1C, Takes Overall Chip Lead Into Day 2 The final starting day of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event on GGPoker saw another 257 players post their $10,000 buy-in to boost the field size to a three-day total of 674 runners. This landed the total prize pool at $6,470,400 assuring a seven-figure score of $1,550,969 for GGPoker’s eventual winner as well as awarding $1,062,723 for the runner-up. At the end of another 16 levels, 75 players virtually bagged chips in Day 1C making for a total remaining field size of just 179 players who will return for Day 2 on Monday. Of those still in the hunt to become the 2020 WSOP World Champion, 80 will make the money and just nine will lock up a seat at the live final table, which set to take place at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic on December 16. Canada’s Senthuran Vijayaratnam leveraged the largest of the three starting flights to launch himself to the top of the overall chip counts. Vijayaratnam has a healthy lead on the field after dragging 966,714 (193 bbs) in chips, a number far above the tournament’s second-place player, the UK’s Jesse Wigan. Wigan just out chipped Day 1b chip leader Blaž Žerjav after finishing the day with 642,276 (128 bbs) in chips. Russia’s Viacheslav Buldygin rounds out the Day 1C top three, locking up 480,671 in chips to advance to Day 2. Day 1C had its fair share of notable names who made their way to the end of the day including WSOP bracelet winners Jonas Lauck and Sung Joo Hyun. Joining them in advancing to Day 2 include the likes of Gediminas Uselis, Damian Salas, Alexandros Kolonias, Ludovic Geilich, Antonine Saout, and Gary Hasson among others. Just like all of the other starting flights before it, Day 1C also saw plenty of big-time talent bust out before the end of the day. Eleven former bracelet winners failed to advance including GGPoker ambassador Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Davidi Kitai, Mike Leah, and 2020 WSOP Online Main Event winner Stoyan Madanzhiev. It was the same fate for the notable names of Dietrich Fast, Patrick Tardif, Dario Sammartino, Benjamin Rolle, Maksim ‘MAMOHT_T’ Mamonov, Mikita Badziakouski, David Peters, Kitty Kuo, and 2014 WSOP Main Event winner Martin Jacobson. Day 1C Top 10 Chip Counts (GGPoker) [table id=134 /] Day 1 Combined Top 10 Chip Counts [table id=135 /]
  17. The recent announcement from the World Series of Poker of a hybrid online-live event that will crown the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion has drawn strong reactions from the poker community. Many players were quick to question the safety of holding a live event in Las Vegas given the current status of the global pandemic while others had questions about the confusion over the status of the title of the "Main Event champion". The new event, which has a $10,000 buy-in and will run on WSOP.com in New Jersey and Nevada and GGPoker.com in international markets, is a freezeout event similar in format to the traditional annual WSOP Main Event. With COVID-19 restrictions around the world making a traditional live Main Event impossible, the WSOP created a hybrid format The final nine players from the NJ/NV online event will travel to Las Vegas to play down to a winner while the final nine players from the international market will travel to Rozvadov, Czechia to play down to a winner. Those final two players will then meet for a heads-up match in Las Vegas with $1 million on the line. This follows a summer in which WSOP organizers held 85 bracelet events across the two online poker sites. The news was initially greeted with a mixed reaction from the poker community. Veteran pro David 'ODB' Baker tweeted his support for the idea and pushed back against some of the backlash directed at the WSOP for extending its brand even further. According to Stewart, each of the nine players who make the live final table in Las Vegas for American players will be subjected to testing prior to play. Any personnel involved in the production of the show will also be subjected to the same testing allowing the WSOP to create a "production bubble" where only those who have passed the testing will be allowed entry. Players will not be require to wear masks and plexiglass will not be in use. "There are only nine players in each bracket who are asked to voluntarily come to a live setting, where they will be protected by the most advanced Covid-19 testing prior to facing their competitors," Stewart said. "Our strategy here was intentional to keep the majority of play at home or in a controllable environment and keep the finale live environment small, manageable, and at the option of those with most to gain." Those same protocols will be used for the heads-up finale in Las Vegas on December 30. The decision to hold a made-for-TV WSOP Main Event before the end of the year lead some to wonder if a contractual obligation with ESPN forced WSOP's hand. Stewart dismissed this theory and indicated that the production costs are being absorbed by Caesars and GGPoker. "For the first time in over a decade, WSOP and its partner GG will be fully subsidizing all the costs of this production to guarantee the television coverage, given timelines and scope of programming could not be delivered in 2020," Stewart said. "Given that investment, and our $1M money added, the 51st Main Event will be a marketing expense. Which is fine with us. We are in poker for the long haul."
  18. When the COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponement of the 2020 World Series of Poker live events early this year and pushed WSOP organizers to offer 85 online bracelets in its place, many believed that was it for WSOP events for the year. Not so fast. On Friday, the WSOP announced a hybrid online-live Main Event to take place on WSOP.com inside the United States and on GGPoker.com in international markets. "There must be a World Champion in 2020," said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker. "Poker’s history is too important. It’s a unique format for the Main Event, but this is a unique year. We want to keep players’ health and safety top of mind and still deliver a great televised showcase for the game we love." The buy-in for this event (on both platforms) is the traditional $10,000 and just like every other WSOP Main Event in history, players can enter just once. Players on WSOP.com and GGPoker will each play down to a final table of nine players before pausing to play a final table live. Players on WSOP.com will reconvene at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas while players on GGPoker will meet at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech. Each of those final tables will play down to a winner and each winner will travel to Las Vegas in late-December to play for the title. The International Tournament, for players outside of the United States, gives players three starting flights to choose from; November 29, December 5, December 6. Players who make it through their starting flight will advance to Day 2 on GGPoker on December 7. The final nine players will then travel to King's Casino to play down to a winner on December 15. Players in New Jersey and Nevada, where WSOP.com is available, have just a single starting day, December 13 with the tournament pausing after approximately 12 hours of play before continuing on December 14. That final table takes place December 28 in Las Vegas. Both tournaments will pay out players according to a regular payout structure with the final two players playing for $1 million provided by the WSOP and GGPoker. This tournament is a continuation of the partnership between the WSOP and GGPoker which was first showcased with a WSOP Super Circuit Online series in May and then the 54 WSOP Online events this summer. That series culminated with Stoyan ‘Nirvana76’ Madanzhiev winning the $5,000 buy-in Main Event for $3.9 million. "We’re very happy to continue to deepen our relationship with WSOP," said Steve Preiss, GGPoker Head of Poker Operations. "It was a huge summer of record-setting action on GGPoker and we’re excited to offer players access to the biggest tournament of all." The ESPN broadcast of the heads-up portion on December 30 will feature Lon McEachern and Norman Chad in the commentary booth. With travel restrictions and casino availability constantly in flux due to COVID-19, the WSOP has contingencies in place which could include playing the final tables online or at another venue. Players traveling to play either final table will be subject to local COVID-19 testing policies.
  19. Sao Paulo born Vivian Saliba has grown up with poker around her, first playing the game at 12-years-old and then accompanying her father to card rooms for the first time at the age of 17. Primarily a Pot Limit Omaha cash game player, but no stranger to poker tournaments, the Brazilian has put in strong performances during various years of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Most notably in 2017, she made the money in three No Limit Hold’em events and two in her specialized game of Pot Limit Omaha. But it would be a PLO hand, a game that has allowed her to amass a small fortune, that still gives Saliba nightmares to this day. “By the end of 2015, I decided to quit college and follow my dream as a professional poker player. The beginning of my career was a real rollercoaster and even though in 2016 I played WSOP events for the first time, I didn't actually play that many tournaments,” Saliba said. So, 2017 was the first time playing in her dream tournaments and marked a special year for her as a poker player. The tournament in question was WSOP Event #54 and was the most important tournament for her at the time due to the buy-in and what was at stake. “Back in 2017 during the WSOP in Las Vegas I was playing my first ever $10,000 buy-in event. That was a PLO event, my main game at the time, and still is nowadays. The tournament had 428 entries and I managed to finish it in 11th place.” Despite making it to the final two tables and winning $47,923 for her efforts but busting that event negatively affected her feelings as there was a strong desire to make It as a professional poker player “That tournament seemed to be the perfect opportunity, giving the high level of the competitors, price of the buy-in, prize pool and it being WSOP bracelet event.” Playing five-handed, holding an average stack of 30 big blinds, and playing her strongest poker variant, it was almost a certainty that Saliba would make the final table and be in with a chance of claiming the $938,732 prize. But of course, nothing is guaranteed in poker. Defending her big blind with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="9h"][poker card="9d"][poker card="6d"] following a raise from the button, Saliba smashed the board making top set on the [poker card="9c"][poker card="6c"]2x flop. “I check-raised the flop with my top set and my opponent re-raised so that all the money is in the middle, he had [poker card="Jc"][poker card="Js"][poker card="7c"]8x for an overpair and open-ended straight draw.” The turn card brought a jack, leaving Saliba pretty much dead as only the case nine on the river would have saved her from elimination. “If I had won this hand, I would be up to top-3 stacks of the tournament and also would bust my opponent. I was left with 3bb and on the next hand I end up busting. Looking back that is nothing I would do differently at that specifically play but I would definitely take it easier with myself," she said. “I literally had nightmares with this hand for months. I believed that I would never get so close to a WSOP final table ever again.” Despite the setback, in November of that same year she became part of the 888poker team, which was one of her poker career ambitions. Shortly after, the Brazilian recalled another hand that would make anyone shudder, but this time the 888poker ambassador was on the more fortunate side of lady luck. Playing Event #64 - $888 No Limit Hold’em – Crazy Eights in the 2019 WSOP with six players and eight big blinds remaining. Saliba ended up getting it all in for her tournament life with ace-four versus Ireland’s Patrick Clarke's ace-ten. Despite being dominated and in horrific shape, she out-drew her opponent to secure the full double up and keep her WSOP bracelet ambitions alive. “I won and he was left with a couple of big blinds and busted a few hands after. That bad beat gave me the chance of cashing for $131K more. “I imagine that my opponent must have felt very bad in this situation giving that he had me dominated, it was a huge event with a huge prize pool and we were all so close to the bracelet so the stakes were that much higher!” Vivian narrowly missed out on securing her first-ever WSOP gold bracelet, instead finishing in 4th place out of a field of over 10,000 entries for the biggest payday of her career for $308,888.
  20. Last week, PocketFives published an article about players on the World Poker Tour voting 80-20 in favor of a shot clockfor decisions. The overwhelmingly slanted vote resulted in WPT ambassador Mike Sexton remarking, "I'm guessing/hoping you'll see some type of 'shot clock' incorporated by the WPT for Season XIII." The momentum for a shot clock has now spilled over to the World Series of Poker, whose Circuit may experiment with it this year. WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart told PocketFives in an exclusive statement when asked about the prospects of a clock coming to the series, "We are watching it closely. We agree with trying to encourage 'fast play' and may experiment with a clock on the Circuit this year where there are smaller fields. I have observed mixed results to date on both the operation of it and the field sizes for such events." The WSOP Circuit's final event of the season is in May at Harrah's New Orleans. Then, it'll likely pause until August while the Summer Series runs in Las Vegas. While having a shot clock could help speed up play and make recreational players less vulnerable to the pro "stare-down," Stewart admitted that implementing additional rules isn't always in the best interests of the game. To that end, the WSOP Executive Director explained, "Generally, we want the WSOP to be a fun, welcoming environment. We have very high percentages of recreational players, speaking dozens of languages, who have never played under a shot clock. We're under the mentality that more penalties and more dead hands are bad. We are not going to rush to change anything until we see how people react to it." Thus, it appears that WSOP officials will closely monitor what happens when and if the WPT implements a shot clock before making a decision. Remember, the WSOP in Las Vegas utilizes hundreds of poker tables spread out across multiple rooms at the Rio. Thus, logistically a shot clock could be fairly difficult to implement and enforce. One other source close to a major poker tour told PocketFives that implementing a shot clock could mean that each player will take the maximum allotted time to act on every decision, thus potentially slowing down play overall, even while eliminating the drawn-out five- and ten-minute tanks. What do you think? Should the WSOP and/or WSOP Circuit introduce a shot clock? Let us know by commenting here or posting in this forum thread. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  21. According to a series of Tweets from Phil Hellmuth (pictured), the poker pro has given away 11 of his 13 World Series of Poker bracelets, mostly to family members. Hellmuth has the most number of WSOP bracelets of anyone, leading Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson by three. He has amassed $12.2 million in cereer WSOP cashes, the most of anyone not named Antonio Esfandiari. Hellmuth Tweeted in recent days, "Bye bye WSOP Bracelet #13. Gave #WSOPBracelet13 to my best friend @Chamath. Gave 10 to family, 1 to bestie." He included a picture of said bracelet, which he won in the 2012 WSOP Europe Main Event for $1.4 million. The picture is shown below. What about the other dozen bracelets that Hellmuth has won over the years? He Tweeted the fates of each one: "WSOP Bracelets: 1 & 12 me, 2 wifey, 3 4 mom dad, 5 sister Ann, 6 bro/law John, 7 8 sons Phillip Nick, 9 10 11 bro Dave sis's Kerry Molly." Love him or hate him, Hellmuth has been one of the top names in tournament poker for the last 25 years. Here's an overview of each WSOP bracelet "The Poker Brat" has won: Bracelet #1: 1989, WSOP Main Event, $755,000 Bracelet #2: 1992, $5,000 Limit Hold'em, $188,000 Bracelet #3: 1993, $2,500 No Limit Hold'em, $173,000 Bracelet #4: 1993, $1,500 No Limit Hold'em, $161,000 Bracelet #5: 1993, $5,000 Limit Hold'em, $138,000 Bracelet #6: 1997, $3,000 Pot Limit Hold'em, $204,000 Bracelet #7: 2001, $2,000 No Limit Hold'em, $316,000 Bracelet #8: 2003, $2,500 Limit Hold'em, $171,000 Bracelet #9: 2003, $3,000 No Limit Hold'em, $410,000 Bracelet #10: 2006, $1,000 No Limit Hold'em Rebuy, $631,000 Bracelet #11: 2007, $1,500 No Limit Hold'em, $637,000 Bracelet #12: 2012, $2,500 Seven Card Razz, $182,000 Bracelet #13: 2012, WSOP Europe Main Event, $1.4 million While you might think of Hellmuth as more of a No Limit Hold'em player, his 13 bracelets have come in four different games (Razz, No Limit Hold'em, Limit Hold'em, and Pot Limit Hold'em). Since winning bracelet #1, he has not gone more than five years without adding another one to his collection. He has earned multiple bracelets in three different years and is averaging $412,000 per WSOP victory, helped in part by his two Main Event wins. Finally, we should point out that Hellmuth is the only player ever to win the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas and the WSOP Europe Main Event. Congrats to Hellmuth on his continued success. Maybe PocketFives will be the recipient of his 14th piece of hardware? Now that would be cool! Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  22. We're three months away from the second-ever running of the World Series of Poker's Big One for One Drop, a charity tournament with a hefty $1 million buy-in that last took place in 2012. The steep price tag certainly hasn't stopped people from signing up in droves, as 23 poker players, businessmen, and qualifiers have already confirmed their attendance: 1. Antonio Esfandiari 2. Guy Laliberté 3. Bobby Baldwin 4. David Einhorn 5. Phil Galfond 6. Philipp Gruissem 7. Phil Ivey (pictured) 8. Jason treysfull21 Mercier 9. Paul Newey 10. Bill Perkins 11. Vivek Psyduck Rajkumar 12. Brian tsarrast Rast 13. Andrew good2cu Robl 14. Erik Seidel 15. Brandon Steven 16. Sam Trickett 17. Noah Schwartz 18. Anonymous Businessman 19. Anonymous Businessman 20. Anonymous Businessman 21. Aria Resort Satellite Seat 22. Bellagio Resort Satellite Seat 23. World Series of Poker Satellite Seat The first 17 players on the list above all participated in 2012, the first and only other time the Big One for One Drop has taken place. The tournament sold out at 48 entrants last time and, with the addition of another eight-max table this year, 56 players can be accommodated. If the tournament sells out once again, as expected, the first place prize could reach $20 million. Antonio Esfandiari (pictured), who won the 2012 installment and became poker's all-time money leader in the process, commented in a WSOP press release, "I can't wait to defend my title. The event was life-changing, but so was my trip to El Salvador after it with the One Drop organization to see first hand what a difference the money raised from this event can do for those in dire need of help." WSOP officials plan to reach out to additional players to recruit them to the One Drop field after already contacting everyone who played in 2012. The tournament is scheduled for three days beginning June 29 and $111,111 of each buy-in goes to charity. If the event sells out, the prize pool would be around $50 million. Anyone interested in playing is encouraged to contact WSOP officials. Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP news. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  23. On Tuesday, just two weeks away from the start of the 2014 World Series of Poker, WSOP officials held a conference call to preview the event and field questions from reporters. PocketFives was on the call and learned that we'll see Frisbee dogs before the "Shuffle up and deal" command at some point this summer. Who doesn't like Frisbee dogs? Answer: Everyone loves Frisbee dogs. 2014 marks the tenth consecutive year the WSOP has been held at the Rio after moving from Binion's in Downtown Las Vegas. WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart started the call by saying, "We hope to make summer in Vegas the happiest season of all. It's time to make poker big again. It's time to make poker fun again." A total of 15,000 WSOP virgins are expected this year and the series anticipates over 70,000 total entrants for the fifth straight year. The WSOP appears to be shooting for the "fun" angle this year, trying to move away from any staleness that has occurred. Officials teased additional cage staff, additional cage windows, new chairs in every playing area, a new zip line attraction, the High Roller Ferris Wheel on the Strip, fresh carpet in the convention center, live music, indoor blimps, and Frisbee dog shows. As most of us know by now, the 2014 WSOP Main Event will guarantee $10 million to the winner, with Stewart saying, "Eight-figures for a poker tournament – it's something that can't be accomplished in any other event in the world. It's something that has had people talking for months." WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel added that the entire series was "our Olympics. This is our Woodstock. This is our celebration." In changes from 2013, the 5:00pm events will now start at 4:00pm to allow for more play on Day 1. The first day will run for 10 levels, ending around 3:00am. Moreover, players will be able to compete on WSOP.com, a regulated online poker site in Nevada, in a special Grind Room that will be set up at the Rio featuring computers, plenty of power outlets, and a segregated wireless network. WSOP tournaments will largely feature six levels of late registration, with the exception of the Main Event (six hours), Poker Player's Championship (start of Day 2), and Shootout events (two levels or until the tournament sells out). Speaking on the internet situation outside of the Grind Room, Stewart(pictured) told the media, "We have free WiFifor everyone in the convention center. We believe we have enough bandwidth to service all of our guests… Unlike some other poker tournaments, we encourage players to Tweet, post, Instagram, sign autographs, and not have to rush back to their seats for the 'first card off the deck.'" One topic discussed at length was the absence of an Open Face Chinese Poker event, which does not grace the 2014 WSOP schedule. Officials reasoned, "This is the World Series of Poker. While we're not afraid to be innovative, is Open Face Chinese, without betting, raising, and bluffing, a poker tournament? We decided it was too gray to have that bracelet sit side by side with [other bracelets] that help determine a person's place in poker." Finally, 2013 Main Event champion Ryan Riess (pictured) was in the house for the call, saying, "I can't wait. I am super excited… I am playing about 15 to 20 tournaments this year." He added that his game might have gotten sharper in recent months: "I've been working on my game a lot the last few months. I have been fine-tuning my game, so I am excited for the summer." Last year, Riess was a guest on the ESPN football program "College GameDay," which he said was the highlight of his reign as Main Event champion: "I was invited to be on 'College GameDay' along with Joey Chestnut. The Spartans luckily beat Ohio State and I was fortunate enough to be there." The game was held in Indianapolis. Stay tuned to PocketFives for 2014 WSOP news and results. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  24. Five years ago, longtime PocketFiver Jason treysfull21 Mercier (pictured) took home a World Series of Poker bracelet in a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event and cashed for $237,000. In 2011, he added a second piece of hardware in a $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Six-Max event for $619,000. Now, Mercier will be looking to add to his $2 million in career WSOP earnings starting later this month at the Rio in Las Vegas. --- Follow professional sports tipsters, make your own betting tips, and compete for real cash prizes. Tipdayis the ultimate sports tipping resource. Check it out. --- Mercier told PocketFives that his tentative plans are to play all of the higher buy-in events at the WSOP, and by "higher buy-in," we mean $5,000 and up. "I'm looking forward to the new $10K events," Mercier said. "Generally, those fields are tougher, but I like the smaller field, bigger buy-in events with higher prize money and a better chance to win a bracelet." Mercier is eyeing two $10K disciplines in particular: Triple Draw and Razz. "I have only ever played a $2,500 or $3,000 event in those disciplines," Mercier admitted. "They are two of my favorite games and it's rare you get to play a tournament in that form, let alone a $10K event." The Floridian has 38 WSOP cashes to his name. Speaking of non-Hold'em games, Mercier began diversifying from the quintessential poker game in 2004 and started dabbling in Mixed Games in 2010. On what kind of group he foresees showing up for $10K Razz and Triple Draw events, Mercier commented, "I would imagine the Razz event will get 150-ish people. The Triple Draw event will probably get 100 people or so. Generally, they will be pretty tough fields with a lot of the regular Mixed Game players and the atmosphere will be pretty electric when I win one of them," he said with a smile. If Mercier manages to get a third bracelet, he'd become one of only 63 players ever to accomplish that feat. "Winning a third one would mean a lot to me," Mercier told us. "There aren't that many guys who have three bracelets, and to get to three when I'm still in my 20s would definitely be a cool accomplishment. I missed out on winning one in 2012 and 2013 and definitely don't want to go a third year in a row without winning one. I'm hungry to win a bracelet this summer." Mercier earned $1.4 million one year ago after taking second in the EPT Grand Final Super High Roller in Monaco and has booked a pair of $200,000 live scores since then, one of which came in the WPT Alpha8stop in South Africa in February. "Going to South Africa was pretty incredible," Mercier relayed. "It was definitely unlike anywhere else I had been before and I'm looking forward to going back there eventually." One of his foes at the Alpha8 event was none other than Dan Cates (pictured), who won the tournament for $500,000. "Dan Cates played well in South Africa. I also played against him in the $100K in Monaco," Mercier said. "He has gotten a lot better since he first started playing live." Last week, Cates took second in the EPT Grand Final Super High Roller for $1.7 million and is #5 on the 2014 money list thus far, according to the Hendon Mob; Mercier is #48. Online, Mercier won a PokerStars WCOOP event for nearly a half-million dollars in 2010, one of three WCOOP titles he has amassed over the years. He has $1.5 million in tracked scores total and is a sponsored pro at PokerStars, the largest online poker site on the face of the Earth. The 2014 WSOP begins on May 27 with the annual Casino Employees Event as well as a $25,000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold'em tournament. The Main Event starts on July 5 with the first of three Day 1s and the winner of that tournament will pocket at least $10 million. Players in New Jersey and Nevada can qualify for $1,500 events and the Main Event at WSOP.com. Click here for WSOP.com Nevadaand click here for WSOP.com New Jersey. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  25. We're coming down to the wire in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, which has 17 players remaining at the time of writing and will determine its November Nine this evening from the Rio in Las Vegas. Play began with 27 still standing at Noon Pacific Time on Monday and consolidated to two tables just a few hours later. --- PocketFives' WSOP coverage is brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Play Real Gaming, real money poker on any device. Play now for Final Table Freerolls. Skip straight to the final table and win cash daily. --- Sweden's Martin Jacobson (pictured) continues to lead the way. He had a six million-chip lead coming into the November Nine play down day and, although he lost the lead for a fleeting few minutes, he had regained it by the time this author sat down to pound out an article. The first player eliminated after the field consolidated to two tables of nine was Scott Mahin, who called all-in on a flop of 6-10-8 with two diamonds. Mahin was ahead with 10-8 for top two pair, but Andoni Larrabe was drawing to the nut flush with Ad-Kd. The turn was an ace, improving Larrabe to a pair and adding more outs, and a diamond on the river sealed Mahin's fate. He cashed for $347,000 and left the stage fairly emotional, as it was his first live tournament cash. Craig mcc3991McCorkell (pictured) was still alive, although he had the third shortest stack in the room when 17 remained. He was a fan favorite on Twitter, with Phil Galfond among those rooting him on: "GL @CraigMcCorkell! Just do your thing and hopefully the cards will cooperate… Know you don't need tournament coaching, but if there's anything I could do to help, let me know." Bryan badbeatninjaDevonshire was one of the first eliminations of the day in 25th place. He Tweeted, "Busto TT to AJs. 0-fer three in flips this tournament. Bummed I couldn't win a pot on Day 7, but happy to make it here. Back to the river." He then Tweeted a picture of several wads of hundred dollar bills as well as a check for his winnings. Former Main Event runner-up Paul Wasicka was among those consoling Devonshire on Twitter, writing, "Sorry man, good run." Still in the hunt for a 2014 WSOP November Nine birth is Mark Newhouse, who is looking to become the first two-time November Niner and the first person since Dan Harrington in 2003 and 2004 to make the WSOP Main Event final table in back-to-back years. Here are the stacks of the 17 remaining players in the 2014 WSOP Main Event: 1. Martin Jacobson - 22,600,000 2. Dan Sindelar - 18,800,000 3. Bruno Politano - 18,180,000 4. Felix Stephensen - 14,150,000 5. Luis Velador - 13,620,000 6. Jorryt van Hoof - 13,100,000 7. William Pappaconstantinou - 13,000,000 8. Thomas Sarra - 12,910,000 9. Andoni Larrabe - 12,880,000 10. William Tonking - 10,600,000 11. Maximilian Senft - 10,300,000 12. Christopher Greaves - 9,300,000 13. Mark Newhouse - 7,810,000 14. Eddy Sabat - 6,110,000 15. Craig mcc3991McCorkell - 6,060,000 16. Andrey Zaya Zaichenko - 5,830,000 17. Oscar Kemps - 5,400,000 Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest WSOP news, brought to you by Real Gaming, a regulated online poker site in Nevada. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
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