The NFL is down to its final four teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and MY Green Bay Packers will head down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. Up until Sunday night, when the Packers and Steelers won games that went down to the wire, the playoffs had been less than thrilling; the favorites had been beating the life out of the underdogs.
The Sunday games – particularly the Packers nail-biter against the Cowboys – were quite exciting. Unfortunately for the Las Vegas sportsbooks, they were exciting in all the wrong ways. Even though the favorites had been winning up until that point, bettors loaded up on the underdog Packers and Steelers and won big.
According to David Purdum of ESPN.com, William Hill, which has 108 betting outlets throughout Nevada, was handed its single-worst day in the five years it has been in Nevada, losing a “seven-figure” amount to its customers. Prior to the two Sunday games, the favorites were 6-0 both against the spread and straight-up, but the majority of the money shifted to the Packers and Steelers for the last two games of the divisional round.
“Seemed like a blue-collar betting day with public parlaying, teasing and pounding money lines on Packers and Steelers,” Bill Sattler, director of specialty games for Caesars Entertainment, told ESPN. “We salvaged the under in [the] late game, but another solid week for the public.”
To read more into his comment, it seems like the “blue-collar” descriptor has something to do with what happened. The Packers and Steelers have two of the largest and most loyal fan bases in sports and both are located in what one would consider blue-collar cities. They are the two hottest teams in the football – both coming into their games riding two month-long winning streaks. Aaron Rodgers is the sickest player on the planet and the Steelers have arguably the best running back (Le’Veon Bell) and wide receiver (Antonio Brown) in the game, not to mention a great, experienced quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.
Thus, it might not be that big of a surprise that bettors went nuts putting money on those two teams in every way, shape, and form.
Purdum reports that the kill shot for the sports books was in the Green Bay/Pittsburgh parlays, bets that required both teams to win. Those bets, naturally, pay out more than if someone bet on each team individually, since it was an all-or-nothing proposition.
And though Sunday was terrible for the bookmakers, the rest of the playoffs haven’t been good, either. Bettors sided with the favorites for the other six games, so the sports books lost money there. Even in a non-NFL game, the NCAA championship game between Clemson and Alabama, sports books got slaughtered. Alabama was a heavy favorite, but more money was put on Clemson, who ended up winning outright, resulting in William Hill’s worst college football loss of all time.
After wading through a 738-player field to make the final table behind only the chip leader, Christian Harder continued his ferocious attack on his opposition on the way to earning the championship of the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event on Saturday.
Harder started the run a couple of days previous, working his way into the Top Ten for the Day 5 action and making the final table off that run. The only player who had it better was Michael Gentili, who led the final two days of the tournament and came to the final table with a 6.175 million chip stack. Behind Harder (with 5.985 million chips) was an array of contenders that included 2016 World Series of Poker “November Niner” Cliff Josephy, who had to work from the short stack (1.24 million) if he were to get any further on Saturday.
Harder was the first to strike at the six-handed final table as, only seven hands in, he was responsible for the first elimination. After raising the action, Harder saw Rasmus Glaesel pop in the remainder of his stack. Harder hardly hesitated, however, in making the call and laying down pocket tens for action. Glaesel found himself in a race with his Big Slick but, after an eight-high rainbow flop, saw his objective move further out in front of him. Another six on the turn wasn’t helpful either, meaning the third six – improving Harder to a boat, eliminated Glaesel from the tournament in sixth place and shot Harder into the lead.
For his part, Gentili had a tough time getting anything going on the day. He would attempt to play with his tablemates but, pretty much every time, he would have to let decent hands go when they didn’t connect with the board or were beaten anyway. After a particularly big hand against Aleksei Opalikhin – which saw Gentili defend from the big blind and Opalikhin flop a top pair of Aces (and make Aces up by the river) to eventually send a big stack of chips to Opalikhin – Gentili saw his once-mighty stack shrunk to 3.355 million.
Gentili would try to get something going but, in the end, it wasn’t to be. Opalikhin was again the opposition when he raised a pot pre-flop and Gentili fired all in “over the top” for his remaining two million or so chips. Opalikhin, who pondered his action pre-flop for a rather lengthy time, got his calling chips in the pot before Gentili could cross the line with his all-in chip as Opalikhin showed pocket Aces. All Gentili could produce were pocket deuces and, once the King-high board didn’t have a deuce amongst it, Gentili was in trouble. After the chips were counted, Opalikhin scooped up the 1.76 million chip pot and Gentili was left with scraps (145,000); those would go to Josephy as Gentili departed in fourth.
Now it was Josephy’s turn to shift into overdrive as he picked up a huge double through Opalikhin to move into second and knock Opalikhin to the bottom of the table. After a Josephy raise and a three-bet from Michael Vela, Opalikhin put his final 300K (all he had left after doubling Josephy) on the line. Josephy didn’t have an interest in continuing but Vela was more than interested as he showed his pocket Kings to go against Opalikhin’s 10-9 off suit. The A-A-A flop was about as crushing as it gets, leaving Opalikhin looking for the case Ace and a King just to split the pot. When the turn brought neither of those options, Opalikhin was drawing dead and gone from the tournament in fourth place.
By the time the dinner break arrived, Harder had the tournament firmly in his grasp. With 13.24 million chips, his nearest two competitors – Josephy (5.71 million) and Vela (2.355 million) – could barely muster more than half of Harder’s stack. Still, it was a three-way clash after dinner that had the railbirds in the Bahamas and watching the live stream buzzing.
After Harder raised off the button and Josephy called, Vela would put his final chips on the line looking for a triple up. Both Harder and Josephy went in the tank over their decisions, but both would eventually call to see a monochrome 6♦ 7♦ 8♦ flop. Harder and Josephy chose to check their options there and after the 3♥ on the turn and the 4♦ on the river. “Somebody’s got to have a diamond!” exclaimed Vela over the live stream and, sure enough, someone did. Josephy showed K♦ J♥, good for the King-high flush, while Harder was blank with an A♣ Q♣. Vela’s squeeze didn’t do him any good as his A♥ 6♥ flopped a pair but was crushed by Josephy’s rivered flush as Vela left in third place.
With three million chips separating them, Harder and Josephy decided to make a deal. After the negotiations were successful, Harder secured himself a $ 419,664 payday and Josephy picked up a $ 403,448 chunk of change. The duo decided to leave out a $ 10,000 bonus and the inaugural championship to play for, which both players would vie for aggressively. With his larger stack, however, it was only a matter of time for Harder to take the title.
On the final hand, Josephy made the raise with an A-8 and, instead of making the call, Harder three-bet the action with his A-J. Josephy didn’t believe Harder’s raise, moving all in and getting a call from Harder. Although ahead in the hand, Harder didn’t like the 9-5-4 flop that hit the table nor the K♠ that now put backdoor flush options on the table (Josephy held the A♠). The nine on the river was black, but it was the 9♣ as Harder’s A-J held to win the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event.
1. Christian Harder, $ 429,664*
2. Cliff Josephy, $ 403,448*
3. Michael Vela, $ 269,980
4. Aleksei Opalikhin, $ 191,420
5. Michael Gentili, $ 140,940
6. Rasmus Glaesel, $ 103,780
(* – deal brokered with two players remaining)
With the close of the Main Event, the PokerStars Championship will move into unknown territory. From March 10-20, the PokerStars Championship will have their second festival in Panama City, Panama, at the Casino Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino. This tournament will be important because, unlike the Bahamas event (which was basically the renamed PokerStars Caribbean Adventure), the Panama visit will be the first time the PokerStars Championship (basically the former European Poker Tour) has ventured outside of the European continent (in years previous, the Latin American Poker Tour had serviced Panama). It may be the first indicator as to how the new tournament circuit will be received by fans.
For right now, however, none of that matters. Congratulations to Christian Harder, who takes the early lead in the different Player of the Year races and banks one of the major championships in the poker world!
After a year in which many voices in the poker world stated there were issues with the status quo, the Global Poker Index announced last week that they were adjusting their scoring system that is used for the Player of the Year competition.
In 2016, the number of High Roller and Super High Roller events – tournaments that start out at $ 25,000 and can go as high as $ 100,000 (or even more) – became an issue for not only the Global Poker Index’s POY race but also for other organization’s charts and standings (such as CardPlayer Magazine). In some cases, players were making all their points in these types of events, which usually have smaller fields and (in theory) could be easier to make it through than a tournament that has hundreds if not thousands of players for a lower buy in. There are several examples of not only the inequity in the scoring but how it has had a sizeable effect on the scoring and races.
Bryn Kenney, who basically set up shop in Las Vegas and played every one of the multitude of Aria High Roller and Super High Roller events, spent much of the year in the Top Ten of the POY listings. Kenney would eventually finish the year out of the two major POY races Top Ten lists, but other players also had inflated points totals due to the buy-ins they were playing and the smaller fields they were facing. In another instance, Cary Katz basically made the Top Ten on the CardPlayer Magazine POY race at the end of the year because of finishes in the Aria events – a win, a runner-up, and a third-place finish between December 29-31.
Then there was the late-season rush used by eventual POY champion David Peters in catching and passing Fedor Holz. Holz, who had dominated the POY throughout the year (arguably partially because of his success in High Roller and Super High Roller tournaments including the PokerCentral Super High Roller Bowl), was caught by Peters because of his success in December in High Roller events. Without the High Roller events, Peters’ third place finish in the final European Poker Tour Main Event in Prague, Czech Republic, would not have been enough to push him past Holz for the POY.
An examination of the POY standings for the GPI and for CardPlayer do show an inequity in who is on the board because of the tournaments they play. Several of the players – including Peters, Holz, Justin Bonomo, Chance Kornuth, Dan Smith and Katz – frequently take part in the high buy-in events that normally draw less than 100 entries. Counter that with players such as Ari Engel, who had much of his success from his victory at the Aussie Millions Main Event in 2016 but also made a substantial amount of points from “normal” tournament play where there can be hundreds if not a thousand competitors (Engel finished fourth on the CardPlayer rankings, sixth on the GPI board).
The GPI is looking to counteract that factor by balancing out the importance of playing in “normal” tournaments with those that have massive buy-ins. Instead of focusing on the size of the buy-in for a tournament, the GPI will now reward players with more points for having participated in larger-field tournaments. Furthermore, the High Roller or Super High Roller events will have a new threshold to meet to be considered for the POY race. In 2016, it was only 21 players that were required; in 2017, it is now a 32-player field that is necessary for the event to be included on the POY rankings.
These changes aren’t something that sprang just from last season, per the GPI’s Eric Danis. “The full release of this updated scoring system is over 18 months in the making,” Danis, the GPI Head of Poker Content, stated during the announcement of the new scoring system. “With the ever-changing poker landscape, we recognized that a revamp was required, more than the standard adjustment we usually already make on a yearly basis. We listened to the players and are convinced that this is the way to go; the updated scoring process will see successful players at most buy-in levels rewarded in our rankings.” The changes are effective as of January 11, but it will take some time to see if the changes will correct some problems with the GPI system.
The CardPlayer scoring system seems to be the same as previously (with heavy multipliers for tournaments with a higher buy-in (10 times) versus those with larger fields (only six times) and a higher criterion for player number qualification (50 players), but there is one clause that may make a difference. The CardPlayer rankings also include a rule that “regularly scheduled daily or weekly events, that are not part of a series, do not qualify.” This could influence whether the Aria tournaments – which aren’t part of a tournament schedule or series but a “stand alone” roster of events – will be included in the future.
It won’t be until some tournaments are actually in the books – and if the Aria tournaments continue onward – to see if these changes have any effect. Kenney, for example, is already in fourth place on the CardPlayer rankings because of his two wins at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas in the $ 25,000 and $ 50,000 High Roller events. As more results come in, it should show if the changes made by the GPI (and, to a lesser extent, CardPlayer) have been effective or not.
2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas: Michael Gentili Surges to Chip Lead on Day 4, 16 Players Remaining
It was a quick day of work for the players left alive at the 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event on Thursday. After only six hours of play, the field was whittled down to the final 16 players as Michael Gentili surged to the lead.
Nick Maimone was the chip leader at the start of Day 4, sitting astride a massive stack of 1.75 million chips. There were some notables looking to chop him down, however, as Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier was tucked in behind him with 1.333 million chips. Additionally, there was a chance at some history as John Dibella, who won this same tournament back in 2012 when it was the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (and a $ 10,000 buy in tournament), sat in third place with his 1.119 million stack.
The 32 players who started the day began the parade towards the doors of the Atlantis Resort and Casino almost immediately. Gaelle Baumann would put her short stack into the center with an off-suit Q-J, but it was topped by Rodrigo Cordoba’s pocket sevens. The flop would bring Baumann an Ace and a ten, but nothing else would come on the turn or river, as Baumann hit the rail within 20 minutes of the start of the day’s play.
Pratyush Buddiga would also fall victim early on. In a “blind versus blind” battle, Buddiga would push all in out of the small blind and found a willing participant in Marcin Kapkowski. Buddiga had larceny in his heart as he showed his 9♥ 6♥, which was completely dominated by Kapkowski’s A♦ 9♦. While he didn’t need it, Kapkowski got the A♠ on an all-black flop, virtually ending any chance at the hand for Buddiga. Once a King came on the turn, it was official and Buddiga was out the door.
As these players were departing, Maimone was finding the waters rough in the position of chip leader. After getting up over the two million mark (2.3 million, exactly, after eliminating Scott Stewart), he gradually saw those chips slip through his fingers. Maimone saw his flopped trip sevens eclipsed by Michael Vela’s turned straight to fall to 1.3 million and donated more to Vela’s cause moments later when Vela flopped a set of eights against what Maimone said were pocket nines. Gentili, who had been motoring on well through the day, was the recipient of Maimone’s final 700K in chips when his pocket Kings stood tall against Maimone’s Big Slick on a Jack-high board.
Gentili, who found himself with over 2.4 million chips after defeating Maimone, didn’t put it on cruise control after that clash. On a 10-7-9-Q-2 board, Gentili fired a river bet of 400K into what would eventually become a 1.2 million pot against Michael Bartholomew, sending Bartholomew into the tank. He considered the possibility of a “set versus set” situation, admitting, “That would be pretty sick,” as the clock was called on him. As the count went down, Bartholomew made the call and saw Gentili put down a pocket pair of tens for the set; Bartholomew was right as he disgustedly showed his pocket sevens for a lesser set as the pot went to Gentili.
When Dibella knocked off Rex Clinkscales in 17th place, his A-10 off-suit flopping two pair against Clinkscales pocket eights and turning a boat, the decision was made to halt the proceedings. With 16 players remaining, Gentili has put himself in a dominant position.
1. Michael Gentili, 3.708 million
2. Aleksei Opalikhin, 2.084 million
3. Nadya Magnus, 1.87 million
4. Michael Vela, 1.811 million
5. Rodrigo Cordoba, 1.777 million
6. Cliff Josephy, 1.331 million
7. Rasmuch Glaesel, 1.319 million
8. Christian Harder, 1.305 million
9. John Dibella, 1.294 million
10. Allon Allison, 1.015 million
11. Marcin Kapkowski, 950,000
12. Michael Bartholomew, 877,000
13. Alan Schein, 635,000
14. Pedro Cabeca, 540,000
15. Ryan Riess, 371,000
16. Jason Mercier, 340,000
Day 5 will commence at noon on Friday, with the goal to chop more than half the remaining players for the final table – and final day – of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas. In a break with previous traditions, the final table will be six handed and the players that earn their way there will come back on Saturday to play for the championship and the $ 480,012 first place prize.
Many believe that the life of a poker professional is one non-stop party after another. The different casinos in such glittering cities as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Australia or (as is currently underway) the Bahamas leads many to think that it would be the epitome of living. For former “November Niner” Matt Jarvis, however, the exact opposite may be true.
Jarvis, who was at the final table for the 2010 World Series of Poker’s “November Nine” battle for poker’s World Championship, had never been in that position leading up to that moment. His largest cash prior to the WSOP Championship Event was a deep run at the 2009 British Columbia Poker Championships Main Event, where he finished eleventh for a good five-figure score. Despite coming into the 2010 WSOP final table in the middle of the pack in chips, Jarvis would be eliminated early in what was thought to be the most exciting hand of that WSOP and arguably in WSOP history.
Over the next few years, Jarvis chased the poker dream around the world. He would achieve the goal of many a poker player – a WSOP bracelet – in 2011 and would rack up over $ 2 million in earnings by the summer of 2016 (including four cashes at the 2016 WSOP). But, as with most when they get older, the times were changing for the Canadian poker player. It set Jarvis off to find something that, while not as exciting as the thrill of the chase in poker, was more concrete for him and his life.
A business opportunity came to Jarvis that, after he studied the situation, looked to be just what he was looking for. Called Shack Shine, the business is a home “detailing” operation that offers full service (indoors and out) window cleaning, gutter cleaning/leaf removal and house and property power washing. The low investment price (under $ 100,000) for a franchise outlet – not to mention the potential future solid business life – seemed to attract Jarvis to getting in a different game.
“I wanted to find a job that would keep me closer to home so I could be with my wife,” Jarvis said in an interview with O2Ebrands.com. “At some point, we’ll start a family, so it’s important to be around for that. Some of my friends and family told me about Shack Shine. They said it was the next 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Once I looked into it, I thought the system was amazing. I liked the people who were involved, and it seemed like a good way to learn how to run a business from the ground up.”
Since he took up the franchise in October, Jarvis has documented his journey with his new work outlet and his enjoyment of overseeing his destiny. His Facebook page highlights his actions from signing the initial contract to gradually building up his services. But in doing this Jarvis is also making sure that he might have some time to play poker for a living.
“I’m not leaving poker for good,” Jarvis told this writer when discussing the franchise and his future. “I would rather be the whale in the poker games that the sharks try to go after, however!”
Jarvis’ move isn’t out of the ordinary in the poker world. Many players have either moved completely away from the game – David ‘The Maven’ Chitcotsky has exchanged poker chips for a successful move to making high-end real estate deals – while others look to reduce the amount of time they play. Just last year Fedor Holz, who reigned atop the major Player of the Year races for much of 2016, indicated he would prefer not to have as busy a schedule in the coming years (as has the man who eclipsed him for the POY, David Peters, in an interview with PokerNews.com).
Having a solid “fall back” position is something that many who consider themselves “professional” talk about but rarely actually put into practice. For Jarvis to take this step – looking out for himself, his and his family’s future well-being and solidify his life around something outside of a game – is impressive. We can only hope that Jarvis’ new business ownership is something that he is successful at and that it does afford him some time to step back to poker on occasion.