2018 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Ben Yu Leads Tight Leaderboard

 2018 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event Day 2: Ben Yu Leads Tight Leaderboard

The World Poker Tour is in Florida this week as the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event is underway at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. Day 2 is already in the books (there were two Day 1 flights) with Ben Yu going into Monday’s action as the chip leader with 1.382 million chips.

A total of 911 entries were paid during the two starting flights, bringing the prize pool for the $ 3,300 + $ 200 event to $ 2.915 million. Payouts go down to 114th place and the eventual winner will cash for more than half a million dollars. There are just 53 players remaining after Day 2, so everyone still in the tournament has made the money.

Yu began yesterday with 103,700 chips, a solid stack for that point in the tournament, but he clearly did some work Sunday, multiplying his stack ten-fold.

It took a long time for Yu to make a move, as well after the dinner break, with an average stack over 400,000, he was still only in the 100,000 chips range. But climb he did, not just staying alive, but thriving as others fell by the wayside. He completed his rise to the top of the chip counts late in the night when he was up against Sean Winter and Winter’s last 250,000 chips. All-in pre-flop, Winter had 5-5 while Yu had A-J. Yu found a Jack on the flop and that was it for Winter, while Yu’s stack elevated to 1.380 million.

Yu currently ranks 327th on the Global Poker Index. He is no stranger to deep tournament runs, as he has nearly $ 2.3 million in live tournament earnings. His largest cash was for more than $ 600,000 when he finished third in the 2015 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event. Yu also has two World Series of Poker bracelets in his trophy case. The first was won in 2015 (not a bad year for him), when he took the title in the $ 10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, good for almost $ 300,000. He won his second bracelet at last year’s WSOP in the $ 10,000 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship; that paycheck was for more than $ 230,000.

Yu doesn’t have much breathing room at the top. Joseph Couden is nearly tied with him, holding 1.339 million chips. Qasem Jamhour is close behind with 1.284 million. And after him, there are three more players all around a million: Andjelko Andrejevic (1.023 million), Mike Chiappetta (1.021 million), and Nick Schwarmann (1.017 million). Two more players have more than 900,000 chips. Should setup for a competitive Monday as players jockey for position as the final table nears.

2018 World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Ben Yu – 1,382,000
2. Joseph Couden – 1,339,000
3. Qasem Jamhour – 1,284,000
4. Andjelko Andrejevic – 1,023,000
5. Mike Chiappetta – 1,021,000
6. Nick Schwarmann – 1,017,000
7. Ness Reilly – 973,000
8. John Richards – 910,000
9. Ardit Kurshumi – 843,000
10. Rainer Kempe – 793,000

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World Poker Tour Makes Late Addition to Season XVI with WPT Amsterdam

 World Poker Tour Makes Late Addition to Season XVI with WPT Amsterdam

Not content to sit on their laurels of an outstanding Season XVI, the World Poker Tour has added another event to the roster for the current season. After initially being off the schedule, the WPT Amsterdam will be back for another run from the top pros in Europe just prior to the end of season festivities.

For the fourth year in a row, the WPT Amsterdam will be contested at the Holland Casino Amsterdam. The €3300 Main Event will take place from April 16-20, giving its champion just long enough to get to the States of America for the WPT Tournament of Champions. All winners from the current season receive a seat in the Tournament of Champions as a part of their victory, along with a WPT bracelet, their name inscribed on the Champions’ Cup and a nice financial payday.

“We are proud to return to Holland Casino, home of the first-ever WPT Main Tour event in the Netherlands, for a spectacular festival in partnership with WPTDeepStacks,” said Hermance Blum, General Manager of WPT Europe. “One of the world’s most passionate poker communities is the Netherlands, and Amsterdam presents the perfect location for players wishing to travel to a major European tournament series. With both WPTDeepStacks and WPT Main Tour main events on the schedule, we look forward to seeing you at Holland Casino Amsterdam in April for an incredible week of poker.”

As Blum alluded to, the return of the WPT Main Tour isn’t the only reason for celebration in the Netherlands come April. Along with the Main Tour, the WPTDeepStacks will be back in action. The WPTDeepStacks Amsterdam will be a €1500 buy in tournament that will run just prior to the Main Event on April 13-16.

“It is a great honor for Holland Casino to bring the prestigious World Poker Tour for a fourth consecutive year and WPTDeepStacks for a second year back to Amsterdam,” said Erwin van Lambaart, the Chief Executive Officer of Holland Casino. “Hosting the WPT at Holland Casino ensures a poker festival of the highest standards, and we look forward to welcoming in the world’s best players as they compete on the game’s biggest stage.”

With the addition of the WPT Amsterdam as a part of the Main Tour schedule, there is officially seven events left on the Season XVI schedule. The WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open is currently ongoing, with the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open just around the horizon beginning on January 28. The venerable WPT L. A. Poker Classic (with its $ 10,000 buy in) awaits players on February 24, with the WPT Rolling Thunder in Northern California beginning on March 2. On April 13, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, will play host to the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

Once the WPT Amsterdam is completed (and provided that victor is old enough – European casinos have a lower age threshold for entry), then the Season XVI champions will head for Las Vegas for the Tournament of Champions in May. While the current season’s champions are already assured a seat, any past champion of the WPT can buy in directly to the $ 15,000 event. Last year’s tournament was held as a part of the festivities at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, with Daniel Weinman defeating hometown favorite Michael Mizrachi to capture the championship.

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Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

 Long Dormant Revel Casino in Atlantic City Sold

Atlantic City’s Revel Casino, which has been closed since September 2014, has been sold. Bruce Deifik, the founder of Integrated Properties in Denver, confirmed Monday that he purchased the ill-conceived property for $ 200 million through his business AC OCEAN WALK from Florida developer Glenn Straub.

The Revel was designed to be a luxury casino property to rival the Borgata. It cost a staggering $ 2.4 billion to build and opened in April 2012. It never made a profit and closed about two and a half years later, the third of four Atlantic City casinos to shutter its doors that year.

The casino was a failure from the start, as financial problems caused construction to be halted more than once. It bled money from the moment it opened, couldn’t pay its property taxes, couldn’t pay contractors, couldn’t repay loans, and went into bankruptcy twice.

In August 2014, Revel announced that if it did not receive any acceptable bids to purchase the casino, it would close by September 1st. It closed one day after that.

On October 1st, 2014, Brookfield US Holdings won a bankruptcy auction for the Revel, bidding $ 110 million. This angered Glenn Straub, who felt some funny business was going on when the auction was delayed from the previous week even though all parties were present. The Press of Atlantic City reported that Revel executives held closed-door meetings to discuss offers, which raised the suspicion of Straub.

Straub’s company, Polo North Country club, had bid $ 95.4 million, a bid which was used as a backup in case the sale to Brookfield fell through. As it turned out, the sale did fall through and in January 2015, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale to Straub. In February, though, Revel cancelled the Straub deal and then in April engaged in talks once again with Straub, eventually agreed to sell him the casino for only $ 82 million.

In June 2016, Straub said he was going to reopen the resort with just a small casino and lots of entertainment facilities like a water park, an e-sports lounge, and an equestrian facility. In September of that year, the property was renamed TEN, but in the end, it never reopened.

Bruce Deifik, though, has said he will re-open the property this summer with a new name, Ocean Resort Casino.

“We are incredibly excited that we were able to take advantage of the opportunity to acquire this tremendous property at a time when Atlantic City is seeing great economic strides,” Deifik said in a statement. “Now the city has a number of exciting new projects with our property and the Hard Rock, as well as Stockton University’s new campus and the expansion of the medical center.”

The Hard Rock that Deifik mentioned is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed October 10th, 2016. In March 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased the former east coast poker haven and announced it would rebranded the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

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Cary Katz Wins 2018 PCA $100K Super High Roller Event

 Cary Katz Wins 2018 PCA $100K Super High Roller Event

When we were kids, my brother and I were huge Milwaukee Brewers fans (and still are). Baseball’s all-time stolen base leader, Rickey Henderson, was never a member of the Brewers, but my brother loved him nonetheless because they shared the same first name (though my sibling’s name doesn’t have the “e”). As such, I predict the child version of my bro would have just become a gigantic fan of last night’s winner of the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100,000 Super High Roller Event, Cary Katz.

Unfortunately for us, we are not related to the man, so there are no generous birthday gifts in our future. For his real relatives, though, they could be in for quite the boon after Katz’s nearly $ 1.5 million win.

One thing that is nuts about Katz’s victory is that he did not even play on Day 1 of the tournament. As players were allowed to register before the beginning of Day 2, he did just that, sacrificing the ability to build up chips on the first day. Of course, he could have busted out on Day 1, so there is a trade-off there. With just 48 entrants, though, opting to skip the first day is a sizable risk.

As such, Katz was one of the short stacks going into the seven-handed final table with 855,000 chips, one of just two players below the million chip mark. For comparison, the three players at the top of the standings – Ivan Luca, Justin Bonomo, and Daniel Negreanu – had 2.760 million, 2.695 million, and 2.415 million, respectively.

For quite a while, Katz made little to no headway, languishing at the bottom of the chip counts. Even after he doubled twice and two players busted out by Hand 45 of the final table, Katz was still the short stack with 1.210 million chips. Luca and Bryn Kenney, meanwhile, were up over 4 million.

Shockingly, Luca and Kenney locked horns two hands later, with both ending up all-in. Kenney’s A-K bested Luca’s A-J and suddenly the chip lead from nearly the entire day was out in fifth place and Kenney had 8.260 million chips.

Katz was up and down for a while after that, mostly remaining the short stack, but he got aggressive leading up to Hand 121, frequently shoving and forcing folds. After Kenney lost a solid pot to Bonomo, there was virtually a three-way tie at about 4 million chips.

A few hands later, Katz forced Kenney out of a big hand and when Bonomo knocked out Kenney shortly thereafter, it was somehow Katz in the lead going into heads-up, 6.695 million to 5.305 million. And it didn’t take long for Katz to clinch it. He extended his lead four hands into heads-up when his quads beat Bonomo’s full house (it was impressive that Bonomo wasn’t eliminated right there).

Three hands later, Bonomo shoved for 3.3 million with A-K and Katz called with 8-8. Bonomo wasn’t able to pair either of his cards, capping Cary Katz’s amazing run to the Super High Roller title.

2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100K Super High Roller – Final Table Results

1. Cary Katz – $ 1,492,340
2. Justin Bonomo – $ 1,077,800
3. Bryn Kenney – $ 686,960
4. Daniel Negreanu – $ 521,140
5. Ivan Luca – $ 402,700
6. Ike Haxton – $ 307,940
7. Sam Greenwood – $ 248,720

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Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

 Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

Another American poker pro has left Team PokerStars, as Jason Mercier has announced his departure from his role as a site ambassador. As with fellow pro Vanessa Selbst, Mercier’s stint with PokerStars was effective at the end of 2017.

In a blog post on PokerStars’ website, Mercier explained that the reason for his decision – his contract with PokerStars was up at the end of 2017 and he had to think about what to do about renewal – revolved completely around his family and his newborn child.

His son, Marco Henry, was born three months ago. As any parent knows, having a child changes one’s life and priorities immediately. Said Mercier:

After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How’s it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

Mercier said he “delayed my inevitable contract discussion” with PokerStars, but as the end of the year drew near, he realized it was time to call it quits. He needed to stop traveling full time and be home with his family.

While I have never been and never will be in the sort of position Mercier is in as an extremely successful poker pro, I did make a somewhat similar decision with my career in the poker world, though on a much smaller scale. When I started out in poker, I covered the WSOP live in Las Vegas in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, my wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born that October. The following year, this site’s ownership (different ownership than today) asked if I could cover the WSOP again. I said no, as I did not want to leave my wife and infant, especially since my wife worked full-time. While I missed being at the Rio, it really wasn’t a difficult decision, and fortunately, my boss was onboard with it.

“The conversation about my contract was short and sweet,” Mercier wrote. “There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life… hey, a kid can dream can’t he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable.”

At the end of the blog post, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog staff, added a footnote from the site. He briefly described how they had met Mercier and how one thing that stuck out about him was that “he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.”

“So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life,” Bartley wrote. “The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he’ll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon.”

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com / Jamie Thomson

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