2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 4: 19 Remain with Plenty of Known Pros Chasing Ryan Tosoc

 2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 4: 19 Remain with Plenty of Known Pros Chasing Ryan Tosoc

After another six levels of play on Thursday, the final 19 contenders have been determined for the World Poker Tour’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Atop the standings is an unknown commodity, Ryan Tosoc, who has a host of known pros and a former NFL defensive lineman in hot pursuit.

The Day 4 action started innocently enough with the drive to determining who would get paid from the event. 75 players came back to the tables Thursday afternoon, but three of those people would have rather stayed in bed. The reason? They would receive exactly $ 0 for having put in three days of work and not receive any return on the $ 10,000 (at the minimum, as it was an unlimited rebuy tournament) buy-in.

Instead of waiting to get down to the bubble, Bellagio officials chose to move into hand-for-hand play to start the day’s action. There was hope by the staff that, by taking this action, the bubble would pop sooner rather than players delaying the action through tanking and “Hollywooding” on the cusp of the payout. Instead of popping the bubble quickly, however, it seemed to extend the agony for the players rather than shorten it.

Part of the situation was that players kept getting double ups. Brandon Meyers found a double through Dzmitry Urbanovich only four hands in, keeping Meyers alive, and Kristina Holst did the same thing at the same time in a hand against Tyler Reiman. It took a three-way pot about 45 minutes into the day’s play before an elimination would occur.

Moving all in from under the gun, Keith Lehr had to be a bit concerned when both Darren Rabinowitz (who moved all in from the hijack) and Dan Smith (who called out of the big blind) decided to look him up. Smith had a pocket pair of Queens to take against Rabinowitz and Lehr, who both held Big Slick, and the 10-6-3-6-5 board looked OK for Smith until you considered the suits. With four clubs on the board, it became a question of who had a club amongst their hole cards. That fortunate individual was Rabinowitz, whose A♣ played to take both the side pot with Smith and the overall pot, knocking off Lehr in the process.

Two hours into hand-for-hand play, only one player (Lehr) was eliminated and the players were beginning to get a bit restless. One of those restless souls was Mike Matusow, who raised up the small blind of Dan O’Brien to see a J-10-3 flop. O’Brien would check-call a bet from Matusow to see a Queen come on the turn and the fuse was lit. This time O’Brien would check-raise the turn bet out of Matusow, bringing an all-in three-bet from Matusow and an immediate call from O’Brien. Both had straights when the cards were on their backs, but O’Brien’s A-K gave him Broadway and Matusow’s 9-8 left him with the sucker end of the deal. Drawing dead, Matusow left the floor in 74th place ($ 0) as hand-for-hand continued.

After almost three hours of hand-for-hand tedium, it was chip leader Ryan Hughes who finally took care of the situation. 22 hands into the day (yes, 22 hands in nearly three hours), Jerry Wong pushed his chips to the center and Hughes nearly beat him into the pot with his call. Wong’s pocket Jacks looked good, but Hughes’ pocket Kings looked even better. After a ten-high board was laid out, Wong was out on the money bubble and Hughes extended his lead.

With everyone now guaranteed at lin 2east $ 22,251, things lightened up as the payouts began. Mark Radoja, Aaron Massey, Joe Hachem, David Pham, Haixia Zhang, Anatoly Filatov, Jesse Sylvia and Urbanovich were just some of the players who departed before the dinner break. After dinner, Hughes took some hits to his stack and, after doubling up James Romero, fell under the chip average for the first time in almost three days. Hughes would never recover from that hit to his stack, eventually departing in 21st place for his efforts.

The day was particularly nice for two participants. Richard Seymour, who holds three Super Bowl rings from his time with the New England Patriots (he would finish his career in 2012 with the Oakland Raiders), has segued into poker to soothe his competitive beast and he has some game to his walk. After starting the day with about 270,000 in chips, Seymour had broken the million chip mark after the dinner break. Although he would fall back to the pack by the end of the night, Seymour will be one of the players to watch on Friday as a potential final tablist.

The other player who made some noise was Tosoc. In a three way all-in situation just after midnight, Tosoc was up against both Jared Jaffee and Christian Christner and had the goods for battle. His pocket Aces stood up over Jaffee’s pocket Kings and Christner’s pocket treys, with the resulting 3.3 million pot pushing Tosoc into the lead. Jaffee suffered a significant hit to his stack but was still alive with 700K in chips, while Christner hit the rail in 22nd place. That pot alone made sure that Tosoc would be the chip leader going into Friday’s action:

Ryan Tosoc, 3.492 million
Justin Bonomo, 2.687 million
James Romero, 2.03 million
JC Tran, 1.806 million
Stephen Graner, 1.655 million
Jake Schindler, 1.289 million
Rob Wazwaz, 1.28 million
Bob Buckenmayer, 1.212 million
Alex Condon, 1.189 million
Igor Yaroshevsky, 1.065 million

While he has been around since 2012, Tosoc hasn’t exactly made an impact on the tournament poker world. Since his first cash in a World Series of Poker Circuit preliminary event four years ago, arguably Tosoc’s biggest achievement would be his final table finish in the $ 1 million guaranteed finale of the Deepstack Extravaganza 3.5 at the Venetian in September of this year. That $ 125,523 payday was the largest one of his career – unless he finishes this tournament in eighth place or better.

Tosoc, Seymour and the remainder of the 19-player field will play tonight until the official six-handed WPT final table is set. That will put everything in place for Saturday’s final table action, which will be taped for broadcast on the Season XV schedule of the WPT on Fox Sports Network in 2017.

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2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 3: Money Bubble Not Popped, Ryan Hughes Continues to Lead

 2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 3: Money Bubble Not Popped, Ryan Hughes Continues to Lead

Day 3 and its seven levels are in the books for the 2016 World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and, although they didn’t pop the money bubble on Wednesday, Ryan Hughes was able to lead the tournament for the second consecutive day.

277 players came back to chairs with chips in front of them on Wednesday with the goal of popping that said money bubble and starting to hand out some of the $ 7 million-plus prize pool to players. Not only was Hughes in good shape to start the day, World Series of Poker bracelet winner Jennifer Tilly was right on his heels in second. Toss in such names as Anthony Spinella, David ‘The Dragon’ Pham and Justin Bonomo lurking down in the Top Ten and the day was set for some frenetic poker action.

Of interest to the railbirds in attendance (and a subject that comes up on occasion) is just how A) difficult the field is, and B) whether the tournament is geared towards the pros at the expense of the “amateur” players. The $ 10,000 buy in tournament was unlimited entries until the beginning of Level 9 on Tuesday and 791 entries were received, tying a WPT record. In an intriguing breakdown, 205 players individually counted for multiple “re-entry” into the Five Diamond. 152 of those players bought in twice, 43 players bought in three times and 10 players bought in four times OR MORE to reach the 791 entries. Hence, the 205 multi-buyers (accounting for at least 473 entries) along with the minimum 318 players who took one shot give the poker community evidence to debate the issue.

For some, it didn’t matter. Coming back to short stacks meant that they were either coming back to make their rush at the WPT Five Diamond title or they were heading back out the same doors they had just entered. Lily Kiletto was one of these unfortunate individuals as, with only about 9K from her original starting stack of 30K, she took a suited Ace against Barry Hutter’s pocket Jacks. Although she would flop her kicker, Kiletto couldn’t find trips or the flush and was out of the tournament early.

One of the people who benefitted from the multiple reentry process was former NFL defensive lineman Richard Seymour. In for at least three buy ins because he ran pocket Kings into pocket Aces twice over the first two days, Seymour saw his fortunes brighten a bit on Day 3. He doubled up through Daryll Fish and slowly chipped up throughout the day. Although he’ll at least have to finish in 42nd place or higher to get his buy ins back (that position pays $ 32,225), Seymour is in position to cash with his 230,000-chip stack to start Thursday.

The news wasn’t as good for a couple of ladies in the event. Cate Hall, who took the WPT by storm during Season XIV in making a couple of televised final tables (including this one), was ambling along nicely before getting involved in a three-way hand with Gerald Karlic and Hutter. After three betting Hutter’s raise, Hall watched him push all in for his stack and Karlic get out of the way. Hall, barely covering Hutter’s stack, took a lengthy tank of about 10 minutes (and involved a TD countdown after the clock was called) before calling. When the cards came up, everyone at the table was stunned.

While Hutter had a pocket pair, it was of Jacks, not Kings or Aces as had been expected. Hall’s holdings were suspect to begin with, an off suit A-10 that was alive against Hutter but with only one over card (and not an expected big pair). When the board ran out seven high, Hutter scored a huge double to over 313K in chips and Hall was left with scraps; soon after this clash, Hutter put Hall out of her misery in eliminating her from the tournament.

The other lady who had difficulties was Tilly. Starting the day with a plentiful 279,100 in chips, Tilly would go on a rollercoaster ride through the day that had her commenting on Twitter, “How quickly can you go from ‘I’m going to win $ 1.9 million!’ to ‘Oooh, I hope I can min-cash?’” The answer to the question? How about not even the min-cash?

Tilly was the victim of a massive cooler that had more drama than most films she reads the scripts for. After a flurry of betting against Jesse Sylvia, Tilly was all in pre-flop with pocket Kings against Sylvia’s pocket Aces. A King in the window of a K-10-9 flop pushed Tilly into the lead and had Sylvia lamenting that unfortunate card. A trey kept Tilly in the lead but an Ace on the river changed everything. In one card, Tilly went from a double to keep her dream of a cash alive to out of the tournament short of the dinner break.

The constant throughout the day was Hughes, who never was seriously challenged. He’ll enter the Fontana Lounge at the Bellagio on Thursday as the chip leader (and the only player over a million chips) for the second day in a row:

Ryan Hughes, 1,212,500
Christian Harder, 829,500
James Romero, 771,000
Justin Bonomo, 767,500
Yan Lavrovsky, 720,500
Tony Utnage, 678,000
Chris Klodnicki, 586,500
Christian Christner, 565,000
Ron Paolucci, 529,000
Sergi Reixach, 528,000

Thursday’s Day 4 will feature another seven levels of play, with the first order of business getting to the money bubble. With only 75 players left (72 get paid), that should be done in rather quick order. It’s then on to determining the final three tables for Friday’s play ahead of Championship Saturday for the WPT Five Diamond.

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State of Iowa Disbands State Forfeiture Unit After Poker Players’ Lawsuit

 State of Iowa Disbands State Forfeiture Unit After Poker Players’ Lawsuit

After a lawsuit brought by two traveling poker players over the confiscation of their bankrolls, the State of Iowa has not only refunded the players their monies beyond what they were carrying but also disbanded the police unit in charge of such actions.

On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Safety announced that it was disbanding its Drug Interdiction Team, which was charged with monitoring drug traffic in the Hawkeye State. As a part of their actions, however, the Drug Interdiction Team could, upon stopping someone, confiscate whatever was found in the vehicle as a “property forfeiture.” In some cases, this involved people losing property that they were carrying with them or, in many cases, large amounts of cash that the Drug Interdiction Team would seize, questioning the owners why they were traveling with so much moolah.

Per Nick Sibilla of the Institute of Justice, since 1985 Iowa has been one of the most vociferous enforcers of seizure laws, which allows law enforcement to take property even if someone isn’t convicted of a crime. Sibilla writes that more than 19,000 people had cash seized by the different law enforcement arms in Iowa, with 4200 vehicles, 37 real estate properties and $ 55 million. From now on, the Iowa Department of Public Safety – State Patrol officers – will not participate in such seizures.

In an official statement, Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nathan Ludwig noted, “The State Patrol will no longer specifically assign Troopers to interdiction (seizure) duty on a full-time basis.” While this removes the State Patrols from the situation, individual city and county law enforcement officers can continue with their seizure protocols.

The actions by the Iowa Department of Public Safety may well be traced back to two poker players who decided to fight the system.

In April 2013, William Davis and John Newmerzhycky, two California poker players in the Midwest to take part in tournaments on the World Series of Poker Circuit, were stopped after they allegedly failed to signal when passing a vehicle. Citing Newmerzhycky’s alleged “fidgeting,” two State Troopers pulled the men out, searched the vehicle, and came up with slightly more than $ 100,000 and a small amount of marijuana.

Following Newmerzhycky’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge, the state seized the entirety of the $ 100K, sparking a federal lawsuit from Davis and Newmerzhycky that challenged the officers’ contentions. Davis and Newmerzhycky said there was no probable cause for them to be stopped as they had signaled and that the seized money was a part of a “warrantless search” and thus taken illegally. After the two men decided to stand and fight the case (and a review of the dashboard camera from the officers, which indeed showed they did signal), the Poweshiek County Attorney’s Office (where the case was held) chose to return $ 90,000 to the two men in the hopes they would go away.

The quick answer:  they didn’t. Continuing with their federal case, the players forced the state of Iowa’s hand, with Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Peterzalek eventually deciding to settle the case prior to going to trial and, with the ending of the State Troopers involvement in these cases, hope to put the issue behind them. Peterzalek and the State of Iowa will add in another $ 60,000 to Davis and Newmerzhycky, stating that “in light of the complexity of the case and the potential exposure to the state,” it was best to take that action. Davis and Newmerzhycky were suing for damages and attorney’s fees that could have driven the cost to the state up massively.

In this case, the story has a successful conclusion for the players. But it must be said that it is not always in the best interests of players to travel with massive amounts of money on their persons. In most cases, if you know you’re going to a certain casino, if a wire can be arranged it is for the best.

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2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2: Ryan Hughes Pulls to Lead, 270 Players Remaining

 2016 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 2: Ryan Hughes Pulls to Lead, 270 Players Remaining

Day 2 of the largest-ever World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event closed shop on Tuesday evening, still quite some distance from the money but with a notable young pro and a “blast from the past” taking up residence atop the standings.

The WPT Five Diamond has already etched its name in the annals of the tour’s history. By the time that late registration closed on Tuesday afternoon, 791 entries had stepped to the tables for action at the Bellagio. For a $ 10,000 event in this day and age, that is a stunning number of participants (there were unlimited rebuys for this tournament until the start of Level 9). In fact, the total field for the 2016 WPT Five Diamond equals the previous record field for a $ 10,000 WPT event (tied with the 2007 WPT L. A. Poker Classic, which also drew 791 entries).

The massive field that turned out for the WPT Five Diamond also generated a very healthy prize pool. After the deductions for rake and other amenities (approximately 7% of the total $ 10,400 buy in), the $ 7,672,700 prize pool became the largest ever $ 10,000 buy in tournament in the history of the WPT, besting the 2007 LAPC by almost $ 80,000. Particularly interested in these stats will be the 72 players who will take home a piece of the kitty, with a min-cash good for a $ 22,251 bump to the bankroll. The eventual champion of the tournament will take home $ 1,938,118, and second place will also become a new millionaire in picking up $ 1,124,051.

The reason we’re bringing up these numbers a bit early is that, as with most Day Twos, there isn’t much to talk about until they start getting close to the money. Of the original 519 players who came to the felt Monday, 368 of them came back on Tuesday to continue the festivities. If you’re quick with math, that means that there were 423 entries on Tuesday alone in the late registration process, with those latecomers having varied degrees of success by the end of five levels of action.

One player in particular had a rather quick stay at the tables. Noted poker professional/curmudgeon Allen Kessler ponied up his $ 10,000 and, within a half hour, had burned through his 30K in starting chips. Wearing a shirt parodying the motto of the website The Chive (Kessler’s shirt said “Keep Calm and Wait for Aces”), Kessler didn’t heed his own words in getting his chips to the center with a set of nines on the flop. The problem was his opponent held pocket Kings and had also flopped a set, leaving Kessler looking for the case nine. When that didn’t come, the normally cranky Kessler could only silently walk away after burning $ 10K in rapid fashion.

Kessler had plenty of company on the sidelines as the day’s action wore on. Newlywed Natasha Mercier (husband Jason waited until the very last minute to get in the game), Mohsin Charania, former NFL pro Richard Seymour (twice, both times his pocket Kings coolered by pocket Aces), Michael Mizrachi, Erik Seidel, and Justin Zaki all would be eliminated over the course of the day. As the action ended on Tuesday night, 270 players remained with quite a bit of work ahead of them.

Two players have been able to separate themselves from the pack. Using a late-night knockout, Ryan Hughes surged to the lead in the tournament; he will be sitting with a chip stack of 364,500 when the cards fly on Wednesday. Along with Hughes, 2005 World Series of Poker Ladies’ Champion Jennifer Tilly has enjoyed a good ride to this point, racking up 279,100 in chips for second place in the event. It’s come with a cost, however, as Tilly chirped over Twitter last night, “Long day of poker. I don’t know what hurts more, my back or my brain.”

1. Ryan Hughes, 364,500
2. Jennifer Tilly, 279,100
3. Samuel Bernabeu, 279,000
4. A. J. Gambino, 277,300
5. Kristina Holst, 267,000
6. Lucas Blanco Oliver, 263,000
7. Corey Hochman, 260,400
8. Anthony Spinella, 226,700
9. David Pham, 224,300
10. Justin Bonomo, 219,800

In a change to the schedule due to the large field in this tournament, Bellagio officials have determined that Wednesday’s Day 3 action will be seven 90-minute levels instead of the previously scheduled five. It will be tough to cut the 270-player field to the final 72 on Wednesday (the money bubble), but they’re going to have to pick up the pace if the official six handed WPT final table is to be played out on Saturday night.

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Oleg Vasylchenko Wins 2016 WPT Prague Main Event

 Oleg Vasylchenko Wins 2016 WPT Prague Main Event

As the one World Poker Tour event got underway at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, another ended across the pond in the Czech Republic (I know I started another article same way today, but I enjoy the symmetry). The Ukraine’s Oleg Vasylchenko captured the first major live tournament title of his career Monday, defeating Russia’s Anton Petrov to win the WPT Prague Main Event.

Vasylchenko went into the final table as the chip leader after holding that position the entire day on Sunday. With 1.595 million chips, he had a sizable lead over second place Tonio Roder, who had 1.150 million, though it wasn’t so outlandish that one would assume it was insurmountable. Compared to the other four players, though, Vasylchenko had a mountain in front of him. Third place was just over 700,000 chips.

With nobody extremely low in chips compared to the rest of the field, it looked like nobody wanted to take any huge chances early. The first elimination, therefore, didn’t happen until Hand #21. Tonio Roder bet 55,000 chips pre-flop and both Prebben Stokkan and Romain Lewis moved all-in. Roder called with pocket Jacks, up against the T-9 of hearts of Stokkan and the pocket Aces of Lewis. None of the community cards helped anyone, meaning that Lewis was helped by default and Stokkan was gone in sixth place while Lewis tripled up.

Petrov would not have been in the final two were it not for some sweet luck. On Hand #28, he shoved for 321,000 with pocket Fours. Martin Kabrhel, who had taken a lot of flak for tanking throughout the tournament, also moved all-in with Nines after having the clock called on him (as had happened many times in the tourney before that). The remaining players got out of the way and Petrov ended up hitting a Four on the turn to double-up, leaving Kabrhel crippled.

Kabrhel survived a little while before bowing out in fifth place on Hand #46.

On Hand #66, Tonio Roder raised to 80,000 pre-flop and Romain Lewis called. On the flop of 7-Q-3, Lewis checked, Roder bet, and Lewis moved all-in with 6-3. Roder made the call with A-7 and had a commanding lead in the hand. The turn was a Ten and the river an Ace to knock Lewis out in fourth place.

Things slowed down a bit after that; the remaining three players wanted to make it to heads-up. It was finally Roder who was the one on the outside looking in. Roder raised pre-flop and got a called from Vasylchenko. Vasylchenko checked the flop of 5-8-4 (two diamonds) and called Roder’s subsequent all-in. Roder had an 8, but so did Vasylchenko. Better yet, Vasylchenko had two diamonds and when another diamond landed on the turn, he eliminated Roder in third place.

Going into heads-up play, Vasylchenko led Petrov 3.115 million to 1.895. It went quickly, as Petrov managed to only win one hand. On the eight hand of heads-up, Petrov bet 115,000 pre-flop and Vasylchenko called. Both players checked the T-4-7 flop to bring on a Jack on the turn. Vasylchenko bet 315,000, Petrov moved all-in, and Vasylchenko called. Petrov showed J-3 suited for top pair, while Vasylchenko revealed that he had T-7, for a flopped two pair. The river was no help to Petrov and Vasylchenko was crowned WPT Prague champion.

2016 World Poker Tour Prague Main Event – Final Table Results

1.    Oleg Vasylchenko – €132,200
2.    Anton Petrov – €82,000
3.    Tonio Roder – €52,500
4.    Romain Lewis – €39,120
5.    Martin Kabrhel – €29,410
6.    Prebben Stokkan – €23,520

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