Archive for February, 2016
Although it has been rumored to be one of his next big projects in Hollywood, screenwriter/playwright and producer Aaron Sorkin – one of the most prolific writers in Tinseltown who has seen his award-winning work on both television and the silver screen – has reportedly chosen his lead for his next big film. That film is Molly’s Game (it allegedly has a longer title, but let’s keep it simple here), based on the expose written by former “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom, and the actor supposedly set to fill her stilettos is two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain.
Chastain is best known for her work in the Academy Award winning film Zero Dark Thirty, in which she played a CIA intelligence analyst who hunts down terrorist Osama bin Laden over the span of a decade. That performance earned Chastain her second Oscar nomination (she would lose to Meryl Streep), following up on her first nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2011 for her work in The Help (Chastain would be defeated by Melissa Leo). She has also starred in films like Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, Crimson Peak, and The Martian.
To say that Sorkin’s body of work is also outstanding would be an extreme understatement. He was the playwright who penned the play and movie A Few Good Men and parlayed that success into a long career in theater, television and cinema. He was the screenwriter for Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball, while also taking to television for some of the most critically acclaimed television series’ of our time. Sorkin was the creator and writer of Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and The Newsroom, all of which have found outstanding success on a variety of television networks. In 2015, prior to moving on to the potential Bloom film, Sorkin was the screenwriter for the film Steve Jobs (the good one with Michael Fassbender, not the crappy one with Ashton Kutcher).
It is precisely because of this success that Sorkin has the option to choose what projects he wants to work on and, as the world learned during the Sony e-mail hacks, it hasn’t necessarily been pretty. In 2014, the Sony e-mail hacks released a trove of information to the general public, including information on actors’ salaries and the inner workings of the different studios around Hollywood. Sorkin’s name – and, by extension, Bloom’s – came up in a rather ugly e-mail that resulted in a studio head losing their job.
Then-Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Amy Pascal, in a blistering e-mail to an underling, discussed projects that Sorkin wanted to work on, one of which was a screen adaptation of Bloom’s book. In her e-mail, Pascal accused Sorkin of being “broke” and that the company had already taken care of him (“paid his insane fee”) on another film that he decided to pass on to pick up Bloom’s book. Pascal also insinuated that Sorkin and Bloom were involved in a sexual relationship, thus Sorkin’s interest in writing the screenplay for what Pascal called “the poker movie.”
Whether it is actually a poker movie or not is the big question. Bloom was the organizer and hostess for some of the biggest cash games on both coasts in the mid-2000s, serving Hollywood A-list actors and directors, New York businessmen and hedge fund managers and the ilk. The job saw Bloom rise from the shadows of her brother, former Olympian Jeremy Bloom, to pulling in sometimes six figures nightly, simply for organizing poker games for wealthy people.
It also put her at tremendous risk, especially after moving her game from the West Coast to the East Coast. She was violently robbed and beaten just prior to her arrest on federal gambling charges, which she pled guilty to in 2013 and received a light fine and probation. The stories in her book – if brought to light in a movie – would cast some prominent Hollywood figures in a highly negative light (that is, if the studios allowed Sorkin to actually use the names that Bloom dropped).
If it is true, the choice of Chastain is an intriguing one in that the red-headed actor doesn’t look anything like the raven-headed Bloom (at 38, however, they are roughly the same age). Chastain also has a pretty full dance card for 2016, with two films in post-production, two in pre-production (including a rumored role that could nab her an Oscar as country music legend Tammy Wynette) and one movie filming (the political thriller Miss Sloane). There is also currently no word on if the script has been completed by Sorkin, a studio has picked up the option for the film or when it would begin filming.
Kicking off their 3rd Annual “California Swing,” the World Poker Tour has landed in sunny Southern California – the Commerce Casino in Bell Gardens, CA, to be precise – for their perennial stop at the L. A. Poker Classic. The first stop of a trio of tournaments in California (the Bay 101 Shooting Star in San Jose and the WPT Rolling Thunder at Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento make up the other legs of the “Swing”), the L. A. Poker Classic is one of the longest tenured tournaments on the WPT schedule, dating back to its inaugural season (only the Legends of Poker and the Five Diamond World Poker Classic can also say that). It is also one of the few tournaments left on the WPT schedule that is “old school” – one starting day and a $ 10,000 buy in.
Perhaps because of this – or maybe it was the American Poker Awards that were held on Thursday night – the Commerce Casino’s tournament arena was packed to the gills with prominent professionals. With eight levels to play on Saturday, nobody wanted to miss out on any of the action, so players such as Darren Elias, Anthony Gregg, Stephen Chidwick, Mike Leah, Freddy Deeb, Mohsin Charania, Fedor Holz, Jonathan Little, Tom Marchese, Carlos Mortensen and Barry Greenstein had already taken their chairs when the cards hit the air on Saturday afternoon. With the late registration period going on until the start of play on Sunday, however, there were a few stragglers to the event.
Level 2 would bring three strong players to the mix, including a former LAPC champion. Former WPT champions Phil Laak, Marvin Rettenmaier and Season XII L. A. Poker Classic champion Chris Moorman dropped $ 10K into the kitty for their right to play just as three others were making their way to the exit. Because of the “no rebuy” format of the LAPC, players such as Erik Seidel, Tyler Patterson and Cord Garcia had the afternoon to sightsee in Los Angeles.
One of the early movers that would prove to be around by the end of the day would be Chance Kornuth. During the afternoon, he proved the power of perseverance when, on a flop of J-9-2, his flop bet of 1700 was called. After a King peeled on the turn, Kornuth would check-call a 3000 chip bet from his opponent and, when a Queen hit the river to put a difficult board up, Kornuth again woke up for 5100 chips. His opponent didn’t believe the story, making the call and, after Kornuth showed pocket Queens for the rivered set, all his opponent could do was kiss the chips goodbye as his cards headed to the muck and Kornuth moved to 53,000 in chips.
Kornuth would use that boost to roll through Day 1 of the L. A. Poker Classic. By the time Level 8 had concluded, Kornuth had added slightly more than 100K to that stack, good enough to hold onto the chip lead for Day 2 on Sunday:
1. Chance Kornuth, 153,600
2. Barry Hutter, 142,200
3. Grayson Ramage, 118,000
4. Jesse Yaginuma, 116,000
5. Jason Les, 115,400
6. Alexander Lakhov, 112,100
7. Max Altergott, 109,500
8. Mark Newhouse, 108,500
9. Matthew Lapossie, 107,600
10. Phil Laak, 105,000
There will be 305 players returning from the 488 that put their money up on Saturday for action. Unfortunately, such players as Samantha Abernathy, Ari Engel, Mike Sexton, Christian Harder, Keven Stammen and Loni Harwood will not be part of the festivities.
After the cards hit the air officially for the start of Day 2 on Sunday, the window will close as to any new entries for the tournament. At that point, the players will learn just what they are playing for (right now, taking off the ‘juice,’ it is around $ 4.5 million) and will settle in to determine the next champion of the World Poker Tour’s L. A. Poker Classic.
In front of a packed ballroom at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA, the 2nd Annual American Poker Awards were held on Thursday evening. Created by the chairman of the Global Poker Index, Alexandre Dreyfus, to celebrate the best of North American poker (much like its counterpart in the European Poker Awards), the ceremonies didn’t disappoint anyone as the crème of the poker world in 2015 were honored for their achievements.
Two awards were already determined before the statues were handed out. The GPI Player of the Year, Byron Kaverman, accepted his award for being the best player in North American for 2015 and Kelly Minkin picked up her trophy for being the GPL Female Player of the Year. After that, it was off to the voted awards, of which 11 were up for grabs.
Joe Giron defeated some excellent competition in one of the toughest categories in Media Content of the Year to take home the trophy. Giron’s work as the photojournalist for the World Series of Poker – and in particular his in-the-moment shot of a collapsed Daniel Negreanu upon his knockout from the Championship Event of the WSOP – was able to defeat 2014 AMA winner Brad Willis and his four-part series on the South Carolina underground poker scene, Faraz Jaka’s autobiographical CNN story on his nomadic tournament poker journeys and Jason Somerville’s record-setting Twitch broadcast of his WCOOP final table to capture the top prize.
One of the surprises of the 2015 APAs was in the Tournament Performance of the Year category. Going up against such powerhouse moments as Joe McKeehen’s domination of the WSOP “November Nine,” Mike Gorodinsky’s Poker Players’ Championship win at the WSOP and Jonathan Duhamel’s “Big One for One Drop” victory, Anthony Zinno’s second part of a back-to-back win on the World Poker Tour at the L. A. Poker Classic was thought to be a long shot. That long shot came home, however, as Zinno picked up the statue and the honors for the best tournament performance of 2015.
Another deserving victor was Matt Stout and the Charity Series of Poker. In the Charitable Initiative of the Year category, Stout and the CSOP faced off against other very qualified charitable causes in the Chad Brown Memorial Tournament, Tiger Woods’ Poker Night and the WSOP One Drop High Roller/Little One for One Drop and were able to emerge with the APA trophy. “Thank you so much to the players, casino and sponsors that have gotten behind this thing in a way I could only dream of,” Stout said to his supporters over his Facebook page. “You are quite literally helping me complete my life’s work.”
In addition to these awards, these were the other eight awards that were handed out during the ceremonies on Thursday night:
Event of the Year (Buy-in under $ 2000) – The Colossus at the WSOP Event of the Year (Buy-in over $ 2000) – The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Moment of the Year – Daniel Negreanu’s elimination in 11th place, WSOP Championship Event Breakout Performance of the Year – Joshua Beckley Poker Presenter of the Year – Kara Scott Media Person of the Year – Donnie Peters Industry Person of the Year – Matt Savage Poker Innovation of the Year – WSOP, Online Bracelet Event
A select panel also took the time to choose two “lifetime achievement” awards, and the only reason that those words are in parenthesis are because the people that the awards were given to have so much yet to give to the poker community. For his variety of work in the poker world, Kevin ‘Kevmath’ Mathers was the recipient of a 2015 APA. For his longtime efforts as an ambassador for the game of poker, WPT host Mike Sexton also was honored with a 2015 APA. The audience was more than appreciative of these awards and both men were extremely humbled about being honored by their peers.
With that, the 2015 American Poker Awards are in the books. Now we can start looking towards 2016 and wondering what special moments in North American poker may be honored a year from now when the ceremony’s roll around again.
In what may become an iconic moment in poker history (depending on where we are with it, say, five years from now), the inaugural player draft for the Global Poker League is now history. Twelve teams gathered in front of Commissioner Kara Scott on Thursday and, after a four-plus hour ceremony, left the conference room at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills with at least four members of their new teams.
The draft was broadcast live on Twitch and was preceded by a half-hour “pregame” show that featured commentators Joe Stapleton and Eric Danis alongside color commentators Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth. Ranging the draft room floor was sideline reporter Holly Sonders, a late addition to the GPL team but a good one in that she actually brought a feel for the thoughts of each of the managers as they were in their “draft modes.” At approximately 2PM on Thursday, Commissioner Scott took to the microphone and, after a few opening statements from her and GPL founder Alexandre Dreyfus, the Rome Emperors and manager Max Pescatori were on the clock.
The teams had three minutes to make their picks in the first round and each team took the maximum amount of time to complete that act. Pescatori stayed within the confines of Italy with his first pick, taking countryman Mustafa Kanit with his first pick, and Montreal Nationals manager Marc-Andre Ladouceur did the same when he selected fellow Canadian Mike McDonald for his first round pick. New York Rounders manager Bryn Kenney then chose the United States’ Jason Mercier, who was actually on hand for the draft and made a few comments about being chosen before the draft moved on.
Overall there were no real stunning surprises in the first round of picks. What was a bit of a surprise is that teams looked more at the marketing potential of their players rather than maybe choosing the best players available at the moment. Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Kim was arguably the manager guiltiest of this, stocking the Stars with a very Asian-centric team that will be quite well known to Asian poker fans but maybe not so much to the rest of the poker world. To a lesser extent, Moscow Wolverines manager Anatoly Filatov went in a similar direction with an Eastern European team.
Here are the 12 teams that will make up the Global Poker League with their current rosters as they were picked in Rounds 1 through 4:
Mustapha Kanit (ITA)
Dario Sammartino (ITA)
Timothy Adams (CAN)
Walter Treccarichi (ITA)
Mike McDonald (CAN)
Martin Jacobson (SWE)
Pascal Lefrancois (CAN)
Xuan Liu (CAN)
New York Rounders
Jason Mercier (USA)
Tom Marchese (USA)
Kevin MacPhee (USA)
Jason Wheeler (USA)
San Francisco Rush
Phil Galfond (USA)
Anthony Gregg (USA)
Kitty Kuo (TWN)
Anton Wigg (SWE)
Las Vegas Moneymakers
Anthony Zinno (USA)
Jonathan Duhamel (CAN)
Jake Cody (GBR)
Jonathan Little (USA)
Sao Paulo Metropolitans
Darren Elias (USA)
Byron Kaverman (USA)
Thiago Nishijima (BRA)
Joao Pires Simao (BRA)
Dmitry Urbanovich (POL)
Vladimir Troyanovskiy (RUS)
Andrey Pateychuk (RUS)
Sergey Lebedev (RUS)
Los Angeles Sunset
Fedor Holz (GER)
Olivier Busquet (USA)
Eugene Katchalov (USA from UKR)
Chance Kornuth (USA)
Brian Rast (USA)
Sorel Mizzi (CAN)
Dominik Nitsche (GER)
Jeff Gross (USA)
Bertrand Grospellier (FRA)
Davidi Kitai (BEL)
George Danzer (GER)
Mike Leah (CAN)
Hong Kong Stars
Wei Yi Zhang (CHN)
Raiden Kan (CHN)
Dong Guo (CHN)
Di Wei ‘Bryan’ Huang (SGP)
The next task for the managers is to choose two “wild cards” that will fill out the final rosters for the teams. These “wild cards” can literally be anyone in the world, which provides room for a great deal of discussion for the poker world to forecast who some of these picks might be. After these “wild cards” are determined, then the matches themselves can begin and the Global Poker League can truly come to life.
Although he came to the final table as the second shortest stack, David Ormsby would stick around long enough to become a thorn in the start of day chip leader Robert Forbes’ side, eventually defeating Forbes to take the championship of the World Poker Tour’s stop at the Fallsview Poker Classic in Canada on Thursday evening.
It definitely looked bleak for Ormsby at the start. With only 1.55 million in chips, he led only Thomas Archer (880,000 in chips) on the leaderboard when play began on Thursday afternoon. Ormsby was looking up at some difficult players that included Derek Verrian (1.565 million), Soren Turkewitsch (1.83 million), Mike Bui (2.86 million) and the previously mentioned Forbes, who was dominating the final table with his 4.015 million chip count.
Knowing he needed to make a move quick, Archer would push his chip stack to the center on the third hand of play with only an A-5, looking to steal the blinds and antes. As if he needed it, Forbes would wake up with a pocket pair of Queens on the button and, after he called Archer’s bet, saw the board give Archer a five but nothing else. By knocking out Archer in sixth place, Forbes solidified his lead by jumping over the six million chip mark and seemed to be on cruise control to the championship.
Forbes continued to punish his tablemates as his mountain of chips only got bigger. He dumped Turkewitsch from the tournament when his A-7 ruled over Turkewitsch’s A-4 (flopping a seven for good measure) to crack the nine million chip mark. Although he would suffer a couple of missteps to come back to the pack a bit, Forbes continued to be a wrecking ball in taking down Bui in fourth place when his pocket Aces stood over Bui’s K-10 off suit, giving Forbes twice as many chips as Verrian and Ormsby had between each other.
While Forbes had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Verrian and Ormsby didn’t roll over for him. Ormsby got a double up through Forbes, his A-K making it over Forbes’ A-9, but he would sacrifice some of those chips to Verrian as Verrian drew closer to Forbes. In fact, it was a battle between Verrian and Forbes that would bring the final table to heads up play.
On Hand 131, Verrian pushed out a bet off the button and Forbes three-bet out of the small blind. After Ormsby mucked, Verrian called to see a 6-5-3 flop that drew a 550K bet from Forbes. Verrian immediately moved all in for his remaining two million in chips and, after pondering his position, Forbes made the call. Verrian had hit top pair with his 8-6, but Forbes was in good shape with his A-4 (open-ended draw to the straight, Ace over card). A deuce came on the turn to give Forbes his straight and now Verrian could only be saved by a four to split the pot. Instead, a ten came on the river to send Verrian out in third place.
As they entered heads up play, Forbes was dominating the game:
Forbes – 9.265 million
Ormsby – 3.435 million
Forbes didn’t waste any time in trying to go for the kill, quickly taking his stack north of 10 million chips in four hands of play. Two more hands – both of which went to Ormsby and saw Forbes firing indiscriminately in trying to force Ormsby off his hands – saw Ormsby close the gap to 2:1, where it would stay for about 15 hands. On Hand 155, however, Ormsby was able to eke into the lead and he would never look back.
On the final hand of the tournament, Ormsby limped in and Forbes pushed all in for almost three million in chips. Ormsby made the call and, after seeing Forbes’ pocket threes, was racing with his K-J. The race was a quick one, the flop coming down A-K-4 to give Ormsby a better pair and, after a seven on the turn and a six on the river failed to help Forbes, Ormsby had completed his unlikely comeback to become the champion of the WPT Fallsview.
1. David Ormsby – $ 383,407
2. Robert Forbes – $ 268,773
3. Derek Verrian – $ 172,823
4. Mike Bui – $ 127,805
5. Soren Turkewitsch – $ 95,949
6. Thomas Archer – $ 76,874
(All money amounts in Canadian dollars)