Archive for April, 2017

“The Social Experiment” Warmly Welcomed, Breaks Guarantee

 “The Social Experiment” Warmly Welcomed, Breaks Guarantee

Despite being roundly derided by what turned out to be a minority of people, the latest creation of tournament director Matt Savage has gone off not only without a hitch but also greatly supported to the point of exceeding the guaranteed prize pool of the event.

On Friday at Savage’s home base, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, the California State Poker Championship preliminary schedule got underway. As a part of those preliminary events, Savage put in Event #2 on Saturday, a $ 100,000 guaranteed tournament for only $ 315 (including juice) that saw the players start with 30,000 chips. That type of stack is usually reserved for major tournaments such as the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker and, because of the guarantee, gave players a great shot at a big payday for a small buy in.

If you’re wondering whether there was a catch or not, there most certainly was. The tournament, called “The Social Experiment,” sought to return poker to the way it was only a short 10-15 years ago. Players in the event had to abstain from using any electronic devices at the tables, eschew from wearing sunglasses and hoodies and not to wear headphones at all (players were allowed, during breaks, to access electronic devices, but they still had to step from the tournament zone).

Even the structure sheet for the tournament took some shots at the usage of electronics in today’s poker world. After calmly stating during the first scheduled break that players “could use electronics,” the second break allowed players to “check their Facebook” the third advised players to “appreciate that battery life,” and so on. “It’s going to be an interesting day,” Savage noted, ironically enough, over Facebook prior to the start of the event.

Although there had been a great deal of outrage by players over the banishment of some of their “blankies” that help them get through a tournament, players overall came out firmly in favor of Savage”s creation. “No penalties so far,” Savage noted in a Facebook post, showing a picture of the Commerce Casino tournament room packed with players (and Savage cheekily wearing both headphones and sunglasses in the shot).

Just how popular was the tournament? Just what were the final numbers from “The Social Experiment?” In the end, they blew away expectations. “511 entries, $ 153,300 prize pool (besting the $ 100,000 guarantee), and the final 64 finishers ITM,” Savage posted to Facebook once the late registration period ended.

Once the final stats were in, Savage opened up a bit about why he wanted to try such a tournament as “The Social Experiment.” “Cell phone rules are way too lax and every tournament director in the industry knows this,” Savage stated on Facebook. “While “The Social Experiment” was just a test, it did prove that not only do we have a problem in poker but we (also) have a problem in society (myself included) when it comes to being attached to technology and social media.”

A look at research reveals Savage’s words to be true. According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of adults who own a cellphone has jumped from 65% to 92% in just the last ten years. There has been a correlating increase in smartphone usage but in a much shorter period, jumping from 35% in 2011 to 68% in 2015. Furthermore, there have been other notable increases in the usage of tablet computers (3% to 45% since 2010), MP3 players (20% to 40% since 2006) and e-Readers (2% to 19% since 2009). The increase in all those technological wonders naturally increases the amount of connectivity a person has with technology and, with that connection, a disassociation from human interaction.

Plenty noted that the tournament was quite friendly and jovial, something that led to Savage slyly indicating that there could be a future for “The Social Experiment” in other locations. When asked if the concept could be copied elsewhere, Savage said, “I think they (other tournament directors) will after today was such a hit, but I don’t think this is a long-term solution as much as a fun “one off” special.”

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo: Bryn Kenney Wins 100K Euro Super High Roller as Main Event Opens Action

 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo: Bryn Kenney Wins 100K Euro Super High Roller as Main Event Opens Action

Riding the strength of his start of day chip lead, Bryn Kenney continued to be the “Master of the High Rollers” as he captured the 100,000 Euro Super High Roller at the PokerStars Championships Monte Carlo on Saturday. As Kenney added over 1.7 million more Euros to his bankroll for 2017, the 5000 Euro Main Event opened its action.

With nine men in the mix and only eight paying spots, someone was leaving the Super High Roller tournament disappointed. That man would turn out to be Isaac Haxton, who got a bit short and shoved with Big Chick from the small blind. The big blind, David Peters, woke up with pocket Jacks and made the call, looking to eliminate a dangerous player from the event. There was a Queen as the dealer fanned the flop, but there was also a Jack to keep Peters in the lead with a flopped set. After the turn failed to bring anything useful for Haxton, he was out of the tournament in ninth place for the big goose egg (zero Euros).

Everyone left at the table was guaranteed a 237,950 Euro payday and those men set about determining just who would get what piece of it. Viacheslav Buldygin, who came into the final table with the second largest chip stack, went on a rampage at this point in knocking out Sam Greenwood in eighth and Martin Kabrhel in seventh to take the lead from Kenney. Kenney, for his part, had been quiet up to this point, but made himself known in chopping a massive chunk of chips from Buldygin after rivering two pair, Kings up, against Buldygin’s pocket Aces.

Now it was Kenney’s turn to pound the opposition and he did just that. Kenney bumped off Steffen Sontheimer in sixth place and shot down Ole Schemion in fifth to extend his lead. After he eliminated Peters from the tournament in fourth place with his Queens standing over Peters’ A-7, he had taken three straight opponents down and held a monstrous lead. Even after Buldygin matched his feat in eliminating three players by taking out Daniel Dvoress, Buldygin still was at a 5-1 chip disadvantage as heads up play began.

The twosome would shuffle some chips back and forth between each other before they paused the action to discuss a deal. The right numbers couldn’t be agreed on by the two gentlemen and, with that, they decided to play on. On the final hand, the aggressive Kenney – he had been punishing his short-stacked tablemates with all-in moves to force them to make decisions for their tournament lives all afternoon – once again moved all in with pocket deuces and, with a suited K-Q, Buldygin made his stand. That stand lasted all of the flop when a deuce landed to give Kenney a set. When the turn blanked, Buldygin was drawing dead and the championship was Kenney’s to celebrate.

1. Bryn Kenney, 1,784,500 Euros
2. Viacheslav Buldygin, 1,290,800
3. Daniel Dvoress, 832,800
4. David Peters, 630,600
5. Ole Schemion, 487,715
6. Steffen Sontheimer, 380,700
7. Martin Kabrhel, 303,350
8. Sam Greenwood, 237,950

The PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Main Event also saw Day 1A action on Saturday with some of the same players from the Super High Roller jumping over to take part in the action. Ole Schemion used part of the proceeds from the Super High Roller to buy into the Main Event and he did quite well, finishing the day with 144,900 in chips to sit in seventh place. Haxton also made the jump, not finishing quite as well on the day as Schemion but in the game with 65,700 in chips.

The story of the day was Jeffrey Hakim, who seemed to draw the chips in like a vacuum. In a five-way pot, Hakim would flop the ten-high nut straight but have to face down the potential of an opponent catching a bigger straight or a flush with his suited J-9. Once the board came up blanks, Hakim stacked roughly 180K in chips but the best was yet to come. During the last level of the night, Hakim flopped quad fours and found a guppy who wanted to stick around. Hakim would check-raise the flop only to have said guppy four-bet the action, which Hakim was happy to call. On a blank turn, the guppy shoved his stack with a draw and Hakim called to deliver the bad news. The resulting chips pushed Hakim over the 300K mark, the only player to reach that point.

1. Jeffrey Hakim, 305,300
2. Stefan Shillhabel, 203,000
3. Manig Loeser, 195,700
4. Michel Pereira Marques, 168,900
5. Pascal Hartmann, 151,200
6. Igor Yaroshevskyy, 147,500
7. Ole Schemion, 144,900
8. Dmytro Shuvanov, 140,000
9. Bradley Marsh, 130,000
10. Vicente Delgado, 130,000

Although these players will be back on Monday to continue the festivities, a plethora of top pros won’t. Anthony Spinella, Freddy Deeb and Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Selbst and Jake Cody all found the rail during Saturday’s action. While Day 1B is on Sunday at noon, the tournament is a freezeout and the players cannot rebuy.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo: Bryn Kenney Leads Super High Roller, Main Event Begins Saturday

 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo: Bryn Kenney Leads Super High Roller, Main Event Begins Saturday

The sun has set on the beautiful Mediterranean coastline of Monte Carlo for another evening and, with the coming of night, another day is in the books for the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo. In the 100,000 Euro Super High Roller, Bryn Kenney heads the list of the final nine players while the remainder of those in Monaco for business prepare for the start of the Main Event on Saturday.

With 38 players remaining at the start of the day, four more entries were received to bring the final numbers of the Super High Roller to 61 total entries. The four players – Alexander Uskov, Nick Petrangelo, Leon Tsoukernik and Dietrich Fast – had all busted out previously on Thursday, but they took advantage of the re-entry option to dive back in on Friday (and keep the number of singular entries to 47). Even with another 300K in chips to go to battle with, none of the re-entries from the start of action on Friday would be around by mid-afternoon.

Most of the eyes in the Monte Carlo Casino’s poker room were glued to actor/comedian Kevin Hart at the start of action. Hart, who participated in the first-ever PokerStars Championship offering in the Bahamas and made Day Two of the Super High Roller, was in much better shape as he started the Monte Carlo Day Two. Alas, Hart was unable to make his 396,000 do any work for him as he demonstrated a bit of amateur play on the hand that broke him.

After limping into the pot, Hart saw Byron Kaverman move all in and called off the remainder of his stack. Hart was in the lead with his pocket sevens over Kaverman’s A-4, but “conventional play” would have dictated that Hart would have pushed with his middle pair rather than call off his chips. Regardless, Hart was all in and at risk as Kaverman was rewarded with two Aces on the flop to take the lead. Hart struck back, however, when a seven came on the turn to magically thrust him back in front with a boat. Just as quickly, a four came on the river to give Kaverman the most unlikely of full houses, Aces over fours, to top Hart’s turned full house and send the star of Central Intelligence back to the set with no payday.

Although tournament officials would have liked to have seen the money bubble pop (eight players taking home some cash), they would have to settle for coming up just short. Nine players will come back on Saturday to first determine who will get paid (it isn’t looking good for David Peters, on the short stack with 800K in chips) and then who will walk off with the top prize of 1,784,500 Euros. As it looks right now, Kenney is in the catbird’s seat for that potential payoff.

1. Bryn Kenney, 3.37 million
2. Viacheslav Buldygin, 2.975 million
3. Steffen Sontheimer, 1.91 million
4. Martin Kabrhel, 1.63 million
5. Isaac Haxton, 1.26 million
6. Ole Schemion, 1.25 million
7. Sam Greenwood, 1.15 million
8. Daniel Dvoress, 950,000
9. David Peters, 800,000

To say that Kenney has made a living off High Roller tournaments might be the understatement of 2017 (and we’re not even halfway through the year). Of his 16 cashes in tournament poker this year, 12 of them have come in tournaments with a buy-in higher than $ 25,000 and six have been in the Aria High Roller series. Eight of those cashes have been for six figures, with the highest being Kenney’s win at the PSC Bahamas $ 50,000 High Roller (just under a million at $ 969,075).

When the tournament restarts on Saturday, one man is going to be pissed because he will receive nothing for three days of work. The remainder of the final table will receive six-figure paydays and the champion walks off with 1.7 million-plus Euros, not a bad way to start the Monte Carlo leg of the PokerStars Championships.

While these nine men do their work tomorrow, the first day of the Main Event will open for action. The 5000-Euro tournament, when it was under the auspices of the European Poker Tour, marked the end of the European tournament season and awarded the Grand Final trophy to its victor. Now, the Monte Carlo stop is simply another leg in a tournament poker season, so expecting it to bring in the 1098 entries that came out for the 2016 version might be asking too much.

PokerStars officials are expecting better attendance than the last two PSC events in Panama (366 entries) and Macau (536), but it will push the envelope to reach the 738 entries of the PSC Bahamas. At noon local time (6AM East Coast), we’ll get our first indications of just how big the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo might be.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Underway with High Rollers Tournament Starting

 PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo Underway with High Rollers Tournament Starting

After mixed results from their two previous stops in the Bahamas and Panama, the PokerStars Championship has churned on to one of the wealthiest places on Earth (the net worth of an average household in the city? $ 437,031), Monte Carlo, and the Monte Carlo Casino. The €100,000 Super High Roller tournament started on Thursday while a €10,000 tournament with a surprisingly low number of players wrapped up.

That €10,000 tournament was a bit of a surprise. Only 110 players made an appearance in the tournament, but the price tag of the event ensured they would be playing for a million-dollar prize pool (€1,067,000, to be exact). After battling through a field that included former World Champion Ryan Riess (who started the day as the chip leader), Luc Greenwood, Steve O’Dwyer, and Koray Aldemir, Ole Schemion was able to defeat Murad Akhundov to win the championship. While Schemion picked up a nice €274,750 score, the lack of numbers in the tournament might have been of concern to the PokerStars brass.

Those fears were somewhat allayed by the €100,000 Super High Roller. 47 players have come out for the tournament – and nine of them have re-entered the event – to put themselves in a €200,000 hole to start the PSC Monte Carlo. One of those who rebought in the tournament was Daniel Negreanu, who at least made the most of it by finishing the day in second place. Negreanu, who isn’t afraid to put some rebuys into a tournament, didn’t have to go beyond his second bullet after doubling through Dan Smith and chopping some more chips off Christoph Vogelsang to reach his apex for Day One.

PokerStars once again is welcoming actor/comedian Kevin Hart into the fray in Monte Carlo. Hart was a surprise appearance in the Bahamas back in January but didn’t show up in Panama for any of the tournament schedule in Central America. While Hart didn’t perform very well in the Bahamas, he will be around for a second day in Monte Carlo. On his second bullet like Negreanu, Hart would be the beneficiary of pocket Aces twice to keep his stack healthy. He also secured a seat to start Day Two on Friday, but not as a member of the Top Ten.

Leading the way for those that have VERY deep pockets is Daniel Dvoress, who more than tripled his starting stack to claim the lead dog honors in the Super High Roller:

1. Daniel Dvoress, 907,000
2. Daniel Negreanu, 864,000
3. Viacheslav Buldygin, 827,000
4. Ali Reza Fatehi, 770,000
5. Steve O’Dwyer, 676,000
6. Steffen Sontheimer, 661,000
7. David Peters, 591,000
8. Igor Kurganov, 516,000
9. Stefan Schillhabel, 505,000
10. Charlie Carrel, 443,000

The remainder of the 38 players in the tournament at this mark brings you the usual suspects that you’ve seen in Super High Roller tournaments. Dan Colman just missed making the Top Ten (432,000, eleventh place) and Hart, as previously stated, is in the mix (396,000, thirteenth). Bryn Kenney (429,000, twelfth), Fedor Holz (366,000, fourteenth) and Sam Greenwood (364,000, fifteenth) are all within shooting distance of the Top Ten, while Mustapha Kanit (104,000) and Stephen Chidwick (117,000) are a couple of players who have their work cut out for them.

The Super High Roller players aren’t sure yet what they are playing for as late entry and reentry for the tournament will be open until the cards fly on Friday at 12:30PM (Monte Carlo time, 6:30AM East Coast time). On Saturday, the €5000 Main Event will begin, facing a tough task in trying to improve on the Bahamas while not falling below what Panama did. Wrapping up the weekend will be the start of the €50,000 Single Day High Roller, which will draw the “big money” out once again. Finally, the €25,000 High Roller begins on Wednesday (May 3) and will conclude with the final table of the Main Event on May 6.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: Poker Doesn’t Need More “Characters” Like Salomon Ponte

 Editorial: Poker Doesn’t Need More “Characters” Like Salomon Ponte

If you’ve been away from your television for the past few days, then you’ve missed the latest in uproars in the poker community. On this week’s edition of Poker Night in America from the Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK, the poker world was introduced to arguably the vilest creature that has ever been seated at a poker table. Going by the name Salomon Ponte – but loudly and crassly telling everyone to call him the “Hashtag King“ – this stain on the poker condition hit the felt in the PNIA cash game, a $ 25/$ 50 where the usual minimum buy-in is around $ 5000. Before he left, he had made a dubious impression on the program.

Over the course of an hour of play, Ponte proceeded to insult pretty much every player that was at the table, which included Shaun Deeb and Doug Polk. This wasn’t your garden variety, Mike Matusow “you’ve got little balls, I’ve got big balls” needling, these insults went into areas that no one should enter (hell, even professional basketball players KNOW NOT to do these things). Ponte proceeded to insult Deeb’s WIFE, saying “I’d rather be dead than have your fucking wife,” said that Deeb was a “fucking retard” and said Polk was “one of the biggest bitches in poker.” It was particularly sad to see Ponte, after spewing his vitriol, try to borrow money from the people he had disparaged (like they were going to give him money?).

Congratulations, poker world, we’ve finally found the point – poker doesn’t need more “characters” like Salomon Ponte.

Looking over the history of poker, there have been men – and some women – who have contributed to the game because of their larger than life personalities. You don’t think that the riverboat gamblers who traversed the Mississippi River during the 1830s and 1840s didn’t have a colloquial charm about them? What about such men who conquered the West as “Doc” Holliday, Wyatt Earp, “Wild Bill” Hickok and scores of others? The ladies were well represented by “Poker Alice” Ivers and Lottie “Poker Queen” Deno (born Carlotta Thompkins) in the late 1800s. Even into the 20th century, there were men like “Titanic” Thompson and, yes, even the man considered the “Godfather of Poker” Doyle Brunson. These people were THOSE personalities that made the game better and, as an added benefit, helped their wallet get fatter.

As the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century began, however, those “characters” became fewer. Potentially because of the effect of online poker, the visage of the soulless hulk of flesh, sitting at a table in a hoodie with headphones clasped around his head, sunglasses removing the last vestiges of humanity, there are few players who capture the attention of those casual poker fans. The aforementioned Matusow attempted to carry the banner (taken out by a bad back that limits his sitting time), as did Antanas “Tony G“ Guoga (taken out by becoming a married man and a politician).

Since there is a dearth of entertaining personalities in the poker community, the poker programs in existence have little but (gasp!) skillful poker play and educational and technical points to be able to talk about during their broadcasts. They really want to talk about the art of poker and the psychological battle that is going on in front of those with a rudimentary knowledge of the game, but they also want to see the blood sport, the sparring, that one gets with mano y mano showdowns for huge piles of money. Thus, these shows try to create a “bad guy” for the fans to hate.

ESPN and the World Series of Poker have been the worst offenders in this field. Going back to Matusow in 2004 against eventual World Champion Greg Raymer, each year there’s been that “player you love to hate.” In 2006, Jamie Gold all but twirled a moustache at the final table as he won the World Championship; 2007 brought the “bulldozer” that was Hevad Khan (and who brought about the “Hevad Khan Rule” against overly exuberant celebrations at the WSOP); just last year, it was William Kassouf and his incessant table talk that drew the ire of the community.

But there was a difference in these famous “bad guys” that separates them from the embarrassment that Ponte was at the table. For the most part, there was no malevolence (Matusow? OK, maybe questionable there) involved in their actions. They were stretching the rules of the game of poker, seeing just how far out on the edge they could go while they garnered attention from either the poker press or (perhaps more importantly) the cameras of ESPN.

In Ponte’s case, there was venom in the words he spoke. This wasn’t an attempt to get into someone’s head while at the table, this was verbal assault that could have gotten out of hand and become physical. There’s no place for that at the tables and the producers of PNIA should have put the kibosh on Ponte’s actions before they got out of hand. The problem is that Ponte wouldn’t have given a damn; he was later ejected from the Choctaw Casino and, over Twitter, proudly stated he had been kicked out of about a dozen casinos, not something to wear as a badge of honor (really, how shitty do you have to be to get tossed out of a casino?).

Maybe it’s time the poker community learned something. You don’t have to be a dick to be a “personality” at the tables. You just have to be able to halfway carry a conversation, maybe be a little self-deprecating, and ensure that the people playing against you – and those watching on whatever outlet – are entertained. THEN you’ll be asked to every event where a telegenic personality is needed.

Sure, poker needs to have some colorful characters in its mix. Sometimes they even need to have the proverbial “bad guy” to get the fans riled up against. What we don’t need in the game are people like Ponte, who is simply a punk off the street who happens to have a bigger mouth than a bank account and no idea how to handle either. To put people on the air like that is a huge mistake and one I am sure that PNIA has learned from. Hopefully the poker community has learned from it also.

Poker News Daily



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