Posts Tagged ‘2017’

2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1C: Cody Slaubaugh Takes Overall Lead

 2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1C: Cody Slaubaugh Takes Overall Lead

The final of the three starting flights of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Legends of Poker Main Event went down on Sunday, as 383 more entries were paid for, bringing the total Day 1 field to 715. Keep in mind that that number doesn’t mean 715 “players,” as this is a re-entry tournament. Thus, “entries” means “paid entries.” The chip leader for Day 1C – who also became the overall chip leader of the tournament – was Cody Slaubaugh with 310,500 chips.

“I chipped up early,” Slaubaugh told WPT.com afterward. “I got a double in the second level and ran pretty hot from there on out. I had a big hand, top two versus bottom two versus an open-ended draw for like a 100K pot early and that got me going. That put me up at like 120 or 130K. Then I just won some small pots and won a big flip for like 60K in Level 7 with jacks versus ace-king.”

Slaubaugh has $ 1.3 million in live tournament earnings, according to TheHendonMob.com. His biggest cash came almost a decade ago, when he finished second in a $ 1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2008 World Series of Poker for $ 389,128. Slaubaugh has three cashes on the World Poker Tour.

Slaubaugh also has $ 1.6 million recorded online poker tournament winnings, according to PocketFives.com.

The live coverage of any poker tournament – whether you’re talking online or on television – features non-poker celebrities whenever possible. There’s almost always video of Ray Romano and Brad Garrett on ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker. PokerStars has been hyping up Kevin Hart incessantly. I will admit, though, even though I usually know who the celebrity is, even if it’s just a situation where I’ve only “heard of” the name of some model, I have never heard of the person who is all over WPT.com’s coverage of the WPT Legends of Poker: GACKT.

Now, when I first read that name, I thought it was an awfully odd spelling of the ubiquitous Nickelodeon slime. GACKT, though, is a Japanese musician, singer, and songwriter. He has a pretty impressive list of credentials, including holding the record for the most consecutive top ten singles for a male soloist in Japanese music history. While I would assume not more than a handful of players at the Legends of Poker have any idea who he is, GACKT (whose real name is Kamui Gakuto), isn’t a total poker noob. He has $ 93,000 in live tournament earnings, most of which came from a fourth place finish at the ARIA High Roller 65 in July.

Though all three starting flights have wrapped up, the total prize pool, and therefore the prize breakdown, will not be known until after play begins on Monday’s Day 2. Players can still register up until the cards get in the air Monday; shortly thereafter, the prize money will be posted.

2017 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Main Event – Day 1C Chip Leaders

1. Cody Slaubaugh – 310,500
2. Mel Wiener – 307,100
3. Benjamin Nguyen – 245,100
4. Men Nguyen – 185,000
5. Zachary Smiley – 176,900
6. James Carroll – 176,200
7. Shankar Pillai – 173,500
8. Kristina Holst – 162,200
9. Oddie Dardon – 160,000
10. Jim Mangiamele – 159,300

Featured photo credit: World Poker Tour via Flickr.

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Sebastian Sorensson Wins 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona

 Sebastian Sorensson Wins 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona

The live poker tournament scene has been strong the last couple years, but even so, it is pretty incredible – at least to me – that a non-World Series of Poker tourney could garner 1,682 entries. But that is exactly what the PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event did and it was that large of a field (minus one, really) that Sebastian Sorensson defeated to win nearly €1 million over the weekend.

Sorensson is basically my poker fantasy come to life. He is a low-stakes online player who qualified for this tournament via a $ 200 satellite on PokerStars. Sure, sometimes it gets tense for us even though we play for a few cents or a few bucks at a time because, after all, those few cents or few bucks are not always an insignificant portion of our bankroll. Plus, we’re competitive and want to win. But no matter how seriously we take our hobby, a major live tournament is like another world entirely.

“The days are so, so long,” Sorensson told PokerNews.com afterward. “It’s really exhausting.”

Reading more about how he got started in poker is pretty amazing. In 2015, he bet on underdog Nate Diaz to defeat Michael Johnson in a UFC fight. The underdog came through and Sorensson won $ 1,000. He then took at $ 1,000 and bet that Donald Trump would win the Republican Presidential nomination and then let those winnings ride on Trump (ugh) winning the election (emotional hedging, I guess?).

With his gambling bankroll up to $ 12,000, he decided to take up micro-stakes poker, which led to PokerStars Championship Barcelona.

According to PokerNews, Sorensson played exactly like I would have, me being a fellow micro-stakes player. Once he made the money, he played tight, trying to survive the money jumps. I, myself, did just that in my most successful live tournament adventure, but I only made $ 3,500 for third place, a FAR FAR FAR cry from what Sorensson just accomplished, so our similarities end there.

Sorensson entered the six-handed final table as the second-shortest stack, holding just 6.125 million chips. For comparison, chip leader Raffaele Sorrentino had 15.5 million. He quickly made more than two million chips in just over one orbit and after 26 hands – just a few after Usman Siddique was knocked out in sixth place – Sorensson was up to 10 million chips. Even more interesting is that he was in fourth place, but the spread between first and fourth was fewer than one million chips. Even Sorrentino, who had fallen to fifth, still had 8.425 million. Things had tightened up quickly.

Sorensson held steady for quite some time, staying within about a million or so of the 10 million chip mark for about another 60 hands, but he eventually lost a big hand to Sorrentino, who was now soaring (more than doubling the chip count we just mentioned), and fell down to close to 5 million.

5 million sounds like a lot of chips, but with blinds at 300,000/600,000, he had to make a move, so he moved all-in on Hand 94, fortunately survived with a worse Ace than Lachezar Plamenov Petkov, when the board allowed them to chop.

After that, there were two speedy eliminations – Andre Akkari in fifth place and Brian Esposito in fourth place – before the 100th hand. Sorensson was the one who got Esposito with A-Q versus K-Q, allowing him to grow his stack to 11.4 million. A few hands later, he was at 16.680 million, still well behind Petkov, who had 22.280 million, but almost equally ahead of Esposito, who was the short stack again with 11.450 million.

With the stacks shallow because of the escalating blinds and the chip counts starting to converge again, the three remaining players eventually discussed a deal. They agreed that Petkov would get the most at €917,347, Sorensson would bank €887,043, and Sorrentino would receive €850,110. They would leave €100,000 on the table as incentive to try to win.

Just four hands later, Sorrentino was eliminated in third place by Sorensson (who had just taken a massive pot from Petkov) and suddenly Sorensson was in complete command of the tournament going into heads-up play with 40.9 million chips versus Petkov’s 9.5 million.

Despite that chip gap, heads-up went on for a long, long time, nearly 70 hands. Petkov even took the lead at one point, but Sorensson regained control quickly and eventually put it away. On the final hand, Petkov went all-in pre-flop for 18.2 million chips with K-9 and Sorensson easily called with A-K. The flop provided Sorensson another Ace and when the turn didn’t give Petkov any of the outs he needed for a runner-runner miracle, it was all over and Sebastian Sorensson became my poker hero.

2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona Final Table Results

1. Sebastian Sorensson – €987,043
2. Lachezar Plamenov Petkov – €917,347
3. Raffaele Sorrentino – €850,110
4. Brian Kaufman Esposito – €402,000
5. Andre Akkari – €317,960
6. Usman Siddique – €252,000

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2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1B: Valentin Vornicu Makes Most of Second Chance, Takes Over Chip Lead

 2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1B: Valentin Vornicu Makes Most of Second Chance, Takes Over Chip Lead

After coming up dry on Day 1A of the event, Valentin Vornicu got the most out of his second shot at the tournament on Saturday, emerging as the overall leader of the 2017 World Poker Tour Legends of Poker with one more Day One left.

Looking to top Day 1A’s 155 entries, Day 1B saw another throng of poker professionals and amateurs looking to take their shot. At the sounding of the “shuffle up and deal” call, notables such as WPT Champions’ Club members Tony Dunst and Barry Greenstein were at their tables alongside Eric Baldwin, Ray Quartomy, and Matt Stout, who were all back from their Day 1A disappointment for another chance. Vornicu was on that list also, but the day didn’t start very well for him.

About three hours into Saturday’s play, Vornicu found himself staring at a Q♠ 10 6♣ 5♣ 8♣ board, Vornicu fired off a bet but was met with an all-in check raise from the small blind. Vornicu couldn’t put together the logic behind his opponent’s hand and, after several minutes, made the call and turned up pocket fives for the turned set. Vornicu’s opponent, however, had stuck around for the runner-runner nut flush with his A♣ 3♣, sending the nine-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner to the rail for his second chance at his second chance.

Vornicu would make the most of his last chance on Saturday. Within three hours of using his re-entry option for Day 1B, Vornicu had run his stack up to over 183K in chips to take over the chip lead. After the dinner break, Vornicu’s star continued to rise as he picked off a bluff and rivered a straight to cross the 200K mark. The only thing that stopped the “Vornicu Express” was the end of 10 levels of play for the day, when he bagged 286,700 in chips.

1. Valentin Vornicu, 286,700
2. Adam Geyer, 273,000
3. Peter Neff, 266,100
4. Igor Zekster, 198,700
5. Tuan Mai, 179,400
6. Jamie Armstrong, 164,900
7. Bill Germanis, 152,100
8. Gaurav Raina, 146,600
9. Skip Huber, 135,200
10. Derek Wolters, 133,800

Among those who have to decide if playing Day 1C is going to be worthwhile are Samantha Cohen, Allen Kessler, Mike Matusow, Jordan Cristos, Poker Hall of Famer John Hennigan, Stout and Quartomy. Of the 177 entries that were received on Saturday (bringing the total field to 332), only 60 people would be standing by the final bell in the Bike’s tournament arena (117 between the first two Day Ones).

Vornicu is an intriguing player. He has the second most WSOP-C rings of all time (behind only Maurice Hawkins) and is only about $ 10K short of earning $ 1 million in his tournament poker career. Surprisingly, none of those winnings has ever come from a WPT Main Tour event; if (and it’s a strong if) Vornicu is able to cash in this tournament, it would be his first-ever WPT cash on the Main Tour schedule.

Overall, Vornicu has not only taken over the combined Day One leaderboard, the two men pursuing him join him to make up the Top Three in the tournament:

1. Valentin Vornicu, 286,700
2. Adam Geyer, 273,000
3. Peter Neff, 266,100
4. Thomas Zanot, 217,700*
5. Igor Zekster, 198,700
6. David Lambard, 183,900*
7. Tuan Mai, 179,400
8. Gary Sewell, 176,700*
9. Vince Salvatore, 173,000*
10. Christopher Staats, 167,900*

(* – Day 1A player)

The final Day One – and the final chance for many of those around the Bike – will kick off at noon on Sunday. The players will have one re-entry available should they bust on Sunday, then there will be a final “last chance” for players to buy in (30K in chips for $ 4000; it is possible that a player could burn through seven buy-ins, or $ 28,000, without success) before the start of Day Two on Monday. With the popularity of the first two days of the tournament, it is likely that the 2017 WPT Legends of Poker will crack the 500-entry mark and could take a run at 600.

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2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1A: Thomas Zanot Takes Lead in Opening Action at The Bike

 2017 WPT Legends of Poker Day 1A: Thomas Zanot Takes Lead in Opening Action at The Bike

The first of three-Day Ones is in the books in Los Angeles as action opened for the World Poker Tour’s Legends of Poker Main Event began.

One of the stalwarts of the WPT schedule – it is one of three tournaments that have been a part of the stable of events since the inception of the WPT (the other two are the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio and the L. A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino) – the Legends of Poker has traditionally been the tournament that the players came back to in starting the WPT season. With expansion, however, the Legends now is around the start of the season (the recent WPT Choctaw now opens the post-World Series of Poker schedule for the WPT), but the players still come out as if it is the first event. With its single re-entry per day and opportunity to enter each of the three-Day Ones (if necessary), the Legends give the players plenty of chances to get in on a big payday for the eventual champion.

Coming out of the gate on Friday morning, the tables around the Bike were replete with many WPT champions. Former WPT announcer and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton was joined by Scott Clements and Daniel Strelitz in upholding the “champion’s honor,” while players like Matt Stout, Jeremy Ausmus and Eric Baldwin filled in other seats. As late registration played out, pros such as Curt Kohlberg, Barry Hutter, Jake Schwartz, Valentin Vornicu, and WPT Champions’ Club members Mohsin Charania and Sam Panzica made their appearances on the Bike tournament floor.

This event on the WPT schedule marks the beginning of the usage of the “Action Clock” at WPT events. The “Action Clock” will be activated when play reaches one table before the popping of the “money bubble.” When the “Clock” is activated, players will have 30 seconds to make their decisions unless they use one of their allotted Time Chips for a 60 second extension. It is one of the innovations that the WPT has been trying out in other events, most notably in the WPT Tournament of Champions, and will be a permanent part of the Season XVI schedule and for the near future.

The 2017 WPT Legends of Poker is also making history on another level. The one billionth dollar in prize money will be awarded by the WPT in this event and there are plans for a bonus prize for the player who earns the billionth dollar in WPT history. Depending on the number of entries, one position will be worth a bit more to a player (save for the champion and anyone who runs extremely deep in the Legends) than just getting another flag on their Hendon Mob resume.

Strelitz was one of the players who had a difficult time with the first Day One. On a board of A-7-4-5-5, Ankush Mandavia pushed all in off the button. Strelitz didn’t believe him, making the call, and was dismayed to see Mandavia table an 8-6 for the turned straight against his A-J (two pair) to double up Mandavia. Strelitz then went up against Gaurav Raina after a Q-8-3-7 flop and turn, getting all of Strelitz’s chips to the center. It was another unfortunate break as Strelitz saw his A-Q crushed by Raina’s pocket eights, sending Strelitz to the cage to use his re-entry option for another $ 4000.

Strelitz wasn’t the only player who had to exercise the re-entry option. Ray Quartomy utilized the re-entry to no avail, as did Strelitz, but Marvin Rettenmaier and Hutter made the most of their second bullet and survived to the end of the day. Most impressive of all, however, was the man who would end the day as the chip leader, Thomas Zanot, who will have a story for the remainder of his life in a hand that earned him the chip lead.

Late in the evening, Zanot made a raise out of the hijack only to see none other than Phil Hellmuth, who will be a part of the WPT festivities this fall as host of “The Raw Deal” after Tony Dunst’s ascension to the analyst seat for the WPT broadcasts, make the call off the cutoff. Phong Nguyen also called off the button, but it was Eddy Sabat’s all in off the small blind for 6800 chips that perked everyone’s attention. Action moved to Zanot, who moved all in “over the top” of everyone involved in the hand with his 155K in chips. This didn’t slow down Hellmuth, who plopped his 35K in the center, but Nguyen left the act.

When the cards were turned up, it was a hand that played itself:

Zanot:  A-K
Hellmuth:  pocket Jacks
Sabat:  pocket nines

It was also a hand that had all the drama sucked away from the start. Zanot flopped a King and, after no Jack nor nine came to save either of his opponents, earned him the pot and the chip lead. Hellmuth and Sabat, two of the most respected players in the game, were eliminated in the hand, while Zanot cruised into the end-of-day chip lead over the 58 survivors remaining from Day 1A:

1. Thomas Zanot, 217,700
2. David Lambard, 183,900
3. Gary Sewell, 176,700
4. Vince Salvatore, 173,000
5. Christopher Staats, 167,900
6. Marvin Rettenmaier, 165,900
7. James Cavanaugh, 157,400
8. Ben Ludlow, 132,800
9. Rick Alvarado, 131,600
10. Curt Kohlberg, 128,200

The weekend should see a throng of players turn out. If 155 entries were big for an open, then the possibility of doubling that for each of the next two-Day Ones will be realistic. Saving that, players will also have one “last chance” option for getting in prior to the start of Day Two. It should make the 2017 WPT Legends of Poker one of the bigger events of the Season XVI schedule.

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Martin Kozlov Wins 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship

 Martin Kozlov Wins 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship

It looked like it was going to be a long final table at the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship (SHRPO) Tuesday as even though Aaron Mermelstein had a comfortable chip lead, almost everyone at the table had a fairly deep stack. And with nine players beginning the last day of play, there was a chance it could go on for a while.

And for a while it did. Only one player was knocked out in each of the first four hour and a half-long levels; by the time Martin Kozlov collected all the chips to win three-quarters of a million dollars, the final table had spanned 13 hours.

The SHRPO was also organized in quite a unique way, adding more emphasis to how slow the pace of the Championship final table really was. The tournament festival had what it called the “Big 4” events: the $ 1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Re-entry event, the $ 5,250 Championship Event, the $ 2,650 Freeze Out, and the $ 25,500 High Roller Re-entry event. Though the other three events began before the Championship, they were all scheduled in such a way so as to have all of their final tables play out in the same room on Tuesday.

Joe Keuther, the short stack at the Championship final table and the first one to be eliminated, was actually at two final tables at the same time, so while he was likely disappointed to finish ninth, he was able to just saunter over to the $ 1,100 No-Limit Hold’em final table and keep going (he finished eighth there).

Kozlov commented on the four final table arrangement and the pace of his table in his post-game interview with SHRPO officials, saying:

They had The Big 4, and after two or three hours all the tables of the other three were down to four or five players, and it took us six hours to lose two players. It was super slow, and you just had to play it one hand at a time. The structure was so good you could afford to take some beats, you could afford to lose some pots. Patience was the most important thing I guess.

He needed that patience, too, as he found himself very short stacked with five players remaining, holding barely more than 10 big blinds.

“The thing that affects my mental state the most is if I’m getting downward momentum, if I’m getting upward momentum it just kind of clears my mind to focus on the strategy,” Kozlov said afterward. “So when things are going right I’m thinking more clearly about what to do strategy-wise, if things are going bad I’m just steaming.”

“Five handed I didn’t have many chips at all, and I was a bit tilted on break. I was talking to my wife, and I was like, ‘What am I going to do now. There’s not much left, I’m going to have to win a couple of all ins.’ And then I came back and won every all in, and now I’ve won the tournament.”

What was that about a chip and chair again?

Kozlov entered heads-up play against Dylan Drazen with a 6 million chip lead, 16.325 million to 10.325 million. He never fell behind during the one-on-one match, though Drazen did pull within less than 1.5 million. Interestingly, it was when Drazen was at his closest that the whole thing ended.

Kozlov raised to 600,000 pre-flop and Drazen called. On the flop of K-Q-8, Drazen checked and then called Kozlov’s 400,000 chip bet. It was the same action on the turn when a 4 was dealt, this time for 2.6 million chips. And then again, when a 2 landed on the river, Drazen called, Kozlov moved all-in, and then Drazen called all-in. Kozlov revealed pocket Kings for flopped top set, while Drazen had just J-8 for third pair, almost a bluff call.

The win put Kozlov well over $ 2 million in career live earnings, increasing his total to $ 2,680,977.

2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship – Final Table Results

1. Martin Kozlov – $ 754,083
2. Dylan Drazen – $ 528,322
3. Matt Berkey – $ 341,618
4. Yi Chi Li – $ 252,481
5. Michael Aron – $ 191,437
6. Aaron Mermelstein – $ 152,547
7. Adam Levy – $ 126,305
8. Luke Brererton – $ 100,408
9. Joe Kuether – $ 75,413

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