Posts Tagged ‘2017’

Jay Lee Wins 2017 WPT Choctaw Main Event

 Jay Lee Wins 2017 WPT Choctaw Main Event

After Day 2 of the 2017 World Poker Tour (WPT) Choctaw Main Event, Michael Stashin was lapping the field. After Day 3, Josh Kay was head and shoulders above everyone else. And because this is poker, neither of them ended up winning. Instead, it was 27-year old Texan Jay Lee who rose from third place going into the final table to win the whole thing and nearly $ 600,000.

Not only was this Lee’s first World Poker Tour title, it was only his third recorded cash in a live tournament, according to records kept by TheHendonMob.com. Those other two cashes amounted to just over $ 10,000, so needless to say, this was different territory for him.

As mentioned, Lee was third in chips going into Tuesday’s action, which is good, but he was significantly behind the chip leaders. Josh Kay was a one-man wrecking crew on Monday to enter the final table as the chip leader with 11.105 million chips. Next was Day 2’s runaway chip leader, Michael Stashin, with 7.685 million. The remaining four players, led by Lee, barely had more combined than Stashin did by himself. Lee was third with 3.455 million, Eric Bunch was fourth with 2.020 million, Paul Fisher was fifth with 1.700 million, and Jeb Hutton was the short stack with 1.645 million chips.

It certainly looked like it was going to be the Kay and Stashin show.

The two chip leaders maintained their edge on the field for the most part through nearly 50 hands and called Eric Bunch’s all-in, checking it through the river. Kay won the hand, lifting his stack above 13 million chips, while Stashin fell to around 5.5 million and Bunch was eliminated in sixth place.

On Hand 73, Paul Fisher raised to 260,000 and Stashin called to bring on a flop of 6-J-K. Fisher bet 375,000, Stashin moved all-in, and Fisher called-in, putting his tournament on the line. Fisher had a nice hand, K-7, for top pair, but Stashin nailed the flop, holding J-6 for two pair. He upped that to a boat on the river to knock out Fisher in fifth place and get his stack back up to 7.44 million while Kay was around 14 million.

In the meantime, Lee was letting the chip leaders do their thing, waiting for a good spot to make a move. He found it on Hand 89, when he was all-in pre-flop with pocket Sevens and called by Stashin and his A-9 suited. The pair held and Lee doubled to 4.740 million, sending Stashin down to 5.470 million.

Lee took off from there, continuing to grow his stack through the next dozen hands to move into second place. On Hand 101, he and Stashin got into another pre-flop raising war before getting all their chips in. Lee had another pair, Queens, and Stashin had pocket Eights. No drama here and all of a sudden, Michael Stashin was out of the tournament in fourth place and Lee was in the chip lead with 12.825 million, barely more than a big blind better than Kay.

It looked like Jeb Hutton had no chance at that point, down to only around 2 million chips, but he hung on, doubling through Lee, falling back, then doubling through Lee again. It was a wild ride from that point. On Hand 128, Lee doubled through Kay to surge to 17.225 million chips versus Kay’s 6.225 million and Hutton’s 4.150 million.

On Hand 142, Hutton kept it going, doubling through Kay to turn the tables, moving up to second place and 8.725 million chips, while Kay was down to 8.150 million. Lee himself had seen his stack recede to 10.725 million and just like that, it was a close race again.

At the break after Hand 154, Lee had extended his lead, building his stack to 12.85 million at the expense of Kay, who was down to 6.775 million.

And then, a dozen hands later, Jeb Hutton pulled into the lead – just barely – over Lee, a concept that would’ve been unheard of about 60 hands earlier. Kay was fading and eventually, on Hand 180, Lee knocked him out in third place to setup the heads-up match with Hutton, the guy who was the short stack going into the final table.

As long and nuts as the final table was, heads-up only lasted ten hands. On the final hand, Hutton raised to 550,000 pre-flop and Lee called. On the flop of J-4-4, both players checked, bringing on a 7 on the turn. Both checked again and a 9 was dealt on the river, making a flush and a straight possible. Lee bet 750,000 and then watched as Hutton raised to 2 million. Lee then moved all-in for 19.425 million and a surprised Hutton called for 7.025 million. Well now.

Hutton had reason to be confident, as he had made a Queen-high flush. It was Lee, though, whose heart had probably been pounding since the flop, as he had J-4 for a flopped full house and the WPT Choctaw Main Event title.

2017 World Poker Tour Choctaw Main Event – Final Table Results

1. Jay Lee – $ 593,173
2. James “Jeb” Hutton – $ 366,895
3. Josh Kay – $ 270,801
4. Michael Stashin – $ 202,617
5. Paul Fisher – $ 153,508
6. Eric Bunch – $ 117,761

Lead photo credit: WPT.com/Joe Giron

Poker News Daily

Ratings Mixed for 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table Coverage

 Ratings Mixed for 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table Coverage

Ratings for the live coverage of the 2017 World Series of Poker Championship Event final table have been released, with those results showing a mixed bag of information.

The WSOP Championship Event final table, broadcast live over ESPN from July 20-22, showed a slight improvement in comparison to the delayed “November Nine” coverage from 2016. The three-day average of the 2017 coverage was 615,000 viewers, a slight increase in comparison to last year’s “November Nine” final table average of 597,000 viewers, a 3% increase. For the broadcast week, the WSOP Championship Event’s third night – when Scott Blumstein closed the deal in winning the championship – was one of the highest rated programs for ESPN, finishing behind only a mid-season Major League Baseball game between the rival St. Louis Cardinals and the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and the Summer League championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers (minus top draft pick Lonzo Ball, who sat the game out) and the Portland Trail Blazers.

That was the good side of the equation for officials, however.

On the negative side, the all-important 18-49 demographic – the demo that advertisers look at when determining what shows to advertise on and that broadcasters strive to reach for that reason – was down overall in year-to-year statistics. In 2017, the WSOP Championship Event final table captured 244,000 in that 18-49 demo, down from the 256,000 that viewed the tournament in 2016 (a drop of almost 5%). The viewers for the final night of the tournament were also at historic lows, with the 741,000 watchers down from 780,000 who watched in 2016 and barely more than the 735,000 who watched in 2012, the record low for the tournament in the last decade.

The television numbers aren’t the only worrisome sign for WSOP and ESPN officials.

The demographic breakdown of the WSOP Championship Event field shows signs that cannot be encouraging for Caesars. Of the 7221 players participating in this year’s tournament, only 347 of them were in the 21-25 demographic and only ONE of those players was a woman. In comparison, there were 884 players older than 56 in the Championship Event field, with 33 of those players being female. These numbers indicate that the oldest demographic in the tournament isn’t being replaced at the same rate from the younger side.

There could be a couple of reasons for the demographic numbers. The “millennials” that constitute the 21-30 demographic have been proving to be a difficult market for casinos to get in the first place. They aren’t as willing to “gamble” as other demographics are, preferring a skill based game over ones of “chance,” hence the casinos usage of video games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush for wagering purposes. That predisposition for skill based games over chance isn’t showing when it comes to poker, however, at least as far as the WSOP Championship Event.

It is also arguable that the lack of online poker in the States of America has caused a downswing. The younger demographic for years has been driven by the online game (look at the almost 3000 players making up the 26-35 demographic that participated in the WSOP Championship Event). If that were the case, however, it would not explain the 7221 overall players that participated in 2017, the largest field since 2010.

The move by officials from cable broadcasting giant ESPN and the World Series of Poker to do away with the “November Nine” was a huge step in that neither entity knew what would be the eventual outcome. At its inception, the “November Nine” was a huge success as it drew in an audience of 2.364 million for the final table broadcast in 2008 (the first year of the format). It never would draw that well again, gradually falling to the record low in 2012 (735,000), rebounding over the next three years back over a million viewers and falling to 780K in 2016. Thus, the 741,000 that watched in 2017 wasn’t the upswing that the WSOP nor ESPN were looking for.

The other possibility is that there just aren’t the “eyes” that are going to be watching during the season. Summer is the worst time of the year for television viewing and, while bringing the poker world to Las Vegas during what is its “down time” of the year might be a good idea for Caesars officials, when it comes to broadcasting the tournament it might not be the best thing.

The mixed numbers present several challenges for ESPN and the WSOP. While there are some bright areas, there are those that aren’t quite so sunny for either entity. Of importance for both organizations may be improving the television numbers in the immediate future.

Poker News Daily

Citing Early Demand, Guarantees at 2017 World Series of Poker Europe Increased

 Citing Early Demand, Guarantees at 2017 World Series of Poker Europe Increased

As anticipation builds for the event – as well as the demand from the players – officials from King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, and the World Series of Poker have announced changes to the guarantees for the upcoming 2017 World Series of Poker Europe.

The biggest announcement was regarding the guaranteed prize pool for the Main Event of the WSOP Europe. Instead of a €4 million guaranteed prize pool for the Main Event, another €1 million has been added to bring the total pool up to €5 million. The increased money will allow the eventual champion of the Main Event to walk away with a €1 million payday.

“We are encouraged by the number of early bookings for the WSOP-E, so much so that we have raised the total guarantee of the Main Event to €5,000,000 and now guarantee €1,000,000 to the winner,” said King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik, according to PokerNews.com’s Brett Collson. “My advice is to book now and secure your spot.”

The news regarding the increase of the Main Event prize pool was big, but further details regarding the biggest buy-in event at the WSOP-E continue to build the excitement. According to Tsoukernik, 90 players have committed to take part in the €111,111 High Roller event, scheduled to begin on November 3. Some of the players committed to the event include High Roller stalwarts such as Fedor Holz and Antonio Esfandiari and include others such as Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen and Antanas “Tony G” Guoga.

With the field capped at 111 players for the High Roller (and a guaranteed prize pool of €10 million), Tsoukernik has pledged to give up his seat should it be required. Tsoukernik, in an act of philanthropy, stated that should he walk away from the High Roller event, he would still allow his €11,111 deposit for his seat to be kept. The “juice” in the High Roller, that €11,111, will go to the One Drop Foundation, the organization founded by Canadian poker player/businessman/Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Lalliberte to ensure all people around the world have access to water.

The remainder of the WSOP-E schedule features nine other bracelet events, all with guaranteed prize pools from €500,000 to €2 million. The €2 million guaranteed prize pool will be “The Colossus,” a €550 buy-in event that would have to bring in 4000 entries to break even. Beginning on October 27, there will be 10 flights run to attempt to reach that magical figure.

There is a tremendous amount of history in the WSOP-E despite its short tenure. The inaugural WSOP-E Main Event saw the youngest ever WSOP bracelet winner, Annette Obrestad, pick up her first bracelet one day shy of her 19th birthday. In 2008, the final table of the Main Event featured Ivan Demidov, who became the first (and, so far, only) person to make the final table of the Main Event in Las Vegas and Europe in the same year. Demidov’s feat was joined by the crowning of John Juanda as the champion of the Main Event.

In 2009, a stirring battle between (now) Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu and CardPlayer Magazine owner Barry Shulman was the highlight of the WSOP-E. After five hours of heads-up play, Shulman was eventually able to defeat Negreanu to capture his second WSOP bracelet. 2010 would see the U. K.’s James Bord take down the WSOP-E Main Event championship in front of his countrymen.

In 2011, the WSOP-E decided to hit the road. Going from the Casino at the Empire in London to the Majestic Barriere Cannes and the Le Croisette Barriere in Cannes, seven bracelets were awarded as Elio Fox stopped Chris Moorman from taking his first WSOP bracelet. 2012 would be a historic year as Phil Hellmuth became the first player to win both the WSOP Main Events in Las Vegas and in Europe and, in 2013, Adrian Mateos picked up his first WSOP bracelet in defeating Fabrice Soulier for the crown.

At the end of 2013, it was announced that the WSOP-E and its international counterpart, the WSOP Asia/Pacific, would alternate years instead of being contested each year. The WSOP Asia/Pacific would take the even-numbered years and the WSOP-E would take the odd-numbered years. Thus, the WSOP-E would not be contested until 2015, when it was moved to the Spielbank Berlin in Germany. Kevin MacPhee defeated a 313-player field to win the bracelet that year.

What memorable events will be etched into the history books from the trip to the Czech Republic? It will all unfold beginning on October 19 when the World Series of Poker Europe starts.

Poker News Daily

Scott Blumstein Had Backers for 2017 WSOP Main Event

 Scott Blumstein Had Backers for 2017 WSOP Main Event

You know what might* be cooler than winning a bunch of money playing in the World Series of Poker? Winning a bunch of money at the World Series of Poker without the difficulty of actually playing poker. That was the case for several people over the weekend, as a number of Scott Blumfield’s buddies rode the rail of their lives, having invested in the WSOP Main Event champ’s buy-in and, in turn, receiving a share of his winnings.

It is not uncommon for a poker player to have “backers” in a big buy-in tournament, as the costs can be difficult to handle. By taking on investors who pay a portion of the buy-in for a proportional share of the prize, a player can better afford to participate, even if he or she limits the earnings potential.

Blumstein has not made public all of his financial arrangements with backers, but we now know that he did not have “all of himself,” as the poker lingo goes, in the 2017 WSOP Main Event. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, four of Blumstein’s friends from New Jersey posted some of his $ 10,000 buy-in, though in the grand scheme of things, their contribution wasn’t much.

Peter Gerolamo, Aldo Boscia, John Scuter, and Nick Muldrow each gave Blumstein $ 60. When he won $ 8.15 million before taxes, their investment had grown to $ 40,750 each (technically, the 0.6% that each contributed should have earned them $ 48,900 before taxes, but their deal with Blumstein may not have been for winnings in exact proportion to their percentage of the buy-in, which is normal).

Boscia said that Blumstein could certainly swing the $ 240 that his four friends pitched-in, but he was all for it for the fun.

“He wanted us to sweat it out with him,” Boscia told Rovell.

“The truth is that a bunch of guys who had small stakes in me helped me the most at the end, when I needed support, when I needed to be driven places,” Blumstein added. “I can say pretty confidently that without their support, I might not have won it all.”

Watching the final table progress on ESPN, it was evident that Blumstein – who couldn’t seem like a nicer guy – really drew energy from his friends and family, who flew in to support him when he made the final table.

Those four guys weren’t the only ones who had a piece of Blumstein.

“My dad sold a half a percent to the owner of a bagel shop,” Blumstein revealed to Rovell. “A friend of my grandfather’s, who is 93 and plays poker, had 2 percent.”

This would also imply that Blumstein’s dad had a piece, considering he “sold” half a percent ($ 50) to someone.

Blumstein did actively seek out investors, posting his request on Twitter in June. Nobody took him up on that specific offer, but ESPN says Blumstein did find a backer for the piece he was looking to sell.

Poker pro Asher Conniff also backed Blumstein, paying $ 420 of his buy-in for three percent of his winnings ($ 244,500).

Conniff was thoroughly impressed with Blumstein’s performance in his first-ever WSOP Main Event (can you believe it?), saying, “No one is prepared for the amount of pressure that comes with the final table. Some of the moves he made proved he had the balls of a champion.”

*Let me emphasize “might” here.

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com

Poker News Daily

Scott Blumstein Dominates En Route to 2017 WSOP Championship Event Victory

 Scott Blumstein Dominates En Route to 2017 WSOP Championship Event Victory

Going wire-to-wire without seemingly breaking a sweat, New Jersey poker player Scott Blumstein rode his final table chip lead all the way to the end in capturing poker’s World Championship with his 2017 WSOP Championship Event victory.

Blumstein not only came to the final table back on Thursday with the chip lead, he pretty much didn’t have any problem reaching the final three with a dominant lead. His 226.45 million chip stack represented about two-thirds of the chips in play and completely dwarfed the stacks of his opponents. Dan Ott (88.375 million) and Benjamin Pollak (45.85 million) faced the nearly impossible task of taking on the behemoth that was Blumstein but, from the start, it was obvious that Blumstein wasn’t going to give them the chance.

Ott tried to mount an offensive to go against Blumstein as he blasted past the 120 million chip plateau within the first five hands of play, but Blumstein immediately took the wind out of his sails on Hand 146 when he bluffed Ott off a hand and sent him back under 100 million. This was Blumstein’s method of attack throughout the three-way action – play many of the hands, push when the situation looked good for him and get away from the hands when it wasn’t in his favor. Blumstein’s instincts were dead on throughout the night when it came to this strategy implementation.

Ott and Pollak would jostle back and forth in an attempt to determine who would take on Blumstein for the title, but all it would succeed in doing is extending Blumstein’s lead. After Hand 180, Blumstein’s 285.17 million in chips was crushing the duo of Ott (46.2 million) and Pollak (35.6 million) handily. Then came the hand of the tournament, one in which the tournament was almost ended in a historic fashion.

On Hand 181, Pollak moved his short stack to the center and Ott, after a moment of pondering, decided to move all in “over the top” of Pollak’s bet. Blumstein, who could have just let the twosome fight it out, instead asked for a count and, after getting Ott’s exact figures, called the bet to set up a three-way all-in situation:

Pollak:  Q-10
Ott:  K-9
Blumstein:  A-Q

Blumstein’s Big Chick was ahead pre-flop, but the situation would completely change once the K-J-3 flop hit the felt. Ott went to the lead, but it was a tenuous one as an Ace or a nine would give Pollak a straight and a ten would give Blumstein Broadway. With Pollak looking for a triple up to stay alive in the tournament, the turn four and river six missed everyone, giving the monstrous 128 million chip pot to Ott and knocking Pollak out in third place.

Although Ott now had a stack of chips, Blumstein’s 232.575 million was still in a dominant position as the heads-up match began. Still, only one double for Ott could change the complexion of the tournament. Alas, Blumstein didn’t allow that to happen.

It would take an agonizingly long 3½ for Blumstein to complete what many thought was a foregone conclusion, a nod to the excellent play of Ott in trying to make a comeback. The relentless pressure and knowledge that just one mistake could end his tournament finally began to catch up with Ott, however. Still, there was some great drama when the final hand came to be.

On Hand 246, Blumstein would limp in but, after Ott fired a raise across his bow, Blumstein responded with an all-in shot back towards Ott. After a great deal of contemplation, Ott would make the call and find himself in the lead with his A-8 over Blumstein’s A-2. A J-6-5-7 flop and turn left Ott as a huge favorite to win the hand (93.1%, to be exact), but just as Ott was prepping his mind for another assault on Blumstein, the poker gods spoke; one of the only three outs that would give Blumstein the hand – a deuce – came on the river to pair his hand, sending the pot and the World Championship to Scott Blumstein.

1. Scott Blumstein, $ 8.15 million
2. Dan Ott, $ 4.7 million
3. Benjamin Pollak, $ 3.5 million
4. John Hesp, $ 2.6 million
5. Antoine Saout, $ 2 million
6. Bryan Piccioli, $ 1.675 million
7. Damian Salas, $ 1.425 million
8. Jack Sinclair, $ 1.2 million
9. Ben Lamb, $ 1 million

With that, the book is closed on the 2017 World Series of Poker – at least the Las Vegas segment of the trip. Beginning October 19, the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe begins at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, with 11 more bracelet events at hand. That isn’t something that Scott Blumstein is considering right now…he’s more interested celebrating the fact that he is poker’s newest World Champion.

Poker News Daily



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