Posts Tagged ‘Championship’

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

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

So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

 So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

We’ve had almost a week to digest what was one of the better World Series of Poker Championship Event final tables in recent memory. While it was a wire to wire win for Scott Blumstein, it was still entertaining watching the nine men play it out. It was also great to see them play it out with only a slight delay of two days instead of the three months that the “November Nine” inflicted on the players and the fans – it made for a much better tournament.

But there’s one thing left over from the WSOP Championship Event final table. Just how did the Poker News Daily “Crystal Ball” do in predicting the finishing order of the players? Overall, not too shabby – the Ball got a couple of the spots right and was a bit off on others. Then there’s a couple of players…

Without further ado, let’s review the actual finishing order and look at what the Crystal Ball said.

Ninth Place:  Ben Lamb (Prediction:  Damian Salas)

Coming in on the short stack on Thursday night, Lamb was already facing a difficult climb. But for him to go out on the fourth hand of action was a bit stunning. There are several that argue that he was making the optimum move by moving all in for 18.9 million chips after Jack Sinclair raised off the button. In theory, it is a good argument; Sinclair could have been raising with any two there and, with Lamb holding an A9 , if Sinclair had been making a move he might have pushed his cards to the muck. There are those that state, however, that Lamb didn’t have to make that move at that point (he was around 22 big blinds, not in a push mode) and it was a bit suicidal. Whatever the answer, for the former “November Niner” to depart in such a dramatic fashion – and so early into the action – was a bit surprising.

Eighth Place:  Jack Sinclair (Prediction:  Jack Sinclair)

The Crystal Ball got one right! Sinclair was seriously hurt by the facts that he couldn’t get any cards to work with and dealing with the assault from the larger stacks on his right. Sinclair got the boost from the knockout of Lamb, but there wasn’t much else that he could do after that.

Seventh Place:  Damian Salas (Prediction:  Ben Lamb)

OK, the Crystal Ball just got seventh and ninth places backwards! Salas hung on for much longer than many thought he could and, when he was knocked out, it was in a brutal fashion. After Dan Ott hit his gut shot straight draw on the river to top Salas’ flopped pair of Aces, you could almost see the life ooze out of Salas. He played well, got his money in right and…it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sixth Place:  Bryan Piccioli (Prediction:  Dan Ott)

And here’s one where the Crystal Ball was just a bit off. Piccioli, who came into the final table with the fourth-place stack, just couldn’t get anything going on the final table baize. His chips oozed from his fingers to the point that he was forced to make a move with just an A-7 in his hands. Dan Ott woke up with pocket Kings in the big blind and, after no Ace came on the board, Piccioli’s chips were in Ott’s stack.

Fifth Place:  Antoine Saout (Prediction:  Bryan Piccioli)

Probably the Crystal Ball’s biggest miss of the final table. Saout was constantly pounded on by Blumstein throughout the first two days of final table action because Blumstein’s big stack was on Saout’s right. Repeatedly, Blumstein would put the pressure on Saout and, correctly, Saout didn’t make the call. When Saout did catch Blumstein with a bit of larceny in his heart, Blumstein hit his gut shot straight draw with his 5-3 on the turn and, after Saout made trips on the river, there was no way that Saout was going to get away. Much like Salas, Saout got the money in good and simply got outdrawn.

Fourth Place: John Hesp (Prediction:  John Hesp)

The Crystal Ball strikes again! And what a run by Hesp at the final table. There are plenty of Monday morning quarterbacks who can pick on Hesp’s call while drawing dead against Blumstein as an amateur mistake, but that was part of the charm of Hesp’s approach at the table. Now, we don’t need nine of these when tournament final tables are determined, but it isn’t such a bad thing to see someone like Hesp do well.  

Third Place:  Benjamin Pollok (Prediction:  Antoine Saout)

Other than Blumstein, it is arguable that Pollok played the best of anyone at the final table. There were some laydowns that Pollok made – especially when he had trip nines against the turned boat, nines over tens, of Blumstein – that were outstanding. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around for Pollok, who should be the owner of a WSOP bracelet sooner than later.

Second Place:  Dan Ott (Prediction:  Scott Blumstein)

Ott was the shocker of the 2017 WSOP final table. He made some good moves on the table and, when opportunity came along, Ott seized it. He was able to dispatch of Pollok in that truly stunning three-way all in to bring himself within shouting distance of Blumstein entering heads up, but that’s where the gas ran out. Still, his overall performance is something that he should be proud of.

First Place:  Scott Blumstein (Prediction:  Benjamin Pollok)

That’s not too bad. The Crystal Ball predicted Blumstein to finish second but, once he got the monster stack he did on Night One of the final table after his battle with Hesp, there was little doubt who was going to be the winner of the event. As he sits and counts the $ 8.15 million he received for winning the tournament, Blumstein can now ponder what he wants to do with his poker career.

To wrap it up, two exact hits and a few “one-off” predictions? Seems as though the Crystal Ball was in good shape this summer! Congratulations to all the men who took part and to poker’s newest World Champion, Scott Blumstein.

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

2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table, Night Two: Scott Blumstein In Dominant Position to Take World Championship

 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table, Night Two: Scott Blumstein In Dominant Position to Take World Championship

The 2017 World Series of Poker has reached the penultimate day of its Championship Event. Nine players started on Thursday night and seven came back on Friday. As play closed last night, Scott Blumstein emerged as the odds-on favorite to be poker’s next World Champion.

Six of the seven men who came back on Friday were faced with an audacious task. Blumstein, who came into the final table with the chip lead, only solidified it through the Night One action on Thursday. Partially because of a massive hand between he and John Hesp, Blumstein came to the felt on Friday holding a massive 178.3 million in chips, almost half the chips in play on the table. Benjamin Pollak was his closest competition (77.525 million), but he was more than 100 million chips behind Blumstein. Hesp (22.475 million), Bryan Piccioli (35.75 million), Dan Ott (16.35 million), Damian Salas (15.625 million) and Antoine Saout (14.55 million) rounded out the table as someone looked to emerge and challenge Blumstein.

That question – who would challenge Blumstein – was answered quickly…nobody.

Although he would ship some chips to Piccioli after Piccioli flopped a boat and turned quads and another stack went to Saout in doubling him up, Blumstein was unfazed by the setbacks. In a particularly notable clash with Pollok, Blumstein and Pollok both would flop trip nines (Hesp, along for the ride in the hand, would depart after the Q-9-9 flop missed his hand). With a nice pot brewing, a ten came on the turn, which hit Blumstein’s 10-9 squarely and shuffled Pollok’s J-9 to second best. A King on the river sealed the hand for Blumstein, but the surprises weren’t done yet.

Sitting with trip nines that had rivered a straight, Pollok checked his option over to Blumstein’s boat and Blumstein bet out 8 million into a 30 million pot. This sent Pollok into the tank as he reconstructed the hand in his mind. After several minutes, Pollok made the outstanding – and correct – decision to lay his straight down as Blumstein recouped his chips lost earlier.

That hand was only a precursor to another soul crushing moment. Salas had been battling for most of the final table with no chips and no cards to speak of. He would occasionally push all in and pick up the blinds and antes, but rarely more. When Ott raised from under the gun with pocket fours, Salas looked down at his A-10 off suit and made his stand. Ott made the call and the twosome were off to the races.

An A-3-2 opened up a straight draw for Ott, but his pocket fours were crushed by the flopped pair of Aces for Salas. Salas got by the turn when a six came, but a river five completely savaged his Aces. It also was a gut punch to Salas who, as he recognized that Ott had rivered his straight, collapsed to the floor holding his head. Wondering what might have been, Salas barely had the strength to walk to the rail in seventh place, even though a $ 1.425 million salve was awaiting him.

Salas’ elimination, which brought the table to six-handed, seemed to open up the gates for the players to make some moves. 20 hands after dispatching Salas, Ott would do the same to Piccioli, his pocket Kings standing over Piccioli’s A-7 off suit. With Ott creeping closer (up to over 95 million chips after eliminating Piccioli), Blumstein suddenly came to life.

Only four hands after Piccioli departed, Scott Blumstein would wield his big stack and put pressure on the blinds by raising the bet to 4.2 million with only a 5-3 of spades for action. Saout, who had watched in pain as his chip stack slipped away, found a K-J off suit to his liking and called Blumstein’s bet. Saout was correct with his assumption that Blumstein was simply playing big stack poker and looked to be ready for action after Blumstein called.

A J-7-6 flop paired Saout, but Blumstein picked up a gut shot straight draw also as the twosome both checked their options. A four on the turn was devastating to Saout as it filled the gut shot that Blumstein had been looking for. ESPN’s audience knew this, but Saout didn’t; after checking and a Blumstein bet, Saout called and was pulled further into the trap.

A Jack on the river gave Saout losing trips against Blumstein as he checked again. Blumstein, seizing his moment, pushed in a bet large enough to put Saout at risk and Saout went into the tank. After what seemed to be an eternity, he called and was dismayed to see Blumstein’s turned straight vanquish him in fifth place ($ 2 million).

Over 200 million in chips (217.45 million, to be exact), Blumstein continued to keep his foot on the gas. He would take three of the next eight hands to further increase his stack to 226.75 million and seemed to be on the hunt for the elimination that would end the night’s action. That would come down between the small stacks to determine, however.

Nine hands after Saout was gone, Hesp would put his final 11.9 million chips at risk, holding a suited 9-7 in an attempt to steal the blinds. Pollak had a decent hand, A-J off suit, and pondered for a couple moments before making the call. The duo would stand with each other, with Pollok playfully taking the stylish hat from Blumstein’s head and wearing it prior to the flop, as the dealer fanned the flop, turn and river. After it had run out K-10-6-4-4, there was nothing there for Hesp as he departed in fourth place.

1. Scott Blumstein, 226.45 million
2. Dan Ott, 88.375 million
3. Benjamin Pollok, 45.85 million
4. John Hesp, $ 2,600,000*
5. Antoine Saout, $ 2,000,000*
6. Bryan Piccioli, $ 1,675,000*
7. Damian Salas, $ 1,475,000*
8. Jack Sinclair, $ 1,200,000**
9. Ben Lamb, $ 1,000,000**

(* – eliminated on Friday night, ** – eliminated on Thursday night)

Barring an earthquake opening under the Rio and swallowing the Brasilia Room whole, Blumstein would be a virtual lock to win this tournament. He hasn’t shown himself to be one that might succumb to any “brain freeze” that would shift a massive portion of his chips anywhere. Ott (88.375 million) and Pollok (45.85 million) are either going to have to get some big hands early or come out on the right side of a gamble if they are to upend Blumstein and keep him from winning poker’s World Champion.

Poker News Daily



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