Posts Tagged ‘Earns’

Sam Panzica Earns Second WPT Title in Winning 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star

 Sam Panzica Earns Second WPT Title in Winning 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star

Although it appeared at the beginning that start of day chip leader chip leader David ‘Chino’ Rheem would be the one making history, it was Sam Panzica who would etch his name in the World Poker Tour record books after winning the 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star championship early Saturday morning.

Rheem came into the action on Friday with a massive chip lead over the field. His 10.65 million chips dominated the second-place stack of Rainer Kempe (3.705 million), who could have been more concerned with fending off Panzica (3.215 million) and Paul Volpe (3.005 million) than mounting an attack. Anthony Spinella (2.635 million) also bore watching as, with a singular double up, he would push his name into the second-place slot. Only Dennis Stevermer, the short stack on the table with less than a million chips (980,000), was the only player who those in the Bay 101 tournament arena thought would have no shot at the title.

Surprisingly (considering he only held 12 big blinds entering the action), Stevermer wasn’t the first departure from the final table. He got a key double through Kempe to crack the 1.5 million chip mark, then started using the “all in” move to further increase his stack. In a span of ten hands, Stevermer would move all in four times – and not be called – and win one pot outright with a pre-flop raise to get over the two million chip mark. This aggression allowed him to be able to witness the first elimination of the day – and it wasn’t him.

After Rheem popped the pot out of the cutoff on Hand 37, Kempe (the final Shooting Star left in the tournament) moved all in out of the small blind in an attempt to push the chip leader off his hand. Instead, given the opportunity to knock out a dangerous opponent, Rheem quickly made the call. It didn’t hurt that Rheem also had pocket Kings, a definitive favorite against Kempe’s A-9 off suit. Kempe would get no help from the eight-high board and not only left the tournament in sixth place but also had to hand his Shooting Star medallion and a signed t-shirt to Rheem, who was more interested perhaps in the $ 2500 that came along with the bounty knockout.

Rheem’s dominance was only enhanced with the Kempe elimination as he now held more chips (13.485 million) than the other four men did combined (10.705 million). Volpe put a dent in it by doubling through Rheem on the next hand after Kempe’s departure, but this status quo would stay in place for some time. In fact, it would be almost 30 hands before a significant change would occur in the standings.

On Hand 65, Spinella put in a raise to 250K and Rheem defended his big blind to see a monochrome K 9 2 flop. Rheem checked his option and, after Spinella put in another 250K bet, Rheem fired all in over Spinella’s bet. Stunningly Spinella immediately called, showing a J 3 for a flopped flush, while Rheem held the A (along with an off suit eight) for the redraw to the nut flush. Unfortunately for Rheem, a black nine and a black Jack finished off the board, doubling up Spinella to 7.74 million chips (and second place) and knocking Rheem under an eight-figure stack for the first time at the final table.

Rheem would rectify that situation in eliminating Stevermer only seven hands later. The chips went all in pre-flop and Stevermer had the edge with his A-8 over Rheem’s K-9. The flop was a tantalizing one, coming 9-7-6 to give Rheem the tentative lead with his pair of nines but giving Stevermer an open ended straight draw. That draw wouldn’t come home, however, as Stevermer, who many thought was dead meat on arrival at the final table, lasted 72 hands before departing in fifth place.

Back over 11 million in chips, Rheem tried to put the foot back on the gas pedal and win what would be his record fourth WPT title, but Spinella would once again be a thorn in his side. On Hand 84, Rheem lost the chip lead for the first time when, after a J-5-2 flop, Rheem let Spinella have a 4.1 million pot to fall back to second place by only 25,000 chips. Spinella and Rheem would clash again on the next hand and the endgame would be the same, except this time Spinella rivered a deuce after turning an Ace for two pair against Rheem’s flopped pair of Kings to win the hand. With that win, Spinella was now the dominant chip leader, moving past 12 million in chips as Rheem slipped back to 6.675 million.

This only served to light a fire under Rheem, who would take down Volpe a few hands later. On Hand 90, Rheem pushed the action to 375K and Volpe, in the big blind, defended to see an 8 7♠ 4♠ flop. This seemingly innocuous flop instead seemed to light the fireworks as, after Rheem sent another 375K to the pot, Volpe check-raised his remaining three million chips. Rheem immediately called, showing pocket Kings, while Volpe was quite live with his Q♠ J♠ for the flush draw. The turn and river were black, but they were clubs, sending Volpe home in fourth place while pushing Rheem into a solid second behind Spinella.

At this point, Panzica was in no position to even posit winning the tournament. With slightly more than three million in chips, Panzica’s stack was three time smaller than Rheem’s and almost four times smaller than Spinella’s. The longest journeys take a singular step, as the saying goes, and Panzica’s journey was an audacious one.

The threesome played 18 hands before Panzica took over second place, but Rheem still was exercising his dominance. Another 30 hands would see Rheem reestablish his edge with 13.25 million chips, while Panzica and Spinella fought over the scraps. On Hand 151, however, Panzica and Rheem would enter a hand that would change the course of the tournament.

Panzica raised the button and Spinella made the call from the small blind, but Rheem was having none of it. He moved all in out of the big blind and Panzica was more than happy to dance, pushing his stack to the center. A cautious Spinella got out of the way and it proved to be the right move; Panzica’s pocket Aces dominated Rheem’s Q-J and, after the ten-high flop came down, the double for Panzica put him neck and neck with Rheem for the chip lead.

Panzica would take over at this point and never look back. The very next hand after doubling through Rheem, Panzica seized the chip lead after butting heads with Rheem again and stretched it out over the next five hands. In taking another big pot against Rheem – this one worth 8.3 million chips – Panzica would put Rheem on the short stack. The end was on the horizon, but the final chapter remained to be written.

On Hand 167, Spinella doubled through Rheem to drop the former chip leader to only two big blinds and would eliminate him on the very next hand. Spinella now was sitting with a nice 5.75 million stack, but it dwindled in the face of the monstrous 18.475 million chip mountain sitting in front of Panzica. Although he earned one double to pull closer, Spinella never saw the chip lead in heads up play.

On the final hand, Spinella pushed out a raise only to see Panzica power over the top of him all in. Spinella called and tabled an A-8, normally good in a heads up setting, but Panzica had a couple of pips on him in tabling A-10. The Jack high flop (J-5-3-4-5) didn’t change anything, sending Panzica to his second WPT championship in winning the Shooting Star.

1. Sam Panzica, $ 1,373,000
2. Anthony Spinella, $ 786,610
3. David ‘Chino’ Rheem, $ 521,660
4. Paul Volpe, $ 349,610
5. Dennis Stevermer, $ 243,090
6. Rainer Kempe, $ 188,460

There’s no rest for these men as, for Rheem, Kempe and Volpe at the minimum, the final leg of the WPT California Swing starts today. The WPT Rolling Thunder at the Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento begins on Saturday and it is the final chance for players to earn points toward that title (Mike Sexton currently leads those standings). Panzica will also probably head to Thunder Valley also, but not until he’s finished celebrating his second WPT title.

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Daniel Weinman Earns Big Birthday Cake Candle, Wins WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

 Daniel Weinman Earns Big Birthday Cake Candle, Wins WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

On his 29th birthday, Daniel Weinman came from the bottom half of the final table to eventually take a dominant lead and cruise to victory at the World Poker Tour’s Borgata Winter Poker Open on Friday evening.

Weinman was sitting in fourth place at the start of action on Friday, but there were three difficult competitors ahead of him. Atop the standings was Nathan Bjerno, who had rocketed out to a sizeable lead with his 12.415 million chips. Jia Liu (6.815 million) and Tyler Kenney (the only player with a WPT final table under his belt, with 6.03 million) were within sight of Weinman, but he had Richard Foster (5.13 million) contesting him for the fourth-place slot. Nicholas Immekus seemingly was on the short stack (3.55 million) but, in the right situation, Immekus had a stack big enough to be a concern.

With very deep stacks, it was thought that the players would come out slowly (not to mention the $ 892,433 in first place money at stake). Instead, the men came out like they had a plane to catch. On Hand #10 Kenney, who was very active early at the final table, popped the betting to 200K, only to see Immekus make it 700K to go from the big blind. After a moment’s pause, Kenney four-bet Immekus and he responded with an all-in. Kenney immediately made the call this time, turning up pocket Queens to run against Immekus’ Big Slick. The 7-5-2 flop didn’t hit Immekus and, after a Queen hit the turn, he was drawing dead (the meaningless river card was a ten) and hit the rail in sixth place.

Kenney, now the chip leader over Bjerno, kept the table at bay as they jousted with three and four bets pre-flop, which became the norm. Weinman, on Hand #26, made his move up the leaderboard in defeating Foster in what would be a huge cooler for Foster. Under the gun, Weinman min-raised and Foster confidently defended his big blind with a three bet. A suspicious (but cagey, as it would prove) Weinman thought over his situation for a couple of moments before simply calling Foster’s bet. On the J-J-5 flop, Foster fired all in and there was no hesitation from Foster; he hammered in the call, turning up pocket Aces against Foster’s pocket Kings, and there was no salvation for Foster. In fact, the Ace on the river added insult to injury in sending Foster to the rail in fifth place as the level ended.

With the blinds and antes now at 60K/120K and 20K, Liu was now feeling the pain of the rapid rounds (Kenney, Weinman and Bjerno were all over 10 million in chips) and had to make a move. He found that chance on Hand #32 when, after a Kenney raise, Liu looked him up from under the gun. A highly-coordinated J♥ 10♣ 9♣ flop came and Liu would check call a bet from Kenney. A 3♣ completed any flush draw, which is what Liu represented when he check-raised all in Kenney’s 770K bet on the turn. Kenney, after reviewing the hand in his mind, came up with the call and turned over pocket Queens with the club. Liu wasn’t dead in the hand with his Q-9 off suit to have the same straight draw as Kenney but an inferior pair. A nonconsequential 4♠ on the river didn’t help anyone, keeping Kenney in the lead and with the chips as Liu exited in fourth place.

The three men remaining – Kenney (16.555 million), Weinman (12.24 million) and Bjerno (10.555 million) – would then slow down the action tremendously. Over the next 30-plus hands, it seemed as if Kenney and Weinman would take turns pounding on Bjerno as his stack went down while theirs headed up. The bounty was good enough that Kenney didn’t seem to mind when Weinman passed him for the lead, but it would become a factor in what would be the penultimate hand of the tournament.

On Hand #65, Kenney raised the button only to have Weinman three bet the action from the big blind. Kenney called to see an 8-5-4 rainbow flop. Weinman check-called a 1.4 million bet from Kenney and, after a ten on the turn, would do the same to a three million bet from Kenney. A river trey saw Weinman check for a third time and Kenney would move all in for more than ten million chips. Only covering Kenney by about a million, Weinman agonized over the decision before finding the call, which turned out to be the correct one. Weinman could only muster a 9-5 off suit for second worst pair on the board, but it was enough; Kenney had been pushing the bluff from the start as his K-9 was only good for King-high. Once it was confirmed that it was Kenney who was all in, the mountainous pile of chips headed to Weinman as Kenney headed out the doors of the Borgata in third place.

With such a monstrous lead, it was thought Weinman (33.805 million chips) would make short work of Bjerno (5.545 million). Bjerno would prove to be a worthy adversary, however, dueling with Weinman for 50 hands but never drawing any closer than a 3:1 disadvantage. On the final hand, Weinman would move all in and Bjerno, in need of a double, called with an A-4. Normally in heads up Bjerno’s hand would have been a good fighter, but Weinman’s A-5 had him outpipped and behind from the start. The A-8-6 flop made a chop more of a chance and the seven on the turn eliminated Bjerno from winning the hand outright as a four on the river would give Weinman a straight. Sure enough, that four fell on the river to give Bjerno an unfortunate pair while giving Weinman the eight-high straight to win the hand and the 2017 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event.

1. Daniel Weinman, $ 892,433
2. Nathan Bjerno, $ 524,964
3. Tyler Kenney, $ 327,578
4. Jia Liu, $ 275,081
5. Richard Foster, $ 228,787
6. Nicholas Immekus, $ 184,787

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PokerStars Earns Czech Republic Gaming License

 PokerStars Earns Czech Republic Gaming License

PokerStars announced on Tuesday that it has received a license to operate its online casino and poker room in the Czech Republic, the first site to do so under the country’s new gaming laws. The license was granted January 28th and should be ready to go within the next few days.

“We are very proud to be the first online casino and poker operator to be awarded a license and support the newly regulated Czech market,” said Guy Templer, Chief Operating Officer, in a press release. “This underscores our commitment to supporting local regulations and obtaining local licenses wherever possible.”

PokerStars said that it “will offer Czech players a wide range of poker games and tournament formats across its shared global liquidity,” so it appears that there will be no ring-fencing; Czech players will be able to play with people on other PokerStars sites.

The new gaming laws to which PokerStars referred were signed by Czech President Miloš Zeman in July 2016 and took effect January 1, 2017. Online gambling operators are now required to hold a Czech gaming license in order to offer their services to residents of the country. While some sites might choose to risk operating without a license, PokerStars did not.

PokerStars also might be one of just a few who decide to apply for a license. Under the new law, operators must pay a tax of 35 percent of gross gaming revenue from any game that uses a random number generator (RNG). As online poker uses an RNG, PokerStars will be hit with this tax (as well as on its casino games). On top of that, there is still the 19 percent income tax rate.

This was all be design, too. Andrej Babiš, the Czech Finance Minister who introduced the online gambling proposals in 2014, is actually very much against online gambling. But rather than trying to ban it and run into pushback or other problems that could result from a prohibition, he decided to legalize it, but tax operators up the wazoo. That way, operators might just self-ban. He actually wanted the gaming tax to be 40 percent, but backed off ever so slightly.

Babiš once told Business Week, “The indirect costs for the state stemming from such gambling are several times higher than the revenue it collects. That should be made even.”

At the end of December, UK gaming giant William Hill told its Czech customers that “following recent regulatory developments” it was going to stop serving Czech players and all current Czech accounts would be closed. Players were still able to withdraw their funds. William Hill left the door open for a possible future return, saying in an e-mail to its affiliates, “….we are confident that we will have the opportunity to work together in the future.”

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Christian Harder Earns Championship of Inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event

 Christian Harder Earns Championship of Inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event

After wading through a 738-player field to make the final table behind only the chip leader, Christian Harder continued his ferocious attack on his opposition on the way to earning the championship of the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event on Saturday.

Harder started the run a couple of days previous, working his way into the Top Ten for the Day 5 action and making the final table off that run. The only player who had it better was Michael Gentili, who led the final two days of the tournament and came to the final table with a 6.175 million chip stack. Behind Harder (with 5.985 million chips) was an array of contenders that included 2016 World Series of Poker “November Niner” Cliff Josephy, who had to work from the short stack (1.24 million) if he were to get any further on Saturday.

Harder was the first to strike at the six-handed final table as, only seven hands in, he was responsible for the first elimination. After raising the action, Harder saw Rasmus Glaesel pop in the remainder of his stack. Harder hardly hesitated, however, in making the call and laying down pocket tens for action. Glaesel found himself in a race with his Big Slick but, after an eight-high rainbow flop, saw his objective move further out in front of him. Another six on the turn wasn’t helpful either, meaning the third six – improving Harder to a boat, eliminated Glaesel from the tournament in sixth place and shot Harder into the lead.

For his part, Gentili had a tough time getting anything going on the day. He would attempt to play with his tablemates but, pretty much every time, he would have to let decent hands go when they didn’t connect with the board or were beaten anyway. After a particularly big hand against Aleksei Opalikhin – which saw Gentili defend from the big blind and Opalikhin flop a top pair of Aces (and make Aces up by the river) to eventually send a big stack of chips to Opalikhin – Gentili saw his once-mighty stack shrunk to 3.355 million.

Gentili would try to get something going but, in the end, it wasn’t to be. Opalikhin was again the opposition when he raised a pot pre-flop and Gentili fired all in “over the top” for his remaining two million or so chips. Opalikhin, who pondered his action pre-flop for a rather lengthy time, got his calling chips in the pot before Gentili could cross the line with his all-in chip as Opalikhin showed pocket Aces. All Gentili could produce were pocket deuces and, once the King-high board didn’t have a deuce amongst it, Gentili was in trouble. After the chips were counted, Opalikhin scooped up the 1.76 million chip pot and Gentili was left with scraps (145,000); those would go to Josephy as Gentili departed in fourth.

Now it was Josephy’s turn to shift into overdrive as he picked up a huge double through Opalikhin to move into second and knock Opalikhin to the bottom of the table. After a Josephy raise and a three-bet from Michael Vela, Opalikhin put his final 300K (all he had left after doubling Josephy) on the line. Josephy didn’t have an interest in continuing but Vela was more than interested as he showed his pocket Kings to go against Opalikhin’s 10-9 off suit. The A-A-A flop was about as crushing as it gets, leaving Opalikhin looking for the case Ace and a King just to split the pot. When the turn brought neither of those options, Opalikhin was drawing dead and gone from the tournament in fourth place.

By the time the dinner break arrived, Harder had the tournament firmly in his grasp. With 13.24 million chips, his nearest two competitors – Josephy (5.71 million) and Vela (2.355 million) – could barely muster more than half of Harder’s stack. Still, it was a three-way clash after dinner that had the railbirds in the Bahamas and watching the live stream buzzing.

After Harder raised off the button and Josephy called, Vela would put his final chips on the line looking for a triple up. Both Harder and Josephy went in the tank over their decisions, but both would eventually call to see a monochrome 6 7 8 flop. Harder and Josephy chose to check their options there and after the 3 on the turn and the 4 on the river. “Somebody’s got to have a diamond!” exclaimed Vela over the live stream and, sure enough, someone did. Josephy showed K J, good for the King-high flush, while Harder was blank with an A♣ Q♣. Vela’s squeeze didn’t do him any good as his A 6 flopped a pair but was crushed by Josephy’s rivered flush as Vela left in third place.

With three million chips separating them, Harder and Josephy decided to make a deal. After the negotiations were successful, Harder secured himself a $ 419,664 payday and Josephy picked up a $ 403,448 chunk of change. The duo decided to leave out a $ 10,000 bonus and the inaugural championship to play for, which both players would vie for aggressively. With his larger stack, however, it was only a matter of time for Harder to take the title.

On the final hand, Josephy made the raise with an A-8 and, instead of making the call, Harder three-bet the action with his A-J. Josephy didn’t believe Harder’s raise, moving all in and getting a call from Harder. Although ahead in the hand, Harder didn’t like the 9-5-4 flop that hit the table nor the K♠ that now put backdoor flush options on the table (Josephy held the A♠). The nine on the river was black, but it was the 9♣ as Harder’s A-J held to win the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event.

1. Christian Harder, $ 429,664*
2. Cliff Josephy, $ 403,448*
3. Michael Vela, $ 269,980
4. Aleksei Opalikhin, $ 191,420
5. Michael Gentili, $ 140,940
6. Rasmus Glaesel, $ 103,780

(* – deal brokered with two players remaining)

With the close of the Main Event, the PokerStars Championship will move into unknown territory. From March 10-20, the PokerStars Championship will have their second festival in Panama City, Panama, at the Casino Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino. This tournament will be important because, unlike the Bahamas event (which was basically the renamed PokerStars Caribbean Adventure), the Panama visit will be the first time the PokerStars Championship (basically the former European Poker Tour) has ventured outside of the European continent (in years previous, the Latin American Poker Tour had serviced Panama). It may be the first indicator as to how the new tournament circuit will be received by fans.

For right now, however, none of that matters. Congratulations to Christian Harder, who takes the early lead in the different Player of the Year races and banks one of the major championships in the poker world!

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Jason Mercier Earns Fourth WSOP Bracelet

 Jason Mercier Earns Fourth WSOP Bracelet

Jason Mercier won his fourth career World Series of Poker gold bracelet Tuesday morning outlasting an extremely seasoned field of 99 other players in Event #16: $ 10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship. The victory was worth $ 273,335.

Now, even though the first place prize was more than a quarter million dollars, it sounds like Mercier likely won a lot more from outside sources. Just two weeks ago, he put out a tweet looking for anyone to bet against him winning a bracelet this summer, giving him 3-to-1 odds. Prop bets like this are very common at the WSOP and are a way for players to have more fun rooting for and against each other, as well as providing another avenue for gambling. Mercier did get some takers, but has not said how many and for how much money, but he did say in his post-match interview that the amount he won from the side bets is “more than the first place prize for this event.”

Mercier defeated Mike Watson heads-up for the title. On the final hand, Watson raised on the button and Mercier called. Both men drew one card and proceeded to get it all-in, Watson’s tournament life on the line. Watson showed 9-7-4-3-2, a solid hand, but Mercier revealed 8-6-5-4-2 to give him a lower hand, the pot, and the tournament victory.

As mentioned, this was Jason Mercier’s fourth career WSOP bracelet. He previously nabbed jewelry in Pot-Limit Omaha events in both 2009 and 2011 and then won a No-Limit Hold’em event last year.

In an interview with the WSOP after his win, Mercier said this win only ranked below his first one.

“I’d say this was the second best of the four,” he remarked. “The first one you get is always the most special.  But I have been wanting to win this event for a long time and to get here against this kind of field was really nice.  It also helps that I had lots of side action riding on winning a bracelet this year.”

This fourth bracelet is now getting Mercier close to elite territory in terms of all-time bracelet winners. Amongst the others that have four are Robert Mizrachi, Max Pescatori, Huck Seed, Amarillo Slim Preston, Puggy Pearson, Bobby Baldwin, and Bill Boyd. One more and he will be tied with the likes of Stu Ungar, John Juanda, Scotty Nguyen, and Allen Cunningham. Of course, he still has approximately a lifetime to go to catch Phil Hellmuth, who has fourteen WSOP bracelets.

Needless to say, Jason Mercier is one of the best tournament players in the world. The PokerStars blog even called back to five years ago, when Mercier talked about his WSOP goals after winning his second bracelet:

It’s important to me for people to think I am one of the best. I think I am getting to that level, if I am not already there. Obviously, winning tournaments and winning WSOP bracelets just adds to that.  I feel like if I win a third one, it will do even more for me.  I’m ready to play in as many World Series of Poker events as I can to get as many gold bracelets as I can.

Mercier now has over $ 3.8 million in WSOP tournament earnings and $ 16.7 million in live tournament winnings overall.

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