Posts Tagged ‘Leader’

Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

 Split Decision as to Leader of Different Player of the Year Races

With the tournament poker world motoring through the first quarter of the calendar year, it is a “split decision” as to who is the leader in the major Player of the Year races. In fact, in one race the name is a familiar one but, in the other, the “top dog” might surprise many.

On the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year board, the leader of the pack is a player who has been on fire through the first two months of the year. The United Kingdom’s Toby Lewis has been scintillating through February, taking down the 2018 Aussie Millions Main Event championship for a $ 1.1 million-plus payday. That wasn’t enough for the Brit, however, as he left the land “Down Under” and came to the L. A. Poker Classic with his groove still working. Lewis would finish second in the World Poker Tour Main Event of the LAPC to start March, earning another $ 600,000-plus in cash and earning (between the two events) 3780 points, ahead in the POY by a wide margin over the field.

Just how far ahead is Lewis at this point? Second place Justin Bonomo has a half million dollars more in earnings over Lewis to this point of 2018 (thanks to some decent High Roller finishes), but he has “only” earned 2156 points on the CardPlayer board. And Bonomo BARELY eked out the second-place slot on the CardPlayer POY. 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion Maria Lampropulos’ victory was enough to give her 2100 points and the final podium spot entering March. Koray Aldemir (1940 points) and Aussie Millions runner-up Stefan Huber (1900) round out the Top Five in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

The fifth-place spot marks the return of one of the legends of online poker. After not cashing in a live tournament event since 2014, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has made a splash back into the game. The partypoker MILLIONS Germany was where Blom made his green, taking down the €5000 Main Event for a nearly million-Euro cash. Although Blom had cashed in a preliminary tournament earlier on the MILLIONS schedule, the Main Event win was the first time that Blom cashed in a tournament since the 2014 European Poker Tour Season X finale at the Grand Final in Monte Carlo. The 1824 points for the victory also put Blom in sixth place on the POY rankings.

L. A. Poker Classic champion Dennis Blieden slides in behind Blom on the board, the 1800 points for his WPT championship officially landing him in seventh. That clipped Adrian Mateos, who has not won yet in 2018 but has three final tables and 1795 points for eighth place. Rounding out the Top Ten for the CardPlayer Player of the Year race are Stephen Chidwick (1770 points) and Tim Rutherford (1760) in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

To say that there is a different poker reality on the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race would be a huge understatement. Of the ten players that come up on the CardPlayer rankings, only THREE of them make an appearance on the GPI ladder. In fact, the player who has seized the GPI Player of the Year lead at this point is a player that only the most hard-core poker fans might have heard of.

Although he has a runner-up finish in a 2016 World Series of Poker preliminary event, Georgios Zisimopoulos hasn’t exactly set the poker world on fire in his career. Mostly content to stay in Europe and play in the multitude of events there, Zisimopoulos has come out of the gate in 2018 with a vengeance. Between three tournament schedules, Zisimopoulos has been able to cash in a slew of tournaments, good enough to be able to put him atop the GPI standings.

Zisimopoulos has only one win among the eleven cashes he has earned (in a $ 500 Bounty event at the Merit Poker Western Tournament in January), but those 11 cashes have generated 1631.11 points, good enough for the top slot on the GPI POY leaderboard. To compare the two ranking systems, while Zisimopoulos is leading the way on the GPI countdown, he isn’t found on the CardPlayer system until 93rd place.

Another player who has been a serial casher is Nick Pupillo. Stunningly, Pupillo has cashed 13 times since January 1, with a top cash coming for his sixth-place finish at the Heartland Poker Tour’s Main Event at the Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, CO ($ 31,855). In those 13 cashes, Pupillo has accumulated 1618.23 points and takes hold of the second-place slot on the GPI standings.

Former World Champion Joe McKeehen seems to have come out in 2018 with a mission. He’s been playing several major tournaments on the WPT, with a best finish of third at the WPT Thunder Valley last week, and those larger field events have given him enough points to capture the third-place slot on the GPI rankings with 1478.17 points. Hot on his heels are Joao Pires Simao (1452.97 points) and Chidwick (1430.66), who round out the Top Five on the GPI.

The second half of the Top Ten brings more surprises. Ari Engel is in sixth at this point in the season, his 1426.10 points barely behind Chidwick, while Timothy Miles is a bit further back at 1411.31 points in seventh. Although he is in first on the CardPlayer rankings, Lewis can only get to eighth on the GPI board with his 1383.74 points. Bonomo (1371.99 points) and Daniel Negreanu (1345.64) round out the GPI Player of the Year race in ninth and tenth places, respectively.

These standings will probably be completely turned over by the time Tax Day (April 15) arrives. There are two Main Tour events in the next month on the WPT and several WSOP Circuit events, but the biggest question mark for a tournament could be the rebirth of the European Poker Tour. The EPT Sochi begins on March 20 and many in the poker world will be watching to see if the players come back.

Changes by The Stars Group – including the cosmetic step of bringing back the old EPT moniker – have been made but, since there has only been the also-reborn PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to judge so far, it is unknown if the players are giving the reborn EPT a chance. It will have an impact on the Player of the Year races, however, so expect the top players in Europe to flock to the Russian coastal city.

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2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 2 – Kimbo Ung Tops Pack Leader Board

 2018 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event Day 2 – Kimbo Ung Tops Pack Leader Board

Barely more than 100 players remain of the original 493 after Day 2 of the World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic. It should be a tense day, as 62 players get paid and there will be plenty of short stacks just trying to stay alive while the big stacks work on accumulating chips.

The race at the top is extremely tight, which is not something we frequently see at this stage in a major tournament. There is often one player who pulls ahead at this point (and often drops down later); sometimes two players form their own mini peloton. But in this case, the top FOUR players are within 10,000 chips of each other and another three are not too far behind.

Kimbo Ung is the chip leader with 379,400 chips, but hot on his heels are Chance Kornuth (374,400), Dennis Blieden (370,500), and John Misirian (370,000). In the fifth spot is Tan Nguyen with 350,000 and then, after a bit of a gap, are Marc Macdonnell with 333,200 and Toby Lewis with 315,300. Seven players with more than 300,000 chips. Should be a fun day at the top and bottom of the standings.

Ung, who won his seat in a $ 1,100 satellite, told at the end of the day that he didn’t really do anything special to get to that position.

“I just gradually built, the same thing yesterday and today. I just keep chipping up. I’ve lost a few pots here and there. I lost a big pot at the end, I would have had 500,000 if I didn’t lose that pot,” he said. “I didn’t have any good hands at all, I just kept playing the suited connectors and building up little by little.”

The hand to which Ung referred appears to be the last one that reported for Day 2. The site caught up with the action on the flop with the board reading J♣-9-2♠. There was about 40,000 already in the pot and Ung raised a 17,500 chip bet to 38,000. Kornuth thought about it and re-raised to 77,200. Ung then tanked for a couple minutes before finally folding. Kornuth showed 6♣-7♣.

As mentioned, there were 493 entries in the $ 9,500 + $ 500 tournament, creating a prize pool of almost $ 4.7 million. $ 1 million will be awarded to the winner, which was the guaranteed first prize. Payouts go down to 62nd place; the min-cash is $ 16,640.

According to, Kimbo Ung has but two live tournament cashes, which is double the number that this writer has (and mine isn’t even recorded on One is for just $ 585, but the other is a sweet $ 125,901 cash for winning the 2010 Heartland Poker Tour Las Vegas Main Event. Thus, any sort of cash will be significant to Ung relative to his career earnings.

2018 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Kimbo Ung – 379,400
2. Chance Kornuth – 374,400
3. Dennis Blieden – 370,500
4. John Misirian – 370,000
5. Tan Nguyen – 350,000
6. Marc Macdonnell – 333,200
7. Toby Lewis – 315,300
8. Jean Gaspard – 298,000
9. Manuel Martinez – 276,500
10. Sam Sanusi – 254,500

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2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Sizeable Day 1C Crowd Brings New Leader to Overall Standings

 2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Sizeable Day 1C Crowd Brings New Leader to Overall Standings

As expected on Saturday, Day 1C of the €1000 No Limit Hold’em Monster Stack at the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe was the largest of the three-Day Ones. After the day’s action, a new overall leader for the tournament was crowned as Day Two looms on the horizon.

How big was Saturday’s field? The players were flocking to the felt for the very start of the day’s play, something that is usually unheard of in a tournament. 127 players were already on their respective tables with their 20,000 in chips. By the end of the first level of fourteen for the day, the field jumped up to 183 and showed little signs of slowing down.

Among those taking their patch of felt were players who had previously been entered in the tournament. According to the rules of the Monster Stack, players could re-enter the tournament if they busted out of Days 1A and/or 1B. Players such as Kunal Patni, Kenny Hallaert, Aylar Lie, Alex Foxen, Kristen Bicknell and Thomas Pettersson made the maximum donation to the prize pool (€3000) and were looking for a cash to offset the early expenditure at the WSOP-E.

The Monster Stack had a guarantee on it (€500,000), so King’s Casino and WSOP-E officials were pleased when that was cracked just after Level 4 began. The 261 entries that were on the Day 1C clock brought the total number up to 516 total entries and, with another four levels of late registration available, there was a nice prize pool being built for the first event of the 2017 WSOP-E.

By the time the late registration period had ended and Level 9 began after dinner, there were 306 players registered for Day 1C. That brought the total to 561 entries for the three-Day Ones, building a prize pool of €538,280 for the top 85 finishers to divvy up. The first-place payday will award the first bracelet of the 2017 WSOP-E and give that fortunate champion a €117,708 payday.

As the tournament drove into the Czech evening, the body count of players who had been sent to the rail began to rise. Kenny Hallaert, John Racener, Erik Cajelais, Brandon Cantu, Phil Hellmuth, Felipe Ramos and Bicknell were all out soon after the dinner break. For a select few, however, they would rewrite the overall leaderboard.

One player in particular was on the move throughout the day, but in the final level of the night he kicked in the afterburners. Sander van Wesemael was sitting on an impressive stack of 137K in chips when Level 14 began, but a battle he started with Veysel Kortan completely changed his fortunes.

The leader heading into the final level of the day, Kortan decided that he wanted to get fancy and began blind raising every hand. After one Kortan blind raise, van Wesemael decided to stand up and three-bet the action, which Kortan called. An A♠ Q♠ 8♠ monochrome flop brought a check-raise out of Kortan, taking van Wesemael’s 10K bet up to 28K, which was called by van Wesemael. Kortan kept the pressure on a nine on the turn and, on a King river to put plenty of possibilities on board, Kortan would move all in.

Now it was time for van Wesemael to think about the hand for a bit and, although the clock was called, he made his decision before a floorman could get to the table for the count. Van Wesemael called to put his tournament life at stake and it was the right move as his A Q was good over Kortan’s sheepishly turned up 7-3 air to shoot van Wesemael to 300,000 in chips. Soon afterwards, Kortan was out of the door instead of heading to Day 2.

1. Sander van Wesemael, 323,500
2. Valentin Vornicu, 296,500
3. Giovanni Petroni, 239,000
4. Scott Stewart, 207,500
5. Tobias Bornefalk, 207,000
6. Pawel Czichowski, 199,000
7. Emil Lukac, 192,000
8. Thanh Hoang, 179,000
9. Konstantinos Tsirakidis, 178,000
10. Christophe Pereira, 170,000

With the conclusion of Day 1C, van Wesemael will become the overall leader of the tournament. In fact, the top five from Day 1C make up half the Top Ten overall leaderboard:

1. Sander van Wesemael, 323,500
2. Valentin Vornicu, 296,500
3. Ismael Bojang, 268,500*
4. Sergio Fernandez, 267,000**
5. Jeff Cormier, 265,000*
6. Giovanni Petroni, 239,000
7. Micky Blasi, 213,000*
8. Ryan Hefter, 208,000***
9. Scott Stewart, 207,500
10. Tobias Bornefalk, 207,000

(* – Day 1A player)
(** – Day 1B player)
(*** – Day 1A player, defending champion)

All totaled, 114 players survived the three days of action in the King’s Casino tournament arena and one of them will be the eventual champion of Event #1. Day 2 kicks off on Sunday and is expected to play down to the first champion of the WSOP Europe, but it is entirely possible that the tournament may have to go into “overtime” with the number of players remaining.

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2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Sergio Fernandez Paces Field, Ismael Bojang Still Overall Leader

 2017 World Series of Poker Europe: Sergio Fernandez Paces Field, Ismael Bojang Still Overall Leader

The second day of the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe is in the books with the close of Day 1B of Event #1, the €1000 No Limit Hold’em Monster Stack. Although Sergio Fernandez would end the day with the Day 1B edge over the 35 players left, it is still Ismael Bojang who can claim the overall lead.

The early afternoon starting time at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic (2PM local time, 8AM Eastern Time), saw several new faces come to the fore. Chris Ferguson, looking to lengthen his lead in the WSOP Player of the Year race, was a late entry on the day, but he could do nothing in the short time he was on the felt after dinner. A player known for his late arrivals, Phil Hellmuth, held true to form by coming into the King’s Casino after the dinner break.

It didn’t seem that the late arrival helped Hellmuth a bit. On an A-4-4 flop, Hellmuth fired a 2000 chip bet into a 4500 pot and only Maxim Lykov made the call. After checking the 9 on the turn, a 7♣ on the river seemed to wake up both men. Hellmuth felt confident as he fired off another 4000-chip bet but, after Lykov three bet the action to 11K (to build a pot around 23K), Hellmuth pondered just what Lykov could be holding. In the end, Hellmuth decided he needed to know and made the call, with Lykov showing him he had rivered Hellmuth with his pocket sevens catching the boat to defeat Hellmuth’s A♠ J♠ for the flopped two pair.

The battle with Lykov chopped Hellmuth’s stack in half from its 20K starting level and the “Poker Brat” would never recover. With his withering stack, Hellmuth would push the action with pocket fives and ran them into an opponent holding pocket sixes and Chi Cuong Huynh’s J-10. After the board was kind to Huynh, coming down with not only a Jack and a ten but no sixes or fives, Hellmuth was relegated to the rail and sentenced to a final shot on Saturday if he is to stick around for Day 2 of the Monster Stack.

By the time the dinner break had rolled around, another 158 players had put an entry in, with many of those players in on their second bullet in the tournament (the Monster Stack allows players eliminated on Day 1A to reenter on Day 1B and, if eliminated again, to come back on Day 1C). Prior to the dinner break, two-time buyers including Kunal Patni, Kristen Bicknell, Thomas Pettersson, Marc MacDonnell, John Racener (trying to catch Ferguson in the POY), and Kenny Hallaert were all on the rail for a second time. After the dinner break, Roberto Romanello, Aleksandar Tomovic, Casey Kastle, and Felipe Ramos would join those ranks.

The Day 1B ride was pleasant for some who were in for a second bullet. Lykov finished the day as the fifth-place stack of the 35 players remaining, while Pierre Neuville was able to build a good stack in ending the day in eighth place. They will both be looking up to Fernandez, who is only about 1500 in chips behind overall leader Bojang:

1. Sergio Fernandez, 267,000
2. Rene Crha, 186,500
3. Fahredin Mustafov, 183,000
4. Viliyan Petleshkov, 178,500
5. Maxim Lykov, 153,500
6. Aneris Adomkevicius, 153,000
7. Robert Schulz, 143,000
8. Pierre Neuville, 122,500
9. Dario Marinelli, 117,000
10. Usman Siddique, 111,000

The two-Day Ones completed have a total of 50 players remaining with Day 1C yet to play:

1. Ismael Bojang, 268,500
2. Sergio Fernandez, 267,000
3. Jeff Cormier, 265,000
4. Micky Blasi, 213,000
5. Ryan Hefter, 208,000*
6. Rene Crha, 186,500
7. Fahredin Mustafov, 183,000
8. Viliyan Petleshkov, 178,500
9. Maxim Lykov, 153,500
10. Aneris Adomkevicius, 153,000

(* – defending champion)

To this mark, the tournament has booked 255 entries (90 for Day 1A, 165 for Day 1B), but Day 1C should see a rush to the tables. The players will learn what they are playing for once late registration closes at Level 8 of Day 1C and the battle will then truly be on for the first bracelet of the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe.

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2017 Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Nathan Bjerno Massive Chip Leader

 2017 Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Nathan Bjerno Massive Chip Leader

The final table for the World Poker Tour’s 2017 Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City, NJ, is shaping up to be a “one versus all” affair. The reason? Chip leader Nathan Bjerno, who garnered most of his chips in taking down two of the players who had been around the top of the leaderboard virtually the entire tournament, has almost a third of the chips in play.

34 players returned to the baize at the Borgata on Thursday with the difficult task of getting to the final six. Charles Coates held the lead with his 3.371 million in chips, but right behind him was Blake Bohn and his 3.024 million stack. With both players on the same table, the potential for fireworks was in the mix, but it would take some time for the fuse to be lit.

There was still a bit of play in the stacks (even short stacked Asher Conniff was sitting decently with his 406,000 in chips, good for 17 big blinds), so it took a bit of time before the first elimination of the day. That occurred when Day 2 chip leader Jack Duong pushed his stack all in against Shaun Deeb about 40 minutes into the day. Deeb was more than happy to call Duong’s push with his pocket Kings and Duong, with Big Slick, would hit on the K-J-10 flop for a gut shot straight draw. Unfortunately, Duong couldn’t find the filler for the hole in his straight – the Queen – on the turn or the river, sending him out of the tournament 34th place.

The next competitor out surprised many in the tournament room. Coming in with an even million chips, Olivier Busquet would send more than half of them to Bart Dowling after Dowling turned a set and rivered quad sixes against him. That wasn’t the most painful beat, however, as moments later Busquet would take on Bohn in the hand that would end his tournament.

After Bohn raised and Dowling called, Busquet would squeeze the action with an all-in move. Bohn looked him up (Dowling exited at this point) and the players turned their cards up. It was the classic race situation, Busquet’s A-10 off suit versus Bohn’s pocket eights. In the window was an Ace for Busquet, but the third card on the flop was an eight to give Bohn a set. Once an innocent trey and a four came on the turn and river, Busquet was suddenly out of the tournament in 33rd place.

Bohn was quite aggressive with those new chips and it paid off well for him. He would eliminate David Stefanski in 28th place and forced Adnan Mohammad to lay down another hand as his chip stack climbed to almost five million chips. After Tony Ruberto bluffed off a stack of chips to him, Bohn was in prime shape for the final table as his stack reached the 6.5 million mark.

That would be the epitome of Bohn’s day, however. He would bleed chips off over the course of the evening but reach the unofficial final table with about half the chips he had after Ruberto’s bluff. Those chips would hit the center against Bjerno, who had stormed out to a decent lead over the field by earlier knocking off Coates in tenth place with his pocket threes flopping a set against Coates’ pocket sixes. Bohn was in a different situation, however, as his A-K would need help against Bjerno’s pocket tens. It wouldn’t come as the board came down ten-high, giving Bjerno an unnecessary set against Bohn’s Ace-high and sending Bohn to the rail in eighth place.

After Jia Liu took down Thomas Penza in seventh place – Liu’s pocket Jacks handling Penza’s A♥ 8♥ with ease on a K-5-3-5-Q board – the official WPT final table was set with Bjerno over the 12 million mark in chips:

1. Nathan Bjerno, 12.415 million
2. Jia Liu, 6.815 million
3. Tyler Kenney, 6.03 million
4. Daniel Weinman, 5.41 million
5. Richard Foster, 5.13 million
6. Nicholas Immekus, 3.55 million

For those who plan to be in attendance for the final table action, it may be a long evening. Immekus, on the short stack, still has 44 big blinds to play with (the table was paused in Level 29 with blinds of 40K/80K with 10K antes), plenty of time for him to look for a moment to strike. Of the remainder of the table, Kenney is the best-known player of the lot, having made a WPT final table before (2014, a third-place finish at the WPT Legends of Poker). While he does have about a third of the chips, Bjerno is the epitome of that old axiom “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” as he tries to seal the deal in Atlantic City beginning at 2PM this afternoon (live stream with hole cards begins at 2:30 at

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