Posts Tagged ‘Major’

Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

 Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

Battling through one of the larger fields during the Season XVI schedule, poker professional Darryll Fish broke through with his first ever major tour victory in winning the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, last night.

The hometown favorite at the final table, Fish was one of six players who had come through the 911 entry field to vie for the crown. He didn’t lead as the final table began, however. That honor went to Russia’s Aleksandr Shevelev and his 6.96 million stack, with Ness Reilly tucked into the second slot with her 6.295 million chips. Fish, for his part, hovered in the third-place slot (5.92 million chips) while the rest of the field – Brett Bader (3.16 million), Alan Krockey (2.81 million) and former WPT champion Andy Frankenberger (2.17 million) – needed quite a bit of help if they were going to contend for the championship.

The players throughout the final table were playing as if said table was on fire. On Hand 19, Reilly opened the betting under the gun and Krockey didn’t believe her as he moved all in. Reilly wasted little time in making the call, tabling pocket Kings to go to the races against Krockey’s Big Chick (A-Q). Looking for another lady to join him on the board, Krockey instead saw the board run out nine high, ending his tournament in sixth place and moving Reilly into contention with 6.4 million chips.

Reilly didn’t slow down after that knockout either. Fish and Shevelev put her to the test in her big bling and, after calling a 175K bet, everyone checked to the river on an A-9-2-5-9 board. Reilly would check that board and, after Fish fired a good sized 450K bet, Shevelev dropped from the proceedings. Reilly, though, didn’t believe Fish’s story and made the call. It turned out to be the right one as Fish showed a K-J for complete air; Reilly, on the other hand, showed a 4-3 for the turned Wheel and scooped the 1.5 million chip pot.

Shevelev didn’t get concerned with Reilly storming up on him, he just took down a player to reestablish control at the final table. On Hand 32, Shevelev innocently raised the pot and saw Reilly three bet the action up to 500K. Demonstrating the usage of the WPT “Time Bank” chips (the WPT uses their 30-second “Action Clock” just before the field makes the money; players receive six “Time Bank” chips worth 60 seconds each for use each day until the end of the tournament), Bader tossed one in the pot and, as the clock was at 10, five-bet to 1.35 million.

Now it was Shevelev’s turn to use one of his “Time Bank” chips and, after the deliberation, his reply was to move all in. After Reilly decided that discretion was the better part of valor, Bader took another Time Bank worth of extra time before making the decision to call for his tournament life. When the cards came up, the hand played itself.

Bader’s pocket Queens were only down against two hands (pocket Aces and Kings) and racing against one other (Big Slick) and the race was at hand with Shevelev holding Slick. With his tournament life on the line, Bader was dismayed to see a King in the window on a K-4-4 flop to push Shevelev into the lead. Needing a Queen to remain at the table, Bader instead hit the rail in fifth place as a deuce and a nine finished off the board, sending Shevelev over the 12 million chip mark.  

With that big stack, it wasn’t like Shevelev needed any help, but the players couldn’t resist giving it to him. After doubling up Frankenberger, Reilly would ship a sizeable chunk of her chips to the Russian after he sneakily turned a nine-high straight while holding an 8-5 off suit in the big blind. The resulting 8.1 million pot pushed Shevelev’s stack even higher and many on the rail thought the tournament was over.

Reilly couldn’t overcome the hand against Shevelev. Roughly 10 hands after battling the chip leader, Reilly would lock horns with Fish in a race. Reilly had the best of it pre-flop with her pocket Jacks against Fish’s A 10, but an Ace on the flop changed the fortunes of each player. There was paint on the turn, but it wasn’t the Jack that Reilly was looking for (Queen). Down to the river, Reilly instead saw a second nine as the hand went to Fish and she went to the cash out cage in fourth place.

Shevelev now had a challenger in Fish, but Frankenberger wasn’t going to go away easily. Looking to become a two-time champion on the WPT, Frankenberger would battle it out against the two big stacks for 30 hands before finally succumbing to Fish. With Frankenberger holding pocket sevens and Fish showing A♣ J♣, the flop kept Frankenberger safe. The Jack on the turn, however, wasn’t what Frankenberger wanted to see. Once a trey came on the river, Frankenberger’s dream of a second WPT title was dashed as he exited in third place.

With the knockout of Frankenberger, Fish narrowed the gap with Shevelev, but it was still a 4.4 million advantage for the Russian heading to the endgame. Forty hands into heads up play, however, Fish had been able to bring the stacks to almost even (Shevelev’s 13.9 million to Fish’s 13.4 million). That’s where the tournament would remain, with each player jumping out to a substantive lead before being reeled back in, for much of the four-plus hour battle.

Once the blinds reached the astronomical level of 300K/600K with a 100K ante, however, the deep stacks were gone and the all-in moves began. Beginning with Hand 199, eight of the next 10 hands would see a player all-in, with Hand 209 being the penultimate hand for the players. With Fish holding the lead, Shevelev challenged him with an all in and Fish made the call.

Shevelev had roughly a 60/40 edge with his A-10 over Fish’s K-J and continued to hold that edge when the flop came Q-9-8. A King on the turn, however, gave the lead over to Fish and left Shevelev looking for an Ace or a Jack (straight) to take the hand back. There was a straight on the river with the 10, but that straight was an unnecessary one for Fish to the King as he captured the hand and the championship.

1. Darryll Fish, $ 511,604
2. Aleksandr Shevelev, $ 331,116
3. Andy Frankenberger, $ 244,342
4. Ness Reilly, $ 182,249
5. Brett Bader, $ 137,440
6. Alan Krockey, $ 104,784

With this title, Fish goes over $ 3.75 million in career tournament earnings, a career that had previously been bereft of a major tournament championship. Although Fish has won on the WSOP Circuit and at the Aussie Millions, this is the first title for Fish on a major tournament schedule. It also adds on to an amazing 150 cashes for a career (and add in another 325 online finishes) that is showing no signs of slowing down.

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Poker Central Adding to PokerGO’s Programming with New Show “Major Wager”

 Poker Central Adding to PokerGO’s Programming with New Show “Major Wager”

Since Poker Central came back with the rebirth of their streaming outlet as a subscription service known as PokerGO, there has been a concerted effort to increasing the amount of original programming that the station provides. With their latest endeavor, Poker Central and PokerGO are dipping their toes into a genre that, at least in regular network and cable television, has become a bit overdone.

It was announced on Thursday that Poker Central and PokerGO will collaborate with Roundhead Creative for a five-episode reality series called Major Wager. The show, to be hosted by noted podcaster Joey Ingram, will take the viewers into world of proposition (or “prop”) betting. The show’s basic premise is that a group of contestants, with many coming from the poker world, will take part in performance-based prop bets. For the losers of those bets, majorly embarrassing punishments will be taped and aired as part of the program.

The poker aspect of the show comes in with the contestants that will be a part of the show. Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Brian Rast, Jeff Gross and Samantha Abernathy are but a few of the names that have been released as being a part of the competition. These players – and especially Esfandiari, as we’ll see in a bit – all have had their hands in some prop bets in the past, making them natural participants for a show like this.

“We wanted to explore what would happen if we combined the most competitive personalities in poker with prop betting in everyday scenarios – Las Vegas style,” said Joe Kakaty, the president of Poker Central. “Major Wager will be a hilarious addition to PokerGO’s already robust offering of original programming.” Phil Alcabes, the founder of Roundhead Creative, added “My producing partner Kevin Thomsen and I are thrilled to be a part of Poker Central’s vision for Major Wager and the commitment they have in bringing their audience innovative poker shows unlike anything currently on the market. We’re showcasing the lesser known skills, competitive spirit, and personalities of poker’s biggest stars that fans will have to see to believe.”

This isn’t Esfandiari’s first foray into televising his prop bets for the world to see. Along with his good friend, poker player Phil Laak, Esfandiari starred in two seasons of a television program called I Bet You that aired on the now-defunct MOJO cable channel. The premise of the show, which began in 2007, was that the two men would challenge each other with outlandish prop bets, often culminating in a big payoff when the loser of the bet was somehow humiliated (sounding very much like Major Wager). 24 episodes were taped across the States of America and the first season of the show (10 episodes) actually made it to DVD.

Instead of going the route with prop betting that they have, Poker Central and PokerGO might have been better advised to go with another program that featured Esfandiari and Laak in starring roles. In 2014, Esfandiari and Laak were the focal points of a program called Underground Poker. The pilot program aired on Discovery Channel and featured the gentlemen traveling the country and getting into various “underground” (non-casino) cash games. The show wasn’t picked up for future broadcasts by Discovery and, it seems, Underground Poker has languished in television purgatory since then.

There is not a solid date or time as to the airing of Major Wager, except announcements that it will begin streaming on PokerGO “the week of September 4.” The program may be a fun interlude and it does match up comedically (potentially) with Poker Nights, another original program airing on PokerGO. The big question, however, is will poker’s fandom watch programming that isn’t poker intensive? The answer could be the “make-or-break” factor in the success of PokerGO.

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New Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Presents Major Tax Question

 New Pennsylvania Online Gambling Bill Presents Major Tax Question

Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa, along with co-sponsors Senators Wayne Fontana, Vincent Hughes, and Judith Schwank, introduced Senate Bill 524 on Monday, an overarching gambling bill which includes the legalization and regulation of online poker in the state.

Costa previewed the bill in January when he filed a Senate Co-Sponsorship Memorandum, but this is the first time we have seen the initiatives laid out in full. Much of it we already knew was coming. In addition to legalizing and regulating online gambling (not just poker), it also does the same for daily fantasy sports. It expands land-based gambling, as well, allowing for multi-state progressive slot machine jackpots as well as “skill-based” slot machines.

Airports would also be allowed to have “multi-use computing devices” (read: tablets) in designated areas for online gambling. Legislators were split on this issue last year, as many didn’t like the idea of expanding gambling out of casinos.

The part of SB 524 that will likely be the most controversial is the costs it sets for online operators. Compared to other bills that have already been introduced in Pennsylvania, Costa’s bill just pummeled licensed operators with taxes and fees to the point where it wouldn’t make sense for any but the richest operators to jump into the market.

SB 524 would impose a license fee of $ 10 million, compared to $ 8 million for the other bills. For vendors, those companies that would not operate online gambling sites, but rather provide them with things like software or servers to support their operations, the licensing fees would also be much higher: $ 5 million compared to $ 2 million.

The nuttiest one, though, is that Costa’s bill sets the tax rate for online gambling and daily fantasy sports at a whopping 25 percent, versus 14 percent in the other bills. 14 percent is reasonable; it is in line with the tax rates of other states and still gives the government a chance to pull in solid amount of gambling income. 25 percent, though, is just punishing.

Online gambling operators have to be able to actually make a profit in order to stay in business. They can’t do that if the government goes ballistic with taxes. That’s not to say there should be no taxes – we all know everyone needs to pay their fair share to help our societies function (well, except Donald Trump) – but making the added gaming tax so high is just unnecessarily punitive.

And if it doesn’t hurt the online gambling operators, it will surely hurt the consumers. Does anyone think the online poker sites wouldn’t just pass the tax expenses on to the players in the form of rake. Or do we not think the casino operators would just dial back the payout rates slightly to make up for their added tax burden?

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David Peters Stuns Fedor Holz, Takes Major Poker Player of the Year Awards

 David Peters Stuns Fedor Holz, Takes Major Poker Player of the Year Awards

After leading the two races for Poker Player of the Year pretty much since the World Series of Poker concluded in July, it was assumed that German poker superstar Fedor Holz was a lock to take down those awards come the end of December. Well, you know what they say about “assume?” Instead of reveling in the dual victories, Holz had to watch helplessly as David Peters used a late surge literally in the final tournament of the year to pass him and win both major POY races.

Peters was a good distance back of Holz on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race in mid-November, in the second-place slot by almost 1300 points. Peters would then go on a rampage that saw him win an event and finish as the runner up in the November 18-19 Aria High Roller and Super High Roller tournaments to pull within roughly 500 points of Holz. With only December left on the calendar, Peters continued storming the felt in both the States and Europe.

By finishing at the final table in two events during the running of the Bellagio’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Peters knocked another 250 points off Holz’s lead, but he was still short. With the POY award within his reach, Peters went to the final-ever European Poker Tour event in Prague, Czech Republic, and finished in third place for the final EPT event in history. The 1280 points he picked up for that tournament allowed him to pass Holz by a healthy margin with his 8181 points.

So where did it go bad for Holz? From the end of October on to the end of the year, Holz failed to score a single point on the CardPlayer rankings. In a normal circumstance, Holz’s 7058 points would have been more than enough to earn him the POY championship. With the advent of major tournaments going to the end of the calendar year – and the high roller tournaments that normally come along with them – it wasn’t enough in 2016 for Holz to win the CardPlayer POY.

How far from the pack were Peters and Holz? The third-place finisher, Justin Bonomo, could only muster 6020 points to finish in third place, more than 2000 points behind Peters and more than 1000 behind Holz. Two other players, fourth place Ari Engel (5653 points) and fifth place Jake Schindler (5178 points) both used big December rushes to reach their positions. Engel made a final run at the title with his final table finish at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Rock n’ Roll Poker Open, but was unable to cash for points from his six money finishes in Prague, while Schindler made a big move with his third-place finish at the World Poker Tour’s Main Event during the Bellagio tournament series.

Rounding out the Top Ten on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year rankings are Sam Soverel (4989 points, sixth place), Chance Kornuth (4838, seventh), Dan Smith (4799, eighth), Connor Drinan (4637, ninth) and Ankush Mandavia (4460, tenth).

With the more complex scoring of the Global Poker Index rankings, it was going to be tougher for Peters to pass Holz, but he would do it. His final two cashes of 2016 – his third-place finish in the EPT Prague Main Event (worth 482.16 points) and the fifth-place finish at the Five Diamond High Roller (203.68 points) – replaced two of his other top 13 finishes to push him by Holz by the closest of margins. When the final totals were put together, Peters’ 3666.31 points had managed to eclipse Holz’s 3644.8 points (remember, no cashes in the last two months of the year) and give Peters the GPI POY award.

Bonomo was once again the odd-man out in the triumvirate of players at the top, finishing in third place with his very respectable 3479.7 points. On the GPI rankings, Kornuth’s finishes got more love than on the CardPlayer board, with Kornuth hitting the fourth-place spot with 3336.54 points. Even former WSOP Europe and EPT Grand Final champion Adrian Mateos, who didn’t even show up in the Top Ten for CardPlayer, got his name in at fifth place with 3316.07 points.

Engel dropped in the rankings in the comparison between the GPI and CardPlayer Magazine, with the winner of the 2016 Aussie Millions (we’re less than a month away from the 2017 version) settling for sixth place on the GPI poll with 3290.43 points. Rounding out the next four spots are Paul Volpe (3192.88 points, seventh place), Nick Petrangelo (3176.03, eighth), Mandavia (3138.97, ninth) and Samuel Panzica (3114.66, tenth); three of those four men weren’t even mentioned on the CardPlayer Top Ten.

Although it may be the end of 2016 and the beginning of the New Year, poker professionals and amateurs alike aren’t going to be given a very long break. On January 6, the very first PokerStars Championship Bahamas (formerly the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure) will kick off, featuring a plethora of poker for those in attendance at the Atlantis Hotel. The 2017 Aussie Millions will open for play on January 11, perhaps setting up for a clash between two popular international tournaments. The WPT also gets into the mix with the start of the L. A. Poker Classic schedule on January 13 and the Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City, NJ, on January 17. Add in the various smaller tours with stops on the schedule (the WSOP Circuit, the Heartland Poker Tour, and others) and the race for 2017 Player of the Year will be off and running!

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Fedor Holz Still In Command of Major Player of the Year Races

 Fedor Holz Still In Command of Major Player of the Year Races

As the tournament poker world moves into the fourth quarter of the calendar year, Germany’s Fedor Holz is still in command of the major Player of the Year races. Holz has been able to extend his lead on one of the tables, but has seen his lead shrink on another.

Holz has not been resting on his laurels or his big leads. In August, he won the €50,000 Super High Roller event at the opening stop for the European Poker Tour in Barcelona, picking up nearly $ 1.5 million in prize money for the effort. That payday pushed his yearly winnings over the $ 15 million mark (and nearly cracked the $ 16 million plateau) and has helped him out tremendously on the Player of the Year leaderboards.

On the CardPlayer Magazine rankings, Holz has actually been able to extend his lead, but now it is over a different cast of characters. While Holz’s lead over Justin Bonomo at the close of the World Series of Poker was only 1288 points, Holz now leads David Peters by almost 2000 points (Peters has 4891 points to Holz’s 6758). Connor Drinan has also tossed his hat into the ring of contention, taking the third place slot with 4512 points. Bonomo has slipped down the rankings to the fourth place slot (4470) and Chance Kornuth has pushed his way into the Top Five with his 4374 points.

The player who held the lead at the start of the year, Ari Engel, has been working his way back up the list. His fifth place finish at the EPT Barcelona Main Event brought him up to sixth place (4369 points), only five points in back of Kornuth. Joining him in moving up a few notches on the ladder is Tony Dunst, who can claim the seventh place position with 3740 points. Rounding out the Top Ten are Joe McKeehen (3738), Nick Petrangelo (3711) and Paul Volpe (3671) in eighth through tenth places, respectively.

Holz is also in control of the Global Poker Index Player of the Year race, but the lead is a bit more tenuous. At the close of the WSOP, Holz held almost a 400 point lead over Jason Mercier. Now the lead is just over 300 points and, as with the CardPlayer ranking, a new contender has emerged to challenge Holz (3637.69 points). Kornuth has been able to move up the ladder significantly and his 3336.54 points puts him firmly in the second place slot.

Peters isn’t doing badly on the GPI table, either. His 3097.44 points gives him a two point edge over Volpe (3095.05) to take the third place spot. The biggest mover of the last couple of months has been Adrian Mateos, who has rocketed into contention on the GPI POY with his 3045.89 points that is good enough to put him in fifth place.

Petrangelo pairs his CardPlayer ranking by making a mark on the Top Ten of the GPI, using his 3008.21 points to hold the sixth place spot on the countdown. The surprise of both lists is Argentina’s Ivan Luca, who used four points-earning finishes during the EPT Barcelona to take the seventh place slot on the list (2992.47) . Finishing off the Top Ten for the GPI are Mercier (2931.51 points), Drinan (2926.7 points) and Dominik Nitsche (2875.65) in eighth through tenth places.

Over the next six weeks, the battle will only increase in intensity as tournament schedules pick up. The World Poker Tour has a major tour stop at the Borgata in Atlantic City later this month and in Maryland at the start of October which should have an effect on the rankings, while the European Poker Tour comes back from a two month hiatus by returning to Malta on October 18. October alone will feature 59 tournaments that CardPlayer is giving POY points out for, meaning that Holz’s lead – even as large as it is there – may not be enough on either Player of the Year ranking,

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