Posts Tagged ‘Open’

Women in Poker Hall of Fame Nominations Open – Who is Deserving?

 Women in Poker Hall of Fame Nominations Open – Who is Deserving?

The Poker Hall of Fame was created to honor the best there has ever been in the game. While honoring those who have, at best, been at the periphery of the game (“Wild Bill” Hickok?), the Poker Hall of Fame has pretty much gotten it right except for one area, female players. To this date, only three women – Barbara Enright, Linda Johnson and Jennifer Harman – have earned their induction into this pantheon. To be sure that women get the deserved recognition for their contributions to the game, the Women in Poker Hall of Fame was created.

Active since 2008, the past couple of cycles of elections have come at two-year intervals for the WiPHoF. As the last induction ceremonies were conducted in 2016, it is time once again for new members to be admitted to the Hall. To help facilitate this process, officials with the Women in Poker Hall of Fame have recently opened the nomination process to determine their 2018 inductees.

As with the Poker Hall of Fame’s process, the Women’s Hall allows for the public to nominate one woman for the select Media & Industry Voting Panel to consider. Unlike the main Hall, however, every candidate that meets the criteria for entry into the Women’s Hall will be put forth for consideration. The criteria for election into the Women’s Hall is as such:

A candidate must have been active as a player or industry leader for a minimum of 10 years prior to election and 35 years old or older.
Candidate must have contributed to the world of poker in a significant manner, either through winning major poker events or making other significant contributions to the industry of poker.
Candidate must be a proponent of women in poker.
Candidate must meet approval of the WiPHoF Committee and the current members of the Hall.
Candidate must agree to the terms and conditions of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

Once the ballot is set, the Media & Industry Voting Panel and the Hall members will consider the list and vote for their selections. Once the vote is tallied, the highest vote getters are announced and eligible for induction into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. Those new inductees will be honored during ceremonies on June 26 at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas.

But here’s the big question…who deserves to be nominated?

Much like the Poker Hall of Fame, it is a long list of potential nominees that are available for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. The following women should be considered for nomination by the public.

Betty Carey – This one harkens back before the internet days of the poker world. Heck, it even harkens back to when the World Series of Poker was but a struggling tournament poker series. But for those that remember the exploits of such men as Doyle Brunson, “Amarillo” Slim Preston, Puggy Pearson and many others who have gone on to the Poker Hall of Fame, Carey is one of the women who was able to keep up with them.

There is the legend that Preston and Carey played a heads-up match in which the effervescent Preston table-talked Carey for a $ 100,000 stake. Part of the problem, Carey realized afterwards, was that Preston’s incessant talking had forced her into a verbal tell that he discovered. Carey and Preston played again, this time with Carey wearing earplugs, and the lady broke the former World Champion within 10 minutes.

Carey’s exploits in the cash game arena saw her take on the best players in the game – almost always male – and do more than just hold her own. While she doesn’t have the tournament exploits that make one known to the public, her longevity in an era when women weren’t readily accepted at the tables should earn her a spot in the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

Nani Dollison – From the late 90s through the early Aughts, Dollison was one of the most talented female players in the world of poker. She won back-to-back Ladies’ Championships (2000/2001), when the tournament was a split Limit Hold’em/Seven Card Stud event. Only Susie Isaacs can say that (Isaacs won when it was a Seven Card Stud event) and Isaacs was an original inductee in 2008. She is also tied, with Enright and Vanessa Selbst (who arguably will be a first-ballot Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee when she is eligible in two years).

Shirley Rosario – Not exactly a name that jumps at people but, if you’ve been around the game any length of time, you know who Rosario is. Known for her cash game skills and her prop playing at casinos in California, Rosario has advocated for women in poker since before the “boom” of the early Aughts. She has also been a successful tournament professional, earning nearly $ 500,000 in her career.

Karina Jett – Although she hasn’t been as active in the poker world in the past few years (choosing to spend most of her time raising her and husband Chip’s children), Jett has been able to amass a stellar tournament poker record. She’s been to the WSOP Ladies’ Championship final table three times, coming up fourth in back to back years (2003 and 2004) and the runner up to Marsha Wolak in 2011. Jett was also a part of some of poker’s best “made for television” programming, including Poker After Dark and Poker Night in America.

Annie Duke – Had to throw one controversial choice in.

Duke is, without a doubt, one of the most polarizing subjects in the world of poker. Being polarizing is not a ban on being honored for your play and your contributions to poker, however, and Duke has covered those bases in spades. Her victory in the 2004 WSOP Tournament of Champions – in which she tortured Phil Hellmuth before seizing the $ 2 million winner take all victory – and her WSOP bracelet won in Omaha High/Low in the same year might be enough to establish her playing credentials. Add in her 2010 victory in the National Heads-up Poker Championship, defeating Huck Seed and Erik Seidel on her way to the title, and those credentials are solidified.

While nowadays she tries to paint herself as a “business consultant” (Duke hasn’t cashed in a poker tournament since 2010), Duke’s work as an advocate for online poker (she once was a member of the Poker Players Alliance Board of Directors) and in what might have been good ideas that went under (the Epic Poker League) indicate someone who was, at the least, trying to make the game better. And who can say that every idea they’ve ever had have worked out to its fullest?

The Women in Poker Hall of Fame nominations are open until March 15 at the dedicated site on the Hall’s webpage. One vote can be registered per IP address and, once the votes have been screened, will be presented to the Jury Panel for consideration. Soon afterwards, the new inductees for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame will be announced.

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U. S. Poker Open Rolls Along with Little Fanfare

 U. S. Poker Open Rolls Along with Little Fanfare

The inaugural U. S. Poker Open is rolling along at ARIA in Las Vegas, with its $ 50,000 Main Event set to begin on Friday. The question is, though, if you throw a poker tournament and no one pays attention, did it happen? If you’re looking at this tournament, then it hasn’t happened as it has been going on with little fanfare.

The schedule was that it may have been very popular for the top professionals in the world. A collection of poker tournaments, none under a $ 10,000 buy in, testing the world’s best players as they vied against each other for glory. Looking at the individual events so far, however, there hasn’t been the horde of professionals (or deep-pocketed amateurs) swarming Las Vegas for the schedule.

The first event, a $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, only drew out 68 ENTRIES, not players, for the event, which was eventually won by Justin Bonomo. What was supposed to be one of the more intriguing events, the $ 10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hold’em tournament, only 64 entries were received (the tournament was won by Mike Gorodinsky). The numbers didn’t improve with a raise in the stakes, either.

The first $ 25,000 event, a No Limit Hold’em affair, brought 44 entries as Stephen Chidwick emerged victorious. Chidwick wasn’t done, however, as he came back in the very next tournament, the $ 25,000 Mixed Game Championship, and won it, too. Still, the 45 entries that came in for that tournament had to be a bit disappointing. The last completed event, Event #5’s $ 10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, saw 67 entries and crowned Ben Tollerene as the champion.

So, what has been the problem with the U. S. Poker Open, as it seems as if the same players are just sitting there pitching in their donations? First off, that is what has been happening as several players have taken part in every tournament and taken part in several reentries, such as Daniel Negreanu. What is happening, however is an example of perhaps some bad scheduling on the part of the U. S. Poker Open and Poker Central, which envisioned the tournament schedule.

Poker Central, together with its streaming channel PokerGO, is always in need of programming. There’s only so many times you can run repeats of past events (as Poker Central learned when they were trying to cut it as a cable network) until the viewers start to tune out. In the past, they’ve struck gold; the creation of the Super High Roller Bowl and last year’s Poker Masters series have both been well received by the poker community.

You can only go to the well so many times, however. The U. S. Poker Open seems to be contrived, unnatural, rather than something that organically grows. It was bad enough that there was already an event that was once called the United States Poker Open (I do wonder if Poker Central tried to get the rights to that name), but to put something up with a name that acts like there is so much gravitas to it without any history makes it appear it’s being jammed down people’s throats.

Then there’s the scheduling. The start of a New Year is ALWAYS crowded in the tournament poker world. Beginning with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure through the Aussie Millions to the Borgata Winter Poker Open to the L. A. Poker Classic, there are a plethora of tournaments with long histories and a boatload of prestige and respect (and this isn’t even counting the mid-major league tournament circuits). If a player has a budget for tournaments, they’re more likely going to look at these established events rather than something that has no history to it.

So when would you schedule a prospective “U. S. Poker Open?” Well, there’s a lull in the last half of December. You want to influence the tournament poker scene? That would be the perfect spot for a 4-6 event series of high dollar buy in tournaments that would have an effect on Player of the Year races and, perhaps, set a player up nicely for the New Year.

Finally, there is that old poker adage of “sharks don’t eat other sharks.” Professional poker players aren’t going to go where they get the “greatest challenge.” They are going to go where the game is soft and the opportunity to make money is rampant. Thus, you’ll see pro players taking part in that 700-800 player tournament in the Bahamas or in Melbourne (and, if they fail, dive into cash games) rather than trying to outdo 40-50 other players who are just as talented as them in several $ 10K buy-in (minimum) tournaments.

Perhaps with time the U. S. Poker Open will become something. But it should be noted by Poker Central that the well is almost dry on this “High Roller” spree they’ve been on and they should consider some other options for programming (here’s one off the top of my head:  Poker House, a “Big Brother” type competition where 12 poker players are watched 24/7 as they live together, work together and…well, let your mind wander…with a tournament each week to knock off a competitor…or will they be knocked off?) When the U. S. Poker Open Main Event concludes on Sunday, will anyone really care?

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Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

 Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

Defying the odds by coming off the short stack, Eric Afriat earned his second World Poker Tour championship on Friday by winning the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

To say (and don’t groan) the deck was stacked against Afriat would be an understatement. He scraped into the final table with a 2.28 million chip stack and needed a telescope to see chip leader Zach Gruneberg and his 17.6 mountain of chips. There were also other obstacles for Afriat, including former World Champion Joseph McKeehen (5.955 million), Justin Zaki (5.565 million), Stephen Song (2.74 million) and local favorite Michael Marder (3.08 million), that he would have to overcome.

Things would get worse for Afriat from the start. After picking up some chips, he turned around and doubled up Marder to make his task more difficult. Afriat would rectify that by taking down Song in sixth place after flopping a boat against Song’s flush draw that didn’t come home. Afriat continued to be active on the felt as his chip stack fluctuated wildly as he tried to work his magic.

It would take more than 40 hands before the next elimination would occur and, when it did happen, the rich would only get richer in a stunner of a hand. After Gruneberg raised from the cutoff, Marder would call from the big blind to see an 8♣ 8♠ 6♣ flop. Marder would check-call another 300K out of the chip leader and, after a 5♠ on the turn, both players checked the straight possibilities. When the 9♣ came on the river, the fireworks would go off.

After checking the action on the previous two streets, Marder would suddenly wake up with a big 425K bet of his own. Gruneberg, however, was undaunted and moved all in over the top of Marder’s bet. Marder took a moment to ponder the situation, chucking a Time Bank chip into the hand, before making the call and showing his K♣ 3♣ for a King-high flush. That wasn’t good enough, however; Gruneberg turned up a 10♣ 7♣ for the stone nuts, the ten-high straight flush, to take down the hand and send Marder to the rail in fifth place.

At this point in the tournament, Gruneberg had nearly a 2:1 lead over McKeehen, more than a 2:1 lead over Afriat and a 2.5:1 lead over Zaki. It was going to be interesting to see who would come from the three pursuers to challenge Gruneberg, with any of the trio with enough experience to pull off a massive comeback. It almost turned out otherwise, however, as Gruneberg’ s “run good” continued.

On Hand 72, Gruneberg raised under the gun to 450K and McKeehen dropped his stack in the center from the button. Once again, Gruneberg wasted no time in making the call, tabling Big Slick to go up against McKeehen’s A-J (approximately a 70/30 edge). The Queen-high board never came close to giving McKeehen any options on winning the hand and, as he departed in fourth place, Gruneberg stacked up an even 20 million chips, more than his other two competitors had together.

That, however, would be the apex of Gruneberg’s final table. Over the next 20 hands, that 20 million in chips became 16 million as Afriat began to climb the standings. Just as quickly, however, Afriat would get knocked back as Zaki began to move up the ladder. On Hand 121, the tournament’s tide changed as Gruneberg’s mojo began to run out.

After raising the pot off the small blind, Afriat saw Gruneberg call his 525K bet and the resulting ragged rainbow 9-5-3 flop. As he had done the entire tournament, Afriat continued his aggressive play in firing another half-million pot bet, which Gruneberg called. On a turn four, another 750K came out of Afriat and, once again, Gruneberg called. The river seven put many straight options on the table, but Afriat continued to fire with a two million chip bet. Gruneberg, after a moment of pause, didn’t believe Afriat and called. He would then muck his cards as Afriat showed pocket sixes for a runner-runner straight as Afriat scooped the 7.6 million chip pot.

A few hands later, it was over for Gruneberg. Whether a slight bit tilted from the Afriat hand or what, Gruneberg pushed all in over a Zaki raised that Zaki wanted to see. Zaki’s pocket tens were ahead of Gruneberg’s A-9 off suit and the Jack-high flop didn’t do anything to improve Gruneberg. After riding high for most of the tournament, in the span of four hands Gruneberg was out in third place as heads up play was set.

After eliminating Gruneberg, Zaki was nearly a 2:1 leader (24.4 million) over Afriat (12.925 million). For almost 100 hands, Zaki maintained his lead but couldn’t lengthen it out. When the penultimate hand – the hand that truly determined the champion – came down, it brought the drama.

 On Hand 224, Afriat made it two million to go and Zaki moved all in. Afriat immediately called and tabled his Big Slick, which dominated Zaki’s K-8 off suit. That domination held through the 7-3-2-9-K board as the 34.8 million chip pot was pushed to Afriat. With only scraps left from that clash – 2.5 million – Zaki would succumb to Afriat on the very next hand, his 10-5 off suit falling to Afriat’s K-2 after Afriat miraculously went runner-runner in rivering trip deuces to beat Zaki’s flopped pair of fives.

1. Eric Afriat, $ 651,928
2. Justin Zaki, $ 434,614
3. Zach Gruneberg, $ 321,533
4. Joe McKeehen, $ 240,251
5. Michael Marder, $ 181,329
6. Stephen Song, $ 138,254

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event Day 2 – A.J. Kelsall Leads on the Bubble

There were probably a whole bunch of players at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Borgata Winter Poker Open that didn’t sleep well last night, as 159 players remain in the Main Event with the payouts going down to 156 places. The short stacks have got to be wondering if they can hang on to at least come up with the $ 6,129 min cash. A.J. Kelsall is the chip leader heading into Day 3 with 768,500 chips, followed very closely by Chun Li with 755,000.

The tournament just missed out on beating last year’s record of 1,312 entries, coming in at 1,244. There were 343 entries on Day 1A, 680 on Day 1B, and another 221 through the first two levels of Day 2. The overall prize pool is just south of $ 4 million with the winner taking home $ 651,928.

The chip leader, A.J. Kelsall, is having a hell of a week. Not only is he leading a WPT Main Event on the money bubble, but he is also a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan; in just a few days, the Eagles will be playing in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The Eagles are underdogs, but they were underdogs in the NFC Championship game with their backup quarterback, as well, so how knows what can happen?

After Day 2, Kelsall talked Eagles with

I’ll tell you the saying that I have and it’s kind of funny. There’s only two things I want in life. An Eagles Super Bowl and a WSOP bracelet. Then whatever happens after that is fine. Somebody asked me that last week, when I came fifth in the [WPTDeepStacks] event down in Hollywood. And in that one, I said I would probably give up the win for the Super Bowl, but this one is so big. I flew up here and went to the game last Sunday and I have a flight Saturday night to go to the Super Bowl. That should tell you how big of a fan I am. If you sign me up for like sixth right now and an Eagles Super Bowl, I’ll take it. I’ll sign it.

Sixth pays $ 138,254, which would certainly buy a few hot dogs at the game (not that Kelsall will get up to go to the concession stand and risk missing any of the action).

According to, Kelsall has just over a million dollars in live tournament cashes. His best was for $ 124,731 for a first place finish in the $ 1,650 No-Limit Hold’em Championship of the Winter Poker Open in Tampa. Hmm…Winter Poker Open…is that an omen? Hmm?

Kelsall told that while he considers himself a good No-Limit Hold’em player, he likes other games better, but he continues to play Hold’em because the money is best in that game. A “jack of all trades” is what he calls himself.

“It’s cliche, but I think it’s true. I consider myself a B or a B+ in pretty much every game. An A in nothing, but I consider myself decent in every game,” he said.

Well, so far, so good with Hold’em. Let’s see if he keeps it going and gives himself an epic weekend.

2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. A.J. Kelsall – 768,500
2. Chun Li – 755,000
3. Dan Colpoys – 590,500
4. Richard Foster – 587,000
5. Chase Bianchi – 568,000
6. Joe McKeehen – 548,000
7. Nick Jivkov – 529,500
8. Sean Remz – 512,000
9. Will Givens – 510,000
10. Stephen Song – 509,000

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2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Zach Gruneberg Holds Massive Lead

 2018 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open Day 4: Final Table Determined, Zach Gruneberg Holds Massive Lead

Dominating play once it reached the unofficial final table, Zach Gruneberg will hold a dominant lead when the final six players meet this afternoon to determine the champion of the 2018 World Poker Tour Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

Day 4 action began on Thursday with 27 hopefuls remaining in the chase for the championship. Steven Greenberg was the dominant player through the Day 3 festivities and his 3.753 million chip stack showed it. But it wasn’t a runaway for Greenberg, however, as Chase Bianchi was on his heels with a 3.698 million chip stack. In addition to these two men, four former WPT champions were still in the mix, with Champions’ Club members David Paredes, Eric Afriat, Jonathan Little and Kevin Saul all with viable stacks.

The exits to the tournament arena at the Borgata needed to be a revolving door for as fast as the players departed the tournament on Thursday. In less than an hour, two players were out the door. Within the first two levels of play, the field was down to 17 players as notables such as Little and Shankar Pillai found their ways to the rail. As this was going on, Greenberg was still in good shape but had given up the chip lead to Stephen Song as the field tightened up.

After Casey Yontz was bounced out in 17th place following the second break of the day, the field was redrawn for two tables. Greenberg and Song ended up on the same table as former World Champion Joseph McKeehen and Kane Kalas, while Saul, Paredes and Afriat had to deal with Gruneberg and Bianchi. With the field bunched together, it was still a battle to see who would make the final table.

Although Gruneberg would make a slight misstep after the redraw in doubling up Saul, that would be the last mistake he would make for the night. With 1.7 million in chips, Gruneberg first picked up a double up from Bianchi to crack the three million chip mark. He would eclipse the four million chip mark in eliminating Adam Hendrix in 12th place, his A-K hitting the world against Hendrix’s K-10 on an unbelievable A-K-10 flop. Even after the unofficial final table was determined with the elimination of Daniel Aharoni in 10th place (by Song), Gruneberg kept his arrow pointing upwards.

Within the first 20 hands of final table action, Gruneberg had cracked the seven million mark in chips and had taken over the chip lead. That lead expanded when Gruneberg eliminated Day 3 chip leader Greenberg, his A-K playing where Greenberg’s A-8 didn’t on a 10-4-4-A-2 board, in ninth place. Now on 10 million-plus chips, Greenberg began to play a bullying “power poker” style that left everyone breathless in his wake.

Then there was the battle that truly pushed Gruneberg firmly to the fore. Gruneberg raised preflop and McKeehen called, but Song wanted to enrich the pot. He three bet the action to 675K and, after both Gruneberg and McKeehen called, saw a Q-Q-10-3 flop and turn. On that turn trey, Song bet out 850K and only Gruneberg came along to see a river nine complete the board. With a myriad of options on the table, Song fired again, this time for 1.4 million, but he was unable to shake Gruneberg, who immediately called. All Song could show was Big Slick for a missed straight draw, while Gruneberg showed pocket Jacks to take the more than six million chip pot with two pair. That pot pushed Gruneberg over 14 million chips and left the field chasing him.

Although he would give some back to Zaki in doubling him up, Gruneberg continued to storm through the remainder of the field. Gruneberg worked over the 16 million mark when down to the television table bubble and, after McKeehen eliminated Bianchi to set that television table, was over 17 million to have almost half the chips in play:

1. Zach Gruneberg, 17.6 million
2. Joseph McKeehen, 5.955 million
3. Justin Zaki, 5.565 million
4. Michael Marder, 3.08 million
5. Stephen Song, 2.74 million
6. Eric Afriat, 2.28 million

From all appearance, this is Gruneberg’s tournament to lose. Any one of the other five men will have a tough road to hoe in knocking out such tough pros as McKeehen, Zaki, Song or Afriat, and Marder didn’t get to his position because of his charm. Gruneberg, meanwhile, can either sit back and wait for someone to rise to his level or use the power of the big stack to crush his opposition. What approach he takes – and it will be seen from the start of final table play – will have a huge amount to do with how the final table plays out.

The final table will resume at 2PM (Eastern Time) and will be streamed as a part of PokerGO’s programming. It will NOT be taped for broadcast during the Season XVI schedule on Fox Sports. The eventual champion of the tournament will walk off with a $ 651,928 payday and their seat in this year’s WPT Tournament of Champions.

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