Posts Tagged ‘pokerstars’

Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

 Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

Continuing the exodus from the world’s number one online poker room, poker professional Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier announced yesterday that he was ending his association with PokerStars and its Team PokerStars Pro stable.

In a Twitter announcement yesterday, Grospellier issued his decision to his fans and the poker community. “After 11.5 years of a great partnership, it is time to move on for PokerStars and I,” Grospellier began. “We had a wonderful journey together and I am glad for all the great people it gave me the chance to work with and befriend…2017 showed it was time to stop and open a new chapter.”

“Team Pro used to be a core part of their (PokerStars’) strategy,” Grospellier continued. “It has become evident this was not the case anymore, during the last few years. I respect that. On my side, I am happy to have been involved – except those last few years unfortunately – on how PokerStars could offer the best Poker (sic) experience…it was an amazing privilege, especially during the Scheinberg era…when their vision brought poker, PokerStars and the players to constant new heights.”

Grospellier didn’t explain any further what the difference was since 2014, when the Scheinberg Family sold PokerStars to the then-Amaya Gaming (now the Stars Group), and he only cryptically offered a view to his future. “I am too young to only be sponsored,” he finished. “I want to bring added value and be consulted for strategic decision as I used to be. I am now content and eager to start a new and very exciting challenge – more info soon 😉.”

Originally one of the top video gamers in the world, Grospellier easily moved his mind and his skills into the world of poker back in 2004. He was the first player to reach the vaunted “SuperNova” and “SuperNova Elite” levels over the years, but his skills weren’t limited to only online (two World Championship of Online Poker titles and a Spring Championship of Online Poker win). He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2011 in a $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud tournament and was a terror in High Roller events around the world. His more than $ 13.5 million in career earnings seat him firmly in the Top 50 in the 29th place slot.

The continued exodus of Team PokerStars Pros is something that must be concerning to The Stars Group, however. Earlier this month both Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, for their own reasons, chose to leave what is considered THE top sponsorship that a player can earn. Especially when you look at the length of time that Selbst, Mercier and Grospellier had been with the organization (all were around a decade in their sponsorships), there gives one pause to think about what might be causing these departures.

There is no doubt that the “culture” has changed at PokerStars. During the days of the Scheinbergs, the players were the focal point of the business and the management and Team PokerStars Pros went out of their way to make the experience special for those who played on the site. The players, for their part, were also integral to marketing and (some) management decisions that they could offer their expertise for.

That all changed – and changed rapidly – once Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and its related entities in 2014. Now faced with having to please a Board of Directors and stockholders, the decisions were made more on the financial side and input from the PokerStars Pro members wasn’t as valued as it once was. It is something that is significant and cannot be ignored in considering the moves by the pros.

You can believe that Mercier, with a new wife and a child, is now wanting to change his life. You MIGHT even believe that Selbst’s statement about poker “not being fun” anymore is the truth. But when Grospellier steps up and says that he is leaving because his input wasn’t being requested anymore, then you know there’s some issues coming out.

We more than likely haven’t seen the last of Grospellier. At no point did he say he was “retiring” from poker and the cryptic statement at the end of his announcement leads one to believe that he will be getting into another online poker endeavor in some manner. What we can do is just as we did with Selbst and Mercier – wish him the best and look forward to when he does make any type of return to the game.

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Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

 Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

Another American poker pro has left Team PokerStars, as Jason Mercier has announced his departure from his role as a site ambassador. As with fellow pro Vanessa Selbst, Mercier’s stint with PokerStars was effective at the end of 2017.

In a blog post on PokerStars’ website, Mercier explained that the reason for his decision – his contract with PokerStars was up at the end of 2017 and he had to think about what to do about renewal – revolved completely around his family and his newborn child.

His son, Marco Henry, was born three months ago. As any parent knows, having a child changes one’s life and priorities immediately. Said Mercier:

After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How’s it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

Mercier said he “delayed my inevitable contract discussion” with PokerStars, but as the end of the year drew near, he realized it was time to call it quits. He needed to stop traveling full time and be home with his family.

While I have never been and never will be in the sort of position Mercier is in as an extremely successful poker pro, I did make a somewhat similar decision with my career in the poker world, though on a much smaller scale. When I started out in poker, I covered the WSOP live in Las Vegas in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, my wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born that October. The following year, this site’s ownership (different ownership than today) asked if I could cover the WSOP again. I said no, as I did not want to leave my wife and infant, especially since my wife worked full-time. While I missed being at the Rio, it really wasn’t a difficult decision, and fortunately, my boss was onboard with it.

“The conversation about my contract was short and sweet,” Mercier wrote. “There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life… hey, a kid can dream can’t he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable.”

At the end of the blog post, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog staff, added a footnote from the site. He briefly described how they had met Mercier and how one thing that stuck out about him was that “he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.”

“So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life,” Bartley wrote. “The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he’ll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon.”

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com / Jamie Thomson

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2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: Ivan Luca Leads Super High Roller Final Table

 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: Ivan Luca Leads Super High Roller Final Table

The final table of the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100,000 Super High Roller Event was determined yesterday as the seven remaining players vie for the title on Monday. It is a tight race at the top with Ivan Luca holding the chip lead with 2.76 million chips, followed by Justin Bonomo with 2.695 million and Daniel Negreanu with 2.415 million.

All seven players are guaranteed at least $ 248,720. Thus, Negreanu has already made up his tournament losses from last year; he recently posted on his blog that despite nearly $ 2.8 million in live tournament cashes, he lost $ 86,140 in 2017. His average buy-in was over $ 40,000, though, so Negreanu considered that net loss virtually “break even.”

As one would expect in a Super High Roller tournament, the rest of the final table is also a “who’s who” of the tournament poker world. Bryn Kenney, who led the Player of the Year races last year before being overtaken late by Adrian Mateos, is in fourth place with 1.485 million chips. Isaac Haxton is in fifth with 1.095 million and two players have fewer than 1 million chips: Cary Katz (855,000, no relation to this writer) and Sam Greenwood (695,000).

The chip leader, Ivan Luca, is tops on Argentina’s all-time money list, according to TheHendonMob.com, with over $ 5.3 million in live tournament earnings. He doesn’t have one insane cash that makes up the bulk of his earnings, like many seven-figure lifetime winners do, but rather many five and six-figure scores. His best cash came at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure two years ago, when he finished third in the $ 50,000 High Roller Eight-Handed event for nearly half a million dollars. That was one of five cashes for him at the 2016 PCA; all were final table appearances.

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has been a “big deal” poker festival for a number of years and as the earliest major event of the calendar year, it tends to feel even more significant. There is something a tad more special about it in 2018, though, as the PCA didn’t exist last year, at least in name. Remember, PokerStars, which owns the European Poker Tour, decided to do away with the European Poker Tour brand (as well as regional tournament brands) and rebrand everything with its own name. Thus, the EPT, APPT, LAPT and more became the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival last year. The tournaments were all still there, just rearranged and with different names.

So, in 2017, the PCA was the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, which has absolutely zero ring to it, especially for a poker tour stop that had such a unique name and status in the poker world. Fortunately, PokerStars came to its senses near the end of 2017 and decided to bring back the European Poker Tour, Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, and Latin American Poker Tour, reinstating some normalcy to the world. The revival of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure name had even been announced months earlier, a sign that changes were afoot.

The final table of the PCA Super High Roller will begin at 3:30pm local time as the seven players maneuver for the $ 1.5 million first prize.

2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $ 100K Super High Roller Event – Final Table Chip Counts

1. Ivan Luca – 2,760,000
2. Justin Bonomo – 2,695,000
3. Daniel Negreanu – 2,415,000
4. Bryn Kenney – 1,485,000
5. Isaac Haxton – 1,095,000
6. Cary Katz – 855,000
7. Sam Greenwood – 695,000

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2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: Scott Seiver Biggest Gun in Super High Roller, Holds Lead After Day 1

 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: Scott Seiver Biggest Gun in Super High Roller, Holds Lead After Day 1

The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is underway at the Atlantis Resort Spa on Paradise Island in the Bahamas and, with one event, it has captured the attention of the poker world. The $ 100,000 Super High Roller event has completed Day 1 as Scott Seiver, the 2013 champion of the event, holds the lead in his hunt for a second title.

It seems that many had the $ 100,000 buy in (at the minimum…it is a rebuy event, after all) lying around to jump into the event when it started on Saturday afternoon. Such notables in the High Roller arena as Steffen Sontheimer, Koray Aldemir, Ben Tollerene and 2017 Poker Player of the Year Adrian Mateos (sorry, Bryn Kenney) were on the felt for the start of the tournament, with others drifting in after the start. Nick Petrangelo, Daniel Negreanu (utilizing a scooter due to an ACL injury – who said poker wasn’t a contact sport?) and the defending champion of this tournament, Jason Koon, all slowly drifted to the felt, but it was a non-poker name that caught the attention of railbirds in the Atlantis tournament room.

As he did in 2017 when he entered the tournament, comedian Kevin Hart immediately drew the attention of everyone as he entered the event. The wisecracking star of the new film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle maintained the same attitude that he utilized in last year’s tournament, but it also seemed that he had learned something about poker over the past year that he has been a “friend of PokerStars” (along with Olympic champion Usain Bolt). He would four-bet both Petrangelo and Aldemir out of a pot (saying, “I’m sick of this s**t” while putting the 65K in chips together to push them out), but another hand sent the popular comedian into his pocket for another buy in.

After Mateos opened the betting from the cutoff and Hart (button), Stefan Schillhabel and Seiver (blinds) all called, a J-5-7 flop was checked as was a ten on the turn. When the river completed the board with a four, the floodgates would open. Schillhabel checked his option, but Seiver fired away with a 22K bet. Mateos got out of the way, but Hart popped the cost of play up to 51K when it came to his action. Now it was Schillhabel’s turn to fold, but Seiver contemplated his next move carefully.

After the time in the tank, Seiver decided his only option was to push all in and, using most of his time on the “shot clock,” Hart made the call. Hart’s 8-6 off suit was good for a rivered straight to the eight, but Seiver’s 9-8 was good for a higher turned straight to the Jack. The pot was a massive 330K strong and it was enough to push Seiver into the lead.

Hart was undaunted, however, as he fired off another bullet in the tournament. This was also true for many other competitors, including Orpen Kisacikoglu, Negreanu (in a flush versus flush situation against Sam Greenwood), but Sontheimer and 2016 Poker Player of the Year David Peters did not immediately reenter. With the option for re-entry (or even a first entry, as Cary Katz did early Sunday morning) open until the start of Day 2 action, there is a potential for several other High Roller regulars to either take their first shot in the tournament or re-enter.

1. Scott Seiver, 804,000
2. Justin Bonomo, 799,000
3. Jean-Noel Thorel, 598,000
4. Ivan Luca, 587,000
5. Sam Greenwood, 569,000
6. Bryn Kenney, 548,000
7. Christopher Kruk, 533,000
8. Stephen Chidwick, 492,000
9. Erik Seidel, 479,000
10. Kevin Hobbs, 472,000

Hart, for his part, will be around for Day 2 of the event, holding a 316,000-chip stack. Others over the starting stack of 250K include Steve O’Dwyer (451K), Negreanu (438K), defending champion Koon (363K) and Igor Kurganov (333K), while Dan Shak (246K), Isaac Haxton (244K), Byron Kaverman (230K) and the shortest stack of all Seth Davies (181K) have some work to do on Sunday.

Beginning today, the $ 100,000 Super High Roller will be live-streamed over PokerStars TV as the final players jump in and the tournament works to crowning a champion. From then on, PokerStars TV will be covering the action from the Bahamas as the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure plays out.

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2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Begins Today

 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Begins Today

It may have seemed like a lifetime ago, but the tournament poker world has only been on hiatus for about two weeks. That slight respite from play has left hundreds of players itching to get back to the felt and the only thing that will scratch that itch is one of poker’s major tournaments. That’s right…the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is set to open play today, with a plethora of action available.

Once again back in its home at the Atlantis Resort Spa on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, the 2018 PCA is back in full swing after a one-year “dream” as the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. The PCA has traditionally been the “kickoff” for tournament poker in the New Year and 2018 isn’t breaking that tradition. In fact, the 2018 PCA is wasting no time in getting the eyes of the poker world focused on it.

Saturday will mark the start of the $ 100,000 Super High Roller event, which is expected to draw defending champion Jason Koon and a host of the biggest names in poker. Bryn Kenney, who made these High Roller events his specialty in 2017 (and led many Player of the Year races before being passed in December by Adrian Mateos), is already on the grounds in the Bahamas and looking to make another run at a High Roller championship (he won a $ 50,000 High Roller tournament at the 2017 running of this event). You can also expect to see players like Koray Aldemir, Daniel Dvoress and others picking up chips for this tournament.

Although poker may be the reason for everyone being on the island, officials with PokerStars are not making the same mistake as last year. Instead of facing a 90+ tournament schedule as they did in 2017, the 2018 PCA is a scaled back affair with 31 tournaments on the roster. That will allow for Team PokerStars Pros such as Daniel Negreanu, Jake Cody, Fatima Moreira de Melo, Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree and celebrity Team PokerStars members comedian Kevin Hart and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt to take part is some of the non-poker outlets at Atlantis.

As far as the Main Event, more than 300 players have already earned their seats online to be a part of the action when it begins on Wednesday. For this year, the PCA Main Event will go back to its $ 10,000 buy in (it had been dropped to $ 5000 for last year’s tournament) and, in a refreshing change for a major championship, the tournament does not allow for re-entry. Once the final players come in from the online arena and the number of tournament poker professionals come into the tournament room, it promises to be a strong turnout (estimation is difficult because of the change in buy-in; in 2017, 738 runners came to the line but, in year’s past, the numbers have been bigger).

In 2017, the then-PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event final table was one for the ages. The table featured a historic run by John Dibella, who won the PCA back in 2014 and was looking to repeat. While Dibella ran out of gas in eighth place, former “November Niner” Cliff Josephy ran through the table to reach heads up action against another top pro, Christian Harder. In what turned out to be a frenetic fight Harder, who despite a lengthy poker resume had never taken a major poker title, was able to vanquish the veteran Josephy to capture the championship and the $ 429,664 payday.

For a look at the full schedule for the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure – including the other High Roller tournaments and side events – visit their dedicated website. There will also be a list of those tournaments that will be live streamed over PokerStars TV. After a couple of weeks of slumber, the tournament poker world is coming back to life with the start of the 2018 PCA.

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