Posts Tagged ‘pokerstars’

Kalidow Sow Wins PokerStars Championship Prague

 Kalidow Sow Wins PokerStars Championship Prague

Going into the final table of the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event, it looked like it would likely come down to Kalidou Sow, Jason Wheeler, and possibly Michal Mrakes, and this is exactly what happened. Sow bested Wheeler heads-up for the title, winning €675,000 after a deal was made, while Mrakes came in third in what will be the last official PokerStars Championship Prague.

For those wondering about that last statement, I refer you to Earl Burton’s article from Sunday. The “Cliff’s Notes” are that the Stars Group has decided that it was a mistake to reorganize the European Poker Tour and smaller regional tours into the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival, so the former tour names will return in 2018. That means no more “PokerStars Championship Prague,” though one would expect it will become “EPT Prague.”

As for the tournament this weekend, Sow was the chip leader going into the six-handed final table with 8.135 million chips, but he was in a virtual tie with Wheeler, who had 8.1 million. Mrakes was the only other player with any real semblance of a chip stack, holding 5.01 million chips. The other three players had fewer than 2 million chips each, hence why it looked like a three horse race.

As expected, the three short stacks were the first to be eliminated at the final table and after they were, Wheeler had grabbed the reins, building his stack to 11.86 million chips, with Mrakes elevating to second with 9.265 million and Sow falling to third with just 4.57 million.

A few hands later, Wheeler took a chunk from Mrakes to move upt o 13.2 million, but a few hands after that, Sow won a huge hand when he and Wheeler both flopped straights. Fortunately for Sow, his was the nut straight while Wheeler’s was on the low end and Sow doubled-up to reverse stacks, jumping all the way to 14.48 million.

That was Hand #67; on Hand 90, Wheeler eliminated Mrakes to send the tournament to heads-up with Sow holding a 14.085 million to 11.63 million chip lead. During a break before the showdown, the two men agreed to a deal in which both got €570,000 and left €105,000 for which to battle.

Sow stayed in control the entire heads-up match, gradually building his lead until Wheeler had no choice but to find something with which to commit. On Hand #109 (thank you to PokerNews for the play-by-play), Wheeler raised pre-flop with Ah-9s, Sow re-raised with Th-Td, and Wheeler moved all-in for about 6 million chips total. Sow made the quick call and Wheeler saw the bad news.

The flop was Jack-high with two spades, but the 5h on the turn took away any thoughts of a runner-runner flush for Wheeler. He was unable to procure an Ace on the river and France’s Kalidou Sow had his first-ever major tournament title (and his first six-figure cash, for that matter).

PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event – Final Table Results

1. Kalidou Sow – €675,000
2. Jason Wheeler – €570,000
3. Michal Mrakes – €332,000
4. Gabriele Lepore – €249,000
5. Harry Lodge – €196,000
6. Colin Robinson – €147,000

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Final Table Determined, Kalidou Sow Leads Jason Wheeler, Michal Mrakes

Day 5 of the first and, as it will turn out, final PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event is in the books, setting up the final table for Monday night. The six men will be led by Kalidou Sow, who was able to bypass Jason Wheeler and Days 3 & 4 chip leader Michal Mrakes to take over the chip lead.

15 men came back on Sunday afternoon to the Casino Atrium Prague to decide who would be the main contenders for the final PokerStars Championship. Mrakes was the chip leader at the start of the day, the only player over the four million mark with his 4.945 million in chips. For his part, Wheeler was sitting a bit back in the pack with his 2.4 million in chips and Sow was definitely looking at an uphill climb with his 640,000 in chips.

Mrakes, who basically could do no wrong over the past two days of the tournament, didn’t come out of the gates making his best decisions. He four-bet Aleksandr Mordvinov to 390K but, after Mordvinov made it known he was serious with a five-bet all in, Mrakes quickly dropped his hand. Mrakes then gave some chips to both Alex Foxen and Gabriele Lepore to drop down to 4.175 million, still in the lead but not as much as previous.

Sow began his march to the top by knocking out Serhil Popovych. Popovych moved all in from under the gun and Sow looked down to find gold. He immediately called Popovych’s bet and tabled pocket Aces, more than good enough to take on Popovych’s pocket Jacks, and the six-high board that rolled out kept Sow in the lead, knocked off Popovych in 14th place and set Sow up with 1.55 million chips.

Surprisingly, instead of staying away from each other, Sow and Mrakes knocked heads in a critical hand. After Sow opened the betting and Mrakes (button) and Robert Heidorn (big blind) made the call, a 6-4-3 flop brought checks out of the shorter stacks. Mrakes fired off a 150K bet and Sow called after Heidorn folded. On a deuce turn, Sow once again check-called a bet from Mrakes, this time for 250K. When a J♠ came on the river (putting three spades on the board), Sow suddenly woke up and led out for 650K in chips. Mrakes made the call and immediately regretted it as Sow showed the A♠ 7♠ for the rivered nut flush as Mrakes could only muck his hand and let the million-chip stack go over to Sow.

This wasn’t the last time the duo would clash. Sow raised Mrakes’ big blind and, on an A-K-J flop, Mrakes check-called another bet out of Sow. The same thing happened on the turn and river, with Mrakes check-calling bets of 235K and 575K out of Sow, creating another million-chip pot. Once again, Sow had the goods, showing a Q-10 for the flopped Broadway straight. Mrakes could only shake his head and send his cards to the muck and the chips again to Sow.

Mrakes would right the ship eventually, knocking off Heidorn in 11th place, as Wheeler took over the chip lead while Sow and Mrakes were fighting with each other. He picked up a hefty two million chip pot against Colin Robinson to smash the seven million chip mark and, after Sow took down Foxen to reach five million and bring the final nine men to the unofficial final table, looked to carry some momentum as the chip leader. Once the action began at that nine-handed table, however, Sow took control.

Sow would knock off Mordvinov (ninth), Valentyn Shabelnyk (eighth) and Matas Cimbolas (seventh) to end his Sunday of poker with a flourish. That flourish will also allow him to start the six-handed final table on Monday afternoon with the chip lead:

1. Kalidou Sow, 8.135 million
2. Jason Wheeler, 8.1 million
3. Michal Mrakes, 5.01 million
4. Gabriele Lepore, 1.815 million
5. Colin Robinson, 1.425 million
6. Harry Lodge, 1.23 million

It looks as though the championship will be determined between Sow, Wheeler and Mrakes. Lepore, Robinson and Lodge need a great deal of help if they are going to make a run at the top and it may be a bit too much to ask for one of them to challenge for the title. Mrakes’ confidence took a bit of a hit on Sunday and Sow’s grew at the same time. The best bet to watch is Wheeler, who has been a steady, strong player throughout the tournament that has never been down the leaderboard too far.

The final table will resume play at 1PM Prague time (7AM Eastern Time) and the PokerStars Live! stream will pick up the action on delay one hour later. At the end of the rainbow for one of these six players will be the €775,000 and the final PokerStars Championship trophy ever.

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PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

 PokerStars Goes “Back to the Future” In Making Changes to Live Tours

For those of us old enough to remember the original Dallas television show, we remember one season in particular. That season revolved around Pamela Ewing (played by actress Victoria Principal) after the death of her beloved husband Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). In real life, Duffy had refused to sign a new contract with the show and was written out. But a year later, Duffy signed a contract and was ready to come back. The problem for writers of the show was how to do it.

In the end, they wrote the now-famous “shower scene” in which Pamela wakes up from an evening’s slumber and hears the shower running. She walks into the bathroom, up to the shower door and yanks it open. Turning around, Bobby is there and ALIVE, taking a shower like nothing has happened and saying, “Good morning!” The writers were telling the viewers that the entirety of the previous season had been a dream in Pamela’s mind.

PokerStars seems to be attempting to pull off this same trick with some recent announcements regarding their live tours.

It was revealed on Friday that, instead of continuing forward under the “PokerStars Championships” and “PokerStars Festivals” monikers, the live tours under the PokerStars banner would revert to their titles of the previous years. The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure had already embraced that change (in 2017, it was known as the PokerStars Championship Bahamas), but now the rest of the PokerStars offerings are heading “back to the future.” Effective immediately, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is back in operation, as are the smaller regional tours such as the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).

In making these moves, the honchos at PokerStars and The Stars Group are basically Pamela Ewing looking into that shower and saying, “We made a mistake.” To rebrand their efforts and separate them from the heyday of the Scheinberg Family’s ownership, Amaya Gaming (now known as The Stars Group) thought that naming the tours after their flagship brand was the way to go. They quickly found out, through abysmal attendance at many of their PokerStars Championship and Festival events, that they were damaging their brand rather than enhancing it.

What is perhaps more significant with the lack of success of the PokerStars Championships was player perception. Many top pros, dissatisfied with the way that the then-Amaya Gaming was treating the customers (players), decided to vote with their wallets and not take part in their tournaments. The Stars Group is looking to change that as well with the announcement of a new tournament along with the reversion back to the EPT fold.

While announcing the return of the EPT and its kin, PokerStars also announced a brand-new tournament in which it will not only offer $ 9 million of its own money but also hope to bridge the span between the online and live poker worlds. The Players’ No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC, for PokerStars Players’ Championship) will be a $ 25,000 buy in tournament that will be held the week prior to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The Stars Group is holding nothing back in trying to reclaim those players that had previously walked away.

Over the span of 2018, 300 “Platinum Passes” will be handed out to players. These free tickets include the $ 25,000 buy in to the tournament, six nights accommodations at the Atlantis Resort Nassau (the longtime host of the PCA), $ 2000 for travel expenses and other goodies. The “Platinum Passes” will be earned by the players, though, in winning major tournaments online at PokerStars.

For those that don’t win a package, they will be able to participate also by simply ponying up the $ 25K buy in, for which they won’t have to pay the juice. Besides giving away 300 seats into the tournament, PokerStars is going to seed the tournament further with another $ 1 million in cash. The tournament, before a single participant has been determined, is worth $ 8.5 million ($ 7.5 million in seats given away plus $ 1 million from PokerStars directly); you can guarantee that the top poker professionals are going to want to get into this event despite its hefty price tag.

Will the changes help the PokerStars brand? Some would say that, by admitting they made a mistake with some of their past acts, that PokerStars is on the way to improvement. It will be something that will take some time, however, as they reset their product, wake up from their Pamela Ewing “dream” and try to take on new challengers that have raised their heads.

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 4 – Michal Mrakes Takes Over Lead with 16 Players Left

If it was Saturday, the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event was set to play off its Day 4 schedule. By the time the dust settled on the poker battleground of the Casino Atrium Prague in the Czech Republic late Saturday night, local favorite Michal Mrakes – who has been hovering about the upper reaches of the leaderboard since the start of the tournament – had taken over the lead with only 16 players remaining.

At the start of the day, 49 players were set to take on whatever Saturday’s play held for them. Perhaps looking a bit brighter on the day was chip leader Paul Michaelis, who woke up on Saturday morning after spending his second day atop the leaderboard. Michaelis’ 1.27 million in chips was pretty much threatened by only one person – Mrakes, who was the only other player over a million chips with his 1.032 million chip stack. With pros such as Fatima Moreira de Melo, Marcin Horecki, Alex Foxen and Jason Wheeler lurking down the standings, however, that looked to be a situation that would change quickly.

Horecki was one of the players that had no fortune over the entirety of the Day 4 proceedings. On a 6-7-10-Q-9 board, Horecki faced a 103K chip bet out of Serhil Popovych that he didn’t believe. Horecki would make the call, only to see that Popovych probably caught up on the river against him after Popovych showed a 10-9 for the rivered two pair. Horecki didn’t show (perhaps an A-Q?) ash Popovych cracked the million-chip mark and Horecki dropped to around 200K in chips. Those would go into the center in a race between Horecki’s pocket Jacks and the Big Slick of Thomas Lentrodt moments later, which Horecki led until a cruel King came on the river to eliminate him from the tournament.

Mrakes, on the other hand, was heading in the opposite direction. He eliminated Dermot Blain when Blain put his remaining chips on the line against Mrakes. Once again it was a race, Mrakes’ pocket treys against Blain’s K-Q off suit, but this situation ended much quicker than Horecki’s. The 3-J-3 flop gave “only” quads to Mrakes to leave Blain drawing dead immediately; after a meaningless turn and river, Blain packed his bags as Mrakes stacked up his 1.44 million chips.

Mrakes was amongst the leaders at this point but, after the tournament was redrawn with 24 players to go, he firmly grabbed the top slot. Mrakes raised the betting to 60K and Hon Cheong Lee didn’t hesitate on putting in the three-bet of 180K. After Mrakes called, a 4-4-4 flop was dealt that might have slowed down some players. Mrakes did, checking his option, but Lee fired off 110K that Mrakes called. An eight on the turn brought another check-call out of Mrakes, this time for 225K of Lee’s chips. When a seemingly innocent deuce came on the river, Mrakes checked again and the fireworks were lit.

Lee pushed out the remainder of his stack, totaling over 850K, and Mrakes was put to a decision of calling off a huge amount of his chips or making a quantum leap upwards in the tournament. After the deliberation, Mrakes boldly made the call and it was the right move. On the 4-4-4-8-2 board, all Lee could muster was a Q-7 to play the flopped set of fours. Mrakes wasn’t much better with his A-10, but it was enough to win the hand, eliminate Lee and push Mrakes to 3.89 million chips and a solid chip lead.

Mrakes continued to expand on that chip stack, even able to withstand doubling up an opponent, before the final bell rung. He will enter Day 5 a massive chip leader and a prohibitive favorite for making the final table:

1. Michal Mrakes, 4.945 million
2. Valentyn Shabelnyk, 3.225 million
3. Robert Heidorn, 2.485 million
4. Jason Wheeler, 2.4 million
5. Colin Robinson, 2.085 million
6. Navot Golan, 1.955 million
7. Matas Cimbolas, 1.615 million
8. Thomas Lentrodt, 1.52 million
9. Harry Lodge, 1.36 million
10. Pierre Calamusa, 900,000

With 15 players left, the minimum payday for those still standing is €38,400. That is small change compared to what the eventual champion will walk off with on Monday night. That fortunate player will step away from Prague with a great Christmas present of €775,000.

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2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 3 – Paul Michaelis Remains in the Lead, 49 Players Remaining

 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event Day 3 – Paul Michaelis Remains in the Lead, 49 Players Remaining

Instead of letting the pack catch up to him on Day 3 of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event, Paul Michaelis instead extended his lead. When the 49 players come back for Day 4 on Saturday, Michaelis’ name will be atop the leaderboard with 1.27 million in chips.

140 players came back on Friday with dreams of the latest PokerStars Championship trophy still in their heads, but the start of the day would be cruel. With only 127 players earning a cash from the tournament, there would be 13 unfortunate souls that wouldn’t earn anything from their trip to the Czech Republic except a memory. With this thought in mind, the field headed off on a planned five, 90-minute level day of action.

PokerStars Team Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo had arguably one of the more interesting days on the felt and it started virtually from the first hand of the day. After Martin Staszko opened the action and de Melo three-bet him, Michael Koran decided to make his stand. After Staszko ducked out of the way, de Melo called Koran’s all in and it initially appeared that there would be little drama. Both players had Big Slick, but de Melo’s was A♣ K♣, which became important when the flop came J♣ 7♣ 5♣. Koran went from chopping to out of the tournament as de Melo improved to 525K.

It only took about 30 minutes to reach hand-for-hand play, but it would take three times that to actually pop the money bubble. With two shorties behind him, Thomas Mercier put in enough chips to cover both from the button and only Mihai Manole decided to look him up. Mercier had the goods, however, as his A-J off suit was in the lead against Manole’s A-4. The K-Q-K flop opened up some chop opportunities and the five on the turn added to them, but the ten on the river only improved Mercier to an unnecessary Broadway straight. Fortunately for Manole, he was eliminated while Andrzej Siemieniak was getting knocked off by Konstantin Farber, meaning that Siemieniak and Manole shared the min-cash of €8700 (hey, €4350 is better than zero).

After the money bubble popped, the cash out cage became one of the most popular spots at the Casino Atrium Prague. It seemed that de Melo was responsible for most of those players heading to cash out as, on two different occasions, de Melo came out on the right side of an all-in situation and knocked out three players between the two situations. Through those two double knockouts, de Melo has remained in contention in the tournament.

The first time around, de Melo was on an A-K and got Arnaud Enselme and Aleksandr Mordvinov to commit with pocket Queens and pocket nines, respectively. While she was covering Enselme, she was running behind in chips to Mordvinov, which made the Ace on the 6-4-A flop fortuitous for the PokerStars Team Pro. Looking to dodge a nine or a Queen, the turn five and the river deuce didn’t change anything as de Melo tripled up, Mordvinov was cut down to 372K and Enselme was out the door.

The second time de Melo double dipped, it took down two pros. After James Akenhead pushed all in and Martin Staszko responded with his own all in “over the top” of Akenhead, de Melo could have quietly walked away. Instead, she called both bets and tabled pocket Queens for battle against Akenhead’s Big Chick (A-Q) and Staszko’s A-10. Nothing hit until the ten on the river, way too little, too late as de Melo took the double knockout to move close to a million in chips.

While de Melo was charging up the leaderboard and finished the day in excellent shape with 723,000 in chips (good for 11th place), it was Michaelis who quietly expanded his lead. He would reach over 1.5 million in chips at one point and, although he had a couple of missteps late in the night, he still was only one of two players to have more than a million chips when the close of action for Friday came:

1. Paul Michaelis, 1.27 million
2. Michal Mrakes, 1.032 million
3. Jason Wheeler, 931,000
4. Navot Golan, 888,000
5. Anatolii Zyrin, 825,000
6. Serhil Popvych, 812,000
7. Gavin O’Rourke, 803,000
8. Assaf Ben Yosef, 793,000
9. Alex Foxen, 761,000
10. Daniel Barriocanal, 740,000

Action is set to resume at noon Saturday in Prague (6AM Eastern Time) and is set to have five more 90-minute levels of play. That could change if there is a mass rush for the door from the 49 players that are left. With €775,000 going to the eventual champion in the PokerStars Championship Prague, the remaining players won’t be in any hurry to depart the proceedings.

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