Archive for July, 2011

WSOP November Nine – Meet The Players

by | Published: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

With the WSOP Las Vegas started with nearly 7,000 players, all of whom held big aspirations of making the final table and in turn becoming a November Nine starter.

Many consider it to be one of the biggest accolades achievable in the poker world making the November Nine instantly propels your name to the top of the poker world.

It is the poker equivalent to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world  and the stakes are astronomical.

The winner of the November Nine will walk away with $8.7 million as well as a reputation which goes global.

There are a good range of players in the mix for this year’s event with a host of regions represented.

These are the players who will converge later in the year to decide who will be the next November Nine world champion.

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Martin Staszko (40.1 million in chips)

This pro is based in Las Vegas and at 35 years old has only being playing professionally for one year. Live tournaments are something of a new thing for him but he’s shown he’s more

“I mostly play online more than live,” said Staszko.

“I played in four EPT events, some smaller tournaments. That’s all the experience I have with live play. Those tournaments prepared me. I’ve been in Vegas from June 2; I played 15 tournaments. That’s more than I’d played in my entire life, so I got some big experience here.”

He becomes the first player from the Czech Republic to make the November Nine and it’s something he’s very proud of.

“I think it will be big for our country to make the November Nine,” he said.

“We already have the EPT and other tournaments, but I do think more players would be inspired to play.”

Eoghan O’Dea (33.9 million)

This man represents Ireland and at just 26 is actually one of the more experienced goes going around. He’s been in big tournaments before, twice walking away with more than a quarter of a million dollars.

“I think most of the players have done very well in big tournaments,” Eoghan said.

“There’s no bad players left, so I don’t know if I have an upper hand. Obviously, my dad had a great influence. Helped me out, allowed me to ask a few questions. He taught me how to play. We’ve been texting a lot during the tournament.”

“You dream to win the WSOP main event,” he said.

“It’s the best in poker and that would be pretty amazing for me, to win it. [Achieving that dream] is a pretty big factor apart from the money.”

Matt Giannetti (24.7 million)

Also from Las Vegas this man has made his mark around a few tournaments but this is probably the first time he’s been really noticed on a big scale.

“It’s a lot of validation,” Giannetti said.

“My friends and family are finally seeing me on TV. My main thing’s been cash games, and you don’t get too much exposure for that. You tell people you’re a poker player and they ask you if you have been on TV, and when you tell them you haven’t, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re not a real poker player.’ Tournaments are only half the poker world. Cash is a real part of it.”

“Maybe it should be about the money, but it’s not.

“I’m just playing the game. I’m putting myself in a position where, if I go bust, I go bust. I don’t want to look back at the TV screen in a couple of months and say, ‘My gut instinct was to do this, but I played it safe to move up in the prize pool.’ You only get one chance in your lifetime to do this. It’s every poker player’s dream. You’ve got to go for it all.”

Phil Collins (23.8 million)

He’s had one of the biggest supporter bases throughout this tournament and is one of the fan favourites. The songs of his famous name sake have followed him everywhere and they may just follow him all the way to the November Nine title.

“Everybody I’ve seen reacting to it has reacted positively,” Collins said.

“The dealers are laughing, the floors are laughing, and most of the players at my table are smiling and think it’s pretty funny. They’re only disappointed they don’t have as many friends here. They’re like, ‘My friends all left.’ Well, my friends all live here, so they just keep driving down. I’m probably never going to get this deep in the main event ever again, so I’d better enjoy it while I’m here. And my friends? I mean, when are they ever going to have a best friend get this close? They need to enjoy it, too.”

Ben Lamb (20.8 million)

He’s one of the favourites to win the final and many are picking him as the best natural player going around.

He’s leading the charge to the WSOP player of the year title and a November Nine win would all but seal it.

“It’s the money,” said Lamb.

“I’m not going to be one of those guys who says the world championship means more than the money. Now, looking at the bracelet, it’s going to be really cool if I win that. I’ll be able to cherish it even if the money is gone. Fifty years from now, I’ll still have the bracelet, and still have this time in my life that I’ll really cherish, but $8 million … I can really set myself up for life. I won’t need to worry about money for the rest of my life. It’s a big weight off someone’s shoulders, and I’m only 26 years old.”

Badih Bounahra (19.7 million)

He goes against the trend here, not only is he the oldest, he playing preferences are also different.

He’s still an amateur and he doesn’t ever play online, only live games.

“I am not a professional player,” Bounahra said.

“I’m calm and relaxed. [Being an amateur] probably puts more pressure on them, not me. I’m playing for the country of Belize. Everybody knows about it, it’s going crazy. It’s going to be even better now. It’s a very good thing for everybody.”

“My youngest son’s education comes first, then I’ll invest some of it. The money is good, the championship is good. All of it is good! But it won’t change me. It’s not going to change anything in my personality. I’ll stay the same.”

Pius Heinz (16.4 million)

He’s only 22 and punching well and truly above his weight here. He’s looked gone on more than one occasion and but he keeps finding a way to get himself through.

“Today, there were stretches where I couldn’t relax anymore because I lost most of the pots I played,” he admitted.

“You get frustrated, but at the end of the day, I’m just enjoying being here. I made the November Nine! I feel pretty good, obviously. I wish I had played a little better throughout the day, but that doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Honestly, I’m not that big a spender,” he said.

“I always look after my money, that’s how I’ve always been. I might get a nice place to live, and buy my parents something. My sister and brother, too. They have a couple of wishes I can help with.”

Anton Makiievskyi (13.8 million)

He’s the youngest player in the field and at 21 he’s only just legally allowed to play. He represents Ukraine, a country that has already provided five winners in this year’s WSOP.


“It will mean a lot,” he said of making the November Nine.

“For my friends, my family and my country. For everybody. I think they will feel great and they will understand how I feel. Though, I don’t even understand how I feel right now.”

“There was really a lot of pressure,” he said.

“It was the first time that I really felt pressure. I was really nervous. … I was nervous, but now I’m just happy.”


Sam Holden (12.3 million)

He was the short stack for two days but now he finds himself in the final.

It didn’t seem likely but the 22 year old Englishman is now exactly where he wants to be.

“I was actually feeling quite relaxed being on the short stack because I’m quite confident in my short-stack play, having a lot of experience from online multitable tournaments,” he said.

“I found it quite easy, especially in this tournament, to stay patient and pick the right spots. So I didn’t put too much pressure on myself.”

“It means everything. It’s the one tournament of the year every poker player hopes to run well in, and I’ve been fortunate to do so. The November Nine … the gap now between July and November will be such an experience with all the media and everything that will come with it. … It means everything to me. For all the work I’ve put into my game … it’s fantastic!”

So there it is, the November Nine for 2011.

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Poker Brat Out As Las Vegas WSOP Continues

by | Published: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The Poker Brat is out of the game at this year’s WSOP Las Vegas with the pro failing to survive a brutal day of action in Nevada.

The 852 players that survived into the day were cut down to just 378 and cut as well were Phil Hellmuth’s chances of a 12th WSOP gold bracelet.

It means his dry spell during the Las Vegas leg of the WSOP now stretches to back to 2007 when he picked up over $600k in event #15.

He holds the record of 85 cash finishes but on his 47th birthday he missed that mark as well as he remains wihtout a win in 2011.

Phill Hellmuth has finished second in three events this year as he struggles to get back to the form that saw him rise to the very top of the world poker ranks.

His best ever was back in 1993 when he not only won two tournaments back to back, he won three, an incredible effort and one which earned him over $400,000 during a time when prize money was nowhere near as lucrative as it is today.

Things are different this year though and with such a wealth of high quality players around the place he’s struggling to dominate as he once did.

The Poker Brat wasn’t paid out this tournament finishing a few dozen spots away from the 693rd position, the biggest heart break though belonged to Reza Kashani who you guessed it, finished in 694th.

He was in remarkable spirits for someone who had come so close and there’s no doubt his performance was impressive given he only picked up the game a year ago.

Kashani was quoted as saying he would take , “a lot of good experience” from his first ever WSOP event and that it “is going to help me for next year”.

One big positive is that he’ll definitely be back next year as well, organisers deciding that he would gain free entry to the 2012 WSOP in Las Vegas, great news for a man who scraped the cash together himself this year.

Having said that he’d be excused for being a little annoyed that he didn’t pick up the $19,359 paid out for 693rd place.

He has thrown down the gauntlet though, remember the name Reza Kashani!

“All the players who are coming and will be here,” he said.

“They better watch out for me!”

As expected once the bubble burst out came a flood of others happy to have just limped into the cash out stage.

David Diaz, Todd Brunson, Chris Bjorin, Bryan Micon, Vanessa Rousso, Joe Serock, Sandra Naujoks, Robert Varkonyi, Jake Cody, Shannon Shorr, Dennis Phillips, Steve O’Dwyer, Andrew Chen, Berry Johnston, Jeff Madsen, Humberto Brenes and Jeffrey Lisandro were all among the players sent packing from Vegas.

In front at the start of day five is Manoj Viswanathan, he sits on $2,115,000 ahead of Sam Barnhart second on $1,925,000.

Rounding out third place is Pius Heinz on $1,887,000.

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Days Of Our Lives At WSOP Las Vegas

by | Published: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas Nevada continues to roll on with a mountain of players and a mountain of chips moving positions in the battle for survival.

A combined total of a massive 6,865 players were on hand at the beginning of the tournament but more than 2000 have been shed, the number still in the running now 4,521.

There were initially concerns that the event might feel the side effects of black Friday however it appears the live game is stronger than ever for 2011 at least.

While the action on the tables has been red hot there’s been nearly as much interest in what’s going on away from the cards, in fact there’s been a series of bizarre events more befitting of a day time TV script.

Carter Gill was one of the main characters, a player who at the end of Day 1C was in a good position with a healthy looking stack.

He was to return for Day 2A however he failed to even get inside the building.

In the time between playing Gill was involved in a hotel room incident and was subsequently banned from all of Caesar’s properties.

According to his Twitter account it stemmed from a disagreement with a female in which he ended up throwing her clothes out of the hotel window.

He wasn’t the only player to struggle to get to his seat either, in fact it went all the way to the top with the Poker Brat Phil Hellmuth having an absolute shocker.

Also on Day 2A, Hellmuth was a no show early on, his seat conspicuously empty in the sea of people.

While he was gone his chip stack fell to just $5,000, his absence lasting for a full 90 minutes.

Apparently he got his dates wrong and thought he was due to play the next day, a disastrous mix up which was only saved when hotel security banged on his door to wake him up.

Another interesting aspect noted by a lot of observers is the lack of colour on the shirts of the playing group.

It’s not some new 2011 trend, poker patches have disappeared in a big way with black Friday and the demise of USA poker websites all but wiping out some of the best represented hosts.

By far the biggest casualty is Full Tilt  which at one stage was seen somewhere on just about every single table.

Now you’d be hard pressed finding a logo anywhere.

It’s a similar story for PokerStars although it has been noticed that their presence is still a fair bit stronger.

The big improvers are the European poker websites.

Plenty of people were on hand with lesser known website affiliations, rooms with domains ending in .fr (France) or .it (Italy).

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Overall though the early signs are all good out of the World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas.

Plenty of people are keeping a close eye on the event to see how it goes and are using it to gauge the effect of black Friday on the poker realm.

Some where even quoted as saying they expected to see attendance drop to levels not seen since the popular rise of poker during the early 2000′s.

Well that couldn’t be more wrong, in fact poker is more popular than ever, WSOP stats show participation up a massive 8.5%.

This is the third largest field for this event in its history.

While the long term effects of black Friday still remain to be seen on both online and live poker, the fact is that right now people are happy just to be back doing what they love, playing poker.

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Courts To Determine Full Tilt Poker Fate

by | Published: Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The Full Tilt Poker saga is continuing with a class action lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York last week.

The pending lawsuit means player funds tied up in the Full Tilt network face an uncertain future depending how things play out.

The plaintiffs in the case are listed as Steve Segal, Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl and Todd Terry.

The suit claims they are seeking the “return of U.S. player funds and for damages under the RICO statute.”

The defendants in the case are listed as Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick among others who were indicted by the Department of Justice on ‘Black Friday’.

In addition to that pair also named in the suit or members of Team Full Tilt including Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, John Juanda, Patrik Antonius and Erick Lindgren.

It also uses “John Does 1-100,” as a defendant which means up to 100 other people could be included in the proceedings who haven’t yet been formerly named.

The exact wording of the complaint reads as follows, the plaintiffs:

represent a nation-wide class of Full Tilt account holders residing in the United States whose player account held balances on April 15, 2011. … Defendants would never have been in possession of U.S. Players’ funds, and U.S. Players would never have suffered injury, but for the Defendants’ widespread scheme to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in order to pad their own pockets.”

The claim is that players in the United States are wrongfully denied access to up to $150 million in funds which they have deposited on the website.

“After deceitfully separating U.S. players from their money, Full Tilt Poker refuses to refund the U.S. Players’ deposits, to reimburse U.S. players for the dollar-value of the contents of their Player Accounts, or to permit U.S. players access to their Player Accounts,” it says.

It also claims that players have been deliberately mislead by Full Tilt into thinking their funds are safe.

“Full Tilt’s statements are of little comfort to U.S. players who, in some cases, have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in their inaccessible Full Tilt player accounts,” it says.

The 58 page long filing doesn’t list Phil Ivey directly until page 12 where it says:

“Ivey is — and at all relevant times was — a shareholder and director of, and/or a participant in, Full Tilt and/or one or more Full Tilt Companies.”

It also says that Ivey controls at least a 5% share of the company.

Ivey has hit back at Full Tilt and refused to play in the most recent World Series of Poker as a result.

He’s also sued the company claiming damages to his reputation however he withdrew his suit in Nevada last week as he said through his lawyer David Chesnoff.

“Mr. Ivey intends to dismiss his lawsuit as he believes Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid,” he said.

The class action has divided many members in the online poker realm specifically the timing of it.

The suit was filed the same day as reports came through that an agreement had been reached with a European investment group who were attempting to buy the company.

As part of the deal they’d agreed to take on the nearly $150 million in payouts to US based players.

It’s not yet known how this lawsuit will affect the deal however there’s no way it can fully go through while it’s tied up in the courts.

Current forecasts say it could be at least another fortnight until anything solid is decided upon meaning even more anxious times for Full Tilt members.

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