Monday, June 29, 2009

Mike Sexton Reviews the 2009 World Series of Poker, by Mike Sexton - Poker News Daily - 25th June 2009

It’s once again time for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) – the 40th edition. For poker players, the WSOP is the ultimate in “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It’s where dreams come true and also where dreams are shattered. Many of us dote about the bracelets, the history, and the tradition that set the WSOP apart from other tournaments, but the beauty is that most players really can win life-changing money.

This year’s kickoff event was a $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th annual WSOP. Personally, I think it’s a dumb idea to ever have a bigger buy-in for a No Limit Hold’em tournament than the Main Event, so I wasn’t for it. I didn’t play in it because I missed the first week of the WSOP this year. I took a vacation with my wife Karen and son Ty (nine months old) to Yellowstone National Park – and it was great! It was a vacation for our second anniversary and Ty is the first child for either of us. It’s official - my priorities have changed from poker to parenting!

I do love the WSOP, though. I’m guessing I will play in 10 to 12 events this year. It may be their 40th, but it’s my 25th WSOP, my Silver Anniversary. One thing’s for sure: I will never forget my first-ever WSOP. It was 1984. I lived in North Carolina back then and had been a professional poker player for about six years. I always wanted to go the WSOP and play against the best. I never went, though, because I was an avid Little League coach back then (which, incidentally, was the greatest joy of my life). We started practicing in April and our season started in May – the same time as the WSOP in those days – and, therefore, I couldn’t go.

In 1984, I finally decided to take a week off from Little League and go to my first WSOP. Back then, they only had one tournament every other day. That meant in a week’s time, you could only play in three events. So, I entered three events, made two final tables, and was hooked for life on the WSOP. Because of my success in that first WSOP, I decided to move to Las Vegas a few months later and I’ve lived there ever since. I’ve often wondered where I’d be today if I hadn’t cashed in any of those three tournaments.

Here’s the bad part: 25 years later, I still remember how I was knocked out of those tournaments at my first WSOP – and it still hurts! Why can’t I just let it go? Because it’s my Silver Anniversary WSOP, I’ll relive the pain and tell you what happened (If you don’t like bad beat stories, skip the next couple of paragraphs).

With five players left in the Pot Limit Omaha tournament, I was average in chips and the leader was Tom McEvoy, who happened to be the reigning World Champion of Poker at the time. Noted author David Sklansky was also still there as well as a high-stakes Pot Limit Omaha player named Bill Bennett, the eventual winner.

McEvoy was playing extremely aggressive, too much so for Pot Limit Omaha, in my opinion. Even though he was the World Champion at No Limit Hold’em, I wasn’t convinced he played Pot Limit Omaha that well. Tom was raising nearly every pot and once again raised the max pre-flop. I was on the button and picked up a nice hand, A-K-Q-8 (A-Q of diamonds, K-8 of Clubs). I called, as did the big blind. The flop was Q-8-3 with two hearts and one club. The big blind checked and McEvoy led out and bet the pot. I was contemplating raising and going for it all right there. McEvoy must have sensed it because he blurted out, “If you raise it, I’m going to put you all-in.” After that statement, I decided to go with this hand for sure. So I then said, “Well, I guess you’re going to put me all-in then, because I’m raising it!” I raised, the big blind folded, and true to his word, McEvoy set me all-in. I can still remember how much my heart was pounding when I called him.

I was shocked and thrilled when he turned up his hand. He had a 3-4-5-8 and no heart draw! Yippee!! I had the top two pair and he had the bottom two pair. Then it happened - a seven came on the turn and a six on the river. Wham! Bam! He made a straight and won the pot. Instead of me being the chip leader, I was out. I won’t forget that hand as long as I live. That bracelet could/should have been mine!

Even with all the pain, I love the WSOP. I like that, for the first time ever at the WSOP, there are no rebuys in any tournaments. I’ve always campaigned for that because I think everyone should have an equal chance to win a bracelet. Rebuy tournaments are not equal to everyone; they favor the deep pockets.

Sadly, I must say that I can’t believe the $50,000 HORSE tournament is not being televised this year. In my opinion, this is a poor decision and not good for poker. And even though they’re doing it again, I still think it’s a bad idea to put the Main Event final table four months down the road. Whether or not I like the final table in November, however, you can be sure of this: If I’m breathing, I’ll be playing in the Main Event. Needless to say, it would be a dream come true to get to that final table. If it happens, I hope to meet you there! (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

PartyGaming to build first grassroots poker team; Signs Ian Fraser - 26th June 2009

PartyPoker is to create its first ever grassroots poker team to compete at major poker events.

PartyPoker.com has previously stayed out of the player sponsorship market with the exception of main site ambassador Mike Sexton, but has sponsored UK player Ian Frazer as the new team’s first member.

A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: “The sponsored player and grassroots team initiative will continue to grow, with all VIPs reviewed for suitability. We are looking for players that have shown themselves to have star quality in their play but who are also fun, humorous and possess a strong character and willingness to co-operate. Our extensive international television distribution gives players the chance of brilliant exposure.”

VIPs, loyal players and players with historic links to PartyPoker will form the basis of the team.

Ian ‘The Raiser’ Frazer, a 50-year-old building contractor from London with live tournament winnings of over US$1.3m, started playing online at the site in 2004, and has finished on the final table of five offline Party tournaments.

Frazer will host invitation-only private tournaments on PartyPoker.com and represent PartyPoker.com at events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, on which he has started blogging on the PartyPoker blog.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cast of characters ready to entertain, by Joe Hachem - Fairfax - 20th June 2009

The world of professional poker is full of interesting characters, baby-faced maths whizzes, gnarled veterans, clowns, bombshells, good guys and villains.

It doesn't surprise me that the popularity of televised poker continues to grow. When you're not worried about your own hand, a live tournament is great entertainment - sweeping highs, crushing lows and nail-biting tension at every turn. As with all great TV, though, the real entertainment comes down to the characters.

From players looking to make an entry onto the main stage to the stalwarts who have a lot to teach, the following are some of players to watch during this year's World Series of Poker.

THE INTERNET WONDERKID - TOM "DURR" DWAN

An absolute internet phenomenon, 22-year-old Dwan has been training in poker online since he was 17. His earnings from online games last year are rumoured to be close to $US5.5 million - a phenomenal result for the young player, but how will Durr handle the pressure of facing off against some of the best in the world face to face?

Watch him to: See if the internet wonderkid translate his online success live wins.

THE STEADY CHAMP - DANIEL "KID POKER" NEGREANU

Don't let his baby face fool you, Team PokerStars PRO Negreanu has been making waves at the World Series since his debut in 1997. Negreanu coaches some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Spiderman's Tobey Maguire, and has recently starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Katy Perry's new video clip. Not just a famous face, Negreanu is one of the game's great strategists, and has penned several books and articles on the science behind his play.

Watch him to: See a consistent strategist in action.

THE TEACHER - GRANT LEVY

Sydney teacher Grant Levy is one of the most likeable local guys on the international poker circuit. A virtual unknown until 2007, the western suburbs boy rocketed to prominence after beating out myself, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker and 550 other players to pocket nearly $1m at a 2007 Asia Pacific Poker Tour. A good humoured guy at the table, Grant can always be counted on to place well in tournament and provide a bit of Aussie pride.

Watch him to: Cheer on the home side.

THE MATHEMETICIAN - MARK VOS

Another young Australian player to watch, Vos is a mathematician rather than a physical or psychological player. The former Mathematics Olympiads champion excels at the calculations behind the cards. Vos is fascinating to watch as he continues to improve his live game play, bringing his physical skills up to the standard of his mental gymnastics. Watch him to: Learn how to play the numbers.

THE TIGER WOODS OF POKER - PHIL IVEY

Phil Ivey is generally recognised as one of the best all-round poker players on the circuits. Well versed in all forms of poker, Ivey has already scored two bracelets this WSOP, making him the sixth-highest bracelet winner of all time. All eyes are now on the master to see whether he can score another and match his 2002 record-breaking haul of three WSOP bracelets.

Watch him to: See history in the making.

Until next week, Pass the Sugar! (Credit: Fairfax)

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Watch the WSOP at PKR.com

PKR.com will be the only place to watch live coverage of many of this year’s WSOP events and the best thing is that it’s all available for free. The virtual reality poker site has signed a deal with Bluff Media giving them exclusive rights to 24 of the bracelet events at the 2009 World Series. Highlights of the package include the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E, $10,000 PLO and $10,000 Heads Up Championship. The events will be shown on a specific microsite at PKR.com.

PKR.com Marketing Director Simon Prodger said, "The World Series of Poker is without doubt the biggest event of the poker calendar and it fills me with delight that PKR has managed to scoop exclusive rights to be the official broadcaster for these 24 bracelet events."

If you’d rather be playing at the World Series than watching then there are still plenty of opportunities to qualify with PKR.com. At least 10 packages worth $12,000 apiece are on offer in the their WSOP Main Event Final with daily super satellites starting from just $1.20+6c.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

WSOP Sells Out Three of First Nine Events, by Tom Jenkins - Poker News Daily - 6th June 2009

The 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has already been firmly cemented as one of our industry’s most epic events ever. Three of the first nine tournaments were sold out for the first time in WSOP history, including the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special event, which attracted 6,000 runners.

The seventh event of the 2009 WSOP was a $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, the first of that genre to take place following the Stimulus Special. In fact, the tournaments began just three days apart, meaning another record field was likely on tap. As a result, 2,791 players showed up for the WSOP’s second sellout of 2009. Harrah’s officials determine whether an event has reached its capacity based on the number of players surviving the previous day’s tournaments combined with demand for the new schedule of events. Last year, 2,706 players took to the field in Event #7, which was won by Vitaly Lunkin.

In the end, Travis Johnson banked $666,000 and his first bracelet from Event #7, defeating Steve Karp heads-up. Others reaching the final table included Michael Ciotola (third place for $273,385), Mark Salinaro (fourth place for $193,343), Craig McConville (fifth place for $145,721), Brian McInnis (sixth place for $116,234), Walter Wright (seventh place for $97,985), Jim McClain (eighth place for $87,013), and Kam Low (ninth place for $81,185). The top 296 players finished in the money in the sold out affair, which emanated from the Amazon Room inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Sin City.

Similarly, Event #9, the $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Six-Max tournament, drew 1,459 players, also a sellout. An e-mail sent to WSOP media this week noted, “With this event being six-handed, all available tables not being utilized for restarts were taken up by Event #9. Last year, this same event was Event #9 on the schedule and had 1,236 entrants. The 1,459 entrants represents a 223 player – or 18% - increase year over year.” The 2009 version of the Six-Max event, which wrapped up Friday night, was ultimately won by Ken Aldridge, who defeated Carman Cavella heads-up. The final table also featured Peter Gould (third place for $170,953), Bryce Yockey (fourth place for $115,230), Charles Furey (fifth place for $80,896), and Manny Minaya (sixth place for $59,049).

This year marks the first time that three of the first nine WSOP events have been sold out. Whether the numbers are a function of the placement of the $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th running of the WSOP remains to be seen. The event was the second on the docket of the 2009 WSOP and brought out poker’s biggest stars. Its 201 entrants generated the largest non-Main Event prize pool in WSOP history at $7.7 million. The aforementioned Lunkin was its winner and took home $1.8 million for his showing.

Immediately following the $40,000 buy-in tournament was a $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better event that drew 918 entrants, making it the largest Omaha High-Low event in WSOP history. The sizable field didn’t faze Thang Luu, who took down the event for $263,000. It marked a monumental feat for Luu, who became the first player since Johnny Chan to win an event twice and also finish as its runner-up in a three-year span. Chan accomplished the feat in the Main Event, winning the tournament in 1987 and 1988 before falling to Ultimate Bet’s Phil Hellmuth in 1989.

No discussion of tournament sellouts would be complete without mentioning the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special, which attracted the largest non-Main Event field in WSOP history at 6,000 players. The tournament required two starting days and players were sprawled throughout the halls of the Rio, including several who could be found in Buzio’s Seafood Restaurant.

The 2009 WSOP will begin airing on ESPN on Tuesday, July 28th with the $40,000 No Limit Hold’em event. On August 4th, the WSOP Champions Invitational will air, followed by the Ante Up for Africa festivities on August 11th. Starting on August 18th, action from the $10,000 buy-in Main Event will hit television airwaves, concluding with its final table on Tuesday, November 10th.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest WSOP news. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Steve Sung Wins $1,000 WSOP Stimulus Special, by Dan Cypra - Poker News Daily - 4th June 2009

A record-setting 6,000 players turned out for Event #4 of the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP), the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special. In the end, 24 year-old professional poker player Steve Sung banked $771,000 for the win.

The nine-handed final table in Event #4 was originally scheduled to play out on Tuesday night. However, a last-minute decision by WSOP officials to hold the final table on Wednesday set up a mid-afternoon showdown featuring Dan Heimiller and Sung holding dominating chip leads over the rest of the table. In fact, the duo held nearly half of the chips in play. First to hit the exits in the No Limit Hold’em tournament was Danny Fuhs, the short stack entering Wednesday’s play. After a board of 10-A-J-2, Phong Huynh pushed over the top of a raise by Fuhs, leaving Fuhs calling for his tournament life. He flipped over A-J for top two pair, but watched as Huynh revealed pocket tens for a set. Every member of the final table earned a six-figure payday, as Fuhs took home $114,168.

Huynh was the next to go, coming out on the short end of a set over set situation against James Matz. Heimiller then saw his lead take a dive after dropping a 2.5 million chip pot to Pete Vilandos. In the hand, Vilandos rivered a six-high straight, trumping Heimiller’s flopped set. Jeff Oakes was then ousted in seventh place by Sung. Oakes was all-in pre-flop holding pocket fives in a race against A-Q. However, the flop came ace-high, sending Sung into the lead in the hand for good. Sung then caught fire, as over the next hour, he’d grow his stack to well over six million.

During the heater, Sung sent Heimiller to the rails in sixth after Heimiller’s A-K of spades could not hold up against Sung’s A-Q. The flop came 3-Q-6, sending Sung into the lead for good. Heimiller banked $145,000 for his efforts and was gunning for his second WSOP bracelet. He won his first in 2002 in a $2,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em and Seven Card Stud event for $108,000. In that event, he bested Ram Vaswani heads-up in the finale of the 144 player field.

Sung was also the executioner of Nathan Mullen, who was eliminated in fifth place for $175,851. Mullen was all-in pre-flop with J-10 against Sung’s A-7. The flop came K-Q-J, giving Mullen the temporary lead in the hand, but also giving Sung a straight draw. Sure enough, one of the three remaining tens in the deck hit on the river, and Mullen was sent packing in shock. According to official WSOP coverage, the hand gave Sung 60% of the chips in play. Shortly thereafter, Larry Sidebotham was eliminated in fourth place for $227,254 by Matz, whose A-7 held against Q-J.

Sung sent Matz out in third place. Matz pushed over the top of a bet by Sung with 5-4 after a flop of Q-5-10. Sung flipped over K-J for an open-ended straight draw, which promptly hit when an ace fell on the river. Sung held a 5:2 chip margin heads-up and won his first bracelet within an hour. On the final hand, Sung’s hot run of cards continued. Vilandos called Sung’s all-in for his tournament life with pocket eights, only to see he was up against Sung’s pocket kings. The cowboys held and Sung banked $771,000; Matz earned $473,283 for his runner-up showing.

The $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament (Event #7) wrapped up Day 2 on Wednesday. When the final cards were dealt, Craig McConville was the only player with over one million chips. Hot on his heels are Steve Karp (957,000 chips) and Jacob Kalb (894,000 chips). Still in contention is Jeremy Joseph, who ESPN followed religiously throughout last year’s $10,000 buy-in Main Event. Joseph took 57th in the tournament for $115,000 and now sits with a stack of 493,000 entering the final day of play. Thirty-three players remain; falling during Wednesday’s action were Justin “looshle” Pechie (42nd place for $11,505) and Sandra Naujoks (61st place for $7,390). In March, Naujoks became only the second female to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) event.

Finally, David Fox leads the way in the $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event after Day 1. A sold out field of 1,459 players entered and 105 survived to see Day 2. Among those still in the hunt for the bracelet are David Daneshgar (27th with 77,700 chips), Bill Chen (40th with 68,700), Todd Witteles (45th with 64,600), Rafe Furst (63rd with 47,400), Justin Young (72nd with 33,300), Joe Awada (74th with 32,900), Carlos Mortensen (89th with 25,600), and Isaac Haxton (95th with 21,700). Play resumes at 2:00pm PT. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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