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Borgata Brilliance
Friday, January 30, 2009
The Borgata Winter Poker Open has come to a close, and its main event champion has been crowed. The $2 million guaranteed, lowered buy-in of $3,000 event got started last Sunday and it's been a great ride. Day 1a saw 438 players turn up and Hamid Kashvari finish in the lead with 237,100, whilst day 1b saw an even bigger field of 579 making the complete starting field one of 1017 and a prize-pool of $3,051,000. Day 1b saw George Madrano take the chip lead with 242,900, and as 701 players returned for day 2 the top end of the chip leaders board was very tight.

Day 2 was a huge day as those 701 got downsized to just 172, a number that would get further reduced in day 3, way past the money bubble of 100 to 27. The chip lead at the end of the day 2 was held by Frankie Flowers, but he wasn't to hold on to it as day 3 saw his elimination in 29th place. A run-away leader at the head of the 27 was Carl Pion with 4,720,000 nearly a million clear of Bill Edler's 3,894,000. As the final day dawned however, all was to change, and some surprises were in store.

On the battle down to final table and heads up play, Bill Edler was sent to the rail in 17th position, and Charles Marchese was sent out in ninth. Carl Pion wasn't to have much better luck, being sent to the rail in eighth with $83,902. Heads up play saw Steve "Thorladen" Weinstein face Todd Terry's nearly 4 fold chip lead and a daunting prospect it looked to be. Despite the stacks however, Weinstein was able to double up, take the lead, and in the space of an hour claim the championship title. The top ten positions and payouts were:
  1. Steve "Thorladen" Weinstein: $658,405
  2. Todd Terry: $434,767
  3. Anthony Merulla: $236,452
  4. Robert McLaughlin: $205,942
  5. Michael Contessa: $175,432
  6. Frank Caldwell: $144,922
  7. Ory Hen: $114,412
  8. Carl Pion: $83,902
  9. Charles Marchese: $61,020
  10. Shawn Pilot: $39,663

50 Days in the Summer: 2009 WSOP Schedule is Here
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The 40th WSOP will be getting underway in exactly four months from today; it will last for 50 days and will consist of 57 events. Once again, the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino will be playing host to the biggest poker series in the year, and just like last year, the final table play will be suspended until November. The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold'em Main Event will run from Friday July 3rd until July 15th at which point players will be dismissed until November 7th-10th when the champion will be determined.

Additions to the schedule this year's include a $40,000 no limit hold'em event which will begin on May 28th in commemoration of the World Series of Poker's 40th birthday, and July 2nd will see a one-day $5,000 buy-in Ante Up For Africa Charity event. Here are some of the highlights of the schedule:

Event # 2: May 28th - 40th annual no-limit hold 'em (4-day) $40,000
Event # 6: June 1st - World Championship seven-card stud (3-day) $10,000
Event # 12 June 4th - World Championship mixed event (3-day) $10,000
Event # 17 June 7th -Ladies no-limit World Championship (3 day-) $1,000
Event # 18 June 7th - World Championship Omaha high-low split (3 day) $10,000
Event # 23 June 10th - World Championship 2-7 draw lowball (3 day) $10,000
Event # 29 June 13th - World Championship heads-up (3 day) $10,000
Event # 33 June 15th - World Championship limit hold 'em (3 day) $10,000
Event # 37 June 18th - World Championship seven-card stud high-low split (3 day) $10,000
Event # 40 June 20th - World Championship pot-limit Omaha (3 day) $10,000
Event # 43 June 22nd -Seniors World Championship (3 day) $1,000
Event # 44 June 22nd - Razz (3day) $2,500
Event # 45 June 23rd - World Championship pot-limit hold 'em (3 day) $10,000
Event # 49 June 26th - World Championship HORSE (5 day) $50,000
Event # 52 June 28th - Triple chance no-limit hold 'em (3 day) $3,000
Event # 57 July 3rd - No-limit hold 'em main event (13 day) $10,000

Wanna Bet on Brunson's Life?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Whilst Doyle Brunson has probably been involved over the course of his illustrious life with all different kinds of bets and betting; recently he opened a book on a bet he's surely never made before – a bet on his life.

Brunson, 10 time WSOP bracelet winner, found his name on a rather ominous list at the beginning of this month; it was a list compiled by Mack Rawden entitled "100 Most Likely People to Die in 2009", and Doyle appeared in 16th place. Above him was Amy Winehouse to whom Rawden gave a 60% chance of overdosing, and President Barak Obama to whom he gave a 25% chance of dying of Foul Play. Brunson however was given a 10% chance of dying due to obesity.

Brunson, apparently seeing this claim and seeing its potential opened a book on it. Brunson has in fact lost over 100 lbs in the last 5 years which may have contributed to his confidence. What ever it was down to however, Brunson offered Rawden 10-1 odds on the bet, which Rawden accepted making a $1,000 bet. In the tragic event of Rawden being right, he will make a $1,000 donation to the American Cancer Society, should Brunson win and survive 2009 he will make a $10,000 donation to the same charity.

We all pray that Doyle will have a wonderful year of health, happiness, and large donations to the American Cancer Society, and the Rawden will end the year with proverbial egg on his face.

Reality TV hits the Poker Tables
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
American TV host and personality Montel Williams is set to revolutionize live poker play on television as he introduces a brand new approach to poker broadcasting, "International Team Poker League".

The idea of International Team Poker League (ITPL) will combine two already existent television formats: live poker play and reality TV. Based on the sort of model that has been seen in shows like American Idol, ITPL will start satellite tournaments in March where contenders will be interviewed, their attempts recorded, and their personalities aired. The selection process will all be recorded as thousands of hopefuls get whittled down to the entrants to a three-day Draft Pool Seeding Tournament at a Las Vegas casino. From that tournament 6 teams will be created who will then be reduced to a final table team event. The ultimate six winners of that tournament will live the poker life for a year, going around the tournament circuits, playing in high stake matches, facing some of the biggest names in pro-poker, and being filmed all the while, like a poker Real World.

The show is the brainchild of Montel Williams who commented:
I love poker - it's a game that has everything, played by kings and leaders and regular Joes alike. It crosses boundaries and borders, now, thanks to technology and the internet, a global phenomenon that brings people of different ethnicities and origin together around the world….It is truly international, and the time is right for the International Team Poker League to take poker to a new level and a wider audience.
William's palpable excitement for the show is spreading around the poker world; this is the first reality poker show of this type to be seen, and many believe that it is well over due. Its arrival is awaited with baited breath by poker hopefuls and television audiences alike.

Aussie Scott Swoops Aussie Millions
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Final Table play of the 2009 Aussie Millions Poker Championship event began with Stewart Scott in Seat 5 leading the pack with an enormous 4,520,000 to his closest competitor and neighbor, Peter Rho's 2,420,000, and things weren't to change much before the end of the day.

Probably best known of the final 8 was short stacked Barny Boatman, who starting with just 349,000 got up to 800,000 but ultimately couldn't keep up the attack and he was the first to go out, taking the 8th place prize of AUS $100,000. The 7th place elimination Richard Ashby was the last that the game was going to see before the very early dinner break which was opted for just 4 hours into final table play. Following the meal break the slow pre-dinner elimination pace was broken and it didn't take long for Zach Gruneberg to be shown the door in sixth place and then Sam Capra in fifth. That seemed to mark the end of the quick eliminations though as the battle to stay in the game became difficult and everyone got stuck in. It was however eventually Rajkumar Ramakrishnan who took the fourth place position, only for 3 handed play to take even longer than the 4 handed battle which in the end consisted of nearly half the hands played in the whole day. 3 handed play took 70 hands and it was coming up on midnight before Elliot Smith went to the rail leaving the two leaders going into the day facing each other in heads up play.

As heads up play began Stewart Scott was in possession of 10.7 million to Peter Rho's 2.9 million which might be why heads up play lasted only 13 hands, all be it 13 exciting hands. The final hand saw a Rho re-raise all in, after a Scott raise from the button, Scott called with a pair of Aces, which beat Rho's A-h J-c hands down on a 9-d, 8-h, 2-s, 4-d, 9-s board.

Stewart Scott won the AUS $2,000,000 first place prize, the gold bracelet and the title of being the first Aussie to win the Aussie Million Championship event.

Farewell France
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It was looking for a long time that Tristan Clemencon of France was going to take the first French EPT championship event in several years, but ultimately it was the man who started the final day of play in second place that took the title. German Moritz Kranich made a fateful turn in 3 handed play which ultimately left him set up for the title.

At the beginning of the day it was Andrea Benelli who had attracted more than a little attention in this European only final table as he hung to the third place spot, as Thomas Delattre went out in eighth place having started the day with the short stack. Delattre was soon followed by Bruno Launais, Jorn Walthaus, and Jonathan Azoulay. By this point, however, Benelli had jumped ahead and was in possession of the chip lead position only to take a monumental fall and with the loss of two enormous pots he went to the rail in fourth place.

3 handed play saw Arnaud Esquevin climb back up from a close miss during Benelli's ascendancy, to deep in the big money. Luckily for him it was Moritz Kranich and Tristan Clemencon who clashed in the biggest pot to be seen in the final table, and it was Esquevin's countryman, Clemencon who was to say goodbye in third place. Not all good news however for Esquevin as Kranich entered heads up play with more than a 5 to 1 advantage. It was too Steeper Mountain to climb, and Esquevin went out in second place. The final table results and payouts were as follows:
  1. Moritz Kranich: €851,400
  2. Arnaud Esquevin: €495,400
  3. Tristan Clemencon: €284,800
  4. Andrea Benelli: €219,800
  5. Jonathan Azoulay: €182,700
  6. Jorn Walthaus: €142,400
  7. Bruno Launais: €108,300
  8. Thomas Delattre: €77,400
So, good bye from Deauville; the next leg of the European Poker Tour will be in Copenhagen, between February 17th and 21st – See you there!

Day 3 Done and Dusted - Aussie Millions End in Sight
Friday, January 23, 2009
Down to 28 and the end is in sight. The 2009 Aussie Millions AU $10,500 Main Event has attracted some of the biggest names in poker, sadly Pamela Anderson who we reported may be in attendance, was not to be seen. None the less of the 681 entrants today the race is on between the final 28 to see who will appear at tomorrow's final table with a chance to win the AU $2 million first place prize.

Yesterday saw 86 players return for day 3 with everyone painfully aware of the 1/4 field that had to be dismissed before the money bubble would be reached. Play moved speedily, so it was actually during the second level of play that the money bubble burst, and amongst those to fall outside of it were Steve Sung and Joe Hachem. Hachem exited to an ovation, following a bold all in bet on pocket queens. The board came out A-c, 7-s, 6-s, 9-s, 6-c, giving his opponents A-h, 8-h a higher 2 pair and sending him to the rail. More fortunate were the likes of Scotty Nguyen and Jarred Solomon who both walked away with AUS $15,000, Patrik Antonius and Noah Schwartz with their AU $20,000, Tommy Le with AU $25,000, and Clonie Gowen who was knocked out in 32nd place with AU $30,000.

The play of the day could roughly be split between the two formats that changed at the 37th place elimination – that of Tommy Le. Up to 36 players the tournament was being played in an 8-handed format, following Le's elimination it switched to 6-handed which is how it will stay until the winner is decided. Going into today's day 4, this is what the top ten chip counts look like:
  1. Michael Tureniec: 1,072,000
  2. Christian Heich: 880,000
  3. Christopher Chronis: 862,000
  4. Rajkumar Ramakrishnan: 840,000
  5. Annette Obrestad: 807,000
  6. Sam Capra: 768,000
  7. Annica Ivert: 709,000
  8. Stewart Scott: 628,000
  9. Richard Ashby: 606,000
  10. Antonio Casale: 566,000

Day 2 Deauville Drama
Friday, January 23, 2009
There's been 2 days of play at the Casino Barriere, Deauville since our last report – and surely you must be chomping at the bit for news! Well, day 1b pulled in 343 players; to be spotted in their midst were Dario Minieri, Gavin Griffin, Noah Boeken, Peter Eastgate, Mats Iremark, Francesco Cirianni, Salvatore Bonavena and Thomas Fourgerson: few strangers to EPT play, and even a couple of Deauville veterans – it seems like whoever's not in Australia at the Aussie Millions is here in France playing for an EPT title!

By half way through day 1b the list of causalities was quite significant, amongst them Jean Luc Gauley, Andy Black, Francisco Cirianni, Alain Roy, Peter Eastgate and Gavin Griffin. Having a great day however was Dave, "Devilfish" Ulliott who swaggered his way to the top of the leader board, and by the end of day 1b with 248 players left, he was securely at the top, 15,000 clear of his closest contender Jonathan Abdellatif.

Following day 1b the full field was counted and the payout structure announced; 645 players with a €3,096,000 prize-pool means 64 payouts, with the winner getting €851,400; and day 2 was a vicious struggle to make those slots.

Fast and furious would describe the opening levels of play with exits coming quickly including that of Roger Hairabedian, Mats Iremark, Vanessa Rousso, and Matthew Marafioti. Gino Alacqua had a roller coaster ride, going at one point from just 2 chips to a large stack to eventually busting out in 70th, whilst Ulliott who started the day as chip leader got off to a terrible start dropping 37,000 only to get back to 160,000 and then end the day with a medium stack. The money bubble was reached and passed with unfortunate, Janek Schleicher who's sevens lost out to kings, and the first to finish in the money was Italian Amerigo Santoro. Going into day 3 there are 47 players remaining, with German Moritz Kranich holding a huge chip lead at 517,500 to second place holder, Michel Abecassis' 310,000.

Pennsylvania Judge says "not unlawful gambling"
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
A Columbia County Court House saw 2 people charged with "unlawful gambling"; the situation of this offence was that they were hosting in their garage a no-limit Texas hold'em game, $1-$2. The organizers of the game took no rake from it, however it was known that tipping the dealers was an encouraged thing to do. When this game came to the attention of state police officers, they investigated by means of an undercover operation in which the game was infiltrated around 20 times and prosecuted on their evidence. The State of Pennsylvania law is very specific in its understanding of gambling games as being those games that rely more on chance than anything else, and hence when this case was bought before Judge Thomas James he dismissed it on the basis that poker does not fulfill that criteria for gambling games. Judge James concluded that under the Commonwealth's gambling laws poker is not a gambling game:
The Court finds that Texas hold’em poker is a game where skill predominates over chance. Thus, is it not ‘unlawful gambling’ under the Pennsylvania Code.
Whilst this ruling is only relevant to the jurisdiction in which the court governs, in this particular case the two counties in north-eastern part of Pennsylvania, of Columbia and Montour, this is considered by many to be a step in the right direction for those battling to have poker recognized as a game of skill rather than one of chance. As Executive Director of the Poker Player Alliance commented:
The judge in this case issued a well-researched and reasoned decision which supports arguments the PPA and others have made about poker being a game of predominant skill…The decision does not have legal precedent outside the two rural counties in Pennsylvania, however, it is a significant victory in the overall battle to demonstrate that poker is not pure chance gambling. The PPA hopes to leverage this win in other trials in other states where we have an opportunity to argue the skill of poker.

EPT Welcomed in France
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It's been one of the most highly anticipated events in this year's poker calendar, and finally it's here. After a hiatus of three years, the European Poker Tour is returning to Deauville, France, and after day 1a there isn't a disappointment in sight.

Hosted at the Casino Barriere, organizers are expecting the €5,000 event to be the biggest yet and are projecting a prize-pool in excess of €3 million. There will be two day ones of this event; the first one, yesterday January 20th attracted 302 players, and will be succeeded by another day and then just two more days of play with the final being held on January 24th. Amongst those eager to lay their hands on the money were Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Pascal Perrault, Joao Barbosa, Michael Greco, Ludovic Lacay, Vanessa Rousso, Arnaud Mattern, Vicky Coren, Tony Cascarino, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Juha Helppi, Gino Alacqua, Carter Gill, Isabelle Mercier, Alex Kravchenko, Jonas Klausen, and Brian Jensen. Both Isabelle Mercier and Ludovic Lacay did very well early on, whilst Benny Spindler who we've just seen finish third at the Caribbean Adventure was eliminated before the day was done, as was Alex Kravchenko, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Vicky Coren and Sebastian Ruthenberg.

132 players remained as the clock ran out at the end of day 1a at the Casino Barriere, and the top 10 chip counts looked like this:
  1. Jonathan Abdellatif: 105,000
  2. Guillaume De La Gorce: 79,800
  3. Manuel Bevand: 72,500
  4. Olivier Da silva: 64,700
  5. Conor Crilly: 64,000
  6. Michiel Brummelhuis: 61,100
  7. Yury Kerzhapkin: 52,800
  8. Gabriel Nassif: 51,700
  9. Stefano Busino: 51,600
  10. Herbert Kock: 51,300

Day 3 Already? – Aussie Millions Catchup
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The final of the first days at the Aussie Millions Main Event was a good'un, with play getting underway at 12.30 pm and 288 players turning up, creating the overall field for this event of 681, and making a total prize pool of AUS $6,810,000, to be divided between the last 64 players standing.

Aussie, Joe Hachem, 2005 World Champion, was amongst the star attractions of the day, as was cricket legend Shane Warne. It was not a day for the giants however, as Warne along with poker pros Lee Nelson, Ed Andrew Robl, J.C. Tran, John Juanda, Jennifer Tilly, Gus Hansen and Tom Dwan didn't make it thorough to the second day of play. That being said Joe Hachem did make it through as did Scotty Nguyen, Steve Sung, and Clonie Gowen. When the 143 remaining players of day 1c's 288 joined the survivors from the other day ones it was actually Ben Charlton who came out ahead from day 1c.

Day 2 saw two-hour levels being played in the hope of slowing down play, however it was quick paced as ever as after 12 hours of play the 320 field was reduced to just 86. Some of the notable departures throughout day 2 included Ivan Demidov, Neil Channing, James Obst, Marty Smyth, Jeff Madsen, Jim Worth, Phil Laak, Mel Judah, Mark Vos, Tony G, and David Saab. Many were pleased to see Annette Obrestad seemingly returning to former glory as she finished the day in second position on the chip leader board. Obrestad wasn't the only lady showing the lads how to do it though; Annic Ivert had a great evening and she is going into day 3 of play in the leader position, making it a female one two. Not in chip leader positions but still in the game are : Barny Boatman, Scotty Nguyen, Michael Mcdonald, Tommy Le, Joe Cassidy, Eric Stiglets, Raymond Rahme, Grant Levy, Matt Vengrin, Steve Sung, Sorel Mizzi, and Clonie Gowen, all of whom will be hoping to hold on at least for 22 eliminations until the bubble bursts.

Aussie Millions Day 1b
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Erik Seidel, Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Grant Levy, Ivan Demidov, and Jeff Madsen were just a few of the stars to turn out of day 1b, the second of 3 first days at the Aussie Millions main event – another star was last year's winner Alexander Kostritsyn. The second day one was bigger than the first, but organizers are expecting an even bigger pack to turn out for the final first day, day 1c.

If you could hope for a first hand, Jim Ververis's would have to be it – a pair of aces opening out causing an all in situation against Marty Smyth, confident of his hand. However a K,4,Q,7,3 board gave Smith's K,Q a two pair and in shock Ververis became the first elimination of the day, whilst Smyth took his chips and ran, ending up squarely in the middle of the pack by the end of day 1b.

It also wasn't such a good day for Chris Ferguson or indeed, last year's champion Alexander Kostritsyn after Josh Malone kicked him from the river with a flush and sent him packing. Other departures of the day included Harry Demetriou, Tony "Bond18" Dunst, and Erik Seidel. Unlike in day 1a when the majority of the field was cut down, in day 1b actually over half the field still remained despite last ditch moves towards the end of the day. With 102 players of an original 202 strong playing field at the end of day 1b the top ten chip leaders from the day are:
  1. Brett Daphne – 120,250
  2. Josh Malone – 112,400
  3. Sam Vakili – 106,300
  4. Michael Toreniec – 101,525
  5. Ali Ghezelbash – 92,575
  6. Erol Aygon – 92,100
  7. Josh Onas – 89,700
  8. Ivan Demidov – 81,925
  9. Annica Zvert – 81,575
  10. Michael 'Timex' McDonald – 80,675

Bounty Tourney Decided
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Day 2 of event #7 saw the 32 remaining players who survived the first bounty rounds of the AUD $1,650 Bounty Tourney return to four tables for shootout and then the final table freeze-out, where the original 20 second a hand rule still applied. The four remaining tables had the chip holders spread fairly across with the same representation of big and short stacks on each. Bounty players were still bountiful, and Michael Chrisanthopoulos was the first to go, giving Sean Keeton a very nice $1,000. Each table was playing down to the last 2 in order to make up the final table, and the final of the tables to go dragged its shoes until finally Stephen Boots was sent packing as final table bubble-boy, leaving the freeze-out line up looking like this:

Seat 1: Edison Nguyen: 429,600
Seat 2: Sean Keeton: 170,200
Seat 3: Neil Channing: 346,900
Seat 4: Cort Kibler-Melby: 292,800
Seat 5: Liv Boeree: 122,000
Seat 6: Saidal Wardak: 211,600
Seat 7: Ben Delaney: 285,000
Seat 8: Jai Kemp: 337,000

Final table play got off to a slow start despite the quick hands – taking over 2 hours before the first player hit the rail, surprisingly Jai Kemp after a rumble with Neil Channing. Next to go was Liv Boeree which set the action in motion. In incredibly quick succession went Cort Kibler-Melby, then Neil Channing who went from a safe middle position to out in the space of just 2 hands. Keeton's elimination in fourth place marked the beginning of three-handed play, and a much slower pace; however an hour later Edison Nguyen did in fact go out leaving Ben Delaney with a 2:1 lead over Saidal Wardak as heads up play started. An hour later, and a very vocal crowd supporting Wardak, saw their support rewarded – Wardak sent off Delany and claimed the $151,200 first place prize. A mammoth of a final table day – a great time was had by all.

Steicke for Biggest Aussie Millions Pot Yet
Sunday, January 18, 2009
It was the biggest event seen yet at this year's Aussie Millions – the $100,000 No-Limit Hold'em Challenge event #8 saw David Steicke take the lead going into day 2 of play following an incredibly fast day 1. Starting with an elite 23 players by the beginning of second day play only 6 remained.

If the first day went fast, the second day started anything but; day 2 saw 2 hours of play before the first knock-out and amazingly enough it was John Juanda and the only elimination that did not involve Steicke. Steicke himself had a roller coaster day when he had the chip lead, lost it, and then managed to grasp his way back to heads-up play and ultimately to the biggest win yet. Bill Jordanou went out in fifth place and then Steicke sent Dan Shak packing with $200,000 in fourth place.

With three left, play dragged a little, but finally it was JC Tran who fell victim next to Steicke, leaving Steicke with an incredible 10:1 chip lead against Tony Bloom. It took just a few hands for Steicke to finish his roll, and this he did whilst taking the Raymond Weil winner's watch and the first place prize of $1.2 million.

Aussie Millions Main Event Gets Under Way!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Sometimes there are series that are all about the main event, with the other events nothing more than time fillers – Aussie Millions is absolutely not one of those series. It's been a fantastic ride so far, a $1.2 million prize, a great H.O.R.S.E. event, but at the end of the day, there's nothing like the excitement of a Main Event. Hence today at half past mid-day the excitement was in the air as day 1a at the Crown Casino in Melbourne got under way.

The AUD $2 million guaranteed first place prize event got off to a festive start, and there were 191 players who entered. The first day saw six, 90 minute levels, and many eyes were trained on Patrik Antonius. Just hours after he busted out of the enormous $100,000 event # 8, he turned up into the second level of play. Despite his late start he managed to finish day 1a in second place on the chip leader board. Christopher Chronis finished the day with the chip lead, and as the two of them were at the same table, it received the most attention of the day.

Going into day 2 from day 1a will be 74 survivors including, James Obst, Sorel Mizzi, Raymond Rahme, Tony G, David Saab, and Mark Vos. Not so lucky amongst the big names were John Hennigan, Alec Torelli, James Potter, Julian Powell, and Peter Wong.

The top of the chip leader board at the end of day 1a looks like this:
Christopher Chronis: 175,375
Patrik Antonius: 139,750
Noah Schwartz: 138,275
Derek Cheung: 132,800
James Obst: 122,075
Elliot Smith: 107,650
Warwick Mirzikinian: 103,575
Sorel Mizzi: 95,575
Daniel Kochan: 95,300
Danny Andrews: 89,000
All attention will be focused tomorrow on who will be joining them. Play starts at 12.30 pm.

Rules All Change for Event # 7: no limit hold'em with a twist
Saturday, January 17, 2009
As if tournament no-limit hold'em events weren't interesting enough, the $1,650 event # 7 of Aussie Millions had a couple of extra twists that made for even more exciting play. The event was played as a bounty event. A bounty event has at each table, one player with a "bounty tag". The bounty tag means that if you eliminate that player you get a payout, in this case, AUD $1,000. As if that wasn't enough, the organizers also put a time limit on each hand – just 20 seconds. In this way, the enormous 449 field was narrowed down to just 32. At 32, 4 tables are formed and played as a shootout, until 2 from each table remained who then make up the final table.

Originally a one day event, the size of the crowd and the excitement surrounding the event, caused organizers to add a second day for the 4-table shootout. Some big names were spotted in the field such as David Saab, Lee Nelson, Julian Powell, Michael Vartan and Peter Aristidou, as well as some names that have already grabbed titles here at the Aussie Millions for example Van Marcus, Billy "The Croc" Argyros and Michael Guzzardi – it was as if no-one wanted to miss out on this unique opportunity.

It was in fact Julian Powell who was the first "bounty-boy" to be eliminated, but David Saab was to follow, also Michael Vartan and then Peter Aristidou, Mike "Timex" McDonald, and James Obst. In terms of the guys gaining those extra bounty dollars, it was Vesko Zmukic who made the most, taking out 2 bounty players, allowing him to cover his expenses even though he didn't make the money bubble.

The money bubble only came 8 positions before the "shoot-out" bubble, and hence the end of day 1 and these positions were taken in no time. Billy "The Croc" Argyros fell in this inter-bubble period, and Mario Doria set the shoot-out list when he busted in 33rd place. Finishing day 1 was John MacNaughton as chip leader in what has to have been the most original and most fun event seen in quite some time.

UIGEA Debate to Rise from the Dead
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Just when we thought that the story of the very controversial anti online gambling law that was passed at the end of last year, the UIGEA, was over and nothing more could be done, the US Representative of New York, Democrat Jerrold Nadler, shook things up again. Nadler has reintroduced what has been dubbed the "Midnight Rule Act". This act, officially called H.R. 34 is aimed at countering the effects of a bill passed by an outgoing administration: in other words, limiting the power of a bill pushed through last minute. The idea of the bill is, that all last minute pushed through acts remain valid but only at the approval of the new administration; this would count for all bills passed in the final 90 days of office.

In the case of the outgoing Bush administration, this bill if made law would apply to any bill pushed through after October 22nd, 2008, placing the UIGEA which was passed on November 12th squarely in need of approval by the Obama administration. The UIGEA wasn't the only bill to be pushed through by the Bush administration, and it seems that this is what inspired Nadler to first introduce the Midnight Rule Act at that time. It was reintroduced on January 6th and so far has no co-sponsors. According to Nadler's vision, the new administration would have 90 days to review the bills. This idea is not a new one; in fact the Congressional Review Act of 1996, although only ever used once, allows any new administration to review any "midnight" rules that were passed in the final six months of an outgoing administration.

Whether the Midnight Rule Act will be passed is unclear to say the least, and what the Democratic administration's position will be is equally hazy. However, its introduction has given new hope to the online gaming industry, and some of its leaders remain hopeful.

Aussie Million Events 4 & 5
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Event # 4 in Melbourne's Aussie Million saw a continuation of the limit theme that had kept everyone on the edge of their seats for event #3, but this time it was a $1,100 limit hold'em event, and it attracted a very respectable 140 strong crowd. A surprising spectacle in the crowd was Mel Judah who had won the previous event literally just hours earlier. Others spotted, but eliminated before the money were Annette Obrestad, Jamie Pickering, and Tony Dunst. It was only the top 18 that got cash payouts, and the bubble wasn't burst until quite late in the evening with Maya Gellar-Antonius being the unfortunate "bubble-boy". With 2 tables left play sped up considerably, and going into final table play Craig Bergeron was in the lead with 118,000 whilst Billy Argyros was very much trailing with just 18,000. It was however Zach Gruneberg who came from a mid-stack to having a 2:1 chip lead going into heads-up play who ultimately took the title, the ring, and the $35,000 first place prize.

H.O.R.S.E. events are attractions in any schedule, and the $1,100 was no exception, reaching its capacity of 96 players. As slow as these events can sometimes be, this tournament certainly had its highlights, and many even managed to find their way out fairly early on, meaning that the final table was determined without too many long hours, and it was Van Marcus who was most certainly in the lead, going into the final table with 123,500 chips. However, as day 2 got underway it became clear that this would be no one-horse-race. The organizers moved back a level which allowed the shortest stacks a greater chance, but it didn't help second from shortest stack David Morton who busted out in 8th, but then a surprise bust-out; Leo Boxwell who had started with the second largest stack was sent packing in 7th. All in all it took only 5 hours for the final table play to be done and dusted, and Van Marcus was still in there until the end. Ultimately, however, it was Jarred Solomon who won the day, and it was he who took the $30,380 first place prize.

Aussie Millions, the Story So Far
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Aussie Millions schedule couldn't have had a bigger star attraction at its head – the half a million dollar guaranteed, $1,100 NLH was sure to pull the crowds, and that it did. In the end a record breaking 731 players turned out for the event, bringing the prize pool over its guarantee by the best part of quarter of a million. By day two the field was whittled down to just 110 with Dean Blatt as chip leader. In the end however it was German, Christian Heich who triumphed after an exciting final table of play including an hour of heads up play.

Event #2 was the $1,050 Pokerpro NLH tournament which attracted 83 player only – this was of course set around the computerized poker tables that Crown Casino proudly boasts, and it saw the likes of Peter Aristidou, Jamie Pickering and Annette Obrestad take their chances. A relatively new technology, the turn out was considered to be very good, and surely a pre-runner for many more tournaments to be held in this fashion. Anyway, due to the small field, and the quick play of the automated tables, the whole thing was done and dusted within 8 hours. It was ultimately Mitchell Carle who took the title, having had experience on the machines before. Despite the similarities to online play, it took many of the online pros a while to find their feet: shame for them, as Carle walked away with a $25,000 first place prize.

For the first time ever there was a $1,100 limit Omaha hi-lo event in the Aussie Millions schedule and judging by its reception, it is sure to make a comeback next year! Event #3 attracted 102 entrants who fought it out over an incredible 17 hours of play, going right through the night, and at the end of it, it was Mel Judah who took the AU $30,600 first prize and ring, having beaten off the likes of Ivan Demidov, Sam Khouiss, Alexander Kostritsyn, and Tony G.

Tri-Millionaire Made
Monday, January 12, 2009
The sixth Caribbean Adventure has come to an end; the fun and frolics have ceased, and the record breaking prize of $3 million dollars has been claimed! Who's the lucky winner, whose life will never be the same again?

Poorya Nazari, only 22 years old, is a graduate student in the area of biochemistry. Hailing from Toronto, Canada he won his seat for the tournament in an online satellite; effectively turning $700 into $3 million – not bad for a few days work. Following his monumental win, Nazari commented:
It was only today that I started thinking about winning. At one point yesterday I was down to virtually nothing but I got off to a good start today and at that point I thought I might have a shot.
Nazari was in fact in second position going into the final day of play, with him and Alex Gomes far ahead of the pack. However, Gomes' advantage was quite considerable having won a huge pot towards the end of day 4. Final table quite literally got off to a galloping start with the field knocked down to 3 in less than four hours. However the elimination of Gomes in fourth position marked an end to the speed game, and another four hours plus elapsed before the heads-up contestants were determined. Left were Tony Gregg and Nazari, and the previous tempo was resumed: 4 hands and it was all over.

The final table positions and payouts are as follows:
  1. Poorya Nazari: $3,000,000
  2. Tony Gregg: $1,700,000
  3. Benny Spindler: $1,100,000
  4. Alexandre Gomes: $750,000
  5. Pieter Tielen: $550,000
  6. Dustin Dirksen: $400,000
  7. Daniel Heimiller: $300,000
  8. Kevin Saul: $234,000
Having outlasted the 1,347 entrants in this tournament his immediate plans are unclear; one thing is for sure though, he'll be trying to "double his money" at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo at the end of April.

Caribbean Good for Grospellier
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Having been seen out of the main event early on, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier wasn't prepared to walk away empty handed from the series he took 2 mil from last year – and that he did not. Following his ousting from the Main Event Grospellier wasted no time in signing up for the High Roller $25,000 buy-in event and he wasted no time in winning it!

The likes of Eric Seidel, Dario Minieri, Joe Hachem and Ivan Demidov could be seen around the tables, and that's to name just a few: bracelet winners were thick on the ground. However, by the end of the long slog that was day 1, 8 emerged to play the final table.

First to go, after around 2 hours was Nick Schulman and then Daniel Alaei, but then there was nothing until a little before dinner when both Eli Elezra and Humberto Brenes found they had no need to rush their food. Following dinner, Grospellier already had the chip lead, but when Scott Seiver sent Liya Gerasimova to the rail Grospellier lost that position; however, it wasn't for long as an aggressive Grospellier wrestled Seiver out of the game leaving just Will Molson in play. Heads up saw Grospellier with a nearly 7 to 1 chip lead and hence it came as no surprise when he made mince meat of the Canadian in no time at all. Not quite the $2 million he won in the Bahamas last year, but none the less Grospellier seemed very happy with his $433,500 win. The payouts and positions for the event were as follows:
  1. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier - $433,500
  2. Will Molson - $228,000
  3. Scott Seiver - $137,000
  4. Liya Gerasimova - $91,300
  5. Humberto Brenes - $70,800
  6. Eli Elezra - $68,500
  7. Daniel Alaei - $57,000
  8. Nick Schulman - $45,700

Final 8 Set for Caribbean Showdown
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Day 4 was as exciting as can be at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, Paradise Island – the location of the 2009 Caribbean Adventure. Starting with 32 players remaining from the original 1300+ pack, there were only 8 still standing at the day, and a crowd eager for the final table showdown. Play yesterday took more than 13 hours in total, and to say that those 13 hours had its fair share of highs and lows would be an understatement. If one were to pick a "man of the match" for day 4, most would probably have to pick Alex Gomes. He started off towards the bottom of the table and through sheer hard work and perseverance he managed to build up his stack to a respectable size, looking like he was going to sail on in: then as the evening came in, he dropped right back down, and most would have said his time was up. However, right at the end of the night, a hand won against Kevin Saul gave him an enormous boast – it was a nearly 4 million chip pot! Pooyra Nazari started day 4 in much the same way, with a short stack, but just like the chip leader he also fought his way to the top, and was rewarded as he enters final table play with the second biggest pot. Chip counts going into today's final table play, are as follows:
  1. Alex Gomes: 8,080,000
  2. Pooyra Nazari: 6,790,000
  3. Benny Spindler: 3,352,000
  4. Pieter Tielen: 2,510,000
  5. Tony Gregg: 2,245,000
  6. Kevin Saul: 1,640,000
  7. Dan Heimiller: 1,440,000
  8. Dustin Dirksen: 765,000

Caribbean Adventure Catch-up Part I
Friday, January 9, 2009
As we are about to Endeavour on day 4 of the Caribbean Adventure, let's have a brief look at the story so far, what have been its surprises, and what have been its shocks.

As you may recall, day 1a was a fantastic start; 660 players turned out, causing people to believe this was going to be an enormous event. That first day saw some surprising bust outs, for example Gavin Griffin and Chad Brown, and ultimately it was Filipe Ramos who ended the day in the chip leader position. Day 1b however, trumped all expectations. The field was made up from day 1a's 660 to a total of 1,347 players, making this notably larger than last year's tournament by 211 players. The numbers combined with the increased buy-in from $8,000 to $10,000 contributed to the biggest surprise of all. Whilst we were expecting a first place prize of over 2 million, it still came as a shock that it would actually be $3 million that was being played for – this is only the 10th tournament in poker history that has had such a first place prize. With all registered we could also determine the prize pool of $12,674,000, and we learned that the top 199 will fall in the money. As for play itself – it was no less exciting. The pace was fast throughout, and in one particularly tough 75 minute session 100 players went out. some of the most notable eliminations of the day included Phil Ivey, Chris Moneymaker, Jeff Schulman, Ivan Demidov, Dario Minieri, Bernard Lee, Glen Chorny, Steve Sung, Adam Levy, Katja Thater, Gus Hansen, Freddy Deeb, Layne Flack, Isabelle Mercier, Nick Schulman, Robert Mizrachi, ex-tennis world champion Boris Becker, and defending champ Bertrand “ElkY’ Grospellier. At the end of play 205 remained, psyched up to meet the 182 survivors of day 1a.

Caribbean Adventure Catch-up Part II
Friday, January 9, 2009
There was no-one amongst the 390 players returning for day 2 of play at the Caribbean Adventure held at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, who hadn't gotten there through hard work and toil, and the intensity of their experience wasn't about to lighten up. The field managed to get to the bubble - 199 - within just 10 levels, and it was one heck of a ride.

Very early on in the day, David "Bakes" Baker who had made his presence known in day 1a shifted into chip leader position after taking a large pot from Jonathan Little who had gone all in creating a pot of over 200,000; this pot put him well clear of the field, a position that he in fact remained in until the end of day 2 when he was leading his closest competitor Daniel Heimiller by 88,000. When day 3 got underway, 97 players had already left with either $12,500 or $15,000, and the 102 remaining knew that only 32 could remain at the end of the day. The pace remained characteristically strong, however towards the end of play, at around 44 players still in, things did start to grind to a halt; none-the-less 7 hours of play was all it took, with some great action along the way.

Amongst the strongest throughout the day were David Baker, Benny Chen and Kevin Saul, but there were plenty of the strongest players who simply didn't cut the mustard – Peter Eastgate, Nenad Medic, Chris Moore, and Max Pescatori amongst them; it took just 3.5 levels to cut down the field and at the end it was Kevin Saul who had jumped from 80,000 that an incredible 2,675,000 who will be leading the chip leader board going into day 4, Benny Spindler being the only other player to break the two million mark with 2,266,5000.

Caribbean Adventure Attracts Huge Crowds
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
In the midst of one of the coldest winters on record for years, a trip to the Bahamas, is just what the doctor ordered; and as day 1a of the European Poker Tour Caribbean Adventure got underway yesterday there were smiles abound and good mood all round, as it seemed like the poker world had taken the doctor's orders in droves.

A whopping 660 players turned out for the first day of the $10,000 buy-in event with at least another 500 expected to turn up for day 1b, today, leaving some to speculate that this tournament might end up being the largest tournament ever held outside of mainland USA. All players started off with 20,000 chips and most tables saw rapid movement, with even some of the best players of the tournament finding their way to the beach earlier than expected, including the likes of Chris Ferguson, Gavin Smith, Chad Brown, David Pham, and Erik Seidel.

Highlights of the day included Ryan Young's rise to an enormous chip lead, only for him to loose it all, or nearly all, to David "Bakes" Baker when his pocket kings just weren't enough against Baker's pocket Aces. Even for Baker it wasn't quite enough though, and as day 1a came to an end it was in fact Filipe Ramos who held the chip lead. The top ten chip counts at the end of day 1a are:
  1. Felipe Ramos: 360,100
  2. David Baker: 219,600
  3. Edward Sabat: 209,000
  4. Grant Hinkle: 206,500
  5. Jonathan Little: 201,900
  6. Keven Stammen: 167,900
  7. Nicholas Blumenthal: 167,700
  8. Marcin Horecki: 167,300
  9. Jeff Madsen: 160,500
  10. Jon Van Fleet: 122,600
Of the 660 players that started the day, 188 will return on Wednesday when they will join the survivors of today's day 1b in the second day of play.

Czech Republic May Check Online Gambling
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sometimes it seems that the whole world has a grudge against online poker, but then something happens, a chink in the clouds allowing through a ray of sunshine and you see that the whole world has not gone mad, and some nations in fact have their heads screwed on right.

It isn't news that in the Czech Republic there has been an ongoing battle on the part of gambling proprietors to make their services available to online players; however the government of the Czech Republic has time and time again refused to allow its countrymen to offer online gambling, mostly citing issues of security, problem gambling, and underage gambling. However, a leader in the bricks and mortar business in the Czech Republic, Fortuna Group has come up with an ingenious solution to this problem. What Fortuna are recommending is that anyone will be able to gamble online, however in order to bet on a Fortuna website every individual must go and register at a land based office where they will be made to show identification, thus reducing the problem quite considerably. In addition to this unique step, Fortuna are also considering only accepting online deposits with the use of payment cards rather than credit cards, thus in theory reducing the risk of problem gambling.

For the potential operators, they argue that online gaming in the Czech Republic is currently being served illegally by foreign companies, and they are making millions of Euros per annum from it; therefore native companies are simply being locked out of a market unnecessarily, whilst the funds from that market are being sent to other countries. Hopes are high within the sector, and some have said that it might be that even within a few days from now; online Czech gambling will be available.

Irish Brennan Wins Irish Poker Championship
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
255 players turned out for the €3,000 buy-in Irish Poker Championship last Friday, and per form on Sunday a champion emerged and a fat first place prize was won. The tournament was held at the Galway Radisson hotel and as the first day got underway all eyes were on the €464,000 prize-pool. There were more than a couple of big names to be seen around the tables, for example, Mike Sexton and Marty Smyth were amongst the hopefuls.

Day 1 saw 124 players of the original 255 survive, and that number was further whittled down by the end of day 2 to just 26. Although all in the money, it was of course a battle for a final table spot that kept all eyes peeled, and ultimately it was Peter Murphy, Derek Murray, David Curtis, Krzysztof Gwvszko, Rory Liffey, Rory Brennan, David Poole, Chris Dowling and Ben Vinson who prevailed, with the later going in as chip leader. It was a good battle that left Brennan and Dowling as the last two standing; Vinson who had had the chip lead went out in third.

Brennan and Dowling gave a great show, and for two and half hours no-one could complain about the standard of play or excitement. Finally however it was Irishman Brennan who emerged champion, making this his first large championship win and adding to his 51st place $16,000 win at last years Caribbean Adventure.

The results and payouts from the final table are:
  1. FRory Rees Brennan: €160,000
  2. DChris Dowling: €90,000
  3. EBen Vinson: €55,000
  4. GDavid Poole: €30,000
  5. JDavid Curtis: €20,000
  6. KKrzysztof Gwyszko: €15,000
  7. NPeter Murphy: €12,500
  8. MDerek Murray: €10,000
  9. JRory Liffey: €8,000

TV Dates for Your Diary
Sunday, January 4, 2009
WPT Season VII

Planning to go out tonight – maybe visit friends, grab a beer or a bite to eat? Not a chance! Tonight, January 4th 2009 sees the first of the 26 episode long World Poker Tour Season VII Series, and if you're thinking about doing anything other than watching it, you're mad! This is the first year that the WPT will appear on Fox Sports Net, and it's being scheduled as a part of the Sunday Night Sports Block, where each week will see a one hour episode divided into two parts, providing of course commentary and analysis, with hosts Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten and Amanda Leatherman lending their expertise as well as interviewing the stars of the tournament.

Included in the series are the WPT circuit events from the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, the Borgata Hotel, the Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont., the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss., the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and the Bay 101 in San Jose, Calif.

EPT Caribbean Adventure

A little further in the future, but no less exciting, The European Poker Tour Caribbean Adventure will be getting underway tomorrow in the Bahamas, but if you can't muster the ticket to go see it, don't fret because it will be aired in the spring on the Game Show Network. Organizers of the event have come to an agreement with the network that will see the $10,000 buy-in event aired probably beginning on May 31st. The programming of the event will likely be divided up in to 8 one hour episodes, and if last year was anything to go by they'll be plenty of action – there were over a thousand entrants fighting it out for the 2 million dollar first place prize.

Aussie Millions Attracts Star Attraction
Sunday, January 4, 2009
It's not unheard of that celebrities famous for other things turn their hand to a little poker play; for example Ben Affleck has often been seen gracing the tables, as has swimming great Michael Phelps – but the latest to hit the felt is worth a special mention for oh so many reasons.

Whether you remember her predominately for that red swimsuit in Baywatch or for her shenanigans with ex-husband Tommy Lee, 41 year old actress, Playmate, and sex symbol Pamela Anderson is surely going to be one of the biggest attractions at the Aussie Millions tournament scheduled for the end of this month.

Having opened and consequently closed her own poker site in 2006, Anderson has had some experience in poker play, and hence it's not a great surprise that several gossip sites have reported that she will be making an appearance in the Melbourne event. Rumor has it, that ex-husband Rick Solomon had gotten involved with Anderson when he had paid off a certain amount of poker debt raised by the actress – if this true, then this can only be a good sign for those sitting at her table.

The Aussie Millions event will run between January 18th and 24th, and time will tell if Pammy does indeed turn up – last year there were similar rumors, but there was no show from the blond bombshell; so here's hoping for this year! Just one word of advice – try to keep your eyes on the table!

Welcome to 2009!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Or should we say; 2009, Welcome! Whether it's us welcoming the year, or the year welcoming us, one thing is for sure; it's going to get off to a flying start. With only a few days of the year down, we can already start looking forward to the joys and surprises that January has to offer.

Not in Europe, but still a part of the European Poker Tour, the Caribbean Adventure is the first major tournament of the year, and there's surely nothing like some white beaches, coconut trees, and cocktails with little umbrellas to get the year off to a swimming start. The Caribbean Adventure will get started on Monday January 5th and run through to Saturday the 10th. The $10,000 buy in Main Event will have two day ones both of which will get underway at 12 noon. Toward the end of the month the EPT will in fact return to Europe and not just to Europe but to the much anticipated Deauville stop – that will be between January 20th and 24th.

The World Poker Tour will see it's $10,000 Southern Poker Championship in Biloxi between January 14th and 17th, whilst Aussie Millions will be ongoing throughout the month with the first event getting underway on January 9th, and the 7 day, 3 day one, Main Event getting started on January 18th. At the same time the Borgata Winter Open will be running from January 13th through 28th, with the final 5 of those days for the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Championship.

Further south; January 20th will see as well as the Deauville Main Event, the LAPT Chile Main Event get under way. In the Vina del Mar Casino, in Valparaiso, Chile, the three day event is the third and penultimate stop in this second Latin American Poker Tour and will last for 3 days. On yet another continent, the APT will touch down in the Philippines, where the $2,500 Main Event will last from January 29th through to February 1st.

With all that to look forward to – it's surely going to be a great January, and a great 2009!

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