Shane Schleger says Hot Poker Women don’t rise due to Looks

July 30th, 2015

shane-schleger-pokerWhile Shane Schleger may not play as much poker these days, he’s still quite visible through his writing and Dope Stories podcast. And the latest topic that Shaniac tackled is the idea that certain women only attain a lofty status in the poker world due to their looks.

Schleger took up this argument after a poker player named Jeff Tims complained about Samantha Abernathy using her looks to rise up the poker ladder. Here’a quick look at how Schleger lays out the common view shared by Tims and others:

“The argument states roughly: Women are unfairly propped up and afforded opportunities that similarly talented male peers would not have, so let’s nip this reverse sexism in the buttocks and get back to discussing how scary talented we are as poker players and how much credit we deserve for that.

It’s a very tired retelling of the same old, “she got there because of her looks” trope, so allow me to break that one down before proceeding: No successful woman ever achieved her status simply as a measure of her physical beauty or sex appeal.”

samantha-abernathy-pokerIt’s pretty obvious that being beautiful and a good poker player won’t earn a lady any less opportunities. However, what Shaniac takes offense to is the general belief that every hot woman who’s visible in the poker world is only there because she looks good. Here’s another excerpt from Schleger’s blog where he discusses how beauty alone doesn’t get you very far:

“Even if we look at industries where women are valued primarily for their physical beauty–for every hot actress or fashion model, there’s another equally hot one down the street who’s also smarter, more ambitious, more shrewd, harder working–and it’s those attributes that undoubtedly will buoy her to success beyond mere sexiness.”

This is certainly an interesting view on a subject that’s been around ever since online poker sites started handing sponsorship deals out to good-looking women. Sure, some of these deals were given strictly to models whose job it was to look pretty on the felt. On the other hand, today’s game is filled with hot women who also know how to play, including Abernathy. Case in point: she challenged Tims to Open Faced Chinese poker after his allegations that she’s using looks to get ahead.

Playboy Poker closing on July 27th

July 25th, 2015

playboy-poker-closesAlmost two years after relaunching, Playboy Poker will be closing its cyber doors once more on July 27th. The online poker site, which used images of the world-famous Playboy Bunnies to push their brand, cites a business decision as the reason for the closure.

Players are advised to log onto their Playboy Poker accounts as quickly as possible and withdraw funds because all funds will be forfeited if not claimed 30 days after July 27th.

It’s only fitting that in the midst of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner taking heat from his former girlfriend Holly Madison, Playboy Poker would also shut down.

However, the current Playboy Poker is pretty far removed from the actual brand. Hefner’s company launched the site in the mid-2000s just after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was instituted. Despite the UIGEA, internet poker was still pretty hot and many companies were looking to cash in. And Playboy was hoping to use an alternative approach to iPoker riches that included using Dan Bilzerian and Sara Jean Underwood as sponsored players. But Playboy Poker, which used Cryptologic software, found little success and closed in 2009.

playboy-poker-closes-1Amaya Gaming, owner of PokerStars and Full Tilt, revived the site in 2013 while citing the company’s “tremendous online audience” and ability to attract players from around the globe through an easily recognized brand. On paper this seemed like a winning formula to attract recreational players; but in reality, Playboy Poker once again was short-lived and will exit the market just two years after opening for the second time.

This leaves one less remnant of an era where some companies hoped to grab a piece of the online poker pie through radical marketing campaigns and pushing a certain lifestyle. Other such sites that also flopped include Victory Poker and Power Poker.

Who will win 2015 WSOP Main Event?

July 20th, 2015

max-steinberg-2015-main-eventThe 2015 WSOP Main Event final table has been set for over a week now, which means there’s been plenty of time to look at the November Nine. Joe McKeehen’s name steps to the forefront since he has a massive lead with 62,100,000 chips, versus second-place Zvi Stern’s stack of 29,800,000 chips. Obviously McKeehen has a great chance to win the 2015 WSOP Main Event. But can anybody else compete with this poker pro’s big chip stack and steal the spotlight? Let’s take a look at three other players who, based on their chips stack and experience, have a good chance to win.

1. Pierre Neuville: 21,075,000 chips, fourth-biggest stack

Nicknamed the “Serial Qualifier” for having won online prize packages to 23 straight European Poker Tour events, Neuville has definitely played a lot of poker over the past several years. And the 72-year-old has really cashed in on these opportunities, accumulating almost $2.2 million prior to the Main Event. A former head executive at the Hasbro toy company, Neuville basically dedicated the remainder of his life to poker after a health scare. And this has really allowed him to build the necessary skills to be a major threat among the 2015 November Nine.

2. Max Steinberg: 20,200,000 chips, fifth-largest stack

After turning pro in the mid-2000s, Max Steinberg did quite well on the live poker circuit, accumulating over $1.9 million and winning a gold bracelet at the 2012 WSOP. It is the latter aspect that sets Steinberg apart from the other final table players, given that he’s the only one to experience winning a WSOP event. The only drawback to the San Francisco native is that, two months ago, he basically quit poker to play daily fantasy sports full-time. He’ll now be spending the next three and a half months gaining back any edge he lost during this time.

3. Zvi Stern: 29,800,000, second-largest stack

zvi-stern-main-eventNot much is known about Stern and he declined to answer when asked about his profession back in Israel. Furthermore, he had less than $50k in live tournament winnings coming into the Main Event. However, this (assumed) amateur player does have the second-biggest chip stack, which has to count for something. And he does play a fair amount of poker, given that he’s cashed in several live tournaments.

Joshua Beckley: 2015 November Niner, One Year after becoming Poker Pro

July 17th, 2015

joshua-beckley-wsop-main-eventThe modern era of the World Series of Poker Main Event is often a bit of a crapshoot, where thousands of players attempt to win poker’s ultimate title. So you get all sorts of players who make the final table, including Joshua Beckley, who’s now set to play for a $7.68 million payout with the 2015 November Nine, despite turning pro less than a year ago.

The Marlton, New Jersey man decided to become a poker pro after winning $98,000 in a Parx Casino tournament last August. Since that time, he’s managed to collect almost $220k total in live tourneys along with more winnings in New Jersey’s regulated online poker market. Beckley is a regular at sites like Party Poker under the name “asdf26.”

Based on the typical accounts of most post-Black Friday poker pros, Beckley should be having a difficult time grinding up his bankroll and making a living. But now, after navigating through a 6,420-player field in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, he’s guaranteed at least a $1,001,020 payout.

The good thing for Beckley is that he has a decent chance at earning more than this because he’s currently sitting with the seventh-largest chip stack at 11,800,000 chips. And here’s some good news for him: Pius Heinz, who won the 2011 Main Event and $8,715,638, only had the seventh-biggest chip stack heading into the final table. So this isn’t exactly the worst spot to be in for a guy who’s eyeing the $7.68 million top prize just like the rest of the 2015 November Nine.

The final nine players will meet again on Nov. 8th, where they’ll battle for a collective $27.8 million in prize money. And this will give Beckley a chance to show just what all he’s learned in his year as a poker pro.

Joe McKeehen: Risk Champ looks to become 2015 WSOP ME Champ

July 16th, 2015

joe-mckeehen-main-eventJoe McKeehen isn’t the type of poker player who’s going to bring attention himself through wild antics or excessive table banter. In fact, he prefers to keep a low profile and just play the game. But given that McKeehen is now the chip leader of the 2015 November Nine, he’s going to be getting a lot of attention in the coming weeks.

The Pennsylvania native first made his mark at the WSOP last year after taking second in the 2014 Monster Stack event ($820,863). But given that McKeehen has more than double the amount of chips (63,100,000) as second-place Zvi Stern (29,800,000) right now, he has an opportunity to do something much bigger.

The first-place prize for the 2015 WSOP Main Event is $7.68 million and McKeehen is definitely in the driver’s seat to win it. Nobody since Jamie Gold in 2006 has held this large of a lead, and Gold essentially dominated the final table en route to $12 million.

All of this bodes well for the 24-year-old, who has some championship experience already in the game of Risk. McKeehen proved his superior skills in the global domination board game by taking down the 2010 Annual Risk Classic. Of course, Risk isn’t quite at the magnitude of what McKeehen is poised to do if he wins the 2015 Main Event along with millions of dollars.

For now, though, he doesn’t really seem overly focused on the money or winning. “It’s pretty fun. I’m just trying to enjoy the ride and play my best,” McKeehen said of his Main Event run. “That’s pretty much all there is to it. I’m trying to not let the moment overtake me.”

McKeehen will get an opportunity to continue the fun on Nov. 8th, when the November Nine meets again to play for a vast fortune.

Pierre Neuville: Oldest November Niner in History

July 15th, 2015

pierre-neuville-wsop-main-eventOver the past decade, poker has transitioned into a young person’s game, with 20-somethings dominating the pro scene. Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t still some older players grinding on the felt, including 72-year-old Pierre Neuville, who’s officially now the oldest guy ever to make the WSOP November Nine.

Already an accomplished player before the 2015 WSOP Main Event, Neuville fought through a 6,420-player field to claim his spot on the final table. And the Belgian looks poised to net a huge cash since he has the fourth-biggest stack with 21,075,000 chips.

Regardless of how he finishes when the November Nine meets from Nov. 8-10, Neuville is already an inspiring story. The former president of the board-game company Hasbro, he took up poker (again) after retiring from his lofty position in the company. Neuvile had originally played Seven Card Stud in the 1960s, however, he eventually had to give the game up to keep his image clean with the family oriented Hasbro.

What motivated Neuville to begin playing poker again was when he fell deathly ill, promising his wife that he was going to quit Hasbro and concentrate on his true passion: poker. He recovered indeed and quickly began playing both online and live poker quite often. In fact, Neuville earned the nickname “The Serial Qualifier” due to winning prize packages to 23 straight European Poker Tour Main Events.

The result has been a fantastic poker career in which Neuville has earned over $2.2 million playing live tournaments. Counting the $1 million that he’s guaranteed in the 2015 Main Event, the Belgian will have at least over $3.2 million when November comes. And given all of the live poker experience that he’s racked up in recent years, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Neuville earn several million dollars.

Connor Berkowitz wins First-ever WSOP $777 Lucky Sevens Tournament

July 7th, 2015

connor-berkowitz-2015-wsopYet another low buy-in tourney on the 2015 WSOP schedule, the $777 Lucky Sevens tournament attracted 4,422 players. This is the first time in the event’s history that the Lucky Sevens tourney has been held, and it was a huge success after generating a $3,095,400 prize pool.

Despite a large amount of amateurs in this event, poker pro Connor Berkowitz emerged victorious with a $487,784 payout. And what’s really impressive about this is that it was just Berkowitz’s second WSOP event ever.

“This is like a dream for me,” he said of the victory. “I’m speechless. I literally don’t know what to say other than this is a dream come true. It’s every poker player’s dream.”

Just a few years ago, the 25-year-old graduated from the College of New Jersey. And he started working for Chase Bank out of college. However, earlier this year he decided to quit at Chase and try to make a full-time living out of online poker. It certainly seems that the decision paid off when one considers the size of the payout that he’ll be bringing home.

Following the tournament, Berkowitz made sure to thank everyone who supported him throughout Event #66 of the 2015 WSOP. “To all my friends and family who are watching, that was huge to me,” said Berkowitz. “Knowing they were rooting for me really made me want to win even more. Like I said, this is an absolute dream.”

One other interesting final table story from Event #66 was Matt Matros, who became famous after winning a gold bracelet in three consecutive years (2010-12). However, Matros has since gone through a WSOP dry spell, with this being his first final table in three years.

2015 WSOP Event #66 Lucky Sevens Final Table Results
1. Connor Berkowitz – $487,784
2. John Armbrust – $301,6153
3. David Yu – $217,173
4. Jeffrey Dobrin – $160,496
5. Faraz Jaka – $119,606
6. John Gallaher – $89,890
7. John Zimmerman – $68,098
8. Matt Matros – $52,033
9. Massimo Mosele – $40,085

Kevin MacPhee wins 2015 WSOP $5,000 NLHE Turbo

July 1st, 2015

2015-wsop-kevin-macpheeEntering the 2015 WSOP, Kevin MacPhee had earned over $3.6 million in live tournament winnings; but up until now, the one thing that had escaped him was a gold bracelet. The good thing is that MacPhee can now lay claim to this accomplishment after winning the 2015 WSOP $5,000 NLHE Turbo event along with $490,800.

Despite being a $5k buy-in tourney, Event #56 drew plenty of interest with 456 players entering. This turbo event saw 30-minute levels in Day 1 and 40-minute levels in Day 2, as compared to the standard 60-minute levels in WSOP tournaments. Despite featuring a quicker format, it still took two full days to decide a champion, which, at one point, looked like it would be Pascal Theodosiadis.

Theodosiadis had two of his final three opponents all-in and could have knocked them out if he’d called with his pocket queens. Instead, the American chose to fold and wait for a better spot since he had the chip advantage. That better spot never came as MacPhee started to work on Theodosiadis’ stack, with the latter eventually going out in third.

This left MacPhee facing the Ukraine’s Igor Yaroshevskyy heads-up, with both players’ rails going crazy. “It’s all in good fun and it doesn’t rattle me at all. I know that everyone is just trying to have a good time,” said MacPhee. The Ukrainian rail certainly wasn’t enough to throw MacPhee off as he cruised towards the title and his first gold bracelet.

“I am pretty used to the format. I play a lot of turbos online,” he said. “I use my push fold calculators very methodically when I play online, so for me I feel like it’s a pretty good event, said MacPhee about the turbo event.”

With the victory and $491k prize, MacPhee now runs his live tournament winnings to an impressive $4.1 million.

2015 WSOP Event #56 $5,000 NLHE Turbo Final Table
1. Kevin MacPhee – $490,800
2. Igor Yaroshevskyy – $303,767
3. Pascal Theodosiadis – $201,878
4. Eric Sfez – $149,814
5. Scott Vener – $112,429
6. Tristan Wade – $85,202
7. Hung Tran – $65,144
8. Joshua Field – $50,208
9. Martin Kozlov – $38,984

Alexander Petersen wins 2015 WSOP PLO Championship – Beats Jason Mercier Heads Up

July 1st, 2015

alexander-petersen-wsopAlthough Alexander Petersen has been grinding in online poker for 11 years, he’s yet to establish himself as a big name on the live tournament circuit. But you can expect this to change after his huge victory in the 2015 WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship.

Petersen battled through a 387-player field that included some of the toughest pros the game has to offer. He also fought through a difficult final table that included the likes of Dan Smith (3rd, $369.5k), Davidi Kitai (7th, $111k) and Shaun Deeb (8th, $85k). By the time he made it to the heads-up portion, Petersen was facing a 3-to-1 chip deficit to Jason Mercier.

As for Mercier, he looked well on his way to his second gold bracelet of the 2015 WSOP. However, Petersen had other plans, quickly doubling up through Mercier and making this a much closer contest. It wasn’t too much later before the Dane had his better-known opponent all-in; the cards Mercier needed never came, which left Petersen with the PLO Championship, his first bracelet and a $927,655 payout.

“In poker, you get out what you put into it,” said Petersen after the victory. “I used to play my favorite hands and all that, then I started learning that if you studied and got really good, you could make a living at this. I’ve been making my living at poker for more than ten years now.”

The only downside to this huge win for Petersen is that he won’t get to keep as much money as you’d think from the $927.6k haul. “Where I live (in Denmark), we have to pay a lot of taxes, something like 55 percent,” he explained. “So, after I pay taxes on this money, it means I really came in second.”

Nevertheless, this is a payout that the Dane would gladly take, and the PLO win figures to make him far more famous in the live tournament circle.

2015 WSOP $10k PLO Omaha Championship Final Table
1. Alexander Petersen – $927,655
2. Jason Mercier – $572,989
3. Dan Smith – $369,564
4. Simon Trumper – $267,778
5. Mohsin Virani – $196,877
6. Sven Reichardt – $146,857
7. Davidi Kitai – $111,134
8. Shaun Deeb – $85,306
9. Hasan Habib – $66,426

Eli Elezra wins 2015 WSOP Event #48 Seven Card Stud

June 26th, 2015

2015-wsop-eli-elezraIn a game that’s becoming increasingly dominated by players who worry more about four-betting ranges than table banter, Eli Elezra is a nice throwback to poker’s older days. But that’s not to say this chatty poker pro can’t still play, as he proved by winning a 2015 WSOP $1.5k Seven Card Stud tournament. Elezra picked up a $112,591 payout and his third-career bracelet for topping the 237-player field in Event #47.

“This one was really special to me,” Elezra said afterward. “It’s the game many of us grew up on and it’s played by the most experienced players. When I won the Deuce-to-Seven (in 2013) that was very nice, but I really take extra pride in this one because so many well-known players have won it before me.”

This victory will be even more memorable to Elezra since he had to come from behind to win. He found himself in difficult situations throughout the tournament, particularly when he was down in chip to his heads-up opponent, Benjamin Lazer. However, as he’s done many times in his career, Elezra found a way to battle back and grab the victory.

And all along the way, the Jerusalem native found time to chat with his opponents and keep a friendly nature, even when he was struggling. So it’s little surprise that his passion for poker spilled over into his post-tournament interview.

“I really love this game,” said Elezra. “Poker has been such a big part of my life. I know so many good people in it. This time, I had my wife with me and my son, who just turned 21. So, having him here with me for the first time when I won make this one really special to me.”

2015 WSOP Event #47 $1,500 Seven Card Stud Final Table
1. Eli Elezra – $112,591
2. Benjamin Lazer – $69,532
3. Allen Cunningham – $44,846
4. Gylbert Drolet – $32,495
5. Kenn Wittock – $23,891
6. Byron Ziebell – $17,821
7. Jean Gaspard – $13,486
8. Matt Grapenthien – $10,352
9. Barry Bindelglass – $8,060