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

Daniel Idema wins Third Bracelet in 2015 WSOP Event #35 HORSE

June 21st, 2015

daniel-idema-2015-wsop-horseWinning three WSOP gold bracelets is certainly no easy feat, so Daniel Idema can certainly be proud that he’s joined the three-bracelet club after taking first in the 2015 WSOP $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. The Vancouver native topped a 376-player field to win Event #35 along with a $261,774 payout.

“I really like this format of mixed limit games,” Idema said of his H.O.R.S.E. prowess. “You don’t see that many players play all the games well, so I think this is suited to someone who has tried to develop in all of them, as I have.”

This isn’t just the 30-year-old being cocky – he’s actually proven his mastery of different poker games by winning bracelets in Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo and, now, H.O.R.S.E.

It certainly helped matters that, along with his versatile poker skills, Idema also ran good during the final table. In fact, it took him just one and a half hours to dispatch his final two opponents, Kevin Iacofano (3rd, $104,280) and Matt Vengrin (2nd, $161,680).

“It was amazing, every time I looked down in the last stages, I had a good hand,” Idema explained. “My rush came at just the right time. I got hit by the deck against a very strong opponent.”

Formerly a professional hockey player in the Netherlands, Idema definitely seems to have settled down in the right profession with his third gold bracelet. Beyond his WSOP victories, the Canadian also has over $2.1 million in live poker winnings, which is quite good for somebody who’s only been playing live tourneys since 2007.

2015 WSOP Event #35 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. Final Table Results
1. Daniel Idema – $261,774
2. Matt Vengrin – $161,680
3. Kevin Iacofano – $104,280
4. John Racener – $75,559
5. Iakov Nepomnyashchiy – $55,553
6. Paul Sexton – $41,438
7. Randy Ohel – $31,358
8. Taylor Paur – $24,070
9. David Oppenheim – $18,743

Franco Ivan Luca wins 2015 WSOP Event #30 – First Champ from Argentina

June 18th, 2015

franco-ivan-luca-2015-wsopArgentina is not exactly known as a poker-champion factory; in fact, they’ve never even had a WSOP winner. But that all changed in the 2015 WSOP Event #30 tournament, with Argentina’s Franco Ivan Luca winning a $1k NL Hold’em event along with $353,391.

Luca definitely picked a good tourney to make his country proud in since he faced off against a massive field of 2,150 players. He also battled through a very competitive final table that dragged on for hours. Luca’s head-up battle against Artur Rudziankov was no different, with play lasting an extra day because of this see-saw affair. But in the end, the 23-year-old emerged victorious along with a bracelet in his first-ever trip to the WSOP.

Despite never having been to the world’s biggest poker event before this year, Luca is definitely well versed in the game. He started playing online poker as a teenager, then, upon turning 21, he moved to Italy and began playing in EPT tourneys. And just recently, Luca decided that he’s earned enough money through live and online poker to take a stab at the 2015 WSOP.

“I took it very steady, one step at a time,” he said through a translater. “I built my bankroll. This was the first year I had enough money and confidence to take a shot at the WSOP.”

It’s a guarantee that Luca is happy over his decision to travel to Las Vegas and compete on poker’s biggest stage. And with over half of the 68 tournaments still left to play, it’ll be interesting to see what else Luca can do now that he’s here.

2015 WSOP Event #30 $1k NLHE Final Table Results
1. Franco Ivan Luca – $353,391
2. Artur Rudziankov – $219,976
3. Travis Case – $152,907
4. Pierre Horaud – $110,123
5. Bruce Angeski – $80,485
6. David Chase – $59,538
7. Viliyan Petleshkov – $44,622
8. Kai Yang – $33,868
9. Omri Sabach – $26,008

Phil Galfond wins 2015 WSOP 2-7 Draw Lowball

June 16th, 2015

phil-galfond-2015-wsop-draw-lowballIt’s been eight years, but Phil Galfond finally got his second gold bracelet, winning the 2015 WSOP $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship. Galfond beat an extremely talented 77-player field to win the $224,383 top payout.

“It means a lot — especially in a field this tough and at a table this tough,” said Galfond. “I have a ton of respect for all my opponents […] It’s been seven years since I won [a bracelet]. I’m very happy.”

The last time that Galfond won at the WSOP was in 2008, when he got a bracelet in the $5,000 Omaha event, collecting $817,781 in the process. That final table featured greats like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and John Juanda. So it should be no surprise that the final table he faced this time around was equally as tough.

Jorryt van Hoof, Bernard Lee, Eli Elezra, Erik Siedel and Dan Smith all made final table runs. And Galfond’s heads-up opponent was Nick Schulman, who was seeking his third-career win in this very event. However, Schulman came up short in second place, taking $138,665 for the runner-up finish.

“When we were shorthanded, everybody’s so good,” said Galfond, while reflecting on the difficult final table. “Normally in tournaments you tend to sort of shy away from spots because there are going to be better situations to get your money in […] When I was heads up with [Schulman], I’m going to take every spot that presents itself. There’s no huge edge later. Just try to play every hand as best you can.”

With this victory, Phil Galfond now has over $2.3 million in live tournament winnings to go along with the $8 million that he’s won in online poker cash games.

2015 WSOP $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Final Table Results
1. Phil Galfond – $224,383
2. Nick Schulman – $138,665
3. Dan Smith – $87,898
4. Erik Seidel – $59,532
5. Jon Turner – $42,298
6. Eli Elezra – $31,463
7. Adam Owen – $24,457
8. Bernard Lee – $19,824
9. Jorryt van Hoof – $17,067

“Poker Enthusiast” Sam Greenwood wins 2015 WSOP $1k NL Hold’em

June 13th, 2015

sam-greenwood-2015-wsop-nlheAlthough Sam Greenwood has over $1.4 million in live tournament winnings and frequently plays online poker, he doesn’t call himself a pro, but rather a poker enthusiast. And Greenwood will likely be much more enthusiastic about winning the 2015 WSOP Event #2 $1,000 NL Hold’em tournament along with $318,977.

This was no easy task for the Toronto native since he had to battle through a giant 1,915-player field to win this event. And Greenwood definitely felt like it was his night based on the way his hands were going. “Things really worked out for me tonight,” he said. “I won most of my pre-flop all-in raises, my made hands got paid off – that’s what it takes to win one of these.”

For a while, it seemed as if second-place finisher Cole Jackson was the player to beat since he held the final-table chip lead for quite some time. However, he couldn’t hang during heads-up play against Greenwood and eventually settled for second and a $197,254 payout.

As for Greenwood, he discussed his view on poker following the win. “I really wouldn’t call myself a poker pro,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m not really sure what I am or what I want to do. I just hope poker gives me enough of a steady income to do something later on.”

Many poker pros, or rather enthusiasts, have used the game as a springboard for other professions later in life. And given that Greenwood just netted another $319k, he should have no trouble transitioning to a new pursuit later on in life.

2015 WSOP $1,000 NLHE Final Table
1. Sam Greenwood – $318,977
2. Cole Jackson – $197,254
3. Ken Weinstein – $136,380
4. James Dorrance – $98,360
5. John Myung – $71,904
6. Sean Rice – $53,256
7. Aaron Belardo – $39,967
8. Robert Hsu – $30,385
9. Jay Dragland – $23,387

John Gale wins First 2015 WSOP Bracelet for Brits

June 10th, 2015

john-gale-wsopIt’s been a sad year for British poker, with the passing of Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott. However, John Gale has now given Brits something to cheer about with his victory at the 2015 WSOP.

Gale, who’s amassed over $3.6 million in poker winnings, topped a giant field of 1,791 players to win the $1,000 Turbo Hold’em event. He scooped a $298,290 payout along with his second-career gold bracelet. His first bracelet win came in a 2006 WSOP $2,500 PL Hold’em tournament ($374,849). “It is still incredible,” Gale said after the victory. “I cannot believe it, I am over the moon.”

Interestingly enough, Gale has not played much poker at the WSOP over the past few years. In fact, he hadn’t cashed in a WSOP tournament since 2007. But that’s definitely changed for the 61-year-old retiree, who now has two cashes through the first 18 events of the 2015 WSOP.

Now that Gale has won a bracelet for the Brits, it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep adding to this total. Last year saw England win just one bracelet (John Kabbaj, O8/Stud 8 event), which is strange when considering that they’ve won 31 total bracelets in WSOP history.

As for the Turbo Hold’em tournament, this event featured 30-minute blind levels on Day 1 and 40-minute blind levels on Day 2. This made for a quicker structure than live players are used to, but it also created some really quick action as well. This Turbo Hold’em event was preceded by a Hyper Hold’em tourney that had an even faster structure at 20-minute levels.

2015 WSOP $1,000 Turbo NLHE Final Table
1st: John Gale – $298,290
2nd: Gary Luther – $184,481
3rd: Matthew Vessier – $127,549
4th: Andrew “Bruce” Le – $91,991
5th: Stuart Rutter – $67,248
6th: Nitesh Rawtani – $49,807
7th: Mark Darner – $37,379
8th: Sean Rice – $28,417
9th: Tim Finne – $21,873

Shaun Deeb wins 2015 WSOP $10k PL Hold’em

June 7th, 2015

shaun-deeb-wsop-braceletShaun Deeb has been playing live poker for almost a decade, but until now, he’s been known as one of the greatest players never to win a gold bracelet. Well, that all changed in the 2015 WSOP $10k Pot-Limit Hold’em Champion, as Deeb battled through a 128-player field to win his first bracelet and $318,857.

Deeb, who now has $2.85 million in live winnings and $6 million in online poker winnings, entered the final table as one of the shorter stacks. And it didn’t help matters that he was competing against players like Jason Les, Greg Merson, Jason Koon, Dario Sammartino and Paul Volpe at the final table.

“This was one of the toughest final tables I’ve ever played against,” said Deeb. “This was the second time I’ve made the final in this $10K PLHE event, and to come out on top against these caliber of players was just great. It was really special to get this against Paul (Volpe), because we play together all the time. I know he wanted to win, but to get my first against him was just amazing the way it all happened.”

Vople served as Deeb’s heads-up opponent in what was a match between two very skilled players. However, Volpe, who’d finished second in Event #10 just days earlier, had to settle for second place once again in the $10k PL Hold’em Championship.

With the victory, Deeb can now add a WSOP gold bracelet to his lengthy list of accomplishments in the game. “This is the biggest stage of all, where it’s at in poker, and where you have to win to prove yourself,” he said. “I wanted to cross this off my bucket list for quite some time, and I finally took it down.”

2015 WSOP $10,000 PL Hold’em Final Table
1. Shaun Deeb – $318,857
2. Paul Volpe – $197,048
3. Jason Les – $142,747
4. Sam Stein – $105,364
5. Greg Merson – $79,182
6. Dario Sammartino – $60,545
7. Kristijonas Andrulis – $47,081
8. Ismael Bojang – $37,227
9. Jason Koon – $29,911

Real Estate Broker William Kakon wins 2015 WSOP $1.5k Limit Hold’em Championship

June 5th, 2015

william-kakon-wsop-champWilliam Kakon has been going to Las Vegas for years on vacation to play in the World Series of Poker. And this year, his vacation turned into a victory in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Championship, along with a $196,055 payout.

Kakon, who’s a real estate broker and healthcare professional, topped a 660-player field to win this low buy-in tournament. And it appears that his experience with Limit Hold’em is a big reason why he was able to triumph here.

“I’m very familiar with this game, so I really do feel comfortable playing it,” he said. “It’s harder to find now in casinos, so I try to make an effort to (play them at the WSOP).”

It’s believed that Kakon, a native of Casablanca, Morocco, is the first Moroccan-born player to win a gold bracelet. And this only adds to an already interesting background, that’s seen the married 38-year-old live all over the world.

He moved from Casablanca to Paris at age 18, then New York, Los Angeles, Paris (again), and to his family’s current residence of Miami. Aside from his vagabond lifestyle, Kakon has also been in the top 1% of real estate brokers in the United States for six straight years, and he recently opened a business in the healthcare field.

“I’m a very competitive person,” he explained. “If it’s business or poker, I just play to win all the time.” Well, it’s pretty obvious that Kakon is a very competitive person when you consider that he plays for WSOP gold bracelets – and wins them – on his supposed vacations!

Although overshadowed by Kakon’s James-Bond-like lifestyle, there were some other famous players who made a run at this bracelet, including Shannon Shorr (5th), Brandon Cantu (7th) and Alexander Kostritsyn (9th).

2015 WSOP $1,500 Limit Hold’em Championship Final Table
1. William Kakon – $196,055
2. Daniel Needleman – $121,051
3. Mike Lancaster – $78,693
4. Bryan Pimlott – $57,799
5. Shannon Shorr – $43,053
6. Kevin Song – $32,485
7. Brandon Cantu – $24,796
8. Hector Contreras – $19,138
9. Alexander Kostritsyn – $14,924