Ian Johns Gets 2nd Bracelet in $10k Limit Hold’em

June 20th, 2016

ian-johns-wsopIan Johns has won his second gold bracelet in the 2016 WSOP after taking down the $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. Johns topped a 110-player field to win Event #28 along with $290,635.

What’s impressive about the 31-year-old’s multiple victories is that he doesn’t even play many tournaments. Johns is a cash game pro who splits time between the Pacific Northwest and Las Vegas.

“I’m ecstatic. It’s so far out there,” Johns said of his accomplishment. “I don’t even play in that many tournaments. I never dreamed of it. I never even thought about it.”

The long-time cash pro got his first victory in the Event #8: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, collecting $212,604 for the win. Then he added a second bracelet 20 events later, becoming the only other player besides Jason Mercier to win two bracelets this summer.

“I think it has to do more with someone playing their best,” Johns said regarding multi-bracelet winners. “This time, I was so focused. It was at a level that I’ve never reached before where I was so in tune with what was going on. It’s kind of surreal, really. My mind was locked in – that’s the bigger reason why I think there are repeats.”

The win puts Johns in third place in the running for 2016 WSOP Player of the Year. He has 912 points, compared to Mercier’s 1,195 points and Ryan LaPlante’s 933 points. Despite how well he’s doing, Johns doesn’t plan to enter as many tournaments as Mercier and other pros.

But even if he doesn’t win another bracelet or the POY award, Johns will have had an outstanding WSOP.

For his career, Johns now has over $1.15 million in live tournament winnings along with 3 gold bracelets. His first bracelet came in a 2006 WSOP $3,000 Limit Hold’em event.

2016 WSOP $10k Limit Hold’em Championship
1. Ian Johns – $290,635
2. Sean Berrios – $179,625
3. Alexander Balynskiy – $125,571
4. David Chiu – $89,810
5. Jeff Thompson – $65,752
6. Bill Chen – $49,304
7. Brock Parker – $37,888
8. Brian Rast – $29,855
9. Anh Van Nguyen – $24,140

Jason Mercier Wins 2nd Bracelet in 2016 WSOP HORSE

June 18th, 2016

jason-mercier-2-braceletsWe’re not even halfway through the 2016 WSOP, but we already have our first multi-bracelet winner. Jason Mercier grabbed his second bracelet by beating out a 171-player field in the $10,000 HORSE Championship.

This victory has a lot of implications for Mercier since it not only paid him $422,874, but also gives him five gold bracelets in his career. Beyond this, it also sets him up to win $1.8 million from Vanessa Selbst if he gets one more WSOP win this summer.

Prior to the 2016 WSOP, Selbst gave Mercier 180:1 odds that he wouldn’t win 3 gold bracelets. Given that Jeffrey Lisandro (2013) is the only player to accomplish this feat in over a decade, it seemed like a pretty safe bet for Selbst when Mercier put up $10,000. But now that he’s only one bracelet away from winning $1.8 million with over 40 events left, Selbst has to be sweating.

Aside from winning two events so far – including the Event #16: 2-7 Draw Lowball event – Mercier also finished second in the Event #20: $10k Seven Card Razz tournament.

Given Mercier’s run, it’s strange to think that he was actually struggling leading up to this event.

“I can’t explain it. Before this (year’s WSOP), I bricked like 30 tournaments in a row,” said Mercier. “I forgot how many it’s been. I also bricked the first nine WSOP events. Oh, but then I finished first, second, and first. That kinda’ makes up for it.”

As for his chances of taking down a third 2016 WSOP tournament, Mercier sees some possibilities, although he admits that it’ll be tough.

“I got to get to the final table first, but there are so many big tournaments left that have big field sizes,” he said. “They will have small fields that I think I will have an edge in. I haven’t even played a PLO event: I will have a great chance in those. There will be a lot of buzz and hopefully my friends will be around and I’ll get to take it down.”

Jason Mercier Wins 2016 WSOP $10k Lowball and Big Prop Bets

June 14th, 2016

jason-mercier-wsop-braceletJason Mercier has won his fourth-career gold bracelet after taking down the 2016 WSOP $10k 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship along with $273,335. The Florida native beat out a 100-player field en route to the bracelet win, and survived a heads-up match with Canadian pro Michael Watson.

With the win, Mercier becomes the 39th player to earn at least four gold bracelets. His career tournament winnings now sit at $16.7 million, which ranks 11th all time.

Beyond prize money and accolades, what’s really exciting for Mercier is that his bracelet win has earned him a boatload of money on WSOP prop bets. Before the 2016 WSOP began, he tweeted the following offers:

“Looking to get 3 to 1 on winning a bracelet this WSOP (Vegas only) any takers? Lmk, will need escrow / post if I don’t know u well etc”

“Oh I’ll also do myself vs any player to win a bracelet … Will cap the action on certain players, but everyone is avail at 1st”

Mercier has already earned one gold bracelet, which has won him the 3:1 prop bet. But he has even more action riding on his ability to win a second and third bracelet.

“If I can win another (gold bracelet) really quick, it would be a sick sweat the rest of the series,” he said. “Now, I’m free rolling the next year.”

Mercier again brought up prop bets when asked by the WSOP media about where this bracelet win ranks in his career.

“I’d say this was the second best of the four,” he said. “The first one you get is always the most special. But I have been wanting to win this event for a long time and to get here against this kind of field was really nice. It also helps that I had lots of side action riding on winning a bracelet this year.”

With over 50 events still left to go, it’ll be interesting to see if Mercier can add another bracelet or two.

Paul Volpe Wins Second WSOP Bracelet in 8-Game Mix

June 13th, 2016

paul-volpe-wsopTwo years ago, Paul Volpe won his first gold bracelet in a 2014 WSOP 2-7 Lowball tournament. And now, he’s added a second bracelet after taking down the 2016 WSOP $1,500 Eight Game Mix event.

Volpe beat out a field of 491 players en route to the first-place prize of $149,943. The payout pushes Volpe’s winnings to $4.9 million, which is what he thinks about the most when it comes to WSOP victories.

“With me, poker is mostly about the money,” said Volpe. “I know with the World Series of Poker there’s so much history and I respect that. But I am here mainly to earn a living, make money, and support my family. For the most part, I love getting gold bracelets. But I’m here mainly to make a living.”

Nevertheless, this victory has to be sweet for the Pennsylvania poker pro because he’s had a number of close calls since winning in 2014. He’s since made 6 more final tables, including runner-up finishes to Shaun Deeb in a $10k Pot-Limit Omaha tourney and Keith Lehr ($10k Heads-Up NLHE).

Despite ending his string of near wins, the 35-year-old feels like the first win was more special.

“Honestly, the first win was more meaningful,” he said.“It was on such a bigger stage because it was heads-up versus (Daniel) Negreanu. There were so many more people sweating that one. But this is also special because it’s Eight-Game Mix, which is very hard to do. So, this one means a lot, but in a different way.”

Amateur player Jason Stockfish finished second place in this tourney and looked like he could win at times. But he couldn’t overcome Volpe in the end and settled for the $92,638 second-place payout.

2016 WSOP $1,500 Eight Game Mix Final Table
1. Paul Volpe (USA) – $149,943
2. Jason Stockfish (USA) – $92,638
3. Ronald Ware (USA) – $60,882
4. Benjamin Ludlow (USA) – $40,911
5. Tony Lazar (USA) – $28,123
6. Gavin Smith (Canada) – $19,787
7. Bart Lybaert (Belgium) – $14,257
8. Tommy Coker (USA) – $14,257

Chris Moorman Signs with 888poker

June 12th, 2016

chris-moorman-pokerChris Moorman is the greatest online-poker tournament player of all time, having amassed $13,379,398 in winnings. 888poker recognizes this incredible accomplishment and has inked Moorman to a new deal.

“888 is doing big things and really is working hard to expand their reach in poker,” said Moorman. “Things like sponsoring the WSOP and the Super High Roller Bowl have shown they are committed to their growth of the brand and I can’t wait to see what they have coming up in the future.”

This isn’t the first time that Moorman has had a sponsorship deal because he signed with DoylesRoom in 2009. In contrast to many online poker sites at the time, which had live tournament stars representing them, DoylesRoom began signing online stars, including Moorman.

Unfortunately, Black Friday struck and forced DoylesRoom to make major changes. The site eventually got rid of sponsored players like Moorman and sold out to a company that rebranded it into Americas Cardroom.

888 bringing Moorman aboard makes sense because they attract many British players, and the 30-year-old is also from the UK. Beyond his residency, Moorman has dominated the online poker record books in both winnings and PocketFives’ Triple Crowns (25).

It doesn’t hurt that Moorman has also been really successful in live tourneys, earning over $4.1 million and winning the 2014 WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event ($1,015,460). Now, he joins Dominik Nitsche, Jeff Gross, Kara Scott and Sofia Lovgren.

“They are all great players and ambassadors of the game,” Moorman said. “Also they all gave such a warm welcome to the team and I am excited to represent the site alongside them.”

Now signed to 888poker, we can expect to see Moorman grinding in more of their tournaments in the future. We should also see him in plenty of live tourneys with the 888 patch.

Daniel Negreanu solves Poker Debate: New vs Old School Players

May 27th, 2016

daniel-negreanu-pokerstarsOne of the most-frequently discussed topics that we’ve heard over the last 6-8 years is how much better current poker pros are compared to those in the 1990s and before. Few would argue that the average pro today is better than old school grinders simply because poker strategy is so widely available. But Daniel Negreanu, who’s one of the few pros who’ve grinded in both eras, has a much-different perspective on the subject.

Negreanu doesn’t deny that modern players have more skill than earlier pros. But he also stresses that it was harder to make a living playing poker in the 90s and before. In fact, Negreanu believes that many of today’s pros wouldn’t have made it in poker back then because of the game’s conditions. Here’s one telling excerpt from his blog post:

“Doyle pointed out on Twitter that people who were drawn to being professional poker players in the old days did so because of the absence of any really good options in their lives. Most were not educated. Most were not qualified to get good mainstream jobs. Professional poker players back in those days were hustlers finding a way to make it in the world. For people like the guys I mentioned, they are educated and have all kinds of opportunities to get good jobs in the real world.

“The existence of online poker is what made this lifestyle accessible to young, brilliant, educated young people who saw an opportunity to make an ‘easy living’ from the comfort of their own home. I don’t think any of the three guys I mentioned would have been professional poker players in the 90’s! Again, not because they weren’t capable, but mostly because it would have been a bad decision. Professional poker players were misfits in that era. Hustlers, that were smart enough to find a way to survive in life despite limited options in terms of valid career choices.

“The reason this whole topic came up in the first place was a general feeling that there was a lack of appreciation for the level of skill and intuition that professional pokers of the 90’s and before had. This idea that, “If I could have played in that era I would have crushed the games.” No, you probably wouldn’t have. The learning that would have been available to you back then doesn’t resemble today in the least. The best players in that era, were just amazing poker players. The best players of today are amazing poker players.”

This is just the conclusion to a post that outlines the following five reasons why old-school poker pros deserve respect:

– Players saw a lower volume of hands because online poker didn’t exist.
– Players’ learning curve occurred on the table; not through watching low-priced training videos and reading articles.
– The game selection wasn’t great in the 90s and beforehand.
– Atlantic City, California and Las Vegas were the only viable options for being a poker pro.
– There were very few study tools back in this era.

Negreanu really does a good job of destroying the common thinking that, “I would’ve crushed the games back then.”

Again, Negreanu isn’t saying that old-school pros were more skilled. But respect should be given for the conditions they persevered through to become successful players.

Soulja Boy claims $400m World Poker Fund Sponsorship

May 24th, 2016

soulja-boy-poker-fundLast year, there was talk that rapper Soulja Boy was involved with a startup called World Poker Fund Holdings. And this week, Soulja Boy confirmed the online poker sponsorship while valuing the partnership at $400 million.

Obviously this is an outrageous sum, especially for a rapper not named Drake. So the social media world immediately jumped on this in disbelief. And it turns out that any doubters were right as the details of Soulja Boy’s arrangement have been cleared up.

World Poker Fund spokesman Matthew Bird explained to HypeBeast that Soulja Boy was initially mistaken and the deal is capped at $400 million – not worth this amount.

Here’s a look at what he said:

“He really kind of jumped the gun. The deal is capped at $400 million, and it’s based on a forward-thinking valuation of the company. He’s young, he’s 25 years old. He got really excited, and he tweeted something he probably shouldn’t have tweeted. He was getting a lot of pressure from within the entertainment community, so he wanted to put a statement out. Obviously, the company’s market cap is at $51.8 million. There’s no way they could cut a $400 million deal. Endorsement deals are calculated on a lot of different factors. This is not a fully cash transaction.”

Soulja Boy has been somewhat quiet on the music scene ever since rising to stardom with his first big hit Soulja Boy Tellem. But what’s most attractive about this rapper is his social media following, which sits at 15 million followers.

It’s likely that Soulja Boy won’t be the only celebrity signed to World Poker Fund Holdings because the gaming company is partly owned by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Justin Bieber. With this kind of star power behind the brand, they should have no trouble continuing to find celebrities to hawk their brand.

Howard Lederer apologizes for Full Tilt Fiasco

May 20th, 2016

howard-lederer-full-tiltEver since Full Tilt Poker failed to ring-fence player deposits and customers couldn’t withdraw their money, there’s been a lack of accountability among the site’s previous owners. Howard Lederer was the most-visible of the four owners, doing a multi-part interview series called the “Lederer Files.”

During the Lederer Files, Howard never fully came out and apologized for any of the harm that he caused his customers. Instead, he spent most of the interviews deflecting blame and trying to make up excuses for why Full Tilt was unable to pay players back following Black Friday.

Well, it may be 5 years late, but Lederer has finally owned up to his mistakes as one of the owners of Full Tilt. This, of course, won’t reverse time and hasten the years that players had to wait on their money. But it’s nice that he fessed up to what he’s done wrong.

Interestingly enough, Daniel Negreanu, one of Lederer’s most-vocal critics, posted the apology on his Full Contact Poker website. Here’s one excerpt from the apology:

“I am writing to apologize to everyone in the poker community, especially to all the players who had money on Full Tilt Poker on April 15, 2011. When Full Tilt Poker closed in 2011, there was a shortfall in funds, a distressed sale to recover those funds, and a long delay in repaying players. Throughout this period, there was little explanation for the delay, and no apology. Players felt lied to. They trusted the site, and they trusted me, and I didn’t live up to that trust.

“I take full responsibility for Full Tilt’s failure to protect player deposits leading up to Black Friday. The shortfall in player deposits should never have happened. I should have provided better oversight or made sure that responsible others provided that oversight. I was a founder in the company that launched Full Tilt, and I became the face of the company’s management in the poker community. Many of our players played on the site because they trusted me.”

Lederer spends the rest of the apology discussing how, even though he was no longer in charge of Full Tilt’s day-to-day operations, he bears some blame for not being more involved in the process.

As for Negreanu, he stresses how this was the apology that people needed 5 years ago. He continues to say, however, that he won’t bear a grudge against Lederer any longer. Negreanu also writes that Lederer playing poker again doesn’t bother him, but he can’t speak for every other player.

Rock Climber uses Poker to pay for Climbing

May 17th, 2016

rock-climber-pokerThe life of a professional rock climber is not a glamorous one. Just ask André DiFelice, who actually has to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 per year to do the sport that he loves. So how does DiFelice cover this bill? Through live and online poker, which is helping him make a good living while he climbs.

The Canadian-born poker pro wanted to be a professional climber ever since he was 8 years old. And he followed in his brother’s footsteps, who’s also a pro rock climber and part-time poker player.

Unfortunately, DiFelice has undergone some injuries that have forced him to stop climbing for a while. In fact, just recently he tore a tendon in his right arm that left him unable to even grab a cup. But the silver lining here is that it gave him a chance to earn more money through poker.

“You can become injured when you climb too much. Or when you play too much poker, maybe you start not playing so well and that can go downhill very fast,” he told Vice Sports.

“So now that I have two and I’m focused on both, they both seem to be going very well. Basically I’m always motivated to do both. I don’t burn out.”

This balance has really worked in DiFelice’s favor in 2016 since he’s already made six figures through online poker tournaments. He’s also had some decent scores in live tournaments, helping him rack up $60k so far.

When he’s not playing poker or injured from climbing, DiFelice goes to the gym with his brother to train for “bouldering,” a specific niche in rock climbing. The training is like indoor rock climbing that anybody can pay to do, only in this case the climbs are a lot tougher.

Through his training, DiFelice hopes to have a good showing at the 2016 European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monaco. And all along the way, he’ll be playing poker as well to fund the trip.

Russian Online Poker Players could be Fined

May 13th, 2016

tatarstan-online-pokerJust recently, we discussed the widespread popularity of online poker in Russia. In fact, polls show that at least 16 percent of Russians are currently playing online poker. However, this might soon end thanks to budding legislation that would fine certain Russians who play the game.

The bill comes out of the Tatarstan region (pop. 3.8 million), which features a good number of poker players. Rafil Nugumanov, a Tatarstan State Council member who’s sponsoring the legislation, believes that his region has a gambling problem coupled with too many operators.

So his bill calls for anybody caught playing internet poker in 2017 and beyond to pay a fine worth 10k or more Rubles ($150 and up).

More fines would be placed on the families of underage gamblers (5,000 Ruples and up) in addition to landlords who allow online poker on their properties (150,000 Ruples).

One important thing to stress is that the legislation is only being discussed right now. However, if passed, it would definitely hurt the game in Tatarstan. It could even encourage more Russian states to pass anti-online poker bills.

Internet poker is already supposed to be illegal in Russia, but this hasn’t stopped anybody from playing. The current model gives the government the ability to block poker sites. However, these sites can also contest the decision, which weakens the supposed ban.

Considering the game’s illegality, some players have hoped that the government would just regulate online poker. And there has been a fair amount of talk in the Kremlin about doing so. But at this point, none of these talks have resulted in anything concrete.

2016 saw a law proposed that would make poker a skill game in Russia. But again, this legislation has just been sitting in government channels and not moving anywhere.

Assuming Tatarstan does pass their bill, it would hurt the chances of legalizing online poker or at least classifying it as a skill game.