Another First-Time Bracelet Winner Makes a Mark

June 29, 2014

Event #24 $5K NLH 6 Handed saw Kevin Eyster win his first WSOP bracelet after 37 overall major poker tournament cashes and a paycheck of more than $622K. Originally from Louisiana, but now living in Denver, Eyster has seen a great deal of success over the past seven years that defines his professional poker career. Now he adds one of the most prominent badges of poker success, a WSOP gold bracelet.

Outlasting 540 fellow players, Eyster managed to come out as chip leader after two and half days of grueling competition, which he lost late in the third day to Pierre Neuville, who ultimately finished runner up against Eyster after an unscheduled fourth day was added.

“This is what I’ve been dreaming about for my whole life,” said Eyster after winning. ”This is what I’ve been wanting to win my whole life. I’ve been watching this on ESPN, I mean words can’t even explain it.  I’m speechless.”

Last year was a great year for Eyster, after winning a big tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Florida and his first WSOP Circuit ring, but his most recent pay day represents his biggest career cash by far. He now owns more than $2 million in live earnings plus another $3 million in online winnings.

Speaking on his extra-supportive rail, made up of mostly fellow Louisianans, Eyster said, “I really appreciate that all of them came out to cheer me on.  After yesterday, they were as tired as I was, but they showed up today to support me and I appreciate their help.”

The second-place finisher, Neuville, almost became the second Belgian to land a WSOP win in the same week, following behind Davidi Katai, who won just a few days before.

Marking his fourth cash this year was third-place finisher and WSOP Circuit ring winner Andrew Lichtenberger, who was appearing in his fifth WSOP final table. Other key players in the final included Jeremy Kottler, 5th, and Bryn Kenney, 4th, both appearing in their third WSOP final tables.

This event generated a prize pool worth more than $2.5 million that paid the top 60 players including Matt Jarvis, 9th; Greg Merson, 13th; Kory Kilpatrick, 17th, who won his first WSOP bracelet three days prior and went on to cash third in Event #42 PLO 6 Handed; Matt Salsberg, 31st; Freddy Deeb, 33rd; and Bertrand Grospellier, 51st, who just cashed in 16th two days earlier in Event #22 $10K HORSE.

Dominik Nitsche Wins Third WSOP Bracelet

June 29, 2014

Germany’s Dominik Nitsche caught his third bracelet this year, second for the 2014 season, in Event #21 $1K NLH, receiving more than $335K for his efforts. And the efforts were many, as he was faced against Dave D’Alesandro, who ended up the runner up. Also in Nitche’s way to his third bracelet was Bob Bounahra, who was the first player from Central America to make the November Nine in 2011. He finished 7th in the 2011 Main Event, but the Belize native made it to 3rd in Event #21.

This is yet another win for Germany this year, as George Danzer won Event #18 $10K 7 Card Razz. For Nitsche, this win catapulted him over the $2 million WSOP career earnings mark, which now spans 19 career cashes.

Nitche said, “It feels really good to win this one. Of course, the first one feels really great, and so does the second one, and so does the third. They all feel good in different ways because this is the top prize in poker. This is what we play for.”

Nitsche’s first bracelet this year was earned last month in Atlantic City at the 2014 National Championship. He now joins fellow countryman David Kitai, as the only European player to have at least three WSOP wins. But what’s even more impressive is that Nitsche is now the youngest player to ever win three gold bracelets. At 23 years old, he now takes the title from Phil Ivey, previous record holder, who won his third bracelet by the age of 24.

“I have been playing poker for seven years,” said Nitsche.  “At this rate, I really think I can catch Hellmuth (who has 13 wins, to date).  Of course, he and Phil Ivey are great players so to be talked in the same breath as them is really something for me.  I will just say I am really proud to come to Las Vegas where I have enjoyed a lot of success over the years.”

If Bounahra had won, he would have joined the November Niners bracelet club, along with Ylon Schwartz, Phil Ivey, Matt Jarvis, Scott Montgomery, Michael Mizrachi, and Eric Buchman, but this was not his time.

Other notable mentions include sixth-place finisher Jeff Gross. This was his third final table finish in WSOP events. And Thayer Rasmussen, who finished fifth, was at his second WSOP final table.

This event attracted 2,043 players and amassed a prize pool worth more than $1.84 million, paying out the top 216 places, which included Mickey Peterson, 14th; Jason Senti, 21st; JC Tran, 38th; David Williams, 65th; Jason Koon, 82nd; Erik Seidel, 83rd; Jonathan Dimmig, 105th; and Matt Brady, 190th.

Kilpatrick Kills a Table Stacked with Experience

June 19, 2014

Event #20 $3K NLH Shootout has wrapped up after a final table of all US players that included bracelet-winners Phil Galfond and Taylor Paur, both at their second final table of the year in this event, as well as Chris Bell, and Noah Bronstein (who went to one final table last year), but they were no match for the bracelet winner, Kory Kilpatrick, who is not $254K richer and owner of his first gold bracelet.

Once again we see players like Galfond, who have won WSOP bracelets previously, seated at a final table and defeated by a non-bracelet winner. Hailing from Memphis, Tennesse, 20-year-old Kilpatrick now lives in college town Athens, Georgia where he attends Rhodes College. Before his WSOP win, he was already a well-respected online multi-table tournament player who, in 2008, made more than $100K in just one week, which would have made him 14 and somewhat of a child prodigy in poker. Of course his live winnings didn’t start adding up until June of 2011, probably following close behind his 18th birthday, when he earned his first WSOP paid position coming in 62nd at $5K NLH.

Since then, he’s earned more than $554K in career earnings, which was doubled last week when he won his first bracelet. Many say this kid is on his way to becoming a poker legend before it’s all said and done. He’s got quite some time to achieve that, though.

“There were really no bad players here, everyone played solid,” said a modest Kilpatrick after winning. “I was really feeling it today. It feels great.”

This win represents Kilpatrick’s 13th cash in WSOP events, though this event was the first of this year, and he’s already made a second payday this series, finishing 17th in Event #24 NLH Six-Handed, making that 14 final tables in just three years, which is a feat in itself.

Once the 10-palyer final table was set up, it took 83 hands to eliminate Narendra Banwari. Fifty-seven hands later, Dylan Linde was out in 9th. In the end, Kilpatrick went heads up against Eric Wasserson, who finished second, while Paur finishded 7th, Bronstein took a third place spot, Bell came in 5th, and Galfond finished 6th.

The 389-registrant event collected a prize pool worth well over $1 million and paid the last 40.

Kilpatrick posted the following tweet after his win:

“Thanks for the love, my friends. You are all sexy savages in my heart. We got em!”

First-Timer George Danzer Wins the 18th 2014 WSOP Bracelet

June 18, 2014

A new event this year, Event #18 $10K 7 Card Razz, was the first of its kind in the 45-yar WSOP history. This is the highest buy-in for a Razz event ever, making it a championship event and attracting some of the best Razz players in the world, and even the Godfather of Poker himself, Mr. Doyle Brunson, one of the most decorated WSOP players of all times, made a rare appearance. With 112 registrants, the field was stacked, but only one was to become the world champion of Razz, and that was Germany’s 30-year-old George Danzer. He came out of the event with a gold bracelet and just under $300K.

Danzer has been in six previous WSOP final tables. Just two weeks ago, he was finished fifth in Event #5 $10K Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, and last year, he also placed fifth in the $50K Poker Players Championship (Event #55), but this is his first bracelet.

Speaking on his victory, Danzer said, “It’s everything. For ten years no, since I was 21, I always wanted to come to the World Series and be a World Champion. I was always watching the news to see who won, and I wanted to be like them. I come over every year, and it’s my tenth year now. When you get close, you get a taste of it, and I came close a couple of times. I’m really, really happy now.”

Taking down a touch final table, Danzer managed to outlast David Bach (8th), 2009 $50K HORSE champion and final table contender at a previous Razz event this year, just two weeks ago for which he placed fourth, beat only by Greg Pappas, third, Phil Hellmuth, second, and Ted Forrest, first. Also seated at the Event #18 final felt was Yuval Bronshtein (4th), who was at his fifth final table, Naoya Kihura (7th), Japan’s one and only bracelet winner; and Brian Hastings (5th), who also has a previous bracelet win.

Second place went to Brandon Shack-Harris, who won his first WSOP bracelet earlier in the season in the $1K PLO, just barely missing his second bracelet in as many weeks. This puts both Shack-Harris and Danzer in the running for WOP Player of the Year, though both still fall short of catching up with Justin Bonomo.

This is Germany’s second bracelet this year, the first won by Dominik Nitsche, winner of Atlantic City’s National Championship last month, which was Nitsche’s second bracelet win.

All together, the players amassed a prize pool worth more than $1 million. The top 16 finishers received compensation for their hard work at the felt including Daniel Negreanu (10th); Paul Volpe (13th), winner of Event #13 $10K NL 2-7 Draw Lowball just two weeks ago; Nick Schulman (15th); and Scott Clements (16th).

JC Tran’s BFF Wins First WSOP Bracelet

June 14, 2014

“It means a lot. This is actually my very first tournament that I’ve ever won, period, and it just happened to be a World Series of Poker event. It meant a lot because I always thought, ‘When would I win my first one?’ But it is hard when you only play two, three, four a year, you know?”

Perhaps Todd Bui should play more tournaments because he is apparently better than at least 347 other poker players. That’s how many fellow players he bested in Event #16 $1,500 Limit 2-7 Draw, which netted him just under $125K. Not bad for his first win, and a year’s salary. And even better, of those 347 other players, one of them was seasoned veteran and bracelet owner Tom Franklin, who came in second.

Buy-ins to this event resulted in a $450K prize pool that paid the top 36 finishers. Other notable cashers included Layne Flack, 30th; Mike Leah, 11th; and Vladimir Shchemelev, 4th, who won his first WSOP bracelet last year in the $3K PLO Hi/Lo.

The heads up action went fast and quickly declared Bui the winner. He is now expected to stay and play in more events in addition to the typical mixed game events he comes to the Rio to play in each year.

Ironically, Bui’s best friend is JC Tran, now a fellow bracelet winner. They grew up playing poker together in Sacramento, but Tran, who took his poker career straight to the top, grinding NLH tournaments, while Bui moved to Southern Cali to play cash games and go to college.

Bui says of Tran, “Me and him are like brothers. He’s one of my best friends in the world and definitely my best friend in poker and my longest friend in poker. Before I moved down to SoCal to go to college, we used to play in a small cardroom in Sacramento…. It was me and him every day; we were inseparable. We were like Tom and Jerry.”

Poker Dreams Really Do Come True

June 14, 2014

There are hundreds of satellite seats to the WSOP given away each year via online poker site promotions, and with the initiation of online poker, where better to earn your free spot to play in the biggest live poker series in the world? Satellite seats are awarded to multiple events throughout the series, including the main event, but also to the 2014 WSOP National Championship, an event that often goes unnoticed by many because it is played in Atlantic City on the boardwalk in an effort to celebrate the season’s best WSOP Circuit players. This year was the fourth year that this honorary event has taken place, but because it is carried out on the other side of the country and finished before the Las Vegas events ever begin, most people are unaware of its existence, though it is a bracelet event.

Not quite as lucky as Chris Moneymaker, but riding on his coattails, Tracy Doss was one such recipient of an online satellite seat that allowed him to play in the National Championship event this year. While he did win his seat online at, though he didn’t cash first or win the main event, he did make the final table, lasting to fifth place before exiting with an $86K stack of cash.

It was quite an honor for this Columbus, Ohio native to even make the final table of such an event considering the field of players he was up against, but Doss was understandably dissatisfied. “Honestly, I was really disappointed in my finish. If I’d have won that flip, I really think I could have won the tournament,” he explained.

Interestingly enough, it was Chris Moneymaker who inspired Doss to play online poker and led him to win that satellite seat 11 years after Moneymaker’s rags to riches story. “I’m a product of the Moneymaker effect. I watched him win the Main Event in 2003, and immediately went out and bought a computer.”

But Doss’s most recent satellite seat is actually not his first. In 2004, he turned a $200 buy-in into a WSOP Main Event entry, which only took him to Day 2 that year, but was enough to convince him that professional poker could be a possible career for him, so he relocated to Las Vegas in 2005 with a dream of making it big in poker.

He says of his initial experiences, “I played a mix of live and online poker, and I got pounded into oblivious. I made some final tables and made a little money, but I couldn’t sustain a life as a pro.”

Deciding to move again, Doss took a job with his brother and moved his family to Portland, Oregon. But nine to five just wasn’t his bag, and he continued to lack fulfillment. Eventually, his wife suggested he try poker again, and they returned to Vegas earlier this year. His luck seemed to be holding out because he was playing good poker. With a boost of confidence, he continued to succeed and ultimately found himself in Atlantic City, where he says he “wasn’t nervous at all.”

After his fifth-place cashout, he said, “I wanted that bracelet. I wanted to win,” which just adds fuel to his motivational fire. He says, “I’m going to play tons of satellites, and I have July 5th marked off on my calendar to play the 25 Seat Scramble.”

In addition to living his dream of playing poker professionally and full-time, he has another pan in the fire, High Roller Pizza, which will open this summer on the south end of the Strip. “It may not be a gold bracelet, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” referring to his dream of opening a free-range, organic pizzeria.

Doss dreams big, but that’s what it takes to win big and succeed. It seems like the cards are stacked in his favor, and he will undoubtedly become a pro poker force one of these days, and with his enthusiasm and drive, it’s likely to happen sooner than later.

And such is the beauty of poker dreams. Becoming a professional athlete for a majority of the world is out of the question due to lack of skill or lack of youth, and most dream professions require years of schooling and unobtainable amounts of money, but becoming a professional poker player is a possibility for anyone who has the skills and the aspiration, whether young or old, rich or poor. It’s just another facet of poker that sets it apart from all other careers.

Participation at WSOP Seniors Event Trumps Last Year’s Turn Out

June 10, 2014

The ideal model of a true poker face is exemplified in Dan Heimiller, who manages to keep it on just about 24/7, unless he’s just won a WSOP gold bracelet, then he makes an exception and cracks a smile for his fans. Over the past two decades plus, Heimiller has been around the block once or twice when it comes to live poker tournaments, and he’s done pretty well for himself as a poker professional. With numerous first-place finishes under his belt and literally hundreds of cashes, 52 of them WSOP cashes, his total career earnings are valued at just under $4.8 million, $2+ million from WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes. He is one of the most decorated poker players in the business with roughly 25 first place career wins. Hailing from Missouri, USA, he is the all-time money maker for his home state, by far, with more than $3 million more than Dan Nassif, second on that list.

With such an impressive career, it’s no surprise that Heimiller has won his second gold bracelet and the biggest payday of his career worth $627K when he took down Event #17 $1K Seniors NLH, 12 years after his first bracelet, which he scored at the 2002 WSOP in a 7-Card Stud event.

“Back in 2002, it wasn’t for as much cash, so that makes this one a lot more important,” Heimiller said after winning the biggest senior event in the history of the series. “It was lso a smaller field and wasn’t as prestigious back then. It was a great feeling, but this one feels extra spectacular because it was for such a big prize.”

Heimiller bested a player field that rose to 4,425 players (more than last year), all of whom may have been over 50, but weren’t easy competition. Once play got down to the final table, the competition had gotten downright fierce with Heimiller, Barry Schwartz, and Dennis Phillips seated around the felt, where there were no young guns or overnight, Internet-made players. With a leveled playing field, it was the best against the best, and they all had wisdom, experience, and confidence to back up their chip stacks.

Phillips, who finished second in the seniors event two years ago and third in the 2008 main event, was perhaps the most intimidating.

Heimiller, who fancies mixed games over Hold ‘em, jokingly said, “My No Limit game seems to be catching up. Up to a couple of years ago, I used to tell people No Limit was my worst game. There seemed to be a lot of people who had a great grasp of it, so I was an underdog. But now I guess I’m able to hold my own.”

Finishing runner-up in this year’s seniors’ event was Iowa’s 58-year-old firefighter, Don Maas, who was the chip leader at the onset of the heads up showdown, but it was no match for Heimiller’s proficiency and experience. This was Maas’s first WSOP cash, which amounted to $388K of the prize pool that totaled just under $4 million.

Other notable seniors who cashed in the event included Barbara Enright, 72nd; Dennis Phillips, 5th; and Barry Schwartz, 8th. The top 468 seniors were paid, making for a pretty lucrative tournament for literally hundreds of players.

Adelson Shuts Out Online Poker News Reports from Venetian Poker Room

June 7, 2014

Sheldon Adelson’s stance against online poker is no secret by now, and his strong and very rich opinion has some people nervous. Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, makes it very clear just how far he’s willing to go to “protect” the US from online gambling. He’s threatened to “spend whatever it takes” on his anti-Internet gambling cause and in January of this year, he formed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Adelson’s argument against online poker and online gambling is that it is morally wrong, preying on underage gamblers and other vulnerable sectors of society, as is explained in the bill he had drafted that would prohibit online poker regulations at the state level, including those that have already initiated regulations and have experienced a successful market.

Adelson, being the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the Venetian Hotel and Casino, has even taken a stand in his own poker room. In the past, Adelson has allowed his poker room at the Venetian to run at its full potential, putting finances over his moral stand against online poker. But not anymore.

During a Mid-Stakes Poker Tour event that was part of the casino’s Deep Stack Extravaganza series, poker media group PokerNews was prohibited from reporting live updates from the event simply because the online news site promotes online poker.

The Venetian declined to comment, but many believe that Adelson is decreasing poker activity on his property. Last year’s tournament expanded from 59 to 119 tables, spreading into the Palazzo Hotel and Casino next door. But this year, the Venetian has restricted the series to just their poker room, despite an original schedule that could have clearly supported more.

Furthermore, players are getting shut out of the tournaments because of an early registration deadline and cash game tables. With nearly double the tables of the closest competitors, during non-WSOP time, the Sands Poker Room at the Venetian is the largest poker room in Vegas.

Tommy LaRosa, Venetian Tournament Director, wrote, “I simply have no room to keep registration open as late as you would hope. There would be no room to fit additional players. I would love nothing more than to keep registration open until dinner break, have 1,000 player fields, maximize revenue and prize pool. Unfortunately though, I do not have 400 tables like the WSOP.”

What scares people is that Adelson’s threats against online poker may be materializing to reality. Forbes is now actually reporting that Adelson’s efforts are helping, pointing out mainly that the American Gaming Association no longer supports online poker, as well as the sleepy online poker markets set up in the three states where online poker has been regulated, Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada.

But not all hope is lost. If California, the nation’s most populous state, can get legislation passed, the online poker market in America may just turn around. California may have to allow PokerStars a piece of the pie, though, if they are to reach an agreement with all 14 tribes. Thirteen tribes have agreed to legislation that includes a bad actor clause, something that the Morongo Band of Mission Indian tribe, partner to PokerStars, is not willing to endorse.

Black Friday Informant Sentenced to Time Served and $13 Million Fine

June 7, 2014

Thirty-one-year-old Daniel Tzvetkoff, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to one count conspiracy and one count operating an illegal gambling business, has avoided prison in New York this week. The Australian kingpen of online gambling transactions was sentenced on Wednesday for illegally processing gambling funds via US banks through several major online poker sites.

Tzvetkoff was accused of processing, via his company Intabill, roughly $500 million in online gambling transactions from players to gambling sites, disguising these transactions as non-gambling payments, unbeknownst to the US financial institutions through which players held bank accounts used to fund online poker accounts.

Since his arrest in 2010, Tzvetkoff has cooperated with investigations into online poker investigations that ultimately led to the Black Friday indictments of PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker owners and executives, which US District Judge Lewis Kaplan apparently took into consideration. Tzvetkoff was sentenced to time served and forfeiture of $13 million.

According to Tzvetkoff’s attorney, Robert Goldstein, Judge Kaplan had approved Tzvetkoff’s relocation to Australia, where he now works as the chief technical officer of a respectable organization.

In a phone interview, Goldstein stated, “Daniel is a capable, highly skilled and intelligent young man, and he looks forward to a productive, happy and quiet life with his family.”

Since Black Friday, eight of the 11 defendants have plead guilty and this includes former Absolute Poker owner Brent Beckley and fomer Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar. Charges against three of the indicted, including Israeli-Canadian PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, are still pending.

In hopes to stay off the “bad actor” list PokerStars settled with US civil courts, agreeing to forfeit $731 million in restitution. PokerStars has taken over Full Tilt Poker and made good on their bad rep in hopes to be allowed back into the US online poker market at the state-regulated level. In fact, they have a close-knit coalition with the Morongo Band of Mission Indian tribe in hopes to get back on virtual US soil through California regulations of online poker. However, as an alleged “bad actor,” there is much opposition to their return. An agreement will have to be made to come to terms with this problem, as the Morongo tribe is the only California tribe that is opposed to legislation on the floor now that will allow and regulate online poker in the state. Both of the two bills out there include bad actor clauses and would prevent PokerStars from re-entering the US Internet gambling market via California.

Absolute Poker, which is no longer in existence, has also settled US civil charges related to the UIGEA and Black Friday. Traffic Up with WSOP Efforts

June 7, 2014

In an effort to boost the online poker room of the same name, WSOP kicked off a promotion that would ultimately tie into the live events when they started in May. And it’s working. The WSOP is in full swing and all the energy put forth into boosting web traffic is paying off. traffic has  been up around 50% where it averaged around 100 players at a cash game and now is averaging around 140. traffic peaked on June 2nd with 373 players and has now dropped back to its regular average, although cash-game traffic worldwide was down more than 4% during that time. This surge in participation was vital to the long-term survival of Nevada’s state-regulated online poker industry because in the month of April, it saw its first decline in revenue, a 14+% drop to just under $800K.

With new attractions, more comfortable chairs, additional cage windows where players can access their online poker accounts, and a new Internet poker grind room added to the WSOP at the Rio All-Suite in Las Vegas, event facilitators are hoping to drive more traffic into the tournament and then keep them around to check out in the meantime. Players are even being offered a 100% deposit bonus on all deposits made via the live cages, which over the next month, will likely entice a lot more players to sign up before the last event takes place on July 7th. Mobile devices, laptops, and tablets are allowed at the table this year after the cash bubble, which hopes to serve the online poker market as well.

And not to mention the advertisement, as the WSOP is literally blanketed in logo graphics.

In addition, tourism in Las Vegas is up thanks to the WSOP. More than 80,000 players representing some 100 different countries are expected to come through the Rio over the 65-event series. But not surprisingly, all of this has not seen any improvement in other Nevada online poker sites’ traffic. Ultimate Poker, Nevada’s first online poker room and now second biggest, has maintained its 50-player average at cash games over the past few weeks. Furthermore, according to PokerScout, the state’s third Internet poker shop, Real Gaming, isn’t experiencing any traffic at all.

With the WSOP promising to take down the corporate umbrella that has shaded the series from fun in the past, many are hoping that this marks a new era in the WSOP.

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