Taylor Paur Takes Down Strong Final Table to Win WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars

March 16, 2015

The World Poker tour is rolling right along, but the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event featured what may have featured the toughest final table in recent memory. When it came to an end on Saturday morning, we finally had crowned a champion of the tough final six. When all was said and done, it was Taylor Paur who got the job done, but he had to do a good bit of work to build his original starting stack and take over to win the championship. Let’s break down how it all played out and see how Paur earned his first place victory as well as his $1,214,200 prize.

Paur began the final table as the second largest chip stack with 4.27 million, but had some work to do in order to catch up to Isaac Baron and his 6.175 million chip stack. After Baron and Paur, there were two Shooting Stars left in the event in Faraz Jaka with 2.92 million chips and Sorel Mizzi with 1.92 million chips. The other two players weren’t easy outs either, as it was Jacob Bazeley with 3.92 million and Ravee Mathi with 1.47 million chips. The players had some work to do before we crowned a champion and were geared up for a fun run before we crowned a champion in this event. The cards were in the air and the short stacks got right to work in this one.

Mathi may have had the short stack, but he was able to get some chips through being aggressive early on. Unfortunatley for him, that didn’t stand, as the aggression eventually was the end of his run. The board showed J-6-5-6-5 and Mathi chose to get it all-in at that point. Mizzi, playing from the cutoff chose to fold, but Paur made the call and showed 8-5 for a rivered full house. The pair that Paur made on the flop was enough, as he didn’t even need to hit the river. Mathi showed A-8 for a total bluff, meaning that he was sent home in sixth place.

It didn’t take long for our next elimination to come, as Jaka was unable to get anything going through much of the early stages. He managed to grab a pocket pair with fours and chose to shove his final million chips in. Jaka was far behind when being called by Bazeley, who showed pocket tens. Bazeley chose to isolate and go over the top all-in, which led to folds around the table. When the board ran out Jack-high with no four coming, Jaka was sent home in sixth place. This also meant that his bounty would go to Bazeley as well, who was poised to push his way up the leaderboard at this point.

With four players left in the action, each player was set to grind it out for the long haul. They played more than 60 hands before we saw another elimination. When that time came, the final Shooting Star, Mizzi saw a raise from Bazeley and Paur three-bet the action. After all of this, Mizzi chose to push his entire stack into the middle. Bazeley sat and debated for a while before finally folding, but Paur decided to make the call. Paur turned over pocket fives against the A-J off suit of Mizzi. The board didn’t hit for Mizzi and he was sent home in fourth place. This also meant that Paur would get Mizzi’s bounty and take the chip lead moving into the final three.

Paur was sitting pretty at this point, holding more chips than both of his opponents had together. Most expected Paur to run through the final table at that point, but both Bazeley and Baron were able to double-up and get closer to Paur. It went over a whopping 70 hands before Paur was able to eliminate one of the two players and it was Bazeley who was headed to the rail. His A-10 was able to hold up against the K-7 of Bazeley on a nice A-2-2-9-A board, which set us up with a heads-up match between Paur and Baron.

Paur began the heads-up match with a strong 2-1 chip lead and he never let Baron get back into it. The heads-up match didn’t last long, as the two played only nine hands before we saw our champion crowned. The final hand featured Paur calling a three-bet, which led to a 9-7-2 flop with two hearts. Paur then check-called a million chip bet from Baron, leading to a three of diamonds on the turn. Baron then bet out 1.65 million and Paur called again, leading to a five of hearts on the river. Baron then chose to move all-in and Paur made an immediate call, turning over 10-9 of hearts for a rivered flush. Baron showed A-9 off suit and was sent home in second place with a payday of $704,200.

History Made At WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event

March 9, 2015

If you don’t know the name Anthony Zinno yet, it may be time to get accustomed to hearing it pretty often. Zinno made history with his most recent victory at the 2015 World Poker Tour’s L.A. Poker Classic. He made a push from the bottom of the standings to win this event, as he was actually sitting in second to last when the action started. To start out the day, it was Igor Yaroshevskyy who had the chip lead with 5.315 million chips and had close second place competition in Mike Leah, who had 2.715 million. After that, we had Peter Neff with 2.12 million, Peter Tran with 1.585 million and then came Zinno with 1.48 million and lastly Chris Klodnicki with 920k in chips.

Now, when the action started, the man who was one of the most active players throughout the tournament was the first player to had home. This was Tran, who had already doubled up through Yaroshevskyy. Soon after getting those chips, he handed them back to Kodnicki in an incredible hand. Tran made a min-raise, which led to Kodnicki three-betting to 400k. Tran then four-bet out to 1.6 million. Klodnicki called, while thinking it was an all-in, but when he was told it wasn’t he chose to go all-in from the dark. The flop came out A-A-K and Tran was far behind with 10-8 of spades against the A-K off suite of Klodnicki. Tran needed a royal flush, which he couldn’t get and three hands later was sent out by Leah.

This seemed to be the start of something beautiful for Leah, as he kept trending in the right direction. He was the first player to crack eight million in chips and now had the chip lead. While Leah had grabbed the reins at the top of the leaderboard, Zinno was slowly creeping back up. First he doubled up through Neff and then knocked him out a few hands later. When we got down to Level 29, there was no one even close to what Leah had. He was holding 8.38 million chips against the 2.95 of Yaroshevskyy, the 2.795 million of Zinno and the 2.005 million of Klodnicki.

Leah didn’t pull back after grabbing a huge lead, and he slowly built up over 10 million in chips. As the final table rolled on, Kodnicki was able to double up through Leah with Kings, then Zinno doubled up through Leah. This meant that our massive chip leader was now right there in the mid with everyone else. By the 100th hand, Zinno had shockingly grabbed teh chip lead. Just a few hands later, though, he handed it right back to Leah. The action was literally flying all over and chips were moving in a big way.

There were 85 hands of poker played before we saw one of the four players sent home. It came on Hand 142 when Leah raised from the button. This lead to Yaroshevskyy going all-in from the big blind. Leah called with K-8 and Yaroshevskyy showed K-Q and was in great shape to get a double up. An eight on the turn changed everything though, and when there was no Queen on the river, it meant that Yaroshevskyy was left stunned and heading home in fourth place after feeling confident about a shot at a heads up match.

At this point, our eventual champion was in third out of three, and needed some help to get back into the mix. The first help that he got came when he doubled up through Leah. It was a nice start, but then came yet ANOTHER double up against Leah, which gave him the chip lead. After that, Zinno knocked off Klodnicki in third place with his pocket sixes holding up against the K-J of Klodnicki. This meant that going into the heads up match, Zinno was sitting with a huge lead of 11.23 million chips against the 4.895 million of Leah.

That was all she wrote essentially, as Zinno didn’t let Leah get back into it. Through 12 hands, Zinno just kept building his stack up, and the final hand came and went after Leah min-raised to 400k and Zinno three-bet to 825k. Leah then moved all-in and Zinno snap called showing pocket Aces against the A-3 off of Leah. The flop came 10-5-2 to make Zinno sweat a bet, but Leah couldn’t improve his hand enough and was sent home in second place with a payday of $701,350. As for Zinno, he was the winner of $1,015,860 and was now in the record books.

He was now just the third man to win back-to-back WPT tournaments, with the other two being Marvin Rettenmaier and Darren Elias. This was Zinno’s third WPT championship, which put him in a tie with Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen for most WPT victories.

Tips for Surviving the Grind of Large Online Poker Tournaments

March 2, 2015

While much of the argument for poker players is that the real grind of tournament poker comes from playing live poker tournaments, some may argue the other way. While online poker is played much faster, and you can work your way through big tournaments faster than a live tournament, this doesn’t mean that it’s not harder to grind out results in these tournaments. Imagine sitting back and playing while looking at a computer non-stop for 8-10 hours straight. This is what can happen if you end up making a run in a tournament, and that may not even get you to a final table. Sure, you’ll get five minute breaks here and there, but at least live poker tournaments give you a dinner break, right? It’s not quite as easy as it all seems right out of the gate, but this is why you need to be aware of some tips that can help you grind out these online poker tournaments, and keep you occupied while playing at the tables. Let’s get to it.

Multi-Tasking

Keeping yourself busy while playing in online poker tournaments may seem like a disaster waiting to happen, but it’s really not. While there are many things to take away from watching the action at the online poker tables, you’re likely going to be playing pretty tight and picking spots. Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to the tables when you aren’t playing, but it is to say that you should look into doing something at the same time that can keep you occupied on something to help you from trying to play hands that just shouldn’t be played.

What are the recommendations? Well, it all depends on what you’re interested in. Do you like reading books? Then jump into a book and read as you play (probably only with one table at a time). How about video games? If you’re a fan of video games, jump onto whatever game you like, but I wouldn’t recommend playing it online against an opponent. If you want to just do something that’s fun or enjoyable through the actual online poker site itself, if they offer something like blackjack or another casino game, jump into that.

A few other options that you can definitely consider when looking at this option, including the likes of daily fantasy sports or sports betting in general. You don’t even really have to set lineups or place sports bets, but instead just do some research if you are a fan of these, and find out if there’s anything that you like for the day. This can be a great way to stay focused on something aside from playing crazy hands, but will also allow you to get right back into the action if there’s a hand or spot that you are looking to play. Be smart about doing this, as it can definitely get distracting if you find yourself doing too much at one time.

Multi-Tabling

Tired of just sitting back and grinding out a single poker tournament at a time? Well, fortunately most online poker sites are going to offer many different tournaments at the same time. This means that you can jump in on multiple tournaments and play a few at a time. Doing this will actually make it so that you are able to fold those non-so-beautiful hands, since you have multiple other things going on. While I wouldn’t recommend playing TOO many tournaments at once, playing in a few to keep yourself interested is definitely a good call. Be smart about this, and make sure that you can still play the hands that are dealt to you if you need to in those big spots.

A key part of this is to remember that the reason you are multi-tabling tournaments is to give yourself the chance to fold the bad hands, not to have as much action as possible at one time. If you try to play too much or raise with hands you should probably be folding, you’re going to find yourself in a big mess of tournaments that will make it hard to profit from.

Playing On the Go

Many online poker sites have made it easy for players to play from their tablets and phones, as well as their laptops. This means that you can play on the go and take your poker action anywhere that you have service (in most cases). Beware that it will use up your data as you play in most cases, if you’re playing through a browser. Now, if you are hooked up to wifi, this means that you can play from a coffee house or anywhere else that has wifi for free. The best option for tournament players is to be able to play on the go, as this means that you aren’t stuck to a chair and staring at your computer screen for a continuous amount of time. If you want to leave, feel free to grab your phone or tablet and play on the go.

Negreanu Talks Potential Banning of Players From WSOP

February 23, 2015

We all know (and many love Daniel Negreau), his game and his ability to talk about pretty much anything and everything relating to poker. Now, when it comes to this specific situation, there’s not much of a surprise that Negreanu was an open book to talk about one particular issue that may be coming up in the very near future. The issue? Well, Negreanu chose to put together a list of players who may potentially be banned from playing in the upcoming World Series of Poker, and explained his reasoning both for and against the players being able to play in the largest and most popular tournament series out there today. Negreanu did this write up recently in his blog at Full Contact Poker, and gave the full breakdown, so we of course had to check out what he had to say about it all.

Negreanu started out by talking about how the WSOP was around the corner, and that the “rumor has it that we may see some faces we haven’t seen there in a while.” He went on to state that he has “always been of the position that, unless people have been found to actually cheat at poker, they should be allowed to attend.” While considering this, Negreanu went into a list of six players who he believes may end up playing in the 2015 World Series of Poker, and then gave his opinion about whether or not they should be able to play, and this is when it really starts to get interesting.

Now, as for the players who should be banished from the World Series of Poker, Negreanu believes there are two who make the cut here. Those two players who he names are Mansour Matloubi and Russ Hamilton, and both have won World Championships before, with Matloubi doing it in 1990 and Hamilton doing so a bit more recently in 1995. Basically Negreanu stated that these two players are going to be “grouped together” due to the fact that they are “guilty of the same crime”, which apparently is using a “‘God mode’ program.” This program allowed them to see the hole cards of their opponents. Both players were higher-ups at Ultimate Bet during the mid-2000s. The case hasn’t been “rule on in the court of law”, as Negreanu puts it, but he still believes the “evidence is overwhelmingly one-sided that, at the very least, these two men were involved in cheating players out of millions.”

It’s a pretty strong argument from Negreanu, but obviously the call isn’t completely his to make. It’s going to be interesting to see how things play out for these two over the next few months leading up to the World Series of Poker.

Now, when it comes to Chris Ferguson, who won a World Championship back in 2001, Negreanu isn’t quite as strong about his opinion. He does note that while Ferguson was a board member during everything that happened on Black Friday to Full Tilt Poker, and that he disappeared completely without making a statement, he doesn’t believe he should be banned, it seems. Negreanu didn’t clearly state that fact, but he ask if his “behavior and lack of willingness to stand responsible for his role in the crash of Full Tilt warrant a WSOP ban?” Negreanu stated he didn’t believe so, and while he’s “not pleased by how he handled things, Chris has never cheated anyone at the poker table (to his knowledge).”

When it came to Howard Lederer, he stood behind similar opinions to the ones he gave about Ferguson. He stated that for many years, Lederer was an “integral part of operations at Full Tilt before stepping down at some point before Black Friday.” Negreanu went on to talk about how many people “assume he was still running things, and Howard certainly played a part of the ‘guy behind the guy’”, but he does not believe he should be banned. He stated that regardless of how you feel about Lederer as a person, that it’s “clear that he should have every right to play in WSOP events.”

Negreanu went on to talk about two players who he’s been very harsh on before in Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack. He actually wasn’t nearly as brutal as usual, and he chose to group those two together, due to their “association with the Epic Poker League.” As you likely know, this tournament series defrauded players out of a “guaranteed million dollar freeroll”, as stated by Negrenau. While he explains the fact that this is wrong on many levels, including to “not even acknowledge this debt or make strides towards making the players whole”, he also vouches for it not warranting a WSOP ban. He cites the fact that there are plenty of poker players playing in the series who owe money to others and have no intention of paying.

Out of this entire list (except for Pollack, who has never played in an event), none of the players have cashed in a live event since 2011. It’s going to be interesting to see what would happen with whether or not these players would be welcomed back by the poker community, but apparently there’s a chance that we may find out this year at the World Series of Poker.

Rousso and Liu End Sponsorship Deals

February 16, 2015

Both Vanessa Rousso and Xuan Liu are known as big names in the poker world today, and it’s for good reason. Now, both Rousso and Liu, who are two of the biggest female poker pros in the game today, have decided to end their sponsorship deals with their online poker sites. Recently, we’ve seen that poker pros can have trouble keeping their sponsorships with whichever site they are with, and there are quite a few different reasons for this happening. For Rousso, she’ll be parting ways with PokerStars, and she was one of the Team PokerStars Pros on the site. Liu will be parting ways with 888poker. Let’s look at each one more in-depth.
The end of the sponsorship deal for Rousso was one that came in an announcement from PokerStars. She had been with the site since 2009 and was one of the biggest names both in the online poker world as well as in the live poker action. She plays under the name “LadyMaverick” and earned over $700k in the PokerSTars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and also finished second in the National Heads Up Poker Championship back in 2009 in the live poker game. On top of that, she managed to take down the European Poker Tour’s Grand Final High Roller Championship in 2009 as well. She’s obviously done very big things in the past, including that massive 2009 where she won more than $1.2 million. Since that point, though, she’s dealt with a bit of a downswing.
In the last three years, specifically for Rousso, she’s won right around $44,000 from poker tournaments in that run. She’s still made quite a bit of money since her career began back in 2005. She’s brought home a total of $3.5 million, and 2005 was when she made her first ever tournament cash that year. Rousso has still had some impressive runs, but she hasn’t had much to say about the ending of her sponsorship deal through social media, which is just the opposite of Liu.
While Liu and 888poker have parted ways, she took to Twitter to talk about her time with 888. She stated that she was “very grateful to have been given the opportunity for a year but will no longer be an 888poker ambassador.” The pro actually made the announcement just before starting a tournament in Perth, Australia in the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour Main Event. She’s doing quite well in that tournament as well, and at the last check she was down to the final 36 players of action heading into Day 3. Many gave their kind words to Liu, including Sofia Lovgren who tweeted out, “Sad news, Xuan. Always a calss act and an inspiration for me!” Jackie Glazier, who is another 888poker player posted on Twitter to Liu, saying “I’m sure new adventures await you in 2015. You are an amazing ambassador of the game and inspiration to many.”
Since 2007, Liu has been great on the tournament poker circuit, racking up over $1.5 million. She hit six-figure paydays in both 2011 and 2012, but since that point she’s had a bit of a downswing as well. From 2013 and 2014, she’s won just over $115,000. With the stories of both players being interesting situations that are actually pretty similar, it makes you wonder how much the recent play factored into the decision on both, and it could be the reasoning for the sides parting ways.
Late last year, PokerStars decided to part ways with quite a few of their top pros, largely due to the impact of Black Friday. A few of these players included former World Champions, such as Joe Cada. There were only five United States based players left on the roster, which included Chris Moneymaker, who was a former World Champion, as well as Poker Hall of Fame member Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier and Eugene Katchalov. The fact that each player remains active on the EPT could help their case, and may have explained why Rousso was the “odd player out.”
As for Liu, it’s tough to figure out what happened there, with the exception being the fact that her contract just recently ran out. This leaves just Lovgren, Glazier, Burno Politano, Nico Villa Lobos and Bruno Kawauti as the only ambassadors remaining for 888poker. In 2014, the site cut ties with J.C. Tran, simply stating that his one-year contract he received after being a part of the 2013 WSOP November Nine was up.
The two moves seem to be just the way that online poker has started to go. Instead of focusing on the big-named poker pros who take in the high stakes, they are focusing in on the recreational players. This has led to the sites trying to pull in more of these recreational players, instead of the big-named sponsorship tournament players. There is definitely a good chance that we could see both of these players come back with another online poker site and land a new sponsorship deal sooner than later, so be sure to keep your eye out for their names.

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